Archive | July 24th, 2015

I$raHell Clears the Bench in Iran Fight



By Robert Parry

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer, acting like the coach of a football team, instructed congressional Republicans to “leave everything on the field” in the fight to defeat the international agreement with Iran over its nuclear energy program, a sign of how openly Israel now feels it controls the GOP.

Israel wants the Iran deal killed so it can keep open options for bombing Iran and imposing “regime change.” And, immediately after Dermer’s locker-room-style pep talk, Republican members of Congress began falling into line, lashing out at Secretary of State John Kerry and other senior officials who negotiated the agreement reached earlier this month between six world powers and Iran.

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (State Department photo)

Secretary of State John Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (State Department photo)

House Speaker John Boehner announced that he would “do everything possible to stop” the deal. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker told Kerry that he’d been “fleeced.” Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for president, said the next president – presumably meaning himself if he’s successful – could overturn the deal because it’s not a binding treaty.

All this was remarkable even to The New York Times, which usually looks the other way when Israel flexes its muscles in Official Washington. A Times article by Jonathan Weisman notedthe extraordinary image of the Israeli ambassador using sports analogies to rile up Republican congressmen to overturn a key foreign policy initiative of the U.S. president.

“Mr. Dermer’s plea — which is widely expected to be followed by a mail, television and radio assault in Democratic districts during the August recess — demonstrates the power that the Israeli government and supportive interest groups in Washington maintain over congressional Republicans,” Weisman wrote.

Obviously, some of this Republican opposition is driven by a deep-seated animus toward President Barack Obama, but the confidence that Dermer, a onetime aide to former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, showed in rallying Republicans to Israel’s foreign policy priority of hostility toward Iran reveals the degree to which the GOP as a party now ties its agenda in the Mideast to Israel.

Connections between Republicans and right-wing Israelis have grown tighter since the presidency of George W. Bush who began implementing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strategy of “regime change” against countries on his enemies list, starting with Iraq in 2003. [See’sThe Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Since then, wealthy Israeli backers, such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, have funneled huge sums of money into Republican campaigns. In 2012, Netanyahu virtually endorsed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. And, on March 3, House Speaker Boehner invited Netanyahu to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress that was remarkable in its overt appeal to American lawmakers to embrace Israel’s foreign policy regarding Iran – over the head of the sitting U.S. president.

Clearing the Bench

In its current pull-out-all-the-stops to show who controls the U.S. political/media process, Israel also is throwing other key assets into this high-stakes fight. For instance, Steven Emerson, who has long posed as a professional journalist and then as a terrorism expert, was a featured speaker at a Times Square rally urging not only death to the nuclear deal but death to Iran.

“So now we have the situation that unless Congress acts, I believe ultimately, it’s going to be left up to a military strike to take out the Iranian capabilities to take out the world,” Emersontold a cheering crowd of a couple of thousand. “If we don’t take out Iran, they will take out us. … Because if you don’t your children will never forgive you – never forgive you for not protecting this country from a holocaust. For not protecting the state of Israel from a holocaust that will occur assuredly just as it did 70 years ago.

“Rarely in our lives do we have an opportunity to change history. Now is the time to do it, and it’s your responsibility all of ours, to go do it.”

On Fox News, Steve Emerson is interviewed by Jeanine Pirro on Fox News where he claimed that Muslims have terrorized non-Muslims into staying out of Birmingham, Great Britain's second-largest city. (From the UK Guardian)

On Fox News, Steve Emerson is interviewed by Jeanine Pirro on Fox News where he claimed that Muslims have terrorized non-Muslims into staying out of Birmingham, Great Britain’s second-largest city. (From the UK Guardian)

Earlier this year, Emerson, who has longstanding close ties to right-wing Israeli officials, was caught in a blatant falsehood – and slur – about British Muslims. Appearing on Fox News as a “terrorism expert,” claimed that Birmingham, England, is now a “Muslim-only city” and that in parts of London “Muslim religious police … beat and actually wound seriously anyone who doesn’t dress according to religious Muslim attire.”

Emerson asserted that Muslim areas have become “no-go zones” for non-Muslims and cited as an example “actual cities like Birmingham that are totally Muslim, where non-Muslims just simply don’t go in.” Yet, Birmingham, Great Britain’s second-largest city of more than one million people, is nearly half Christian, with the Muslim population less than one-quarter and with significant numbers of Sikhs, Hindus, Jews and non-religious.

As Emerson’s Muslim-bashing remarks drew criticism from the media watchdog group FAIR and ridicule across the United Kingdom, he acknowledged that his “comments about Birmingham were totally in error” and vowed not to blame someone else for his slander.

“I do not intend to justify or mitigate my mistake by stating that I had relied on other sources because I should have been much more careful,” Emerson said in an apparent attempt to do exactly that, shift the blame to some unnamed source for supposedly misleading him. [For more on Emerson’s history of distortion, see’s The Sorry Record of a Muslim Basher.”]

The heated debate over the Iran nuclear deal is bringing out of the woodwork other longstanding alarmists about Iran’s nuclear program, which has not produced a single bomb, even as some of these same “experts” have studiously ignored the reality of Israel’s rogue nuclear arsenal.

For instance, David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security (with the now unfortunate acronym ISIS), is back in the pages of the mainstream media warning about possible gaps in the Iranian nuclear deal.

Albright was sought out for comment by the Times’ neocon national security writer Michael R. Gordon, who co-authored the infamous “aluminum tube” story in 2002 that was used to frighten Americans about “mushroom clouds” if they didn’t support an invasion of Iraq. On Thursday, Gordon’s latest story quoting Albright was entitled, online, “Verification Process in Iran Deal Is Questioned by Some Experts.”

An Iraq War Reunion

At times, this Israeli-driven battle to stop the Iran deal almost seems like a reunion of discredited journalists and “experts” who helped guide the United States into the disastrous Iraq War. In 2002, around the same time Gordon, along with Judith Miller, was penning his “aluminum tube” story, Albright and his ISIS were key figures in stoking the hysteria for invading Iraq around other false allegations of its WMD program.

David Albright

David Albright

At the end of summer 2002, as Bush was beginning his advertising roll-out for the Iraq invasion and dispatching his top aides to the Sunday talk shows to cite Gordon’s “aluminum tube” article and warn about “smoking guns” and “mushroom clouds,” Albright co-authored a Sept. 10, 2002, article – entitled “Is the Activity at Al Qaim Related to Nuclear Efforts? – which declared:

“High-resolution commercial satellite imagery shows an apparently operational facility at the site of Iraq’s al Qaim phosphate plant and uranium extraction facility … This site was where Iraq extracted uranium for its nuclear weapons program in the 1980s. … This image raises questions about whether Iraq has rebuilt a uranium extraction facility at the site, possibly even underground. … The uranium could be used in a clandestine nuclear weapons effort.”

Albright’s alarming allegations fit neatly with Bush’s propaganda barrage, although as the months wore on – with Bush’s warnings about aluminum tubes and yellowcake from Africa growing more outlandish – Albright did display more skepticism about the existence of a revived Iraqi nuclear program. Still, he remained a “go-to” expert on other Iraqi purported WMD, such as chemical and biological weapons. In a typical quote on Oct. 5, 2002, Albright told CNN: “In terms of the chemical and biological weapons, Iraq has those now.”

After Bush launched the Iraq invasion in March 2003 and Iraq’s secret WMD caches didn’t materialize, Albright admitted that he had been conned, explaining to the Los Angeles Times: “If there are no weapons of mass destruction, I’ll be mad as hell. I certainly accepted the administration claims on chemical and biological weapons. I figured they were telling the truth. If there is no [unconventional weapons program], I will feel taken, because they asserted these things with such assurance.” [See FAIR’s The Great WMD Hunt,”]

Albright may have been “mad as hell” for being “taken” but he suffered little, especially compared to the nearly 4.500 U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and the hundreds of thousands of slain Iraqis, not to mention the millions of others who have suffered from the chaos that the likes of Emerson, Gordon and Albright helped unleash across the Middle East.

In recent years, Albright and his institute have adopted a similarly alarmist role regarding Iran and its purported pursuit of a nuclear weapon, even though U.S. intelligence agencies say Iran terminated that weapons project in 2003.

Nevertheless, Albright transformed his organization into a sparkplug for a new confrontation with Iran. Though Albright insists that he is an objective professional, his ISIS has published hundreds of articles about Iran, which has not produced a single nuclear bomb, while barely mentioning Israel’s hundreds of bombs.

An examination of the ISIS Web site reveals only a few technical articles relating to Israel’s nukes while Albright’s ISIS expanded its coverage of Iran’s nuclear program so much that it was moved onto a separate Web site. The articles have not only hyped developments in Iran but also have attacked U.S. media critics who questioned the fear-mongering about Iran.

A few years ago when a non-mainstream journalist confronted Albright about the disparity between his institute’s concentration on Iran and de minimis coverage of Israel, he angrily responded that he was working on a report about Israel’s nuclear program. But there is still no substantive assessment of Israel’s large nuclear arsenal on the ISIS Web site, which goes back to 1993.

Despite this evidence of bias, mainstream U.S. news outlets typically present Albright as a neutral analyst. They also ignore his checkered past, for instance, his prominent role in promoting President Bush’s pre-invasion case that Iraq possessed stockpiles of WMD.

However, since Albright and these other propagandists/operatives were never held accountable for the Iraq catastrophe, they are now rushing back into the game to try to block the Iran nuclear deal – and potentially turn the ball over in pursuit of another Mideast war. Netanyahu and his team appear to be clearing the bench for a goal-line stand.

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Guess Who Else Is Fundraising for Clinton: Private Prison Lobbyists


‘It is bad for all of us when these multibillion dollar companies use their considerable financial influence to try to pressure lawmakers’

A guard at the Northwest Detention Center, which is operated by private prison corporation GEO Group, on contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Photo: Alex Stonehill)

A guard at the Northwest Detention Center, which is operated by private prison corporation GEO Group, on contract from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (Photo: Alex Stonehill)

In addition to Wall Street and the fossil fuel industry, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is turning to lobbyists for the two biggest private prison companies in the country, Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, to raise money for her 2016 presidential candidacy.

Lee Fang of The Intercept made the discovery after examining Clinton’s list of lobbyists who are bundlers for her presidential bid, released last week. Bundlers are people who raise money for campaigns by organizing and collecting contributions from other donors.

Among those funneling money into Clinton’s campaign are:

  • Richard Sullivan of the firm Capitol Counsel, documented lobbyist for GEO Group.
  • Five employees of lobbying and law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which received $240,000 from CCA last year.
  • “Akin Gump lobbyist and Clinton bundler Brian Popper disclosed that he previously helped CCA defeat efforts to compel private prisons to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests,” noted Fang.

Fang’s reporting comes on the heels of revelations that Clinton’s campaign has also benefited from the largesse of the fossil fuel industry and Wall Street.

Critics say the fresh evidence of Clinton’s ties to lobbyists for the private prison industry raises a host of new concerns.

“The future of both criminal justice reform and immigration are critical for private prison firms,” notes Fang. “The Geo Group, in a disclosure statement for its investors, notes that its business could be ‘adversely affected by changes in existing criminal or immigration laws, crime rates in jurisdictions in which we operate, the relaxation of criminal or immigration enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction, sentencing or deportation practices, and the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by criminal laws or the loosening of immigration laws.'”

CCA and GEO have spent millions of dollars to press the U.S. government to impose harsher immigration laws that, in turn, spike corporate profits by driving up incarceration levels at their detention centers. Both companies stand accused of egregious human rights abuses at their facilities, from denial of mental and physical health care to inadequate nutrition.

“Private prisons have a long and well-documented history of giving to candidates of all levels and both parties and hiring lobbyists across the spectrum, so it doesn’t surprise me that prisons are trying to get in good with presidential candidates,” Cristina Parker of Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based organization that opposes prison profiteering, toldCommon Dreams.

“We already know that, in the immigration system, private prisons have a huge and outsized influence and they certainly don’t need any more,” Parker added. “It is bad for all of us when these multibillion dollar companies use their considerable financial influence to try to pressure lawmakers.”

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Regional War Escalates as Turkey Openly Bombs Targets Inside Syria


Airstrikes on Friday comes as Turkish government also gives US military and other allies permission to stage further operations from its facilities along the Syrian border

A Turkish Air Force F-16 in this file photo. A government official said three F-16 jets took off from Diyarbakir air base in southeast Turkey early Friday and used smart bombs to hit three IS targets. (Photo: Wikipedia Commons)

Proving that a larger regional war remains among the most significant threats of the protracted military campaign against the Islamic State (or ISIS), Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey confirmed on Monday that Turkish warplanes bombed several targets inside Syria on Monday.

According to the Associated Press:

Davutoglu said the airstrikes had “removed potential threats” to Turkey and targets were hit with “100 percent accuracy.” He did not rule out further strikes, saying Turkey was determined to stave off all terror threats against it.

“This was not a point operation, this is a process,” Davutoglu said. “It is not limited to one day or to one region… The slightest movement threatening Turkey will be retaliated against in the strongest way possible.”

Turkish police on Friday launched a major operation against terror groups including IS, carrying out simultaneous raids in Istanbul and 12 provinces and detaining more than 290 people.

News that at least three Turkish F-16 fighters took off from the Diyarbakir air base in the southern part of the country to strike at ISIS is the first time Turkey itself has executed airstrikes against its neighbor since the conflict began and marks a potentially significant escalation in the conflict that pits the U.S. military and allied Gulf and European nations against the militant group that has taken over large swaths of both Syrian and Iraqi territory.

Turkish media reported the targets as being close to the Syrian border with Turkey in the village of Hawar al-Naht, but officials would not confirm the exact location.

Reuters reports:

Local people on the Turkish side of the frontier reported the sound of the attack. “We heard something last night, but we couldn’t tell if it was air strikes or gunfire,” said Zeki Polat, a 47-year-old who was sitting in a teahouse in the village of Elbeyli.

The attacks are probably the first time that Turkey has publicly said it bombed Islamic State in Syria, according to Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group. He said the aim of the strikes could also be “to help rebels on the ground control areas near the border instead of Kurdish forces”.

Turkey has suffered a wave of violence in its largely Kurdish southeast after a suspected Islamic State suicide bombing killed 32 people, many of them Kurds, in the town of Suruc on the Syrian border this week.

The airstrikes also come a day after it was announced that Turkey would allow U.S. and allied warplanes to use the same airbase to stage bombing raids and other missions over Syria and Iraq.

On Thursday, U.S. Defense Department officials announced that Ankara had agreed to allow use of a separate air base in Turkey, called Incirlik, as a launching pad for airstrikes following a phone call between President Obama and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

As the Guardian notes, the latest developments come as Turkey faces increasing levels of internal political tension, with the Erdogan government lumping many of its left-wing adversaries—namely the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), but also young socialists and others—together with the militant threat posed by ISIS and those sympathetic to its cause.

“Tension has risen dangerously in the predominantly Kurdish south-east, where many have long accused the [Erdogan government] of directly supporting ISIS against the Kurdish struggle in Syria, a charge Ankara vehemently denies,” the newspaper reports.

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Fear and Anxiety Eat With Us: Cycling For Gaza’s Traumatized Kids


The 2013 Cycling4Gaza team. Front photo of brother and sister in Gaza by Press TV

Cycling4Gaza, credit Kareem Salman
Cycling4Gaza, credit Kareem Salman

With hundreds of thousands of Gazan children enduring what one doctor calls “continuous PTSD” – from nightmares to apathy to fear of leaving home – after last year’s Israeli assault, activists have embarked on the 7th annual Cycling4Gaza to raise funds to help them heal. Their 300-kilometer trek across the Netherlands will end at the Hague’s International Criminal Court, which Palestine recently joined in order to bring war crimes charges against those who left in their brutal wake damaged children who’ve “lost hope in many things.”

Cycling4Gaza tour, running July 24-26, includes about 50 riders aged 14 to 68 from around the world, including an 18-year-old amputee  from Gaza and a 14-year-old cancer patient from the West Bank. Over the last six years, the group has raised $1.4 million to help over 9,600 Gazan children in a variety of ways. This year, with a goal of $286,000, they decided to launch a new mental health project in partnership with the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. It’s no mystery why:  Last year’s war left not just 551 children dead and 3,436 physically wounded, but an estimated 370,000 – over a third of the region’s 900,000 children – in need of what UNICEF calls “psychosocial first aid.

Those children live in a state of “continuous post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, who runs the Gaza Community Mental Health Program’s three clinics, and who himself lost 28 relatives, the most in a single air strike, during last year’s Gaza assault. What they suffer from cannot simply be called post-traumatic stress disorder, he insists, “if it’s not yet post.” For many Palestinian children who lived through Gaza’s war last summer, and one or even two wars before that, the source of their PTSD is not an isolated incident but the daily reality of living in a condition of chronic war, with an ongoing and terrifying sense there is “no place to hide.” Living amidst the rubble of their houses and lives without proper food, water and too often families, children also sufferfrom a long list of ailments, from separation anxiety to bedwetting to listlessness to aggresssion. For play, they often act out funerals, or build towers from blocks, and then knock them down. According to aid workers, seven out of ten regularly have nightmares, over half no longer want to go to school either from fear or lack of concentration, and close to 90% of parents say their children are almost always afraid.

Many Palestinians worry that, despite the Gazans’ legendary resilience, the result will be a generation of mentally and emotionally damaged children. In the searing “The Drone Eats With Me: Diaries from a City Under Fire,” Atef Abu Saif chronicles the 51 days of the war, and all its “infinitely rich, infinitely unknowable” lives and stories that became mere numbers of casualties: “We prepare the suhoor. We all sit around five dishes: white cheese, hummus, orange jam, yellow cheese, and olives. Darkness eats with us. Fear and anxiety eat with us. The unknown eats with us. The F16 eats with us. The drone, and its operator somewhere out in Israel, eat with us.” It is those terrors and memories the cyclists, among many others, hope to ease. Donate here.

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Reports of Capitalism’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated


‘Left to its own, state-supported devices, capitalism has proven itself plenty adept at navigating crisis after crisis,’ writes Aronoff. Upending the neoliberal order will take more than the techno-fixes of the so-called “sharing economy” and street marches. (Photo:Bloco/flickr/cc)

Late last week, economic journalist Paul Mason, whose Channel 4 blog has been one of the best English-language sources for making sense of the ongoing Greek crisis, published an excerpt from his forthcoming book in The Guardian. It announces that the end of capitalism has begun and that (spoiler) it doesn’t look how we thought it might. The 20th century old/new leftist dream of some crisis-sparked proletarian revolt, he argues, has been battered by neoliberalism and, now, is being replaced by a steady trickle of viable, largely technology-fuelled alternatives to the current economy. “Capitalism, it turns out, will not be abolished by forced-march techniques,” Mason writes. “It will be abolished by creating something more dynamic that exists, at first, almost unseen within the old system, but which will break through, reshaping the economy around new values and behaviors.”

He contends that advances in information technology have “reduced the need for work, blurred the edges of work and free time and loosened the relationship between work and wages.” Stemming from the Wages for Housework campaign of the 1970s, feminist movements and scholars have for years highlighted the loose connection between work and pay, along with the blurry line between labor and leisure at home and in the workplace. And, as Doug Henwood rightly pointed out, there’s nothing inherent to technological innovation that means less work, especially for the market’s worst-off; in the last several years, the American economy has actually become more productive (that is, labor intensive) relative to GDP. To date, automation hasn’t so much reduced the need for jobs as it has expanded capitalism’s capacity to create more terrible ones.

Clearly, though, the economy is changing. For Mason, there are a few other factors driving this transition: an influx of abundant information at odds with capitalism’s drive to hoard scarce resources; the rise of “spontaneous production … that no longer respond[s] to the dictates of the market and the managerial hierarchy,” like Wikipedia; and, finally, the growth of alternative economic practices in the face of crisis — food co-ops, time banks, parallel currencies and other measures falling broadly under the umbrella of “free time, networked activity and free stuff.”

As austerity wears at its seams in southern Europe, all of the above are disrupting what Mason calls a “fifth long upswing for capitalism,” differentiated from the previous four by a lack of pressure from the workforce to herald in higher wages, new technology and more consumption. Increasingly, networks are replacing hierarchies and we’re all learning to share more, in cyber and real-space. In their beautiful abundance, these social and actual technologies chafe at ownership; influenced by technology, in turn, there is a new engine of change replacing the industrial worker: “the educated and connected human being.” Information technology and the networked social forms accompanying it are non-capitalist beasts just waiting to be let out of their stables to race toward a post-capitalist future.

But as Leah Hunt-Hendrix and Astra Taylor noted recently for The Nation, there’s no ready-made path from information to liberation. “Our high-tech tools are constrained by market incentives and government surveillance interests that are often intertwined,” they wrote. “We cannot think about surveillance without paying keen attention to the corporations that benefit from it and the deep inequities that result.” Not only is there a barely-hidden world of workers making the digital revolution possible, but tech itself is already being used to serve the interests of those driving our current, vastly unequal economy. It deserves noting that some of the biggest fans of decentralization — technological or otherwise — areright-wing libertarians, who would be as happy to see workplace protections stripped as they would to see a new start-up food co-op take root.

Consider Uber, the poster-child of the for-profit sharing economy now worth $50 billion. Until a landmark ruling last month, the company posited itself as a neutral technology, simply providing its army of contingent drivers with a platform through which to make their own money — and stay exempt from federal labor laws. By ruling that Uber is, in fact, an employer, the California Labor Commission confirmed what many drivers already knew: Work in the sharing economy doesn’t stray very far from the current one.

Left to its own, state-supported devices, capitalism has proven itself plenty adept at navigating crisis after crisis, and, from subprime mortgages to student debt to climate change, monetizing the seemingly priceless. As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote in 2010, banks are a “highly sophisticated engine for converting the useful, deployed wealth of society into the least useful, most wasteful and insoluble substance on Earth — pure profit for rich individuals.” Technology is just another hurdle they can ably jump over. Even against the information age’s more egalitarian impulses, tech remains firmly in the hands of the one percent — albeit a nerdier, tanner and more socially progressive one.

Conversely, Mason is exactly right to point out the incredible promise these emergent innovations hold to serve downright radical ends. But what’s going to take them there? “No doubt, the Internet opens up new avenues and opportunities for resistance,” Taylor and Hunt-Hendrix concluded. “But new technologies will not solve the problems at hand: People acting collectively will.” Tech is contested political ground. Even in the transition from feudalism to capitalism Mason references, it took a plague and, importantly, a widespread peasant revolt to lurch Europe out of stagnant feudalism. As in other historical epochs, disruptive power is necessary to drive society’s agenda away from the interests of those already in charge.

Mason’s call to “direct all actions towards the transition — not the defense of random elements of the old system,” to focus solely on building alternatives, is a false dichotomy. If Syriza’s project in Greece has shown anything, it’s that combining a broad-based solidarity economy with political power is deeply threatening to neoliberalism, the top brass of which will risk self-implosion to stamp it out. Acting alone, Solidarity for All didn’t provoke a sadistic backlash from Greece’s creditors. Syriza’s victory at the polls, its leadership’s presence at the negotiating table in Brussels, and the egalitarian populist parties grasping at state power across the Mediterranean did — but neither the challenge nor the solution could exist without the other.

Millennial-led movements from Black Lives Matter to Occupy Wall Street have already put the social technologies Mason describes into practice, and are writing new rules for how popular uprisings work in the 21st century. Podemos, Spain’s ascendant populist party,uses a sub-Reddit to make decisions among members at the national level. Thankfully, technology is changing organizing at least as much as it is the economy. Capitalism isn’t going anywhere without a fight, no matter how inventive the alternatives. If the early 20th century labor heroine Lucy Parsons were alive now, she might add an addendum on to the statement she’s best remembered by: “Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to innovate away their wealth.” Today’s movements will need to be at least as creative as the forces they’re taking on, and be building solutions that are even more so. Post-capitalism is coming, but a new and even more disruptive tradition of organizing will have to clear the way first.

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Will We Ever Stop the Drones?


Anti-drone demonstrators march in 2013.  (Photo: Debra Sweet/flickr/cc)

Almost a year after the 2012 election, Florida congressman Alan Grayson decided to hold a hearing. The number of drone attacks were going up not down; sparse news reports from mostly military sources weren’t making much of an impact on the American public.

In October 2013, Grayson decided to invite a Pakistani family who’d experienced an attack themselves to Capitol Hill to address congress directly. On October 29, they came to Washington, including thirteen year old Zubair who was gravely hurt in a U.S. drone attack on his home community.

Zubair had been reluctant to make the journey to the States, for fear he wouldn’t be welcomed here, but the strike that maimed Zubair also killed his beloved grandmother, so welcomed or not, he decided it was important to tell the story. “My grandmother and I used to share a love of bright blue skies,” he began. The sky in their village of Ghundi was particularly blue on Oct. 24, 2012, the day before Eid, the biggest festival of the year, he explained. He and his grandmother were finishing their work in the fields before celebrating. They could see and hear a drone hovering over their heads but they didn’t worry, said Zubair. “Why would I worry? Neither my grandmother nor I were militants.”

When the drone fired the first time the whole ground shook and black smoke rose up. “We ran but several minutes later, the drone fired again,” testified Zubair. He spent Eid as it turned in agony in the hospital. It would take his family months to save for the specialist care that was able to remove the shrapnel from his leg. The drone killed his grandmother in front of him.

As Zubair told the legislators: “I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray, and for a short period of time, the mental tension and fear eases… I know that Americans think that drones are the answer,” continued Zubair. “I wish they could understand how I and other children in my community see drones. We used to play outside all the time….now people are afraid to even leave their houses….children have stopped going to the few schools that exist….education isn’t possible as long as the drones circle overhead.”… “I hope by telling you about my village and my grandmother, I can convince you that drones are not the answer, concluded Zubair…. And then he added, ” I hope I can return home with a message… that Americans listened, that America’s not just drones that terrorize us from above but a country that listens and maybe – just maybe – America may soon stop the drones.”

Was Zubair’s trip worth it? Is any body listening? It’s been almost two years. What message do you think is getting to his village?

We’ll post a link to the full transcript of the Rehmans’ remarks at our website. You can watch my interview with Andrew Cockburn, author of Kill Chain, this week on The Laura Flanders Show on KCET/LINKtv and TeleSUR and find all my interviews and reports at To tell me what you think, write to:

See all of this week’s episode of GRITtv in the video below:

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Condemnation After UK Lifts Ban on Bee-Killing Neonics


Temporary reversal on pesticide will allow farmers to access harmful chemicals for 120 days

Oilseed rape fields are sprayed with neonicotinoids. (Photo: Chafer Machinery/flickr/cc)

The UK government this week temporarily lifted a ban on controversial pesticides linked to widespread harm to bees and other insects—a move which one environmental group said “shows a blatant disregard for our wildlife.”

The ban was lifted under an “emergency” measure in response to an application by the National Farmers’ Union (NFU). Under the statute, farmers cultivating around 300 square kilometers of oilseed rape will have access for 120 days to two neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics, from agrochemical giants Bayer and Syngenta.

According to the NFU, the 300 square kilometers amounts to roughly 5 percent of the UK’s total oilseed rape crop. The industry association says it needs access to the pesticides to protect against cabbage stem flea beetles.

But the chemicals in question have been linked to declines in populations of pollinators like honeybees and bumblebees, as well as insects like ladybirds, which help keep crop pest numbers down.

“Although the Government has only allowed these chemicals to be used on 5% of land grown for oilseed rape, it shows a blatant disregard for our wildlife and the rules that we have in place to protect the environment,” said Paul Hetherington, fundraising and communications director for the UK-based environmental nonprofit Buglife.

Friends of the Earth bees campaigner Paul de Zylva added, “It’s scandalous that the Government has caved in to NFU pressure and given permission for some farmers to use banned pesticides that have been shown to harm our precious bees.

“Ever more scientific evidence shows just how dangerous these chemicals are to bees and other pollinators—they should have no place in our fields and gardens,” de Zylva said.

The government also shrouded its decision in secrecy, another move denounced by green groups.

The Guardian reports:

Ministers have not made public the information provided by the NFU, citing commercial confidentiality.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) also told its expert committee on pesticides (ECP) to halt its normal practice of publishing the minutes of meetings at which the neonicotinoid applications were discussed, in order to avoid “provoking representations from different interest groups”.

But the department’s attempt to gag its own expert advisers did not go unnoticed by those so-called “interest groups.”

“It’s scandalous that the Government has caved in to NFU pressure and given permission for some farmers to use banned pesticides.”
—Paul de Zylva, Friends of the Earth

“The last time the Conservatives stood for office, they said they were going to be the greenest Government ever. The outcome of this decision and the secrecy surrounding the process indicates otherwise,” Buglife’s Hetherington said.

A study published earlier this year in Nature foundthat wild bee populations were cut in half around fields where neonics were used to treat crops. On Thursday, Nature noted the connection and reported:

Lynn Dicks, a pollinator researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, says that in light of Rundlöf and colleague’s work, “I find this [DEFRA] decision extraordinary”.

Based on that research, she says, “areas with 5% of the UK’s rape crop might expect to lose two-thirds of their wild bumblebee queens going into the winter of 2016/17 because of this decision”.

The European Union banned neonics in 2013 over the concerns that they hurt pollinators, but the ban will be up for review in December.

Posted in Health, UKComments Off on Condemnation After UK Lifts Ban on Bee-Killing Neonics

Nazi Military Admits to Supporting Syrian Zio-Wahhabi Jihadis

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr 

The alternative press has noted for months that NAZI army is supporting jihadis in Syria. But NAZI regime has consistently denied these allegations … until now.

The Times of Israel reported 3 weeks ago:

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday that Israel has been providing aid to Syrian rebels, thus keeping the Druze in Syria out of immediate danger. Israeli officials have previously balked at confirming on the record that the country has been helping forces that are fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.


“We’ve assisted them under two conditions,” Ya’alon said of the Israeli medical aid to the Syrian rebels, some of whom are presumably fighting with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad. “That they don’t get too close to the border, and that they don’t touch the Druze.”

Al Nusra is Al Qaeda, and closely affiliated with ISIS. And remember, there have NEVER been any “moderate Syrian rebels” … only Islamic Sunni jihadis.

As Vice President Joseph Biden admitted:

The fact of the matter is . . . there was no moderate middle. . . . [O]ur allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. . . . They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and . . . thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and al-Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis.

(Leaked NSA documents also show that NAZI special forces assassinated a top Syrian government official.)

Not all Israelis support this effort. For example, Jacky Hugi – an Arab affairs analyst for NAZI army radio – recently wrote:

Israel should back Assad


Anyone who wonders why is invited to look at neighboring Iraq or distant Libya. What’s happening there is likely to happen in Syria after President Bashar al-Assad.


In choosing between one bad thing and another, the balance tips toward the regime. The Israeli security establishment should gradually abandon its emerging alliance with the Syrian rebels …


The survival of the Damascus regime guarantees stability on Israel’s northern border, and it’s a keystone to its national security.


It is a dangerous, irresponsible gamble to choose Assad’s enemies and encourage his collapse — it would be playing with fire. The prominent elements among Israel’s potential future neighbors are mainly Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, or the Islamic State ….

Posted in Middle East, ZIO-NAZI, SyriaComments Off on Nazi Military Admits to Supporting Syrian Zio-Wahhabi Jihadis





terrDER’AH:  Something important is happening in Syria.  Not only in Al-Hasakah where we find hundreds, if not thousands of young men and women, rushing to join the Popular Defense Committees, but also, in Der’ah where this whole mess actually started.  Notwithstanding any hostility to the Ba’athist government of Dr. Bashar Al-Assad, 2 things have happened in Der’ah which cannot be refuted:  the first is that the people now realize that this is not their war any longer; it is a war foisted upon them by the United States, the Zionist Khazar State and Britain, not to mention the Arabian monkeys.  The second epiphany has to do with a realization that the events of 2011 were staged by a coalition of American/British/Saudi/Qatari spooks who positioned snipers on the tops of buildings to deliberately target demonstrators in an effort to “frame” the Syrian government.  Der’ah’s population now knows that the war did not start with simple demonstrations demanding greater freedoms – they started as part of a plan hatched in 2007 by the CIA/Mossad/MI6/and the hapless Saudi General Intelligence muttonheads.  Today, you are watching the people of Der’ah expressing their loyalty to their flag by joining with the SAA and PDCs to stop the raging and maniacal campaigns plotted in Amman, Jordan, to occupy this southern capital.  Nobody but a few nincompoops want Alqaeda or its allies in the city or the province.  HENCE, YESTERDAY, ALQAEDA LAUNCHED A 4-PRONGED ASSAULT ON THE CITY FROM 4 SEPARATE GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATIONS IN AN EFFORT TO DISLODGE THE SAA AND PDC.  THE CAMPAIGN WAS AN ABYSMAL FAILURE WHOSE STATISTICS ARE REVERBERATING IN AMMAN AS I WRITE.  Monzer claims that the United States may pull its staff out of the “Operations Room” due to the depressing record of failure as demonstrated by the imbeciles there.

THE CITY:  Yesterday, coming out of the areas of Al-Yaadooda, Tal Al-Za’tar and Al-Nu’ayma, Alqaeda/Nusra along with Liwaa` Al-Yarmook and Falloojat Hawraan, came up against an impregnable wall of fire power in the city of Der’ah.  The SAA knew about the operation days ago and made sure preparations were more than adequate to protect the city.  As it turned, something surprising took place: citizens started cooperating with the army at a level heretofore unseen in this area.  At mosques and clubs, residents of Der’ah proclaimed their loyalty to their flag and condemned the cannibal rodents supported by the archenemy of the Arabs, the United States/Britain and the Zionist Settler State.  Who could blame them when the terrorists announce regularly their “positive” interaction with Zionist PM, Benjamin Mileikowski.

Yesterday, the rats attacked with over 25 refurbished T-62 tanks, 20+ APCs provided by the Saudi apes, 100 or more pickups with 23mm cannons and a slew of TOW operators.  They came in from 4 directions, mostly from the East at Al-Nu’ayma and the northwest from Al-Yaadoodaa.  The number of Syrian troops and militia waiting for them was in the thousands heavily armed with the best T-72 tanks and a plethora of highly advanced, mostly Russian, anti-tank and anti-personnel weapons.  Combine all that with the SAAF and the Big Surprise, and what you got was a BIG FAT DISASTER!

The assault was stopped in its tracks from the beginning.  When it looked as though the city was going to undergo siege, the fantasy went bust as whole packs of rodents began to turn around only to face the harrying mayhem of fully loaded Sukhoi bombers strafing them at every corner.  The Big Surprise was evident, for all to see, as each maneuver planned by the rats, including infantry-cum-suicide truck assault, collapsed with dead-on accurate Kornet rockets savaging the kami-kaze degenerates from every direction.  According to our sources in Damascus, the number of rodents killed has exceeded 300.  There will be a full on-scene military assessment since the rats have scattered leaving no snipers or marks-rodents behind.  A major humiliation for the British and their Jordanian accomplices.  A huge victory for the people of Syria.


مقتل مئات الإرهابيين.. الجيش يفشل هجوماً من أربع محاور على درعاEast Al-Muzayreeb:  The groups called Fursaan Al-Janoob (Knights of the South, yawn) and Kateebat Shuhadaa` Muzayreeb (Martyrs of Muzayreeb Brigade, yawn squared) faced extinction yesterday as the SAA and PDC laid waste to their one and only caravan:

Muhammad ‘Abdul-Raheem Al-Ghaanim (a field commander)

Saddaam Al-Jibaawi (Fursaan’s leader) 

West Tal ‘Antar:  At the Al-Adham Building, Nusra and Ahraar Al-Shaam were obliterated.

Al-Yaadoodaa Town:  Weapons and ammunition seized with 3 confirmed rat deaths.

More fighting reported here:  Silos east of the province near Suwaydaa`, Sayda at Jordanian border, Abaazeed Quarter in the City.


Italian Premier Renzi gets his facts and priorities wrong on I$raHell and the Palestinian struggle

Matteo Renzi in Israel

Matteo Renzi, failing to ensure respect for international law is “futile and stupid”, not the boycott of Israel

Media release from BDS Italia:

During his visit to Israel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gave a speech to the Knesset in which he stressed the relationship and friendship between Italy and Israel, affirming that “Italy will always be in the front line against all forms of boycott, which are futile and stupid”.

Renzi’s statement demonstrates his utter lack of knowledge of the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) launched in July 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society as a necessary and moral response to the failure of international institutions to halt Israel’s continuing violations of international law.1

For decades and with complete impunity, Israel has carried out policies of occupation and colonisation, appropriating Palestinian land and resources, building settlements and the Apartheid Wall, approved laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel and forced half of the Palestinian population to live as refugees or in exile.2 A year after the operation “Protective Edge”, Israel’s third military operation in five years bombarding the Gaza Strip, which caused the death of over 2,200 people, the vast majority civilians and a quarter of them children, Israel continues to prevent, through the illegal blockade it has imposed for eight years, the reconstruction of the 18,000 homes it damaged.3

BDS serves to break the status quo in which Israel continues to violate rights with impunity, thanks to the inaction of states and institutions, and businesses, including Italian firms, continue to profit from this illegal situation.4

Now more than ever, the BDS campaign in Italy must be intensified in order to end complicity of Italian institutions and companies.

In these 10 years, the BDS movement has grown steadily, garnering ever more consensus and successes. Among the endorsers of the campaign are trade unions, movements, churches, non-governmental organisations, artists and intellectuals, including Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and South African Archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. Thanks to the work of civil society around the world, businesses, banks and pension funds have divested from the Israeli economy and complicit international companies and consumers refuse to buy Israeli products.5

The boycott is a recognised and time-honoured non-violent means to apply pressure and withdraw support from systems of injustice, just as was the case with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Now more than ever, the BDS campaign in Italy must be intensified in order to end complicity of Italian institutions and companies.

It is “futile and stupid” to continue to ignore the violations of Israel instead of taking concrete measures to ensure respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and UN resolutions, and support the Palestinian call for freedom, justice and equality.

BDS Italy

BDS Italia is a movement supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. It is comprised of associations and groups throughout Italy who endorse the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society and work to promote BDS campaigns and initiatives locally and nationally.


1. BDS

2. Dispossession and exile

3. Blockade of Gaza

4. Italian firms profiting from Israeli crime

5] Key successes of the BDS movement

Posted in ItalyComments Off on Italian Premier Renzi gets his facts and priorities wrong on I$raHell and the Palestinian struggle

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