Archive | August 19th, 2011

Nazi’s had prior warnings of potential terror attacks from Sinai


Senior Zio-Nazi official says security officials received warning of possible attack, but disagreed about its severity.

Zio-Nazi security services received information about a possible terrorist attack from Sinai, a senior government official told Zionist Haaretz on Thursday. As a result, counterterrorism forces in Eilat were put on alert, as well as police forces. However, the official said there were internal arguments concerning the severity of the warning.

Two people were critically wounded Thursday evening when gunfire erupted close to the site of a deadly series of terror attacks earlier in the day in which eight people had been killed.

Zio-Nazi security officers patrol at a roadblock near Tzihor junction, about 60km (37 miles) north of the Red Sea resort of Eilat, August 18, 2011.

The eight were killed and dozens more were wounded in an apparently coordinated series of gun attacks and artillery strikes approximately 20 kilometers north of the southern city of Eilat, close to the border with Egypt.

A short time before the renewed gunfire, Nazi aircraft struck targets in the Gaza Strip, killing at least six people, including a senior Palestinian militant.

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Plight of Women in Kashmir

by Assabah Khan in Kashmir

By Assabah Khan



Kashmir is one of the conflict zones of the world; it has been divided into Indian-administered Jammu & Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Azad Kashmir. Kashmiri society is yet to come out of its traditional and ethnic ways of life. Extremely rigid patriarchy tends to lead to the self negation of women. Women’s voices are almost drowned in that power web through which men function. Participation of women in the decision making process can be understood from the fact that with the exception of women like Mehbooba Mufti there is hardly any woman who is politically active.

She also is there because her father happened to be home minister in India and not because she is a woman. Heavy militarization and backlash of Islamisation have made women to take back seat in societies like Kashmir, where there is a strong Islamic context and the interpretation of religion is extremely parochial.

We visited the village of Sheikhpora Dagpora in Ganderbal area on 1st October, 2006. There we met Mumtaza, who works as an Anganwadi helper and is bearing the expenses of her four sons with a wage of Rs 600 per month which she gets as an honorarium from the social welfare department. Her husband who was a militant was killed by the Indian Army in 1995. “My elder son Irshad could not continue his studies because he got psychologically disturbed by his father’s death. Authorities denied any compensation to my family because they said my husband was a militant.

Once on Eid festival, our family had no money to buy even milk, what to talk of food. So my second son decided to leave his studies and take up a job of Shawl-bafi. (Shawl making)” In the same family Mumtaza’s father –in-law and brother –in-law were accused to be Indian Army informers and were killed by militants. There are more than 30 widows in the village. 17 men of the same clan have been killed by militants on the charges of being Army informers leaving behind the trail of widows and orphans. These women chose to be anonymous because of fear for their own lives and the lives of their children.

We visited Dardpora Kupwara or village of widows where there are more than 200 widows and more than 300 orphans. We met Reshma who has six daughters and whose husband was a militant and got killed. She says, “My husband was fighting for the party of Abdul Gani Lone’s (militant leader) Peoples Conference. All men who fought here as militants and got killed had full faith in Lone Sahib. But after my husband´s death I had no means of livelihood or survival. I not even had the money to buy shroud for my husband. Villagers collected money and bought shroud for my husband.

I can’t afford to bring up my six daughters and I go and beg in the town. I have returned from begging.” These women are hardly aware of the political scenario or the ideologies for which their husbands died. They do not even know the cause of their widowhood. They simply are paying the price of the decisions taken by men in the family. These men who die in such warfare are themselves not aware of the political connotations of the struggle they are dying for. Either political sloganeering is used or religion serves the bait to catch them.

In a nine day cordon on 20th June 2000, at dawn at about 4 AM, 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) carried out a crackdown on the entire village of Wadoora. After search Army


detained 500 villagers including 100 women at Wadoora Payeen camp. In the evening all the detainees were allowed to go back to the village except two women Mrs. Shamli and Mrs. Saja. Both the women were nine months pregnant. The villagers who pleaded with the concerned Army officials for the release of the two women could hardly get any response. A Government Gunman, Mr. Gh Qadir who was working with 21 Rashtriya Rifles tried to intervene in the matter and in the end got killed by the 21 RR unit as a result of his intervention.

It was a major of 21 RR who according to the women was abusing them physically. Narrates Saja : “Dozens of men in the Army camp abused us physically. We were hardly provided adequate meals. They even ignored our stage of pregnancy. This not only led to complications in our delivery, but also lead to the death of my child who was stillborn. Shmali’s Child died a few hours after birth.” Says Uncle Wali Mohammad Mir of Shamli: “Since that day Shamli is abnormal. Her mental condition deteriorated due to shock. I have registered a case against Army in the Handwara Police Station on 30th June, 2000. We were threatened of dire consequences by the RR men if we filed a case. I was even bribed by the unit with a sum of Rs10,000 for maintaining silence. I refused the money and filed the case.”

Such women have to live with social stigma of rape in traditional societies like Kashmir. In a society where women’s sexuality is the symbol of honour for the family they will undergo psychological trauma throughout their life of not being accepted in the general social circle again.

In the Village of Dardpora, most of the men had undaunting faith in the militant leader Abdul Gani Lone and took up gun in the name of struggle for independence and got killed along with the leader himself. In Sheikhpora Dagpora, men surrendered their arms and got killed for being Army Informers.

Whether men got killed with the Army’s gun or the militant gun , the end result is that the widows and orphans who were left behind have to bear the hardships of daily life.

Women of minority communities had to suffer because of the turmoil in Kashmir as well. With the immigration of 300,000 Kasmiri Pandits, some who could not afford to live in rented houses had to live in migrant tents. This enforced such women to live in extremely unhygienic conditions and prevailed not only upon the health conditions of such women but also upon their Psycho-social health as they got completely uprooted from their natural environment. Said Aarti Tikoo Singh, ex regional representative of Times of India in the Male Conference in March 2006: “I will never forget the humiliation we have faced at the hands of our house owners in Jammu. All this happened after our internal displacement from Kashmir in 1989. Our family was not allowed to carry the dead body in the owners house and we were not allowed to condole the death of our dear ones. What we faced in these 16 years only we know.”

The targeting of the Sikh community in Chattisinghpora is another ruthless face of armed struggle.

With all this happening around us, the teething question which arises in the minds of all educated and conscious women of Kashmir will be, “ Will we as women in Kashmir be able to chalk out a society where we as women will have a say in the decision making process? Will it be that old women will not have to bade farewell to the coffins of their young sons and younger ones to their husbands? Will we be able to create a fabric of society where mothers will not wait endlessly for their disappeared sons?

Women who live on borders of Kashmir, will they ever live their lives without the fear of shelling of Armies of India or Pakistan? Could We as Women of Kashmir be the harbingers of peace and will be able to bring smile to the frowned faces of those orphans. Will we be able to make our way through that power web of patriarchy and make the world listen to our voices and harmonize with the voices of those millions of women who are bearing the brunt of living in conflict zones like Kashmir? Yes We will.

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Pak-US Relations: Terms of Engagement

By General Mirza Aslam Beg

Pakistan and the United States of America have been allies for over half a century and Pakistan earned the distinction of being the ‘Most Allied Ally’ and the ‘Non-NATO

Ally,’ and also enjoyed the blessings of Strategic Partnership, yet the relationship has been the roughest of all, marked by sanctions, aid and assistance cut-off, exploitation, violation of national sovereignty and betrayals. Yet Pakistan went to the extent of being foolish and naive, to join the American war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, in 1980 and again in 2001 against the brotherly Afghan people. The fall-out of these two wars has adversely affected Pakistan’s security. And as the things have gone wrong for the Americans, facing defeat in Afghanistan, Pakistan is being pressurized to Do More and help the American exit from Afghanistan. Pakistan would definitely help, provided the terms of engagement are clearly defined, to achieve the purpose of a meaningful, multi-dimensional relationship, marked by trust and respect for each other.

Necessarily, the new terms of engagement must lead to an enduring strategic partnership, founded upon ‘institutionalized mutual cooperation mechanism,’ to secure regional stability and a stable and prosperous future for Pakistan. There are very many aspects to be considered and defined regarding terms of engagement, but only seven are mentioned here, which encompass the real issue.

  •          Sovereign Equality. There must be respect and realization of sovereignty of Pakistan, which has been wanting since 1960, when President Ayub Khan, pleaded in his book for ‘Friends and Not Masters.’ In fact, there are two obsessions, which are detrimental to equality in relationship. One is the notion of ‘power and pride of a great power’ and the other is the ‘vast disparity in the civilizational heritage of the two countries.’  Both are very critical issues of national sensibilities and demand very careful consideration.

  •          Trust Deficit. Although we have been allies for over half a century yet we never enjoyed the trust needed for a meaningful partnership. There have been many ups and downs in the relationship during this period. It remained good, so long as the purpose was served. For example, Pentagon now says: “We have no choice but to maintain a strong relationship,” because exit from Afghanistan, without Pakistan’s support would be a disaster. I am sure, once, the exit is completed, Pakistan would again be abandoned. With such ‘wuthering feelings of love and hate’ between the two countries, there is very little hope of establishing an enduring friendship. Both the countries, particularly the Americans, therefore have to develop the mechanism to remove the existing trust deficit.

  •          Hegemony. Pakistanis, as a nation do not relish hegemony, in any form and shape. It was our own fault that we could not eliminate West Pakistan’s hegemony over East Pakistan that preferred to drift away in 1971. Now the Americans want to establish Indian hegemony over the region, from Afghanistan to Sri Lanka and reduce Pakistan to a client state. This will never happen, because the Pakistani people love freedom, as much as the Afghans, who have sacrificed so much to win their freedom from the two hegemons, the Soviets and the Americans. Simply follow the Chinese example, who do not meddle into the internal affairs of others, nor do they try to establish military bases around the world, seeking primacy and global hegemony.

  •          Exit from Afghanistan. Occupation of Afghanistan is the ‘Mother of All Evil,’ and therefore exit from Afghanistan has to be carried out, on the basis of three principles: One. It is the winner, the Taliban, who must be allowed to lay down the terms for peace in Afghanistan. Two. The neighbouring countries, particularly Pakistan that has suffered the most, as a result of foreign aggression in Afghanistan, must be on-board, to workout the mechanism for transfer of power, and reconstruction of Afghanistan. Three. All the countries involved in the invasion of Afghanistan must be made to pay the war damages. The Soviets, Americans and the European Union are the invaders, while India, Pakistan and others are the collaborators, including the United Nations, which authorized the invasion. They all have to pay for the crime, they committed.

  •          Kashmir. People of Kashmir have been deprived of their ‘right of self determination’ and their struggle, now has reached a point of decision. It cannot be ignored any more, as President Obama preferred to, under the Indian pressure. It is no more a back-burner issue, because, after the exit of the occupation forces from Afghanistan, Kashmiris struggle for freedom will heat-up and may well explode into the Indian face. If we fail to find a political solution soon enough, peace in South Asia, will remain hostage to Kashmir.

  •          Nuclear Apartheid Policy. Pakistan has been subjected to a nuclear apartheid policy by the West for no rhyme or reason, through senseless media hype, challenging Pakistan’ ability to provide security safeguards to its nuclear assets, and the threat of Islamic extremists. It’s all nonsense and is part of the ploy to keep Pakistan under pressure, knowing fully well, that as a nuclear capable state, Pakistan has ‘the best record of nuclear safety.’ There has been no accident, no leakage and no pilferage of fissile material ever. It is time now, to come to terms with Pakistan’s nuclear capability and its policy of minimum nuclear deterrence, which is India specific.

Pakistan and USA require some cool thinking and depth of perception, to remove the irritants which have clouded our relations. We have to look beyond into the future and develop policies and plans, in harmony with the changing trends and temper of the globalized world. The dogmas of the cold war period do not apply any more. In fact we have to invent, new Rules of Business, for an enduring partnership.

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Iran sanctions: Much ado about nothing

Right after the beginning of Iran’s new era under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, the U.S. and Western nations started to take an aggressive stance against Iran and set in motion their irrational animosity with a country which had proclaimed its decision to be a defender of the subjugated and an enemy of the oppressors and hegemonic powers.

By Dr. Ismail Salami and Kourosh Ziabari

Almost five years have passed since the United Nations Security Council imposed its first round of sanctions against Iran over the allegations that Tehran might be moving toward developing nuclear weapons. Since that time, four rounds of devastative sanctions have been imposed on Iran by the Security Council and several European nations, Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and other countries joined the march of imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Many resources indicate that Iran’s nuclear program was initiated by the United States in 1950s as part of a program named Atoms for Peace. “Atoms for Peace” was a title given to a speech by the former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower before the UN General Assembly on December 8, 1952. Following this speech in which President Eisenhower alluded to his experience as a military man and stressed the necessity of paying especial attention to the use of nuclear energy in the 20th century, the U.S. government launched a program called Atoms for Peace and pledged financial and scientific help and support for hospitals, schools, universities, scientific centers and research institution, seeking to carry out studies on nuclear energy. This program helped Iran and Pakistan build their first nuclear reactors in 1950s.

In line with their policy of empowering the client states, the United States and its European allies supported, financed, backed and advanced Iran’s nuclear program until the Islamic Revolution of 1979 overthrew the U.S.-installed Shah of Iran and brought to power the Islamic Republic which was from the beginning of its inception a thorn in the side of the United States and its European cronies.

Right after the beginning of Iran’s new era under the leadership of Imam Khomeini, the U.S. and Western nations started to take an aggressive stance against Iran and set in motion their irrational animosity with a country which had proclaimed its decision to be a defender of the subjugated and an enemy of the oppressors and hegemonic powers.

The West began to create hurdles and impediments on Iran’s way toward self-sufficiency. Iran sought to extricate itself from the manacles of the U.S. and its cronies. When Mohammad Reza Pahlavi fled Iran, the country was practically in the hands of American and British consultants and advisors. Imam Khomeini’s movement was a popular uprising against the de facto occupation of Iran by the United States and Britain and this was extremely unfavorable and bitter for the White House. They provoked Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to wage a war against Iran in the high hopes that a heavy military expedition would paralyze Iran and bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. They promised Saddam that they would help him financially and militarily; however, after an 8 year war of attrition which cost the lives of more than 500,000 Iranians, and after several diplomatic, underground operations to topple the government in Iran, the American statesmen realized that the Islamic Republic was too powerful and determined to be defeated easily. It was when the financial sanctions and soft war commenced.

Holding back Iran’s nuclear program was on the high agenda of the United States. They knew that the theological mindset of the Iranian leaders would keep them away from planning to produce nuclear weapons, and at the same time, they knew that their close allies in Europe and Israel possess hundreds of nuclear warheads; however, their main objective was to hamper Iran’s scientific progress and slowing down Iran’s movement toward the zeniths of success and glory.

After years of psychological propaganda against Iran and introducing the people of Iran as an uncultured, uncivilized and terrorist nation, the U.S. and Europe joined the anti-Iranian terrorist organization MKO, which is notorious for the killing of more than 40,000 civilians, to stage a charade against Tehran and accuse it of developing nuclear weapons. They were too quick in their moves and for the first step, publicized forged documents and materials which allegedly showed that Iran is developing weapons of mass destruction and atomic weapons. The first step was taken by Alireza Jafarzadeh, a spokesperson for the MKO terrorist organization who claimed in 2002 that he accessed documents, revealing that Iran has clandestine nuclear facilities in Natanz and Arak. The Western media swiftly picked up the story and aggrandized it to the extent of an international concern which involved the whole world, including the numerous enemies of Iran in Europe and the Northern America. The story continued as IAEA stated its decision to send inspectors to Iran to investigate Iran’s nuclear facilities. The atomic watchdog demanded that Iran cease uranium enrichment and all of the research activities related to uranium enrichment and then start negotiations with the five permanent members of the UNSC plus Germany and resolve the crisis diplomatically.

Although Iran was one of the first world countries to ratify the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 and had the legal right of enriching uranium under the comprehensive safeguards of the IAEA, it has been discriminatorily pressured by the U.S. and its allies to suspend its nuclear activities since 2003.

On October 21, 2003, and in league with the governments of France, the UK and Germany (called EU-3), Iran declared that it would suspend uranium enrichment voluntarily and sign and implement an Additional Protocol as a confidence-building measure and freeze its enrichment and reprocessing activities during the course of talks with the P5+1.

Interestingly enough, following Iran’s voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment, IAEA issued antagonistic reports, claiming that Iran did not fully cooperate with the inspectors and that it  failed to submit regular reports of its activities in the Natanz and 40 MW heavy-water reactor in Arak. Despite all this, Iran continued its suspension of uranium enrichment until 2006 when it decided to open the seals of the nuclear facilities and resume uranium enrichment in compliance with the IAEA regulations. The IAEA inspectors were allowed to travel to Iran several times a year and look into Iran’s nuclear activities. It’s an undeniable reality that no country in the world has been so cooperative with IAEA as Iran has been.

The U.S. and EU, however, retained their unwarranted hostility towards Iran and during a period of 5 years, they imposed harsh sanctions on Iran which targeted the country’s economy and adversely affected the daily life of the ordinary citizens. These multilateral and unilateral sanctions include travel restrictions, ban on the sale of electronic devices and apparatus, restriction of transaction with Iranian companies and cartels, trade embargo on Iran’s medical sector and other variations of restrictions which have been exceptionally devastative and damaging.

The U.S. and its European allies keep refraining from selling aircraft to Iran and hundreds of people die every year on account of the country’s aging fleet of aircraft. They have also imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector in which thousands of Iranians and their families are involved. Iranians are unable to buy the basic commodities of their daily life as a result of the sanctions imposed on the country. This is while the U.S. and European states shamelessly boast of their being concerned about the Iranian people and on every occasion, try to reach out to the Iranian citizens whom they claim are oppressed by the government.

It is a certainty that the nuclear program of Iran and regarding it with a suspicious eye have been hyped up by the Western governments and that has to be seen as part of U.S. ploy to demonize the Islamic republic in the world. This animosity is not however something new but an old sore which the US keeps rubbing. The enmity, as Ron Paul reaffirms, goes back to the advent of the Islamic revolution and even further beyond, “We’ve been at war in Iran for a lot longer than ’79. We started it in 1953 when we sent in a coup, installed the shah. And the reaction, the blowback, came in 1979. It’s been going on and on because we just plain don’t mind our own business. That’s our problem.”

There is indeed much ado about Iran’s nuclear program and despite all evidence that Iran is not pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons program, the US keeps piling accusations on the country. Who knows? Maybe Iran’s nuclear program is only an excuse for the U.S. government to start another war in the region.

This article was co-written by Dr. Ismail Salami and Kourosh Ziabari. Dr. Ismail Salami is the chief editor of Press TV website. Kourosh Ziabari is a freelance journalist from Iran.

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Greenstein Anti-Hamas Zionist Propaganda

PCHR Denounces Gaza Ministry of Education’s Decision to Prevent Students Having Scholarships to Study in USA from Leaving Gaza 

By:Tony Greenstein

It’s unbelievable. After Israel has come under attack for preventing Gazan students taking up Fulbright and other scholarships abroad, thus denying Palestinian youth educational opportunities, the backwoodsmen of Hamas, who look back to the 7th Century whilst retaining their grip on power with 21st century means, have effectively colluded with the Zionists.

It is understandable that Hamas, which believes all wisdom resides in ancient texts (although its weaponry is of a more recent vintage) doesn’t like modern education. Such is the nature of most religious groups and Hamas is not exceptional. Indeed it is only the fight against Israel and Zionism which keeps Hamas relatively tamed in its approach to the civilian population of Gaza. There is no doubt that if it could get away with it, it would emulate the Iranian dictatorship – only more so. Despite the fact that Hamas in Gaza is now an unelected dictatorship, like Abbas its mandate has run out since the beginning of last year, they have no hesitation in laying down the law to those they govern.

It is easy to forget that Hamas arose in the 1980’s, when the West sponsored Political Islam as a bulwark against Communism. In Afghanistan the US sponsored the Mujahadeen. Even James Bond got into the act with a film, Living Daylights, which had the Islamic fighter as its hero under a Lawrence of Arabia figure. Hamas was similarly sponsored and indeed helped with its birth pangs by the Israeli state, as a counter-weight against the secular Palestinian nationalists. Politically there is nothing progressive about the Hamas regime and its preventing Palestinian students from taking up the few educational opportunities abroad should not be seen as unremarkable.

We should join the call of the PHRC in calling for this decision of the Middle Ages to be reversed.

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Spanish Cluster bombs dropped on Libya


Show me the evidence?

The Libyans have told them to bring on the evidence. Spanish cluster bombs with a batch number – you reckon the CIA has stockpiles of cluster bombs from various manufacturers which they just throw on the ground when it suits them?

The BBC is currently getting slaughtered in the comments to all their stories they publish on their web site. They’re no different to Rustavi 2. Nothing is mentioned the story about how disgraceful it is that an EU country actually made these things in the first place. Why such double standards?

No kidding – probably 95% of the comments on the last two Libya stories I’ve seen on the BBC have been hyper-critical of the coalition… and quite supportive of Gaddafi.

This cluster bomb story is almost too predictable. I think it originated in the NYT – not HRW. Funny, when you Google MAT-120 cluster bomb (no Libya) the results are filled with this story that Libya has used them, and the story is less than 24 hours old. I find that a little suspicious in itself.

What do you know about the source of cluster bombs for Kadafi, and I wonder if there are M-85, the same kind as sold to Georgia in bulk, now that would be an interesting nexus!!!

Here is what someone just sent to share:

“HRW is a fake human rights organization that has played dirty Pentagon politics for a long time. It was formed [by the same people in NED] to defame and discredit the Soviets during the Cold War, but not point at USA or its allies.

They are now blasting the media with hearsay of cluster bombs used by Kaddafi, which are verified by two unnamed local Libyan respondents. I wish you would try to put on their comments the cluster bomb stories you have about Gori and see how rights oriented they really are, and not just jerk off lying politics.”

There are only a few sources of Libyan cluster bombs, and the manufacturers of them are not into human rights, especially those that manufacture m-85s. Most wars are started by telling flat out lies so many times that they become truth; there are few sources of cluster bombs, Georgia and Israel have plenty and can get more.

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UK banks fund deadly cluster-bomb industry


By Jerome Taylor

16 August 2011

British high-street banks, including two institutions that were bailed out by taxpayers, are investing hundreds of millions of pounds in companies that manufacture cluster bombs – despite a growing global ban outlawing the production and trade of the weapons.

How cluster bombs work: click here to download graphic (71k)

The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC have all provided funding to the makers of cluster bombs, even as international opinion turns against a weapons system that is inherently indiscriminate and routinely maims or kills civilians.

Related articles

One year ago this month, Britain became an active participant in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a global treaty that bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster bombs. To date, 108 countries have signed the treaty, which also forbids parties from assisting in the production of cluster weapons.

Yet there has been no attempt by the Coalition Government to rein in banks and investment funds that continue to finance companies known to manufacture the weapons.

Using a loophole in the legislation, financial institutions can continue to back cluster-arms manufacturers as long as they don’t invest in the bombs directly. The loophole has prompted Amnesty International to launch a national campaign calling on the Government to legislate against any indirect investment in cluster weapons.

An investigation by Dutch arms experts into how financial institutions continue to invest in the industry has revealed that the virtually state-owned RBS is the UK’s worst offender. Saved by the public purse after its collapse during the credit crisis, taxpayers now own 83 per cent of the bank. But that has not stopped it from investing hundreds of millions of pounds in the arms trade.

In October 2010, RBS was part of a banking syndicate that provided the American arms manufacturer Alliant Techsystems with a $1bn (£600m) five-year credit facility, with RBS itself loaning $80m. It has also underwritten $110.1m in bonds to Alliant Techsystems and Lockheed Martin.

The partially state-owned Lloyds, which was bailed out by the taxpayer with an injection of £20bn of state funds, has also invested in Lockheed Martin, the US arms giant that has a long track record of making cluster munitions. In November 2009, Lloyds contributed $62.5m as part of a 12-bank syndicate when Lockheed issued bonds for a total of $1.5bn.

Other British high street banks have also played a role in investing in arms companies known to make cluster weapons. In April 2009, Barclays and HSBC were involved in a major financing deal with Textron, a US arms manufacturer that builds a “sensor fused weapon” – the world’s most powerful cluster bomb. Alliant Techsystems makes the weapon’s rocket motor.

Textron issued $757.4m worth of bonds and shares with the financial aid of a 10-bank syndicate. HSBC and Barclays combined underwrote $44.6m worth of loans. Barclays then went on to invest a further $75m in a separate Textron bond deal five months later.

The report on the banks, a joint piece of research by the Dutch and Belgium NGOs IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaaneren, reveals that since May 2008, 166 financial institutions across the world have invested an estimated $39bn in the eight largest cluster-munitions manufacturers.

None of these investments is illegal. But they will lead to further concerns about the moral behaviour of the banking industry at a time of public anger over its role in the credit crisis and bankers’ bonuses.

The majority of investors in cluster munitions are from countries such as China, Russia and the US, which have refused to sign up to the global ban. Those countries are also the world’s largest producers of sub-munitions.

But financial investment has also come from banks within nine countries that have signed up to the treaty. Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and the Netherlands have yet to pass legislation that specifically forbids indirect investment in cluster-bomb producers.

Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand are the only countries that have banned banks from directly or indirectly financing cluster bombs. Within the financial industry there are signs that some banks are beginning to distance themselves from cluster-bomb makers. Since the publication of the Pax Christi report, HSBC said it has brought in a new investment policy that forbids it from investing in companies that make such weapons. The bank would not confirm whether that means it has ended its relationship with Textron. But Mark Hemingway, the head of media relations at HSBC, told The Independent: “We have exited relationships with clients if the requirements of our policy are not being met.”

A spokeswoman for Barclays said the company’s investment policy “explicitly prohibits financing trade in landmines, cluster bombs or any equipment designed to be used as an instrument of torture”. Barclays would not confirm whether it would no longer invest in Textron but The Independent understands no new investments have been made since 2010. The relationship has also been discussed by senior execs at the bank.

In contrast, Lloyds and RBS resolutely defended their investments. A spokesman for Lloyds said: “Lloyds does not knowingly finance or otherwise support the manufacture of any weaponry that breaches UK, US, EU or UN legislation, or weapons which have been outlawed by International Treaty. These include, amongst others, bans on anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions.”

RBS said it had been assured by arms companies that they don’t make cluster bombs. “We do not invest in cluster munitions. We have received assurances from our defence-sector clients that that they are not in breach of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” a spokesperson said.

But Oliver Sprague, an arms expert at Amnesty, said: “High street banks like Royal Bank of Scotland are making a mockery of UK law by shamefully investing in companies that make weapons the UK Government and 108 other countries have clearly and quite rightly banned. Given the UK Government’s clear decision to ban cluster munitions, no UK financial institutions should be assisting their production.”

Laura Cheeseman, who is the director of the Cluster Munition Coalition, which spearheaded the lobbying drive for the ban on cluster weapons, said: “The UK and other countries that have already signed the ban treaty should pass strong national legislation to make sure they are not contributing to the production of weapons that they have outlawed.”

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Bureau Recommends: UK banks investing in cluster bomb manufacturers




Cluster Bombs - South Lebanon - flickr/Cluster Munition Coalition

The Bureau recommends an investigation by Amnesty TV into UK banks that invest in companies which manufacture cluster bombs.

In March this year, the UK introduced a law banning the manufacture, use or trade of cluster munitions – bombs which fragment into multiple smaller explosives, or ‘bomblets’. Although investing in cluster bombs is illegal under British law, banks remain able to invest in the arms companies that manufacture them.

According to Amnesty TV, HSBC, Barclays, RBS and Lloyds TSB continue to have financial relationships with companies such as Lockheed Martin and Textron, which manufacture cluster munitions. In an interview, a coalition government minster indicated to Amnesty TV that it had no intention of closing the loophole which permits this ‘indirect’ investment in cluster bombs.

The Cluster Munition Coalition, a campaigning group that opposes the use of the devices, told Amnesty TV that 98% of all cluster bomb victims are civilians, and one third of those are children.

Filmmaker Chris Atkins travelled to Laos to investigate the impact of cluster bombs, where an estimated 80 million cluster bombs dropped during the Vietnam war remain. Approximately one third of the smaller ‘bomblets’ that remain there are still dangerous.

For the full investigation, click here. For an opinion piece by the filmmaker, published in The Independent, click here.

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How Rick Perry aggressively pursued federal aid he now decries


In his campaign kickoff last Saturday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry burnished his conservative credentials by attacking the idea of deficit stimulus spending. “Washington’s insatiable desire to spend our children’s inheritance on failed stimulus plans and other misguided economic theories have given us record debt and left us with far too many unemployed,” he said.

But it was not always so for Perry. Back in 2003, lobbyists under Perry’s direction went to Capitol Hill to lobby the Republican Congress for more than a billion dollars in federal deficit spending on “stimulus.” And they won. A 2005 report (pdf) by the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations boasted of “$1.2 billion in temporary state fiscal relief to Texas” through Medicaid that Perry’s lobbying operation had secured. (Watch TIME’s video “Rick Perry Is Ready to Run for President.”)

 And that was just the beginning. The same report details millions more that flowed from the federal treasury into Texas as a result of the official state lobbying campaign, which was overseen by Perry, a Republican Lt. Governor and the Republican speaker of the state house between 2003 and 2005. In several cases, the Texas lobbying campaign won funds for programs that Perry now says he opposes as fiscally irresponsible intrusions on state responsibilities.

In the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, for instance, Texas lobbyists successfully pushed to include an additional $47.5 million a year for four years, to help reimburse the cost of health care for undocumented immigrants. In 2005, the lobbyists fought to restore $200 million in funding for No Child Left Behind that had been cut by the Senate. About $14.5 million of that money was directed to Texas for “innovation programs.” The Texas lobbying operation also supported several earmarks, including direct funds for maintenance dredging in the Matagorda shipping channel, and money to study the feasibility of a desalination project in Freeport.

Mark Miner, a spokesman for the Perry campaign, said Perry’s record of fiscal responsibility is clear from his state record. “Americans send billions of dollars to Washington, D.C., every year and continue to be frustrated by a federal government that is irresponsible with taxpayer dollars,” he said. “The Governor has signed six balanced budgets, in a large and diverse state. You have to prioritize and make tough decisions and that is not what we are seeing from the Obama Administration.”

Miner added that much of the federal money that flowed to Texas under Perry served a federal purpose. “Many of the issues Texas and other states have to deal with, like border security, are the result of a federal government that has failed in its responsibility,” he said.

Among other efforts, the Perry lobbying operation was involved in one of the most storied legislative maneuvers of the last decade. In 2005, at the tail end of the conference committee process on a massive federal $14 billion energy bill, members of Congress from Texas inserted a $1.5 billion program under the subtitle, “Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources.” Much of the money in this provision was directed to an unnamed consortium, which seemed to describe a private-sector partnership operating in the offices of the Texas Energy Center, a Perry-funded project in Sugar Land, Texas. (See “Texan to the Core: Rick Perry’s Life and Career in Politics.”)

 At the time, Democrats were outraged by the last-minute addition to the bill. “The subtitle appears to steer the administration of 75% of the $1.5 billion fund to a private consortium located in the district of Majority Leader Tom DeLay,” wrote Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., after the law passed. That consortium later won the account.

Perry had played a key role in setting up the Texas Energy Center in 2003, by giving a $3.6 million grant from an “enterprise fund” he controlled. “This commitment of enterprise fund money not only will lead to the creation of new, high-paying jobs in Texas but also will help expand Texas’ reputation as a leader in the development of new and cleaner energy technologies and resources,” Perry said at the time.

Shortly afterwards, the Texas Energy Center hired Drew Maloney, a former DeLay chief of staff, to lobby the U.S. Congress on its behalf. Maloney was also working at the time as a lobbyist for the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations, which Perry oversaw. The office reported in 2005 that it had also lobbied Congress for appropriations on behalf of the Texas Energy Center.

Today, Perry’s speaks of Washington as an alien land, inhabited by irresponsible politicians. In his most recent book, Fed Up!, Perry criticizes President George W. Bush for giving free rein to “spendthrift congressional Republicans.” “Ultimately, the record is fairly unforgiving for Republicans – particularly in Congress – who have been in power in Washington over the last decade or so,” Perry wrote in 2010. “They haven’t just spent our money wildly – they have blatantly ignored our core founding principles.”

This is the same message that Perry has brought to the campaign trail since announcing his bid for the presidency. It is not the same message lobbyists that Perry oversaw brought to Congress just a few years ago.

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Did Tenet Hide Key Info on 9/11?


Ray McGovern

With few exceptions, like some salacious rumor about the Kennedy family, the mainstream U.S. news media has shown little interest in stories that throw light on history — even recent, very relevant history. So it comes as no surprise that, when a former White House counter-terrorism czar accuses an ex-CIA director of sitting on information that could have prevented a 9/11 attack, the story gets neither ink nor air. 
 Bulletin for those of you who get your information only from the New York Times, the Washington Post and other outlets of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM): Former White House director for counterterrorism Richard Clarke has accused former CIA Director George Tenet of denying him and others access to intelligence that could have thwarted the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11.

Deliberately withholding critical intelligence from those who need it, and can act on it, is — at the least — gross dereliction of duty. The more so if keeping the White House promptly and fully informed is at the top of your job jar, as it was for Director of Central Intelligence Tenet. And yet that is precisely the charge Clarke has leveled at the former DCI.

In an interview aired on Aug. 11 on a local PBS affiliate in Colorado, Clarke charges that Tenet and two other senior CIA officials, Cofer Black and Richard Blee, deliberately withheld information about two of the hijackers of American Airlines Flight 77 — al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar. The two had entered the United States more than a year before the 9/11 attacks.

Clarke adds that the CIA then covered it all up by keeping relevant information away from Congress and the 9/11 Commission.

Lying by senior officials is bad enough, and there is now plenty of evidence that former CIA Director George Tenet and his closest agency associates are serial offenders. Think for a minute about the falsehoods spread regarding Iraq’s non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” stockpiles.

But withholding intelligence on two of the 9/11 hijackers would have been particularly unconscionable — the epitome of malfeasance, not just misfeasance. That’s why Richard Clarke’s conclusion that he should have received information from CIA about al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, “unless somebody intervened to stop the normal automatic distribution” amounts, in my view, to a criminal charge, given the eventual role of the two in the hijacking on 9/11 of AA-77, the plane that struck the Pentagon.

Tenet has denied that the information on the two hijackers was “intentionally withheld” from Clarke, and he has enlisted the other two former CIA operatives, Cofer Black (more recently a senior official of Blackwater) and Richard Blee (an even more shadowy figure), to concur in saying “Not us; we didn’t withhold.”

Whom to believe? To me, it’s a no-brainer. One would have to have been born yesterday to regard the “George is right” testimony from Black and Blee as corroborative.

Tenet’s Dubious Credibility  

Tenet is the same fellow who provided the “slam dunk” on the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, as well as the “artist renderings” of equally non-existent mobile laboratories for developing biological warfare agents, based on unconfirmed information from the impostor code-named (appropriately) “Curveball.”

It was Tenet who, under orders from President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, ordered up and disseminated a fraudulent National Intelligence Estimate on WMD in Iraq, the purpose of which was to deceive our elected representatives out of their constitutional prerogative to authorize war. No small lies.

After a five-year investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Chairman Jay Rockefeller described the intelligence adduced under Tenet to “justify” attacking Iraq as “uncorroborated, contradicted, and non-existent.” Good enough to win Tenet the Presidential Medal of Freedom, though. The corruption of intelligence worked just fine for the purposes of Bush and Cheney, thank you very much.

It is a actually a matter of record that Tenet lies a lot — on occasion, displaying what I would call chutzpah on steroids. Recall, for example, Tenet in April 2007 snarling at Scott Pelley on “60 Minutes” — five times, in five consecutive sentences — “We do not torture people.”

Even Under Oath  

Tenet has lied about 9/11, too. The joint statement from Tenet, Black and Blee — orchestrated by former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow — concludes: “We testified under oath about what we did, what we knew and what we didn’t know. We stand by that testimony.”

Almost made me laugh … almost.

In his sworn testimony to the 9/11 Commission on April 14, 2004, Tenet said he had not spoken to Bush — even on the telephone — during the entire month of August 2001.

But Tenet did fly down to see the President in Crawford — not once, but twice during August 2001, and briefed Bush again in Washington on the 31st.

After the TV cameras at the 9/11 Commission hearing were shut off, Bill Harlow phoned the commission staff to say, Oops, sorry, Tenet misspoke. Even then, Harlow admitted only to Tenet’s Aug. 17 visit to Crawford (and to the briefing on the 31st).

How do we know Tenet was again in Crawford, on Aug. 24? From a White House press release quoting President Bush to that effect — information somehow completely missed by our vigilant Fawning Corporate Media.

Funny, too, how Tenet could have forgotten his first visit to Crawford on Aug. 17. In his memoir, At the Center of the Storm, Tenet waxes eloquent about the “president graciously driving me around the spread in his pickup and me trying to make small talk about the flora and the fauna.” But the visit was not limited to small talk.

In his book Tenet writes: “A few weeks after the August 6 PDB was delivered, I followed it to Crawford to make sure the president stayed current on events.” The Aug. 6, 2001, President’s Daily Brief contained the article “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US.” According to Ron Suskind’s The One-Percent Doctrine, the president reacted by telling the CIA briefer, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.”

If, as Tenet says in his memoir, it was the Aug. 6, 2001 PDB that prompted his visit on Aug. 17, what might have brought him back on Aug. 24? I believe the answer can be found in court documents released at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the fledgling pilot in Minnesota interested in learning to steer a plane but indifferent as to how to land it.

Those documents show that on Aug. 23, 2001, Tenet was given an alarming briefing focusing on Moussaoui, titled “Islamic Extremist Learns to Fly.” Tenet was told that Moussaoui was training to fly a 747 and, among other suspicion-arousing data, had paid for the training in cash.

It is an open question — if a key one — whether Tenet told Bush about the two hijackers, al-Hazmi and al-Mihdhar, while keeping that key information from the person who most needed it — White House counter-terrorist czar Richard Clarke. Clarke finds the only plausible explanation in his surmise that Tenet was personally responsible. Clarke says:

“For me to this day, it is inexplicable, when I had every other detail about everything related to terrorism, that the director didn’t tell me, that the director of the counter-terrorism center didn’t tell me, that the other 48 people inside CIA that knew about it never mentioned it to me or anyone in my staff in a period of over 12 months.”

Enter Harlow  

But Tenet’s aide-de-camp Bill Harlow has branded Clarke’s statements “absurd and patently false.” And the statement Harlow shepherded for Tenet, Black and Blee adds, “reckless and profoundly wrong … baseless … belied by the record … unworthy of serious consideration.”

And Harlow never lies? Right. I’m reminded of Harlow’s reaction to Newsweek’s publication on Feb. 24, 2003, of the intelligence information provided by Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, when he defected to Jordan in 1995. Kamel brought with him a treasure trove of documents and unique knowledge of Iraq’s putative “weapons of mass destruction.”

Most significantly, he told his U.S. debriefers there were no WMD in Iraq. He knew. He had been in charge of Iraq’s chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs for almost a decade, and he ordered what weapons existed destroyed before the U.N. inspectors could discover them after the war in 1991. In his words:

“I ordered the destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons — biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed.”

He told the U.S. much more, and the information that could be checked out was confirmed. But Kamel’s information didn’t fit with the Bush administration’s propaganda regarding its certainty that Iraq did have WMD stockpiles and was defying United Nations demands that the WMD be destroyed.

Those pushing the Iraq War juggernaut in early 2003 almost had a conniption when Newsweek acquired a transcript of Kamel’s debriefing and published this potentially explosive story barely three weeks before the invasion.

Newsweek noted gingerly that this information “raises questions about whether the WMD stockpiles attributed to Iraq still exist.” It was, in fact, the kind of impeccably sourced documentary evidence after which intelligence analysts and lawyers lust.

But this was not at all what Bush, Cheney, and — by sycophantic extension — Tenet wanted Newsweek readers, or the rest of us, to learn less than a month before the U.S./U.K. attack on Iraq ostensibly to find and destroy those non-existent weapons.

Bill Harlow to the rescue: he told the FCM in no uncertain terms that the Newsweek story was, “incorrect, bogus, wrong, untrue.” And the media cheerleaders for war breathed a sigh of relief, saying, Gosh, thanks for telling us, and then dropped the story like a hot potato.

By all indications, Harlow is still able to work his fraudulent magic on the FCM, which have virtually ignored this major Clarke v. Tenet story since it broke six days ago.

If Harlow says it’s not true ” and hurls still more pejorative epithets and adjectives, in a crude attempt to discredit the very serious charge Clarke has made … well, I guess we’ll have to leave it there, as the FCM is so fond of saying.

No matter Clarke’s well-deserved reputation for honesty and professionalism — and Tenet’s for the opposite. And so it goes.

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