Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Massive Fraud in Haiti's Sham Elections

Massive Fraud in Haiti's Sham Elections - by Stephen Lendman

On November 28, Haiti held first round legislative and presidential elections, a previous article explaining that democracy was off the ballot, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/haitis-sham-elections-solidifying.html

The entire process was rigged, 15 parties excluded, including by far the most popular, Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas. Under the most dire conditions, it was a cruel joke, not even equivalent to what Edward Herman called "demonstration elections" in his 1980 book by that title, sham ones assuring installation of US-friendly candidates, elections in name only.

On November 28, it was worse, so bad, in fact, that world headlines explained it. For example, New York Times writers Damien Cave and Randol Archibold headlined, "Haitian Candidates Call to Void Election," saying:

"Two-thirds of Haiti's presidential candidates said Sunday's election was so tainted by fraud that it should be invalidated, but late in the evening, national election officials ordered the vote to stand, saying that problems at most polling sites had been minor."

They lied. Washington orchestrated the entire process to assure its choices take over, its usual imperial heavy-handedness, this time including ballot box stuffing and other irregularities. Nonetheless, initial results will be known on December 5, officially announced on December 20.

"At an afternoon news conference here, 12 of the 18 candidates still in the race had called on the election council to void the results because of "massive fraud,' which they described as an effort by (Preval's) Unity Party....to stuff ballot boxes and turn away voters who opposed Mr. Preval's chosen candidate, Jude Celestin. The candidates, in an unusual display of unity....urged their partisans to peacefully take to the streets, and many did."

Haiti's US Embassy spokesman said only that it was monitoring the situation. Organization of American States (OAS) observers cancelled a news conference, saying it was gathering information for "our assessment of polling day activities." A UN statement expressed "deep concerns over the numerous incidents that marred the election." Neither Preval or a spokesperson said anything as expected.

On November 30, Al Jazeera said that "The joint observer mission from the Organization of American States/Caribbean Community said that although there had been widespread problems, including acts of violence and intimidation and poor organization blocking many people from voting, this was not enough to doom the polls."

The mission's head, Colin Granderson, said:

"The mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as some were, necessarily invalidated the process."

Nicole Phillips, observer from the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, said at every polling station she visited there were flaws. "Streams of people, dozens and dozens of people were unable to vote because they couldn't find their name on an electoral list."

In Acul du Nord and Trou du Nord, two northern towns near Cap-Haitien, voting was cancelled after people fired gunshots in the air and trashed one voting station. A Port-au-Prince one was also ransacked.

Financial Times writer Benedict Mander headlined, "Haiti poll denounced as 'massive fraud,' " saying:

"Allegations of 'massive fraud' (challenged) the legitimacy of a government that will have to rebuild a country decimated by an earthquake in January," and is now dealing with a cholera epidemic ravaging the country.

"We denounce a massive fraud that is occurring across the country....We demand the cancellation pure and simple of the elections." They also accused Preval of conspiring to "perpetuate his power and keep the people hostage to continue their misery."

A crowd awaiting them burst into Haiti's national anthem when they arrived and chanted "Arrest Preval!"

A later Reuters report said two more presidential candidates joined the others, leaving Preval's choice, Jude Celestin, "virtually alone among the contenders in upholding the legitimacy of the polls."

According to Markus Shultze-Kraft of Britain's Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex:

The electoral farce "is a big, potentially explosive dilemma. Haiti's government and its international friends needed the elections to choose a legitimate post-quake government to lead the reconstruction." That was impossible, of course, with Fanmi Lavalas and other parties banned.

Besides a sham process most Haitians boycotted, polling stations opened late. Voter names were missing on electoral rolls, and angry accusations cited ballot box stuffing. According to Alex Main, an unofficial observer from the Washington-based Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR):

"Things are incredibly tense. We visited one voting center in Carrefour where a group of PREVAL/INITE thugs got in and demolished everything and beat people up. Everyone was pretty upset. Mostly there's a lot of frustration. People can't find their names on the lists. They go expecting to be able to vote and they can't."

Main said the problem was widespread, not limited to a few isolated cases. Official observers were from the OAS, Caribbean Community, the association of francophone states, and the EU, not there to assure a free, fair and open process or serve Haitian voters' interests, their final statements to be taken with great caution.

That's now confirmed, according to a November 30 Al Jazeera report saying:

"The joint observer mission from the Organization of American States/Caribbean Community said that although there had been widespread problems, including acts of violence and intimidation and poor organisation blocking many people from voting, this was not enough to doom the polls."

The mission's Colin Granderson said:

"The joint mission does not believe that these irregularities, serious as some were, necessarily invalidated the process."

Main, however, added that it's:

"clear that the sentiment here is that the international community should have done something to provide for people's basic needs" post-quake as well as dealing with raging cholera before holding elections. Having them under appalling conditions adds to their illegitimacy.

On November 29, a CEPR press release headlined, "International Community Should Reject Haiti's 'Sham' Elections," its Co-Director, Mark Weisbrot, saying:

"From the banning of the country's most popular party from the ballot to election day irregularities including numerous reports of ballot stuffing and the disenfranchisement of numerous eligible voters, these elections were an obvious farce from start to finish."

Short of international community condemnation and rejection, "Haiti (will) be left with a government (seen) as illegitimate."

Weisbrot recommended Preval's hand-picked Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) be replaced and that new elections be held. That prospect is exceedingly dim to say the least, leaving Haitians again stuck with imperial Washington calling the shots, having no concern whatever for democracy or their interests at a time millions have dire needs.

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/.

The New York Times Again Censoring WikiLeaks

The New York Times Again Censoring WikiLeaks - by Stephen Lendman

On November 28, WikiLeaks began releasing over 250,000 leaked State Department and US Embassy cables (many designated "secret"), dating from 1966 through end of February 2010. Their content ranges from embarrassing to important revelations about US spying on allies and the UN, ignoring corruption and human rights abuses in "client states," corporate lobbying, backroom dealmaking, disparagements of foreign leaders, and overall revealing a much different America than its public persona. Most of all, it offers more proof of a sham democracy, a lawless imperial state rampaging globally though little, if anything, of a smoking gun nature was disclosed.

Unsurprisingly, the London Guardian said the documents "reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network, with diplomats tasked to obtain not just information from the people they meet, but personal details, such as frequent flyer numbers, credit card details and even DNA material. Classified 'human intelligence directives' issued in the name of Hillary Clinton or her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, instruct officials to gather information on military installations, weapons markings, vehicle details of political leaders as well as iris scans, fingerprints and DNA."

Washington's "most controversial target was the leadership of the United Nations." One document requested "the specification of telecoms and IT systems used by top UN officials and their staff and details of 'private VIP networks used for official communication, to include upgrades, security measures, passwords, (and) personal encryption keys."

Candid comments also revealed disparaging assessments of world leaders. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was called weak, describing her as "risk averse and rarely creative." Her Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, got even harsher treatment, described as incompetent, a man with an "exuberant personality" but little foreign policy experience.

Christopher Dell, US ambassador to Zimbabwe, called President Robert Mugabe "ruthless," "clever," and "to give the devil his due, he is a brilliant tactician." He "will not go down without a fight....he will cling to power at all costs."

Elizabeth Dibble, US charge d'affaires in Rome, called Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi "feckless, vain, and ineffective as a modern European leader." Another document described him as a "physically and politically weak (leader whose) frequent late nights and penchant for partying hard mean he does not get sufficient rest," the implication being to do his job properly. Still another document said he appears "increasingly the mouthpiece of (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin" in Europe.

Der Spiegel reported more, including:

-- America's disdain for Keynan President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga;

-- Turkey's Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan was called an unreliable "fundamentalist," governing with "a cabal of incompetent advisors in a country....on a path to an Islamist future;"

-- America must "endure the endless tirades of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, who claims to have known that the Iraq war was the 'biggest mistake ever committed' and who advised the Americans to 'forget about democracy in Iraq,' " recommending a military coup once US forces leave; and

-- Middle east cables "expose the superpower's weaknesses....the world power is often quickly reduced to becoming a plaything of diverse interests," including Arab leaders using their Washington ties to their own advantage.

Other documents expressed high level concerns about Pakistan's growing instability, a clandestine effort to combat Al Qaeda in Yemen, and shifting China/North Korean relations.

Grave fears were revealed about Pakistan's nuclear capability, officials warning of a potential economic collapse and risk of smuggling nuclear material to suspected terrorists.

Another cable discussed Afghan corruption, one alleging that vice president Zai Massoud was carrying $52 million in cash with him when he was stopped during a United Arab Emirates visit.

In still another, Secretary of State Clinton questioned the mental health of Argentina's president.

The Financial Times reported that "The leaks will reinforce suspicions that Israel is considering an attack on Iranian facilities. According to reports of the cables, Ehud Barak, the defense minister, warned in 2009 that the world had six to 18 months to deal with Iran's nuclear programme."

Israel, like Washington, is notorious for crying wolf. If an attack was planned, neither nation would announce it.

An expected revelation ahead is that America for years supported Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), an organization Washington and Ankara designated a terrorist group. Regional expert, Mehmet Yegin from the Center for American Studies at the USAK research organization, told the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that "US support for the PKK could have been a result of Turkey's decision in 2003 not to allow the United States to enter Iraq through Turkish soil."

Still more cables about:

-- a senior Politburo official orchestrating hacker attacks that forced Google to leave China;

-- allegations about Russia giving Silvio Berlusconi lavish gifts and lucrative energy contracts;

-- others about Russian intelligence using mafia bosses to conduct criminal operations, one cable describing "a virtual mafia state;"

-- sharp Pentagon criticism of Britain's military in Afghanistan;

-- inappropriate British royal family member comments about a UK law enforcement agency and a foreign country;

-- criticism of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and requests for intelligence information on individual MPs;

-- various corruption accusations;

-- US Honduran ambassador Hugo Llorens calling the June 2009 coup "illegal and unconstitutional;"

-- Russia offering Israel $1 billion for drone technologies, saying it would also cancel its sale of advanced S-300 missiles to Iran;

-- harsh criticism of US embassy staff in the Caribbean, China, Russia and elsewhere;

-- saying Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "driven by paranoia;"

-- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called another Hitler; so is Hugo Chavez, Saddam Hussein before his capture and hanging, and other leaders earlier so vilified to hype fear about them;

-- various Arab leaders, including Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, urging Washington to bomb Iran to destroy its nuclear capability;

-- Saudi donors named as the biggest financiers of terror groups;

-- discussion of a Washington/Yemen coverup over using US planes to bomb suspected Al Qaeda targets;

-- a description of a rogue enriched uranium shipment causing a near "environmental disaster" in 2009;

-- technical details of US/Russian secret nuclear missile negotiations in Geneva; and much more besides new material to be released.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange provided the documents to the London Guardian, Germany's Der Spiegel, France's Le Monde, Spain's El Pais, and The New York Times.

Censorship - Standard New York Times Practice

After last July's "Afghan War Diaries" release, The Times collaborated with White House officials to sanitize it, clearing it in advance before publishing. Its Washington bureau chief, Dean Baquet, confirmed that he and two reporters (Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt) "did in fact (tell them) what we had," Obama officials "prais(ing) us for the way we handled it, giving them a chance to discuss it, and for handling the information with care. And for being responsible."

Afterwards, editor Bill Keller wrote this to readers:

"The administration, while strongly condemning (the release), did not suggest (we not) write about them. On the contrary, in our discussions....while challenging some of (our) conclusions....thanked us for handling the documents with care (read sanitizing disturbing truths), and asked us to urge WikiLeaks to withhold information that could cost lives. We did pass along that message."

In addition, he concealed daily war crimes, including mass civilian deaths, many willfully committed. Also, Task Force 373, death squad assassins killing suspected insurgents, cold-blooded murder The Times suppresses, collaborating with imperial lawlessness.

Instead, it focused on "Pakistan's Double Game," a July 27 editorial "confirm(ing) a picture of Pakistani double-dealing that has been building for years," saying "If Mr. Obama cannot persuade Islamabad to cut its ties to, and then aggressively fight, the extremists in Pakistan, there is no hope of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan." The Times, of course, supports US imperial wars, including the Afghan and Iraq quagmires.

On November 29, The Times published "A Note to Readers: The Decision to Publish Diplomatic Documents," saying:

Released documents are either marked "secret," "noforn" (not to be shared with other countries' representatives), "secret/noforn," "confidential," or unclassified. "Most were not intended for public view, at least in the near term."

"The Times has taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger (read expose) confidential informants or compromise national security (read reveal Washington's imperial agenda). The Times redactions were shared with other news organizations and communicated to WikiLeaks, in the hope that they would similarly edit (read sanitize) the documents they planned to post online."

"After its own redactions, The Times sent Obama administration officials the cables it planned to post and invited them to challenge publication of any information that, in the official view, would harm the national interest (again reveal America's true agenda - global imperial destructiveness). After reviewing the cables, (officials) suggested additional redactions. The Times agreed to some, but not all."

The Times said it will post only about 100 cables, some redacted, others in full, "that illuminate aspects of American foreign policy," but will follow White House instructions in so doing.

The "newspaper of record," of course, is a longstanding imperial tool, the closest equivalent in America to an official ministry of information and propaganda, what Times editors and bosses know but won't say.

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 December 2, 4 and 5, 2010

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for December 2, 4 and 5, 2010

Thursday, December 2 at 10AM US Central time: James Petras

Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus, a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles.

He's also a consummate scholar and prolific writer of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including his latest titled, "War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America."

Major world and national issues will be discussed.

Saturday, December 4 at noon US Central time: Robert Abele

Abele is Professor of humanities and philosophy at Diablo Valley College, CA. He's authored four books, including "Democracy Gone" and "Anatomy of a Deception" about the Iraq invasion, occupation, and preparation for the next deception.

Recently he contributed seven articles for a new "Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Global Justice," due out in February, and is currently writing a new book to be published next spring.

Abele's latest articles and worldviews will be discussed

Sunday, December 5 at noon US Central time: Mickey Huff

Huff is Professor of History at Diablo Valley College and new Director of Project Censored (PC) and the Media Freedom Foundation. MFF supports First Amendment freedoms and investigative research, and works closely with PC and other media related organizations.

PC is the media democracy advocacy group that publishes vital news stories suppressed or censored in the mainstream.

Each year it ranks the top 25 and publishes them in its yearbook, Censored: Media Democracy in Action. The latest "Censored 2011: The Top Censored Stories of 2009-10" is now out and can be purchased at projectcensored.org/store.

Discussion will be wide-ranging on current world and national issues.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Imperial America's End Time

Imperial America's End Time - by Stephen Lendman

Noted analysts on both left and right see America's empire in decline. In his 2009 book, "Global Depression and Regional Wars," James Petras said:

"All the idols of capitalism over the past three decades have crashed. The assumptions and presumptions, paradigms and prognosis of indefinite progress under liberal free market capitalism have been tested and have failed. We are living the end of an entire epoch (and are bearing witness to) the collapse of the US and world financial system," and with it America's empire.

On August 16, Paul Craig Roberts headlined his article, "The Ecstacy of Empire: How Close Is America's Demise," saying:

America's profligacy "is running out of time...." Yet "2010 has been wasted in hype about a non-existant recovery." Government-manipulated reality masks the internal rot. Wall Street handouts and imperial wars are bankrupting the country.

"US military spending reflects the unaffordable and unattainable crazed neoconservative goal of US empire and world hegemony....If the wars are not immediately stopped and the jobs (not) brought back to America, the US is relegated to the trash bin of history....Without a revolution, Americans are history." Indeed so.

In his March 18, 2008 article headlined, "The Collapse of America Power," Roberts said:

America thinks it owns the world. In fact, it "owes the world. The US 'superpower' cannot even finance its own domestic operations, much less its gratuitous wars" except through mounting debt that can't be repaid, and the more it mounts, the greater the eventual crash, working Americans to bear the burden.

In his November 16 article headlined, "Ruling on Behalf of Wall Street's 'Super Rich:' The Financial End Time has Arrived," Michael Hudson said:

"The financial End Time has arrived....(t)hanks largely to the $13 trillion Wall Street bailout - while keeping the debt overhead in place for America's 'bottom 98%" - this happy 2% of the population now receives an estimated three quarters (75%) of the returns to wealth (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains). This is nearly double what it received a generation ago. The rest of the population is being squeezed, and foreclosures are rising."

The economy is being destroyed to favor Wall Street and Pentagon militarists. Obama perpetuates this madness. "The Wurst of Obama: He's Carving the Middle Class into Sausage Filler as a Super-Meal for the Rich," and trashing America in the process.

A recent article remembered Chalmers Johnson, best known for calling America's global wars and imperialism a "suicide option" unless reversed. Access it through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/remembering-chalmers-ashby-johnson-8631.html

Naming us our own enemy, he called our policies "arrogant and misguided," America's condition dire, and it's "too late for mere scattered reforms." We can choose - democracy to survive or perish under current policies. He said America is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed past empires unwilling to change, what he called:

"isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy," combined with authoritarian rule and loss of personal freedom. In other words, tyranny and ruin, his book "Nemesis" presenting:

"historical, political, economic, and philosophical evidence of where our current behavior is likely to lead. Specifically, I believe that to maintain our empire abroad requires resources and commitments that will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and in the end produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent."

"The founders of our nation understood this well and tried to create a form of government - a republic - that would prevent this from occurring. But the combination of huge standing armies, almost continuous wars, military Keynesianism, and ruinous military expenses have destroyed our republican structure in favor of an imperial presidency. We are on the cusp of losing our democracy for the sake of keeping our empire." Eventually, however, we'll keep neither.

In a July 30 article, titled "Three Good Reasons to Liquidate Our Empire," Johnson cited:

(1) Postwar expansionism is no longer affordable;

(2) We're losing the Afghan War and pursuing it is bankrupting us; and

(3) Our shameful "empire of bases" must end; close them down, at least most, ideally all, and also sharply cut our standing army.

His main message: "we must give up our inappropriate reliance on military force as the chief means of attempting to achieve foreign policy objectives." Few empires ever did it voluntarily. Britain did, chosing democracy. The Soviets didn't and fell.

A Grim Pentagon Afghan War Assessment

In its most recent semiannual report, released late November, titled, "Progress toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan," Pentagon commanders were worried, suggesting that despite 100,000 US forces and 50,000 others (double the force since 2008), conditions are no better, saying;

"Progress across the country remains uneven, with modest gains in security, governance and development in operational priority areas." Progress overall has been "slow and incremental....key terrain....relatively unchanged."

Notably, however, violence and Afghan deaths have sharply risen as a result of a 300% increase in armed clashes since 2007, and a 70% rise over 2009. Despite the force buildup, "The insurgency has proven resilient with sustained logistics capacity and command and control."

Afghans also acknowledge that security is worse than ever. Moreover, "insurgent safe havens" in Pakistan and Iran threaten to widen the war further. In fact, "(e)fforts to reduce insurgent capacity....have not produced measurable results" despite heightened drone and other attacks.

In addition, out-of-control corruption exacerbates the problem, the report calling it "consistent with the view that (it's) preventing the Afghan government from connecting with the people and remains a key reason for Afghans supporting the insurgency."

Nonetheless, Washington is staying the course, shifting its exit strategy from fixed to transition, the report calling the "US commitment to Afghanistan....continuing, enduring, and long-lasting." In other words, continuity, not winning or losing matters, assuring hundreds of billions more dollars endlessly spent. And not just in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Another Gloomy War Analysis

On October 14, Anthony Cordesman of the conservative Center for Strategic Studies (CSIS) issued a report titled,"Grand Strategy in the Afghan, Pakistan, and Iraq Wars: The End State Fallacy," saying;

"Grand strategy is not an American strength....Iraq is already a case in point. We have not yet achieved any meaningful form of positive strategic result (from over seven and a half years of war), and may end in a major grand strategic defeat."

Conflict continues. Obama's end of combat mission was bogus. Permanent occupation is planned. Iraq can't contain or counter Iran. There's no stable or effective government or political system. Iran's influence in the country may rival or surpass our own. Our pursuit of an "end state fallacy" may lose the war "in grand strategic terms." In other ways, it's already lost. Violence plagues the country daily, little reported in America's media.

An announced end of 2011 exit is planned. Expect that goal to change, while at the same time, Congress shows less willingness to appropriate limitless funding. "We may (also) lose the Iraq War for other reasons - its unstable politics, tenuous security, and Iran's dominance of future Shiite governments." So far, "we have won exactly nothing." A tactical victory looks increasingly pyrrhic.

Moreover, Washington "seems to be in a state of partial denial in dealing with the need for a long term...strategic commitment to the region." Alternatives to strategically failing in Iraq may be found, but it will be hard to "incredibly costly to compensate for (overall) failure in the Gulf."

Afghan/Pak (Afghanistan and Pakistan), however, is "radically different," reflecting a "very uncertain strategic posture." America's interests are "limited" compared to the Gulf. China and Russia are powerful rivals with strategic interests of their own.

What Afghan/Pak/Iraq have in common is there's "no credible end state to the fighting....that can give the US a credible grand strategic victory or stable outcome." Like Iraq and the Gulf, it will be "at least a decade" before stable governments, economies and security structures are possible. Even then, they're unlikely.

Afghanistan's outlook is even more tenuous than Iraq's. Winning in any form requires propping up and financing its government for years, maybe always. The country's had decades of war and instability. Its economy ranks "201st" in terms of per capita income, and poverty and overall need levels are extraordinarily high. At best, it will be well over a decade before Afghanistan makes real progress with sustained US help. Increasingly, however, it looks more like an unwinnable black hole, draining America's resources.

Pakistan complicates matters. Dealing with "Al Qa'ida and the Taliban in the FATA-Baluchistan areas are only the tip of the iceberg." Its government is corrupt and incompetent. Its military and intelligence structure have "strong Islamist elements." Its economy and social structure are crippled and semi-feudal. "Its security is shaped by the threat from India, growing internal religious tensions, and additional problems with Deobandi extremists, and hostile movements in Baluchistan and the Sind."

Pakistan is better off than Afghanistan, but it's also more dependent on US aid. It doesn't signal failure, but it does mean major challenges for the foreseeable future. As with Iraq and Afghanistan, Washington "can only influence - not shape - (its) future." Its present government may not survive. It's unclear whether any amount of US aid will work. It's unknown if America will serve Pakistan's interests if it keeps fighting. It's also uncertain whether its government will "abandon its efforts to manipulate Afghanistan (and) use it against India." It's unclear as well whether its military is willing to fight.

Moreover, its government may fall, and its military only does enough to maintain US aid as long as Pentagon forces remain in the area. Resolving its future and stability will be uncertain until "at least 2020." Maybe much longer or never.

Yet the Obama administration "seems to deliberately avoid projecting the need for a lasting commitment to either Afghanistan (or) Pakistan, and providing anything approaching an estimate of the cost of sustaining the war and dealing with its aftermath." Increasingly, its plan appears ah hoc, shifting commanders instead of addressing policy failures and changing them. Larger force levels and more violence and killing aren't solutions. So far, they've made conditions worse, not better.

Also consider the costs, already unsustainable, with no end of spending in sight. Eventually, Congress will tire of funding them, especially with no tangible successes.

"The US and its allies are pursuing a largely mythical Afghan development plan which lacks core credibility in peacetime, much less in war. There is no development plan for Pakistan. The US is effectively paying an open ended mix of bribes to a country whose economy is now crippled by a catastrophic flood, and whose main security interest is India, not the war the US wants it to fight."

Washington has failed in its planning and execution efforts. However, even if correctly done, the prospects for winning and withdrawing would be "negligible. The challenges are simply too great, and the timelines for credible change are too long....The US cannot afford to allow this situation to continue."

The Iraq/Afghan/Pak wars "raise grand strategic questions about what the US could have accomplished (with a fraction of the money devoted to) build(ing) regional allies" and other productive undertakings. Choosing open-ended wars "for the wrong reasons....is not an experience we should repeat." Moreover, cutting losses and getting out of today's mess is essential, putting greater emphasis on diplomacy than warmaking. "After what soon will be ten years of fighting, it is time we not only learned this, but acted on the lesson."

A Final Comment

America's Iraq/Afghan/Pak wars are unwinnable, highlighted in an earlier Afghanistan article, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/war-in-afghanistan-illegal-untenable.html

No matter. America wages permanent wars for an unwinnable peace. Enemies are fabricated as justification. War profiteers benefit. The public is duped and betrayed. Two earlier articles explained, accessed through the following links:

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

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/07/case-for-war-iron-mountain-report.html

Moreover, since WW II, all US wars have been illegal, what neither the Pentagon nor CSIS reports addressed. All international laws and treaties, including the UN Charter, automatically become US law under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause, Article VI, Clause 2.

Moreover, the Charter's Chapter VII empowers the Security Council alone to determine the existence of threats to peace, breaching it, or committing an act of aggression, as well as if military or other action is necessary to restore international peace and stability. It lets nations use force solely under two conditions:

-- by Security Council authorization; or

-- under Article 51 that permits the "right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."

In addition, both houses of Congress, not the president, have exclusive power to declare war under the Constitution's Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 - the war powers clause. Nonetheless, that procedure was followed only five times in US history, last used on December 8, 1941 after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor.

In 1973, Congress addressed the issue, passing the War Powers Resolution. It requires the president to get congressional authorization for war or a resolution passed within 60 days of initiating hostilities. Its Section 4(a)(3) also states:

"In the absence of a declaration of war, in any case in which the United States Armed Forces are introduced.... (3) in numbers which substantially enlarge the United States Armed Forces equipped for combat already located in a foreign nation; the president shall submit within 48 hours to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and to the President pro tempore of the Senate a report, setting forth" necessitating circumstances, a request for "constitutional and legislative authority," and the "estimated scope and duration of the hostilities involved."

In 1991, Congress gave GHW Bush authorization to attack Iraq (the Gulf War). It didn't authorize GW Bush in 2001 or 2003. Yet he went to war anyway, violating international and US laws. As a result, the Iraq/Afghan/Pak wars are illegal. The president, supportive congressional members, other culpable officials, and military high command are war criminals.

Those issues are out of sight and mind in the Pentagon and CSIS reports, yet they're more important than any others, and may only be belatedly addressed when America's end time arrives.

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/.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud - Terrorist or Victim?

Mohamed Osman Mohamud: Terrorist or Victim? - by Stephen Lendman

November 27 major media headlines accused him, including New York Times writers Colin Miner, Liz Robbins and Erik Eckholm triple-teaming him in their article titled, "FBI Says Oregon Suspect Planned 'Grand' Attack." Their saying so becomes accepted fact, according to corporate media reports - guilty by accusation.

It happens repeatedly. It's usually strategically timed, in this case to defuse anger over enhanced airport screening. It's also nearly always against Muslims, America's target of choice - of course, to justify imperial wars against Muslim nations. The topic was addressed often in previous articles, including one accessed through the link below:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/americas-war-on-islam.html

It explained how America's war on terrorism exploits and vilifies them. Hollywood and corporate media reports especially portray them stereotypically as culturally inferior, dirty, lecherous, untrustworthy, religiously fanatical, violent, dangerous gun-toting terrorists, wrongfully against Western values, high-mindedness, and moral superiority.

The Times recounted the latest accusation as follows:

"A Somali-born teenager who though he was detonating a car bomb at a packed (Portland, OR) Christmas tree-lighting ceremony downtown here was arrested by the authorities on Friday night after federal agents said that they had spent nearly six months setting up a sting operation" - to entrap him, what Times writers didn't say, or that it's standard FBI practice to snare innocent victims.

They're then wrongfully accused of crimes they either had no intention to commit or wouldn't consider without FBI provocation. In this case, an implied attack against Christmas and Christian values was alleged, or, in other words, "violent" Islam against "peaceful, morally superior" Christianity.

A November Justice Department press release headlined, "Oregon Resident Arrested in Plot to Bomb Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Portland Vehicle Bomb (that) Was Inert and Posed No Danger to Public," saying:

"Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, a naturalized US citizen from Somalia and resident of Corvallis, Ore., has been arrested on changes of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction (note the hyperbole) in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony earlier this evening in Portland, Ore...."

"The arrest (followed) a long-term undercover operation, during which Mohamud had been monitored closely for months (read, set up) as his alleged bomb plot developed. The device was in fact inert (given him by FBI operatives); and the public was never in danger...."

On November 29, Mohamud will be arraigned in federal court. If convicted, he faces a potential life sentence and $250,000 fine. Dwight C. Holton, US Attorney for the District or Oregon, said:

"This defendant's chilling determination is a stark reminder that there are people (read Muslims) who are determined to kill Americans."

Assistant Attorney General for National Security, David Kris added:

"While the public was never in danger from the (rigged) device, this case serves as yet another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad."

Implied, of course, is just cause for imperial wars against Muslim nations, wrongfully portrayed as threatening US security.

For Mohamud, at issue is entrapment. It should automatically raise red flags when used. According to Law Professor Anthony Barkow:

"A person is entrapped when he has no previous intention to violate the law and is persuaded to commit the crime by government agents. But if he's already willing to commit the crime, it's not entrapment if government agents convince him to do it."

However, claiming intent doesn't prove it. Most often it's prosecutorial charges against the word of those accused, their side never getting out or is distorted.

Key unaddressed questions in Mohamud's case are why would FBI operatives incite an alleged terror attack? Did he really plan one, or did he say so under FBI provocation? Why would the FBI perhaps choose the time and/or place? Why would they give anyone a "bomb" to commit violence, real or otherwise? Why are only Muslims targeted? Might other motives be involved?

Most important is why perhaps was another innocent man incited, duped, set up, and now charged with what he may never have conceived of doing otherwise. Moreover, did he really want to detonate a bomb, or are key facts willfully concealed, especially the truth?

So far, it's unknown what he had in mind, if anything. Only FBI and corporate media accounts have explained, not Mohamud, who'll never be able to speak openly and freely, and if so, his side will be distorted.

Official accounts are notoriously falsified and exaggerated to incite fear, pitting the power of big government and big media against targeted victims, an intimidating mismatch.

The FBI said he "was in email contact with an unindicted associate (UA1) overseas who is believed to be involved in terrorist activities." In fact, he was an undercover FBI agent.

"In December 2009, while UA1 was located in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan, Mohamud and UA1 discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to engage in violent jihad. UA1 allegedly referred Mohamud to a second unindicted associate (UA2, another FBI operative) overseas and provided Mohamud with a name and email address to facilitate the process."

The account continued, saying he unsuccessfully tried to contact UA2. Then an undercover FBI operative (UA1) contacted him, agreeing to meet in Portland in July. Mohamud said he published an article in "Jihad Recollections" that also featured poetry, bin Laden speeches, and a how-to guide to global jihad.

In fact, the April 2009 issue in question carried bizarre images of masked fighters helping each other exercise. Yet, the entire magazine, including Mohamud's article, excluded calls for violence. Nonetheless, the FBI alleged he wanted to become "operational" but needed help.

At a second August meeting, he allegedly claimed a desire to commit violent jihad since age 15. Also that he identified a "potential target for a bomb: the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square...."

In response, the FBI alleged its "operatives cautioned Mohamud several times about the seriousness of this plan (emphasizing he) could abandon his attack plans at any time with no shame." If so, why did they give him the "bomb" to carry it out? Why did they lure him to a remote spot to detonate a "test" bomb in a backpack?

They also alleged he said "I want whoever is attending that event to leave either dead or injured," that he made a video with "apocalyptic phrases," and planned to leave the country after the November 26 incident.

What's true, false or uncertain isn't known.

Background on Muhamud

In 1991, he was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. In Portland, he attended Jackson Middle School and Wilson High School, then transferred to Westview High School in Beaverton. A classmate, Brandon Guffy, called him a "perfectly normal guy," saying he had Muslim friends interested in sports and hip-hop culture, and that he never acted extreme or talked about religion or politics.

A neighbor, Stephanie Napier, said his mother was extremely proud of her son, calling him her high-achiever who did well in school. She was shocked in disbelief about the accusations. The family practiced Islam, observed Muslim holidays and holy days, but didn't discuss religion at home. Napier called them "good people."

This past year, Muhamud was enrolled at Oregon State University but withdrew on October 6, according to school officials. No reasons were given.

On November 27, a Talk Left contributor, identified as Jeralyn, said:

"So there was no terror plot, except one hatched and incubated by the FBI, using a would-be surrogate they came across while intercepting internet chatter."

Firedoglake's Teddy wrote:

"How long are we going to let the cowboys shoot up our country with false terror plots and operations that would go nowhere without their instigation, planning, and coercion? How long will we allow our own federal constabulary to justify its own recklessly inflated budget by permitting actions like this to develop, fester, and grow operational in our midst?"

"This is terror, pure and simple. State-sponsored terror. Big splash terror designed to make people complaint and fearful, and grateful to their federal government," when, in fact, its operatives are at fault.

A Final Comment

It's high time an aroused public understood that terrorists R us, that inflammatory official Washington and major media accounts are either bogus or suspect to enlist popular support for state crimes. They include imperial wars and repressive laws assuring police state justice against anyone challenging government policies or, in Mohamud's case, for political advantage.

They also plan mass impoverishment once deficit cutters finish transferring maximum public wealth to rich elites and corporate favorites. Unless public outrage stops it, we'll all be as vulnerable as Muhamud, unsure whether our turn may be next, yet unaware of what we should already know - that America is on a fast track to tyranny, no longer a fit place to live in!

Indifference is no longer an option! Political prisoner Lynne Stewart's November 19 letter to supporters called organized people "boots on the ground for righteousness. I love you all," she said, quoting an excerpt from Seamus Heaney's "The Cure at Troy," saying:

"Human beings suffer,

They torture one another,

They get hurt and get hard.

No poem or play or song

Can fully right a wrong

Inflicted and endured.

History says, don't hope

On this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

The longed for tidal wave

Of Justice can rise up,

And hope and history rhyme."

That tidal wave's time is now!

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, November 28, 2010

The New York Times: What Passes for Journalism in the Newspaper of Record

The New York Times: What Passes for Journalism in the Newspaper of Record - by Stephen Lendman

Overall, America's major media fails the test. It's biased, shameless, and irresponsible with "everything to sell and nothing to tell" as a noted US media critic once said. It delivers a daily diet of "managed news" (propaganda), infotainment, and "junk food news," a worthless mix, treating people like mushrooms - well-watered, in the dark, and uninformed about what matters most. No wonder greater numbers opt out, consuming less broadcast "news" and print media, the kind no one should waste time or money on.

No paper has more clout than The New York Times. Media critic Norman Solomon once called its front page "the most valuable square inches of media real estate in the USA" - in fact, anywhere because its reports circulate globally.

In his April 1998 article titled, "All the News Fit to Print (Part I): Structure and Background of the New York Times," Edward Herman called The Times "an establishment newspaper," serving wealth and power interests, a record dating from 1896 when the Ochs-Sulzberger family took control. Its agenda "persist(s) to this day" as two earlier articles explained, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2007/06/record-of-newspaper-of-record.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/11/paid-lying-what-passes-for-major-media.html

For many decades The Times has had the lead role distorting, censoring, and suppressing truth, a shameful record:

-- supporting the powerful;

-- backing corporate interests;

-- endorsing imperial wars;

-- ducking major issues like government and corporate lawlessness and corruption, sham elections, democracy for the select few alone, an unprecedented wealth gap, and eroding civil liberties and social benefits; and

-- supporting Pentagon and CIA efforts to topple elected governments, assassinate independent leaders, prop up friendly dictators, secretly fund and train paramilitary death squads, practice sophisticated forms of torture, and menace democratic freedoms at home and abroad.

Journalism, New York Times Style

Predictably, The Times endorsed Obamacare, a March 21 editorial praising it, titled "Health Care Reform, at Last," saying:

"The process was wrenching....Barack Obama put his presidency on the line for an accomplishment of historic proportions." The editorial called the law "a triumph for countless Americans who have been victimized or neglected by their dysfunctional health care system."

In fact, Obamacare is a shameless rationing scheme to enrich insurers, drug giants, and large hospital chains. It imposes marketplace solutions, not vitally needed equitable reform assuring universal coverage, free from predatory insurers that overcharge and profit by denying care. No matter. The Times cynically called it "another stone firmly laid in the foundation of the American Dream....reforms (that) could ultimately rival Social Security and Medicare in historic importance." So much for truth.

A July 15 editorial praised financial reform titled, "Congress Passes Financial Reform," saying:

It was another great "victory for Mr. Obama, who has had to fight for every inch of progress," calling the "new consumer financial protection bureau established in the bill....a milestone, not only for its intent and power to rectify lending abuses, but because it will institutionalize the insight that the safety and soundness of banks cannot - and should not - be measured by profitability alone, but by the impact that bank practices ultimately may have on consumers."

Rubbish about business-friendly legislation that solidified Wall Street's dictatorship, institutionalized casino capitalism, let financial giants operate freely, gave the privately owned Fed greater powers, and established a toothless Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with little power to help anyone. Its head, Elizabeth Warren, is, in fact, a "watchdog" in name only, chosen because she supports Obama's policies and will follow them obediently in office.

More recently, The Times downplayed the initial WikiLeaks "Afgan War Diaries" release, then collaborated with White House officials to sanitize it, clearing what they published in advance, letting official Washington decide what to print.

Later, The Times public editor, Arthur Brisbane, answered his critics, saying the paper had a journalistic and civic duty to review the material before publishing. In other words, print only what White House officials judged appropriate, not journalists. Moreover, he vilified Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, calling his character "sketchy," then adding:

"Whether or not Julian Assange is a rogue with a political agenda (implying he is), what matters most is that The Times authenticates the information."

False! What matters most is supporting state and corporate power, including imperial wars for profit and global dominance, the real Times agenda.

A Times November 10 editorial titled, "Some Fiscal Reality," endorsed Obama team's deficit cutting proposal, a scheme to shift more wealth to the rich, at the same time foreclosing on working Americans with higher taxes and fewer benefits, saying:

"The draft proposal by the chairmen of President Obama's deficit-reduction commission was a welcome antidote to the low-minded debate that dominated the midterm elections," offering "no credible plans."

"It lays out sensible principles....It puts everything on the table, including tax reform" and spending cuts. "At a time when good ideas are depressingly scarce in the political and economic debate, and bipartisan agreement even scarcer, this is a commendable start."

It ended saying:

"We (hope) Republicans (will) pause long enough in their gleeful planning of President Obama's final defeat, and the Democrats would stop wringing their hands, long enough to read this important document - and then act on it."

On November 26, The Times ran two shameless articles, among others, both by Randal Archibold, one titled, "Russian TV Kowtows to Kremlin, Critic Says," saying:

Leonid G. Parfyonov, a Russian TV and print journalist, "used the occasion of an awards ceremony to deliver a blistering critique of Russian television, saying its journalists had bent so completely to the will of the government that they were 'not journalists at all but bureaucrats, following the logic of service and submission."

Regardless of whether it's true, the hypocrisy is glaring, a clear pot (The Times) calling the kettle (Russian television) black example, and a personal note.

In summer 2008, I was interviewed on Russian television for 30 commercial free minutes, discussing America's Eastern European policies. In fairness, it was Russian friendly, but I was allowed to speak, uninterrupted, as freely as I write and air on my radio program, the Progressive Radio New Hour. Because of my writing, I'm interviewed often, never on corporate radio or TV for a reason. Truth there is banned the same as on Times pages.

Archibold's second article, titled "Death and Dancing Coexist on Haiti's Tense Streets," acknowledged the cholera crisis, then shifted gears saying:

"Back in the city (Port-au-Prince), the bustle of life presses on." Without mentioning desperate conditions for around 1.5 homeless Haitians, living exposed on streets with practically no aid, he continued:

"The place is pregnant with anxiety and sporadic political violence just a few days from 'selecting' of a new president." Perhaps a Freudian slip, because Sunday's first round legislative and presidential "elections" are bogus enough to make a despot blush. An earlier article explained, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/haitis-sham-elections-solidifying.html

Archibold then focused on campaign rallies, ignoring the exclusion of 15 political parties including by far the most popular, Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas. He also downplayed friction between UN Blue Helmets (a paramilitary occupying force Haitians hate and want out), and conveyed the appearance of normality, when, in fact, conditions are appalling and desperate. As a result, most Haitians will boycott an election they know is a sham.

Dancing in the streets? Perhaps by Haiti's elites, knowing chosen officials will benefit them at the expense of ordinary people valued only to exploit. So much for truth and what passes for "fit to print" journalism.

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, November 27, 2010

Oscar Lopez Rivera: Imprisoned for Supporting Puerto Rican Independence

Oscar Lopez Rivera: Imprisoned for Supporting Puerto Rican Independence - by Stephen Lendman

After the 1898 Spanish-American War, the US took over the Philippines, Guam, Samoa, Hawaii, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canal Zone, assorted other territories, and Puerto Rico. On September 29, its Governor-General, Manuel Macias y Casado (a Spanish general), ceded control to Washington, its current status today as a colony.

In 1966, then University of Puerto Rico economics associate, Dr. Antonio J. Gonzales said:

"The Puerto Rican Independence Party bases its struggle in favor of the independence of Puerto Rico on the conviction that we continue to be a (US) colony, thus being denied (our) right to freedom and sovereignty."

After taking over in 1898, America "never granted Puerto Ricans the total control of their lives and destiny. Sovereign powers have never been transferred to us in order to be able to decide in all those areas that affect the collective life of our nation."

For over 112 years, America's had total control, Puerto Ricans virtually none, forced to "accept the dispositions of laws imposed" by a colonial power. In its relationship with America, Puerto Rico is called "Estado Libre Asociado" (Free Associated State or Commonwealth). Under international law, it's a colony, seeking independence. Therein lies the roots of its struggle, Oscar Lopez Rivera imprisoned for supporting it.

A collective 1981 statement by Puerto Rican Independentistas, convicted of "seditious conspiracy," said the following:

"Our position remains clear: Puerto Rico is a nation intervened, militarily conquered and colonized by the United States....We are prisoners of war captured by the enemy. Our actions have always been and continue to be in the nature of fighting a war of independence, a war of national liberation....The US interventionist government has absolutely no right, no say so whatsoever in regards to Puerto Rico, ourselves, or any Puerto Rican prisoner of war. The US interventionist government has only one choice....and that is to GET OUT! It is our right to regain and secure our national sovereignty. Nothing will stand in the way of achieving our goal."

The struggle continues, Rivera one of its victims. The web site prolibertadweb.com calls him and others like him:

"workers and professionals, students and teachers, community organizers, artists, mothers, and fathers of families. They are fighters (for) Puerto Rico's Independence and social justice." They reject colonization and exploitation. They're committed activists for justice, struggling to end it.

Each year for decades, the UN Decolonization Committee approved a draft resolution for Puerto Rican independence, the latest one on June 21:

"calling on the Government of the United States to expedite a process that would allow the Puerto Rican people to exercise fully their right to self-determination and independence, and for the General Assembly formally to consider the situation concerning Puerto Rico, which the world body had not formerly taken up since the Territory's removal from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 1953."

"....a majority of petitioners expressed dissatisfaction today with the commonwealth's treatment by the United States, arguing that the administering Power was hampering Puerto Rican decolonization initiatives and those of civil society....(America) continue(s) acting as a colonizing Power over a country with its own cultural identity."

Background on Rivera

Born in 1943 in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, he moved to America at age 12, then two years later to Chicago to live with his sister. A decorated Vietnam veteran, he returned home to his Puerto Rican community, plagued by unemployment, drugs, police brutality, and dire levels of healthcare, education, and other essential social services - issues he was determined to address.

He helped create the Puerto Rican High School and Cultural Center. He co-founded the Rafael Cancel Miranda High School (now called Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School). He worked for public school bilingual education, for universities to admit more Latino students and hire Latino faculty and staff, and for Chicago area corporations, like Illinois Bell, People's Gas and Commonwealth Edison, to end discriminatory hiring.

He became an organizer for the Northwest Community Organization (NCO), ASSPA, ASPIRA, and Chicago's First Congregational Church. He also helped found FREE, a half-way house for convicted drug addicts, and ASAS, an educational program for Latino prisoners at Illinois' Stateville Prison.

He also worked for Puerto Rican independence. In 1974, he helped organize the committee to "Free the Five" (Rafael Cancel Miranda, Irwin Flores, Oscar Collazao, Lolita Lebron, and Andres Figueroa Cordero). In 1975, he was forced underground with other comrades after the Justice Department named him an FALN leader (Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional - Armed Forces of National Liberation).

On May 10, 2001, FBI Director Louis Freeh described the organization as follows to the Senate Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and Select Committee on Intelligence, under the heading: "Left-wing and Puerto Rican extremist groups," saying:

"....left-wing (domestic terrorists) generally profess a revolutionary socialist doctrine and view themselves as protectors of the people against the 'dehumanizing effects' of capitalism and imperialism. They aim to bring about change in the United States through revolution rather than through the established political process."

"Terrorist groups (like FALN), seeking to secure Puerto Rican independence from the United States through violent means, represent one of the remaining active vestiges of left-wing terrorism....they view....acts of terrorism as a means by which to draw attention to their desire for independence....Acts of terrorism continue to be perpetrated (by) violent" separatist groups like FALN.

Rivera's Arrest and Imprisonment

On May 29, 1981, he was arrested, the FBI calling him one of America's most feared fugitives. Accused of being an FALN leader, he neither confirmed or denied it, affirming only his nonviolent activism. At trial, he refused to participate, declaring himself a "prisoner of war."

In 1981, he was convicted of armed robbery, miscellaneous charges, and seditious conspiracy - sedition pertaining to actions to incite insurrection or rebellion; conspiracy by working with others to achieve it.

Initially sentenced to 55 years, 15 more were added in 1988, based on spurious charges of participating in a conspiracy to escape, that sentence to begin when the original one ends.

In 1999, the Clinton administration offered him and 11 other Puerto Rican nationalists clemency. He declined, saying it required him to serve 10 more years with good conduct. Had he accepted, he'd have been free a year ago.

His sister, Zenaida Lopez, said he refused because on parole, he'd be in "prison outside prison." Incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) Terre Haute, IN, July 27, 2027 is his scheduled release date unless paroled and accepts or gets unconditional clemency sooner.

Punitive Sentencing and Treatment

The "ProLIBERTAD campaign for the freedom of Puerto Rican political prisoners and prisoners of war" called sentences given "Puerto Rican patriots excessive and punitive." On average, men got 70.8 years, women 72.8, 19 times longer than average in the year they were sentenced, real criminals faring much better.

For example, from 1966 - 1985, average murder sentences were 22.7 years; rape, 12.5 years, and arms violations 12. Only 12.8% of all federal prisoners got over 20 years. Most often, only repeat offenders get longer sentences. No Puerto Rican "patriot" had a prior record at time of arrest.

Worse still, they've been harshly treated in prison, in violation of UN Minimum Uniform Rules on the Treatment of Prisoners (UNSMRTR), Rule A1 6(1). They've been held far from families despite facilities closer to home. Some have been sexually assaulted, Alejandrina Torres attacked in three different prisons, in one case by prison guards and a male lieutenant. She was then held in solitary confinement for complaining.

They've been denied adequate medical care. Some have been held in underground confinement, Rivera, in 1993, describing his treatment at Marion, IL maximum security as follows:

"I am enclosed in a cell that is 8 feet wide by 9 feet long on an average of 22 hours each day. Today while I write this letter, I have been 36 hours without going out and tomorrow if they do not take us out it will have been three days without moving from this same space. In this little space I have everything. From eating my meals to taking care of my needs. So it is my dining room and latrine at the same time. My bed is a slab of cement. And the whole cell is painted the same dead yellow color. From an aesthetic point of view, it is as attractive as a jail for zoo animals."

In 1987, Amnesty International (AI) condemned Marion conditions, saying:

"In Marion, violations of the (UN) Minimum Standard Rules (for treating prisoners) are common. There is almost no rule in the Minimum Standard Rules that is not broken in one form or another."

In 1988, AI called conditions in Lexington, KY's Maximum Security Unit for women "deliberately and gratuitously oppressive."

The same holds for all federal and state maximum security facilities and many others, prisoners routinely abused, especially political ones. Earlier articles explained, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/04/harmful-effects-of-prolonged-isolated.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/political-prisoners-in-america.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/torture-in-us-prisons.html

From 1986 - 1998, Rivera was held in punitive maximum security confinement, and remained in max facilities until 2008. Only then was he transferred to a medium security prison on condition he report every two hours to corrections staff, an unheard of stipulation. Currently at FCI Terre Haute, his mailing address is:

Oscar Lopez Rivera
87651-024
FCI Terre Haute
PO Box 33
Terre Haute, IN 47808

A Final Comment

In early January 2011, likely the first week, Rivera will appear before the US Parole Commission after nearly 30 years in prison. Supporters are urged to download, print and sign the attached letter and mail it to the following address:

Chairman Isaac Fulwood, Jr.
US Parole Commission
5550 Friendship Blvd.
Suite 420
Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7286

In addition, the National Boricua Human Rights Network urges signers to email ricardor@boricuahumanrights.org so they can keep track of supportive letters.

"Together," they say, "we can help free Oscar Lopez Rivera!"

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, November 26, 2010

Enhanced Airport Screening Controversy

Enhanced Airport Screening Controvery - by Stephen Lendman

On November 23, Washington Post writers Jon Cohen and Ashley Halsey III headlined, "Poll: Nearly two-thirds of Americans support full-body scanners," according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, even though "half of those polled say enhanced pat-down searches go too far."

A new Zogby (11/19 - 22) poll disagreed, saying:

At 61% opposed, "(i)t's clear (most) Americans are not happy with TSA and their enhanced security measures recently enacted. The airlines should not be happy with 48% of their frequent fliers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements."

Neither should passengers facing molestation and harm to their health. More on that below.

Calling enhanced screening a "virtual strip search," the ACLU also objected, saying:

"We need to act wisely. That means not trading away our privacy for ineffective (and overly intrusive) policies. Ultimately, it is up to the American people to figure out just how much privacy they want to abandon....The ACLU represents those who value privacy in this debate."

AP reported it already received over 600 complaints, passengers saying "they were subjected to humiliating pat-downs at US airports, and the pace is accelerating, according to ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese."

He added: "It really drives home how invasive it is and (harassing) they are....All of us have a right to travel without such crude invasions of our privacy....You shouldn't have to check your rights when you check your luggage."

Public outrage also makes headlines, passengers complaining about intrusive screening, especially being groped. The more often they fly and endure it, the louder perhaps disapproval will grow, especially for techniques some critics call ineffective.

Reports also call them heavy-handed. A Michigan bladder cancer survivor, wearing a body bag to collect urine, said its contents spilled on his clothing after a Detroit airport security agent patted him down aggressively. He called the experience "absolutely humiliat(ing). I couldn't even speak." Other accounts are also unsettling, and for what!

Screening Fails the Test

An October 28, 2006 Ron Marsico Newhouse News Service article headlined, "Airport screeners fail to see most test bombs," saying:

'Screeners at Newark Liberty International Airport...failed 20 of 22 security tests conducted by undercover US agents last week, missing concealed bombs and guns at checkpoints throughout the major air hub's three terminals, according to federal security officials."

On October 22, 2007, Thomas Frank's USA Today article headlined, "Most fake bombs missed by screeners," saying:

Screeners failed to detect them at "two of the nation's busiest airports," Chicago O'Hare and Los Angeles International." The failure rates "stunned security experts."

A November 11, 2010 published report by the Airline Pilots Security Alliance headlined "The Truth about Airline Security - from the Pilots Themselves," saying:

Post-9/11, despite elaborate airport procedures, FAA tests showed "airport screeners failed to detect deliberately hidden weapons from 66% - 95% of the time, (and) new independent government reports confirm screening failures....just as high....for both weapons and explosives."

X-ray machines are no better than metal detectors. The number of bags screened, and numerous shadows and shapes on each viewed from only a single angle, makes it very hard to identify weapons among the clutter of gadgets, clothes, and personal articles passengers pack or carry on their person. As a result, "screening weaknesses make the system very easy to deliberately exploit."

In fact, besides being a health hazard (discussed below), it's useless and unnecessary. So-called bomb plots are fake. Remember past ones, including a fake shoe bomber, a fake underwear bomber, a fake Times Square bomber, an earlier fake one there, fake shampoo bombers, a fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake attacks on New York landmarks, fake 9/11 bombers, and others in a fake democracy with fake elections and fake public servants. Now intrusive airport screening for fake security and corporate profits. More on that below.

America's war on terror was fabricated to incite fear. It's a bogus scheme to facilitate America's imperial agenda, including global wars, homeland repression, greater corporate dominance, and an oppressive security apparatus that includes intrusive airport screening, more perhaps coming to communities and many neighborhoods.

Look for them next at train and bus stations, on city transit systems, at random city checkpoints, in court houses and government buildings, and on interstate highways, then perhaps at home, work, shopping malls and elsewhere, making America Orwell's worst nightmare - Big Brother harassing, watching, listening, screening, and destroying the last remnants of civil liberty protections.

Yet the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled passengers have no right to refuse, saying:

"Requiring that a potential passenger be allowed to revoke consent to an ongoing airport security search makes little sense in the post-9/11 world. Such a rule would afford terrorists multiple opportunities to attempt to penetrate airport security by 'electing not to fly' on the cusp of detection until a vulnerable portal is found."

Not a word (from a right-wing court) about harassment, worthless procedures, hazardous radiation, lawlessness, fake threats, or that state terrorism alone imperils everyone. More details below.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Government Pronouncements

So far, Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) systems operate at America's 68 largest airports, passengers opting out subjected to humiliating pat-downs. Those refusing both procedures won't fly. However, they'll be harassed, interrogated, possibly arrested, and fined up to $11,000 - for lawfully demanding their rights.

Yet Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano calls screening procedures effective for public safety, saying:

"There is a continued threat against aviation involving those who seek to smuggle powders and gels that can be used as explosives on airplanes. The new technology is designed to help us identify those individuals."

False! The above section exposed the lie, but there's more.

She also calls AIT machines (Advanced Imaging Technology) "safe, efficient, as well as strengthen newcomer privacy. They have been exclusively evaluated by (the FDA,) a National Institute of Standards as well as Technology (and) a Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who have all endorsed their safety."

False again, according to Johns Hopkins Lab spokeswoman Helen Worth, telling CNN: "That was not our role. We measured the level of radiation, which was then evaluated by the TSA."

Dr. Michael Love, head of an x-ray lab for the biophysics and biophysical chemistry department at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine exposed another lie about safety. On November 12, AFP quoted him saying:

"They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these x-rays. No exposure to x-ray is considered beneficial. We know (they're) hazardous but we have a situation at airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner."

Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) also raised concerns about "potential serious health risks." Biochemist John Sedat and his colleagues said skin and underlying tissues get most scanner energy. "While the dose would (cause less harm) if it were distributed throughout (the) entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high."

On June 29, Dr. David Brenner, head of the radiological research center at Columbia University told the London Telegraph:

"If all 800 million people who use airports every year were screened with x-rays, then the very small individual risk multiplied by the large number of screened people might imply a potential public health or societal risk. The population risk has the potential to be significant."

All travelers are at risk, especially pregnant women, their fetuses, young children, cancer patients, HIV-positive flyers, and anyone over 65. Calling the technology safe is untrue, yet the Obama administration deceitfully does it. However, not without growing criticism.

Unions for American Airlines and US Airways asked their pilots to bypass scanning, citing radiation concerns. On November 20, Los Angeles Times writer Brian Bennett headlined, "TSA exempts US airline pilots from pat-downs and body scans," saying:

"After weeks of pressure from pilot unions....the (TSA) agreed (on 11/19) to exempt pilots....traveling in uniform. (Instead, they'll go) through expedited screening after two forms of their (ID) are checked against a secure database, TSA Director John Pistole said in a statement."

New Jersey and Idaho legislators also want enhanced screening banned. So do New York City ones, wanting them out of JFK and LaGuardia Airports. Georgetown University Professor Marc Rotenberg, President of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), heads a lawsuit challenge to suspend their use, pending an independent safety review, saying "The TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has shown a frightening disregard for the concerns of American travelers."

November 24 was designated "National Opt-Out Day!" for citizens to "stand up for their rights, stand up for their liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an 'enhanced pat down' that touches people inappropriately. The protest's goal is to arouse public outrage, and demand lawmakers change policy. Otherwise, flyers face a "no-win situation: both the naked body scanners and the enhanced pat downs (grossly violate) privacy rights and dignity, both make you feel like a criminal....Is there....no better way to provide aviation security....?"

More at issue: why have what's intrusive, harmful, unneeded, and destructive of civil liberty protections! Why sacrifice privacy rights and the Fourth Amendment's prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures! Why put up with government tactics that allow it! Why let America fast track toward tyranny, a nation no longer fit to live in! Why stay silent when more than ever Lynne Stewart's advice applies:

"Organize! Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!"

A Final Comment

In response to widespread complaints, Obama did what he does best, deceitfully saying the following:

"TSA in consultation with counterterrorism experts have indicated to me that the procedures that they have been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing."

False, as the above information explains, but more's at stake as well - the profit motive. Among others, Bush administration Homeland Security (DHS) head Michael Chertoff's company, the "Chertoff Group" profiteers from the scam, his company saying it:

"provides strategic security advice and assistance, risk management strategy and business development solutions for commercial and government clients on a broad array of homeland and national security issues."

He represents Rapiscan Systems, an AIT machine maker. His advocacy, in fact, dates from his DHS years, ordering five Rapiscan scanners, a relationship now exploited for profit. In fact, four days after last December's underwear bomber incident, the company got a $165 million contract to supply more.

On December 29, 2009, Washington Examiner writer Timothy Carney headlined, "The TSA and the full-body-scanner lobby," saying:

"Let's look at those expensive, hi-tech body screeners" Congress appears ready to buy.

AIT maker Smiths Detection hired transportation lobbyist Van Scoyoc Associates to promote machines.

On December 28, 2009, Cleveland Plain Dealer writer Leila Atassi said AIT manufacturer America Science & Engineering, Inc. retained K Street's Wexler & Walker to lobby for their installation.

Last December 29, Bloomberg said former Senator Al D'Amato represents L3 Systems, Jeffries & Co. analyst Howard Rubel claiming the company "developed a more sophisticated system that could prevent smuggling of almost anything on the body."

TSA plays ball, an agency Mother Jones writer James Ridgeway's book ("The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11") said "has a dismal record of enriching private corporations with failed technologies, and there are signs that the latest miracle device (AITs) may (be) more of the same."

Follow the money, former government officials profiting, as well as at least one notable investor, billionaire George Soros, never one to let an opportunity go unexploited, especially with inside information to do it, how billionaires make more billions.

On November 14, Washington Examiner writer Mark Hemingway headlined, "George Soros also profiting off controversial new TSA scanners," saying:

He "owns 11,300 shares of OSI Systems Inc. the company that owns Rapistan," an investment he's profited on handsomely.

Is it just coincidental that two letter changes make Rapistan Rapescan, passengers, taxpayers, and core democratic values affected!

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/.

Haiti's Deepening Cholera Crisis

Haiti's Deepening Cholera Crisis - by Stephen Lendman

This is the latest update since Haiti's cholera outbreak, previous articles accessed through the following links, including the most recent on Sunday's sham election, an exercise in imperial control:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/haitis-cholera-outbreak-disease-of.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/cholera-outbreak-hits-por-au-prince.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/haitis-cholera-epidemic-sparks-outrage.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/haitis-cholera-epidemic-mounting.html

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/haitis-sham-elections-solidifying.html

On November 24, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres - MSF) reported it continues increasing its efforts in response to Haiti's deepening crisis.

From October 22 to November 21, MSF teams treated 29,000 people in cholera treatment centers (CTCs), established in Port-au-Prince, Artibonite region (where the first outbreak occurred), North, and Northwest with a 2% or less case fatality rate.

A remarkable record showing that cholera is easily treated when done effectively in time. Otherwise, it's fatal, a major problem for growing numbers unable to access care, including because of heavy rain in some areas turning roads to mud.

On November 24, Al Jazeera headlined "UN revises Haiti cholera estimates," saying:

Officials say it's "spreading faster than originally estimated and could infect hundreds of thousands." A new World Health Organization (WHO) assessment estimates 200,000 cases in three months, 400,000 in a year. All 10 provinces are affected.

The UN's Haiti humanitarian coordinator, Nigel Fisher, expects "literally hundreds of thousands of cases. The medical specialists all say that this cholera epidemic will continue through months and maybe a year at least...."

On November 25, Haiti Libre reported 27,933 confirmed cases, 1,523 official deaths, and too little capacity to handle growing needs, saying:

"The situation in Haiti is urgent and will get worse and worse in the coming weeks." In total, 36 CTCs operate with a 2,830 bed capacity, far below what's needed. The areas (departments) most affected are Artibonite, North, Northwest, West (including Port-au-Prince), and Northeast. Daily, dozens more cases are reported.

Some human rights groups want Sunday's election postponed. Let Haiti Live's executive director, Melinda Miles, said:

"Cholera is a game changer in the most fundamental sense. What we can say, definitely, is that....no elections held in the midst of the current exploding cholera crisis can be considered credible."

Most pertinent is banning 15 political parties, including by far the most popular, Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas that would sweep to victory overwhelmingly if participated. It's why it's excluded, to assure imperial favorites are selected. Democracy is off the ballot in Haiti.

On November 23, Canada's CBC headlined, "Cholera help slowed by indecision: UN," saying:

UN bureaucracy is "slowing down aid," making it likely that deaths "could rise above 10,000 if help doesn't quicken." Most at fault, rich nations failing to help, notably the Obama administration spurning its responsibility to earthquake and cholera victims, obstructing aid and providing none of its own, leaving Haitians on their own.

On November 24, Haiti: Operational Biosurveillance (OB) provided its latest update, conservatively estimating "nearly 95,000 cases," the majority subclinical. Again, in many areas, they confirm an undercount of around 400%, saying:

"In many areas of Haiti, we are documenting outbreaks that are not being accounted for in the official statistics. We therefore estimate the upper bound of estimated total (subclinical and clinically apparent) case counts to be nearly 375,000, (and a) true community load (close) to 800,000 if subclinical infections are counted."

OB sharply criticized America's Centers for Disease Control (CDC), calling its hubris well-known, a factor contributing to its inappropriate strategy for providing an infectious disease crisis warning. Moreover, CDC acted unprofessionally, spurning available peer-reviewed literature and operational experience. It played an important role in advising USAID and other US government organizations to withhold funding. It's how America treats poor people everywhere, including at home.

OB also held USAID and the State Department culpable for downplaying the gravity of the crisis, despite multiple professional briefings. Thomas Adams, Haiti Special Coordinator commented on the epidemic, saying "turn off the alarms." In other words, Washington has no intention to help.

The UN's Cluster System also failed, and the NGO community largely spurned its responsibility, OB citing:

"countless examples of large NGOs either openly refusing to share information used to detect, verify, and execute emergency responses for villages experiencing 'first contact' mortality, or deliberately remaining silent as unfunded 'grassroots' organizations scramble to send volunteers into remote areas to help....The rule of thumb is the more funding and the larger the organization, the less likely (it is) to share information about fatalities and emergency need for response." Or deliver vitally needed services, their interests largely bottom-line driven, making them non-profit in name only.

In addition, OB criticized Haiti's government for "dereliction of duty," a November 17 AFP report providing a recent example, headlined, "Haiti's Preval urges calm as cholera toll soars."

His government failed to help earthquake and cholera victims. Preval stayed out of sight, largely invisible while Haitians suffer. Instead, on November 17, his recorded message said:

"Disorder and instability have never brought solutions to a country going through hard times," never mind spurning his responsibility to help. Noting protest outbreaks in Cap Haitien, Port-au-Prince, and elsewhere around the country, he said, "Gunshots (fired by UN paramilitaries killing two or more Haitians), throwing bottles, and barricades of burning tires will not help us eradicate cholera bacteria. On the contrary, it will prevent the sick from receiving care and to deliver medicine where it is needed."

A shocking display of indifference and hypocrisy, reason enough why most Haitians despise him, his party, and government.

A Final Comment

Despite calls to postpone elections and address urgent cholera and earthquake priorities, Sunday's sham process will proceed. US ambassador Kenneth Merten affirmed it at a November 23 videoconference, saying:

America supports "free, fair, and transparent elections on November 28....We urge Haitians to go out and vote and to exercise their right to do so."

One unidentified reporter challenged him, saying:

"A number of articles have come out recently, arguing that this election is not free and fair, cannot be....given the exclusion of a number of political parties, (especially) Fanmi Lavalas....What is your comment on that?"

Merten: "Yeah, I understand there have been criticisms of this. However....the sheer number of participants from across the political spectrum (offers) a pretty good representation of the Haitian body politic. Regarding Lavalas....there are at least five (presidential candidates) who are former Lavalas members....So I think their representation....is pretty significant."

False, another example of America's big lie everywhere its imperial boot kicks hard, in this case violating Haiti's 1987 Constitution, guaranteeing free, fair and open elections.

Haiti, however, is a de facto US colony, militarized by proxy Blue Helmets, a repressive occupying force backed by Pentagon might when needed. US marines and other contingents are never far away, never shy about intervening, never reticent about smashing people, communities or countries, unconcerned about lawfulness, democratic values and social justice.

Haitians know it and their northern neighbor, stomping on them mercilessly for over 200 years, the Obama administration no different than its predecessors. It exploited Haiti's crisis, abandoning millions to suffer and perish from hunger, exposure, depravation, and disease, a testimony to American depravity.

The best from Merten was that Haiti had "a difficult year, (but) it is important that the political process move forward." Politics before people, capital before essential needs, America's imperial arrogance, Haitians paying the price.

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/.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Exposing Israel's Fraudulent Third Periodic Report to the UN

Exposing Israel's Fraudulent Third Periodic Report to the UN - by Stephen Lendman

On October 18, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights offered an "Alternative Report" response to Israel's submission, sent to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).

Submitting to the UN, Aharon Leshno Yaar, Israel's Permanent Representative to Geneva said "Israel was proud of its long-lasting recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family," omitting to explain he means only Jews, no others, especially Muslims. State belligerence for over six decades proves it. PCHR reviewed recent facts, documenting them in its report. Previous articles discussed them it detail, but they bear repeating. By so doing, peace and self-determination for a beleaguered people may come sooner.

Israeli Violations of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)

PCHR addressed each article, detailing Israel's noncompliance, presenting indisputable, convincing evidence. In its July 9, 2004 "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that:

"In the exercise of the powers available to it on this basis, Israel is bound by (ICESCR provisions)." Throughout its history, however, Israel has grievously violated all international laws, committing crimes of war and against humanity repeatedly, the latter virtually daily in the Territories.

After its 2005 disengagement, Israel claims Gaza was no longer occupied. Therefore, it no longer had ICESCR or other treaty obligations. False on both counts, the ICJ stating that:

"the State's obligations under the Covenant apply to all territories and populations under its effective control."

Israel has controlled Gaza since 1967, today under a medieval siege, little changed after Israel's bogus June easing. The UN Security Council, General Assembly, Special Rapporteur (for Palestine), and the ICRC all said Israel has control. Therefore, it's bound by all international law provisions.

ICEESC's Article 1: Right to Self-Determination

"All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."

Israel, however, denies Palestinians that fundamental human right, what the ICJ calls "one of the essential principles of international law."

The Court also stated:

"The principle of self-determinatin of peoples has been enshrined in the United Nations Charter and reaffirmed by the General Assembly in resolution 2625 (XXV)" under which "Every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples....of their right to self-determination."

PCHR's report "show(ed) through an article-by-article analysis of the ICESCR that Israel's longstanding belligerent occupation of (Palestine) prevents (its people) from freely determining their political status or pursuing their economic, social and cultural development."

According to international law and numerous UN resolutions, Israel's occupation is illegal, especially with regard to self-determination.

ICESCR's Article 6: Right to Work

"States recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right."

Occupation and closure restrict this right. Palestine's economy depends heavily on Israel for jobs, now largely restricted or denied. Gaza's siege and West Bank/East Jerusalem free movement restrictions also greatly impede it. As a result, unemployment and poverty are high.

In 1992, 30% of Palestinians worked in Israel. In 1996, it was 7% while unemployment rose to 32.6%. In 2003, it was 41.3%. In December 1998, about 23% of Palestinians lived in poverty, defined as having incomes of $650 or less annually, starvation wages by any standard. Before the second Intifada and 2007 closure, Gaza depended more heavily than the West Bank on Israel for employment. In December 1995, 36% of Gazans were impoverished. By end of 2003, it was 64%.

West Bank/East Jerusalem Palestinians are also impeded by free movement restrictions. More on that below. Moreover, by controlling borders, Israel can decide what gets in or out, including people, goods and services.

Under siege, Gaza's economy was devastated. Unemployment rose dramatically. From 2007 - 2009, OCHA reported the loss of 120,000 jobs, amounting to 55% of the workforce. Moreover, 95% of Gaza's industry closed or suspended work. The other 5% operates at from 20 - 50% of capacity. Poverty thus rose to 65%, but under the annual $650 guideline, it's much higher.

All areas of Gaza's economy have been affected, including agriculture and fishing, both decimated under Israeli restrictions. Earlier articles explained this in detail. A recent one may be accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/israel-denies-gazans-access-to-their.html

Besides other sectors, Gaza's textile industry was destroyed. At least 40% of furniture products, 70% of clothes and textile items, and 20% of food sector items were sold outside Gaza before closure. Over 45,000 workers lost employment in these sectors alone.

Moreover, construction is at a complete standstill because basic materials are banned, including cement, iron, paint, and all others. In addition, for lack of fuel, factories producing construction related items have closed. Included are 13 floor tile facilities, 30 for concrete, 145 for marble, and 250 for bricks. Thousands more workers were affected.

Under ICESCR provisions, however, Israel is obligated to let Palestinians seek employment freely. Closure and movement restrictions impede or prevent it.

Article 10: Right to Family

"The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that:

1. The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children."

However, Israel restricts or denies family reunifications. In May 2002, Government Decision No. 1803 temporarily suspended residency rights through reunifications. In 2003, the Knesset enacted the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (Temporary Order No. 5763), limiting residency or Israeli citizenship rights. It denies Occupied Territory (OT) Palestinians who marry citizens or permanent residents legal authorization to live in Israel with their spouse. Israel's High Court upheld the law, dismissing a collective NGO 2006 challenge.

"Significantly, the law only applies to Palestinians," not Israeli Jews who marry foreigners who aren't Muslims. For their part, Palestinians have few options, one is to break the law and live in fear of being arrested, detained or deported.

Residency rights of East Jerusalemites have also weakened, PCHR believing it's to force them out to let Israel Judaize the entire city. Yet in 1967, East Jerusalem Palestinians got permanent residency status as opposed to citizenship. In 1974, the law was amended, letting the Interior Ministery revoke it from Palestinians with Jerusalem ID cards under certain circumstances. For example, if they lived outside the city for over seven years; if they got residency rights or citizenship elsewhere, or if they were called a danger to Israeli security, a broad classification endangering anyone for any reason or none at all.

In 1995, the Interior Ministry introduced a new "center of life" policy whereby East Jerusalemites must prove residency constantly or be forced out. It must come through rental agreements, home ownership documents, tax receipts, school registration, receipts of medical treatment, or other means. Implemented without notice, Palestinians living outside the city temporarily lost residency. As a result, since 1995, revocations have increased significantly.

The Separation Wall is another means by stealing Palestinian land, in some cases destroying entire neighborhoods or communities. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have been affected. Once construction is completed, so will many more.

Family reunification in the West Bank and Gaza are also impeded, despite the Oslo Accords transferring control of a Palestinian population registry to the PA. Under its terms, Israel must be informed of all registry changes to update its records. However, since 2000, it's failed to do so. As a result, families incorrectly listed are infiltrators, subject to deportation, fines, or imprisonment. As of 2007, 120,000 family reunification requests remained pending, all vulnerable to expulsion or worse.

In April 2010, Israel passed Military Orders 1649 and 1650. An earlier article explained them in detail, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/09/israel-denies-gazans-access-to-their.html

MO 1649 expanded the definition of infiltrators and increased penalties for those convicted. MO 1650 requires all West Bank residents to have Israeli issued permits. Otherwise, they're infiltrators, subject to prosecution under the new orders. Yet, they're hard to observe since Israel hasn't updated its registry. As a result, potentially thousands of West Bank residents face immediate deportation or worse, forcing them to live in fear.

Under ICESCR provisions, they're also prevented from enjoying "the natural and fundamental group unit of society." Israel's policy, in fact, denies them the rights to both family and self-determination, gross violations of international law.

Article 11: Right to an Adequate Standard of Living

"The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions."

Israeli policies violate this provision grievously. Expropriating land is one of many ways. Since 1967, over half of Palestinian land was stolen - more than 73% in the West Bank. In multiple ways, the right to adequate housing is also violated - through demolitions and dispossessions, besides land theft and conflict-related destruction.

Cast Lead alone destroyed 2,114 houses, comprising 2,864 housing units, affecting 3,314 families and 19,592 individuals. Another 3,242 houses with 5,014 units were partially destroyed or made uninhabitable. Affected were 5,470 families and 32,250 individuals. In addition, 16,000 houses were moderately damaged, affecting thousands more people.

Under siege, reconstruction is hampered or impossible. As a result, thousands must live in tents, in rented apartments or with relatives. Post-conflict, an estimated 86,000 new homes are needed, unattainable under Israel's blockade.

Home demolitions also continue relentlessly so Jews can seize Palestinian land and property. Since 1967, about 25,000 structures have been affected, denying Palestinians their right to housing and their rightful land ownership.

West Bank and East Jerusalem demolitions are, in fact, increasing, hundreds since 2009 as well as pending orders for more. Currently, Palestinians comprise 30% of East Jerusalem's population, forced to live on 7% of city land in highly concentrated neighborhoods. Even in areas where building is technically allowed, virtually no permits are issued, including to make repairs, enlarge existing properties, or facilitate a growing population. Violating the law results in demolitions and/or fines.

West Bank confiscated land is used for settlements, their infrastructure, commercial development, open spaces, or military use. In East Jerusalem, it's for settlers. In recent years, encroachment has increased dramatically, on 121 settlements and another 99 outposts. Moreover, despite a so-called moratorium, construction continued unimpeded. Now it's proceeding faster, Israel hell-bent to grow its settler population (now around 500,000 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem) at the expense of dispossessed Palestinians, losing out without redress.

Thousands of new units are approved, many slated for immediate construction. Under Israel's 2000 Master Plan for Jerusalem, settlement expansion and other land expropriation will continue toward full Judaization of the city.

Add to this violations of the right to food. In the West Bank, restricted access to range land and water have made 80% of communities in Israeli-controlled Area C (about 60% of the West Bank) food insecure, compared to 25% in the West Bank overall. In Gaza, however, it's much worse, affecting about 75% of the population. Everything is in short supply, including the most basic items like wheat, flour, rice, oil, fruits, vegetables, fish, and much more. As a result, prices have risen sharply, exacerbating an already dire situation, Israel having declared economic war on Palestine, in Gaza most of all.

Water denial is also grievous throughout the Territories even though "International cooperation requires States parties to refrain from actions that interfere, directly or indirectly, with the enjoyment of the right to water in other countries. Any activities undertaken should not deprive another country of the ability to realize the right to water for persons in its jurisdiction." In Occupied Palestine, the problem gets worse, not better, Israel flaunting its obligation.

In the West Bank, Israel uses 73% of aquifer water, all belonging to Palestinians, denied access to what's theirs. It's led to a sharp decline in living conditions. In Israeli-controlled areas, obtaining permits to repair or upgrade infrastructure face lengthy delays or denials. As a result, farmers can't water their fields, have it available for animals, or have access to it for their families. In Area C especially, water insecurity prevails.

Overall, tens of thousands of Palestinians in dozens of communities have no water network connection. Many others get inadequate supplies, and pay four to ten times the average cost for water supply service. Israel's Separation Wall exacerbates the problem, its construction having destroyed dozens of wells and hundreds of cisterns, as well as 35,000 meters of water pipes. Moreover, Israel will have full control of the richest, most important Western Aquifer, along the Green Line inside the West Bank, when construction is completed.

During Cast Lead, Israel destroyed water installations, the construction ban preventing vital repairs or rebuilding. Inadequate fuel for electricity hampers facilities needing it, including wastewater treatment ones. Unable to run regular cycles, an average of 20,000 cubic meters of raw sewage is dumped into the Mediterranean daily. In some areas, it's 70,000 - 80,000 cm at times, as well as other disposal in cities like Rafah, Beit Lahia and Khan Younis. Water contamination is thus a major problem. About 90% of Gaza's from its coastal aquifer is polluted under siege, unfit to drink or use for agriculture. "This is very clearly a criminal policy....violat(ing) ICESCR but also constitutes collective punishment."

Article 12: Right to Health

"The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health."

From conflict and under siege, they've declined markedly for Gazans, both access and quality. The war damaged 15 of 27 hospitals, 43 of 110 health care centers, and 29 of 148 ambulances. Nothing can be rebuilt or properly repaired. In addition, Israel prohibits medicines, medical equipment, and spare parts, including what's vital to save lives.

Around 110 medicines and 123 types of medical equipment are unavailable for import. In coming months, supplies of 76 other medicines will run out. As a result, acute shortages exist, Gazans denied their right to proper care. Moreover, electricity shortages cause regular blackouts, and without spare parts, Gaza Power Plant repairs aren't possible. As a result, patients face grave risks because vital services aren't available or may have to shut down at critical times.

In addition, under siege, free movement in and out is prevented, including for medical personnel and patients needing critical care Gaza facilities can't provide. Patients have, in fact, died waiting for permission to use Egyptian, Israeli, or better West Bank or East Jerusalem facilities.

Besides life threatening and other illnesses, chronic or acute, the UN Special Rapporteur reported that "96% of the population of Gaza suffers from depression and that such mental deterioration is itself an indication of a failure by the Occupying Power to discharge its basic duty to safeguard the health of civilians living under the occupation."

Article 13: Right to Education

"The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to education. They agree that education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate in a free society."

For most other rights, realizing them depends on education. It's "the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities."

Israel, however, impedes or denies it through various means, including movement restrictions, a classroom shortage, and relentless persecution, arresting over 6,000 children since 2000 and intimidating the entire Palestinian population.

Moreover, especially in Gaza, shortages of books and basic supplies exist. Foreign travel is also restricted or denied. In addition, military operations and displacements take their toll, including raids on hundreds of schools and eight or more universities, arresting students, teachers, professors, and/or other staff. Further, destroyed or damaged Gaza schools haven't been rebuilt or repaired.

A Final Comment

PCHR concluded saying its report isn't exhaustive, "but provides an overview of some of the grave human rights abuses suffered by Palestinians...." It urges CESCR to take "appropriate steps toward ending Israel's repeated violations of the economic, cultural and social rights in" Palestine. It also calls for ending Gaza's siege, and for international support to demand it, so far not forthcoming.

Moreover, Israel is seriously and repeatedly in breach of all the above enumerated rights, basic ones under ICESCR and other international laws. It puts a lie to saying it's "proud of its longstanding recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family."

It's one of many brazen Israeli lies. Only other offenders and uninformed people can accept them. For the truth, ask Palestinians, especially Gazans, suffocating under Israeli harshness, slow-motion genocide 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/.