Archive | October 5th, 2016

Nowhere to hide: New illegal observation tower in occupied Hebron


Hebron, Occupied Palestine – Israeli forces put up a CCTV observation tower in the Ibrahimi mosque area, further increasing not only their all-encompassing surveillance of Palestinians, but also their slow but steady illegal annexation of more and more Palestinian land in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron).

At the end of last week, Israeli forces in a ‘secret’ over-night action put up the observation tower, surrounded by dozens of cement blocks and barbed-wire. Located in a corner between Palestinian houses, the observation post with a container and all the surrounding paraphernalia is just another step in the illegal annexation of yet more land. In recent weeks, Israeli forces have increased their illegal annexations of the tiny strip of Shuhada Street still accessible to Palestinian pedestrians and stepped up the game of creating a coercive environment directly leading to forced displacement of Palestinians in the Tel Rumeida area.

CCTV surveillance tower newly put up in Palestinian neighborhood

CCTV surveillance tower newly put up in Palestinian neighborhood

This observation tower is fitted with a camera that reaches high above the houses in the neighborhood, thus watching Palestinians constantly. This feeling of permanently being watched for Palestinians is combined with the ever present controls and humiliations at the more-and-more militarized checkpoints. Palestinians are watched, humiliated, numbered, deprived of their most basic human rights – occupied not only physically by the Israeli occupation forces, but also mentally. They can never tell whether they’ll be allowed through a checkpoint (something that solely depends on the respective soldiers whim), whether their children will be tear-gassed on their way to school or arrested, or even whether they’ll be gunned down by Israeli forces at a checkpoint and left to bleed to death. Any and all of these forms of collective punishment are enforced by the Israeli occupying forces on the entire population of civilians in complete disregard of any care for international law or humane treatment of the occupied indigenous Palestinian population.

The Tel Rumeida neighborhood, Shuhada Street, and the area around the Ibrahimi Mosque are already linked by a settler-only street that has been ethnically cleansed of Palestinians in the aftermath of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre. Restrictions in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood (declared a ‘closed military zone’ solely enforced on Palestinian residents for almost a year now) and around the Ibrahimi Mosque (where Palestinians are often prevented from passing checkpoints on a age-limit between 15-30) have escalated in a very short amount of time, making life for the Palstinians as hard – or rather impossible – as possible, leaving them with no choice than to leave. The only and clear aim is the forcible transfer of all Palestinians in this area, thus geographically linking the illegal settlements in an area ethnically cleansed of any Palestinian presence.

CCTV camero on top of the surveillance tower

CCTV camero on top of the surveillance tower

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Democracy Now?

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By Richard Hugus

When it comes to Syria, the supposedly “alternative” media outlet, “Democracy Now!” promotes a line no different from the US State Department. In its September 29, 2016 broadcast, “Democracy Now!” co-host Narmine Shaikh describes a “devastating bombing campaign by the Syrian government and Russia in the city of Aleppo”  three days earlier, saying that “the two largest hospitals in Aleppo were forced to close after being hit by airstrikes.”

The broadcast implies that, for no reason, public hospitals in Aleppo were intentionally bombed by Syria and Russia. There is no explanation of why they would do this. No proof is given that the hospitals were operational, whether they were in fact bombed, who bombed them, or who controlled them.

Instead, in the background, we see videos of blasted buildings and innocent people, including a small child, apparently being rescued from the rubble of collapsed buildings. The video implies that this was done by the Syrian government and Russia, but the time and place of the footage is not provided.

The footage of the rescue of the small child carries the logo of the western propaganda NGO, the White Helmets, and has no credibility. Amy Goodman describes this group as “Syria civil defense forces” but Vanessa Beeley has reported that Syria has a real civil defense organization, which the White Helmets are not a part of; the White Helmets are USAID-funded impostors making propaganda videos to demonize Russia and Assad. Beeley also reports:

“Western media infers that those being targeted are civilians, not members of the Nusra Front and other foreign-funded terrorist brigades, and that all these “civilians” are being mercilessly bombed by Russian and Syrian air strikes.

All three main hospitals are fully occupied by the various armed insurgencies led by the Nusra Front, according to Dr. Hayak [a doctor in non-occupied Aleppo], who said they use the top floors as sniper towers.”

Without comment, “Democracy Now!” plays a clip in which President Obama says, “the key in Syria now is that, unless we can get the parties involved to realize they are just burning their country to the ground . . . there’s going to be a limit to what we can do.” Obama promotes the idea that Syria is in the midst of a terrible civil war and that the most the US can do there is “to mitigate the pain and suffering those folks are undergoing.” How generous of the US! Why doesn’t it just end its massive support for the killers that are attacking and occupying Syria? The question would not be raised by “Democracy Now!”.

By showing dramatic footage of bombed buildings and injured civilians and blaming it on the Syrian government and Russia, “Democracy Now!” is providing everything the US needs to finally claim that it must carry out another “humanitarian war,” this time against Syria. A key promoter of this Orwellian concept is Samantha Power, who, as US ambassador to the UN, barely conceals the contempt she and her fellow neocons have for the rest of the world.

In an insulting an officious tone, this instigator of war called Russia “barbaric” for its alleged bombing of Aleppo. “Democracy Now!” airs a clip showing Ban Ki Moon saying the same thing. Though he does not name Russia or Syria, we are led to believe that Russia and the Syrian government were the perpetrators of killing worse than what takes place in “a slaughterhouse.” Of course, when the US kills people, it is always done humanely. Humanitarian killing has been Samantha Power’s specialty since the war on Yugoslavia, where the US and NATO dropped humanitarian bombs on Serbia for 79 straight days.

Two guests appear on the September 29 program, both introduced as grassroots Syrian human rights activists. The first, Osama Nasser, seems to be stumbling over a script he was given to read while Amy Goodman struggles not to look annoyed. Nasser says that Aleppo is being attacked by Russia and Syrian regime forces and that the US is doing nothing to help, as if the US were not already there in any other capacity. For instance, he does not mention the ongoing occupation of Aleppo by US forces cloned from al-Qaeda, and the “Democracy Now!” hosts do nothing to raise this obvious point. Al-Qaeda foreign mercenaries are supposed to be the arch-enemy of the US, so mentioning them would only confuse people. Thanks to other news sources, we know that the Syrian army and Russia are fighting to force al-Qaeda out of Aleppo.

When Osama Nasser gets through his talking points, on comes the more polished Yasser Munif, speaking from Emerson College in Boston. Munif pushes an idea designed to appeal to western leftists, that since 2011 Syria has been experiencing a domestic grassroots revolution, the main enemy of which is President Assad, who came down on the revolution with brutal repression. Munif does not mention that the 2011 protests were likely orchestrated by Israel and the West in the first place to destabilize Syria.

But one would think, if they didn’t get this in 2011, that when they saw their cause being taken over by thousands of mercenaries from other countries, these grassroots revolutionaries would perhaps take a break from the “revolution” to get rid of the invaders. But Munif and other proponents of the so-called grassroots movement insist that all along there has been only one problem – the Syrian government. The US State Department and the Syrian Revolution are, conveniently, in full agreement: Bashar al-Assad is the root of all evil. “Assad must go” is at the top of the list of propaganda points.

In his commentary, Munif says that the Syrian government has used the media “to create a parallel reality” – a phrase taken from whoever creates buzzwords for John Kerry, who said in the same week that Russian-Syrian assertions of the US responsibility for sabotaging a ceasefire made him feel like he was living in “a parallel world.” The world that most other people live in could see that the US was clearly guilty of sabotage.

The propaganda we are seeing in the world today relies on a full 180º overturning of reality. The horrendous crimes being committed by the US, Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and others in Syria, as they are carried out, are immediately blamed on the victims of those crimes – the people of Syria — and on Russia, the one nation which has stood up in Syria’s defense. “Democracy Now!” is doing its part in this subterfuge by making sure that liberals and leftists who follow the show are properly misled. It does this by devoting a lot of its program space to good causes, like exposing the epidemic (surely a policy by now) of police murders of blacks on US streets. Indeed, most of the September 29 program was devoted to the then latest murder of Ugandan refugee, Alfred Olango.

But “Democracy Now!” is no different than any of the mainstream media news programs – it omits any analysis of Israel’s role in instigating a war against Arab and Muslim nations, it omits any critique of the power of the Israel lobby, it omits any examination of the neocons and their agenda for Israel, and it omits any coverage of the fact that the September 11, 2001 attacks were planned and carried out by the neocons and others in order to begin the succession of wars that followed. This is by no means a complete list of the services rendered by “Democracy Now!”.  The program would not be on the air, getting generous funding and wide exposure, if it were not doing some heavy lifting. The self-righteousness coming off the screen of this supposedly radical left news program makes it even more offensive than Fox News.

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Frustration in Moldova ahead of its first direct presidential election in 20 years


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One of Europe’s poorest nations could be about to see a major political upheaval. In a few weeks, Moldova will hold its first direct presidential election in 20 years. It’s being driven by a ground-swell of public discontent, as Ilya Petrenko explains.

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Nazi army closes Ibrahimi Mosque to Palestinian worshippers



Nazi regime have decided to close the Ibrahimi Mosque, in the heart of the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron), to Palestinians, Muslim worshipers and non-Jewish visitors for seven non-consecutive days.

Yousif Ideis, the Palestinian minister of endowment and religious affairs, said on Sunday that the sacred site will be closed to Palestinians and non-Jews on October 3, 4, 9, 12, 18, 19 and 26.

Nazi regime have said the shutdown is aimed at maintaining security in the wake of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), Sukkot (Feast of Booths) and Simchat Torah holidays.

Ideis added that dozens of illegal Nazi Jewish settlers broke into the mosque courtyard on Saturday night amid protection by Nazi troopers.

In the meantime, Nazi regime are closing all passageways between the blockaded Gaza Strip and illegally occupied Palestine 1948, as well as between the occupied West Bank and Israel for Rosh Hashanah.

Nazi regime regularly impose stringent restrictions for Palestinians during Jewish holidays for alleged security purposes.

The constraints include denied access to the Ibrahimi Mosque, which is revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims and has been the site of violent tensions between Nazi army and Palestinians for decades.

On February 25, 1994, at least 29 Palestinians were killed and 125 others wounded when American-Jewish Baruch Goldstein opened fire on a large number of Palestinian Muslims, who had gathered inside the Ibrahimi Mosque to say prayers during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The occupied territories have already been the scene of increased tensions ever since Nazi forces imposed restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East Jerusalem al-Quds in August 2015.

Nearly 250 Palestinians have lost their lives at the hands of Nazi forces since the beginning of last October.

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September 2016 report: 436 Palestinians arrested, nearly 8000 since October 2015



The following is a translation of the report issued monthly by Palestinian organizations working on prisoners’ issues: Prisoners Affairs Committee; Palestinian Prisoners; Society; Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights and Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association. The report was issued on Monday, 3 October and translated by Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. Photo for illustration purposes.

Nazi occupation forces arrested 436 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in September 2016, including 73 children and 11 women (including 3 minor girls.)

151 of those arrests took place in the Jerusalem Governorate, 81 in Al-Khalil, 40 in Bethlehem, 40 in Nablus, 35 in Jenin, 32 in Ramallah and El-Bireh, 23 in Tulkarem, eight in Qalqilya, six in Tubas, six in Salfit, five from Jericho and nine from the Gaza Strip.

There are approximately 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 59 women, 12 of them minor girls. There are a total of approximately 350 children in Megiddo and Ofer prisons. There are 700 Palestinians held in administrative detention without charge or trial. 122 administrative detention orders were issued in September, including 44 new orders.

Battle of the empty stomachs in September

Palestinian prisoners Mohammed and Mahmoud al-Balboul and Malik al-Qadi carried out hunger strikes of 79, 76 and 68 days against the administrative detention orders against them. They ended their strikes on 22 September after reaching an agreement for their release without renewal of their administrative detention, with the immediate release of al-Qadi to a Palestinian hospital and the release of the Balboul brothers on 8 December 2016, which came after popular, legal and political efforts for their release.

Palestinian prisoners Ahmad Abu Fara and Anas Shadid launched their hunger strike on 25 September against administrative detention while Jawad Jawarish and Maher Abayat announced their strike against arbitrary transfer and isolation.

A year on the popular intifada: the issue of prisoners

The popular uprising which began on 1 October 2015 has had a clear impact on the issue of prisoners. The number of daily arrests has increased over the past year and has included the arrests of different ages and social groups, children, women and men. At least 7955 Palestinians were arrested, including 1963 children, 229 women and girls, 41 journalists and five members of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The highest number of arrested Palestinians were from Jerusalem; 2355 Palestinians from Jerusalem have been detained since last October, including 842 children and 128 women, including 24 minor girls.

There has been an increase in the number of administrative detention orders throught the year. For the first time since 2008, occupation authorities have issued 1436 administrative detention orders in 2016, including 546 new orders issued without charge or trial under the so-called “secret file.” It is worth noting that many administrative detention orders were issued against young people and students who are not affiliated with the Palestinian political factions.

Nazi occupation authorities have pursued since last October systematic and deliberate policies against Palestinian prisoners at all stages from arrest through transfer to imprisonment, to a dangerous extent that threatens Palestinian lives. Prominent among these grave violations are the use of excessive force and the execution and extrajudicial killing of Palestinians by Nazi soldiers, including the killing of dozens of Palestinians instantly, noting that these practices of shooting to kill Palestinians violate international law.

Human rights organizations also monitored the number of violations against Palestinian detainees, including an escalation on the use of torture and cruel and inhumane treatment, such as beating and assault during arrest and interrogation, as well as increased frequency and violence of raids and invasion of prison rooms and sections and the conduct of humiliating inspections. Prisoners have been arrested after being shot and did not receive necessary medical care and were subject to interrogation before and during medical treatment in hospitals, in addition to the abduction of wounded Palestinians from hospitals and ambulances.

The occupying power also enacted legislation and proposed draft laws against Palestinians, including laws that escalate prison sentences against “stone throwers,”  often children and youth, and expansion of the scope of administrative detention, in an effort to impose collective punishment against Palestinians. In addition, new charges were used to arrest hundreds of Palestinians related to publishing on social media, with sentences up to one year in prison; the year also saw an expansion by occupation forces of the policy of deportation and forcible transfer from the Jerusalem.

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The Legacy of Nazi Shimon Peres


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The Legacy of Shimon Peres

By Richard Silverstein • Unz Review 

Shimon Peres is being eulogized around the world as Israel’s philosopher-king, its elegant worldly face to the world, the last of the Founding Fathers. The NY Times has published a news story, an op-ed by Tzipi Livni, and a Roger Cohen column, all of which amount to little more than hagiography. But there is a sizable number of critical appraisals like this one which have been published presenting Peres’ darker side and which are very important reading.

What follows is a newly published note which Peres sent to Israel’s leading nuclear historian, Avner Cohen. In 1999, Cohen had sent the Israeli leader a copy of his first book, Israel and the Bomb. In the book, Cohen offered an inscription portraying Peres’ unique role in the creation of Israel nuclear weapons arsenal. Because Cohen hadn’t used Peres as a source for this authoritative history of Israel’s first nuclear weapon (he hadn’t thought an individual who had so many nuclear secrets would be able or willing to speak candidly), he didn’t think Peres would respond. But he did and wrote the following:

To: Avner Cohen:

Thank you for your book, Israel and the Bomb, and for your fine dedication. I’ve gone through the first half of your book and find it interesting and absorbing. I believe you’ve done some fundamental research in which, as with other historical research–the narrative depends on the willingness of various individuals [sources] to reveal things. According to what was said to you, the proportions may not be quite exact. However, this is not your fault.

Essentially, I do not find fault with this because until now I have not felt able to reveal the full story.

But one thing I must say: we didn’t build Dimona [Israel’s nuclear weapons production facility] to make a Hiroshima, but rather to achieve Oslo [the note was written six years after the Oslo Accords were signed]: in Oslo I felt the full justification of this effort [to create The Bomb].

This represents yet another part of the Peres effort to project a civilized, liberal Israeli face to the world. We didn’t build the bomb for destruction. We built it to enable us to be strong enough to compromise for peace. Whatever Peres may’ve really believed about why he built the Bomb, the result wasn’t at all what he portrayed above. Israel’s 200 nuclear weapons have served as a bulwark against compromise. In a phone conversation, Cohen told me that they “promoted Occupation.” Instead of relying on peace or compromise, the nuclear arsenal has forced Israel to live (and die) “by the sword.” The whole enterprise, Cohen told me, is built on “arrogance.”

In parsing the original intent of Ben Gurion, who first set forth the race for nuclear weapons, Cohen believes Israelis needed a forceful tool to force the Arab states to admit that Israel could never be wiped off the map. A nuclear weapon would, so Israel’s founder believed, would persuade his enemies that his country was “here to stay.” It would be the ultimate “persuader.” But it turned out to be much more than that.

Cohen believes that Israel’s first nuclear weapon, hastily put together just before the 1967 War, directly led to that conflict. Having it, offered the Israelis a heady tonic that persuaded them they would be invincible; that regardless of what happened on the field of battle, they had a Doomsday weapon that would ultimately ensure victory.

Since no other regional power had or has WMD, Israel can never be forced to compromise against its will. Every front-line state, including Israel’s allies like the U.S., know that if its back was up against the wall it could reject any solution that didn’t accord with its perceived interests, because it possessed the ultimate weapon. This is a good deal of what lies behind the rejectionism of almost all previous Israeli prime ministers, all of whom have turned away from multiple opportunities to reach a final accord.

Dimona Succeeded, but Oslo Failed

Further, Oslo failed (though Peres couldn’t have known that in 1999, when he wrote that note). It failed because Israeli leaders, including those in his own Labor Party, refused to honor the terms of the deal. Later, they refused to offer enough to the Palestinians at the second Camp David. They refused to make the necessary compromises to satisfy their peace partner. They knew they could get away with this, because they had a card in their back pocket that no one else in the region had. They knew they could walk away from the table and that there would be no meaningful consequences for doing so.

Those who support Israel’s nuclear weapons may argue that the above claim is false because Israel never threatened or used nuclear weapons, as the U.S. did against Japan. But this argument rings hollow because in 1973, at the outset of the October War, Israeli forces were being overrun in the Golan and Sinai. Defense minister Moshe Dayan went to Golda Meir with a plan to detonate a nuclear weapon in the desert to warn the Arabs that if they overran Israel, it would use The Bomb. Thankfully, Meir and her other advisors rejected Dayan’s advice as that of a man under severe stress and a possible mental breakdown. But had Meir been a different person, Israel may very well have detonated at least one of its nukes.

There is absolutely no guarantee that in the future, should it face a similar threat, Israel would not use a nuclear weapon. After all, as distinguished an Israeli historian as Benny Morris advocated just such a prospect against Iran in the pages of none other than the New York Times.

After Peres’, recent stroke, which eventually led to his death, I published this appraisal, which reveals another little-known element of Peres’ pursuit of the Bomb with the connivance of the French during the run-up to the 1956 Suez War, of which Peres, Ben Gurion and Israel were eager partners.

Peres and the Theft of the Yemenite Children

An equally little-known darker side to the Peres legacy involved a scandal which has tainted Israel for decades. In the early 1950s, Israel airlifted 50,000 Yemenite Jews to the new state under the Orientalist rubric, Operation Magic Carpet. It did so in order to buttress its Jewish population, as Israel’s leadership sought to balance the large numbers of Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 Nakba.

Though Israel heralded the airlift to the world as its heroic effort to save an ancient Jewish community, in truth it treated the new immigrants shabbily. It sent them to camps little better than the DP camps to which Holocaust survivors were consigned after WWII. Later, it sent them to development towns which consisted of little more than tents and basic services. Over time, the Yemenites became part of the Israeli Mizrahi minority which faced severe discrimination at the hands of the Ashkenazi (European) majority.

But Israeli authorities committed a far worse crime against these immigrants. It systematically stole Yemenite children from their families and offered them to Ashkenazi couples who were unable to conceive or sought to adopt babies. Some of these children (estimates range as high as 1,000 were stolen) were even sent abroad (one was tracked to Belgium). Authorities at the time believed the Yemenite were primitive people who would not integrate into a superior “western” society. Israel wanted them to assimilate quickly and believed if the newborn were given to Ashkenazi families they would have a proper, civilized upbringing that would bring them into the modern, advanced world.

The racism of this project is now clear. Projects with similar tragic consequences were played out in other countries in that era, including Native American and Aboriginal children taken from families to be raised in government schools. The difference is that Israel has consistently refused to make an accounting of what happened leaving an open, weeping sore where there should be healing, repentance and restitution.

Israel has investigated this scandal several times but has never fully exposed the reason for the kidnapping, who orchestrated the plan, or who were the victims. So historians do not know precisely how many children were stolen. This has left an indelible stain on the Israeli Yemenite community and a severe breach between it and the State. Mothers who were told lies that their babies died after childbirth, have never had a proper accounting of what happened. They know they have children in the world, but they don’t know who or where they are.

Shimon Peres, when he was prime minister, refused to appoint a commission with full powers to investigate the child theft. Instead, he hand-picked three mid-level bureaucrats in 1985, who were given extremely limited resources, to investigate. One of them was a senior police officer, Amon Navot. Sampson Giat, then president of the Yemenite Jewish Federation, wrote a 1993 book about the scandal in which he said:

In 1985, Arnon Navot, a high-ranking policeman, was the head of the country’s missing persons’ bureau. There was increased pressure on Prime Minister Shimon Peres to have another committee investigation after the lack of results of the former Bahalul Minkovsky Committee came up with only 342 missing children. Afterwards, 600 more children’s names were added.

Peres, rather than forming another government committee instructed Arnon Navot to head a task force with two others. Since Peres had no intention of creating a public committee, he did not give Navot the tools necessary to investigate.

Navot claims that his superiors put hurdles in front of him. He was not allowed to store information on his computer; his official car was taken from him so that he had to carry loads of documents on public transportation.

Navot found evidence that a child, whose parents were told he had died, had been illegally adopted by a family in Belgium. His superiors would not allow him to follow up on his findings.

Navot was convinced that Shimon Peres, like most politicians, was afraid of the political fallout resulting from any discoveries. The cover up started.

When you read glowing encomium’s like those in the NY Times, remember the darker side of Shimon Peres. Whatever good he may’ve done is more than outweighed by his profound lapses in judgment and morality.

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Plan Colombia Vindicated: Colombia Rejects Peace

By Roger Harris 

s-jpg_916636689Rio Hacha, Colombia – The mood in this improvised Colombian town on the Caribbean coast is somber tonight. The national peace plebiscite was just defeated by a mere 0.43% or 60,000 votes.

The government of Colombia and the FARC insurgents signed peace accords six days ago to much public jubilation. Today the peace accords were put to a public vote. Polls predicted a landslide approval of 60%.

The public airwaves had been saturated with advertisements for “si” to approve the accords. Practically every wall that I passed here on the coast and earlier this week in the capital of Bogota was plastered with “si” posters.

The “no” side appeared absent except for a fringe represented by former president Uribe and his right-wing cohorts. The Catholic Church, the current Santos government, and the entirety of progressive civil society – unions, Indigenous, Afro-descendants, campesinos – were campaigning for “si.” The outcome seemed preordained.

Yet when the polls opened today, the usual long lines were absent. Turnout was low, allowing an upset victory for “no.”

The right-wing had been threatening activists – many had already been assassinated – to disrupt the peace process. Hence our delegation of North Americans to accompany targeted Colombian activists to provide them some protection by raising their international visibility. The Alliance for Global Justice along with the National Lawyers Guild came to Colombia at the invitation of FENSUAGRO, an agrarian workers federation, Marcha Patriotica, a large progressive coalition, and Lazos de Dignidad, a human rights organization.

The accords would have ended the 52-year civil war – the longest in modern history. The FARC’s position during the intense four years of negotiations in Havana with the Colombian government was there could be no peace without justice. That it makes no sense to end the armed conflict if the conditions that generated that conflict were not addressed. The accords accordingly had provisions for agrarian reform, political participation for the insurgents, transitions from an illicit drug economy, and reparations for victims of the conflict.

Campesino leaders in the rough and rundown frontier town of Maicau on the Venezuelan border, where drug running and sales of contraband are mainstays of the local economy, spoke about the agrarian struggle. The “oligarchs,” they explained, want to “clean” the countryside of small farmers to make way for transnational agribusiness. Yesterday they spoke of the great hope they had for a “si” vote to defeat the oligarchy.

Today Colombia voted against peace and against that hope.

The Obama administration, while giving lip service in support of the peace process, has massively increased lethal aid and transfer of the latest military technology to the Colombian government under the rubric of Plan Colombia. Presumptive president-elect Hillary Clinton has been on the campaign trail stomping for Plan Colombia as the world model for the military subjugation of those who oppose the extension of the US neoliberal empire.

The October 2nd “no” vote on peace in Colombia will have repercussions around the world.

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Russian Envoy Stands Against Imposing Color Revolution on Venezuela

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Russia is prepared to join efforts aimed at resolving Venezuela’s internal political standoff if necessary, Russian Ambassador to Venezuela Vladimir Zaemsky told Sputnik.

“We welcome efforts of various politicians to help reach a mutual understanding between the various political groups in Venezuela and we hope that such steps eventually would lead to a positive result. We are ready to join this if it is deemed necessary,” Zaemsky said.

Venezuela has been embroiled in a political crisis with opposition staging regular protests and launching a campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro, blaming him for an economic crisis in Venezuela, a country suffering from shrinking GDP, shortages of goods and rising inflation. According to the ambassador, the political crisis cannot be settled without preventing the attempts of some of Venezuela’s neighbors, the West, global media and non-governmental organizations to interfere in the internal affairs of the country.

“Russia believes that the political resolution of Venezuela’s problems should be found by the Venezuelan people itself… It must meet constitutional norms and national laws. Destructive meddling from abroad is unacceptable, no one can impose ‘color [revolution] scenarios’ based on notorious radical tactics to destabilize the situation,”  Zaemsky said.

Venezuela has been in a state of an economic emergency since January. Up to 96 percent of Venezuela’s budget depends on oil revenues amid the ongoing slump in oil prices. Venezuela’s opposition hopes to hold a recall referendum to remove Maduro from power.

In August, Maduro pledged to act much tougher than his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan in case of the coup attempt in the country.

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Putin signs decree suspending Russia-US deal on plutonium disposal over hostile US actions

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Russia has suspended a post-Cold War deal with the US on disposal of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads. The decision was explained by “the hostile actions of the US” against Russia and Washington’s failure to observe the terms of the deal.

A decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin cites “the radical change in the environment, a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties, as well as the need to take swift action to defend Russian security” as justification for suspending the deal.

While Russia suspended the plutonium reprocessing deal, it stressed that the Russian fissile material, which was subject to it, would not be used for any military purpose, be it production of new weapons or research.

The suspension decree has come into force, but it needs to be approved by the Russian parliament, which may overrule the president’s decision. Leonid Slutsky, who’s slated to be appointed head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the newly-elected parliament, said it would be given a priority.

“It’s a very important issue. It’s about taking swift action to protect Russian national security. We will deal with it as soon as the bill is submitted,” he told TASS.

The development was not entirely surprising, since Russia earlier expressed its dissatisfaction with how the US wants to handle plutonium reprocessing.

Washington decided it would be cheaper to mix nuclear materials with special diluents. Russia insisted that the US was violating the terms of the deal, which required it to use a nuclear reactor to transmute plutonium. Unlike the mixing technology, the latter method makes the process irreversible.

The treaty between the US and Russia, which regulates how the two countries are to dispose of plutonium from nuclear warheads decommissioned as part of the parallel reduction of the two countries’ Cold War arsenals, was signed in 2000. Each country was required to dispose of over 34 tons of fissile material by turning it into so-called MOX fuel and burning it in nuclear reactors.

However, costs for building a facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where the US was supposed to fabricate MOX fuel from its plutonium, spiraled out of control. Under the Obama administration, the US decided that it would instead use the cheaper reversible process, arguing that it was in line with the spirit of the deal with Russia.

Russia expressed its concerns over the unilateral move in April, shortly after a nuclear security summit held in the US.

“We signed an agreement that the plutonium will be processed in a certain way, for which facilities would be purpose-built,” Putin said at the time. “We have met our commitments, and constructed the necessary facilities. The US has not.”

The US rejected the criticism from Russia. The “new US method would not require renegotiation of the agreement,” US State Department spokesperson Jennifer Bavisotto said.

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Propaganda Techniques of Empire

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By James Petras 

Washington’s quest for perpetual world power is underwritten by systematic and perpetual propaganda wars. Every major and minor war has been preceded, accompanied and followed by unremitting government propaganda designed to secure public approval, exploit victims, slander critics, dehumanize targeted adversaries and justify its allies’ collaboration.

In this paper we will discuss the most common recent techniques used to support ongoing imperial wars.

Propaganda Techniques of Empire
Role Reversal

A common technique, practiced by the imperial publicists, is to accuse the victims of the same crimes, which had been committed against them. The well documented, deliberate and sustained US-EU aerial bombardment of Syrian government soldiers, engaged in operations against ISIS-terrorist, resulted in the deaths and maiming of almost 200 Syrian troops and allowed ISIS-mercenaries to overrun their camp. In an attempt to deflect the Pentagon’s role in providing air cover for the very terrorists it claims to oppose, the propaganda organs cranked out lurid, but unsubstantiated, stories of an aerial attack on a UN humanitarian aid convoy, first blamed on the Syrian government and then on the Russians. The evidence that the attack was most likely a ground-based rocket attack by ISIS terrorists did not deter the propaganda mills. This technique would turn US and European attention away from the documented criminal attack by the imperial bombers and present the victimized Syrian troops and pilots as international human rights criminals.

Hysterical Rants

Faced with world opprobrium for its wanton violation of an international ceasefire agreement in Syria, the imperial public spokespeople frequently resort to irrational outbursts at international meetings in order to intimidate wavering allies into silence and shut down any chance for reasonable debate resolving concrete issues among adversaries.

The current ‘US Ranter-in-Chief’ in the United Nations, is Ambassador Samantha Power, who launched a vitriolic diatribe against the Russians in order to sabotage a proposed General Assembly debate on the US deliberate violation (its criminal attack on Syrian troops) of the recent Syrian ceasefire. Instead of a reasonable debate among serious diplomats, the rant served to derail the proceedings.

Identity Politics to Neutralize Anti-Imperialist Movements

Empire is commonly identified with the race, gender, religion and ethnicity of its practitioners. Imperial propagandists have frequently resorted to disarming and weakening anti-imperialist movements by co-opting and corrupting black, ethnic minority and women leaders and spokespeople. The use of such ‘symbolic’ tokens is based on the assumption that these are ‘representatives’ reflecting the true interests of so-called ‘marginalized minorities’ and can therefore presume to ‘speak for the oppressed peoples of the world’. The promotion of such compliant and respectable ‘minority members’ to the elite is then propagandized as a ‘revolutionary’, world liberating historical event – witness the ‘election’ of US President Barack Obama.

The rise of Obama to the presidency in 2008 illustrates how the imperial propagandists have used identity politics to undermine class and anti-imperialist struggles.

Under Obama’s historical black presidency, the US pursued seven wars against ‘people of color’ in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Over a million men and women of sub-Saharan black origin, whether Libyan citizens or contract workers for neighboring countries, were killed, dispossessed and driven into exile by US allies after the US-EU destroyed the Libyan state — in the name of humanitarian intervention. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs have been bombed in Yemen, Syria and Iraq under President Obama, the so-called ‘historic black’ president. Obama’s ‘predator drones’ have killed hundreds of Afghan and Pakistani villagers. Such is the power of ‘identity politics’ that ignominious Obama was awarded the ‘Nobel Peace Prize’.

Meanwhile, in the United States under Obama, racial inequalities between black and white workers (wages, unemployment, access to housing, health and educational services) have widened. Police violence against blacks intensified with total impunity for ‘killer cops’. Over two million immigrant Latino workers have been expelled – breaking up hundreds of thousands of families — and accompanied by a marked increase of repression compared to earlier administrations. Millions of black and white workers’ home mortgages were foreclosed while all of the corrupt banks were bailed out – at a greater rate than had occurred under white presidents.

This blatant, cynical manipulation of identity politics facilitated the continuation and deepening of imperial wars, class exploitation and racial exclusion. Symbolic representation undermined class struggles for genuine changes.

Past Suffering to Justify Contemporary Exploitation

Imperial propagandists repeatedly evoke the victims and abuses of the past in order to justify their own aggressive imperial interventions and support for the ‘land grabs’ and ethnic cleansing committed by their colonial allies – like Israel, among others. The victims and crimes of the past are presented as a perpetual presence to justify ongoing brutalities against contemporary subject people.

The case of US-Israeli colonization of Palestine clearly illustrates how rabid criminality, pillage, ethnic cleansing and self-enrichment can be justified and glorified through the language of past victimization. Propagandists in the US and Israel have created ‘the cult of the Holocaust’, worshiping a near century-old Nazi crime against Jews (as well as captive Slavs, Roma and other minorities) in Europe, to justify the bloody conquest and theft of Arab lands and sovereignty and engage in systematic military assaults against Lebanon and Syria. Millions of Muslim and Christian Palestinians have been driven into perpetual exile. Elite, wealthy, well-organized and influential Zionist Jews, with primary fealty to Israel, have successfully sabotaged every contemporary struggle for peace in the Middle East and have created real barriers for social democracy in the US through their promotion of militarism and empire building. Those claiming to represent victims of the past have become among the most oppressive of contemporary elites. Using the language of ‘defense’, they promote aggressive forms of expansion and pillage. They claim their monopoly on historic ‘suffering’ has given them a ‘special dispensation’ from the rules of civilized conduct: their cult of the Holocaust allows them to inflict immense pain on others while silencing any criticism with the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ and relentlessly punishing critics. Their key role in imperial propaganda warfare is based on their claims of an exclusive franchise on suffering and immunity from the norms of justice.

Entertainment Spectacles on Military Platforms

Entertainment spectacles glorify militarism. Imperial propagandists link the public to unpopular wars promoted by otherwise discredited leaders. Sports events present soldiers dressed up as war heroes with deafening, emotional displays of ‘flag worship’ to celebrate the ongoing overseas wars of aggression. These mind-numbing extravaganzas with crude elements of religiosity demand choreographed expressions of national allegiance from the spectators as a cover for continued war crimes abroad and the destruction of citizens’ economic rights at home.

Much admired, multi-millionaire musicians and entertainers of all races and orientations, present war to the masses with a humanitarian facade. The entertainers smiling faces serve genocide just as powerfully as the President’s benign and friendly face accompanies his embrace of militarism. The propagandist message for the spectator is that ‘your favorite team or singer is there just for you… because our noble wars and valiant warriors have made you free and now they want you to be entertained.’

The old style of blatant bellicose appeals to the public is obsolete: the new propaganda conflates entertainment with militarism, allowing the ruling elite to secure tacit support for its wars without disturbing the spectators’ experience.

Do the Imperial Techniques of Propaganda Work?

How effective are the modern imperial propaganda techniques? The results seem to be mixed. In recent months, elite black athletes have begun protesting white racism by challenging the requirement for choreographed displays of flag worship… opening public controversy into the larger issues of police brutality and sustained marginalization. Identity politics, which led to the election of Obama, may be giving way to issues of class struggle, racial justice, anti-militarism and the impact of continued imperial wars. Hysterical rants may still secure international attention, but repeated performances begin to lose their impact and subject the ‘ranter’ to ridicule.

The cult of victimology has become less a rationale for the multi-billion dollar US-tribute to Israel, than the overwhelming political and economic influence and thuggery of billionaire Zionist fundraisers who demand US politicians’ support for the state of Israel.

Brandishing identify politics may have worked the first few times, but inevitably black, Latino, immigrant and all exploited workers, all underpaid and overworked women and mothers reject the empty symbolic gestures and demand substantive socio-economic changes – and here they find common links with the majority of exploited white workers.

In other words, the existing propaganda techniques are losing their edge – the corporate media news is seen as a sham. Who follows the actor-soldiers and flag-worshipers once the game has begun?

The propagandists of empire are desperate for a new line to grab public attention and obedience. Could the recent domestic terror bombings in New York and New Jersey provoke mass hysteria and more militarization? Could they serve as cover for more wars abroad …?

A recent survey, published in Military Times, reported that the vast majority of active US soldiers oppose more imperial wars. They are calling for defense at home and social justice. Soldiers and veterans have even formed groups to support the protesting black athletes who have refused to participate in flag worship while unarmed black men are being killed by police in the streets. Despite the multi-billion dollar electoral propaganda, over sixty percent of the electorate reject both major party candidates. The reality principle has finally started to undermine State propaganda!

Posted in USAComments Off on Propaganda Techniques of Empire

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