Thursday, September 30, 2010

David Ray Griffin v. Cass Sunstein

David Ray Griffin v. Cass Sunstein - by Stephen Lendman

Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA where he's still co-director of the Center for Process Studies.

He's authored and/or edited three dozen books, mainly in his field, but notably and heroically on 9/11 truth, Osama bin Laden, and his newest titled, "Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory." More on it below.

Cass Sunstein is a well-known University of Chicago and Harvard Law School Professor before being appointed Obama's Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, in charge of "overseeing policies relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs," among other duties.

Distinguished Law Professor, activist, and international law and human rights expert Francis Boyle said this about both law schools and the University of Chicago's political science department, steeped in neo-con Straussianism:

"Do not send your children to the University of Chicago where they will grow up to become warmongers like (Paul) Wolfowitz and (John) Ashcroft. The University of Chicago is an intellectual and moral cesspool," referring to its political science department and law school. Its extremist economics department is much the same, indoctrinating students with predatory capitalist ideology.

Boyle's "Harvard's Gitmo Kangaroo Law School: The School for Torturers" article advised:

"Do not send your children or students to Harvard Law School where they will grow up to become racist war criminals! Harvard Law School is a Neo-Con cesspool."

"Harvard is to Law School as Torture is to Law."

Commenting on Sunstein when he was mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee, Boyle, calling him a "Neo-Con," said he'd be a "lethal" choice.

Professor Emeritus James Fetzer, Founder, Scholars for 9/11 Truth, took sharp issue with Sunstein's attempt to discredit its proponents, saying his "Conspiracy Theories" report (discussed below) is a "corrosive approach" and "massive blunder" to believe they're "obviously false!" In fact, "No one can know which theories are true or false without investigating them." That a Harvard Law professor would suggest it "is simply stunning," yet unsurprising given the source.

Fetzer's article can be accessed through the following link:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/Birds-of-a-Feather-Subver-by-Jim-Fetzer-100121-980.html

Sunstein is a notorious neo-con, abhorrent of First Amendment and other democratic freedoms, believing the rule of law is best served by subverting it.

Glen Greenwald's "The Horrible Prospect of Supreme Court Justice Cass Sunstein" article said:

"From the beginning of the War on Terror, Cass Sunstein turned himself into the most reliable Democratic cheerleader for Bush/Cheney radicalism and their assault on the Constitution and the rule of law." He also supports military commissions, illegal surveillance, and "mock(ed) the notion that Bush had committed crimes while in office."

One of his former students added:

"I think (he's) an extremely ambitious man (who'd) run over his grandmother for a seat on the Supreme Court."

Apparently over the country as well, trashing it and the public interest for power, clearly the aim of his "Cognitive Infiltration" proposal.

In January 2008, he and Adrian Vermeule published a controversial report titled, "Conspiracy Theories," they define as "an attempt to explain an event or practice by reference to the machinations of powerful people, who have also managed to conceal their role."

"Many millions of people hold (them); they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event."

Citing 9/11 truth, the reason for their report, they say believers "may create serious risks, including risks of violence....rais(ing) significant challenges for policy and law....The existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories, we suggest, is no trivial matter, posing real risks to the government's antiterrorism policies, whatever the latter may be."

His solution - debunk and undermine them by "cognitive infiltration of extremist groups," his modern-day version of COINTELPRO, the FBI's infamous 1960s and 1970s counterintelligence program to neutralize political dissidents, including the American Indian Movement, Black Panthers, and communists, as well as anti-war, human and civil rights activists, among others.

Rebranded, COINTELPRO flourishes more than ever against new targets, including Muslims and others in the "war on terror;" environmental and animal rights activists, and supporters of democratic freedoms over despotism and imperial wars, among others.

Sunstein wants conspiracy advocates neutralized, using "independent groups to supply rebuttals, and by cognitive infiltration designed to break up the crippled epistemology of conspiracy-minded groups and informationally isolated social networks." In other words, destroy them by conspiring against them from within, using illegal and extralegal tactics.

"Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action."

In June 2009, Sunstein and Vermeule updated their scheme in The Journal of Political Philosophy titled, "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures." The cause - psychological conditions. The cure - elimination by cognitive infiltration, including with "independent experts with information and perhaps prod(ding) from behind the scenes....(but not) too close (to avoid being) self-defeating" if exposed.

In fact, what Sunstein proposed is illegal under statutes prohibiting internal government propaganda, aimed at the public, though legal technicalities have never before been a deterrent.

Nonetheless, according to a March 21, 2005 Congressional Research Service report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) defines "publicity or propaganda" as either official self-aggrandizing, partisan activity, or "covert propaganda," the latter government-originated, disguised to appear otherwise, including by enlisted journalists, corrupting their profession by accepting cash to cooperate, a practice used by the Bush and earlier administrations as well as the CIA and perhaps FBI.

Griffin's New Book - A Powerful Truth Antidote

His new book is an invaluable analysis of Sunstein's proposal to undermine democratic freedoms, airbrush truth, impose censorship, and criminalize individuals who challenge official versions of patent lies, specifically 9/11, the seminal one of our time.

Critics agree, including Professor Peter Phillips, President of the Media Freedom Foundation and Project Censored saying:

Griffin's book should be "entitled 'the Courage of David Ray Griffin' (for) His continuing efforts to speak truth to power regarding issues" as vital as 9/11. Project Censored strongly recommends it at a time our democratic freedoms are at risk, including dissent, what Howard Zinn called "the highest form of patriotism."

Professor Emeritus Peter Dale Scott called Griffin our "preeminent (9/11) expert....his research....consistently careful, thorough, and objective." His new book provides "a patient, point-by-point and much needed refutation" of Sunstein's dangerous proposal. "He relentlessly shows how (he's) guilty of the very mentality he warns against: close-mindedness and refusal to debate. Those who seek to prevent 2010 from becoming 1984" must read this invaluable book.

Professor Emeritus Richard Falk said Griffin wrote "a devastating critique, (using) his formidable philosophical and theological skills."

Cyril H. Wecht, past President, American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American College of Legal Medicine called the book "brilliantly written....a scholarly dissection of (Sunstein's) sociopolitical proposal....," one essential to expose and oppose.

Discussing Sunstein's 10 theses, Griffin deconstructs their flaws, contradictions, and dangers to a free society. He also explains the legitimacy of 9/11 truth, and Sunstein's inability to refute it by disinformation, lies, suppression of facts, stifling debate, and attacking proponents.

What Obama did on September 23, calling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's 9/11 truth comments to UN General Assembly:

"hateful (and) inexcusable, particularly for him to make the statement here in Manhattan, just a little north of Ground Zero, where families lost their loved ones, people of all faiths, all ethnicities who see this as the seminal tragedy of this generation...."

Others attacked the comments as "abhorrent and delusional," no matter that millions around the world share them (including Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth), calling the event a crime, debunking the official account as deceitful, untrue, and destructive to democratic freedoms.

Ahmadinejad, in fact, suggested "three (possible) viewpoints:"

1. "That a very powerful and complex terrorist group" successfully circumvented US intelligence, Washington's position.

2. "That some segments within the US government orchestrated the attack to reverse the declining American economy and its grips on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime."

He said most Americans "as well as other nations and politicians agree with this view." European polls suggest it. US ones vary and have largely ducked the issue by not asking precise questions.

3. "It was carried out by a terrorist group but the American government supported and took advantage of the situation."

Ahmadinejad "proposed that the United Nations set up an independent fact-finding group...." He also criticized Washington for using the attack as a pretext for war against Iraq and Afghanistan. These views are verboten in the West, those expressing them pilloried as unpatriotic or worse.

Griffin is one, the preeminent 9/11 truth proponent and consummate scholar. Using his masterful skills, he demolishes Sunstein's arguments, ones based on disinformation, deceit, and bad analysis, not up to the standards of an accomplished liar, and no match for Griffin.

Thomas Fletcher summed it up saying:

Griffin's book "is a lucid and compelling exposure of the contempt held by the official (9/11 myth) defenders for dissenters who have seen through their Big Lie." They also fear truth that reveals their ugly agenda. "These officials expect that no one will be able to penetrate the murk of Sunstein's latest defense of the pretext for the US wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq, now covertly expanding" globally. Truth is a powerful disinfectant, what government conspiracists most fear.

Some Final Comments

On September 12, Professor Denis Rancourt titled an article, "Why we love to hate conspiracy theories: 911 Truth as threat to the intelligentsia," saying:

Many on the left share guilt with the right by "vehemently attack(ing) and ridicul(ing) 'conspiracy theories' such as the present 911 Truth movement."

Why, he asks? "Is that not the modus operandi of power? Is it so difficult to believe that (the 911 attack) was not orchestrated by....religious zealot(s)? Or that those who measurably benefitted" had everything to gain? "What ever happened to 'war is a racket' and 'follow the money?' "

At issue is that "power owns the media, (and) more importantly....our jobs" and lives in other respects. Even more important than truth is how it's used - to "rebel, actually rebel and individually take back power over (our) lives." Instead, too many of "the intelligentsia" protect themselves and "the system" by being "a visceral opponent of 911 Truth....in order for power to save face."

Let others fight the good fight they may feel, but unless enough do, putting a lot on the line, wrong will prevail over right and squeeze harder for even more of what they want.

Perhaps the next "9/11" will be a mushroom-shaped cloud or other comparable state-sponsored "disaster," again blamed on foreign adversaries as a pretext for more war. Why not, given America's permanent war agenda, a topic addressed in an earlier article, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/03/americas-permanent-war-agenda.html

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Palestinian Authority Recommends Whitewashing Gaza War Crimes

Palestinian Authority Recommends Whitewashing Gaza War Crimes

Who do they serve anyway? It's clear from the sham peace talks and a new development. The Mahmoud Abbas-controlled Palestinian Authority (PA) wants Israel absolved of accountability for Cast Lead crimes of war and against humanity. No matter that conclusive evidence exposed them, the result of the IDF's 23-day day rampage, killing over 1,400, injuring over 5,000, many severely, and practically leveling wide areas of Gaza, affecting mostly civilian and non-military related targets.

Besides other investigations, two UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ones unequivocally condemned Israel's lawlessness, each demanding accountability.

On September 21, the HRC's independent fact finding Committee issued a stinging indictment, among other conclusions, saying:

"It was clear to the Committee that the IDF had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets. Both the loss of life and the damage to property were disproportionate to the harm suffered by Israel or any threatened harm."

Israel clearly violated Fourth Geneva and other international laws. Responsible officials must be held accountable.

"Israel's actions could not be justified as self-defense." It was unequivocal aggression.

"The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians....It rejected Israel's determination of who is a civilian."

"The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians."

The Committee called the IDF "responsible for the wanton destruction of property and that such destruction could not be justified on grounds of military necessity."

The Committee called Cast Lead crimes so outrageous, "it was compelled to consider whether (genocide) had been committed."

The Committee thus concluded that Israel "committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly genocide in the course of Operation Cast Lead."

In 2009, the Goldstone Commission highlighted the gravity of Israel's crimes, saying:

Its "report concludes that the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as a whole....(It was) a deliberate policy of (collective punishment and) disproportionate force (to) willfully (kill) hundreds of civilians," and inflict extensive "disproportionate" destruction of hospitals, homes, mosques, schools, and other civilian structures.

"As a service to the hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and for the equal application of international justice, the perpetrators of (these) serious violations must be held to account."

Mahmoud Abbas said no. His permanent Geneva Human Rights Council envoy, Ibrahim Khraishi, presented a draft resolution not to pursue Israel's accountability, wanting coverup and whitewash instead.

It did it by requesting more time for further investigations, despite exhaustive evidence finding Israel culpable beyond a shadow of a doubt. Abbas, a disgraced collaborator, insulted Gaza's victims and those still suffocating under siege.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemned him, saying he's:

"holding justice hostage to politics, and extending de facto impunity to the Israeli military and political leadership."

By so doing, he shares culpability, complicit with Israel's war machine, guilty of not struggling against it. He's a traitor, rewarded for betraying his own people. It's been his longstanding practice for decades, notably for his Oslo Accords role, an inexcusable sellout he may repeat in the current sham round.

PCHR condemned his leadership saying;

By passing this (disgraceful) resolution, (he sent) a dangerous message: that what happened in Gaza in 2008-2009 is acceptable. With such impunity, there is no guarantee for Palestinians that these crimes will not be repeated." In fact, it's virtually certain. In small ways, they continue daily throughout the Territories.

Israel Responds

On September 27, Haaretz published a Reuters report headlined, "Israel calls on UN to end 'obsessively biased' Gaza war probe," saying:

On Monday, Israel called "for an end to United Nations Human Rights Council (Cast Lead) investigations." However, Islamic countries and their allies on the Council urged otherwise. Nonetheless, Israel's ambassador Aharon Leshno Yaar said the Council:

"has continually been one-sided and obsessively biased....It did not matter that steps were taken by Israel to protect its citizens while limiting damage whenever possible to Palestinian civilians."

Both Council investigations show he lied, the above conclusions explaining it unequivocally. Israel also whitewashed its own inquiries, absolving culpable government and military officials.

On September 27, the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) demanded that the Council and UN General Assembly continue focusing on Cast Lead and its aftermath. Turkey's delegate said:

"Israel must put an end to its culture of violence....and show a new face to the world." Its Gaza siege and May Flotilla massacre show the futility of that likelihood.

On September 29, Ma'an News Agency headlined, "UN vote backs limited Goldstone follow-up," saying:

"The UN Human Rights Council endorsed on Wednesday some of the recommendations in a UN-backed inquiry into Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip, but the vote drew criticism from human rights groups" for not going far enough.

Despite clear evidence of Israeli lawlessness, the Arab and Islamic blocs tabled a decision, "demand(ing instead) that the UN secretary-general and general commissioner for human rights follow up with" Goldstone Commission recommendations.

A key one involves referring culpable parties to the International Criminal Court (ICC) "if they fail to undertake credible investigations on their own." The HRC said they hadn't, so "the next logical step is to establish a tribunal."

However, the PA's resolution obstructs it, a decision human rights organizations condemned "as another violation of the rights of Palestinian victims."

The HRC also denounced Israel's intransigence for failing to cooperate, and refusing to "conduct investigations in conformity with international standards of independence, thoroughness, effectiveness and promptness into the allegations."

According to one human rights official:

"They killed the Goldstone process. There will be nothing to follow up on." They plan the same thing for the HRC's Committee of experts. "The decision of the PA not to pursue international criminal justice perpetuates this practice and denies victims' rights."

Their action is inexcusable, absolving Israel, effectively letting its killing machine maraud freely - murdering, destroying, and plundering with impunity, Palestinians again denied justice.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for September 30 and October 2 and 3

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for September 30, October 2, and 3, 2010

Thursday, September 30 at 10AM US Central time: Charlotte Dennett

Dennett is an investigative journalist, attorney, and co- author of "Thy Will Be Done. The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil."

Her newest book is titled, "The People v. Bush," the topic for today's program.

Saturday, October 2 at noon US Central time: Webster Tarpley

Tarpley is an author, journalist, lecturer, and outspoken critic of US foreign and domestic policy. His newest book is titled, "Surviving the Cataclysm: Your Guide Through the Greatest Financial Crisis in Human History," the worst of it to come.

Another possible US imperial war will be discussed.

Sunday, October 3 at noon US Central time: Peter Phillips

Phillips is a Sonoma State University Sociology Professor and former Director of Project Censored (PC). He's currently President of the Media Freedom Foundation (MFF) initiative for First Amendment freedoms and investigative research, working closely with PC and other media related organizations.

MFF's work will be discussed at a time of "truth emergency."

Imperial Israel

Imperial Israel - by Stephen Lendman

In his book "Against Empire," Michael Parenti defines imperialism as "the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people."

In a September 21 article, titled "What Do Empires Do?" he says "Imperialism is what (they) do." They don't just pursue "power for power's sake. There are (significant) interests at stake, fortunes to be made many times over," including land, mineral wealth, cheap labor, and easily exploited markets. They're there, so take them, the strong dominating the weak. Besides seizing and controlling Syrian and Lebanese land, it's how Israel rules Palestine, no regional country a match for its military might with no shyness about using it.

The Latest Peace Process Round

On and off again for 35 years, it's a charade going nowhere, a cul-de-sac ending "road map." Strategically rebranded and reemerged periodically, it's neither a process or way to peace, and according to a September 3 Time magazine article, Israelis care more about other things. Titled, 'Why Israel Doesn't Care About Peace," it's a controversial notion given how close they live to a war zone. In spite of it, however, their lives go on, perhaps not wishing to hunker down or take to the barricades.

Writer Karl Vick said:

"As three Presidents, a King and their own Prime Minister gather at the White House to begin a fresh round of talks on peace....the truth is Israelis are no longer preoccupied with the matter. They're otherwise engaged: they're making money; they're enjoying the rays of late summer." As for a "blood feud" with Arabs, they "say they have moved on."

They're indifferent, says Vick. They don't care about war or peace. "They live in the day," affluent Israelis, that is, enjoying the good life, "while all the rest is somehow blurred," especially in cities like Tel Aviv, known as "the bubble," its sidewalk cafes "a way of life." Israel is a country "whose quality of life is high and getting better," at least for some, not those Vick leaves out, ignoring the many poor and growing numbers experiencing hunger and homelessness. As for others, one says "We're not really that into the peace process. We are really, really into the water sports," making money, and enjoying life.

"It's a state of mind....I'm on vacation," says another. "Part of (it) is not to listen to the news every half-hour." Perhaps rarely or the wrong kind. As for the new talks: "If they're talking, they're not fighting." In Tel Aviv's "bubble," Israelis ignore them, well off ones, that is.

"Peace," Settlements, and the Construction "Moratorium"

So-called peace talks are a charade, for some a sick joke regurgitated like a bad meal. The construction moratorium also was bogus, Peace Now settlement tracking project head Dror Etkes (writing in Haaretz) explained it in his September 28 article headlined, "Settlement freeze? It was barely a slowdown," if that, saying:

"What took place in the past few months (since last December, in fact) is, in the best case scenario, not more than a negligible decrease in the number of housing units....built in settlements."

According to official Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics data, "the story can be called many things but 'freeze' is certainly not one of them." At year end 2009, 2,955 housing units were under construction. Three months later, "the number stood at 2,517," and building continued apace thereafter.

In fact, "settlers know better than anyone else that not only did construction in settlements continue over the last 10 months, and vigorously, but also that a relatively large part of the houses were built on settlements (lying) east of the separation fence," including Bracha, Itamar, Eli, Shilo, Maaleh Mikhmas, Maon, Carmel, Beit Haggai, Kiryat Arba, Mitzpeh, Yeriho, and others.

In other words, Israel not only flouts the law and its commitment, it does it throughout the Occupied Territories, including east of the Green Line, stealing as much Palestinian land as possible while pretending to want peace.

Etkes called the "freeze" little more than a "PR stunt," an "Israfluff," a rhetorical commitment only while illegal construction continued. In the six months preceding it, settlers (with government help) prepared "dozens of new building sites....especially in isolated and more extreme settlements east of the" Wall. Official statistics documented them.

In addition, "the government announced in advance that it planned to approve" hundreds of new housing units "with no connection to the 'freeze.' " As a result, settlers got permission "to build where(ever) and when(ever)" they wished, what really has gone on for the past 10 months and years before.

As for Abbas and the PA, they "turn(ed) a blind eye to the construction," pretending a "freeze" was in place, literally ignoring Israel's theft of Palestinian land.

With a touch of irony and humor, Etkas added a final thought, saying "Netanyahu will (not likely) win the Nobel Peace Prize," but he might get one for physics or chemistry, disproving what scientists have long believed - that "water is not the only substance that expands instead of contracting when it freezes."

Building never stopped, Haaretz writers Chaim Levinson and Barak Radiv headlining their September 27 article, "Bulldozers roll out across the West Bank as (rhetorical) settlement freeze ends," in fact, a moratorium. It was never called a freeze with good reason, and now it's full speed ahead.

Besides ongoing construction, new building began in dozens of settlements, including Ariel, Ravava, Yakir, Shavei Shomron, Adam, Oranit, Sha'arei Tikva, Kedumim, Karmei Tzur, Beit Hagai, Kochav HaShachar, Anatot, Kfar Adumin, Kiryat Netafim, Ramat Shlomo, and many others. In all of the them, the scene is similar - bulldozers clearing land, excavators and cement mixers in plain site, and workers building homes for residents in 121 settlements and 100 outposts. Around 500,000 Israelis, including 200,000 in East Jerusalem, own them, all on stolen Palestinian land, and their numbers grow daily.

Haaretz writers document it. Western ones barely notice, reporting little and most often nothing. For example, New York Times writers Ethan Bronner and Mark Landler headlined their September 26 article, "US Scrambling to Save Talks on Middle East" peace, mentioning the "freeze" as little more than a side issue, threatening to disrupt peace talks that both writers pretend are real.

For his part, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly threatened not to continue them if settlement construction resumed, despite turning a blind eye to it throughout his tenure, having expired over 21 months ago. Now, changing his rhetorical indignation, he signaled a willingness to keep talking even with no moratorium extension, saying:

"I cannot say I will leave the negotiations, but it's very difficult for me to resume talks if (Netanyahu) declares that he will continue his activity in the West Bank and Jerusalem. In fact, he's done it, stressing full speed ahead on construction. Speaking to Likud ministers, he said, "Regarding the freeze, there has been no change in our position," meaning no extension after September 26.

No matter, Abbas (earlier) told US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "We all know there is no alternative to peace through negotiations, so we have no alternative other than to continue these efforts."

Then, on September 25, before the UN General Assembly, he said "Israel must choose between peace and continuation of settlement," construction, followed by reversing his position the next day, saying talks will continue despite no "freeze" extension.

In response, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) suspended its participation in the PLO's Executive Committee, Deputy General Secretary Abdel-Rahim Mallouh and Political Bureau members Khalida Jarrar and Omar Shehadeh, warning of serious consequences and repercussions of appeasing Israel and America. A policy statement said:

After decades of failure, "The decision to return to direct negotiations....is an affront to the blood of our people (and) represents the persistence of the PLO leadership to continue the devastating Oslo path." Current talks "provide cover for the occupation practices and policies of settlement building, land confiscation, displacement, siege, detention, imprisonment and killing, (contributing) to the deepening of the disastrous internal Palestinian division."

A Haaretz September 28 editorial was also harsh headlined, "Netanyahu is failing to create a climate for peace," saying:

The rhetorical moratorium "was intended to convince Palestinians (that Israel) really intends to end its occupation of the territories," what, of course, it has no intention of doing. As a result, Palestinians continue living "under occupation and violence," unable "to achieve economic, and especially employment, independence."

Thousands given permits work in Israel, many others in settlements. "Every morning, they (head for) building sites and fields throughout Israel," but not easily, Haaretz writer Avi Issacharoff and photographer Daniel Bar-On documented "the disgraceful conditions at the Qalandiyah and Bethlehem checkpoints into Israel." Before getting there they endure delays and humiliations at other checkpoints along the way.

Unless Netanyahu eases passage and treats Palestinians with respect, "peace and reconciliation" are impossible - the continuing status because there's no chance he'll do it.

Why Illegal Settlements Matter

In a September 24 Foreign Policy article titled, "Down to the wire on settlements," B'Tselem's Executive Director Jessica Montell explained that in the past two decades, "the West Bank settlement population has tripled." Their municipal boundaries alone comprise over 9% of the land, areas Palestinians can't enter without permit permission. In addition, settlement "regional councils encompass vast swaths of land; fully 42 percent of the West Bank is under settlement control," a figure steadily increasing.

What this means for Palestinians and their future is "self-evident." Israel relentlessly circumvents their rights in a "politically manipulative way....One of many striking examples: the Dead Sea abuts Israel and the West Bank, as well as Jordan." While tourists visit the Israeli part, "Palestinians earn no income from this unique natural wonder. In fact, the entire area around the Dead Sea belongs to a settlement regional council." Palestinians can't even go there "for a picnic. Certainly they cannot develop tourist sites there."

Settlements also cause numerous other problems and hardships for Palestinians, including movement restrictions, continued land theft, sewage treatment, access to clean water, the Separation Wall's route, an oppressive military occupation, and much more. Combined, they're prevented from living freely on their own land in their own country.

Montell calls living under two distinct legal systems most disturbing, Palestinians under military rule, Israelis "enjoy(ing) all the benefits of....democracy. This discrimination is manifest in almost every sphere of life: access to justice, due process, protection from violence, planning and building codes, access to water, and much more." Core issues as well, including the right of return and viable self-determination or a one-state solution treating everyone equally under the law.

So-called peace talks exclude all of the above, why they assure one of two results - failure or unconditional surrender, granting Jews full rights, Palestinians none, the same fruits from on and off negotiations for the past 35 years - an exercise in futility and hypocrisy.

Israel always promised to half construction. It was explicitly part of the 2003 Road Map and 2007 Annapolis conference. Nonetheless, settlements grew faster than ever because Israel grants generous benefits, encouraging Israelis to move. Included are low-cost housing, liberal housing and mortgage subsidies, free preschools, a long school day, industry and agriculture grants and subsidies, various tax breaks, and government help to municipalities for their debts. For many Israelis, these incentives are too attractive to refuse.

However, the occupation and expanding settlements are "a daily thorn in the side of hundreds of thousands of" Palestinians prevented from building a home, expanding an existing one, farming their land, traveling freely (within and outside the Territory), accessing clean water, sewage treatment and proper sanitation, and living in dignity freely on their own land, safe from violence and an oppressive occupier.

Peace is only possible if negotiated equally for both sides, a prospect nowhere in sight, nor is Palestine's legitimate Hamas government even invited to try. The entire process again is a sham, little more than theater, one side entirely excluded, a story-line with a familiar bad ending.

A Final Comment

On September 24, heavily-armed FBI goon squads raided homes of anti-war/pro-Palestinian activists in Chicago and Minneapolis, abusively ransacking them and seizing various items, including computers, cell phones, books, photos, papers, correspondence, and more. Though no arrests were made, many targeted were subpoenaed to appear before grand juries in October, apparently to be questioned on their activities, including foreign travel to meet with like-minded people.

Most of those targeted are Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) members or supporters, publishers of the newsletter Fight Back. Arab-American Action Network (AAAN) Executive Director, Hatem Abudayyeh's home was also raided. Founded by Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, it "strives to strengthen the Arab community in the Chicago area by building its capacity to be an active agent for positive social change." Abudayyeh, like many others, openly condemns "the Israeli government and its military killing machine," leaving him vulnerable to state-sponsored persecution.

An FBI spokesman said the raids targeted people "providing, attempting and conspiring to provide material support" to "terrorist" organizations, including Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (both legitimate parts of their respective governments), and the FARC-EP in Colombia.

Noted Latin American expert James Petras calls FARC the "longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world (that was) founded in 1964 by two dozen peasant activists (to defend) autonomous rural communities from" Colombian military and paramilitary violence.

If indicted and convicted of providing "material support to terrorism," activists face 15 years in prison - for exercising their First Amendment and other constitutional rights, on a fast track toward extinction under a president promising "change."

These raids, others, and Obama administration policies overall signify deepening hostility toward individuals and organizations against imperial wars and militarism, as well as strong support for human rights, civil liberties, and democratic freedoms for many of the world's oppressed. They include Palestinians for over 62 years, over 43 under a brutal military occupation that fake peace talks won't end.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Venezuela Votes

Venezuela Votes - by Stephen Lendman

On September 26, Venezuelans again voted, the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC - vicuk.org) saying to elect members to the 165-seat National Assembly. It happens every five years, and it's the 16th national election or referendum since Chavez's 1998 victory, taking office as President for first time on February 2, 1999.

Bolivarianism is always at stake, represented by his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV). They were pitted against the opposition's Table for Democratic Unity (MUD), an alliance hoping to deny Chavez a two-thirds super-majority. It was PSUV's goal, campaign head Aristobulo Isrutiz saying pre-election:

"We're not working for a majority, but for hegemony in the assembly. It would be a convincing victory to surpass 110 lawmakers." Post-election, he said, "We put forth two-thirds as a goal and it was not possible to achieve it. But we are the majority," though short of a three-fifths one needed to enact Enabling Laws giving Chavez temporary decree powers that are limited, not unrestrained.

How it works can be accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2008/08/corporate-media-bashes-new-chavez.html

However, organic laws or amendments pertaining to public powers, constitutional rights, or a framework for other laws require a two-thirds majority before the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice rules on their constitutional status. For example, Chavez needs a super-majority to appoint public officials like Supreme Court justices and the attorney general.

In contrast, most enabling laws pertain to economic or fiscal regulation, support and control of enterprises, natural resources, and politically related issues, unrelated to foreign policy. They avoid bureaucratic red tape and facilitate greater citizen participation, but don't grant dictatorial powers. They're constitutionally allowed, run for 18 months, and four previous presidents had them under the 1961 Constitution.

Venezuelan polls are always conflicting, varying according to the takers' bias, yet public opinion suggested a close vote.

The near-final results were good, but not enough for a super-majority as hoped. Having sat out the 2005 election, opposition gains were assured, though Chavez supporters hoped not enough to restrict PSUV control.

Results were as follows:

With three seats so far undecided, PSUV won 95 of the 165 legislative positions, a 58% majority that may increase, what US Democrats or Republicans call a landslide, aside from the popular vote little mentioned in presidential races. Only America's Electoral College one counts, so it's possible to win popular approval and still lose.

Indigenous Venezuelan communities always have three assured seats. One went to the Fundation for Integration and Dignfication, another to the Autonomous Movement of Zulia, and final one to CONIVE.

MUD won 62 seats, a 38% minority. The center-left Fatherland for All Party (PPT) won two seats. Unofficial popular vote totals suggest it was split about evenly between PSUV and MUD, but confirmation will have to await an official National Electoral Council (CNE) announcement.

PSUV won most seats in 16 of Venezuela's 23 states, PSUV Vice President Elias Jaua saying:

"The revolution can count on a comfortable majority in the National Assembly....Few governments on our continent can count on such a comfortable majority of just one party. The opposition does not have any possibility, with this number of deputies, of reversing the legislative processes that have been completed or activating destabilizing mechanisms such as revoking public powers or impeaching the president."

Both PSUV and MUD got five posts in the Latin American Parliament. CONIVE got one.

Despite heavy rain in parts of the country, turnout was high at 66.45%, below the expected 70% likely in good weather. Orderly voting proceeded with no major incidents, besides one voting center forced to relocate because of rain. It was done easily and trouble-free.

At a post-election press conference, PSUV's Isturiz declared a "convincing victory and majority," pledging new Bolarivarian reforms. On his Twitter site, Chavez declared a "new victory for the people," though not what was hoped. Post-election, supporters were subdued, knowing they face a hostile parliamentary minority. Chavez, however, was upbeat, saying:

"Well my dear compatriots, it's been a great election day and we've obtained a solid victory; enough to continue deepening the Bolivarian and Democratic Socialism. We need to continue strengthening the revolution."

In a Monday night press conference he added:

PSUV's next initiative will include "the acceleration of programs of the new historical, political, social, and technological project."

So far, even at a time of recession, Chavez's approval rating remains high at between 55 - 60% - not shared by the corporate media.

Since first elected, Western media always treated him harshly, especially in America, notably (among others) by New York Times correspondent Simon Romero. Reporting post-election, he headlined, "Chavez Allies Win Legislative Majority, but Foes Make Gains," saying:

The result "may open a new phase of negotiation and debate within Venezuela's political system, (and) set(s) the stage for a potentially vibrant challenge by the opposition for the presidency in 2012," when Chavez's six-year term expires.

Though he admitted his popularity remains high, Romero accused him and his government of having "used various methods to weaken opponents, including purging the Supreme Court of critical justices and stripping resources from elected opposition officials at the state and municipal level."

Both charges are bogus. Chavez, in fact, reformed the high court by replacing corrupt judges with honest ones, doing it within the law democratically.

In the past, Romero equated him with Libya's Muammar el-Qaddafi, accused him of anti-semitism, and said Venezuelans elected him "because (they) wanted a dictatorship." He also slandered him in other ways, including this time by quoting political analyst Oscar Schemel, saying he's "supported by an extraordinary propaganda apparatus never seen before in Latin America, with the exception of Cuba." An astonishing misstatement given the dominance of Venezuela's corporate media, denigrating him far more harshly than Romero or most other US critics.

Electoral Stakes According to Latin American Expert James Petras

Petras knows Latin America as well as anyone, for decades writing honestly and incisively on the region. In his August 20 article titled, "Brazil and Venezuela: Two Turning Point Elections this Fall," he explained the stakes, saying:

They're "decisive(ly) importan(t) in (shaping) the direction of economic and foreign policy for the coming decade." For Venezuela, at a time of economic recession, at stake is whether voters will reject "the procedural obstructionism of an increasingly hardline Right," wanting to roll back progressive gains.

Given their large numbers, this year's outcome hung on undecided voter choices, many among the poor and trade unionists. A decisive PSUV victory depended on whether "worker managed factory committees and communal councils" swayed them their way, despite "disenchantment with some (PSUV) candidates."

Chavez, said Petras, "is the key to prospects for progressive social change in Latin America," Bolivarianism having spearheaded impressive health, education and other social gains, helping Venezuela's poor and low income sectors most. For the first time, they got important benefits, ones they don't want diluted or lost.

Chavez also opposes US imperialism and "neoliberal policies of the pro-US hard Right." In Brazil, Petras explained, "voting is for the lesser evil." In Venezuela, it was for "the greater good," not perfect but way better than the alternative.

Venezuela's "electoral process is highly polarized along class lines," the poor and lower class backing PSUV candidates, middle and upper ones for the opposition.

VSC explained that Assembly members "have power to pass legislation and also to block (some of) the president's" initiatives if their opposition coalition exceeds one-third. The Constitution's Article 187 also affords other powers, including:

-- "improving the budget,

-- initiating impeachment proceedings against most government officials (including ministers but not the President, only removed by a national recall referendum)," and

-- appointing electoral, judicial, and prosecutorial government members.

Last August, Venezuela's National Electoral Council (CNE) officially opened electoral campaigning. Since 1999, the CNE conducted a national information initiative so voters know "every detail of a key aspect of exerting their (voting) rights...." As the Bolivarian Constitution's Article 56 mandates:

"All persons have the right to be registered (to vote) free of charge with the Civil Registry Office after birth, and to obtain public documents constituting evidence of the(ir) biological identity, in accordance with the law." All citizens 18 or older may participate.

Included are eligible citizens located abroad. Once registered, none may be purged, obstructed, or prevented from voting or having their choices counted, unlike under America's corrupted one-party state two wings system. Controlled by big money, it's the best "democracy" deep pockets can buy, subverting populist interests for privileged ones.

In Venezuela, in contrast, enfranchisement is cherished under a system respected as the world's fairest. As a result, over 11 million turned out to elect National Assembly and Latin American Parliament members. Though voting isn't mandatory, turnout, under Chavez, has been impressive, compared to America where half the electorate often abstains, knowing the futility of changing policy without a total systemic makeover. No referendum provision, however, allows it.

Washington Supports Chavez Opposition

Throughout most of Chavez's tenure, quasi-government agencies like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), Institute Republican Institute (ISI), USAID, and other US organizations have funneled millions to Venezuelan opposition candidates, the 2010 election no exception.

On September 9, Eva Golinger headlined, "US Interference in Venezuelan Elections," saying:

An NED May 2010 report "revealed that this year alone, international agencies (mostly US ones) are investing between $40 - 50 million in anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela." Most went to the opposition MUD coalition.

"There remains no doubt (that) the Venezuelan opposition - in all its manifestations - is (a) product of the US government. US agencies fund and design their campaigns, train and build their parties, organize their NGOs, develop their messages, select their candidates," and funnel them money to survive.

In contrast, the US Federal Election Commission's Foreign (FEC) Nationals Brochure states:

"The (1971) Federal Election Campaign Act prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment."

Foreign nationals are defined as the following individuals or groups:

-- "Foreign governments;

-- Foreign political parties;

-- Foreign corporations;

-- Foreign associations;

-- Foreign partnerships;

-- Individuals with foreign citizenship; and

-- Immigrants who do not have a 'green card.' "

A Final Comment

Venezuelans spoke and sent a message. Though mixed because of the divergence between the seat and popular vote totals, it affirmed approval for Bolivarian social reforms. Without a super-majority, however, it remains to be seen whether opposition obstructionism will change the equation enough to matter, and gain more strength against Chavez in 2012. Today he'd win easily, for sure also in 2012 against a hard-right opponent for privilege over anyone for beneficial social change.

Petras is right. Venezuelans now and ahead have a choice. They can go back to the bad old days or "vot(e) for the greater good" and keep their hard won social gains. Most Americans can't even imagine them under a government serving everyone, not just society's privileged the way imperial Washington does it for corporatists and militarists alone.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Reaction to Aafia Siddiqui's Sentencing

Reaction to Aafia Siddiqui's Sentencing - by Stephen Lendman

On September 23, the FBI headlined, "Aafia Siddiqui Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 86 Years for Attempting to Murder US Nationals in Afghanistan and Six Additional Crimes." In sentencing, Judge Richard Berman ruled her acts premeditated, contradicting jurors saying they were not. More on the press release below.

No matter that she's completely innocent, and has been a US political prisoner since her March 30, 2003 abduction, incarceration, torture, prosecution, and conviction on bogus charges. Her case is one of America's most egregious examples of horrific abuse and injustice, climaxed by her virtual life sentence for an alleged crime she never committed.

Yet she was convicted for these claimed felonies:

(1) one count of trying to kill US nationals outside the US;

(2) one count of trying to kill US officers and employees;

(3) one count of armed assault of US officers and employees;

(4) one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; and

(5) three counts of assault of US officers and employees.

Earlier articles about her can be accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2008/12/abduction-secret-detention-torture-and.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/02/aafia-siddiqui-victimized-by-american.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/03/aafia-siddiqui-victimized-by-american.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/aafia-siddiqui-sentenced-grievous.html

Gloating about another victory, like a predator over its prey, the FBI quoted Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara saying:

"As a unanimous jury found beyond a reasonable doubt (they're all unanimous or hung), Aafia Siddiqui attempted to murder Americans serving in Afghanistan, as well as their Afghan colleagues," though only Americans were with her in Bagram Prison at the time the alleged incident took place, as follows:

In the presence of two FBI agents, two Army interpreters, and three US Army officers, this frail 110 pound woman allegedly assaulted three of them, seized one of their rifles, opened fire at close range, hit no one, yet she alone was severely wounded.

It was her word against theirs. At trial, no credible evidence was presented, because there was none, not even her fingerprints on the alleged weapon. The charges were concocted, bogus and absurd, not even rising to the level of a bad film plot, yet jurors were intimidated to convict.

A Pakistani/American scientist, home visiting her family in 2003, local authorities abducted her at the behest of Washington, after which she was handed over and incarcerated at America's infamous Bagram Prison, Afghanistan.

Yet the FBI statement says: "SIDDIQUI was detailed (on July 17, 2008) by Afghan authorities," who found alleged incriminating items "in her possession" about a "mass casualty attack" planned against high-profile New York targets. "Other notes....referred to the construction of 'dirty bombs,' (and) ways to attack 'enemies,' including by destroying reconnaissance drones, using underwater bombs, and deploying gliders."

Yet these charges weren't in her indictment, exposing them as spurious. Instead, on July 18, 2008, she was accused of allegedly disarming and attacking seven armed Americans during interrogation.

Rampaging Imperial America

Post-9/11, America declared war on Islam to justify rampaging globally, focused heavily on Eurasia's mineral wealth, principally Middle Eastern oil, comprising two-thirds of the world's proved reserves.

Abroad, illegal imperial wars and occupations followed. At home, Muslims have been victimized, vilified, and persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, and activism - opportunistically targeted for political advantage. They've been singled out, hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, brutally tortured, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, given long sentences, and incarcerated as political prisoners or extraordinarily renditioned to a similar or worse fate abroad.

Victims are innocent pawns in the war on terror, mocking the rule of law, judicial fairness, and democratic freedoms - the modus operandi of rogue states, calling wars of aggression liberating ones, suppressing civil liberties for our own good, and rampaging globally for alleged "democratic freedoms," ones America won't tolerate at home or abroad.

US v. Pakistani Media Reports

After her sentencing, US media reports highlighted bogus government charges, ignoring the truth and Aafia's horrific treatment. CBS, for example, affirmed allegations that she's an "Al Qaeda supporter" and "cold-blooded radical." CNN noted her "Anarchist's Arsenal." ABC News called her "Lady Qaeda."

Wall Street Journal writer Chad Bray referred to her alleged "mass casualty attack" plan on New York landmarks, and for Rupert Murdoch's New York Post, she's a "terror mom (and) reputed Al Qaeda associate," a Bruce Golding headline saying, "Judge throws book at Pakistani plotter....'terror mom' has been eighty-sixed."

Note the difference in Pakistan. The entire country is outraged - in Karachi (Aafia's home city), Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Lehore, Quetta, Peshawar, Multan, and elsewhere.

Dawn.com headlined "Pakistanis furious over Aafia Siddiqui's sentence," saying:

In Karachi, "Pakistanis burned tires, (Obama effigies), and chanted anti-US slogans after a New York (hanging) judge handed down an 86-year sentence" on bogus charges. Her case "has long stirred passions in Pakistan....where anti-American sentiment is (deservedly) widespread."

"Many Pakistanis believe the US abducted Siddiqui and kept her in a secret prison for years as it pursued its war on terror." News of her "harsh sentence immediately sparked anger and disbelief." In Peshawar, angry protestors burned tires and shouted "Down with America!" Pakistan's president and prime minister were also named, and "Some hit a portrait of....Obama with their shoes."

Islamabad students were also outraged, shouting "Crush America, Siddiqui is our sister," and "We will bring her back."

More in Multan where dozens of lawyers and activists blocked traffic, shouting "Down with America," and burning effigies of Obama and former Pakistani despot Pervez Musharra.

In Peshawar, thousands of political, social, and religious activists protested on city streets, holding banners and placards condemning the sentence. They demanded Aafia's release and end to US Waziristan drone attacks.

A supportive Pakistan Times editorial called America "an authoritarian, arrogant superpower," and Aafia's sentence "unheard of....people will be waiting to see how (Obama reacts). Only time will tell if the US president will step in to mitigate (this outrage) by either pardoning Dr. Aafia or sending her back to Pakistan to serve at least part of her sentence in her home country."

"Dr. Aafia may very well become the poster-child for increased hatred against the US and more sympathy for the militants," a possibility both countries should consider.

Aafia's sister, Fauzia, called the sentence "a slap in the face of our rulers, who have pledged and made promises to bring" her back.

Addressing a supportive rally, she said they failed miserably to help Aafia. "The sentence bears testimony to the fact that this government is a puppet of the US. We are peaceful people, and our aim is to bring back Aafia."

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit expressed "disappoint(ment with) the sentence and sad that our efforts....did not succeed. We are still in touch with the US administration to see what possible options are available. We are not giving up." At issue is whether they ever tried, given the ties between the countries "in the fight against Terrorist militancy...."

The International Tribune reported that Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik said government efforts "will surely bring (her back), but it needs time to do it."

Pakistan's US ambassador, Hussain Haqqani, said "the government took every possible step for (her) safe release," adding that efforts will continue.

Pakistan's Jamiat Uleme-e-Islam Party (JUI) chief, Fazalur Rehman, cancelled his US trip in protest, saying "the punishment of Doctor Aafia has added to the list of American crimes, and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said he, too, "would make all efforts for Dr. Aafia's release," adding that "the entire nation was praying for her safe return."

Tekreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party chairman, Imran Khan, condemned the verdict as "unethical and inhuman," warning it could inflame the entire Muslim world. He also announced launch of a countrywide protest, saying Pakistanis won't tolerate this outrage.

"Aafia is the daughter of the nation," he said, "and all-our efforts should be made for her early return." PTI plans protest rallies, seminars and meeting throughout the country, its campaign to continue until Affia's back home.

Farooq Sattar, Parliamentary leader of Pakistan's third largest political party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), condemned Aafia's sentence, announced protests, and said MQM officials would meet with America's ambassador to demand her release. MQM head, Altaf Hussain, also wants her released and sent home, saying, if in power, MQM "would have immediately severed ties with the US and its allies...."

In America, Aafia's a "terrorist," in Pakistan a national hero, at least on the country's streets, if not the halls of power, despite the above rhetoric.

For their part, Aafia's family vowed to launch a "movement" for her release, Fauzia telling reporters that all of Pakistan would agitate for her. "I was alone when I started the campaign to release my sister, but from now on it will be the Aafia movement as the whole nation is with me."

Qazi Muhammad, Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) president asked "Why is our individual and collective conscience as a nation silent on the maltreatment of Dr. Aafia, the daughter of the nation?" He said an SCBA delegation would meet with her family, and offered to defend her in the US pro bono.

Responses from Human Rights Groups

The International Justice Network (ICN - supporting human rights globally, including Aafia's family) issued a press release, saying:

"Dr. Aafia Siddiqui - who has never caused harm to anyone - has now been condemned to spend the rest of her life in a (US) maximum security prison....This sentence is not only unjust because of its harshness, (but) also because of its impact on her....children....who may never see their mother again. But the greatest injustice....is that those who are responsible for the kidnapping, disappearance, and abuse of Dr. Siddiqui and her children without cause have yet to answer for their actions."

"The International Justice Network stands in solidarity with the international community in condemning this unfair and unjust result in Dr. Siddiqui's case."

Dr. Mehdi Hasan, chairperson of The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) issued the following statement:

America must "assess the impact of the unusually harsh punishment awarded to (Aafia), particularly in view of the absence of direct and credible evidence against her."

In fact, there's none.

It's also a red herring for the US embassy to say Pakistan must sign two international treaties relating to prisoner exchanges before Aafia can be returned - the Council of Europe Treaty and OAF Convention. In fact, reversing her sentence and repatriating her is as simple as doing it, an Obama stroke of the pen sending her home. It's time for Pakistan's government to put its muscle where it's rhetoric is and demand nothing less, suspending diplomatic relations until done.

A Final Comment

On September 11, 2001, America declared "war on terror" based on a lie, then used it as justification to rampage globally. Thereafter, democratic freedoms weakened or disappeared, and Muslims became the target of choice. A war on Islam followed.

Stereotypically called culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, and violent, they've been prejudicially called Islamofascists, "terrorists," or a homeland fifth column. Their fate became summary judgment - no due process, judicial fairness, or innocent unless proved guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt by an impartial jury of their peers.

Aafia is their poster child, an innocent woman brutalized and condemned to spend the rest of her life in maximum security confinement, meant for America's "worst of the worst" criminals. The facilities are extremely harsh. They crush the human spirit, body and mind, in Aafia's case even more than already after seven and a half brutalizing years.

More is now planned for the rest of her life unless world outrage saves her, no easy task given the Obama administration's contempt for the rule of law, human rights and justice, as roguish as Bush officials.

That alone should incite everyone's moral outrage. Aafia's case adds an exclamation point!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

One of History's Greatest Crimes

One of History's Greatest Crimes - by Stephen Lendman

America's hidden history is ugly and disturbing. No nation ever matched it. To Iraq alone, over the past two decades, it includes ongoing genocide, destruction, terror, occupation, and contamination - a horrendous combination of crimes, unmentioned in Western discourse.

Environmental Engineering Professor Souad N. Al-Azzawi documents them, including in her report titled, "Crime of the Century: Iraq's Occupation and DU Contamination," a detailed account of US culpability.

America's strategic aims, she explains, include:

-- controlling most of the world's oil and other natural resources;

-- remaining permanently in the Middle East, "the intersection zone of the three continents where 80% of the world('s) population" lives; and

-- if the above two objectives are achieved, America will control the world's economy, or enough of it to matter.

Spread over a large enough area, depleted uranium (DU) is a weapon of mass destruction, because it's radioactive and chemically toxic. If ingested or inhaled through food, air, water or other means, it enters the human body, remaining for decades. An earlier article reported the dangers, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2006/01/depleted-uranium-hidden-looming_16.html

It explained that continued DU use has the potential to end planetary life, yet few understand the risk, or that weaponized DU is used regularly in missiles, bombs, shells and bullets wherever America wages war - first during the 1991 Gulf War.

Its danger comes from radiation residue after use. On impact, DU munitions penetrate deeply and aerosolize into a fine spray, polluting surrounding air, water and soil. It's microscopic, sub-miscroscopic, and permanent. Spread over vast areas as radioactive atmospheric dust, its contamination causes virtually all known illnesses and diseases from severe headaches, muscle pain and general fatigue, to major birth defects, infections, depression, cardiovascular disease, and many types of cancers. It also causes permanent disability and death.

Over the past two decades in Iraq alone, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of tons have been used, irradiating the entire country, some areas more than others. In her October 2009 presentation to the Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia International Conference to Criminalize War, Azzawi accused America and Britain of:

"subject(ing) the whole nation of Iraq for two decades to torture and slow death through the intentional use of radioactive weapons and the sanctions. The continuous and intentional use of (these) weapons is a crime against humanity due to its undifferentiating harmful health effects on civilians in contaminated areas tens of years to come after the military engagements." Radiation, in fact, is permanent, affecting unborn generations like living ones.

During the Gulf War, about 320 tons were used in southern Iraq, affecting the Basrah region. Post-conflict, "comprehensive" examination detected it, especially "in and around Al-Basrah City," showing:

-- "high gamma radiation" levels;

-- "soil samples from 39 locations (with) higher activities than natural background levels;" and

-- "Surface water channel sediments (with 2 - 3) times higher radioactivity than the natural background" level.

Contamination was widespread, affecting at least "45% of people in the area, the Iraqi troops, and" coalition ones. As a result, soldiers (and civilians) exposed "to DU oxides (can expect) 70 cancer cases per 1,000" persons. Perhaps a higher incidence over time, and along with other illnesses and diseases, an epidemic of human affliction.

Subsequent epidemiological studies in Basrah showed a "five times rise in the incidence rate of malignancies amongst children to be far more noticeable from 1995 onwards." In addition, exposure to ionized radiation caused:

-- higher child leukemia rates;

-- a "six fold increase in congenital malformations among births in Basrah City since 1995 onward," some too disturbing to view; and

-- higher rates of congenital heart diseases and chromosomal aberrations.

Even more destructive weapons were used in the 2003 war, including banned ones like napalm, white phosphorous, cluster bombs, and greater amounts of DU - "against people, infrastructure facilities, and environment." Further, "the looting and burning of factories, industrial complexes, laboratories, and ministries (including the looting of the Tuwaitha Atomic Energy Agency, and 300 other highly contaminated sites....)" caused contamination.

Much more as well across the country in Baghdad and suburbs, Basrah, Mosul, Fallujah, Balad, Anbar, Haditha, Qa'im, Rawa, Karbala, Najar, Aubaidi, Diala, Samara, Tikrit, Baiji, Ahsaiba, Mada'in, Kubaissa, and other locations.

In March 2009, Gideon Polya used the Just Foreign Policy estimate of 1.32 million Iraqi deaths post-March 2003 alone, a number considerably higher today. It's also well below his post-9/11 eight million "war on terror" total, mostly affecting women and children, aged five and younger, killed by war, diseases, and/or depravation, America's horrific ongoing genocidal legacy - air-brushed from history. Azzawi adds more:

-- at least 4.5 internal or external refugees, many victimized by "militias and police raids and terrorist groups;"

-- death squads targeting "certain ethnic and sectarian groups" daily; and

-- in cities throughout Iraq, sieges cutting off "all life support aids on people, (affecting) Thousands of children, women and elderly who could not leave their houses and were subjected to collective punishment...." For weeks, these areas were deprived of food, water, healthcare, and electricity. As a result, contaminated water was used "from ditches and nearby rivers," causing cholera and other waterborne diseases.

The continuous use of DU weapons in heavily populated areas exposes millions to its destructive effects. Further, "Continuous negligence of medical care systems, hospitals, and the killing of prominent medical and healthcare specialists....after 2003" exacerbated a widespread health crisis.

Yet occupation forces provide no data on civilians killed, wounded, kidnapped or otherwise harmed. Nor do they allow "exploration programs to detect (DU) related contaminated areas." Yet they're vitally needed to "help Iraqi people....cope with the damages."

Known evidence shows "Continuous deterioration of environmental quality....in Baghdad City due to explosions, and heavy traffic of tanks and vehicles...." Concentrations of numerous toxins way exceed safe levels. "Water quality deterioration caused an increase in "pathogenic water born diseases like Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitis, (and) others." Air pollution results from continuous bombing and explosions.

The "Multiple impact of all of the above pollution sources on the human body can be critical, especially for children, women and the elderly people."

From DU munitions alone, Azzawi told the Kuala Lumpur conference that contamination is spread over vast areas by "wind storms, dust storms, sandstorms, and rainstorms," besides polluted waterways and surface migration in soil, causing:

-- "Siltation, creeping, and suspension from contaminated soil to atmosphere; (and)

-- Suspension and re-suspension of deposited DU aerosols....the most dangerous and critical pathway of transfer and spreading from source to the human population."

America and Britain are responsible "for exposing a whole nation to the risk of continually receiving high radioactive and toxic persistent contaminants," including DU and many others, a noxious brew leaving no one untouched and many lethally harmed. "This is a crime against humanity (because of) its undifferentiated harmful health impacts on civilians long (after) military operations" are concluded.

A Final Comment

On September 19, BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee member Dirk Adriaensens headlined, "Iraq: The Age of Darkness," explaining "a devastating balance sheet (of) success," including:

-- a 150% increase in child mortality since 1990;

-- only half of primary-aged children in school;

-- about 1,500 children in (horrific) detention facilities;

-- in 2007, about "5 million Iraqi orphans;"

-- over two million external refugees and almost three million internal ones (IDPs);

-- official unemployment at 50%; real unemployment at least 70%;

-- at least 43% of Iraqis "in abject poverty;"

-- at least eight million need "emergency aid;"

-- at least four million "lack food and are in dire need of humanitarian assistance;"

-- at least 80% lack "effective sanitation;"

-- "Religious minorities are on the verge of extinction;" and

-- an Oxfam survey showed 33% of women got no humanitarian aid since 2003; 76% of widows lack pension help; 52% are unemployed; 55% have been displaced; and 55% have been "subjected to (various forms of) violence."

In Iraq today, "killing of innocent people has become part of daily life." America is committing genocide against the entire population. It persists daily unreported, yet called "a success."

It includes death, destruction, torture, terror, occupation, displacement, disease, and insecurity in a nation that no longer exists. For sure, one unfit to live in - unsafe, corrupt, terrorized, tyrannized, contaminated, and permanently occupied. In virtually all rankings that matter, Iraq scores last, Afghanistan second last, a testimony to America's liberating values.

They're run from Washington with no functioning governments, de facto satraps instead obeying their imperial masters. Yet on August 31, declaring an "end to the combat mission in Iraq," Obama outrageously said: "Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility," infamously displaying his culpability as a war criminal, matching the worst America ever produced.

Under him, George Bush, and their successors, "Iraq has no viable future," Adriaensens' final assessment of America's "success."

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Independent Committee of Experts on Gaza War

Committee of Independent Experts on Gaza War - by Stephen Lendman

On September 21, the UN Human Rights Council's independent fact finding Committee issued its report titled, "No Safe Place," assessing "investigat(ions) and report(s) on violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law during" Operation Cast Lead. Its members included:

-- Professor John Dugard, Chairman, former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine;

-- Norwegian Judge Finn Lynghjem;

-- Chilean attorney Gonzalo Boye;

-- Professor Corte-Real, a forensic body damage evaluator; and

-- solicitor Ms. Raelene Sharp.

On February 21, it held an initial meeting with the Arab League's Secretary-General in Cairo, then entered Gaza the next day through the Rafah crossing. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights organized its six day visit with a wide range of persons, including Cast Lead victims, witnesses, doctors, lawyers, journalists, business people, and members of NGOs, UN agencies and Hamas.

Sites visited included hospitals, schools, universities, mosques, businesses, police stations, government buildings, UN facilities, private homes, and agricultural lands - all devastated by destruction or damage.

Three times the Committee requested Israeli cooperation, getting no response. "The Committee regrets the decision of the Government of Israel to withhold cooperation." It also stonewalled the Goldstone Commission, as it always does to prevent independent investigations from exposing its crimes.

"Operating under internationally recognized standards, the report documents the injuries suffered and their alleged causes." The Committee obtained firsthand evidence of great loss of life and injuries in Gaza, as well as the vast amount of destruction, mostly affecting civilians, their homes, neighborhoods, and other non-military facilities - a clear violation of international law, documented clearly in earlier articles.

Palestinian losses were immense, also documented earlier. Israel's were minor - four civilians and ten soldiers killed (three by friendly fire), and 148 wounded. Palestinians had only "unsophisticated weapons" against the world's fourth most powerful military, using everything (except its nuclear capability), including illegal weapons like white phosphorous.

"It was clear to the Committee that the IDF had not distinguished between civilians and civilian objects and military targets. Both the loss of life and the damage to property were disproportionate to the harm suffered by Israel or any threatened harm." Israel was the clear aggressor in violation of international law, waging premeditated war largely against civilians. The Goldstone Commission highlighted the crime, saying:

"The report concludes that the Israeli military operation was directed at the people of Gaza as whole, in furtherance of an overall and continuing policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population, and in a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population. The destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential housing was the result of a deliberate and systematic policy which has made the daily process of living, and dignified living, more difficult for the civilian population."

Israel willfully killed hundreds of civilians as a result of "disproportionate attacks," including on hospitals, homes, and other civilian structures. "Repeatedly, the Israeli Defense Forces failed to adequately distinguish between combatants and civilians, as the laws of war strictly require....Pursuing justice in this case is essential because no state or armed group should be above the law." Failure to do so "will have a deeply corrosive effect on international justice, and reveal an unacceptable hypocrisy. As a service to the hundreds of civilians who needlessly died and for the equal application of international justice, the perpetrators of serious violations must be held to account."

So far, they have not. Gaza remains under siege, and world leaders are doing nothing to end it and demand justice for Israeli war crimes. Instead they support a bogus "peace process," that's neither a process or a way to peace. It's the same shameless on and off 35 year charade going nowhere, unless the PA agrees to unconditional surrender, the only outcome Israel will accept.

On September 22, Haaretz report its latest wrinkle, headlined "US won't comment on reports of (Jonathan) Pollard release deal," saying:

Citing unnamed sources, Israeli Radio said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet might propose extending the (September 26 expiring) construction "freeze" in exchange for releasing the convicted spy. Why not when no freeze exists. Construction continues unabated. PA President Mahmoud Abbas accepts the charade as well as the Obama administration and Western media. The reported pressure on Netanyahu is bogus. He loses nothing by agreeing or perhaps negotiating an illusion of compromise.

"Pollard is regarded as a hero in Israel, but a traitor by the US government. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for passing classified documents to the Israeli government in the 1980s while working in the US Navy's intelligence unit."

For years, Israel asked US presidents for clemency, so far without results. If Netanyahu succeeds, he'll gain political prestige and more popularity at home. However, On June 20, 2009, Haaretz writer Amir Oren explained that US intelligence officials "unequivocally oppose" the release, saying doing so "will undermine US security practices and complicate counterintelligence." Then, and likely now, "The US intelligence community hasn't altered its position. It's unknown whether Obama will go along, given how much he yields to Israel on most everything requested.

Conclusions from the Committee's Report

It explained that:

-- as an occupying power, "Israel is obligated to comply with the Fourth Geneva Convention" and other related international laws;

-- "aggression" isn't clearly defined, so it couldn't conclude whether "Israel's offensive constituted" it;

-- "Israel's actions could not be justified as self-defense;"

-- it urged the principles of proportionality be applied to assess criminal responsibility; and

-- it "could not examine" whether Israel or Hamas committed international terrorism "as (its) meaning (is) too uncertain; consequently, criminal responsibility was best measured in accordance with the rules of international humanitarian law."

Nonetheless, the Committee found "serious violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child." Also, Fourth Geneva and its Additional Protocols were violated, especially on the issue of collective punishment, specifically prohibited at all times under all circumstances.

On issues of crimes of war and against humanity, "The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians....It rejected Israel's determination of who is a civilian." Members of Hamas' civil government are not combatants "as claimed by Israel." Nor are police.

"The Committee found that the IDF was responsible for the crime of killing, wounding and terrorizing civilians," based on the numbers of dead and wounded as well as Israel's use of banned weapons and intense bombardment for over three weeks.

"The Committee rejected Israel's claim that it warned civilians in advance to leave." Use of leaflets and phone calls "only served to cause confusion and panic. Incessant bombing and misleading warnings of this kind served to terrorize the population." Where could they go with Gaza under siege, its borders closed?

The Committee called the IDF "responsible for the wanton destruction of property and that such destruction could not be justified on grounds of military necessity." The harm done was disproportionate and illegal.

Israel committed grievous crimes of war and against humanity, whitewashing them through internal investigations and obstruction of independent ones by refusing to cooperate.

The Committee called Cast Lead so grave, "it was compelled to consider whether (genocide) had been committed. Without question in the context of 62 years of displacement and persecution and 43 years of brutal military occupation, punctuated by regular attacks, killings, targeted assassinations, arrests, torture, and other types of abuses daily.

The Committee thus concluded that Israel "committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and, possibly genocide in the course of Operation Cast Lead" alone. Responsible military and civilian officials are culpable, yet so far unpunished.

The Committee also said "there is no indication that Israel has opened an investigation into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered, and oversaw 'Operation Cast Lead.' "

It also found Hamas guilty of firing rockets into Israel, a defensive action in response to Israel's attack, and minor by comparison.

Some Final Comments

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said Israel proved itself "genuinely unwilling to comply with its international legal obligation to conduct effective investigations, and appropriate prosecutions into the systematic violations of international law committed" during its offensive.

So far, only one prosecution occurred - for credit card theft, while serious war crimes have been whitewashed and ignored. As a result, responsible officials keep persecuting millions of Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They're no match against the world fourth most powerful military allied with collaborationist PA officials, principally Mahmoud Abbas and his appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad, self-serving imperial tools.

On September 27, the Committee will present its report to the UN Human Rights Council. It will highlight Cast Lead's seriousness. Hopefully, it will also demand those responsible be held accountable, perhaps at the International Criminal Court (ICC). That's why it was established, though it fails to fulfill its mandate.

What better time than now to do it, then take on America for destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, and bankrolling Israeli belligerency, supplying money, weapons and munitions, both countries committing mass murder with impunity. It's high time their day of reckoning arrived. It can't come a moment too soon.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Congressional Food Fascism Legislation

Congressional Food Fascism Legislation - by Stephen Lendman

Two earlier articles addressed corporate friendly legislation masquerading as pro-consumer. In fact, they'll destroy safe food, empower agribusiness and drug giants, and harm small farmers and consumers. Access them through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/07/hr-2749-agribusiness-empowering-act.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/legislation-for-greater-agribusiness.html

This article is a brief follow-up on where things now stand, as the Senate tries to circumvent growing public opposition.

On July 29, 2009, the House passed HR 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 "To amend the (1938 as amended) Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market, and for other purposes."

On March 3, 2009, S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was introduced, the Senate's version of the House bill. It stalled after being assailed as anti-consumer and small farmer as well as failing to help food safety. In fact, like the House bill, it's cover for greater industry consolidation, destructive to consumer welfare.

On July 29, 2010, S. 3669: Food Safety Enforcement Act of 2010 was introduced "to increase criminal penalties for certain knowing violations relating to food that is misbranded or adulterated." Referred to committee, it's being considered before a full Senate vote.

Then on September 13, S. 3767: Food Safety Accountability Act of 2010 was introduced "to establish appropriate criminal penalties for certain knowing violations relating to food that is misbranded or adulterated." Also referred to committee, it's being debated before a full Senate vote - likely soon before Congress adjourns to campaign for the November 2 elections.

Despite their language, neither House or Senate bills help food, drug or nutrient supplement safety. Both impair them by empowering agribusiness and drug giants - why it's crucial to defeat the Senate measures while there's time.

So far, one senator (also a physician) remains outspoken and opposed, Tom Coburn (R. OK), saying:

"While some regulations are potentially onerous, but perhaps reasonable - such as requiring every facility to have a scientifically-based, but very flexible, food safety plan - others give FDA sweeping authority with potentially significant consequences....on the whole this bill represents a weighty new regulatory structure on the food industry that will be particularly difficult for small producers and farms to comply with (with little evidence it will make food safer)." In fact, there's none.

Dr. Rima Laibow, Medical Director of the Natural Solutions Foundation alerts everyone to "2 health freedom emergencies," S. 510, and S. 3767, saying:

After S. 510 stalled, S. 3767 was introduced. It's now in the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration, an upcoming vote, likely passage, then full Senate debate before adjourning to campaign. Of major concern is that "S. 510 will be introduced into (S. 3767) as an amendment, (along with) perhaps elements of the long-discredited fake dietary supplement 'safety' bill, S. 3002."

On September 23, she said the Judiciary Committee's Executive Committee considered S. 3767, slightly amended it, but not enough to matter. Passage of a combined S. 3767/S. 510 will "CRIMINALIZE THE DISTRIBUTION OF FOOD," benefitting corporate giants by harming small farmers (including organic ones) and consumers.

Revised language won't stop the FDA, FTC, Department of Agriculture, or other government agencies from deciding any time that "some rule, regulation, guideline or standard had not been met," including "secret" S. 510 provisions.

At issue is protecting small farmers and consumers as well as safe organic and locally grown food and dietary supplements. These bills will restrict or prevent them from being sold on the pretext of non-complaince with regulations, or in some cases claiming they're unsafe.

This is precisely what Ag and drug giants want, giving them full control over the nation's food, drugs, and dietary supplements. In other words, everything ingested for sustenance, nutrition, health and welfare will be in their hands to dominate, process, industrialize, taint, restrict, or prohibit for profit at the expense of consumers, small farmers, and other producers who'll be harmed.

One of many concerns is a provision calling for up to 10 years in prison for "misbranding," with no clear definition provided. For example, the FDA defines misbranding as any food or supplement claiming potential health benefits, even if scientifically proved. "Adulteration" is another issue, by definition including minor or inadvertent administrative or clerical errors, unrelated to food safety.

With regard to vitamins, minerals, and other dietary supplements, the Life Extension Foundation (lef.org) highlighted the problem, headlining "Congress Seeks to put Dietary Supplement Makers in Jail for Ten Years," saying:

Drug giants want to prevent your right to freely choose dietary supplement for health. S. 3767 masquerades as consumer friendly by "punish(ing) anyone who knowingly contaminates food for sale. Since there are already strong laws to punish anyone who commits this crime, this bill (is just cover to enrich) pharmaceutical interests."

"The sinister scheme behind (it) is to exploit the public's concern (for) food safety. Drug companies want to convince your Senators that an overreaching law needs to be enacted to grant the (corporate run) FDA powers to define 'food contamination' any way it chooses."

Besides empowering corporate giants, at issue "is that the FDA will use this as a hammer to threaten and coerce small companies into signing crippling consent decrees that will deny consumers access to truthful non-misleading information about natural approaches to protect against age-related disease." In addition, by so doing, they'll harm their own interests, shutting down many businesses for not being able to show why their products are beneficial.

A Final Comment

If passed, these House and Senate bills will empower agribusiness, legitimize unhealthy industrial food, put small farmers and producers out of business, and harm consumers by restricting their choices, besides making them pay exorbitantly higher prices.

In 1970, Henry Kissinger said: "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people."

Concentrating power in the hands of a few Ag/drug giants places everyone at risk. They plan world dominance by patenting all life forms to force-feed GMO foods and drugs on everyone, despite their harm to human health. Safe organic and family farm food will be restricted or disappear. So will beneficial dietary supplements.

Demand Congress defeat these bills and enact "The Food Freedom Amendment," saying:

"No provision of Federal Law giving regulatory oversight to any Federal department or agency shall be deemed to apply (a) to any home, home business, homestead, home or community garden, small farm, organic or natural agricultural activity, (b) to any family farm or ranch, or (c) to any natural or organic food product, including dietary supplements, as protected under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994."

The issue is clearly drawn - defeat Agbiz and Big Pharma or (more than ever) they'll harm human health and welfare. It's our choice if we act - quickly.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Guilty As Charged: UN Report on Gaza Flotilla Massacre

Guilty As Charged: UN Report on Gaza Flotilla Massacre - by Stephen Lendman

On September 22, Reuters headlined the news, saying:

"UN Experts Condemn Israel Attack on Gaza Flotilla"

It explained that the UN Human Rights Council's (HRC) "panel of international experts" concluded what was obvious on day one - that Israel's international water attack "was unlawful and resulted in violations of human rights and international humanitarian law...."

A one paragraph AP report said the same thing. America's leading paper, The New York Times (always pro-Israeli), published the above two accounts, not its own, ducking its responsibility to do in detail.

In contrast, Israeli papers covered it prominently, including Haaretz headlining, "UN Human Rights Council: Israel flotilla raid broke international law," saying:

"The UN Human Rights Council's fact-finding mission concluded that Israel's naval blockade of the Palestinian territory was unlawful because of the humanitarian crisis there, and described the military raid on the flotilla as brutal and disproportionate."

Israel's response was unsurprising, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ygal Palmor saying:

"Israel is a democratic and law abiding country that carefully observes international law and, when need be, knows how to investigate itself."

True on the last point, but it never does nor will it. False on the others. As honest observers know, Israel is a lawless, undemocratic, pariah state believing in Jewish exclusivity above all other religions. As a result, its 1,548,000 Israeli Arabs (as of spring 2010) have no rights. In addition, the four million + in Gaza and the West Bank (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics mid-2010 figures) have been persecuted under military occupation for over 43 years, living in constant terror.

Balad Party MK Hanin Zuabi, on board the Mavi Marmara mother ship, praised the HRC's report, saying "the criminals who ordered and carried out the raid should be brought to justice." More on Israeli retribution against her below.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said "Now it's required to be a mechanism in order to translate this report into action and to bring occupation commanders to trial for the crimes they committed." Indeed so, but no measures whatever have been proposed or implemented.

Information on the Flotilla Massacre

Seven earlier articles covered it in detail, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/05/brave-israeli-commandos-slaughter-aid.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/06/flotilla-massacre-historical.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/06/theyre-coming-freedom-flotilla-two-and.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/06/gaza-flotilla-massacre-goldstone.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/investigating-freedom-flotilla-attack.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/charade-begins-netanyahus-flotilla.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/from-goldstone-to-uribe.html

The Human Rights Council (HRC) Report

On May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos attacked unarmed, nonviolent civilians attempting to deliver vitally needed humanitarian aid to 1.5 million Gazans, trapped under siege for three years at the time. At least nine were murdered in cold blood, over 50 wounded, some seriously. They and the others were arrested, detained, and treated harshly until let out of the country to go home.

Released on September 22, the HRC (called the Mission below) report detailed serious Israeli crimes of war and against humanity, based on 112 witness testimonies in Geneva, London, Istanbul and Amman as well as other information, including forensic evidence, video footage, and other photographic material. As a result, the HRC:

"concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation."

The Mission thanked the Turkish and Jordanian governments for cooperation. Also OCHA, UNRWA, UNSCO and others for their help. Israel refused, saying its position was "one of non-recognition of and non-cooperation with the Mission."

Under international law, Israel's blockade is illegal. It caused a grave humanitarian crisis affecting 1.5 million Gazans, mostly civilians. Aid is vitally needed. Attacking anyone trying to deliver it is a clear crime against humanity, especially in international waters.

A "vessel on the high seas (posing no threat) is subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of its flag State."

Under the laws of armed conflict, "a blockade is illegal if:

(a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival; or

(b) the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade."

In other words, no blockade is permitted it it inflicts disproportionate harm to civilians. Israel has done it grievously for over three years, suffocating 1.5 million Gazans illegally.

Among other international law provisions, Fourth Geneva's Article 33 states:

"No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism, are prohibited."

The Mission called Israel's blockade disproportionate and illegal, and the attack on the Flotilla unjustified and criminal.

International law regarding occupying powers is clear and unequivocal, enumerating explicit responsibilities. Israel is a serial violator. Gazans are protected persons. So were Flotilla passengers. Israel was prohibited from intercepting and attacking them. Under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 6, paragraph 1:

"Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life."

The Mission said "This right is non-derogable." The Flotilla interdiction was lawless "since there was no legal basis for the Israeli forces to conduct an assault and interception in international waters. Moreover," in doing so, Israel was "obligated" under international law and its own "international human rights obligations."

Under Article 2 of the Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement:

"in the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons."

Article 3 states:

"Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty."

Israel, of course, used commandos, heavily armed trained killers, acting as law enforcers, instead of the Coast Guard or other protective forces. Clearly their mission was well-defined - to interdict, attack and murder designated targets, their names and photos provided in advance. Evidence uncovered proved it.

The Mission concluded that force used "was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers."

It determined that at least six of the dead were killed by "extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions," some shot multiple times in the head at close range. In addition, passengers detained weren't told why or informed of their rights, in violation ICCPR's Article 9, paragraph 2 stating:

"Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him."

It wasn't done, "and in some instances passenger requests for such information were met with verbal abuse or physical violence."

On board the vessels and in detention, Israel treated them cruelly and inhumanely in clear violation of international law. As a result, injuries resulted or were exacerbated. For all onboard, willful pain and suffering were inflicted. For some, it amounted to torture, an Israeli specialty.

From the moment of interdiction until release and departure, their entire experience was shocking, excessive, disproportionate, and criminal, in violation of numerous international and Israeli laws.

In addition, Israel made "a deliberate attempt....to suppress or destroy evidence" besides fabricating its version of events, including fake videos and other falsified materials.

Another offense also deserves mention. Haneen Zouabi, an Israeli MK was on board the Mavi Marmara. She wasn't detained, but was extensively and abusively interrogated. Because of her participation, the Knesset voted on June 7 to deny her three parliamentary privileges:

-- to travel abroad;

-- retain her diplomatic passport; and

-- have her legal fees paid if losing her parliamentary immunity results in criminal prosecution.

In addition, during Knesset discussions of her participation, racist, sexist, and physically threatening remarks were made. Some MKs also wanted her criminally prosecuted and removed from the Knesset. Further, Israel's Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, accused her of treason and requested authorization from the Attorney General to revoke her citizenship. So far, no action has been taken, but Zouabi continues to receive death threats.

Final Comments

The Mission concluded that Israel caused "a humanitarian crisis (on) May 31, 2010," the day of the attack. "The preponderance of evidence from impeccable sources is far too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion." Israel's justification on "security grounds" is entirely baseless. Moreover, "prosecutions" are clearly warranted under Fourth Geneva's Article 147, covering:

-- willful killing;

-- torture or inhuman treatment; and

-- willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

Remedial action should be guaranteed all victims. Those responsible should be held criminally culpable. Their crimes shouldn't go unpunished. Those aboard are left with "deep psychological scars....The Mission is not alone in" condemning Israel for its actions, nor about Gaza's "deplorable (and lawless) situation."

So far, passengers have been denied justice, and culpable Israeli officials remain unaccountable, unpunished, and free to keep rampaging, what happens daily in Occupied Palestine while so-called "peace talks" continue, a charade by any standard.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.