Saturday, May 04, 2013

Israeli Jailers Deny Water to Hunger Striking Jordanians

To Break Their Strike; Israel Denies Jordanian Detainees Access To Liquids

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

The Israeli Prison Authority decided, Friday, to deprive the hunger striking Jordanian detainees in its prisoners access to liquids in an attempt to force them end their strike that entered its second day.

The Jordanian Detainees Support Center reported that all liquids, except for water, have been banned for all the striking Jordanian detainees.

The Center added that, usually, hunger-striking detainees have access to water and other liquids such as mild, but Israel decided to place the Jordanian detainees in solitary confinement, and to deny them access to liquids.

Also, the Palestinian Prisoners Center for Studies reported that the Palestinian detainees, held by Israel, have been unable to contact the Jordanian detainees after Israeli ordered them into solitary confinement.

On Friday, dozens of Jordanians held a protest In Amman – Jordan, demanding the government to act for the release of their sons.

There are 25 Jordanians imprisoned by Israel; they decided to hold hunger strike and demanding the Jordanian government to act for their release.

Terror and US: The Boston Bombings and What We Do and Don't Call "Terrorism"

Boston Marathon, this thing called terrorism, and the United States

by William Blum – The Anti-Empire Report #116

What is it that makes young men, reasonably well educated, in good health and nice looking, with long lives ahead of them, use powerful explosives to murder complete strangers because of political beliefs?

I’m speaking about American military personnel of course, on the ground, in the air, or directing drones from an office in Nevada.

Do not the survivors of US attacks in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, Libya and elsewhere, and their loved ones, ask such a question?

The survivors and loved ones in Boston have their answer – America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s what Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving Boston bomber has said in custody, and there’s no reason to doubt that he means it, nor the dozens of others in the past two decades who have carried out terrorist attacks against American targets and expressed anger toward US foreign policy. 1 Both Tsarnaev brothers had expressed such opinions before the attack as well. 2 The Marathon bombing took place just days after a deadly US attack in Afghanistan killed 17 civilians, including 12 children, as but one example of countless similar horrors from recent years. “Oh”, an American says, “but those are accidents. What terrorists do is on purpose. It’s cold-blooded murder.”

But if the American military sends out a bombing mission on Monday which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Tuesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and then the military announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” And then on Wednesday the American military sends out a bombing mission which kills multiple innocent civilians, and the military then announces: “Sorry, that was an accident.” … Thursday … Friday … How long before the American military loses the right to say it was an accident?

Terrorism is essentially an act of propaganda, to draw attention to a cause. The 9-11 perpetrators attacked famous symbols of American military and economic power. Traditionally, perpetrators would phone in their message to a local media outlet beforehand, but today, in this highly-surveilled society, with cameras and electronic monitoring at a science-fiction level, that’s much more difficult to do without being detected; even finding a public payphone can be near impossible.

From what has been reported, the older brother, Tamerlan, regarded US foreign policy also as being anti-Islam, as do many other Muslims. I think this misreads Washington’s intentions. The American Empire is not anti-Islam. It’s anti-only those who present serious barriers to the Empire’s plan for world domination.

The United States has had close relations with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, amongst other Islamic states. And in recent years the US has gone to great lengths to overthrow the leading secular states of the Mideast – Iraq, Libya and Syria.

Moreover, it’s questionable that Washington is even against terrorism per se, but rather only those terrorists who are not allies of the empire. There has been, for example, a lengthy and infamous history of tolerance, and often outright support, for numerous anti-Castro terrorists, even when their terrorist acts were committed in the United States. Hundreds of anti-Castro and other Latin American terrorists have been given haven in the US over the years. The United States has also provided support to terrorists in Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iran, Libya, and Syria, including those with known connections to al Qaeda, to further foreign policy goals more important than fighting terrorism.

Under one or more of the harsh anti-terrorist laws enacted in the United States in recent years, President Obama could be charged with serious crimes for allowing the United States to fight on the same side as al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Libya and Syria and for funding and supplying these groups. Others in the United States have been imprisoned for a lot less.

As a striking example of how Washington has put its imperialist agenda before anything else, we can consider the case of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, an Afghan warlord whose followers first gained attention in the 1980s by throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. This is how these horrible men spent their time when they were not screaming “Death to America”. CIA and State Department officials called Hekmatyar “scary,” “vicious,” “a fascist,” “definite dictatorship material”. 3 This did not prevent the United States government from showering the man with large amounts of aid to fight against the Soviet-supported government of Afghanistan. 4 Hekmatyar is still a prominent warlord in Afghanistan.

A similar example is that of Luis Posada who masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, killing 73 civilians. He has lived a free man in Florida for many years.

USA Today reported a few months ago about a rebel fighter in Syria who told the newspaper in an interview: “The afterlife is the only thing that matters to me, and I can only reach it by waging jihad.” 5 Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have chosen to have a shootout with the Boston police as an act of suicide; to die waging jihad, although questions remain about exactly how he died. In any event, I think it’s safe to say that the authorities wanted to capture the brothers alive to be able to question them.

It would be most interesting to be present the moment after a jihadist dies and discovers, with great shock, that there’s no afterlife. Of course, by definition, there would have to be an afterlife for him to discover that there’s no afterlife. On the other hand, a non-believer would likely be thrilled to find out that he was wrong.

Let us hope that the distinguished statesmen, military officers, and corporate leaders who own and rule America find out in this life that to put an end to anti-American terrorism they’re going to have to learn to live without unending war against the world. There’s no other defense against a couple of fanatic young men with backpacks. Just calling them insane or evil doesn’t tell you enough; it may tell you nothing.

But this change in consciousness in the elite is going to be extremely difficult, as difficult as it appears to be for the parents of the two boys to accept their sons’ guilt. Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, stated after the Boston attack: “The American global domination project is bound to generate all kinds of resistance in the post-colonial world. In some respects, the United States has been fortunate not to experience worse blowbacks … We should be asking ourselves at this moment, ‘How many canaries will have to die before we awaken from our geopolitical fantasy of global domination?’” 6

Officials in Canada and Britain as well as US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice have called for Falk to be fired. 7

President Kennedy’s speech, half a century ago

I don’t know how many times in the 50 years since President John F. Kennedy made his much celebrated 1963 speech at American University in Washington, DC 8 I’ve heard or read that if only he had lived he would have put a quick end to the war in Vietnam instead of it continuing for ten more terrible years, and that the Cold War might have ended 25 years sooner than it did. With the 50th anniversary coming up June 13 we can expect to hear a lot more of the same, so I’d like to jump the gun and offer a counter-view.

Kennedy declared:

Let us re-examine our attitude toward the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write. It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on Military Strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims such as the allegation that “American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war … that there is a very real threat of a preventative war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union” … [and that] the political aims – and I quote – “of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries … [and] to achieve world domination … by means of aggressive war.”

It is indeed refreshing that an American president would utter a thought such as:

“It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write.” This is what radicals in every country wonder about their leaders, not least in the United States. For example, “incredible claims such as the allegation that ‘American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war’.”

In Kennedy’s short time in office the United States had unleashed many different types of war, from attempts to overthrow governments and suppress political movements to assassination attempts against leaders and actual military combat – one or more of these in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, British Guiana, Iraq, Congo, Haiti, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Cuba and Brazil. This is all in addition to the normal and routine CIA subversion of countries all over the world map. Did Kennedy really believe that the Soviet claims were “incredible”?

And did he really doubt that that the driving force behind US foreign policy was “world domination”? How else did he explain all the above interventions (which have continued non-stop into the 21st century)? If the president thought that the Russians were talking nonsense when they accused the US of seeking world domination, why didn’t he then disavow the incessant US government and media warnings about the “International Communist Conspiracy”? Or at least provide a rigorous definition of the term and present good evidence of its veracity.

Quoting further: “Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint.” No comment.

“We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people.” Unless of course the people foolishly insist on some form of socialist alternative. Ask the people of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, British Guiana and Cuba, just to name some of those in Kennedy’s time.

“At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends …” American presidents have been speaking of “our friends” for many years. What they all mean, but never say, is that “our friends” are government and corporate leaders whom we keep in power through any means necessary – the dictators, the kings, the oligarchs, the torturers – not the masses of the population, particularly those with a measure of education.

“Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent, have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides.”

Persistent, yes. Patient, often. But moral, fostering human rights, democracy, civil liberties, self-determination, not fawning over Israel … ? As but one glaring example, the assassination of Patrice Lumumba of the Congo, perhaps the last chance for a decent life for the people of that painfully downtrodden land; planned by the CIA under Eisenhower, but executed under Kennedy.

“The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.”

See all of the above for this piece of hypocrisy. And so, if no nation interfered in the affairs of any other nation, there would be no wars. Brilliant. If everybody became rich there would be no poverty. If everybody learned to read there would be no illiteracy.

“The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war.”

So … Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, and literally dozens of other countries then, later, and now, all the way up to Libya in 2012 … they all invaded the United States first? Remarkable.

And this was the man who was going to end the war in Vietnam very soon after being re-elected the following year? Lord help us.
Bush’s legacy

This is not to put George W. Bush down. That’s too easy, and I’ve done it many times. No, this is to counter the current trend to rehabilitate the man and his Iraqi horror show, which partly coincides with the opening of his presidential library in Texas. At the dedication ceremony, President Obama spoke of Bush’s “compassion and generosity” and declared that: “He is a good man.” The word “Iraq” did not pass his lips. The closest he came at all was saying “So even as we Americans may at times disagree on matters of foreign policy, we share a profound respect and reverence for the men and women of our military and their families.” 9 Should morality be that flexible? Even for a politician? Obama could have just called in sick.

At the January 31 congressional hearing on the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense, Senator John McCain ripped into him for his critique of the Iraq war:

“The question is, were you right or were you wrong?” McCain demanded, pressing Hagel on why he opposed Bush’s decision to send 20,000 additional troops to Iraq in the so-called ‘surge’.

“I’m not going to give you a yes-or-no answer. I think it’s far more complicated than that,” Hagel responded. He said he would await the “judgment of history.”

Glaring at Hagel, McCain ended the exchange with a bitter rejoinder: “I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you are on the wrong side of it.” 10

Before the revisionist history of the surge gets chiseled into marble, let me repeat part of what I wrote in this report at the time, December 2007:

The American progress is measured by a decrease in violence, the White House has decided – a daily holocaust has been cut back to a daily multiple catastrophe. And who’s keeping the count? Why, the same good people who have been regularly feeding us a lie for the past five years about the number of Iraqi deaths, completely ignoring the epidemiological studies. A recent analysis by the Washington Post left the administration’s claim pretty much in tatters. The article opened with: “The U.S. military’s claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends.”

To the extent that there may have been a reduction in violence, we must also keep in mind that, thanks to this lovely little war, there are several million Iraqis either dead, wounded, in exile abroad, or in bursting American and Iraqi prisons. So the number of potential victims and killers has been greatly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in Iraq (another good indication of progress, n’est-ce pas? nicht wahr?) – Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down. On top of all this, US soldiers have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like … well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down.

One of the signs of the reduction in violence in Iraq, the administration would like us to believe, is that many Iraqi families are returning from Syria, where they had fled because of the violence. The New York Times, however, reported that “Under intense pressure to show results after months of political stalemate, the [Iraqi] government has continued to publicize figures that exaggerate the movement back to Iraq”; as well as exaggerating “Iraqis’ confidence that the current lull in violence can be sustained.” The count, it turns out, included all Iraqis crossing the border, for whatever reason. A United Nations survey found that 46 percent were leaving Syria because they could not afford to stay; 25 percent said they fell victim to a stricter Syrian visa policy; and only 14 percent said they were returning because they had heard about improved security.

How long can it be before vacation trips to “Exotic Iraq” are flashed across our TVs? “Baghdad’s Beautiful Beaches Beckon”. Just step over the bodies. Indeed, the State Department has recently advertised for a “business development/tourism” expert to work in Baghdad, “with a particular focus on tourism and related services.” 11

Another argument raised again recently to preserve George W.’s legacy is that “He kept us safe”. Hmm … I could swear that he was in the White House around the time of September 11 … What his supporters mean is that Bush’s War on Terrorism was a success because there wasn’t another terrorist attack in the United States after September 11, 2001 while he was in office; as if terrorists killing Americans is acceptable if it’s done abroad. Following the American/Bush strike on Afghanistan in October 2001 there were literally scores of terrorist attacks – including some major ones – against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific: military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States.

Even the claim that the War on Terrorism kept Americans safe at home is questionable. There was no terrorist attack in the United States during the 6 1/2 years prior to the one in September 2001; not since the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. It would thus appear that the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States is the norm.
William Blum speaking in Wisconsin, near Minnesota

Saturday, July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. Peacestock is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace in an idyllic location near the Mississippi, just one hour’s drive from the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Peacestock is sponsored by Veterans for Peace, Chapter 115, and has a peace-themed agenda. Kathy Kelly, peace activist extraordinaire, will also speak.

You can camp there and be fed well, meat or vegetarian. Full information at:

William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapters 1 and 2, for cases up to about 2003; later similar cases are numerous; e.g., Glenn Greenwald, “They Hate US for our Occupations”, Salon, October 12, 2010
Huffington Post, April 20, 2013; Washington Post, April 21
Tim Weiner, Blank Check: The Pentagon’s Black Budget (1990), p.149-50.
William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II
USA Today, December 3, 2012, April 21, 2013
The Telegraph (London), April 25, 2013;, April 24
Full text of speech
Remarks by President Obama at Dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library
Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2013
Anti-Empire Report, #52, December 11, 2007

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

← Issue #115

Green Giants That Would Profit First the Planet's Destruction

The giants of the green world that profit from the planet's destruction

by Naomi Klein

A new movement has erupted demanding divestment from fossil fuel polluters – and Big Green is in their sights.

'Purists will point out no big green group is clean, since virtually every one takes money from foundations built on fossil fuel empires.'

Illustration by Belle Mellor

The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. Chapters have opened up in more than 100 US cities and states as well as on more than 300 campuses, where students are holding protests, debates and sit-ins to pressure their to rid their endowments of oil, gas and coal holdings. And under the "Fossil Free UK" banner, the movement is now crossing the Atlantic, with a major push planned by People & Planet for this summer. Some schools, including University College London, have decided not to wait and already have active divestment campaigns.

Though officially launched just six months ago, the movement can already claim some provisional victories: four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds and, in late April, 10 US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco (Seattle came on board months ago).

There are still all kinds of details to work out to toughen up these pledges, but the speed with which this idea has spread makes it clear that there was some serious pent-up demand. To quote the mission statement of the Fossil Free movement: "If it is wrong to wreck the climate, then it is wrong to profit from that wreckage. We believe that educational and religious institutions, city and state governments, and other institutions that serve the public good should divest from fossil fuels." I am proud to have been part of the group at that worked with students and other partners to develop the Fossil Free campaign. But I now realise that an important target is missing from the list: the environmental organisations themselves.

You can understand the oversight. Green groups raise mountains of cash every year on the promise that the funds will be spent on work that is attempting to prevent catastrophic global warming. Fossil fuel companies, on the other hand, are doing everything in their power to make the catastrophic inevitable. According to the UK's Carbon Tracker Initiative (on whose impeccable research the divestment movement is based), the fossil fuel sector holds five times more carbon in its reserves than can be burned while still leaving us a good shot of limiting warming to 2C. One would assume that green groups would want to make absolutely sure that the money they have raised in the name of saving the planet is not being invested in the companies whose business model requires cooking said planet, and which have been sabotaging all attempts at serious climate action for more than two decades. But in some cases at least, that was a false assumption.

Maybe that shouldn't come as a complete surprise, since some of the most powerful and wealthiest environmental organisations have long behaved as if they had a stake in the oil and gas industry. They led the climate movement down various dead ends: carbon trading, carbon offsets, natural gas as a "bridge fuel" – what these policies all held in common is that they created the illusion of progress while allowing the fossil fuel companies to keep mining, drilling and fracking with abandon. We always knew that the groups pushing hardest for these false solutions took donations from, and formed corporate partnerships with, the big emitters. But this was explained away as an attempt at constructive engagement – using the power of the market to fix market failures.

Now it turns out that some of these groups are literally part-owners of the industry causing the crisis they are purportedly trying to solve. And the money the green groups have to play with is serious. The Nature Conservancy, for instance, has $1.4bn (£900m) in publicly traded securities, and boasts that its piggybank is "among the 100 largest endowments in the country". The Wildlife Conservation Society has a $377m endowment, while the endowment of the World Wildlife Fund–US is worth $195m.

Let me be absolutely clear: plenty of green groups have managed to avoid this mess. Greenpeace,, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, and a host of smaller organisations such as Oil Change International and the Climate Reality Project don't have endowments and don't invest in the stock market. They also either don't take corporate donations or place such onerous restrictions on them that extractive industries are easily ruled out. Some of these groups own a few fossil fuel stocks, but only so that they can make trouble at shareholder meetings.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is halfway there. It has a $118m endowment and, according to its accounting team, for direct investments "we specifically screen out extractive industries, fossil fuels, and other areas of the energy sector". However, the NRDC continues to hold stocks in mutual funds and other mixed assets that do not screen for fossil fuels. (The Fossil Free campaign is calling on institutions to "divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years".)

Purists will point out that no big green group is clean, since virtually every one takes money from foundations built on fossil fuel empires – foundations that continue to invest their endowments in fossil fuels today. It's a fair point. Consider the largest foundation of them all: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As of December 2012, it had at least $958.6m – nearly a billion dollars – invested in just two oil giants: ExxonMobil and BP. The hypocrisy is staggering: a top priority of the Gates Foundation has been supporting malaria research, a disease intimately linked to climate. Mosquitoes and malaria parasites can both thrive in warmer weather, and they are getting more and more of it. Does it really make sense to fight malaria while fuelling one of the reasons it may be spreading more ferociously in some areas?

Clearly not. And it makes even less sense to raise money in the name of fighting climate change, only to invest that money in, say, ExxonMobil stocks. Yet that is precisely what some groups appear to be doing. Conservation International, notorious for its partnerships with oil companies and other bad actors (the CEO of Northrop Grumman is on its board, for God's sake), has close to $22m invested in publicly traded securities and, according to a spokesperson, "we do not have any explicit policy prohibiting investment in energy companies".

The same goes for Ocean Conservancy, which has $14.4m invested in publicly traded securities, including hundreds of thousands in "energy", "materials" and "utilities" holdings. A spokesperson confirmed in writing that the organisation does "not have an environmental or social screen investment policy". Neither organisation would divulge how much of its holdings were in fossil fuel companies or release a list of its investments. But according to Dan Apfel, executive director of the Responsible Endowments Coalition, unless an institution specifically directs its investment managers not to invest in fossil fuels, it will almost certainly hold some stock, simply because those stocks (including coal-burning utilities) make up about 13% of the US market, according to one standard index. "All investors are basically invested in fossil fuels," says Apfel. "You can't be an investor that is not invested in fossil fuels, unless you've actually worked very hard to ensure that you're not."

Another group that appears very far from divesting is the Wildlife Conservation Society. Its financial statement for fiscal year 2012 describes a subcategory of investments that includes "energy, mining, oil drilling, and agricultural businesses". How much of WCS's $377m endowment is being held in energy and drilling companies? It failed to provide that information despite repeated requests.

The WWF-US told me that it doesn't invest directly in corporations – but it refused to answer questions about whether it applies environmental screens to its very sizable mixed-asset funds. The National Wildlife Federation Endowment used to apply environmental screens for its $25.7m of investments in publicly traded securities, but now, according to a spokesperson, it tells its investment managers to "look for best-in-class companies who were implementing conservation, environmental and sustainable practices". In other words, not a fossil fuel divestment policy. Meanwhile, the Nature Conservancy – the richest of all the green groups – has at least $22.8m invested in the energy sector, according to its 2012 financial statements. Along with WCS, TNC completely refused to answer any of my questions or provide any further details about its holdings or policies.

It would be a little surprising if TNC didn't invest in fossil fuels, given its various other entanglements with the sector. A small sample: in 2010, the Washington Post reported that TNC "has accepted nearly $10m in cash and land contributions from BP and affiliated corporations"; it counts BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell among the members of its Business Council; Jim Rogers, CEO of Duke Energy, one of the largest US coal-burning utilities, sits on its board of directors; and it runs various conservation projects claiming to "offset" the carbon emissions of oil, gas and coal companies.

The divestment question is taking these groups off guard because for decades they were able to make these kinds of deals with polluters and barely raise an eyebrow. But now, it appears, people are fed up with being told that the best way to fight climate change is to change their light bulbs and buy carbon offsets while leaving the big polluters undisturbed. And they are raring to take the fight directly to the industry most responsible for the climate crisis.

Hannah Jones, one of the student divestment movement organisers, told me:

"Just as our college and university boards are failing us by not actively confronting the forces responsible for climate change, so are the big corporate green groups. They have failed us by trying to preserve pristine pockets of the world while refusing to take on the powerful interests that are making the entire world unliveable for everyone." But, she added, "students now know what communities facing extraction have known for decades: that this is a fight about power and money, and everyone – even the big green groups – is going to have to decide whether they are with us, or with the forces wrecking the planet."

It doesn't seem like too much to ask. I mean, if the city of Seattle is divesting, shouldn't WWF do the same? Shouldn't environmental organisations be more concerned about the human and ecological risks posed by fossil fuel companies than they are by some imagined risks to their stock portfolios? Which raises another question: what are these groups doing hoarding so much money in the first place? If they believe their own scientists, this is the crucial decade to turn things around on climate. Is TNC planning to build a billion-dollar ark?

Some groups, thankfully, are rising to the challenge. A small but growing movement inside the funder world is pushing the big liberal foundations to get their investments in line with their stated missions – which means no more fossil fuels. It's time for foundations to "own what you own", says Ellen Dorsey, executive director of the Wallace Global Fund. According to Dorsey, her foundation, which has been a major funder of the coal divestment campaign, is now "99% fossil free and will be completely divested by 2014".

But convincing the biggest foundations to divest will be slow, and the green groups – which are at least theoretically accountable to their members – should surely lead the way. Some are starting to do just that. The Sierra Club, for instance, now has a clear policy against investing in, or taking money from, fossil fuel companies (it once didn't, which caused major controversy in the past). This is good news for the Sierra Club's $15m in investments in publicly traded securities. However, its affiliated organisation, the Sierra Club Foundation, has a much bigger portfolio – with $61.7m invested – and it is still in the process of drafting a full divestment policy, according to Sierra Club's executive director, Michael Brune. He stressed that "we are fully confident that we can get as good if not better returns from the emerging clean energy economy than we can from investing in the dirty fuels from the past".

For a long time, forming partnerships with polluters was how the green groups proved they were serious. But the young people demanding divestment – as well as the grassroots groups fighting fossil fuels wherever they are mined, drilled, fracked, burned, piped or shipped – have a different definition of seriousness. They are serious about winning. And the message to Big Green is clear: cut your ties with the fossils, or become one yourself.

First published in The Nation;

Friday, May 03, 2013

Palast of Kazakhstan: In Search of the Boston/Chechen Connection

Palast reports from Kazakhstan: FBI Spiked Chechen Jihadi Investigation

by Greg Palast - UK

Astana, Kazakhstan - Following the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001, I received documents marked "SECRET" from the files of the FBI's Washington field office. The information in those files will make you sick.

[Click through to get a free download of the film Bush Family Fortunes, which contains the fascinating background to this story.]

When the bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, I grabbed those FBI files – and a plane for Kazakhstan, bullying cameraman Rocco D into joining me. [Rocco, no fool, won't let me print his full name.]

After we landed, word came that two Kazakh teens, friends of the bombers, had been arrested by Boston police and, yesterday, charged with hiding evidence of the bombers' guilt.

Here in Astana, Kazakhstan's capital, televisions everywhere run endless loops of the bombs going off at the Boston Marathon, the screams, the blood, the victims... and the questions.

And first question: How do a couple of wholesome Call-of-Duty-playing American kids get the idea they should murder and mangle their neighbors to avenge the Muslims of Chechnya—whom the victims probably couldn't find on a map?

The second question: How did America's trillion-dollar intelligence apparatchiks wave off warnings from Russia about one of the bomber's connections to the Chechen militants?

The answer regarding the intelligence failure is, to paraphrase the famous journalist Yogi Berra: it's amazing what you don't see when you don't look.

And that's related to the how young Muslim-Americans came to kill other young Americans over Chechnya.

According to the secret memo, long before the Boston bombing, even before the September 11 attack, the FBI shut down an investigation of a group that ran a summer camp in Florida for America's Muslim teenagers.

No, we shouldn't be spying on Islamic campers. However, besides the usual swimming and soccer, these youngsters were encouraged to join the Chechen jihad. The kiddies were treated to videos praising Chechen bombers (who seized a school and hospital then killed their hostages). The group also produced an educational film praising, "that compassionate young man, Osama bin Laden".

Hey, it was a family affair. Camp Jihad was run by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), whose operation just outside Washington DC was directed in the US by a man the FBI called "ABL" – Abdullah Binladden, Osama's brother.

When the Kazakh friends of the Boston bombers were arrested, I went back to that "SECRET" memo. It fell into my hands in November 2001, just two months after that "compassionate young man" Osama killed thousands in my office building (I once worked at the World Trade Center).

Why would my own government spike an investigation that might have saved lives in New York in 2001 [and in Boston in 2013]?

My producer at BBC Television called the FBI. They did not deny the authenticity of the secret documents. Well, then, if the US government has evidence someone may be illegally recruiting killers for Chechnya (as well as the Bosnia war), why in the world would you shut down the investigation and hide the findings?

The official answer was even more chilling than the secret memo itself. The FBI spokesman told us at BBC:

"There are lots of things only the intelligence community knows and that no one else ought to know."

Well, what else are we not supposed to know?

We got the answer on November 9, 2001, when I received a call at BBC's Newsnight desk in London from a US intelligence agent via a "clean" phone. The spook confirmed that, beginning as early as 1995, the CIA and other US spy agencies were told to stand down from investigating the bin Laden family in both the US and in France.

Several insiders repeated the same story: US agencies turned a blind eye to the bin Laden-terrorist-Chechen-jihad connection out of fear of exposing the US government's half-assed—and half-illegal—support for these terrorists.

Our government gave ABL a pass (and safe passage back to Saudi Arabia) because Presidents Clinton and Bush were more than happy that our Saudi allies were sending jihadis to Afghanistan, then, via WAMY, helping Muslims to fight in Bosnia then, later, giving the Russians grief in Chechnya.

The problem is that terrorists are like pigeons – they come home to roost.

As Joe Trento of the National Security News Service, who provided crucial help to our investigation, told me,

"It would be unseemly if [someone] were arrested by the FBI and word got back that he'd once been on the payroll of the CIA… What we're talking about is blow-back. What we're talking about is embarrassing, career-destroying blow-back for intelligence officials."

It's utterly unlikely the young Boston bombers were on the CIA payroll, but it's more than likely the elder brother's connections here in Central Asia could be traced back to US-protected killers of years past.

The sleight-of-hand to keep public eyes off the US juicing Chechen terror is almost fun to watch. There's surprisingly little official scrutiny of the media's new heart-throb, Ruslan Tsarni, the bombers' uncle. The Washington Post, praising Uncle Ruslan's "I LOVE AMERICA" schtick, noted,

"[Ruslan's] performance will be sewn into the rotation of TV news from here on out. Later, on MSNBC, Tom Ridge spoke highly of the message of ‘promise and hope' sent by Tsarni."

I would venture to guess that this was not the first time Mr. Ridge, first director of the US Department of Homeland Security, had heard Ruslan's messages. Ruslan founded the Congress of Chechen International Organizations and has lucrative work here in Kazakhstan as a USAID contractor and oil industry lawyer.

There is zero—and I mean zero—evidence that Uncle Ruslan or the CIA hired these two sad-ass kids in Boston to blow up their neighbors. The point here is that the FBI is too concerned about making sure that "no one else ought to know" about our government playing footsie with terrorists—and too unconcerned about the blow-back that blows up in Boston.

* * * * * * * *

Greg Palast investigated terror attacks on the US for BBC TV.

Readers can download Bush Family Fortunes, Palast's BBC documentary, without charge, at

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, just named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review.

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Voting Salmon in BC

Election 2013 – On protecting BC’s Salmon

by Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer - West Coast Environmental Law Association

Earlier this year, the BC Legislature declared the Pacific Salmon to be BC’s official fish. Which is no doubt nice for the salmon. But even nicer would be real legal protection for the salmon. With the platforms from all four parties now available, what are candidates proposing to do to protect our salmon?

Controversy is developing regarding the NDP’s rather vague election promise on salmon. Later in the post we’ll take a closer look at the NDP’s position, but first, here’s where each party comes down:

  • BC Conservatives: Although John Cummins is a former commercial fisher himself, and has been known to take strong positions on fish-related issues, the Conservative party platform does not mention salmon, fish, fishing or anything else directly aimed at addressing fish or protection of fish.
  • BC Liberals: The BC Liberal platform only makes one specific promise related to fish: “Direct all revenues from fishing licences be provided to the Freshwater Fisheries Society for conservation activities ($2.4 million), by 2015/16.” According to the platform costing, this would represent $2.4 million for fish conservation activities. (Although not in the platform, the current, Liberal government has taken some recent steps related to fish farms, discussed later in this post).
  • BC Greens: The BC Greens have a series of promises related to salmon and other related species, including negotiating to take over the management of fisheries from the federal government, addressing the impacts of run-of-river projects, mining and forestry on fisheries values, etc. The BC Greens also promise to remove fish farms from the “East Coast of Vancouver Island and the West Coast of the Mainland”. More on this below. This brief summary does not fully capture the several promises in the party’s Green Book 2013 related to fish and fisheries, which readers interested in fish protection may wish to review.
  • BC NDP: The BC New Democrats election platform has only one major commitment directly related to salmon. Notably, they promise to: “Protect wild salmon stocks by working with the federal government to implement the Cohen Commission recommendations, and to support sustainable aquaculture.” This is the promise that we’ll examine in more detail below. The NDP platform also commits more generally to “ensur[ing that] government decisions are supported by robust science-based evidence to better manage BC’s wildlife and fisheries resources….”

In this post we’re focused on promises that are actually directed at protecting fish and fish habitat. Other election promises may incidentally protect fish. For example, NDP and Green pronouncements against oil pipelines and tanker traffic are good for fish (the Green party platform explicitly makes this link). Similarly, the NDP and the Liberals are both promising a revised Water Act which is expected (although the platforms don’t say it) to expand government powers to ensure that fish get water (Organizing for Change has more on the party positions on the new Water Act). But fish are only one of the many reasons for taking these stands.

The NDP and the Cohen Commission

So what does the NDP mean by:

Protect wild salmon stocks by working with the federal government to implement the Cohen Commission recommendations, and to support sustainable aquaculture.

The Cohen Commission was appointed by Prime Minister Steven Harper to examine the collapse of the Fraser River Sockeye runs in 2009. The Commission held hearings over two years, heard from 179 witnesses, and examined 573,381 documents, trying to get a sense of what needs to be done to maintain and enhance Fraser sockeye runs. The Commissioner made 75 recommendations, primarily directed at the federal government.

It’s worth noting that the federal government has not, to date, indicated whether it will accept or implement the Cohen Commission recommendations. With a possibly unwilling partner in the federal government, it’s unclear whether the NDP would be able to implement all 75 recommendations, which ones they would prioritize, and what they would do if the federal government will not cooperate.

This vagueness has led one of BC’s foremost salmon activists, Alexandra Morton, to blast the NDP for what she sees as backing away from past commitments to regulate the fish farm industry and protect wild salmon:

The freshly minted NDP Fisheries policy literally that put salmon farms first, sets a course that conflicts with itself and the NDP’s previous position to remove salmon farms from BC waters. … Whoever wrote the NDP fisheries policy feels certain British Columbians don’t read the news because astonishingly they thought telling us the NDP would work with DFO would inspire confidence.

Clearly the NDP platform, if it is to get serious about protecting fish, needs a little more detail.

Confusing matters somewhat is the fact that some individual NDP Candidates have made statements that do provide more detail about their positions on fish farms and salmon, but it is not obvious that the party is standing behind them. For example, Agriculture Critic Lana Popham reportedly posted the following to her Facebook Page, but it doesn’t appear there any longer:

New Democrats have clearly stated that if we form government in May, we will work with the DFO to act on the recommendations from Justice Cohen including:
  • regularly revising salmon farm siting criteria to reflect new scientific information about farms on or near Fraser River sockeye salmon migration routes as well as the cumulative effects of these farms;
  • explicitly considering proximity to Fraser River sockeye when siting farms;∙
  • limiting salmon farm production and licence duration;∙
  • using the precautionary principle to re-evaluate risk and mitigation measures for salmon farms in the Discovery Islands, including closing those farms that are determined to pose more than a minimal risk of serious harm to the health of migrating Fraser River sockeye.

In addition, we will maintain the existing moratorium, introduced in 2008, on new fish farm licenses on the North Coast.

I called the NDP to ask why this post has apparently been taken down and what the specifics of the NDP platform are, but did not receive a call back by the time this post was published. I will update if we hear back from them.

A few more details might be gleaned from statements made by NDP Incumbent, Claire Trevena in the Campbell River Mirror:

It must be remembered that, as a consequence of a legal challenge brought in 2009, the BC Supreme Court ruled that the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction for open-net aquaculture. This ruling severely limits the province’s ability to regulate in this area. …

Last May, my party stated that we are firmly committed to working with and, if necessary, pressuring Fisheries to act if we form the government. …

An area where the province does have jurisdiction is renewing leases for the siting of fish farms.

These statements are interesting. On the one hand, Trevena downplays the provincial government’s ability to regulate fish farms – implying that this is the reason for the narrow campaign promise to work with the federal government on implementing the Cohen Commission recommendations. But at the same time she recognizes that the province has the ability to act on the key question of the siting of fish farms (should they be located on the migration routes of wild salmon, for example). Trevena’s language largely parallels both the NDP’s platform and Lana Popham’s statement, but with the added suggestion that these goals can only be achieved through pressure on the federal government.

BC’s jurisdiction over fish farms

The court case Trevena refers to is a case brought by Alexandra Morton (with financial support from West Coast Environmental Law), and it does indeed establish that the federal government is responsible for regulating fish farms.

But she is equally correct that the province retains jurisdiction for determining where fish farms are located (if anywhere). This is because the provincial government owns the seabed for much of BC’s oceans areas – and so fish farms need a licence from the province to legally operate their open net operations.

The current provincial government has recognized its continued jurisdiction over fish farms through its control over the “tenures” of fish farms, and intends to use these powers, with or without federal government approval, to signal what amounts to a moratorium (as recommended by Commissioner Cohen) on new fish farms in the Discovery Islands:

The Province of British Columbia has no intention of issuing any further or expanded tenures for net-pen salmon farms in the Discovery Islands until at least September 30, 2020. … The Province will work with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and with industry and First Nations to implement the intent of this recommendation.

Alexandra Morton was quick to point out in this video (recorded before the NDP platform was released) that the Province, through this statement, is accepting its jurisdiction over fish farms.

Similarly, the Green party is clear that they intend to use this control over the seabed to eliminate fish farms:

Ensure that the BC coast is free of finfish farms along the length of the east coast of Vancouver Island and the west coast of the mainland from the Fraser River north to the Broughton Archipelago, by not renewing the licenses of finfish farms with annual tenure and by revoking the licenses of finfish farms with long-term tenure. [Emphasis added]

The fact is that each of the specific objectives listed by Lana Popham in her statement could be addressed through the provincial power to control its own lands. While not every one of the Cohen Commission recommendations could be implemented by the province acting alone, a large number of them could. The NDP, if it is indeed suggesting that the federal government needs to be involved before it can act, is ignoring its powers as landlord of the fish farm companies.

Want to know where your candidate stands on protecting wild salmon and other fish species?

If you’d like to see candidates taking stronger stands on salmon and fish protection, tell them so. On the VoteEnvironment2013 website you can just put in your postal code and then write an email to all your local candidates about salmon (or about any environmental issues of your choice). This election, vote environment!

By Andrew Gage, Staff Lawyer

This post authorized by West Coast Environmental Law Association, sponsor under the Elections Act, 604-684-7378.

Photos courtesy of Andrew S. Wright /

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Barbarians Past the Gates: Obama Picks Bankster Pritzker for Top Commerce Position

Billionaire Bankster Breaks into Obama's Cabinet

by Greg Palast

You made fun of me when I suggested that President Barack Obama would nominate a confessed bank scammer, a loan-sharking mortgage predator, to his cabinet. But thar she blows!

Today, Obama has named Penny Pritzker Secretary of Commerce. As the President says, It's a milestone: the first female fraudster to hold that post. No longer will criminal bankers have to lobby the administration - because now they'll have one of their own in the Cabinet.

The following is taken from the Chapter, "Penny's from Heaven?" you'll find in my bestseller, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. [Get a copy, I'll sign it, and you send it to the President.]

We never heard of this guy Barack Obama until 2004. Less than three years before taking the presidency, he was in the Illinois state senate, a swamp of scammers, backhanders, and party machine tools - not a stellar launch pad for the White House. And then, one day, state Sen. Barack Obama was visited by his fairy godmother. Her name is Penny Pritzker.

Pritzker's net worth is listed in Forbes as $1.8 billion, which is one hell of a heavy magic wand in the world of politics. Her wand would have been heavier, and her net worth higher, except that in 2001, the federal government fined her and her family $460 million for the predatory, deceitful, racist tactics and practices of Superior, the bank-and-loan-shark operation she ran on the South Side of Chicago.

Superior was the first of the deregulated go-go banks to go bust - at the time, the costliest failure ever. US taxpayers lost nearly half a billion dollars. Superior's depositors lost millions and poor folk in Sen. Obama's South Side district lost their homes.

Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit. What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators and the Commerce Department so she could get away with this crap.

Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that's really what they call themselves) on Chicago's Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better - an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and former co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.

Rubin opened the doors to finance industry vaults for Obama. Extraordinarily for a Democrat, Obama in 2008 raised three times as much from bankers as his Republican opponent.

This article is based on the chapter Penny's from Heaven? From Palast's New York Times Bestseller Billionaires & Ballot Bandits with comics by Ted Rall.Donate and get a signed copy.

So what did Citibank's Rubin get for showering Obama with gold? Obama agreed to take care of Rubin's poodles, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner. They became Obama's first cabinet picks: Summers as Economics Czar and Geithner as his czarina, Secretary of the Treasury.

Geithner and Summers were the gents who, under Treasury Secretary Rubin, designed the deregulation of banking. In effect, they had decriminalized the kind of financial flim-flammery that brought the planet to its knees while bringing Rubin, Pritzker and the banksters loads of lucre.

So, in 2008, Summers and Geithner were put back in the saddle - Obama's horse but Rubin's saddle.

Rubin received more than $100 million from Citigroup, the gargantuan commercial bank/investment bank/casino created by deregulation. It is worth a mention that Rubin's centi-million-dollar payoff went unchallenged by Citi's new owner, the US Treasury, which had put up more than a trillion dollars in loans and guarantees to pull Rubin's creature out of bankruptcy.

Rubin rocked, but Penny was pissed off. Pritzker had taken this state senator/community organizer from the ghetto, made him a US Senator, then, as Obama's campaign finance chairwoman, raised a mind-blowing three-quarters of a billion dollars to make him president.

In return, in 2008, Obama decided to make his patron Penny the Secretary of Commerce. But then, in November 2008, just as Obama was about to submit her nomination to Congress, a bunch of Pritzker's victims marched on Washington. They were not from her busted bank, but unhappy workers from the lucrative nursing homes that her family owns through a string of complex offshore trusts. Obama slammed the door on Penny pronto.

The Pritzker family made its billions mostly from Hyatt Hotels and Hyatt nursing homes. Penny, on the Hyatt board of directors, is an infamously combative anti-union apostle. UNITE HERE, the union that represents Hyatt workers, has called for an international boycott of Hyatt hotels. In 2012, UNITE HERE and its parent, the AFL-CIO, were crucial to Obama's winning Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. So, in this last campaign, Obama had to keep his billionairess heiress on the down-low.

Obama appeared to keep the door shut on Pritzker throughout the 2012 campaign, reducing her to hosting an election fundraiser at her Gold Coast digs, which she had to bill as a Goldman Sachs PAC event. This marks possibly the first time and last time anyone used Goldman Sachs as a PR cover.

But today, with the unions' money and votes already pocketed and counted, Obama can give working folks The Finger and give Penny her pound of flesh: the Commerce post.

The New York Times says that, "At Commerce, Ms. Pritzker could provide the president with a new way to reach out to the business community." The last time Pritzker reached out to the business community was to sell them sub-prime mortgage securities, worthless bags of financial feces manufactured by Superior Bank.

By giving Penny, the Piggy Banker, Commerce, we have to change Obama's rating to sub-prime.

I do note that some woman's organizations are applauding the appointment of the first female to the Commerce post. But I prefer to honor the victims of the Chicago femme fatale. Most of Penny's victims, busted bank borrowers and underpaid health care workers, are women, too. But, unlike those wounded and destroyed by Pritzker, she worked hard for her money: it was not easy inheriting her first billion from her daddy.

* * * * * * * *

Greg Palast
earned his degree in finance at the University of Chicago but has since gone legit. View his reports for BBC Television, Vice Magazine and more at

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, just named Book of the Year on BBC Newsnight Review.

Visit the Palast Investigative Fund's store and find great Holiday Gifts for your loved ones.
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Of What Humankind Might Be: A Truth Teller's Light in the Darkness of Our Times

The Truth Tellers' Lament in a Time of Darkness

by William A. Cook

“When you survey the wreckage of the American imperium, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed by darkness of the times, submerged in the remorseless riptide of blood and official violence. But even facing methods of torture and imprisonment that would unnerve an inmate of Guatanamo, Lilburne never surrendered to defeatism. His writing remains infused with radical purpose, a radiant call from across the centuries for collective resistance” (Jeffrey St. Clair, “Intolerable Opinions in an Age of Shock and Awe," March 20/21, 2004).

Nine years ago, Jeffrey St. Clair drew a graphic if horrific picture of John Lilburne’s years as a Leveler in mid-17th century England, a strident voice demanding justice and the rights of the people against the ruling forces of King Charles and Cromwell. St. Clair and Alex Cockburn as co-editors of Counterpunch, edited what's considered to be the best muckraking newspaper extant, entered the lists against the cabal of Neo-Cons that took control of the United States with the ascendency of George W. Bush to the Presidency at the turn of the 21st century and have been relentless in their Leveler-type polemics ever since.

I recall that article now because “the forces that Lilburne confronted “with violent and bitter expressions” have coalesced once again (not that they ever really dissipated, mind you) and threaten to impose their preemptive will upon the living creatures of the world. What are these forces? Militarism, religious bigotry, official censorship, prosecutorial inquisitions and torture, imperial expansion, monopolists, land grabbers, misogynists and those who buy and sell the earth and humans, too. In short, the whole sick crew.

That was nine years ago. What has been accomplished by the voices of truth against the darkness that has covered America since that date? Bush won reelection in 2004 but a glimmer of hope appeared in the 2006 elections with the defeat of Republicans in the House. By 2008, the demise of the Cabal seemed assured with the election of Barak Obama whose entire campaign and its accompanying promises were based on negation of the Bush Presidency. The voices of truth, the Protesters, the Modern Levelers had won, or so it seemed. We now know that Obama metamorphosed into a Bush echo and the nation has moved inexorably into a fascist state run by corporate wealth and the controls achieved over the American Congress by the Zionist forces.

Yet in November of this past year, the 29th of November, 188 nations of the United Nations allowed the recognition of the rights of the Palestinian people to be a member of the United Nations, lacking only a land mass that could exist free of illegal occupiers. A victory perhaps of right over might, perhaps only a pyrrhic victory. Sixty five years ago this May 14, the world body admitted to its membership the state of Israel even as that self-declared state was in the process of invading, destroying and leveling 418 towns and villages owned by the people of Palestine who suffered death or expulsion out of their homeland to live without human rights anywhere in the world, a self-declared state acting in full defiance of the Resolution that granted them 55% of the land area of Mandate Palestine. That state, ruled by Zionists and their ideology, now occupy and control all but 12% of the land of Palestine.

The government of these United States has sworn obligations to absolute support for this state regardless of its internationally illegal occupation, land theft, and genocidal actions against the indigenous people of Palestine. America like its umbilical-tied offspring has become a nation ruled by forces of “Militarism, religious bigotry, official censorship, prosecutorial inquisitions and torture, imperial expansion, monopolists, land grabbers, misogynists and those who buy and sell the earth and humans, too” as St. Clair noted nine years ago.

I bring this to the attention of all who rest their hope in the never ending voices of those who seek to thwart the militaristic forces that currently control our lives. If any time is meaningful to contemplate this issue it is now.

This May the destruction of the Palestinian peoples’ rights by the forces in control in Israel has lasted 65 years. Stripped of their land, imprisoned behind steel and concrete walls, devastated by unemployment, tormented by torture, witness to a world unwilling or unable to give them aid, the reality of the failure of truth to condemn lies and deceit rings across this globe like the banshees’ cry—shrill, cacophonic, sick, an open declaration of defeat ushering in a personal enslavement to those who would determine how we live.

Here is the reason I am so concerned: two weeks ago I received a note from Debbie Menon, Editor of the Internet site “My Catbird Seat” out of Dubai;

 “I am contemplating folding up, cancelling my websites and forgetting about the whole thing. We are not having any success. I look back at the past two decades and ask myself, what have you achieved Debbie?”

There followed last week Alan Hart’s 'My Last Post;'

“I am withdrawing from the battlefield of the war for the truth of history as it relates to the making and sustaining of the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel, and the following, for my regular readers, is an explanation of why...”

When I made my commitment to the war for truth more than three decades ago, I believed that calling and holding Israel to account for its crimes, in order for there to be peace based on justice for the Palestinians and security for all, would remain a mission impossible unless the citizens of the Western nations, enough of them and Americans especially, were informed about the truth of history…Over the last 20 years or so, with their books, articles and public speaking, the truth tellers have made an impact but not on a big enough scale to change the outcome of the war. Why?

“On reflection today I believe that Zionism could have been contained and defeated by now if the resources (yes, I do mean money) had been available to assist the promotion and spread the truth of history on the scale necessary to empower the citizens of the Western nations, Americans especially, to make their democracies work for justice and peace, by demanding that their governments end their unconditional support for Israel right or wrong.”

Hart has been a mid-east reporter of renown for over thirty years. His most recent three volumes, 'Zionism: the Real Enemy of the Jews' has absorbed his time and money because the truth tellers, as he labels today’s Levelers, do not do what they do to make money; he now needs to salvage what he can as time absorbs his life.

Debbie Menon received this email from Niloufer Bhagwat (an Indian Judge) when he heard that she might close down her site;

“Unfortunately all changes in history have been accompanied by tremendous upheavals as satanic forces always oppose change and seek to reverse it by terrible violence; however a turning point is reached when humanity can no longer accept the injustices and destruction and gather (en)mass for change. We are at one such turning point in history. So everyone must be at their post including you.”

St. Clair ends his piece on Lilburne with this reflection;

“His pen never stopped, though. The pamphlets continued to flow until his death in 1657. Lilburne refused to be a martyr. He faced the beast, endured prisons and tortures that would give even an inmate at Guantanamo the chills, and remained defiant and upbeat.” 

For all committed to the cause, time swallows our lives as it swallows those who we believe destroy the lives of others, and we must from time to time rest from our labors lest we too be absorbed. But we must also never forget that truth there is and it must be told. It was with that thought I penned a response to Debbie’s note, a response that I believe belongs to all who would spend their lives devoted to the rights that give all meaning.

Your lament, Debbie Menon, is the eternal cry of humankind: it is what Abel grasped as his brother brought him to slaughter; it was the lamentable lies of those who brought my family’s namesake, John Cooke, to his death for defending the rights of humankind against the tyranny of Charles 1 in 1649, declared by those who held power “The King can do no wrong”; it was the fate of John Lilburne who spent a lifetime condemned for seeking justice for the rights of the people during the Christian rule of Cromwell’s Puritans and tortured, jailed, and left to die for his audacity; it was the lament of Henry David Thoreau who knew the silence that attends the wickedness of those in power enabling them to carry out their crimes against humankind; it is what Frederick Douglass damned when he proclaimed before the citizens of this nation on the 4th of July;
“There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States, at this very hour…your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; … your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your sermons and thanksgivings … mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”

It is the legacy of Lloyd Garrison, of Martin Luther King, of Malcolm X, of all those who devoted their lives to eradication of slavery and segregation in these United States; it is the eternal legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, of all who lived and died to bring apartheid to an end in South Africa symbolized by their Bishop Tutu; it is the caustic lament of the great satirists from Petronius to Voltaire to Swift to Twain to Vonnegut; it is the strident voice now of Jonathan Cook in Israel, of Uri Avnery and Uri Davis inside the belly of the beast, of Hart and Lawson and Cockburn and St. Claire and Hedges and Atzmon and Finkelstein and those declared to be self-hating Jews who stand for the conscience of humankind not the tribal mentality of ancient days.
And there are thousands of others who spend their days decrying the evil that straddles the world dressed in the flags of the people of Israel and the United States declaring their righteousness and innocence and longing for peace when they are, as Abel understood in his final moments, but the twisted, tortured, inexplicable and pathetically sick side of humankind, the side that revels in infliction of pain, that finds delight in destruction, devastation, deprivation and deceit, the mind that feels no remorse, expects no retribution, lives a soulless, vapid life of isolation from human warmth, sans love or compassion or mercy; they are as the metaphor of Cain and Abel attest, the reality of human nature, evil and goodness, the driven power of calculated greed set against the heart driven desire to nurture life as a gift, the ego driven maniac that seeks self-gratification at the expense of his brother and sister burying the heart that seeks to bind the wonder of the mind for the common good of all.

You Debbie Menon and Alan Hart and all who devote their lives to peace and justice, who stand against the silent tides of humanity that want to recede in silence as their brothers are crucified by the sick Cains of this world, do what you do because you must, because you cannot let these maniacs go unrecognized, because your brothers and sisters need to know that some care, that there are humans who testify against the soulless creatures that crawl to power like the slime that is but residue of what mankind might be if he were but to see the life he lives in the dark recesses of the crevices he must build to hide from those he tortures and damns to suffering and death, unable to walk in the sunlight that bathes the earth in brilliance and warmth, the very cause of life itself without which there is nothing.

Israeli Settlers Attack Olive Trees, Cut Chances for Peace

Settlers Cut Olive Trees Near Ramallah

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

Thursday May 2 2013, a number of armed extremist settlers of the Ofra illegal settlement, attacked Palestinian orchards in Deir Jareer village, east of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, and cut nearly 50 olive trees.

Local sources in the village reported that the olive trees belong to two residents identified as Mohammad Jihad Shajaeyya, and Mohammad Mahmoud Hamdan.

The settlers left the area after their attack; Israeli soldiers arrived at the scene, attacked and pushed the Palestinians out of their lands.

A few weeks ago, a number of extremist settlers attacked a Palestinian villager in the area causing various injuries, and the local residents responded by burning mobile homes illegally installed by the settlers on Palestinian lands.

On Tuesday, several Palestinians, mainly schoolchildren, were injured after a group of extremist Israeli settlers hurled stones at their vehicles, including a school bus, close to various roadblocks, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus.

The settlers also set ablaze dozens of Palestinian olive trees that belong to villagers of Huwwara, Aseera Al-Qibliyya, Madama and Orif, all near Nablus.

Furthermore, a number of settlers also hurled stones at Palestinian vehicles near the Ennab roadblock, east of the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem.

In related news, a young Palestinian man was stabbed and seriously injured in Jerusalem, and was moved to the Hadassah Israeli hospital in the city.

Also on Tuesday, Israeli sources reported that a Palestinian man stabbed and killed an Israeli settler of the Yitzhar illegal settlement, near Nablus. The attack took place near the Za’tara roadblock.

Finding People and Planet Friendly Financial Alternatives

Putting People and the Planet Before Profits

by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers - CounterPunch

This past week of economic news reveals both the ruthlessness of big finance capitalism on people and the planet and that people are working for alternative, more just and sustainable, solutions.

At the top of the list is more research on austerity. The Reinhart and Rogoff study relied on by advocates of austerity was proven to be false, so now we know that austerity does not work in practice or in theory. Furthermore, new research shows something even worse – austerity is killing people in the US and Europe. For example, HIV/AIDS has increased by 200% in Greece since 2011. There are also malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, loss of access to healthcare (5 million people in the US), an epidemic of drug abuse, one million cases of depression and 10,000 suicides since the recession.

Though Congress members are providing more money to end the flight delays that affect them and other wealthy travelers, they are not doing anything about lost unemployment, closure of Head Start programs, people lacking housing assistance and healthcare or cuts to meals on wheels. These choices are being made by the political elites that run the country for the elites of the country.

We also see the heartlessness of finance capitalism in the workplace. Americans are 270 times more likely to die in a workplace accident than from a terrorist attack, yet the Department of Homeland Security’s budget in 2012 was $47 billion, while OSHA’s budget was only $588 million.

The massive fertilizer plant explosion in Texas exposed the impact of these mistaken budget priorities. OSHA had not inspected the plant since 1985 when it found seven violations, five of them serious. The plant received a measly $30 fine and was not inspected again. The fertilizer company told the EPA that the risk of explosion was minimal. If the EPA had inspected, they would have found the company had no alarms, no sprinklers, no automatic shut-off valves and no firewall to isolate stockpiles of highly combustible materials. They also would have found immense amounts of explosive material. The Oklahoma City bomber used 4,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate to blow up the Federal Building. Compare that to the 540,000 pounds in storage in West, Texas. Inadequate funding resulted in lost lives and hundreds of injuries.

The decline of unions adds to this problem as evidenced in this report that found 73% of NYC construction deaths are at non-union worksites.

We also witnessed the impact of low-wage labor caused by the current global trade system that puts profits before people. The devastating building collapse in Bangladesh, where workers were pressured to work long hours and forced to enter the building in which exits were blocked, caused over 120 deaths, as these vivid pictures show.

Of course, low wage labor is a problem in the US as well. Les Leopold points out that ten hedge fund managers make us much as 196,000 nurses; and that one hour of work by a Wall Streeter takes 21 years of work for the rest of us. And, we saw this week how little Congress members care about the plight of US workers when only one member showed up at a congressional hearing on the long-term unemployed; and even when the embarrassing photo was tweeted, only a few more of the 19-member Joint Economic Committee joined the hearing.

All of this unfairness in the economy is pushing more and more people to look at worker owned coops. To assist those who are interested in co-ops, American Coop developed worker co-op start-up guides.

The dangers of big finance-based capitalism are also on display when it comes to our health. A report this week showed that the most widely used herbicide in the world, glyphosate or (Roundup), is linked to Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers. But, that is one of many examples of toxins in the air and water, in the walls of our homes and in our furniture. Poisons are in widespread use throughout our lives. In fact, this book shows that we are essentially guinea pigs for corporations that put profit over health. As more people become aware, across the country they are organizing to protect their health from unhealthy foods.

President Obama may not have realized it, but at a memorial service in West, Texas for the victims of the explosion, he showed how a health care system that puts profits ahead of health is a national tragedy when he said: “America needs towns that holds fundraisers to help folks pay the medical bills. . ..” Of course, if he merely improved and expanded Medicare to cover everyone, fundraisers would not be needed.

Already, our health has become even worse under Obama’s leadership. Research shows that austerity is hurting our health. In fact, cancer clinics are turning away patients and some are even closingbecause of the sequester. In addition, rising health care costs are keeping 43% of America’s working-age adults from going to the doctor. Health care has become so ugly in the United States that some describe it as sadism. As ObamaCare is implemented, things will get worse. Spending will increase for insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, but don’t worry because Congress is on it. They are holding secret bi-partisan meetings to exempt lawmakers and their staff from the requirements of ObamaCare. On The Real News Network we explain how ObamaCare will continue to lead to bankruptcies, un-insurance, under-insurance and increasing costs.

One of the greatest examples of profits over the health of people and the planet is the continued carbon-nuclear energy economy. Investors and the political elite are virtually rejoicing at the possibility of the US becoming the ‘United States of Arabia’ because of non-traditional oil and gas, e.g. tar sands, hydro-fracking and methane hydrate (methane gas from the oceans). Most predict there will be more renewable energy in our future, but there will continue to be a dominance of carbon fuels, especially methane gas (don’t fall for calling it “natural” gas). The environmental and health effects of methane gasare not being reported.

Last quarter Exxon’s profits rose, but the company so far has avoided paying for any of the damages caused by the massive oil pipeline spill in Arkansas because of a technicality. The12,000 barrels of the more dangerous tar sands crude oil, diluted bitumen, that were leaked are not classified as oil, and companies transporting bitumen in pipelines are not required to pay into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

Of course, a prized option on the corporate duopoly’s table is creating a carbon market for big finance, but a report this week shows cap and trade schemes don’t work. And, when countries try to do the right thing – switch to clean sustainable energy and create a green new deal, like India, which is working to create 20,000 megawatts of solar power by 2022 as well as local jobs – US business interests and the government use trade laws to try and stop them.

As the truth comes out, more people are taking action to create clean and sustainable energy. Ten cities are joining the fossil fuel divestment campaign and are taking their money out of carbon fuel stocks.Los Angles has announced it will end the use of coal by 2025 (unfortunately doing so in part by relying on methane gas). And, we have more good news. A report found that the US could end reliance on oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy by 2050 and become an economy based solely on solar, wind and other clean, sustainable energies. Other studies have found that a carbon-free/nuclear-free energy economy could be accomplished by 2030.

We know what the problems are, and that solutions to them exist. We must continue to stay informed so that we are not fooled by corporate media. And we must continue to work in our communities on real alternatives that are based on our values. This week on Clearing the FOG, we spoke to people who are doing just that. Jeff Dicken, Paul Glover and Edgar Cahn shared their work on alternative currencies and economies that redefine work and build resilient communities.

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

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The Fisher's Tale: Beached in Gaza

Jamal Ismail Faris Baker- The Fisherman’s Narrative

by Palestinian Center for Human Rights - PCHR

I can only give false assurances to my children”

Today, 1 May 2013, marks the International Labour Day, which commemorates peoples right to work, along with their protection of human rights in the work place. However, as the rest of the world celebrates this day, the situation of fishermen in the Gaza Strip continues to deteriorate.

Jamal Ismail Faris Baker (48) a fisherman from Gaza City with a family of 9, has been fishing for 35 years now and has witnessed the steady decline of the fishing industry in Gaza.

Life spiralled out of control for Jamal a few days after the conclusion of Israel’s military operation Pillar Of Defence on the Gaza Strip in November 2012.

Under the November 2012 ceasefire between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities, the fishing limit was supposedly extended from three nautical miles to six nautical miles. However, in March 2013, this fishing limit was reduced to the previous three nautical miles.

Jamal relished the opportunity of the extension of the fishing limit to six nautical miles in November 2012;

“We were very happy to hear the news that the fishing limit had been increased. We thought this would improve our situation. I borrowed my friend Talal’s fishing boat, so that we could fish in deeper waters.”

However, on the morning of 28 November 2012, Jamal’s boat was attacked and destroyed by an Israeli gunboat,

“That day my son Khader (19) and three other fishermen went fishing early in the morning. They went with a group of 4-5 other fishing boats. I was at the shores doing some work and waiting for them to return with the catch. Shortly after they set sail, my phone rang and my son told me that an Israeli gunboat was attacking our boat. I was shocked to hear that. I asked him what was happening there and he told me that they were just around 2 nautical miles from the shore and the Israeli forces were firing bullets at our boat. Khader told me that the motor of the boat was damaged in the firing. Suddenly the call disconnected. I thought that he had been injured in the attack.”

Jamal continues to say;

 “I then called my nephew who was on another one of the fishing boats. He told me that Khader and the other three fishermen had to jump in the seawaters because our boat had been destroyed in the attack. He told me that some fishing boats went to rescue them but he couldn’t see what was happening exactly. I was not concerned about the boat, I was scared about what had happened to my son, as my nephew couldn’t see him. In some more time two fishing boats returned to the shore and they brought the three other fishermen with them. That time I got really worried, as I couldn’t find Khader. I called my nephew again and this time he told me that Khader had been arrested by the Israeli forces.”

Khader spent 4 hours on the Israeli gunboat. Jamal’s anxiousness about his son’s well-being knew no bounds during that time, as he explains;

“I was so scared that I could not speak. My voice just did not come out of my mouth. During the incident some media persons and other people gathered around me and asked me about what was happening but I could not answer any of them. I was too worried to answer anyone’s questions. I just wanted Khader to come back safely. I thought they were going to take Khader to Ashdod, because that’s what they do to fishermen who get arrested. But after 4-5 hours I saw Khader coming back to the shores with the damaged boat. He was tired and scared because of the incident. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to see him. Luckily he was not injured in the attack.”

Jamal wants to know why his boat was attacked, but has not found any satisfactory answers;

 “Khader and other with him were only fishing. They were not even outside the 3-mile limit. I don’t understand why they were attacked.”

Since that terrible day Jamal or Khader have not been able to fish again;

 “After Khader returned we inspected the boat. It was completely destroyed and could not be used again. Luckily Talal did not pressure me to pay him for the boat, and he simply asked if Khader and others were ok. But along with the boat I lost all my fishing equipment, including the fishing rods, which cost around 10,000 Jordanian Dinars (approximately USD 14,000). Also I had taken the fuel and bate on credit. That cost around 4,000 shekels (approximately USD 1200). After the attack the creditors demanded the money from me, but I had absolutely nothing to pay them back. I hardly earned NIS 10-15 every day before they attacked the boat. After that day I have not earned a single penny. How can I pay them back? My creditors filed a complaint with the Gaza authorities. Because of the complaint I cannot go fishing now.”

The Gaza authorities have blacklisted Jamal and his family from fishing for not being able to pay their debts. Jamal expresses his frustration by saying, “what am I supposed to do now? Should I beg and steal to feed my family.”

After the incident Jamal had to borrow money from his brother to support his family;

“I took around 6000 shekels from my brother, but that is not sufficient to feed and take care of 10 people for six months. Khader and I cannot fish anymore and that is the only skill we have, so we cannot work anywhere else too. None of my other children are employed, and 4 of them are still in school. Other than this I have also taken debts from the markets as I just cant pay them. Today I owe around 10,000 shekels and I don’t know how I am going to pay anyone back.”

Jamal explains his family’s dire situation;

“I get very angry at my situation. My son Khader is 19 years old. He has friends who wear nice clothes, and eat good food at good places. When he sees this he feels very sad, but he doesn’t ask me for any money because he knows I cant provide anything. If I had something valuable I would have sold it to pay the debts. Also the roof of my house was cracked in the November attacks. When it rains the whole house gets filled with water. I cannot even get that repaired. My younger children ask me for fruits and sweets, but I cannot give them that. I can only give false assurances to my children.”

Jamal states his frustration for being abandoned by the Gaza authorities, “they do not help me. I get no aid, no food, no money from them. They will not let me work to repay my debts because of the money I owe”.

He also goes on to say that;

 “many fishermen receive help, but to get it you must know someone in power”

Israel’s attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip, who do not pose any threat to the security of the Israeli naval forces, constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian and human rights law.

The fishing exclusion zone, maintained through arbitrary arrests and attacks, constitutes a measure of collective punishment, which is prohibited under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The right to work, including in just and favourable conditions, is provided for under Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as under Article 6 and 7 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

Moreover, Article 11 of the ICESCR recognizes "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."

Public Document


For more information please call PCHR office in Gaza, Gaza Strip, on +972 8 2824776 - 2825893
PCHR, 29 Omer El Mukhtar St., El Remal, PO Box 1328 Gaza, Gaza Strip. E-mail:, Webpage