Archive | April 15th, 2015

Zio-Wahhabi regime Other War. At War Against Its Own People

NOVANEWS

At War against Its Own People

Global Research
Saudi_Arabia_svg

The Saudi war on Yemen has understandably come to dominate the headlines since it began in late March 2015. The international scope of the conflict – nominally including the participation of nearly a dozen Gulf countries – coupled with the obvious political and geopolitical implications, all but assured that nearly all mention of Saudi Arabia in the news would be in the context of this war. However, there is another war being waged by Saudi Arabia, this one entirely within its own borders.

While Riyadh viciously, and illegally, bombs the people of Yemen, it also continues to wage a brutal war of repression against its own Shia population. A significant minority inside Saudi Arabia, the Shia community has been repeatedly victimized by the heavy-handed, often murderous, tactics of Saudi security forces in a desperate attempt by the House of Saud to maintain its iron grip on power. Rather than being challenged to democratize and respect the rights of a minority, the Saudi government has chosen violence, intimidation, and imprisonment to silence the growing chorus of opposition.

Were it only the Shia minority being targeted however, this overt repression might be crudely caricatured as sectarian conflict within the context of “Iranian influence” on Saudi domestic politics; Iran being the bogeyman trotted out by Riyadh to justify nearly all of its criminal and immoral actions, from financing terror groups waging war on Syria to the bombardment of the people of Yemen. However, the Saudi government is also targeting bloggers, journalists, and activists who, despite their small numbers in the oppressive kingdom, have become prominent defenders of human rights, symbolizing an attempt, fruitless though it may be, to democratize and bring some semblance of social justice to the entirely undemocratic monarchy.

At War Against Its Own People

It is a well understood fact, almost universally recognized, that Saudi Arabia is one of the principal instigators of sectarianism throughout the Muslim world. Using a “divide and conquer” strategy that has worked with insidious perfection in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, Saudi Arabia has managed to flex its geopolitical muscles and project its power without much threat to its own internal stability. However, there is increasingly a Shia movement within Saudi Arabia – we should not call it “sectarian” as it is about equality under the law – demanding its rights and legal protections that are undeniably incompatible with the absolutist, monarchical system that Saudi Arabia has erected.

Recent days have seen violent raids and clashes between Saudi security forces and residents throughout the overwhelmingly Shia Qatif province of Eastern Saudi Arabia, the most violent of which having taken place in the town of Awamiyah. In response to protests against Riyadh’s war on Yemen, the regime’s security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown that perhaps most accurately could be called violent suppression. As one activist and resident of Awamiyah told the Middle East Eye, “From 4pm until 9pm the gunfire didn’t stop… Security forces shot randomly at people’s homes, and closed all but one of the roads leading in and out of the village… It is like a war here – we are under siege.” A number of videos uploaded to YouTube seem to confirm the accounts of activists, though all eyewitness accounts remain anonymous for fear of government retribution.

Such actions as those described by activists in Awamiyah, and throughout Qatif, are nothing new. Over the last few years, the province has repeatedly seen upsurges of protests against the draconian policies of the government in Riyadh. Beginning in 2011, in concert with protests in Bahrain, Qatif became a hotbed of activism with increasingly significant demonstrations shaking the social foundations of the region, and rattling nerves in Riyadh which, with some justification, interpreted the growing democracy movement as a threat to its totalitarian control over the country. Responding to the “threat,” the Saudi government repeatedly unleashed its security forces to violently suppress the demonstrations, resulting in a number of deaths; the total remains unknown to this day as Saudi Arabia tightly controls the flow of such sensitive information.

Of course, these actions by the Saudi regime cannot be seen in a vacuum. Rather, they must be understood within the larger context of the events of the 2011 uprising, and ongoing resistance movement, in neighboring Bahrain. Long a vassal state of Saudi Arabia, the majority Shia Bahrain has been ruled by the al-Khalifa family, a Sunni dynasty that for years has lorded over the country in the interests of their patrons and protectors in Saudi Arabia. When in 2011, much of the country erupted in protests against the totalitarian Khalifa regime, it was Saudi Arabia which militarily intervened on behalf of their proxies.

Despite being the leading edge of what would come to be known as the “Arab Spring,” the uprising in Bahrain was largely forgotten amid the far more catastrophic events in Libya and Syria. Naturally, it should be noted that Saudi Arabia played a central in sponsoring both of those conflicts, as protests were transmogrified into terrorist wars backed by Saudi money and jihadi networks. In the midst of the regional instability, Saudi intervention in Bahrain became, conveniently enough for Riyadh, “lost in the shuffle.” So, while the world hemmed and hawed about “dictators” in Libya and Syria, and marshaled political, diplomatic, and military forces to bring regime change to both, the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia continued to prop up its proxies in Bahrain, while suppressing the uprisings at home.

But while many would claim that Saudi actions are dictated not by authoritarianism but a continuing geopolitical struggle with Shia Iran, such arguments seem frivolous when considering the repression of freedom of speech within Saudi Arabia.

It is not sectarianism and “Iranian meddling” that has caused the Saudi regime to convict Raif Badawi, a liberal blogger and independent journalist, for the crime of “insulting Islam” for daring to question the draconian laws enforced by the reactionary monarchy and its police state apparatus. Not only was Badawi sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes, he was also originally tried on the absurd charge of “apostasy” which could have carried a death sentence. Indeed, though these charges were thrown out, reports have emerged in recent months that the apostasy charge may be brought back in a second trial; the punishment for a conviction would be beheading. So, physical abuse, long-term imprisonment, and a possible death sentence for a blogger who had the temerity to voice his opinion about political and social issues. And this country has the gall to intervene in Yemen on behalf of “democracy”?

Speaking of death sentences handed down by Saudi authorities for publicly airing one’s beliefs, the case of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr also highlights the deeply unjust policies of the regime. A vocal supporter of the Qatif protests, Nimr was convicted of the crime of “disobeying” the Saudi government by seeking “foreign meddling” in the country. An obvious reference to the ever-present bogeyman of Iran, the spurious charges have been widely interpreted as an attempt to silence a major critic of the regime, one who has the support of the significant Shia minority. Saudi courts have sentenced Nimr to death for the “crime” of supporting the protests seeking democratization and a respect for minority rights. That decision was appealed, and last month a Saudi court upheld the death sentence.

While the House of Saud might peddle its propaganda of Iranian meddling with regard to Sheikh Nimr with some success, what of Badawi? Is he also an “agent” working on behalf of Iran? What of the estimated 12,000-30,000 political prisoners held in Saudi jails under very dubious pretexts?

Rights? What Rights?

The Saudi regime attempts to frame all of its blatant human rights abuses in the context of legitimate law enforcement. But this is a poorly conceived illusion, and cruel insult to the very concept of human rights. While the Saudis attempt to lecture countries like Syria about “human rights” and treatment of the people, Saudi Arabia remains perhaps the world leader in systematic and institutional oppression of its own citizens.

The infamous repression of women in Saudi Arabia has earned the country international scorn, but the regime scoffs at such conclusions. As the Washington Post wrote in 2013:

Saudi Arabia’s restrictions on women go far, far beyond just driving, though. It’s part of a larger system of customs and laws that make women heavily reliant on men for their basic, day-to-day survival… each Saudi woman has a “male guardian,” typically their father or brother or husband, who has the same sort of legal power over her that a parent has over a child. She needs his formal permission to travel, work, go to school or get medical treatment. She’s also dependent on him for everything: money, housing, and, because the driving ban means she needs a driver to go anywhere, even the ability to go to the store or visit a friend… The restrictions go beyond the law: women are often taught from an early age to approach the world outside their male guardian’s home with fear and shame…[they are] warned against the “dangers that threaten the Muslim woman,” such as listening to music, going to a mixed-gender mall or answering the telephone.

It takes an unfathomable degree of hypocrisy to oppress women in this way, and then lecture Syria – a secular socialist country where women’s rights and freedoms are guaranteed, and where women have every educational and professional opportunity they might have in the West – about its treatment of its citizens. It is staggering the gall required of an unelected feudal monarchy to chastise the Yemeni rebels, and make a case for “legitimacy” in government.

Naturally, Saudi Arabia gets away with such egregious hypocrisy not because it isn’t obvious to the world, it most certainly is. Instead, the House of Saud is able to carry on its repression because of its powerful patron in Washington. Because the regime has for decades furthered the geopolitical agenda of the United States, it has managed to continue its brutal repression facing only minimal outcry. Though there is scrutiny from international human rights organizations, the government is not sanctioned; it is not isolated by the much touted “international community.” Instead it continues on with its oppressive policies and aggression against its neighbors.

Saudi bombs are falling on Yemen as you read this. Saudi-sponsored ISIS terrorists are waging war on Syria and Iraq as you read this. Saudi-sponsored terror groups all over the Middle East and Africa continue to destabilize whole corners of the globe. Activists in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia itself are being brutally oppressed by the Saudi regime and its proxies.

And yet, the House of Saud remains a US ally, while Assad or the Houthis or Iran or Hezbollah (take your pick) are the great villain? It is plainly obvious that right and wrong, good and evil, are mere designations of political expediency for Saudi Arabia and, taken more broadly, the US and the imperial system it leads.

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Pentagon Recognizes “Officially” that I$raHell is a Nuclear Power. Declassified Document

NOVANEWS
Global Research
israel-nuke

The Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA), an entity on contract to the US Department of Defense has released a previously classified military document which confirms Israel’s nuclear weapons program. 

This is considered to be a landmark decision, widely interpreted as constituting a semi-official recognition by the US Department of Defense that Israel is a bona fide nuclear power.  While the document confirms what is already known regarding Israel’s nuclear arsenal, the political implications are potentially far-reaching, particularly in relation to the ongoing negotiations pertaining to Iran’s alleged nuclear program.”

Who Threatens Whom in the Middle East: 

  • A de facto acknowledgement by the US that Israel is  a nuclear power threatening the Middle East in contrast to Iran’s non-existant nuclear weapons program  

Moreover, as detailed below, the IDA report tacitly portrays Israel’s nuclear weapons program as an extension of that of the United States. 

This 386-page 1987 report entitled “Critical Technological Assessment in Israel and NATO Nations” provides details regarding Israel’s weapons systems including the development of the hydrogen bomb.

Click image to access  the complete 387 page 1987 report

 

While the report was written 28 years ago, it confirms Israel’s capabilities to develop nuclear weapons, with an explosive capacity equivalent to 1000 times a (Hiroshima) atomic bomb:

 that in the 1980s Israelis were reaching the ability to create bombs considered a thousand times more powerful than atom bombs.

The report also states that:  

“[Israel is] developing the kind of codes which will enable them to make hydrogen bombs. [1980s] That is, codes which detail fission and fusion processes on a microscopic and macroscopic level,”.

The report also notes that research laboratories in Israel “are equivalent to our Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge National Laboratories,” the key labs in developing America’s nuclear arsenal. (quoted in Israel National News,  March 25, 2015)

Israel’s nuclear infrastructure is ”an almost exact parallel of the capability currently existing at our National Laboratories,”

The report intimates that Israel’s weapons industry including its nuclear program is essentially an extension of that of the US, developed with the active support and collaboration of US military research labs and US “defense contractors”.

 

 

In this regard it also dispels the notion that the US was not made privy to Israeli classified information concerning its nuclear program, which in the earlier period was developed with the support of France.

The report also reveals that the Pentagon was fully informed regarding the intimate details of the Israeli program, which also suggests that it was developed in active collaboration with the US

The complete report can be consulted at http://cryptome.org/2015/03/ida-ctaiiann.pdf

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Global Finance and the “Other” Four Gs: GE, Greece, Germany and Gazprom

NOVANEWS
Global Research
germany_greece-flags

No, we’re not talking about 4G phones, nor God, gold, guns and grub.  Today let’s look at GE, Greece, and finish with a very interesting Germany and Gazprom.  Last week GE shocked the market place by announcing they will sell their crown jewel GE Capital.  Why would they do this?  Isn’t GE capital their growth engine?  Isn’t it their cash cow?  What could they possibly be thinking?  In my opinion they are “thinking” correctly, maybe a bit too late though.

The plan is to offload the finance division and pay a very large cash dividend to shareholders.  In my opinion they are calling “top” to the entire paper bubble now enveloping the world.  Maybe some sanity circulated the halls of their Fairfield Ct. home office and they decided the stone has no more blood to be squeezed?  Think about the macro situation, can interest rates go any lower from here?  What will happen to their “book” when interest rates start to rise?  What about their derivatives book?  I believe it is possible someone looked at this and figured out either they will be defaulted on or they themselves cannot perform somewhere?

In any case, the decision to “sell” was made.  There are generally very few reasons to sell, far fewer than there are when deciding to buy something.  Sometimes the decision to sell is “forced” by a margin call or other situations where there is no choice.  For the most part, when a decision is made to sell something it is to profit or redeploy the capital elsewhere.  In this case the decision is to pay a large dividend and reinvest part back into their other businesses.  This will be looked at in retrospect as the final top to the market, I just wonder whether or not they will get to employ this strategy before the market falls apart and spoiling their plans?  We will see.

We’ve spoken so much about Greece lately, I don’t want to be long winded here. Greece made their 460 million euro payment last week and were promptly “re” funded 1.3 billion euros via previously pledged funds fro ELA. The important thing this past week in my mind was the change of “tone”.  Mr. Varoufakis spoke of next month being “different” and Mr. Tsipras seemed to speak more boldly.  One must wonder what exactly was discussed behind the closed doors with Mr. Putin?  What did Russia offer if anything?  You can bet a pipeline deal was discussed, I would also bet that Greece’s “vote” was discussed.  The sanctions which  Russia now operates under are set to expire in June.  They cannot be extended with Greece voting to make it unanimous.  Will Greece leave or even be kicked out of the Eurozone?  The other interesting points were the strength of tone used regarding WWII reparations from Germany and the “status” of debt incurred since 2012 which they now term “odious”.  Little Greece is becoming more than a thorn in the side of the West.

The main topic for today is Germany and Russian energy giant Gazprom. Germany has apparently just ordered 100 Leopard 2 tanks  ”to ensure their troops are ready for action in response to Russian assertiveness”.  I have to wonder whether the addition of 100 tanks (a giant leap of a 45% increase) is really worth it considering the “signal” it sends.  Germany gets roughly 30% of their natural gas from Russia, do they really want to flex more muscle with such a large supplier of theirs?  I also wonder what the industrialists are thinking should this sour relations?

Coincidentally, Russian energy giant Gazprom announced they will sell their 10.52% minority stake in German gas supplier Verbundntz gas (VNG).  Gazprom’s position when aligned with a 15.7% stake held by Wintershall served as a blocking position.  With the stake’s power diminished, Gazprom has decided to sell.  The decision was also made last year to discontinue plans for the South Stream gas pipeline in favor of a route through Turkey …and thus ultimately Greece.

Please understand the significance of this chess strategy.  Turkey is a member of NATO, Greece is a member of the European Union.  Doing business with either (or both) puts a potential wedge in NATO’s unison and a “veto power” in the EU when it comes to renewing sanctions.  Has Mr. Putin and Russia put themselves in this position purposely or is it just business?  In my opinion Russia is simply taking the path of least resistance here which also has the “benefits” attached that come with both Turkey and Greece.

The real head scratcher in all of this is Germany.  If you recall, they have been repatriating their gold from the New York Fed’s custody over the last two+ years.  It was said they had “total trust” in the Fed but no longer had a need to store the gold outside of their country …and the reaches of the big bad Russians.  Now they order more tanks because of the Russian perceived threat.  Will they continue to repatriate gold or will they stop and use the Russian threat as their reasoning?

Another area where Germany is in a sticky spot is with Greece.  Will they continue to push austerity (which is actually senseless because Greece already owes too much)?  How will Germany handle Greece’s demands for WWII reparation?  Will they push for a Greek exit from the EU?  And of course one must wonder about the pipeline that will most likely go from Turkey towards Germany and Eastern Europe, now they have to wonder about the continuation of Russia selling them the gas and then the transmission through Greece.

Germany now has pressure from so many different directions you almost have to feel sorry for them.  If I had to guess, it would not be surprising to see Germany pivot away from the U.S. and toward Russia and the Chinese.  This would only make sense as historically Germany and Russia have been very big trading partners and live in the same neighborhood to boot.  We may see a hint of what is to come as we approach June, remember, the current sanctions on Russia will run out and need to be renewed to continue.  Who does what and when, will be very interesting indeed!

P.S.  late breaking icing to this cake, Germany’s banks brace for 50% writedowns (losses) from Austrian bank HETA  …and Greece is preparing for an exit from the Eurozone 

Posted in Europe, Germany, Greece, RussiaComments Off on Global Finance and the “Other” Four Gs: GE, Greece, Germany and Gazprom

Bolivia’s Voters Reaffirm ‘Process of Change’ But Issue Warnings to the Governing MAS

NOVANEWS
Global Research
aymara woman voting bolivia

 Up to 90 per cent of the electorate voted in Bolivia’s “subnational” elections March 29 for governors, mayors and departmental assembly and municipal council members throughout the country. These were the second such elections to be held since the new Constitution came into force in 2009, the first being in 2010.

The Movement for Socialism (MAS)[1] once again emerged as the only party with national representation – by far the major political force in Bolivia, and far ahead of the opposition parties, none of which has a significant presence in all nine departments. However, in some key contests the voters rebuffed the MAS candidates, most notably for governor in La Paz department and for mayor in the city of El Alto, the centre of the 2003-2005 upsurges and long considered a MAS bastion.

Mixed Results

With 66 per cent of the popular vote in the municipal elections, the MAS elected mayors in 225 of Bolivia’s 339 towns and cities, about the same result as in 2010. However, consistent with a pattern in recent years, the various opposition parties won in eight of the ten largest cities while the MAS gained only two, Sucre and Potosí.

In the departmental legislative assemblies, the MAS deputies now hold a clear majority of seats in six departments, and a plurality in two others, while in Santa Cruz the party is only two seats from a plurality. Even in La Paz department the newly elected opposition governor will have to contend with a two-thirds MAS majority in the legislature.

Although the official results are not yet available, the MAS did well in the municipal council elections, too. The results of elections in autonomous indigenous communities, which are conducted according to ancient “usos y costumbres” (customs and traditions), are not yet known.

The MAS elected governors in four of the country’s nine departments and is leading in two other departments with runoff elections scheduled for May 3. (Under Bolivia’s election laws, a runoff is held when the candidates coming 1st and 2nd in the vote, with neither having 50% of the votes, are separated by fewer than 10 percentage points.) Opposition parties elected governors in three departments including Santa Cruz and Tarija, traditionally associated with the “Media Luna” (half moon) set of departments that participated in the unsuccessful 2008 revolt of the powerful landholder elite in the eastern lowlands.

However, the major upsets for the MAS were in the department of La Paz, where Felix Patzi, an Aymara intellectual and minister of education in Evo Morales’ first government, was elected governor with a 20 percentage points advance over the MAS candidate, Felipa Huanca, a leader of the “Bartolinas,”[2] an indigenous and campesina (farmer) women’s organization that is one of Bolivia’s major social movements. Patzi ran on the slate of Soberanía y Libertad (Sovereignty and Liberty – SOL.BO), a reconstruction of the Movimiento Sin Miedo (the “fearless movement”), which lost its party certification in the October 2014 elections when it won less than 3% of the national vote. SOL.BO also retained the mayoralty and a council majority in the city of La Paz, the country’s administrative capital.

Particularly galling to the MAS was its defeat in the El Alto mayoralty by an Aymara woman, Soledad Chapetón of Unidad National (UN). The right-wing UN is Bolivia’s largest opposition party; its leader Samuel Doria Medina took 25 per cent of the vote in last year’s presidential election. Chapetón’s campaign emphasized her personal qualities, not the UN, but her election raises some questions as to why that party was able to capitalize on the MAS discredit in this particular instance. In fact, with the possible exception of governor-elect Felix Patzi in La Paz,[3] virtually all of the opposition candidates and parties in the subnational elections, can be said to be to the right of the MAS. This bears further examination, something beyond the scope of this article.

Local Issues Predominate

The MAS leadership was quick to attribute its electoral setbacks to local factors. Among these were inadequate procedures for selecting the party’s candidates. These are normally suggested by the party members and social movements aligned with the MAS, but office-holder inertia and in some cases a misgauging of political moods can adversely affect the choice. In El Alto, for example, the MAS was widely thought to have ignored community criticism of incompetent administration and even corruption on the part of the mayor, the MAS’s Édgar Patana.

Many analysts have also pointed to a major difference with the 2010 subnational elections. In 2010 the euphoria that accompanied the adoption of a new plurinational Constitution and the defeat of the right-wing landholders’ rebellion gave MAS candidates, many running for the first time, a big advantage. Five years later, however, the voters were more inclined to examine incumbents’ records critically in light of their experience. This was evident in the way that voters ignored MAS leadership appeals to vote the party slate; in many instances, they divided their votes among different party slates depending on the candidates and their respective offices. This may, as some analysts contend, indicate a growing political awareness among the electorate.

In subnational elections, as well, local issues can be decisive in the result. In the October 2014 national election, voters indicated their overall satisfaction with the country’s direction under the MAS and its proposed “Agenda Patriótica,” a set of general social and economic goals and reforms to be addressed in the coming mandate. In the subnational elections, those goals were not in question and there was in fact remarkably little public debate among conflicting party perspectives and programs. The MAS candidates all stood on the party’s national program. The MAS seemed to assume that without more it could capitalize regionally on the 61 per cent support the party’s national leadership had won last October. It may have underestimated the importance of local issues.

Autonomy Processes Still Incomplete

But also undermining programmatic debate in these elections was the difficulty in discerning the full measure of local government powers in many cases, since the complicated process of defining those powers under the new Constitution remains incomplete. Bolivia is not a federal state with a clear division of powers among the various levels of government. However, the Constitution sets out general criteria for defining the “autonomous” jurisdictions of departments, regions, municipalities and the few indigenous communities that have opted for legal status as “autonomies.”

So far only one department, Pando (the smallest), has completed the complex process of achieving autonomy: popular consultation and drafting of a local constitution, its approval by the national constitutional authority, followed by amendment where needed with approval in a popular referendum and, finally, proclamation by the national government. Five departments are scheduled to hold their ratification referendums on autonomy in June of this year. But few of the 339 municipalities have yet gained full autonomous status, as anticipated. These factors leave much to be determined in the budgetary provisions of the various administrations – and will continue to be a major topic of debate as the national government negotiates its “pacto fiscal” (tax and budget allocation agreements) with the various governments and social movements.

In this context, and absent debate over general programmatic alternatives, the subnational election results may have offered above all a measure of public sentiment about the performance and perspectives of local governments. That was how Evo Morales interpreted them; the President, in his few post-election remarks about the results, conceded that some of the MAS setbacks may been merited.

Threats Against Opposition Administrations

Morales himself may have been a factor in some of the MAS electoral setbacks, however. On more than one occasion during the subnational election campaign, he arrogantly threatened to refuse to work with local governments held by opposition parties and even to deny them national government funding for major projects. These statements elicited much criticism in the media and may have resulted in an anti-MAS “voto castigo” (punishment vote) in some contests. But they have their roots in the country’s current political culture.

In Bolivia many local construction projects ranging from highways, irrigation facilities, football stadiums and arenas to hospitals and health centres, schools and some productive investments are funded under a national government program titled “Bolivia Cambio, Evo Cumple” (Bolivia changes, Evo accomplishes), financed largely by Venezuela under an ALBA agreement. And both Morales and his vice-president Álvaro García Linera spend much of their time inaugurating such public works in official ceremonies. Non-MAS elected officials naturally resent this program designation, which serves to credit the MAS (and its top leader) as a virtual synonym for the state.

It is worth noting, however, that in the wake of the subnational elections leaders of some social movements long associated with the MAS were critical of Morales’ threats, urging the party to work with local governments on progressive projects.

Fondo Indígena

Another factor in MAS losses may have been a scandal that erupted during the campaign over alleged abuses in the Fondo Indígena. This “indigenous fund” was created in December 2005, just prior to the MAS’s first election, to implement international and national agreements on indigenous rights and to help finance infrastructure projects in indigenous towns and farming communities. It is administered by eight indigenous social movements that also tend to support the MAS politically. The Fund holds about $270-million, much of this derived from hydrocarbon revenues and taxes.

In December 2016 a national prosecution lawyer charged that about 71 million Bolivianos ($10-million) of the Fund intended for more than 150 as-yet unrealized development projects had been diverted to private bank accounts held by at least eight leaders of these social movements – one of these (according to an opposition politician) being Felipa Huanca, a prominent Bartolina and the MAS candidate for governor in La Paz. Subsequent media reports indicated that the Fund’s leadership, which is supposed to meet every two months, had not met since March 2012.

Rumours that the Fund was being used for clientelist purposes were fed by the lack of response from Fund leaders. Only after the March 29 election did the Bartolinas hold a news conference, promising a later accounting but maintaining that their own rules allowed this extraordinary management of the Fund’s monies even though this violates a legislated obligation that all Fund accounts must be held within a special system in a designated bank.

The national Transparency Minister has now announced that a full report on the allegations will be issued by mid-April. Any persons guilty of illegal diversion of funds will be prosecuted, she promises.

In Beni, a Harsh Ruling by the Elections Overseer

In a move that surprised almost everyone, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal[4] – the national body that supervises all elections in Bolivia – ruled just nine days before the March 29 elections that in Beni department it was withdrawing certification of the opposition Unidad Demócrata (UD – Democratic Unity) alliance because its campaign chief, the outgoing governor Carmelo Lens, had publicly released an internal poll, contrary to election law. The UD was at the time thought to be leading in the contest for governor. All UD candidates in Beni were accordingly disqualified, some 228 in all.

The TSE ruling was based on a literal interpretation of an obscure provision in the country’s Election Act. Was it too literal? The supreme legal authority, the Tribunal Constitucional Plurinational, dismissed an emergency challenge of the TSE ruling, but it was widely criticized, and many saw the action as evidence of MAS control of the TSE. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission (CIDH) is investigating, and observers from the Organization of American States (OAS) used the opportunity to “regret” the TSE’s action.

After the election the TSE declared it was prepared in future to support an amendment to the law that would remove the provision in question. Significantly, the voter abstention in Beni was extraordinarily high on March 29, about 20%, while a further 7% of the ballots were blank and almost 8% were ruled null or void for various reasons – adding to uncertainty about the outcome of the May 3 runoff vote.

Challenges Ahead

The subnational election results, while confirming the MAS’s overall leadership in Bolivia, are in some respects a “shot across the bows” to the party’s leading cadres, a reminder that there is still much to be done to consolidate and deepen the “process of change.” With the current drop in global commodity prices Bolivia, as a small country still very dependent on resource export revenues, is encountering new challenges.

Brazil and Argentina are in economic difficulty and the value of hydrocarbon exports (chiefly gas) to those major markets has fallen by almost 30% in the last quarter from the equivalent period in 2014, along with comparable declines in the country’s agribusiness and industrial exports.[5]Finance Minister Luís Arce recent downgraded GDP growth projections for 2015 to 5 per cent – albeit still one of the highest in South America. But any further drop could jeopardize some of the conditional transfer programs such as the two-month wage or compensation (doble aguinaldo) granted by law in the two previous year-ends. Also the bonos (conditional cash grants) programs are financed largely through hydrocarbon revenues, as is much state funding to subnational levels of government.

The MAS government program ratified in the October national election projects a major focus in the next period on industrialization projects and expansion of the domestic market to bolster food and industrial self-sufficiency, as well as replacement of present conditional programs in health and education by development of universal programs, a deepening of agrarian reform, and strengthening of the “worker-indigenous-popular” bloc that is the mainstay of the MAS. This entails major social and political transformations that can deepen democracy, incorporate participatory and communitarian practices and help to overcome colonial and patriarchal ways of thinking and doing.

These proposals should be on the agenda as the various pro-government social movements meet in the coming days with MAS leaders to discuss the election and the road ahead.

Richard Fidler is an Ottawa member of the Socialist Project. A version of this article was first published on his blog Life on the Left.

Note: I profess no expertise on Bolivian politics, but I have visited Bolivia several times in recent years and was based there for six months in 2013-2014, during which I developed a deep appreciation of its “process of change” of the last 15 years, with all of its complexities, achievements, frustrations and “creative tensions.” – Richard Fidler.

Notes:

1. Movement for Socialism – Political Instrument for the Sovereignty of the Peoples (MAS-IPSP) is the party’s full name.

2. Confederación Nacional de Mujeres Campesinas Indígenas Originarias de Bolivia “Bartolina Sisa” (CNMCIOB-BS), or Bartolina Sisa National Confederation of Campesino, Indigenous, and Native Women of Bolivia, named after an Aymara woman leader of an 18th century revolt against the Spanish colonization.

3. As Evo Morales’s first education minister, Patzi was hounded by the Right and the Catholic church when he attempted to secularize the public education curriculum. His ideas (which are his, not those of his party in this election), are set out in Tercer Sistema – Modelo Comunal: Propuesta Alternativa Para Salir del Capitalism y del Socialismo.

4. Tribunal Supremo Electoral (TSE).

5. See “Venta de gas sigue a la baja por caída en los precios del petróleo,” La Razón, April 2, 2015.

Posted in South AmericaComments Off on Bolivia’s Voters Reaffirm ‘Process of Change’ But Issue Warnings to the Governing MAS

“Anti-Islam” versus “Islamophobia”. “Conspiracy” Behind the Word, Triggering Fear and Danger in the Unconscious Mind

NOVANEWS
Global Research
Islamophobia: The West's Crusade against Muslims

I am writing to explain about a conspiracy behind applying the word of Islamophobia instead of using Anti-Islam for any emplacements and stands against Muslims in the world. The impact of concepts of a word in the mind of individual and social is vital and it creates an image and thought which leads to a behaviour in a community accordingly. In etymology aspect, phobia means: “irrational fear, horror, aversion,” abstracted from compounds in -phobia, from Greek -phobia, from phobos “fear, panic fear, terror, outward show of fear; object of fear or terror,”. It became the common word for “fear” via the notion of “panic, fright” (compare phobein “put to flight, frighten”), from PIE root *bhegw- “to run.”

The Islam-phobia is chosen to describe of any actions or reactions (verbally or practically) including propaganda against Islam and Muslims in the world. While you study etymologically the prefix of Anti, you will find Anti is a word-forming element meaning “against, opposed to, opposite of, instead,” from Old French anti- and directly from Latin antiAnti-Semitic (also antisemitic) and anti-Semite (also antisemite) also are from 1881, like anti-Semitism they appear first in English in an article in the “Athenaeum” of Sept. 31, in reference to German literature. Thus any actions or reactions against Zionists will consider by zionists and applied by media as Anti Semitism or Anti Judaism choosing the prefix of Anti on purpose and meaningfully.

To explain more about the term of “phobia”, it is first better to look at the psychological point of view :

“Fear is a reaction to danger that involves both the mind and body. It can serve a protective purpose, signalling us of danger and preparing us to deal with it, or it can be disruptive.” To understand Fears, psychologists say:

“Fear is a built-in survival mechanism with which we are all equipped. Fear is a normal human emotional reaction. Even as babies, we possess the survival instincts necessary to respond when we sense danger. A fear reaction happens whenever we sense danger or when we are confronted with something new or unknown that seems potentially dangerous. Most people tend to avoid the things they feel afraid of. There are, of course, exceptions such as people who seek out the thrill of extreme sports because the rush of fear can be exciting. We all experience fear slightly differently and with more or less intensity. Some normal fears seem pretty much like a worry, or something you feel generally afraid of or uneasy about.

However, at other times, fear comes as a sudden reaction to a sudden confrontation with danger.”

They also distinguish the difference between Fear and Anxiety and psychologists believe: Fear is a reaction to an actual danger signal – it involves physical and mental tension that helps you spring into action to protect yourself from something that is happening. The body suddenly gears up into fight or flight mode when, for example, the car in front of you swerves and you just miss it. Once you know the danger has passed, the fear goes away.

The physical and mental tension of anxiety is very similar to fear but with one important difference. With anxiety, there isn’t usually anything actually happening right then and there to trigger the feeling. The feeling is coming from the anticipation of future danger or something bad that could happen, but there is no danger happening now.

Understanding Phobias:

A phobia is an intense, unreasonable fear of situations, objects, activities, or persons where the fear is far out of proportion to the actual danger or harm that is possible. The fear and distress is so intense that the person will do whatever they can to avoid coming into contact with the object of their fear, and often spend time thinking about whether they’re likely to encounter it in a given situation. In fact, if you have a phobia, you probably realize that your fear is unreasonable, yet you still can’t control it. If you are exposed to the thing you’re afraid of, you become overwhelmed with extreme feelings of anxiety, fear, and even panic. This experience is so unpleasant that you will go to great lengths to avoid the object or situation you fear.

Cause:

When someone develops a phobia, they quickly learn that they feel anxious when they are near the object or situation they fear – and that they feel relief when they avoid it. They learn that avoidance can reduce their anxiety (at least for the moment) and increase the likelihood that they will avoid the feared situation or object next time. The difficulty is that these avoidance behaviors have to keep increasing and happening even sooner to provide the same relief. Pretty soon, a person finds himself spending time worrying about the possibility of encountering the feared situation and avoiding anything that might bring him into contact with it. With a phobia, the pattern of anxiety, avoidance, and worry about the possibility of contact tends to grow bigger and interferes more with life over time.

Source: http://www.psychologistanywhereanytime.com/phobias_psychologist_and_psychologists/psychologist_fears_and_phobias.htm

But having Anti behaviour such as antisocial behaviour is A pattern of behavior that is verbally or physically harmful to other people, animals, or property, including behavior that severely violates social expectations for a particular environment. Regardless of this possibility, these behaviors often lead to major difficulties in many life areas, including work and personal relationships and the disorder is often linked to criminal behavior.

http://psychology.about.com/od/psychiatricdisorders/a/dis_antisocial.htm

Therefore the phobia is talking about an unpleasant feeling in confrontation with a danger and Islamphobia holding the same meaning of danger and fear in unconscious mind although it is irrational but the outcome is a Fear causes by a fact called Islam.

Whereas using “Anti” for anti-semitism indicating violence and crime against Jewish people (racism) which it generates a feeling to defend or help the victims.

Now who needs help and who are victims:

  • when Gazans are under siege and bombardment by Zionists,
  • Syrians are facing a civil war led by ISIS assisted by the US and Israel,
  • Muslims are shot at in the US,
  • Iranians are suffering from sanctions,
  • Yemenis , Iraqis, are the victims of airstrikes,
  • and so on

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on “Anti-Islam” versus “Islamophobia”. “Conspiracy” Behind the Word, Triggering Fear and Danger in the Unconscious Mind

Zio-Wahhabi Face Defeat in Yemen and Instability at Home

NOVANEWS

Let Yemenis Determine Their Future

Global Research
u-s-saudiarabiaflags

“The interventions of US imperialism, with the direct collaboration of the Saudi monarchy, have plunged the entire Middle East into chaos and bloodshed—from the destruction of Iraq, to the transformation of Libya into a militia-ravaged “failed state,” to the ongoing carnage inflicted upon Syria … This predatory imperialist offensive threatens to ignite a region-wide conflagration, even as Washington deliberately ratchets up military tensions with both Russia and China. The threat of these separate conflicts coalescing into a third world war grows by the day.”

– Bill Van Auken, Obama’s criminal war against Yemen, World Socialist web Site

“Will the reactionary rulers of Saudi Arabia manage to break the legitimate hopes and enthusiastic dreams burning in the hearts of thousands of young people of the Arabian Peninsula? Never!”

– Gamal Abd al-Nasser, President of Egypt 1956 to 1970

In its ongoing effort to prevent the rise of “any popularly supported government in the region”, the US has joined Saudi Arabia’s savage war of annihilation against Yemen’s northern tribal rebels, the Houthis. The Pentagon has expedited the delivery of bombs, ammunition and guidance systems to assist the Saudi-led campaign and is providing logistical support to maximize the impact of its bombing raids. The US has also set up a “joint fusion center”, provided “aerial re-fueling platforms” and “advanced US-made weaponry” with the explicit intention of suppressing a militant group that overthrew the US-backed puppet government in the capital of Sanaa in the fall of 2014. The level of coordination between the makeshift Arab coalition (The Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC) and the US suggests that Washington is not only fully aware that food depots, water facilities, refugee camps and critical civilian infrastructure are being deliberately targeted and destroyed, but that the White House has given the green light to actions that will inevitably lead to widespread famine and social collapse. Here’s a little background from an article in The National:

“Yemen Economic Corporation, one of Yemen’s largest food storage centres, was destroyed by three coalition missile strikes in Hodeidah last Tuesday, according to the Houthi-controlled defence ministry. The corporation had enough food for the entire country. The government’s military food storage centre in Hodeidah was also targeted and destroyed on Tuesday, according to the defence ministry.

Also in Hodeidah, country’s second largest dairy plant was hit by five Saudi missiles on Wednesday, killing at least 29 people, mostly employees, and injuring dozens of others.” (Yemeni civilians struggle to get by amid conflict, The National)

This is from Channel News Asia:

DUBAI: Warships from the Saudi-led coalition have blocked a vessel carrying more than 47,000 tonnes of wheat from entering a Yemeni port, demanding United Nations guarantees that the cargo would not go to military personnel, shipping sources said on Thursday.” (Saudi-led coalition bars wheat ship from entering Yemen port – sources, Channel News Asia)

This is from WSWS:

“Airstrikes as well as fighting on the ground has knocked out electrical infrastructure, cutting off power in many urban areas and stopping the operation of crucial pumps that supply Yemen’s cities with drinking water. “We’re worried that this system will break down shortly; Aden is a dry, hot place, and without water people will really suffer,” UNICEF representative Harneis told reporters…

The no-fly zone and blockade enforced by Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners has effectively blocked the delivery of medical aid and supplies for the last two weeks, exacerbating the developing crisis.” World Socialist Web Site

Live reports on the ground confirm that food depots have been bombed across the country; ” in Asr (west) hit as well as Urdhi complex (center) & Noqum (east).

This is how America fights its wars, by precipitating massive humanitarian crises that help it to achieve its political objectives. If that isn’t terrorism, then what is?

Here’s more from the Washington Post:

“As tons of desperately needed medical supplies await clearance to be flown into Yemen, aid workers warned Tuesday of an unfolding humanitarian crisis, saying at least 560 people, including dozens of children, have been killed, mostly in a Saudi-led air campaign and battles between Shiite rebels and forces loyal to the embattled president. More than 1,700 people have been wounded and another 100,000 have fled their homes as fighting intensified over the past three weeks, the World Health Organization said.” (560 dead amid fears of humanitarian collapse in Yemen, Washington Post)

The Saudis launched this latest aggression invoking the thinnest of pretexts, that it wanted to “restore the legitimate government” and protect the “Yemeni constitution and elections.” As CNN’s Ali Alahmed sardonically quipped:

“The need to protect constitutions and elections is a rather strange message from the representative of an absolute monarchy … The kingdom’s real motives seem clear if one looks at Saudi monarchy’s history of not allowing regional competition of any kind, while consistently combating efforts to build democratic governments that empower the people…

The Saudi goal is simple: Prevent the rise of any popularly supported government in the region that seeks self-determination. And the excuse of “resisting Iran’s influence,” meanwhile, appears to be nothing but sectarian bluster.” (What Saudi Arabia wants in Yemen, CNN)

While we agree with Alahmed’s basic thesis, we think the rule applies more to the United States than Saudi Arabia. After all, it’s the US that has gone from one country to the next, toppling governments, installing puppets, and spreading anarchy wherever it goes. Whatever role the Saudis might have played in Washington’s grand plan to redraw the map of the Middle East and project US tentacles into Eurasia, it is quite small by comparison. It’s the US that refuses to allow an independent government to emerge in a region that it’s committed to control. And it’s the US that is facilitating the attacks on innocent Yemenis by providing the bombs, weaponry and logistical support to the reactionary Saudi leadership. Check this out from Gregory Johnson at Buzzfeed:

“A consensus appears to be building in Riyadh, Cairo, and Islamabad toward inserting ground troops into the conflict in Yemen. One Egyptian military official told BuzzFeed News the decision had already been made. “Ground forces will enter the war,” the official said on condition of anonymity in order to discuss classified military operations.

The timing of such a move, which would be a significant escalation in the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen, is still being discussed. But the Egyptian military source said it could happen as soon as “two or three days.” (Ground Forces Seen Joining Bloody War In Yemen, Buzzfeed)

So after two weeks of nonstop bombing, the coalition is now planning to intensify the conflict by putting boots on the ground. But that will only prolong the hostilities and plunge the country deeper into crisis. It will also increase the risk of Houthi retaliation, which appears to already be taking place. According to Al Arabiya English, fighting broke out in the Southern Saudi city of Narjan on April 11. (#BREAKING Asiri: Houthi militias are amassing close to the Saudi-Yemeni border… #BREAKING: Asiri: clashes reported near the Saudi city of Najran)

While no one expects the Houthis to invade their northern neighbor, there are some analysts who think the monarchy has taken on more than it can chew and will eventually suffer blowback from its incursion. One such critic is Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the Lebanese paramilitary organization Hezbollah. In a recent interview, Nasrallah suggested that the Houthis have the means to curtail vital energy supplies, strike a blow against Saudi Arabia, and send financial markets tumbling at the same time. Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

“There is now a demand on the Yemeni leaders… who have not taken the decision to close (the strategic Strait) of Bab al-Mandeb, which they could do at any time. (It is only 20 kilometres-large, they are quite capable of it.) And they could also hit targets inside Saudi Arabia with missiles, or even enter the interior of Saudi Arabia, although they have not yet made this decision, so far … There is currently a Yemeni popular demand: “Let us go to Saudi Arabia.” Leadership thus far has not taken such a decision. I wanted to indicate this.”…

Nasrallah again: “I am absolutely certain that Saudi Arabia will undergo a major defeat. And its defeat will impact its internal situation, the royal family … and the entire region.” (“Hassan Nasrallah: The war in Yemen announces the end of the House of Saud”, The Vineyard of the Saker)

So the Houthis could close the Bab Al Mandeb straits and prevent millions of barrels of oil from getting to market? That changes the calculus entirely. How would that effect Washington’s plan to crash Russia’s economy with plunging oil prices? How would it impact global stock markets which are already jittery over the Fed’s projected rate hikes? What effect would it have on al Nusra, ISIS and other Al Qaeda-linked groups that would then seek to launch similar attacks against critical energy infrastructure as the best way to achieve their aims?

There are things the Houthis can do to discourage Saudi aggression. They can take matters into their own hands and strike where it hurts most. Washington is so convinced of its own invincibility, that no one has even thought of this. Without the slightest hesitation, the Obama troupe has embroiled a key ally in bloody conflagration that could backfire and seriously undermine US interests in the region. Saudi Arabia is the cornerstone of US power in the Middle East, but it is also its Achilles heel. By supporting the attack on the Houthis instead of seeking a political solution, Washington has strengthened Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) which poses the greatest single threat to the monarchy. As Nasrallah notes: “they (the US and SA) protect Al Qaeda and Daesh in Yemen, and more, they drop them weapons by air. This is an achievement? This goes against the interests of Saudi Arabia.”

Indeed, it does. Al Qaeda has much greater ability to infiltrate Saudi Arabia and either launch terrorist attacks or foment popular revolution. The Houthis present no such security threat, they’re only interest is to maintain their own sovereignty, borders, and independent foreign policy. A 2003 article in the Atlantic by CIA Bureau Chief Robert Baer titled “The Fall of the House of Saud” provides a window into Riyadh’s vulnerabilities and draws the ominous conclusion that the kingdom’s days are numbered. Here’s a clip from the article:

“Saudi oil is controlled by an increasingly bankrupt, criminal, dysfunctional, and out-of-touch royal family that is hated by the people it rules and by the nations that surround its kingdom…

Signs of impending disaster are everywhere, but the House of Saud has chosen to pray that the moment of reckoning will not come soon—and the United States has chosen to look away. So nothing changes: the royal family continues to exhaust the Saudi treasury, buying more and more arms and funneling more and more “charity” money to the jihadists, all in a desperate and self-destructive effort to protect itself.

The most vulnerable point and the most spectacular target in the Saudi oil system is the Abqaiq complex—the world’s largest oil-processing facility, which sits about twenty-four miles inland from the northern end of the Gulf of Bahrain. All petroleum originating in the south is pumped to Abqaiq for processing. For the first two months after a moderate to severe attack on Abqaiq, production there would slow from an average of 6.8 million barrels a day to one million barrels, a loss equivalent to one third of America’s daily consumption of crude oil. For seven months following the attack, daily production would remain as much as four million barrels below normal—a reduction roughly equal to what all of the opec partners were able to effect during their 1973 embargo…

I served for twenty-one years with the CIA’s Directorate of Operations in the Middle East, and during all my years there I accepted on faith my government’s easy assumption that the money the House of Saud was dumping into weaponry and national security meant that the family’s armed forces and bodyguards could keep its members—and their oil—safe … I no longer believe this …  sometime soon, one way or another, the House of Saud is coming down.” (The Fall of the House of Saud, Robert Baer, The Atlantic)

Neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia have any right to interfere in Yemen’s internal affairs or to install their own political puppets to head the government. That is the right of the Yemeni people. And while the current process of regime change might be messy and violent, the Houthi rebels better represent the interests of the indigenous population than anyone in Riyadh or Washington. The Saudi-US war is merely aimed at controlling the outcome so Yemen remains within the imperial grip. As Nasrallah says, “The real goal of the war is to retain control and domination of Yemen (but) the Yemeni people will not put up with this aggression and humiliation. They will fight to defend their dignity, their existence, their families, and their territory. And they will be victorious.”

Posted in Saudi Arabia, YemenComments Off on Zio-Wahhabi Face Defeat in Yemen and Instability at Home

Blackwater Mercenaries Sentenced for 2007 Iraq Massacre

NOVANEWS
Global Research
blackwater-convicted-iraq-massacre-2007

A federal district court judge sentenced four former Blackwater Worldwide mercenaries to lengthy prison terms on Monday for their role in the Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, Iraq in 2007.

Nicholas Slatten, Evan Liberty, Paul Slough and Devin Heard were convicted on charges of first-degree murder and manslaughter by a federal jury in October 2014. The four were part of a security team working for the US State Department in Iraq.

On September 16, 2007 the members of the convoy, unprovoked, opened fire with their automatic weapons on stopped traffic in Nisour Square and also launched stun grenades. The mercenaries continued to fire their weapons as civilians tried to flee the area. One member of the security team did not stop firing his automatic rifle, despite calls to cease fire, until a fellow mercenary threatened to shoot him. Blackwater mercenaries in helicopters also fired into traffic from overhead.

The massacre resulted in the deaths of 17 unarmed Iraqis and wounded at least 20 others.

Monday’s sentencing was the conclusion of a years-long process, which has wound its way through the federal court system. Charges were first brought by the Department of Justice in 2008 and subsequently dismissed by a district judge in 2009 before being reinstated by an appeals court in 2011. The US government rejected Iraqi demands that the Blackwater mercenaries stand trial in Iraq.

Jeremey Ridgeway and Donald Ball, two other Blackwater contractors who were involved in the massacre, were originally charged along with the four others but had their cases resolved previously. Ridgeway struck a deal with prosecutors in 2010 and pled guilty to manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and aiding and abetting. All charges against Ball were dropped in 2013.

The judge sentenced Slatten who was convicted of first-degree murder to life in prison. Liberty, Slough and Heard, convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a machine gun to carry out a violent crime, were each given the mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison. All four men have filed appeals of their convictions and sentences.

US District Court Judge Royce Lamberth rejected a motion by the defense to reduce the four men’s sentences. “Based on the seriousness of the crimes, I find the penalty is not excessive,” the judge stated. Lamberth also turned down a motion by the federal prosecutor to impose harsher sentences.

Monday’s sentencing hearing was taken up by testimony from family members of the Iraqi victims as well as character witness for the mercenaries. Mohammad Kinani Al-Razzaq testified about the murder of his nine-year-old son, Ali Mohammed Hafedh Abdul Razzaq, demanding that the judge show the former Blackwater employees “what the law is.”

“What’s the difference between these criminals and terrorists?” Razzaq asked rhetorically.

Assistant US Attorney T. Patrick Martin stated that the lengthy sentences handed out Monday would prevent American contractors from carrying out similar atrocities in the future. “You are entrusted to do a job with deadly weapons, but you must use them only when necessary, and their use must be justified. You can’t just shoot first and seek justification later,” he said.

The convictions, handed down in October, have been depicted as an example of the US government’s commitment to justice and democratic principles. “This verdict is a resounding affirmation of the commitment of the American people to the rule of law, even in times of war,” US Attorney Ronald Machen said last year.

While the Blackwater guards are certainly guilty of the wanton murder of innocent Iraqis, the massacre in Baghdad was just one of many notorious atrocities, which flowed out of the logic of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq launched in 2003. The perpetuators of these crimes were, among others, President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Other notorious incidents seared in the collective consciousness are the US military’s assault on the city of Fallujah in 2004 in which white phosphorous and incendiary bombs were deployed, the torture of inmates at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison facility and the Haditha massacre in which US Marines killed 24 unarmed civilians.

There were an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 so-called security contractors employed by the US at the peak of its occupation of Iraq. Blackwater was just one of a number of private firms that were providing security and military services for the US military and State Department. A report by the Democratic staff of the House Oversight Committee released in 2007 found that Blackwater guards were firing their weapons an average of 1.4 times a week and in 80 percent of cases were the first to open fire.

While the four former Blackwater mercenaries have been sentenced to prison, those who placed them in Nisour Square, Bush et al, remain free from even the threat of prosecution. To date none of those ultimately responsible for the destruction of Iraqi society and the deaths of more than a million Iraqis have been held to account. When it comes to those in positions of power the Obama administration has held to its mantra in relation to other crimes of the US government, including systematic torture carried out by the CIA, “look forward, not back.”

Blackwater Worldwide, which has since changed its name to Academi Services, continues to offer its mercenary services to governments around the world. Amidst anti-austerity protests Academi was contracted by the Greek government at the end of 2012 to oversee police services and provide protective services to government members and agencies. German media reported that Academi operators were working alongside the fascist Right Sector militia in Ukraine to suppress pro-Russia separatists opposed to last year’s US backed right-wing coup.

Posted in IraqComments Off on Blackwater Mercenaries Sentenced for 2007 Iraq Massacre

US Government Targeted Second American Citizen for Assassination

NOVANEWS
Global Research
kill-list-US-drone

A lead article in Monday’s New York Times describing a debate within the US government over whether to assassinate another American citizen brings into relief one basic fact: the United States is run by criminals.

The Times article revealed the name of an American citizen who had been placed on the so-called “kill list” for drone assassination. Due to a number of contingencies, the life of Texas-born Mohanad Mahmoud Al Farekh was ultimately spared. He was captured in a raid in Pakistan last year and was taken to the United States to face trial in Brooklyn, New York.

It has been known since 2010 that the Obama administration had decided to place at least one US citizen on its “kill list” of targets for drone assassination. This was Anwar al-Awlaki, who was assassinated in Yemen on September 30, 2011, many months later. The killing was a premeditated and unconstitutional act, targeting an individual who had not been charged, let alone convicted for any crime.

In a May 2013 speech at the National Defense University, President Barack Obama formally acknowledged the killing al-Awlaki, while also admitting that three other Americans had been killed as part of the “collateral damage” of other drone strikes. This included Awlaki’s teenage son one month after the killing of his father.

In February 2014, the Associated Press, citing “senior US officials,” reported that the White House was “wrestling with whether to kill [another US citizen] with a drone strike.” That man, unnamed at the time, was evidently Farekh.

Monday’s New York Times article makes clear that the life of Farekh was spared not because of any fundamental constitutional or democratic concerns, but rather as a result of tactical disagreements and jurisdictional conflicts among the agencies responsible for drone killings, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon and the Justice Department.

According to the Times,

“The Pentagon nominated Mr. Farekh to be placed on a so-called kill list for terrorism suspects; CIA officials also pushed for the White House to authorize his killing. But the Justice Department, particularly Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., was skeptical of the intelligence dossier on Mr. Farekh.”

In other words, the decision against murdering Farekh was entirely a matter of expediency, based, according to the Times, on the belief by the Justice Department that his capture would better serve the purposes of American imperialism than his extrajudicial killing.

According to the Times piece, a major reason for not killing Farekh was the fact that he fell through the jurisdictional cracks between the Pentagon and the CIA in their operations inside Pakistan.

The Times writes that in 2013,

“The White House directed that the Pentagon, rather than the CIA, should conduct lethal strikes against American citizens suspected of terrorism … But the Pentagon has long been banned from conducting drone strikes in Pakistan, part of a 2004 deal with Pakistan that all such attacks be carried out by the CIA under its authority to take covert action—allowing Pakistan to publicly deny any knowledge of the strikes and American officials to remain silent.”

Between 2004 and 2015, the US killed as many as 3,949 people through drone strikes in Pakistan alone, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Top administration officials are well aware that what they are doing is illegal and unconstitutional, particularly in relation to US citizens. One unnamed “former senior official” told the Times that “Post-Awlaki, there was a lot of nervousness” about killing American citizens, reflecting the very real awareness in the Obama administration that its actions could leave it open for prosecution in the future.

Whatever these concerns, however, the Obama administration, along with the entire political establishment, has vigorously defended the right of the president to assassinate US citizens without due process.

Tellingly, the Times reported that congressional leaders functioned not as a restraint and a check on the criminal actions of the White House and CIA, but rather sought to goad the White House to murder Farekh. The article states, “During a closed-door hearing of the House Intelligence Committee in July 2013, lawmakers grilled military and intelligence officials about why Mr. Farekh had not been killed.”

In February 2013, Attorney General Holder made clear that the administration claims its right to extrajudicially assassinate US citizens, even within the borders of the United States.

Holder wrote in a letter to Senator Rand Paul:

“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

In his May 2013 speech, Obama reinforced his commitment to the drone murder program, declaring, “America’s actions are legal … We were attacked on 9/11. Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force.”

Obama then declared, seemingly contradicting himself, “For the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any US citizen—with a drone or with a shotgun—without due process.”

This statement revolves around a crude verbal sophistry. In 2012, Attorney General Holder argued that the Constitution’s declaration that no person shall “be deprived of life … without due process of law” did not specify judicial process, but rather could apply to the internal deliberations within the executive branch.

As a result, the administration argued, the types of negotiations between cabinet officials, intelligence agencies and allied governments chronicled in Monday’s Times piece qualify as “due process.”

The Times article on Farekh was certainly cleared with the Obama administration and US intelligence agencies before being published. This may indicate that the turf battles described in it continue, and the article is part of ongoing maneuvers between the military and intelligence agencies of the US state apparatus.

The article is also part of a process of legitimizing and normalizing the clearly illegal and impeachable offenses described. In June of last year, the Obama administration released the drone murder memo outlining is pseudo-legal rationale for killing US citizens. Neither the memo not the crimes it outlined produced any significant objection from within the state or media establishment, the representatives and spokesmen of the corporate and financial aristocracy in America.

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Again; Protests in U.S. Cities against Police Violence + Video

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

Demonstrators march through the Loop to draw attention to the shooting of unarmed men by police on April 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of more than twenty scheduled to take place today in cities nationwide. At least fve people were arrested during the protest. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP

Demonstrators march through the Loop to draw attention to the shooting of unarmed men by police on April 14, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. The demonstration was one of more than twenty scheduled to take place today in cities nationwide. At least fve people were arrested during the protest. Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP
Protesters in several U.S. cities blocked highways and swarmed police precincts, leading to at least two dozen arrests in demonstrations touched off by fresh cases of police violence against unarmed black men.

About 250 activists marched across New York’s Brooklyn Bridge, holding up signs that read “Stop murder by police” and “Stop killer cops”.

At least 12 people were arrested following a brief scuffle with police after they crossed the bridge, and long traffic delays were reported.

The demonstration was organized by the Stop Mass Incarceration Network following the April 4 fatal shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man shot in the back by a white police officer in North Charleston, South Carolina.

CLICK fatal shooting of Walter Scott

The killing — just one of a succession of fatal police shootings — was captured on video, and the officer has been charged with murder.

Police in Los Angeles said they arrested 15 protesters from a group of nearly 100 after they stopped on Metro Rail tracks and ignored orders to disperse.

Elsewhere on the West Coast, more than 100 protesters surrounded a police station in San Francisco and disrupted a meeting at City Hall.

In nearby Oakland, demonstrators massed outside the Oakland Police Department and poured onto Interstate 880, television broadcasts showed.

Rush hour on the Bay Bridge linking San Francisco to Oakland was briefly delayed when several protesters tried to block traffic, police said. Six demonstrators were arrested.

In Wisconsin, about 100 protesters, mostly high school students, blocked a major roadway in Madison, where last month’s fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Tony Robinson Jr. by a white police officer has triggered a series of demonstrations.

New York police said an off-duty officer who was not in uniform was left with bruises on his head and arm after being struck by a protester on the Brooklyn Bridge when he exited his stopped car during the demonstration.

Protesters said they hoped their march would galvanize debate about the use of deadly force by police against minorities, with the families of several unarmed black or Hispanic men or boys who died in encounters with police demanding more oversight.

Posted in USAComments Off on Again; Protests in U.S. Cities against Police Violence + Video

Right Wing Facist Conservative Chamali Fernando saying: ”mentally ill people could wear wristbands”

NOVANEWS

Calls for Conservative parliamentary candidate Chamali Fernando to stand down for saying mentally ill people could wear wristbands

She said the bands could help officials identify those with illnesses

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Campaigners are calling on the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Cambridge to stand down, after she said that mental health patients could wear colour-coded wristbands to identifying their conditions.

During an event hosted by campaign Keep Our NHS Public in Cambridge, Chamali Fernando was asked how the authorities could help the police better deal with people with mental health issues.

Fernando responded that wristbands which disclose a person’s illness could help barristers, such as herself, to better aid the public.

She went on to suggest that a different coloured wristband for each mental health condition could improve the system, local political blogger Richard Taylor, who tweeted from the event, told the Cambridge Tab student newspaper.

View image on Twitter
Taylor told the newspaper: “This would immediately cause others to be prejudiced towards someone because you’ve given them a colour coding.

“If she’s coming up with a new policy like this at a hustings what she do when she’s standing in parliament?”

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