Archive | August 26th, 2016

Modi’s Extremist Policies Continue

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By Sajjad Shaukat

Since the leader of the ruling party BJP Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India, he has been implementing extremist policies against religious minorities, especially the Muslims and Pakistan.

Under Modi’s rule, various developments like unprecedented rise of Hindu extremism, persecution of minorities even of lower cast-Hindus, forced conversions of other religious minorities into Hindus, ban on beef and cow slaughter, inclusion of Hindu religious books in curriculum, creation of war-like situation with Pakistan etc. clearly show that encouraged by the Hindu fundamentalist outfits such as BJP, RSS VHP, Bajrang Dal and Shiv Sena, including other similar parties have been promoting religious and ethnic chauvinism in India by propagating ideology of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism). Particularly, assaults on Christians and Muslims including their places of worships and property have been intensified by the fanatic Hindu mobs.

Without caring for severe criticism all over the world and even within his own country and especially in Pakistan BJP-led Modi’s extremist policies continue unabated.

In this regard, during his address on the Independence Day of India on August 15, 2016, Modi went aggressively further in a diatribe against Pakistan by claiming that people of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir are thankful to home for raising voice for their suppressed rights.

On the other side, against his false anti-Pakistan statement, huge rallies and demonstrations were held in Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, including some other cities of Pakistan.

Opposing Indian intervention in Balochistan and other parts of Pakistan, the speakers on this occasion strongly condemned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aggressive designs against Pakistan and Kashmiris. They urged international community, civilized world and human rights organizations to take serious notice of the Indian state terrorism—genocide of Kashmiris in the Indian-occupied Kashmir and interference in Pakistan’s province of Balochistan.

In this respect, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said that the situation in Balochistan cannot be equated with Kashmir and Indian Prime Minister was only trying to divert world attention from the “grim tragedy” unfolding in Kashmir over the past five weeks.

In this context, in a statement, Pakistan’s foreign office indicated on August 18, 2016, “Pakistan is bleeding due to the sabotage activities by arch-rival India inside Pakistan…for the last several weeks after India launched a new campaign to silence the Kashmir freedom movement…dozens have been killed in Kashmir by the occupant forces after protests broke out against Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s murder on July 8 by the Indian security forces…Pakistan has raised the Kashmir issue at the UN and demanded sending a fact finding team to the held Valley to probe the human rights violations there.”

At a weekly media briefing, foreign office spokesman Nafees Zakaria stated that confessions of Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing’s agent Kulbhushan Yadav were irrefutable. He elaborated, “People of Pakistan have been victim of Indian spy agency’s sabotaging activities.

RAW’s network, made under Yadav is busy in terrorist and sabotaging activities in Balochistan and Karachi.”

Meanwhile, in response to the letter of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif in which he pointed out the deteriorating situation in Kashmir and the large-scale violations of human rights, being committed by Indian security forces, on August 19, this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon deplored the ongoing killings in Indian-held Kashmir, and urged India and Pakistan to settle Kashmir and other issues through dialogue. Ban Ki-moon explained in the letter, “I stand ready to offer my good offices… to facilitate dialogue in order to achieve a negotiated settlement…I deplore the loss of life in Kashmir and hope that all efforts will be made to avoid further violence.”

Besides, addressing a joint news conference with Sartaj Aziz at Islamabad on August 20, 2016, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) Ayad Ameen Madani in Islamabad expressed grave concern over extra-judicial killings of people in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. He stated that OIC Contact Group on Kashmir has been playing an active role for the resolution of the Kashmir issue. Ayad Ameen Madani also urged the international community to be more vocal on the deteriorating human rights situation in Indian-held Kashmir and added, “OIC will support Pakistan on Kashmir issue”.

As regards Modi’s extremist policies, in this connection, recently, Amnesty International (AI) was banned by Indian government which also called it a traitor organization in India, and has registered a sedition case against it for highlighting the ongoing human rights violations in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, while raising voice in favour of people of the Kashmir. The prominent rights group held an event in the Indian city of Banglore on August 13, 2016, which focused on human rights abuses carried out by Indian security forces in Kashmir. In this respect, demonstrations were held in the Bangalore and Delhi to oppose Modi’s extremist moves.

In fact, in wake of continued siege and prolonged curfew, Indian security forces have martyred more than 80 innocent persons who have been protesting since July 8, 2016 against the martyrdom of the young Kashmir leader Burhan Wani by the Indian security forces.

The Chairman of All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Syed Ali Gilania who was leading a pro- freedom procession moving towards Dargah in Kashmir capital has been stopped at Naseem Bagh. Now, protest rallies against the Indian occupation have been accelerated and reported from every part of Kashmir, while Kashmiri leaders Gilani and Mirwaiz have been arrested. Protestors have been stormed with teargas and pellets by the Indian forces. Kashmir clashes also erupted in Prichoo Pulwama between protesters and occupational forces after the Friday prayers.

It is notable that on May 15, 2016, Indian media reported that a mutiny was staged by Jawans in an infantry unit of Indian Army deployed in North East. There were scuffles among Jawans and officers following a Jawan’s death. Although army is an independent institution, but due to extremist policies and Hindutva orientation of the BJP leader and Indian Prime Minister Narendra is also on the rise in army too.

It is mentionable that a well-known Indian-based Islamic-religious scholar Dr Zakir Naik is currently in Saudi Arabia and has decided to prolong his stay owing to the Indian extremist leader Sadhvi praqchi’s announcement (On July 14, 2016) of reward INR 5 million for a person who would cut off Naik’s head. However, it shows another instance of Indian extremist policies which continue under the Prime Minister Modi.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

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TURKS AND AMERICANS WALK INTO SELF-MADE CESSPOOL

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OBAMA AS AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IMBECILE; FRENCH MADE CHEMICAL WEAPONS FOR TERRORISM IN 2013; DAARAYYAA FALLS TO SAA

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ALEPPO:  For those who have been following SyrPer for years, watching the unfolding war in Syria, what is happening today is really unsurprising.  The alliances which used to exist have been shuffled like a deck of cards.  Turkey, the most malicious actor in this drama along with Saudi Arabia, villains all, has now entered into a new digression which will pit Turkey against the United States in an imaginary war to create a new Kurdish political entity acceptable to Turkey. But, is that really true?

What I have just heard is that the Turks are pouring into Syria with American aircraft flying cover.  The Turks are not angling for a war with the PKK, as it would seem, because if they were, one would think the U.S. would be openly averse to such a development.  So, is it possible that the Turks are aiming to link up with the PKK in order to eradicate ISIS, as Turk leaders insist, and to help in creating a toothless Kurdish Rojava dependent on Ankara?  Gee. Folks, I really don’t know.  All I know is that an imbecile by the name of Joe Biden, an advocate for dismembering Near Eastern states,  was in Ankara to gently swab Merdoghan’s infected hemorrhoids.

I still believe Turkey is obsessed with crushing any semblance of Kurd nationalism.  Yet, if that were the case, why is Turkey so obsessed now with fighting ISIS?  Well, dummy, you might ask:  Erdoghan is not really fighting ISIS because he was instrumental in creating it by affording the group time and space in Turkey to develop its military capabilities under the watchful eye of disgruntled former officers in Saddam’s army – the same officers cashiered by the historically inept L. Paul Bremer, once the American High Commissioner of Iraq.

So, one might posit: is Erdoghan really moving into Syria to assault the PKK, America’s new golden boy?  No! Dummy.  He can’t hit the PKK because the U.S. sees that group as the linchpin of its new back-up policy to salvage what it can of its catastrophic plan to unseat Dr. Assad and the Ba’ath.  Oh, yawn.

The Turks have entered Jaraablus.  The PKK has submissively moved to the east bank of the Euphrates in accordance with Turk demands.  Even the U.S. was instrumental in cajoling the Kurds into rowing their boats across the river.  So what does the U.S. have in mind?

Here’s what some of my trusted experts and sources tell me:  Erdoghan was about an inch away from breaking ties with NATO unless he got his way on this one.  Even though the Turkish army has been denuded of its best officers, NATO still considers Turkey “crucial” to its southern defenses.  What that really means to white people is that cannon fodder like Turk soldiers are necessary to prevent undue demands on European armies.

So, Obama and Biden bit the bitter pill, swallowed their mythical pride, and allowed U.S. bombers to assist the Turks in doing what the U.S. sort-of wanted to do in the north of Syria but were afraid to do because they didn’t want to aggrieve their new Kurdish buddies.  The U.S. will have much explaining to do to their new-found Kurd allies once all this finally sinks in to the thick Kurdish skull.

Does any of this seem bizarre?  You bet your bippy it is.  With the United States re-energizing the old mantra of CW attacks by both ISIS and the SAAF at the U.N., we can expect the usual spastic eruption of propaganda all designed to help that weasel in the White House to convince his Congress that “boots on the ground” is the only way to deal with Assad’s Syria.  Or, maybe, given what your editor first called the “Obama Doctrine”, i.e. the use of proxies to fight his demented wars, Obama is finally getting the Turks to do his dirty work.  Mmmmm.  Or maybe, he is getting both the Turks and the Kurds to perform his “wet operations”.

Well, there’s always a fly in the ointment when it comes to that knucklehead in the W.H.  Russia and China may not play along.  The CW thing is not going to trigger any Chapter 7 action – it never has – and the new realities in the north will not sucker the Russians into anything resembling cooperation with the U.S.  It’s almost as though Obama was playing a game against himself and was trying to win or lose despite himself.  That this miscreant ever had real children of his own is still a mystery to me.

Now read Brandon’s take on the entire mess:

http://www.activistpost.com/2016/08/the-turkish-invasion-of-syria-who-is-behind-it-and-why.html

Tallat Umm Al-Qar’:  The U.S. is trying desperately to move events in order to prevent the inevitable SAA victory in south Aleppo which will seal the fate of the remaining cockroaches in the east of the city, including around 14 American Special Operations saboteurs trapped without a single rat tunnel through which to crawl, and deny Erdoghan his triumphant annexation of northern Syria.   As of today, 9 Jaysh Al-Fath vehicles were incinerated by the SAA and allies.  And at the Air Force Technical Academy a similar number of vehicles were destroyed.  The rumors are that JF is desperate for resupply of pickups and other half-tracks.  The only problem is Russia and Syria prowling the skies to hit at any convoy moving from Turkey or from Idlib.

On Wednesday, 5 vehicles were destroyed along with 3 T62 tanks.  The scene of rodents escaping this catastrophe was akin to watching cockroaches hurrying out of the sunlight in a garage.

Hussayn Al-Sifraani (“Abu Mer’iy”.  Leader of  a mortar unit for Nusra/Alqaeda)

Zakiy Al-Taqeeqa (Jaysh Al-Fath high-ranking field commander).

They Syrian Army has repelled another frontal attack by the Jaysh Al-Fath freaks at Tallat Umm Al-Qar’.  This time they came with their tanks and lost 7 of them to the army. They also lost 2 armored cars.  Heavy fighting reported now at Ma’raata and Tallat Baazu:

Abu ‘Aadil Al-Yamani (YEMENI CATAMITE AND CONGENITALLY LIMITED SHOESHINE BOY)

Air Force Technical Academy:  Confirmed 47 mostly foreign rodents killed here as of August 24, 2016 from groups like Nusra/Alqaeda and Ahraar Al-Shaam.

Al-Kaseebiyya Village:  A meeting of rats on the 24th day of August was interrupted rudely by the Syrian Air Force:

Abu Muhammad Al-Turkistaani (Nusra commander and notorious cross dresser)

Abu Salaah (Id pending. Ahraar Al-Shaam leader wounded critically and reportedly on his last rat’s breath)

Abu Al-‘Abbaas Al-‘Anadaani (Severely injured Nusra/Alqaeda officer)

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Air Force Academy:  This institution in the east of the province has been defended successfully hundreds of times.  An attack by ISIS on Wednesday was repelled easily.  2 4-wheel pickups with 23mm cannons were destroyed with 4 motorcycles stuffed with C-4 and TNF turned into twisted metal.

The Syrian Army is close to wiping out the last remaining rodent in the 1070 Apartment Project.  Those escaping are running a gauntlet.  The orders are to kill them all.

DAMASCUS:  The Syrian government has formally accused France of using and providing chemical weapons in the East Ghoutaa on August 21, 2013.  Needless to  say, French media is not reporting this.  But, we will.

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أبرز العمليات العسكرية للجيش السوري في حلب

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Daarayyaa:  The terrorists are leaving this area and trying to regroup elsewhere.  The evidence is mounting that Jaysh Al-Islam is administratively falling apart under the leadership of the scoundrel, Muhammad ‘Alloosh.  700 terrorists have just surrendered to the army.  If any readers doubt this, read the enemy’s websites.

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PHILIPPINES: 

ANTONIO POPAC sends us this interesting Philippino take on terrorism and its origins:

image: http://media.philstar.com/images/the-philippine-star/nation/20151217/video-series-duterte-economic-policy.JPG

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has accused the US of importing terror to the Middle East through its interventions, pointing to Iraq, Libya and Syria as examples.

Speaking at an event being held in honor of the holy Islamic day of Eid’l Fit’r in Davao City on Friday, the leader challenged the narrative that the Middle East is the root of terrorism. “It is not that the Middle East is exporting terrorism to America; America imported terrorism (to the Middle East),” he said.
Duterte slammed the US and UK for presenting Saddam Hussein as a dictator in order to justify the Iraq war of 2003, and for failing to admit their mistakes after the fact. “They forced their way into Iraq,” he told the Muslim crowd.
“After almost 10 years of investigation, it turned out there was no legal basis to declare war against Iraq. You see, it’s a useless war,” he explained.
“Look at Iraq now. Look what happened to Libya. Look what happened to Syria. Even children are being doused with gasoline. They were pushed to the wall for the failed promises,” he added.
The Philippines is not without its own issues of unrest, as groups in the country’s minority Muslim regions have been fighting for autonomy in the largely Christian country since the late ‘60s.

Duterte wants to hold peace talks between groups in the region, the Moro National Liberation Front, and its offshoot, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, in order to work out details of an autonomy agreement reached in 2014. He urged the leaders to focus on peace.“Let us build a nation that will be founded on peace and understanding,” he said.

“It will not come overnight. Certainly, it will not come next year. Probably, it will be something about two to three years from now. But I assure you that something will change before I end my term.”

Duterte also said he would not call the Abu Sayyaf rebel group criminals, as they were “driven to desperation,” thanks to failed promises and a lack of governance. “That’s why they were pushed to the wall,” he said. “They were radicalized.”

The group have been called terrorists and bandits due to their kidnappings and assassinations, and the Philippine government has fought them for years. In April, the group reportedly pledged allegiance to terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Duterte, a former Davao City mayor, was elected president in June 2016, after an outspoken campaign promising to crack down on crime. Soon after his term as president started, his military chief said they would engage in a “shock and awe”tactic to tackle the rebel group that has pledged allegiance to IS.
Nine Abu Sayyaf members and a soldier were killed on Thursday in clashes between armed forces and the group in southern Philippines, al Jazeera reports.

Duterte drew comparisons with his own country’s brush with colonialism, pointing to the fact that everyone was “natives of the sultanes” until Spanish colonialism which brought with it Christianity.

“So although religion is a very sensitive issue, let us not really do something that will inflame or agitate trouble about religion. We all believe in the same God.” he added.

The new president has said his foreign policy will not be dependant on the US, with whom the Philippines enjoy a defense partnership, and will “be a line that is not intended to please anybody but the Filipino interest.”

He has spoken about engaging in talks with long-term rival China over the disputed South China Sea, a conflict over which Washington and Beijing have been clashing for years.

PHOTO OF THE DAY FROM SYLVIA IRANOVA:
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Russian soldiers guard the Palmyra ruins in the east

Read more at http://syrianperspective.com/2016/08/turks-and-americans-walk-into-self-made-cesspool-obama-as-affirmative-action-imbecile-french-made-chemical-weapons-for-terrorism-in-2013-daarayyaa-falls-to-saa.html#KGLRV0HdMliGKOQ4.99

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Did An ISIS Fighter Try To Sell Sex Slaves On Facebook?

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Image result for ISIS LOGO

Well, maybe. It is amazing how these horrific stories about ISIS just happen to appear on global social media, and then are instantly picked up by the mainstream media as fact.

Why, it is almost as if someone is creating them, and then calling the mass media’s attention to them on obscure sources, for anti-ISIS propaganda purposes. Hmm.

Well, don’t be shocked, but…

“To all the bros thinking about buying a slave, this one is $8,000,” began the Facebook posting attributed to an Islamic State fighter who calls himself Abu Assad Almani. The same man posted a second image a few hours later, this one a pale young woman’s face with weepy red eyes.

“Another sabiyah [slave], also about $8,000,” the posting reads. “Yay, or nay?”

The photos were taken down within hours by Facebook but of course still were coincidentally captured by the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington nonprofit group with unclear funding sources that monitors jihadists’ ­social media accounts. That Institute then pumped the story out across the web.

“We have seen a great deal of brutality, but the content that ISIS has been disseminating over the past two years has surpassed it all for sheer evil,” said a researcher for the Institute. “Sales of slave girls on social media is just one more example of this.”

Uh huh. It must all be true.

BONUS: Selling sex slaves violates Facebook’s Terms of Use, so ISIS that did wrong thing too. Bastards have no respect for our American social media.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.

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80,000 English Families Could Be Homeless By 2020, Former MP Warns

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Almost 80,000 families in England face the prospect of becoming homeless by 2020 unless Prime Minister Theresa May abandons cuts to housing benefits, a former Labour minister claims.

John Healey, a former housing minister, says the projection, which includes 60,000 households with children, is in addition to those already sleeping rough on the streets.

Campaigners have previously warned that the country’s most vulnerable people will not be able to afford the rent on their homes if the government goes ahead with £1 billion in cuts to housing support and benefits penciled in by former chancellor George Osborne.

Healey’s new projections are based on the average annual increase of homeless households in Britain between 2009 and 2016, which he says currently stands at 6.3 percent.

He says if the trend continues over the next five years, this would mean 78,393 more homeless cases by 2020-21.

Healey told the Independent: “The Conservatives’ record on housing is six years of failure, and in no area is this more painfully clear than homelessness.

“We should all be ashamed that in one of the richest countries in the world there has been such a huge increase in the number of people who are homeless over the last six years.

“These figures are a stark warning for Theresa May not to continue with the same decisions on housing and social security that have failed so badly over the last six years.”

Healey says May should exempt hostels for the homeless and other specialist accommodation from the planned cuts.

The projections come after an all-party committee of MPs said government austerity measures have increased homelessness in the UK by as much as 30 percent.

A report by the Communities and Local Government Select Committee found that the number of people rough sleeping in England hit 3,569 between 2014 and autumn 2015. One quarter of those were sleeping on the streets of the capital.

It said that the welfare cap of £20,000-£23,000 (US$26,000-$30,000) on families in London could well worsen the issue in the years ahead.

Earlier this year, a report commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that more than 1.25 million people in Britain are impoverished or living in destitution, meaning they don’t have enough money for food, clothes, heating, shelter, and toiletries.

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The Birth Of Agro-Resistance In Palestine

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Across the West Bank, olive trees can be found that have survived from the time of Herod, a legacy of the Romans’ cultivation of the tree throughout its empire, including in Palestine. The trees are easily identified. In Arabic, they are known as “amoud” – or column – distinguished by the enormous girth of their gnarled, twisting trunks. They have a place in most Palestinians’ affections. Hatim Kanaaneh, the Galilee physician and writer, observes that the amoud symbolises “stability, permanence and stature – physically, figuratively and economically”.

The olive tree roots Palestinians in a tradition and identity as deeply as the trees themselves are rooted in the soil. When the first heavy winter rains wash away the dust of the summer drought from the leaves and fruit in late October or early November, extended families hurry out to their fields to harvest the crop. Erecting ladders, they reach into the grey-green foliage to pick the abundant fruit. The distinctive, gentle patter of an olive rainfall can be heard on the tarpaulins below.

For a few weeks, the hills and valleys of Palestine are filled with families, young and old, sharing a simple life outdoors together under the trees – one their great-grandparents would have recognised. With an estimated 10 million trees growing in the valleys and on the hillsides of the West Bank, it is huge undertaking that much of the society mobilises for. It is a moment of familial and communal solidarity, of a…

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Clinton’s Excess Security Baggage Continues to Bulge

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Editor CEC writes:  The US Army has announced it is withdrawing a training slide show that lists and pictures Hillary Clinton as one of six “insider” security risks.  At least one of the others has been sent to prison and another is hiding in Russia.

Army pulls training slide listing Hillary Clinton as example of ‘insider’ threat

The slide described Hillary Clinton as an “insider” threat to national security…The slide, which was used in a PowerPoint presentation at Missouri’s Fort Leonard Wood, included the image of the Democratic nominee alongside pictures of disgraced retired Gen. David Petraeus, Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden, Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan and Washington Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis and described them as “insiders” who were “careless or disgruntled” government employees…An image of the slide, which had been used in local training presentations at the outpost since early 2015, was posted to Facebook on Sunday.

And adding to the problem, Julian Assange founder of Wikileaks, has just told Fox News in a recorded interview:  WikiLeaks to release ‘significant’ Clinton campaign data.  His organization planned to release “significant” information linked to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton before the Nov. 8 election.

Asked if the data could be a game-changer in the election, the Australian told Fox News in an interview conducted by satellite: “I think it’s significant. You know, it depends on how it catches fire in the public and in the media.”

Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years, where he has been politically sheltered from our own US government.

One reader commented, “We used to depend on the press to inform us of corruption in high office, now we must depend on whistleblowers hiding out in foreign countries to tell us”.

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ELCA Lutherans Palestinian Peace Not Walls Campaign-Major Breakthrough

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) approved a resolution
calling on the U.S. government to end all aid to Israel if Israel does
not stop building settlements and “enable an independent Palestinian
state.” Voting at its triennial assembly in New Orleans that ended recently, the
church also sought a halt to all investment in companies that profit
from Israel’s occupation and called on the president of the United
States to recognize the State of Palestine. The ELCA has joined several other mainline Christian denominations in calling for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israel/Palestine conflict. Chuck Carlson and Tom Compton discuss this encouraging development and look at the greater context of it in this 16 min. podcast. Ref. ECLA’s Peace Not Walls campaign.

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“I Didn’t Serve, I Was Used”: How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home

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By Ann Jones

(Photo: Jean-François Schmitz)

New schemes are seeking to use veterans for corporate interests and dismantle the VA system in the name of privatized profits. (Photo: Jean-François Schmitz)

A friend of mine, a Vietnam vet, told me about a veteran of the Iraq War who, when some civilian said, “Thank you for your service,” replied: “I didn’t serve, I was used.” That got me thinking about the many ways today’s veterans are used, conned, and exploited by big gamers right here at home.

Near the end of his invaluable book cataloguing the long, slow disaster of America’s War for the Greater Middle East, historian Andrew Bacevich writes:

“Some individuals and institutions actually benefit from an armed conflict that drags on and on. Those benefits are immediate and tangible. They come in the form of profits, jobs, and campaign contributions.  For the military-industrial complex and its beneficiaries, perpetual war is not necessarily bad news.”

Bacevich is certainly right about war profiteers, but I believe we haven’t yet fully wrapped our minds around what that truly means. This is what we have yet to take in: today, the U.S. is the most unequal country in the developed world, and the wealth of the plutocrats on top is now so great that, when they invest it in politics, it’s likely that no elected government can stop them or the lucrative wars and “free markets” they exploit.

Among the prime movers in our corporatized politics are undoubtedly the two billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, and their cozy network of secret donors.  It’s hard to grasp how rich they really are: they rank fifth (David) and sixth (Charles) on Business Insider’s list of the 50 richest people in the world, but if you pool their wealth they become by far the single richest “individual” on the planet. And they have pals. For decades now they’ve hosted top-secret gatherings of their richest collaborators that sometimes also feature dignitaries like Clarence Thomas or the late Antonin Scalia, two of the Supreme Court Justices who gave them theCitizens United decision, suffocating American democracy in plutocratic dollars. That select donor group had reportedly planned to spend at least $889 million on this year’s elections and related political projects, but recent reports note a scaling back and redirection of resources.

While the contest between Trump and Clinton fills the media, the big money is evidently going to be aimed at selected states and municipalities to aid right-wing governors, Senate candidates, congressional representatives, and in some cities, ominously enough, school board candidates. The Koch brothers need not openly support the embarrassing Trump, for they’ve already proved that, by controlling Congress, they can significantly control the president, as they have already done in the Obama era.

Yet for all their influence, the Koch name means nothing, pollsters report, to more than half of the U.S. population. In fact, the brothers Koch largely stayed under the radar until recent years when their roles as polluters, campaigners against the environment, and funders of a new politics came into view. Thanks to Robert Greenwald’s film Koch Brothers Exposed and Jane Mayer’s book Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, we now know a lot more about them, but not enough.

They’ve always been ready to profit off America’s wars. Despite their extreme neo-libertarian goal of demonizing and demolishing government, they reportedly didn’t hesitate to pocket about $170 million as contractors for George W. Bush’s wars.  They sold fuel (oil is their principal business) to the Defense Department, and after they bought Georgia Pacific, maker of paper products, they supplied that military essential: toilet paper.

But that was small potatoes compared to what happened when soldiers came home from the wars and fell victim to the profiteering of corporate America. Dig in to the scams exploiting veterans, and once again you’ll run into the Koch brothers.

Pain Relief: With Thanks From Big Pharma

It’s no secret that the VA wasn’t ready for the endless, explosive post-9/11 wars.  Its hospitals were already full of old vets from earlier wars when suddenly there arrived young men and women with wounds, both physical and mental, the doctors had never seen before.  The VA enlarged its hospitals, recruited new staff, and tried to catch up, but it’s been running behind ever since.

It’s no wonder veterans’ organizations keep after it (as well they should), demanding more funding and better service. But they have to be careful what they focus on. If they leave it at that and overlook what’s really going on — often in plain sight, however disguised in patriotic verbiage — they can wind up being marched down a road they didn’t choose that leads to a place they don’t want to be.

Even before the post-9/11 vets came home, a phalanx of drug-making corporations led by Purdue Pharma had already gone to work on the VA.  These Big Pharma corporations (many of which buy equipment from Koch Membrane Systems) had developed new pain medications — opioid narcotics like OxyContin (Purdue), Vicodin, Percocet, Opana (Endo Pharmaceuticals), Duragesic, and Nucynta (Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) — and they spotted a prospective marketplace.  Early in 2001, Purdue developed a plan to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars targeting the VA.  By the end of that year, this country was at war, and Big Pharma was looking at a gold mine.

They recruited doctors, set them up in private “Pain Foundations,” and paid them handsomely to give lectures and interviews, write studies and textbooks, teach classes in medical schools, and testify before Congress on the importance of providing our veterans with powerful painkillers.  In 2002, the Food and Drug Administration considered restricting the use of opioids, fearing they might be addictive. They were talked out of it by experts like Dr. Rollin Gallagher of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and board member of the American Pain Foundation, both largely fundedby the drug companies. He spoke against restricting OxyContin.

By 2008, congressional legislation had been written — the Veterans’ Mental Health and Other Care Improvement Act — directing the VA to develop a plan to evaluate all patients for pain. When the VA objected to Congress dictating its medical procedures, Big Pharma launched a “Freedom from Pain” media blitz, enlisting veterans’ organizations to campaign for the bill and get it passed.

Those painkillers were also dispatched to the war zones where our troops were physically breaking down under the weight of the equipment they carried. By 2010, a third of the Army’s soldiers were on prescription medications — and nearly half of them, 76,500, were on prescription opioids — which proved to be highly addictive, despite the assurance of experts like Rollin Gallagher. In 2007, for instance, “The American Veterans and Service Members Survival Guide,” distributed by the American Pain Foundation and edited by Gallagher, offered this assurance: “[W]hen used for medical purposes and under the guidance of a skilled health-care provider, the risk of addiction from opioid pain medication is very low.”

By that time, here at home, soldiers and vets were dying at astonishing rates from accidental or deliberate overdoses. Civilian doctors as well had been persuaded to overprescribe these drugs, so that by 2011 the CDC announced a national epidemic, affecting more than 12 million Americans.  In May 2012, the Senate Finance Committee finally initiated an investigation into the perhaps “improper relation” between Big Pharma and the pain foundations. That investigation is still “ongoing,” which means that no information about it can yet be revealed to the public.

Meanwhile, opioid addicts, both veterans and civilians, were discovering that heroin was a cheaper and no less effective way to go.  Because heroin is often cut with Fentanyl, a more powerful opioid, however, drug deaths rose dramatically.

This epidemic of death is in the news almost every day now as hard-hit cities and states sue the drug makers, but rarely is it traced to its launching pad: the Big Pharma conspiracy to make big bucks off our country’s wounded soldiers.

It took the VA far too long to extricate itself from medical policies marketed by Big Pharma and, in effect, prescribed by Congress. It had made the mistake of turning to the Pharma-funded pain foundations in 2004 to select its Deputy National Program Director of Pain Management: the ubiquitous Dr. Gallagher. But when the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency finally laid down new restrictive rules on opioids in 2014, the VA had to comply. That’s been hard on the thousands of opioid-dependent vets it had unwittingly hooked, and it’s becoming harder as Republicans in Congress move to privatize the VA and send vets out with vouchers to find their own health care.

Cute Cards Courtesy of the Koch Brothers

To force the VA to use its drugs, Big Pharma set up dummy foundations and turned to existing veterans’ organizations for support. These days, however, the Big Money people have found a more efficient way to make their weight felt.  Now, when they need the political clout of a veterans’ organization, they help finance one of their own.

Consider Concerned Veterans for America (CVA). The group’s stated mission: “to preserve the freedom and prosperity we and our families fought and sacrificed to defend.”  What patriotic American wouldn’t want to get behind that?

The problem that concerns the group right now is the “divide” between civilians and soldiers, which exists, its leaders claim, because responsibility for veterans has been “pushed to the highest levels of government.” That has left veterans isolated from their own communities, which should be taking care of them.

Concerned Veterans for America proposes (though not quite in so many words) to close that gap by sacking the VA and giving vets the “freedom” to find their own health care. The 102-page proposal of CVA’s Task Force on “Fixing Veterans’ Health Care” would let VA hospitals treat veterans with “service-connected health needs” — let them, that is, sweat the hard stuff — while transforming most VA Health Care facilities into an “independent, non-profit corporation” to be “preserved,” if possible, in competition “with private providers.”

All other vets would have the “option to seek private health coverage,” using funds the VA might have spent on their care, had they chosen it. (How that would be calculated remains one of many mysteries.) The venerable VA operates America’s largest health care system, with 168 VA Medical Centers and 1,053 outpatient clinics, providing care to more than 8.9 million vets each year. Yet under this plan that lame, undernourished but extraordinary and, in a great many ways, remarkably successful version of single-payer lifelong socialized medicine for vets would be a goner, perhaps surviving only in bifurcated form: as an intensive care unit and an insurance office dispensing funds to free and choosy vets.

Such plans should have marked Concerned Veterans for America as a Koch brothers’ creation even before its front man gave the game away and lost his job. Like those pain foundation doctors who became self-anointed opioid experts, veteran Pete Hegseth had made himself an expert on veterans’ affairs, running Concerned Veterans for America and doubling as a talking head on Fox News.  The secretive veterans’ organization now carries on without him, still working to capture — or perhaps buy — the hearts and minds of Congress.

And here’s the scary part: they may succeed.  Remember that every U.S. administration, from the Continental Congress on, has regarded the care of veterans as a sacred trust of government. The notion of privatizing veterans’ care — by giving each veteran a voucher, like some underprivileged schoolboy — was first suggested only eight years ago by Arizona Senator John McCain, America’s most famous veteran-cum-politician. Most veterans’ organizations opposed the idea, citing McCain’s long record of voting against funding the VA.  Four years ago, Mitt Romney touted the same idea and got the same response.

That’s about the time that the Koch brothers, and their donor network, changed their strategy. They had invested an estimated $400 million in the 2012 elections and lost the presidency (though not Congress).  So they turned their attention to the states and localities.  Somewhere along the way, they quietly promoted Concerned Veterans for America and who knows what other similar organizations and think tanks to peddle their cutthroat capitalist ideology and enshrine it in the law of the land.

Then, in 2014, President Obama signed into law the Veterans’ Access to Care Through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act. That bill singled out certain veterans who lived at least 40 miles from a VA hospital or had to wait 30 days for an appointment and gave them a “choice card,” entitling them to see a private doctor of their own choosing.  Though John McCain had originally designed the bill, it was by then a bipartisan effort, officially introduced by the Democratic senator who chaired the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: Bernie Sanders.

Sanders said that, while it was not the bill he would have written, he thought it was a step toward cutting wait times. With his sponsorship, the bill passed by a 93-3 vote. And so an idea unthinkable only two years earlier — the partial privatization of veteran’s health care — became law.

How could that have happened?  At the VA, there was certainly need for improvement.  Its health care system had been consistently underfunded and wait times for appointments were notoriously long.  Then, early in 2014, personnel at the Phoenix VA in McCain’s home state of Arizona were caught falsifying records to hide the wait-time problem.  When that scandal hit the news, Concerned Veterans for America was quick to exploit the situation and lead a mass protest.  Three weeks later, as heads rolled at the VA, Senator McCain called a town hall meeting to announce his new bill, with its “hallmark Choice Card.” His website notes that it “received praise… from veterans’ advocacy organizations such as Concerned Veterans for America.”

That bill also called for a “commission on care” to explore the possibilities of “transforming” veterans’ health care.  Most vets still haven’t heard of this commission and its charge to change their lives, but many of those who did learn of it were worried by the terminology.  After all, many vets already had a choice through Medicare or private insurance, and most chose the vet-centered treatment of the VA. They complained only that it took too long to get an appointment. They wanted more VA care, not less — and they wanted it faster.

In any case, those choice cards already handed out have reportedly only slowed down the process of getting treatment, while the freedom to search for a private doctor hasturned out to be anything but popular.  Nevertheless, the commission on care — 15 people chosen by President Obama and the leaders of the House and Senate — worked for 10 months to produce a laundry list of “fixes” for the VA and one controversial recommendation. They called for the VA “across the United States” to establish “high-performing, integrated community health care networks, to be known as the VHA Care System.”

In other words, instead of funding added staff and speeded-up service, the commission recommended the creation of an entirely new, more expensive, and untried system. Then there was the fine print: as in the plan of Concerned Veterans of America, there would be tightened qualifications, out-of-pocket costs, and exclusions.  In other words, the commission was proposing a fragmented, complicated, and iffy system, funded in part on the backs of veterans, and “transformative” in ways ominously different from anything vets had been promised in the past.

Commissioner Michael Blecker, executive director of the San Francisco-based veterans’ service organization Swords to Plowshares, refused to sign off on the report.  Although he approved of the VA fixes, he saw in that recommendation for “community networks” the privatizer’s big boot in the door.  Yet while Blecker thought the recommendation would serve the private sector and not the vet, another non-signer took the opposite view. Darin Selnick, senior veterans’ affairs advisor for Concerned Veterans for America and executive director of CVA’s Fixing Veterans Health Care Taskforce, complained that the commission had focused too much on “fixing the existing VA” rather than “boldly transforming” veterans’ health care into a menu of “multiple private-sector choice options.”  The lines were clearly drawn.

Then, last April, Senator McCain made an end run around the commission, a dash that could only thrill the leaders of Concerned Veterans for America and their backers. Noting that his choice card legislation was due to expire, McCain, together with seven other Republican senators (including Ted Cruz), introduced new legislation: the Care Veterans Deserve Act of 2016.  It’s a bill designed to “enhance choice and flexibility in veterans’ health care” by making the problematic choice card “permanently and universally” available to all disabled and other unspecified veterans.  You can see where the notion came from and where it’s going. By May 2016, when Fox News featured a joint statement by Senator McCain and Pete Hegseth, late of Concerned Veterans for America, trumpeting the VA Choice Card Program as “the most significant VA reform in decades,” you could also see where this might end.

As real veterans’ organizations wise up to what’s going on, they will undoubtedly stand against the false “freedom” of a Koch brothers-style “transformation” of the VA system. The rest of us should stand with them. The plutocrats who corrupted veterans’ health care and now want to shut it down, and the plutocrats who profit from this country’s endless wars are one and the same. And they have bigger plans for us all.

Posted in USAComments Off on “I Didn’t Serve, I Was Used”: How Veterans Are Losing the War at Home

Nazi forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

NOVANEWS

(18 – 24 August 2016)

Nazi warplanes conducted 60 airstrikes on many areas in the Gaza Strip

  • Nazi forces continued to use excessive force in the oPt

–         A Palestinian civilian was killed on “Yitzhar” settlement bypass road, south of Nablus.

–         12 civilians, including a child, were wounded in the West Bank and 4 others, including a child, in the Gaza Strip.

  • Nazi warplanes conducted 60 airstrikes on many areas in the Gaza Strip

–         A water reservoir tank and 5 military training sites were targeted, and 3 Members of al-Qassam Brigades sustained minor wounds.

  • Nazi forces targeted the border areas in the northern Gaza Strip, wounding a shepherd.
  • Nazi forces conducted 69 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank and a limited one in the southern Gaza Strip.

–         40 civilians, including 6 children and a woman, were arrested

–         14 of them, including 4 children and a woman, were arrested in occupied Jerusalem.

–         7 forges were raided and closed in Bethlehem after confiscating its contents.

  • Settlement activities continued in the West Bank.

–         Two dwellings and a youth center were demolished in Kherbet Um al-Kheir, south of Hebron.

  • Nazi forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen in the Sea

–         2 fishermen were arrested and a fishing boat was confiscated

  • Nazi forces turned the West Bank into cantons and continued to impose the illegal closure on the Gaza Strip for the 9th year.

–         Dozens of temporary checkpoints were established in the West Bank and others were re-established to obstruct the movement of Palestinian civilians.

–         3 Palestinian civilians, including 2 children, were arrested at military checkpoints.

 

Summary

Nazi violations of international law and international humanitarian law in the oPt continued during the reporting period (18 – 24 August 2016).

 

Shooting:

Nazi forces have continued to commit crimes, inflicting civilian casualties. They have also continued to use excessive force against Palestinian civilians participating in peaceful protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the majority of whom were youngsters. During the reporting period, Nazi forces killed a Palestinian civilian and wounded 16 others, including a child and 3 members of al-Qassam Brigades.

Eight of them were wounded in the West Bank while the rest 8 were wounded in the Gaza Strip. In the Gaza Strip, Nazi forces carried out a series of airstrikes along the border fence in the northern Gaza Strip.  Nazi forces also fired artillery shells at the border areas.  Moreover, Nazi forces continued to target Palestinian fishermen and chase them in the sea.

 

The full report is available online at:

http://pchrgaza.org/en/?p=8323

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi forces continue systematic crimes in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt)

Clinton Gets More Donations From Arms Industry

NOVANEWS
Image result for Clinton CARTOON

American weapon manufacturers have made bigger contributions to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a major turnaround after years of backing the Republican ticket.

According to a report by Politico released on Wednesday, Clinton has received more donations from high-ranking employees of giant Pentagon contractors like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, outperforming her GOP rival Donald Trump by a 5-to-1 ratio.

According to filings with the Federal Election Committee, Trump’s campaign has banked nearly $55,000 in contributions from executives of the 25 major defense contractors, compared to $273,000 given to Clinton.

This marks a significant break from the years-old habit of supporting the Republican candidate. In fact, the arms industry has teamed with Republican congressional and presidential candidates in eight of the past 10 election cycles.

In the 2012 election cycle, for example, then-Republican nominee Mitt…

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