Archive | March 9th, 2015

Jews “dispropor-tionally represented” amongst world’s wealthiest


Earlier this week, Forbes released its annual list of the world’s billionaires, which now includes 1,826 people – a record. According to a recent article published by The Jewish Daily Forward highlighting the Forbes list,“Jews are disproportionately represented on the roster of the world’s wealthiest, with 10 Jews among the top 50.”

On Monday Forbes released its 29th annual list of every billionaire on the planet, and it features a record 1,826 people, or 181 more than last year.

As in previous years, Jews are disproportionately represented on the roster of the world’s wealthiest, with 10 Jews among the top 50. (The list, topped by Bill Gates, ranks from richest to slightly less rich.)

Larry Ellison, the founder of the tech giant Oracle Corporation, is the wealthiest Jew in the world and the fifth wealthiest person alive. At age 70, his net worth is $54.2 billion.

With a net worth of $35.5 billion, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the second wealthiest Jew on the list and 14th wealthiest person overall. Mark Zuckerberg, still one of the world’s youngest billionaires at age 30, climbed five spots on the list to number 16 overall. His net worth has grown to $33.4 billion.

Other Jews in the top 50 include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson ($31.4 billion), Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page ($29.2 and $29.7 billion), investors George Soros ($24.2 billion), Carl Icahn ($23.5 billion) and Len Blavatnik ($20.2 billion), and Dell Computer Founder Michael Dell ($19.2 billion).

There are several Jews among the newcomers on the list as well, including Russ Weiner, the founder and CEO of Rockstar energy drinks, Jerry Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago White Sox sports franchises, and Ken Grossman, a co-founder of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Weiner is the son of prominent conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage (born Michael Weiner). Seth Klarman, an investor in the Times of Israel, is also on the list, with a net worth of $1.5 billion.

While men far outnumber women on the list, a few Jewish women are on it, including Shari Arison ($4.4 billion), Karen Pritzker ($4.3 billion), Lynn Schusterman ($3.7 billion) and Doris Fisher ($3.2 billion). With a net worth of $1 billion, Sheryl Sandberg, of Facebook and “Lean In” fame, just makes the cutoff for the list.

Once again, we have a perfect example of the extent of Jewish power in America and around the world. Jews are easily the most financially and politically successful ethnic group in the world today.

And yet, few of us are willing to discuss the reality of Jewish power and influence in America and the wider Western world, including their phenomenal financial, political, and cultural success over the course of the past 50 years or so, and the (destructive and subversive) role the organized Jewish community plays in American political, financial, and cultural life.

Philip Weiss, the Jewish journalist and political commentator who runs the popular Mondoweiss website, isn’t afraid to openly discuss Jewish power, influence, and success in America, as Dr. Kevin MacDonald recently noted and blogged about.

In a recent article discussing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the United States Congress, Weiss explained to his audience that Jews are “the wealthiest American group by religion” and that Jews “took over many establishment perches in the last generation.” He continues:

We are three of the four Democratic appointees to the Supreme Court, and whenever I turn on the news, I see influential Jews. Andrea Mitchell the wife of Alan Greenspan interviews Kenneth Pollack, Matt Lauer interviews Lorne Michaels. Last night I watched a panel on CSPAN about the Charlie Hebdo murders at the French-American Foundation and it appeared that all four speakers were Jewish.

Peter Beinart is one of the few writers who is honest about Jewish power: “the extraordinary acceptance and privilege afforded to Jews in late 20th century America.” In Haaretz he recently itemized our editorial control of publications: “Jews edit The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Vox, Buzzfeed, Politico, and the opinion pages of The New York Times and Washington Post.”

Every Jew of my and my parents’ generation is aware of our incredible advance into the establishment and is embarrassed about it or will tell you that it doesn’t matter or that America is all about the rich anyway and there are tons of other rich people, religion has nothing to do with it. I think they are all rationalizing the fact of our power because it is extremely uncomfortable for us. […]

Indeed, pointing out the fact that Jews in America and their organized political lobbies are extremely powerful – the most powerful political lobbying force – and that Jews have tremendous influence and outright control over important aspects of American society, including but not limited to ownership of the mass media, Federal Reserve banking system, and Wall Street, is one of the great taboos of American society. Honestly and unabashedly discussing Jewish influence and power is strictly off limits in polite society. In fact, it’s often considered “anti-Semitic” to even bring the topic of Jews up.

Surely, bringing up the fact that Jews are “disproportionally represented” amongst the world’s wealthiest billionaires is itself “anti-Semitic,” at least when a non-Jew states this fact.

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مقتل 24 إرهابياً من داعش بينهم قيادي بغار لسلاح الجو السوري بريف حمص


‘Alloosh ordered his remaining horde of rodents to open fire with mortars and Katyushas at innocent civilians living in Al-Mazza District 86 and the Villas area this morning (Damascus time).  Oh, he was successful in making friends of the Syrian people by killing them and destroying their property.  All this because of a temper tantrum occasioned by the Syrian Army’s refusal to negotiate with him any more.  He is going to die. That’s it.  And, he’s not taking it terribly well. Evidently, he is having doubts about the Afterlife and the folderol about 72 Virginians waiting for him in Paradise.

The mortar fire came from both Doumaa and Jawbar.  Once spotters pinpointed the exact coordinates for the mortars and Katyushas, the SAAF took to the air from Al-Mazza Airbase nearby and struck with lethal accuracy further reducing the number of rats up which ‘Alloosh can rely to keep him alive.  We can confirm that the mortars and Katyusha launchers were neutralized.

Zamalkaa:  7 Jaysh Al-Islam vermin were killed and their weapons and ammo destroyed this morning in a surround and snuff operation in which the SAA is becoming increasingly expert.

Firaas Ahmad Ghissn

Muhammad Al-Shaykh-Hassan

Shaadi ‘Ali ‘Atwa

Moosaa ‘Abdul-Ghafoor Al-Safadi

The other 3 were not named.

HOMS:  At the Al-Jadhal Gas Field area, a convoy moving rapidly from the East was set upon by our glorious Syrian Air Force.  This occurred on March 6, 2015.  We can confirm the death of a major leader of ISIS who was among the 60 monkeys traveling in the convoy: Dheeb Hudayjaan Al-‘Utabi, another Saudi freak of nature called the “Al-Waali” or “governor”.  Governor of what is anybody’s guess.  He is now a governor in Hell with all the other 24 rodents who accompanied him.


“Governor” Al-‘Utaybi seen in this photo after an encounter with the Syrian Air Force.



التطورات الميدانية ليوم السبت.. الجيش يوسع سيطرته في وسط وشرق البلاد Kafr Zaytaa:  2 pickups with 23mm cannons were destroyed by the SAA in a firefight.  I have no other details.

Al-Sayyaad:  In the area of Mahardaa, a mortar and 2 vehicles were destroyed.

Al-Lataamina:  SAA pressure on this area very relentless.  On March 6, 2015, the SAA and SAAF destroyed several mortars, 3 pickups with 23mm cannons and laid waste to revetments and fortifications in preparation for the delousing expecting to take place very soon.  The number of Nusra rats killed was 17 as of the report on the 7th of March.

Kafr Baytaa:  Another bad day for pickup trucks. Another 2 were destroyed here by the SAA and PDC.

Al-Mustareeha Village in the Shahshabu Mountain area: 9 confirmed Nusra rat deaths.  No names.

South Al-Qastal:  The SAA uncovered an underground den used for housing rats and storing weapons.  There was a van nearby which was detected by infantrymen and searched.  It was also loaded with ammunition.  The SAA pretended to be ordinary citizens wanting to see if the car was stolen.  When the rats came out to prevent that, the SAA opened fire killing 4 instantly.  The other 7 surrendered after they realized they were surrounded and the jig was up.  According to Wael, they were afraid of being blown up along with their ammunition.

“Abu ‘Ajaaj” (Id pending)

Hassan Ta’aan Al-Fahd

Raakaan Sa’eed Muhammad

Yaaseen Jaabir ‘Atrooni

Fighting reported also here:  ‘Uqayrabaat, Tahmaaz, Sakba.





image:×330.jpg 6HOMS:  The Syrian Army has finally eliminated the last cockroach belonging to ISIS in the Al-Jadhal Gas Field.  The insects left their positions heading in a northeasterly direction while being pursued by Syrian helicopters.  This new segment in the list of victories achieved by the SAA comes immediately after the liberation of Field 101-West in the area of Al-Sukhna and the recent dismantling of IEDs and landmines at the Aybla Gas Line west of Umm Al-Tabaabeer last Wednesday.   The SAA has documented 19 dead ISIS vermin including the following:


Abu Al-‘Izz Al-Yamaani (YEMENI MERD BALL)      

Al-Ghajar Farms:  The SAA invaded and destroyed a den of Nusra/Alqaeda rats killing all 9 of them:

Talee’ Humaydaan

‘Afeef Muhammad Al-Shaaghoori

The rest were not named and are believed to be foreigners.

Fighting reported in these areas also: Kafr Laahaa, Taldu, Al-Tayyiba, Al-Sa’en


army 3LATAKIA:  As of last night, Damascus time, the SAA has fully recovered all areas around Kinsibba and Salmaa.  Dooreen was reported liberated 2 days ago and we covered that.  Those of you readers who were concerned about Salmaa’s seemingly intractable situation might now take solace in the knowledge our army has wiped out the last vestiges of Alqaea/Nusra here.


Obama administration: US ‘will protect’ Syrian rebel forces


Allen: no-fly zone “under consideration”

The US special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL said on March 2 that the United States “will protect” Syrian rebel fighters trained and equipped by the United States, adding that a US-enforced no-fly zone or protected corridor is “under consideration,” as reported by Barbara Slavin for Al-Monitor.

The remarks by retired Marine Gen. John Allen suggest a military commitment beyond what is proposed by the Barack Obama administration’s draft authorization to use military force, which is presently before Congress, and may give new life to Turkey’s bid to draw the United States into military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey has sought a no-fly zone in Syria as a buffer against the growing number of Syrian refugees in Turkey (expected to reach 1.7 million this year) and as a base for Syrian armed opposition forces to operate against the Syrian government, as well as against the Islamic State (IS).

This column reported last week that Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Feb. 23 that Turkey expects those Syrian fighters trained in Turkey — per an agreement between Washington and Ankara on Feb. 19 — to battle the Syrian government, as well as IS. Cavusoglu’s understanding was in contrast to that of the US Defense Department, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, who said four days later that “the Syria component of this campaign is an anti-[IS] component. That’s the focus, not about the Assad regime. [N]othing has changed about … the policy that there’s not going to be a US military solution to Assad.”

A survey of the record of the recent US interventions in Libya and Iraq should give pause about the consequences of deeper US military involvement in Syria without a careful weighing of the consequences, or what might come next. It would take a brief Google search to recall the premature exclamations of the “success” of the NATO intervention in Libya in support of anti-Gadhafi forces. Libya, for those who may have missed it, has since become a failed state where Islamic militants and armed gangs hold sway, as well as a hub for extremists en route to armed jihad in other countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Another red flag for the United States should be reports of what may be renewed efforts to mainstream or engage Jabhat al-Nusra by some US allies. Reuters reported this week that Jabhat al-Nusra, which the US State Department designated a terrorist group in December 2012, is considering renouncing their pledge of loyalty to al-Qaeda and that by doing so the group’s leader anticipates a funding windfall: “Intelligence officials from Gulf states including Qatar have met the leader of [Jabhat al-] Nusra, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, several times in the past few months to encourage him to abandon al-Qaeda and to discuss what support they could provide, the sources said. They promised funding once it happens.”

This column warned in December 2013 about the mainstreaming of Islamic extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra in the context of an alleged greater good in the battle against the Syrian government.

As Julian Pecquet reports, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be taking up that debate on March 11, when Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey are all scheduled to testify. As the US Congress considers the extent and limits of the use of military force in Syria, it might be worth seeking some clarity on the administration’s intentions regarding a no-fly zone and protection of rebel forces, as well as a report on specific actions taken by Turkey to crack down on IS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups operating in Syria.

Turkey’s “precious loneliness”

Semih Idiz writes that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan may take pride in his country’s declining diplomatic fortunes: “Erdogan’s visit [to Saudi Arabia] follows his recent remark that ‘he could care less’ about Turkey’s regional isolation, which his chief foreign policy adviser Ibrahim Kalin has dubbed ‘precious loneliness,’ arguing that it is based on Turkey’s ethical stance on regional issues.”

Metin Gurcan reports that the Turkish military’s evacuation of 38 Turkish soldiers and the remains of the Tomb of Suleiman Shah on Feb. 22 from Turkish territory inside Syria may be more political fiasco than military triumph: “Was the evacuation operation a ‘victory’ that exhibited Turkish military prowess to the Middle East and the world, as boasted by pro-[Justice and Development Party] media, or ‘a frightened escape under IS pressure,’ as charged by the opposition? The answer is not yet clear.”

Fehim Tastekin writes that Turkey’s trade with North Africa has declined due to the poor state of relations between Ankara and Cairo: “Turkey’s export sector, which has been coming up with alternative routes after losing its Syrian routes, is now gearing up to pay the cost of the crisis with Egypt because of Turkey’s non-recognition of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.”

Egypt’s war on terrorism

Egypt has intensified its counterterrorism initiatives to combat mobile and deadly groups in the Sinai Peninsula, whose resilience may have cost former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim his job last week.

Fear of the spread of extremism has motivated a recent Egyptian court ruling that would close smaller, harder to monitor, places of worship in a decision that affects 27,000 mosques and religious gathering places across the country.

Rami Galal reports that the move is intended to “help mitigate the influence of extremist religious orators such as those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist groups or Shiites, who use those places of worship to take advantage of religious gatherings.”

A new anti-terrorism law would also further limit the youth groups that helped force former President Hosni Mubarak to resign.

Enas Hamed writes: “According to Malek Adly, a lawyer at the Center for Economic and Social Rights, the anti-terrorism law offers a loose definition of a terrorist entity. Adly said the provisions of any law should be precise. Based on this definition, all parties, student unions, movements and human rights organizations run the risk of being deemed terrorist entities.”

Egypt’s domestic crackdown has had implications abroad, and a Feb. 28 Egyptian court decision declaring Hamas a terrorist organization has left the group shaken and fearing further punitive measures.

Adnan Abu Amer reports that Hamas is trying to avoid escalation by making clear it has no hand in the Sinai unrest: “The security measures by Hamas on the border with Egypt aim at preventing any infiltration from and into Sinai, as the movement fears to be dragged into an Egyptian internal conflict, which would have significantly negative consequences.”

Women in the Middle East

Al-Monitor’s series on Women in the Middle East continues through the end of March. Coverage this week examined the evolving role of women in the region and included perspectives from some of Al-Monitor’s own writers based on their personal and professional experiences as journalists.

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CIA Whistleblower Facing 100 Years In Prison

President Barack Obama has repeatedly promised to protect whistleblowers from prosecution and punishment, even though he has used the Espionage Act more than all previous administrations.

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Saudi Arabia: Zio-Wahhabi Consolidates Its Alliance Against Iran

Zio-Wahhabi Salman bin Abdul Aziz has devoted himself to what call “ The blatant Iranian expansion” into the Saudi sphere of influence.
Turkey’s Mossad agent Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, meets with Zio-Wahhabi Salman, in Riyadh, Monday, March 2, 2015. The meeting marks a thaw in diplomatic ties between Zio-Wahhabi family  and Zionist agent Erdogan ,

Zio-Wahhabi Salman bin Abdul Aziz is widely considered a hardliner, more hawkish than his predecessors on both domestic and foreign affairs, and his first few weeks in office have confirmed this reputation. He started off by getting his house in order, reassuring his American ally about the recent rejiggering of the royal hierarchy, ostensibly meant to pave the way for a new generation of leaders. He promoted the leaders of the family counter-terrorism, finding among them a new crown prince, a new deputy crown prince, and executives for various other administrations. And, after downsizing advisory circles throughout the royal court, he devoted himself to what we call “The blatant Iranian expansion” into the Saudi sphere of influence.

Zionist Salman( Shalom) offered a first glimpse of his policy toward Yemen and the Houthis by refusing to allow former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh to attend Zionist Abdullah’s funeral. Wahhabi family did not appreciate the assistance Saleh gave the Houthis. By moving the Saudi embassy from Sanaa to Aden, and the subsequent relocation of other Gulf embassies, Zionist Salman raised the level of confrontation with the Houthis and Iran.

The Gulf embassies were relocated shortly after the Western embassies closed their doors. This suggests that the US and its Wahhabi ally coordinated the decision. Zio-Wahhabi wants to change the rules of the game in Yemen, while the US wants to pressure Iran to speed up the signing of an agreement. The lead US nuclear negotiator, Wendy Sherman, said: “Whether or not a nuclear deal is reached, the United States will continue to voice its longstanding concerns about Iranian policies that undermine regional stability.” That statement was likely intended, first and foremost, to reassure Zio-Wahhabi  and I$raHell.

Zio-Wahhabi had given the green light to the Houthis to fight terrorism and undermine the Muslim Brotherhood in Yemen, but that policy no longer stands after recent Houthi actions and rhetoric intimated that they seek to control all of Yemen. The Houthis responded swiftly, launching the first direct flight from Tehran to Sanah, and there is talk of more surprises on the way. Yemen is thus expected to witness more bloodshed against the backdrop of the regional conflict.

The second message dispatched by the new Wahhabi regime was directed at Egypt. Zionist Salman has indicated a desire to temper the political and financial zeal shown by the late Zionist Abdullah towards Cairo. Zio-Wahhabi family does not want to see the situation in Egypt disintegrate, but at the same time, it is not going to allow Egypt to return to its old Arab leadership role. Leaked phone conversations between the Egyptian president and his military leaders have raised concerns about Zionist Sisi’s real intentions. These leaks are not likely to be forgotten in the Gulf anytime soon, just as it has not been forgotten that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad once called several Zio-Wahhabi leaders “half men.”

Zio-Wahhabi warning was discernible in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) statement, criticizing Egypt’s accusations that Qatar supports terrorism. Even though another statement was issued confirming Gulf support for Egypt, it is hard to believe that the matter was a mistake. Apparently, Zio-Wahhabi family was annoyed by Egyptian accusations, because they coincided with the Qatari prince  CIA agent Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s visit to the Wahhabi family. Zionist  Sisi realized that the new Saudi position is a source of some concern. He repeated his famous statement that Egypt’s national security is linked to the Gulf’s security and vice versa, and his other statement about the Egyptian army’s readiness — taking only the time needed to traverse the distance — to help its Gulf and Arab brethren if they are ever in danger. It is nice to repeat these statements, even if the claim that it will only “take the time needed to traverse the distance” fell by the wayside when Zio-Nazi rained down bombs, death and destruction on Egypt’s own back yard in Gaza, embarrassing Zionist Sisi in the process.

Another issue of disagreement between Zio-Wahhabi regime  about Egypt that has not been greatly publicized, but has been festering in the dark, has to do with the Syrian opposition. Cairo hosted a conference to bring the opposition together, but it deliberately marginalized the Syrian National Coalition and it still has not replied to a request for a visit by its president Khaled Khoja (as he himself told Ahmad Ali in the Qatari daily al-Watan). There is also speculation that the Egyptian army is keen on preserving the Syrian army’s resolve, and that Egypt wants to bring Syria back to the Arab League. Zio-Wahhabi is opposed to the idea and might threaten to withdraw financial aid to prevent such a development. Zionist Sisi, however, found common ground. On the eve of his trip to Riyadh, he talked about the need for “a political solution, maintaining Syrian territorial unity and fighting terrorism,” while avoiding questions about Assad’s future in this solution.

Egypt will soon host an economic summit and an Arab summit, which will shed further light on the nature of the Wahhabi-Egyptian relationship. It appears that both sides are eager to preserve the relationship, even if they have diverging goals and hopes. The Egyptian eagerness came through in Zionist Sisi’s statements, while Wahhabi eagerness manifested in in the king’s decision to go to the airport in person to welcome Zionist Sisi. The key question, however, is: will the financial aid arrive?

Zio-Wahhabi needs Egypt and Turkey politically and militarily in its confrontation with Iran. The relationship with Cairo is stable even if it undergoes some changes. Talk about reviving the Muslim Brotherhood under US pressure, and out of an Arab and international need to confront the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), may be greatly exaggerated. Hours before Zionist Sisi headed to Riyadh, death sentences were issued in Cairo against the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and an Egyptian court classified Hamas as a terrorist organization.

These rulings further angered Zionist Recep Tayyip Erdogan; and perhaps Egypt wanted to anger him on purpose. Before heading from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, he announced that he will not meet with Zionist Sisi in Riyadh, demanding serious steps from Cairo before such a meeting could take place. It is hard to imagine Erdogan and Zionist Sisi shaking hands as long as the Egyptian president continues to pursue the Muslim Brotherhood. The Turkish project in the Middle East depends on the Muslim Brotherhood.

Despite this Egyptian-Turkish antagonism, Zio-Wahhabi regime is trying to become the center of a regional mobilization against the Iranian project, with its rising momentum from Iraq to Yemen, down to the military changes taking place on Syria’s northern and southern fronts.

This mobilization is critical amid talk of an imminent Iranian-American agreement. President Barack Obama, who headed a large delegation to Saudi Arabia in a show of support for Zionist Salman, hours after Zionist Abdullah’s death, hosted the Qatari prince,whose relationship with Wahhabi family has significantly improved in the past few weeks. In addition, Washington announced an agreement with Zionist Erdogan to train the “moderate” Syrian opposition. It is clear that Washington is meticulously delineating the contours of a regional balance even at the height of its blunders in the region.

Where will the first repercussions of this Wahhabi mobilization manifest?

Let’s watch Yemen closely (the South itself might split over the Gulf presence). Let’s also watch the Syrian fronts. Iraq on the other hand has been ordained by the West to fight terrorism, so it is difficult to allow regional players to change the rules of the game there at this point.

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Fifty Years On, Gains Achieved by Those Who Bled in Selma Are Under Attack


‘The thing about racism is that it always morphs to undermine progress.’

On March 7, 1965, Alabama state troopers beat civil rights marchers in Selma, Ala. This month marks the 50th anniversary of a day that led to passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. (Photo: AP/file)

As political leaders, celebrities, and civil rights activists descend on the city of Selma, Alabama this weekend to commemorate the famous march that culminated in the brutal assault by local law enforcement that became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ on March 7, 1965, both veteran participants and a younger generation of racial justice advocates are making it clear that even after fifty years of struggle—despite monumental victories won by those who marched and died for the cause —the ultimate fight aimed at securing equal rights, economic justice, and shared opportunities is far from over.

“When you look around and see how things really are, and see the disparity in healthcare and economics and education and jobs … the struggle still continues.” —Fred Gray, civil rights attorneyHaving marched across the now-historic Edmund Pettus Bridge alongside hundreds of others, including Martin Luther King, Jr., in Selma on that day fifty years ago, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) said this week that for him, the bridge “is a sacred place” because “that’s where some of us gave a little blood and where some people almost died.” During the police onslaught, Lewis had his skull fractured by a state trooper’s billy club.

The Associated Press offered this short depiction of the march, including events preceding and following ‘Bloody Sunday,’ using clips from speeches and archival footage:

According to Lewis, “That bridge – what happened on that Sunday have changed America forever.” As history notes, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the The Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law just months after the ‘Bloody Sunday’ incident and the march in Selma, which exposed for many the unquestionable brutality of political repression and police aggression in the South. To this day, the march is widely credited as triggering a key shift in national public opinion and provided political traction for the idea that the right to vote was a necessary and key protection that deserved federal legislation.

As columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. writes on Saturday:

By rights, this 50th anniversary of those events should be an unalloyed celebration. After all, the marchers, fortified by men and women of good will from all over the country, eventually crossed that bridge under federal protection, marched for four days up Highway 80 and made it to, as the song says, glory. They stood at the state capital in Montgomery and heard Martin Luther King exhort them to hold on and be strong. “Truth crushed to earth,” he thundered, “will rise again!”

The Voting Rights Act was signed into law. And African Americans, who had been excluded from the ballot box for generations, went on to help elevate scores of citizens who looked like them to the mayor’s office, the governor’s mansion, the White House.

Pitts Jr., however, along with many others, recognizes that even as the historic march deserves commemoration and celebration for the gains it provided or symbolized, there have been tremendous lapses in progress—specifically in recent years—and the persistent ravages of racism, economic inequality, and disparity of opportunity remain deeply ingrained in Alabama, across the South, and beyond.

Fred Gray, an attorney and leading civil rights activist in the sixties, said this week that having been “involved with it from the very beginning and seeing it from totally segregated to where it is now, we’ve made some progress.”

But, he added, “when you look around and see how things really are, and see the disparity in healthcare and economics and education and jobs … the struggle still continues. If anything, it should encourage us to do a better job.”

“Celebrations, commemorations and movies make people feel good, but the reality is that voting rights have been rolled back dramatically in recent years.” —Hank Sanders and Faya Rose Toure

And take husband and wife couple Hank Sanders and Faya Rose Toure, who in an op-ed in the New York Times on Saturday describe how they settled in Selma subsequent to the famous march in order to make the fight for voting rights in Alabama a temporary commitment, but repeatedly determined—over the course of the five decades since—to remain as they recognized victory for equal access and civil rights remained elusive.

Now in their seventies, Sanders, who serves as U.S. Congressman representing Alabama’s 23rd District, and Toure, a civil rights attorney, write:

We came to Selma in 1971, newly married and fresh out of Harvard Law School. Our intentions were to stay for five years. We were sure that by then Dr. King’s vision of voting rights would have been realized. Over 40 years later, not only are the fruits scarce, but the roots are shallow and feeble.

Celebrations, commemorations and movies make people feel good, but the reality is that voting rights have been rolled back dramatically in recent years. The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder effectively gutted the Voting Rights Act, striking down a central provision requiring certain states, including Alabama, to obtain federal clearance before changing voting procedures. Since then, several states have limited access to voting by blacks and others. Today, all Alabama voters must show photo identification. In Alabama and other states, this I.D. must be government-issued. These policies, which disproportionately affect minority, poor and elderly voters who are less likely to possess government-issued I.D.s, are the 21st-century equivalent of the Jim Crow-era poll tax and literacy test.

Wendy Weiser, director of the democracy program for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, notes how the weakening of the Voting Rights Act at the federal level is made worse by these aggressive state-level attacks, which appear to be directly tied to the positive turnout of minority voters in recent national elections. Weiser writes:

“New assault on voting rights is being ignored by the same lawmakers who are coming to Selma to celebrate.” —Cornell William Brooks, NAACPThe push to restrict voting came after a surge in participation among African-Americans and certain other groups in 2008. Recentstudies found that the more a state experienced increases in minority and low-income voter turnout, the more likely it was to push and pass laws cutting back on voting rights. The Brennan Center similarly found that of the 11 states with the highest black turnout in 2008, seven passed laws making it harder to vote. Of the 12 states with the largest Hispanic population growth in the 2010 Census, nine states did so. And of the 15 states that used to face special monitoring under the VRA because of a history of racial discrimination in elections, nine states passed laws that make it more difficult to vote.

Unfortunately, efforts to restrict voting show no signs of abating. In the first few weeks of this year, legislation was introduced in 17 states and already progressed in two.

All this points to an urgent and continuing need for strong legal protections for voting rights — protections sought and won by the brave marchers 50 years ago in Selma.

President of the NAACP Cornell William Brooks marked the anniversary of Selma by voicing celebration for the bravery of those who marched fifty years ago, but also said nobody should lose sight that voting rights are under sustained attack nationwide.

In fact, Brooks added, “this new assault on voting rights is being ignored by the same lawmakers who are coming to Selma to celebrate” the sacrifices of those who were beaten and bloodied on the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

“Selma is now,” he declared and vowed the NAACP would “not rest until every American has unfettered access to the ballot box” in every state and community across the country.

“When we look forward, we’ve got to think about not just how to we defend what we’ve won and earned, but what the new models and new systems for protections are that we need for the future.” —Rashad Robinson, ColorofChangeMeanwhile, younger activists and organizers—such as Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorofChange, and Patrisse CullorsOpal Tometi and Alicia Garza, co-founders of the #BlackLivesMatter project—were asked this week to weigh in on the legacy of Selma in the context of contemporary fights against police violence, structural racism, and other struggles.

Asked by the Washington Post about what’s needed to fight back against the attack on voting rights, Robinson said, just like in the 1960s, it will take “a movement” to win the necessary fights.

Reflecting on Selma, Robinson said, “reminds all of us that movements and organizing and advocacy are the fuel that brings about change. Sometimes we think about change being elections and putting certain people in power, but it’s the movement underneath that helps the people we put in power bring about the policies that we want.”

He added, “When we look forward, we’ve got to think about not just how to we defend what we’ve won and earned, but what the new models and new systems for protections are that we need for the future.”

During a Twitter chat hosted by NBC News this week exploring the intersection of Selma and the current movement for racial justice, Opal Tometi said, “The fight has changed in many ways, but at its core the challenge remain[s] the same.”

Regarding the loss of progress on voting rights, she added, “The thing about racism is that it always morphs to undermine progress.”

As Pitts, Jr. opined: “It is disheartening that we find ourselves forced to fight again a battle already won. But the events of half a century past whisper to us a demand for our toughness and faith in the face of that hard truth. They remind us that injustice is resilient.”

But, he concluded, also resilient is the “truth crushed to earth” that those who marched with Dr. King in 1965 carried with them and those who continue that struggle today so bravely affirm.

Posted in USAComments Off on Fifty Years On, Gains Achieved by Those Who Bled in Selma Are Under Attack

US Ground Troops in Syria? Top Military Official Doesn’t Rule It Out


Gen. Martin Dempsey’s comments highlight openness allowed by vague language included in Obama’s proposed AUMF.

Image result for Gen. Martin Dempsey CARTOON
Gen. Martin Dempsey testifying at the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. (Photo: DoD/Ash Carter)

The nation’s top military officer told a House subcommittee Wednesday that U.S. troops could potentially hit the ground in Syria to fight Islamic militants, offering another sign the operation is headed towards expansion.

Speaking to the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said, “If the commander on the ground approaches either me or the secretary of defense and believes that the introduction of special operations forces to accompany Iraqis or the new Syrian forces, or JTACS (joint tactical-air controllers), these skilled folks who can call in close-air support, if we believe that’s necessary to achieve our objectives, we will make that recommendation.”

Dempsey’s comment was played down by Air Force Col. Ed Thomas, a spokesman for the Joint Staff, who stressed that the comment was in response to a “hypothetical” situation, and that U.S. troops would be there only for troop rescue operations, the Military Times reports. An anonymous defense official made the same point to Agence-France Presse.

AFP adds that the official said Dempsey was addressing “flexibility and preservation of options.”

Despite the downplay of the ground troop scenario, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry last week also indicated the door was open for ground troops in Syria in the context of the the proposed authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).

In his comments to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Kerry highlighted the vagueness of the “enduring offensive ground combat operations” language in the AUMF. As Common Dreams reported last week:

“If you’re going in for weeks and weeks of combat, that’s enduring,” he said. “If you’re going in to assist somebody and fire control and you’re embedded in an overnight deal, or you’re in a rescue operation or whatever, that is not enduring.”

According to Kerry, the White House believes that the language “left the president the appropriate level of discretion with respect to how he might need to do, without [any] room for interpretation that this was somehow being interpreted to be a new license for a new Afghanistan or a new Iraq.”

Kerry’s statements follow remarks by White House Press Secretary Joshua Earnest, made immediately following the mid-February release of the proposal, that the AUMF’s language was intentionally vague because “we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief.”

Though, as Politico reports, the proposed AUMF “appears to have pleased nobody on Capitol Hill,” and while it has yet to face a vote, thousands of troops have already been deployed to Iraq, and U.S. and coalition forces are continuing a months-long campaign of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

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Naziyahu Speaks, Money Talks


Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Everything you need to know about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of one man – Sheldon Adelson.

The gambling tycoon is the Godfather of the Republican Right. The party’s presidential hopefuls line up to kiss his assets, scraping and bowing for his blessing, which when granted is bestowed with his signed checks. Data from both the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics and the Center for Public Integrity show that in the 2012 election cycle, Adelson and his wife Miriam (whose purse achieved metaphoric glory Tuesday when it fell from the gallery and hit a Democratic congressman) contributed $150 million to the GOP and its friends, including $93 million to such plutocracy-friendly super PACs as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, the Congressional Leadership Fund, the Republican Jewish Coalition Victory Fund, Winning Our Future (the pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC) and Restore Our Future (the pro-Mitt Romney super PAC).

Yet there’s no knowing for sure about all of the “dark money” contributed by the Adelsons– so called because it doesn’t have to be reported. Like those high-rise, multi-million dollar apartments in New York City purchased by oligarchs whose identity is hidden within perfectly legal shell organizations, dark money lets our politicians conveniently erase fingerprints left by their ink-stained (from signing all those checks) billionaire benefactors.

But Sheldon Adelson was not only sitting in the House gallery on Tuesday because of the strings he pulls here in the United States. He is also the Daddy Warbucks of Israel and Benjamin Netanyahu is yet another of his beneficiaries – not to mention an ideological soulmate. Although campaign finance reform laws are much more strict in Israel than here in the United States, Adelson’s wealth has bought him what the historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg calls uniquely pernicious influence.

Adelson owns the daily Israel Hayoma leading newspaper, as well as Makor Roshon, the daily newspaper of Israel’s Zionist religious right and NRG, a news website. He gives Israel Hayom away for free in order to promote his hardline views – the headline in the paper the day after Obama’s re-election was “The US Voted [for] Socialism.”

More important, he uses the paper to bang the drum incessantly for Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud Party, under the reign of which Israel has edged closer and closer to theocracy. As Hebrew University economist Momi Dahan put it: “De facto, the existence of a newspaper like Israel Hayom egregiously violates the law, because [Adelson] actually is providing a candidate with nearly unlimited resources.”

Sheldon, meet Rupert.

In fact, as Israel’s March 17 election approaches, Adelson has increased the press run of Israel Hayom’s weekend edition by 70 percent. The paper says it’s to increase circulation and advertising, but rival newspaper Ha’aretz reports, “Political sources are convinced the extra copies are less part of a business plan and more one to help Netanyahu’s re-election bid.” Just like the timing of Netanyahu’s “State of the Union” address to Congress this week was merely a coincidence, right? “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political,” Netanyahu told Congress. “That was never my intention.” Of course.

In Gershom Gorenberg’s words, the prime minister “enjoys the advantage of having a major newspaper in his camp that portrays the world as seen from his office: a world in which Israel is surrounded by enemies, including the president of the United States; in which peace negotiations are aimed at destroying Israel; in which Israel’s left is aligned with all the hostile forces, and even rightists who oppose Netanyahu want to carry out a coup through the instrument of elections.”

So Netanyahu gets the best of both of Adelson’s worlds – his powerful propaganda machine in Israel and his campaign cash here in the United States. Combined, they allow Netanyahu to usurp American foreign policy as he manipulates an obliging US Congress enamored of Adelson’s millions, pushing it further to the right on Israel and the Middle East.

There you have it: Not only is this casino mogul the unofficial head of the Republican Party in America (“he with the gold rules”), he is the uncrowned King of Israel — David with a printing press and checkbook instead of a slingshot and a stone. All of this came to the fore in Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday: the US cannot determine its own policy in the Middle East and the majority in Congress are under the thumb of a foreign power.

Like a King Midas colossus, Sheldon Adelson bestrides the cause of war and peace in the most volatile region of the world. And this is the man who — at Yeshiva University in New York in 2013 — denounced President Obama’s diplomatic efforts with Iran and proposed instead that the United States drop an atomic bomb in the Iranian desert and then declare: “See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business. You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”

Everything you need to know about Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress Tuesday was the presence in the visitor’s gallery of that man. We are hostage to his fortune.

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In Tikrit Offensive, Confusion and Tragedy of US Policy Laid Bare


Latest military operation by the Iraqi Army and allied forces underscores the “horror” of the situation inside Iraq

Iraqi Shia militia fighters celebrate near the wreckage of a tank during a battle with Islamic State militants in the northern town of Amerli in September, 2014.

As Iraqi government forces and Shia militias wage the largest counter-offensive yet against the ISIS-held city of Tikrit, the United States is publicly distancing itself from the attack, in a move that analysts say underscores the confusion—and tragedy—of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Launched Monday, the attack is the third Iraqi government attempt to capture Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein located northwest of Baghdad, after the city was seized by ISIS in June. Shia militias are playing a heavy role in the operation, comprising between a half and two-thirds of the up to 30,000-strong force. Iranian advisers are numbered among the ground forces near front lines, including Qasem Soleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s overseas unit.

The forces are reportedly moving towards the city, their pace halted by fighting and the numerous mines and bombs blocking their route. Meanwhile, residents of the Sunni-majority municipality are reportedly fleeing over fears of ethnic cleansing, atrocities, and civilian killings from the feared Shia militias and Iraqi forces, both of whom are guilty of severe human rights abuses.

Threats issued ahead of the offensive suggest residents of Tikrit have cause for concern.Addressing parliament on Monday, the U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi declared, “There is no neutrality in the battle against ISIS. If someone is being neutral with ISIS, then he is one of them.” Meanwhile, Hadi al-Amiri, head of the Badr Militia, has openly threatened revenge killings in the offensive.

“There is this whole set of Shia militias who back the government but are not particularly accountable to it and are, in many cases, more powerful than the Iraqi government fighters themselves, who famously collapsed in the face of ISIS in 2014,” Phyllis Bennis, senior fellow at Institute for Policy Studies, told Common Dreams. “They are doing the bulk of the fighting. The Iraqi air force is also bombing, but what they’re bombing, who’s being killed, we don’t know yet.”

The U.S., conspicuously, is not taking part in the attack. Department of Defense spokesperson Col. Steve Warren told the Wall Street Journal, “We are fully aware of the operation, but the Iraqis did not request our support for it. Our presence in Iraq is at the request of the Iraqi government. We are there to advise them, to assist them, to support them, when they ask for it.”

Major media outlets are emphasizing that American non-participation exposes tensions between the U.S. and Iraqi governments. Anne Barnard reports for the New York Times that “American officials, for their part, voiced unease with the prominent role of Iran and its allied Shiite militias in the Tikrit operation.” Headlines like Iraq’s anti-ISIS Tikrit offensive is backed by Iran, not the U.S. have rippled through the news cycle.

Analysts told Common Dreams that the U.S. is hesitating because, simply, its policies have failed and officials are unsure of how to proceed.

Raed Jarrar, policy impact coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee, toldCommon Dreams, “Everyone I know is confused about this development, and I am pretty sure the U.S. administration is confused as well. It doesn’t seem like the Obama administration has a comprehensive policy in Iraq that could be explained to the U.S. government, let alone the U.S. or Iraqi public.”

“On the one hand, the U.S. is obviously coordinating with Iran inside Iraq and has been since 2003,” Jarrar continued. “On the other hand, we have criticisms of Iran’s role inside Iraq coming from the U.S. and criticisms of the U.S. role in Iraq coming from Iran.”

Meanwhile, Jarrar added, “the U.S. is funding Iraqi forces that are committing massive human rights violations. There is zero interest from the Iraqi government or the U.S. to have any non-military solution or peel off support from ISIS by actually engaging people.”

Some argue that this confusion, ultimately, springs from declining U.S. power in the Middle East and North Africa region.

US has little power in the Iraq, where it is being used as an air-force but plays second fiddle to the government and its Iranian allies

Either way, Bennis emphasized, the offensive underscores the “horror” of the situation in Iraq.

“The Shia-dominated government in Baghdad that the U.S. put in place, armed, and paid for from shortly after the U.S. occupation until now has a legacy of terrible sectarianism,” said Bennis. “There is a new prime minister who talks pretty good talk, but his officials, particularly the leaders of the ministries of security and defense, are the same old sectarian leaders as before. They are feared and hated by many Sunnis, not only because they lost their privileges, but they are also facing real and immediate repression in terms of mass arrests, torture in prisons, and assassinations by state officials: the police and military.”

Bennis added, “This is the consequence of having a strategy of military strikes when you admit there is no military solution.”

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