By Peter Sayer | Tech World | February 12, 2010
French lawmakers will vote next Tuesday on a proposal to filter Internet traffic. Part of a new security bill, the measure is intended to catch child pornographers, but critics say it won’t succeed. Once the filtering system is in place, though, it will allow the government to censor other material too.
The National Assembly has already spent two days debating the grandly titled “Bill on direction and planning for the performance of domestic security,” known as Loppsi II in French, with deputies voting to reject all the amendments that sought to limit the Internet filtration provisions.
The bill, though, is not so much a single direction, as more a patchwork of unrelated measures. It aims to increase the amount the police spend on “security,” multiply penalties for counterfeiting checks or credit cards, increase use of CCTV cameras, extend access to the police national DNA database, and authorize the seizure of vehicles driven without a license.
The bill also seeks to modernize the law to encompass the Internet, criminalizing online identity theft, allowing police to tap Internet connections as well as phone lines during investigations and targeting child pornography by ordering ISPs to filter Internet connections.
The bill requires ISPs to block access to any Internet address if authorities consider that this is required to prevent distribution of pornographic images of minors.
Deputies had sought to amend the text to require blocking only of specific URLs or documents, not of entire sites, so as to reduce “collateral damage,” and to require that a judge review the list of blocked URLs each month to ensure that sites were not needlessly blocked. Those amendments were, however, rejected, as was one making the filters a temporary, experimental measure until their effectiveness was proven.
Critics of the bill make clear that they, too, are against the distribution of child pornography – but that filtering is the wrong way to go about it.
Fabrice Epelboin, journalist and author of a report (in French) on the business of child pornography, warns that filtering URLs will have no effect, as distributors of such materials are already using encrypted peer-to-peer systems to deliver their wares.
And La Quadrature du Net, a lobby group promoting rights and freedoms on the Internet, accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of shamelessly exploiting the protection of childhood to censor the Internet.
“The securitarian machinery of the government is being deployed in an attempt to control the Internet at the expense of freedoms”, said Jérémie Zimmermann, spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net.
In January, Sarkozy told members of the French music and publishing industries that authorities should experiment with filtering in order to automatically remove all forms of piracy from the Internet.
The government has declared the Loppsi II bill “urgent,” so instead of the usual cycle of four readings, after the National Assembly’s vote, it will go on to the Senate for a second and final reading.
By shazia Akhtar | February 14, 2010
Dr Aafia Siddiqui was convicted on February 3rd for the attempted murder of US officers during interrogation whilst being detained in Ghazni, Afghanistan and now faces a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison
This conviction has lead to outcry from around the world from those who are familiar with the background of the case and the catalogue of abuses and violations of which Dr Aafia Siddiqui has been victim.
The ordeal for the young neuroscientist began in 2003 when Dr Aafia Siddiqui disappeared with her 3 young children. It is widely suspected that she was abducted by Pakistani Intelligence and handed over to the FBI who believed her to be an “Al-Qaeda operative”. In the 5 years that followed, there is overwhelming evidence to support the fact that she was being held at the Bagram, the US base in Afghanistan. Her lawyers and human rights organisations believe that while being held at Bagram, she was physically tortured and repeatedly raped by prison officers, to such an extent that it has affected her mental health.
After being extradited to the US in August 2008, she faced charges of attempted murder and assault of a US officer. What followed in the way of judicial process served as a bleak reminder of how the leaders of Western Democracy so readily discard their own principles of ‘human rights’, ‘the rule of law’ and ‘justice’ in order to pursue their colonialist designs and secure their political gains. As the saga of the US led ‘War on Terror’ has unfolded, we have all witnessed the crime that is ‘American justice’ ; Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, routine use of torture, extraordinary rendition, extradition without due process, and detention without charge.
The proceedings conducted in the courtrooms of New York, demonstrated clearly how the entire case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui is tainted by lies and un-answered questions. It was reported that the prosecution did not provide any forensic evidence to prove their case and their witnesses gave contradictory evidences. An obvious question which continues to baffle observers is why there has been such a focus on Dr Aafia’s alleged terrorism involvement, which was used by Prosecution lawyers to create fear amongst the jury, while she was solely on trial for attempted murder. Regarding the verdict, her lawyer, Elaine Sharp, commented, “This verdict is based on fear, not on fact.”
Though it may be an unfortunate fact to state; sadly one could not have expected much other than a shambolic trial, staged in a ’Kangaroo court’ aimed at delivering the US government from international embarrassment rather than delivering any form of justice for our sister Aafia.
The horrific ordeal suffered by this young mother of three is simply the latest human tragedy in the ongoing brutality against Muslims and their countries by Western governments in this “War on Terror”. The current Pakistani leadership has continued the Musharraf legacy of providing “unstinting” support to America’s ill-conceived ‘War on Terror’, which has in return for a price, earned Pakistan a position of complete subordination with regards to the US.
What must continue to concern us at this time is the role of the Pakistani Government; in the initial capture and detention of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and the ongoing apathy with which they have treated the matter and responded to the unlawful verdict.
The fact that Pakistan has surrendered itself militarily and politically to the whims of American policy in the region has meant that FBI officers, together with American armed military personnel are allowed a free reign inside the country and can arrest and detain Paksitani citizens with little (if any) objection from the government, as was the case with Dr Aafia Siddiqui.
The government of Pakistan has shown that it is not concerned by its own citizens being dishonoured, maimed or killed at the hands of a foreign power, this being evident by the fact that it has given a free hand to the US to conduct drone-launched missile attacks on its own soil, which have killed over ?people to date. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Pakistani authorities have been complicit not only in the case of Dr Siddiqui but also, of the hundreds of other Muslims who have disappeared from Pakistan, believed to have been handed over to the Americans by their dutiful allies. When President Asif Ali Zardari, was forced to respond to the verdict, he struggled to express any criticism of his paymasters in Washington DC, and barely managed a feeble statement which read “We are dismayed over the unexpected verdict of the jury in Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s case”.
The case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui has brought to attention many harsh realities, one of which cannot be ignored; the Political situation in Pakistan can no longer be accepted and it is time for real change.
I ask you to consider at this point in time, with the ever tightening US grip of Pakistan, together with the wholesale betrayal of the leadership, can Pakistan be allowed to continue descending further towards destruction? Can it be acceptable that the honour, dignity and blood of the Muslims of Pakistan be so easily sold by its own government in order to line the pockets of the feudal lords- turned- politicians?
At such a time we must talk openly about change. Pakistan requires a new system, a system whose sincere leadership will guard the honour and lives of its citizens; women and men alike. What is needed for real and successful change in Pakistan is a system with a representative and accountable government, a stable economy, an independent judiciary, independence from foreign control, a system which prioritises people’s basic needs over the gains of a few or of private enterprise…
It is most definitely time for change.
By Roger Harrabin, Environment analyst, BBC News | February 12, 2010
Phil Jones, the professor behind the “Climategate” affair, has admitted some of his decades-old weather data was not well enough organised.
He said this contributed to his refusal to share raw data with critics – a decision he says he regretted.
But Professor Jones said he had not cheated the data, or unfairly influenced the scientific process.
He said he stood by the view that recent climate warming was most likely predominantly man-made.
But he agreed that two periods in recent times had experienced similar warming. And he agreed that the debate had not been settled over whether the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than the current period.
These statements are likely to be welcomed by people sceptical of man-made climate change who have felt insulted to be labelled by government ministers as flat-earthers and deniers.
Professor Jones agreed that scientists on both sides of the debate could suffer sometimes from a “bunker mentality”.
He said “sceptics” who doubted his climate record should compile their own dataset from material publicly available in the US.
“The major datasets mostly agree,” he said. “If some of our critics spent less time criticising us and prepared a dataset of their own, that would be much more constructive.”
His colleagues said that keeping a paper trail was not one of Professor Jones’ strong points. Professor Jones told BBC News: “There is some truth in that.
“We do have a trail of where the (weather) stations have come from but it’s probably not as good as it should be,” he admitted.
By Willis Eschenbach | Watts Up With That? | February 13, 2010
Science is what we use to explain anomalies, to elucidate mysteries, to shed light on unexplained occurrences. For example, there is no great need for a scientific explanation of the sun rising in the morning. If one day the sun were to rise in the afternoon, however, that is an anomaly which would definitely require a scientific explanation. But there is no need to explain the normal everyday occurrences. We don’t need a new understanding if there is nothing new to understand.
Hundreds of thousands of hours of work, and billions of dollars, have been expended trying to explain the recent variations in the climate, particularly the global temperature. But in the rush to find an explanation, a very important question has been left unasked:
Just exactly what unusual, unexpected temperature anomaly are we trying to explain?
The claim is made over and over that humans are having an effect on the climate. But where is the evidence that there is anything that even needs explanation? Where is the abnormal phenomenon? What is it that we are trying to make sense of, what is the unusual occurrence that requires a novel scientific explanation?
There are not a lot of long-term temperature records that can help us in this regard. The longest one is the Central England Temperature record (CET). Although there are problems with the CET (see Sources below), including recent changes in the stations used to calculate it that have slightly inflated the modern temperatures, it is a good starting point for an investigation of whether there is anything happening that is abnormal. Here is that record:
Figure 1. The Central England Temperature Record. Blue line is the monthly temperature in Celsius. Red line is the average temperature. Jagged black line is the 25-year trailing trend, in degrees per century.
Now, where in that record is there anything which is even slightly abnormal? Where is the anomaly that the entire huge edifice of the AGW hypothesis is designed to elucidate? The longest sustained rise is from about 1680 to 1740. That time period also has the steepest rise. The modern period, on the other hand, is barely above the long-term trend despite urban warming. There is nothing unusual about the modern period in any way.
OK, so there’s nothing to explain in the CET. How about another long record?
One of the world’s best single station long-term records is that of the Armagh Observatory in Ireland. It has been maintained with only a couple minor location changes for over 200 years. Figure 2 shows the Armagh record.
Figure 2. Temperature record for Armagh University. Various colored lines as in Figure 1.
We find the same thing in this record as in the CET. The fastest rise was a long, long time ago. The modern rise is once again insignificant. Where in all of this is anything that requires billions of dollars to explain?
Finally, what about the global record? Here, you don’t have to take my word for it. A much chastened Phil Jones (the disgraced former Director of the CRU of email fame), in an interview with the BBC on Friday, February 12, 2010, answered a BBC question as follows:
Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?
An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I’ve assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.
Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different (see numbers below).
I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.
So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.
So in fact, according to Phil Jones (who strongly believes in the AGW hypothesis) there is nothing unusual about the recent warming either. It is not statistically different from two earlier modern periods of warming. Since these warming periods were before the modern rise in CO2, greenhouse gases cannot have been responsible for those rises.
So my question remains unanswered … where is the anomaly? Where is the unusual occurrence that we are spending billions of dollars trying to explain?
The answer is, there is no unusual warming. There is no anomaly. There is nothing strange or out of the ordinary about the recent warming. It is in no way distinguishable from earlier periods of warming, periods that we know were not due to rising CO2. There is nothing in the record that is in any way different from the centuries-long natural fluctuations in the global climate.
In other words, we have spent billions of dollars and wasted years of work chasing a chimera, a will-of-the-wisp. This is why none of the CO2 explanations have held water … simply because there is nothing unusual to explain.
ADJUSTMENTS TO THE CET:
JONES BBC INTERVIEW:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/8511670.stm
Jones also makes the interesting argument in the interview that the reason he believes that recent warming is anthropogenic (human-caused) is because climate models can’t replicate it … in other words, he has absolutely no evidence at all, he just has the undeniable fact that our current crop of climate models can’t model the climate. Seems to me like that’s a problem with the models rather than a problem with the climate, but hey, what do I know, I was born yesterday …
By Gilad Atzmon | February 13, 2010
Alan Dershowitz on Judge Goldstone: “But now I see him as a traitor… It’s as if they would have taken a Jew to edit the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He uses his Jewish last name to kosher his slander of the Jewish People.”
For those who still cannot make their minds up about Jewish nationalism and the Zionist violent abuse of Western academic culture (tolerance, academic freedom, pluralism etc) Rabbi Shmully Hecht of Yale’s University Jewish society, gives an exemplary opportunity to see it all. Rabbi Hecht confronted Judge Goldstone last week while Goldstone was delivering an address at Yale University. Rabbi Hecht and his supporters held up a sign at the back of the conference room equating the Goldstone report with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Dreyfus affair.
For a while, the Dreyfus affair and the Protocols were pretty effective Zionist propaganda tools, they were used mainly to silence criticism of Jewish power, Jewish lobbying and Israel. However, it is about time to face the truth.
Drawing a parallel between the Dreyfus affair, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and the Goldstone report can also produce an interesting insight, but not for the reasons Rabbi Hecht or Dershowitz suggest. It allows us to look at Zionism in an historical perspective. We can review where Zionism started from and what it matured into.
The Dreyfus affair was a political scandal that divided France in the 1890s and the early 1900s. It involved the conviction for treason in 1894 of Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a young French artillery officer of Jewish descent. The Dreyfus affair had a huge impact on Herzl, the father of Zionism, who was assigned by a Viennese paper to cover the trial. Soon afterward, Herzl wrote Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State, 1896) and founded the World Zionist Organization.
During the last century Zionists regarded the Dreyfus Affair as an exemplary case of anti Semitism motivated by racial discrimination. In fact the Zionists were wrong. For a century they have been misleading themselves and others. French society at the time was divided about Dreyfus. The Left and the intelligentsia rushed to support the young officer, which led eventually to a 2nd trial. Dreyfus was exonerated and reinstated as a Major in the French Army in 1906. However, the case of Goldstone is totally different. The images of the IDF’s white phosphorus shells bursting over UN refugee shelters are engraved in our collective memory. As if this is not enough, initial Israeli denial of the usage of white phosphorous is also stored in our minds. The perception that Israel committed a massacre in broad daylight is not going to be wiped out either.
Unlike divided France that couldn’t make up its mind about Dreyfus, we are not divided about Israel being a criminal state and the biggest threat to world peace. The revulsion towards Israel and its brutality is actually a growing unifying force amongst humanists, peace lovers and the world at large. Israel will not be exonerated and considering the fact that it defines itself as the Jewish state, its crimes reflect disastrously on Jews as a collective, something that not even a dozen Jewish anti Zionist activists around the world can change. From an historical perspective it is rather clear that Israel has been very successful in exhausting the last drops of sympathy garnered for the idea of Jewish nationalism. As it happens, not a single humanist stands up against Goldstone or his balanced report.
But the truth must be said. As much as humanists are united behind the Goldstone report, our democratically elected leaders are failing to confront Israel and its Jewish lobbies. They rush to appease AIPAC, they pocket money given by Zionist lords and Israeli Lobbies. Interestingly enough, the political morbid conditions in which we live was actually described by an unusual fictional text that was published in 1903 namely, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
The Protocols is widely considered a forgery. It is a manual for a prospective new member of the “Elders”, describing how they will run the world through control of the media and finance, replacing the traditional social order with one based on mass manipulation. Though the book is considered a hoax by most experts and regarded as a vile anti-Semitic text, it is impossible to ignore its prophetic qualities and its capacity to describe both the century unfolding and the political reality in which we live I am referring here to: AIPAC, The Credit Crunch, Lehman Brothers, Neocon wars, interventionist ideology, a British Foreign Secretary Listed as Israeli Propaganda (Hasbara) author trying to amend Britain’s ethical stand, a Zionist by admission put on an inquiry panel to investigate why Britain launched a Zionist war and so on.
As it happens staunch Zionists such as David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen and Alan Dershowitz use a very banal spin to divert the attention from the devastating prophetic reality depicted by the Protocols. A reality in which they themselves promote interventionist wars in our midst. Again and again they stress the fact that the Protocols was a forgery. They insist that we look at its anti Semitic origin while evading its content and meaning. However whether or not the Protocols is a fictional text or a forgery doesn’t change the fact that it explores our disastrous contemporary reality. A reality in which we are killing en mass the enemies of Israel in the ‘name of democracy’, a reality in which Dershowitz himself puts enormous effort into cleansing academia of any critical voices of Israel, Zionism and Jewish power in America and the West.
This is exactly where Goldstone is coming into the picture. In the last century we have been witnessing an evolving murderous Jewish nationalist movement. A movement that was born in part due to a calculated misinterpretation of the Dreyfus affair. For a century, the Zionist movement has managed to silence its critics using different tactics that are all explored in that fictional text from 1903. Zionism was very successful; it managed to mature into a state, at the expense of the Palestinian people. Only through violent expansionist methods including massacres and racially orientated ethnic cleansing have the Zionists and Israel managed to fulfill what they define as the Jewish national aspiration. But as Goldstone reveals, this aspiration matured into a criminal state that is terrorizing its indigenous population and threatening its neighbours
If we ever want to amend the reality we live in, we must curtail the Zionist operators in our midst, in the government, in politics, in the media, in academia, in finance and in the legal system. I am not talking here about Jews but about Zionists, people who are affiliated with a specific foreign tribal interest that counters universalism, ethics and humanism. Unless we do that we may soon have to face another Goldstone report investigating a much greater Zionist crime against humanity.
If we want to help Israelis and Jewish nationalists recover from their nationalist racist fanatical dream, we must persuade them that the Goldstone report is their new Bible, a recent catalogue of their departure from humanity.
Mr Bordaberry is currently under house arrest and in poor health
BBC | February 11, 2010
A former president of Uruguay, Juan Maria Bordaberry, has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for his involvement in a coup in 1973.
He was convicted of the murder of two opposition supporters, whose bodies were found in recent years, and of the disappearance of nine others.
Bordaberry, now 81, was elected in 1971 and dissolved Congress two years later with the backing of the military.
He is currently under house arrest and suffering from ill health.
Bordaberry is the second former Uruguayan ruler to be sentenced in the last three months as the country tackles the legacy of years of dictatorship.
Thousands of people disappeared during Uruguay’s repressive military rule which finally ended in 1985.
Some 180 Uruguayans were killed during military rule, many of them in neighbouring Argentina.
Human rights groups say the killings were the result of secret co-operation between the military governments in power at the time in Uruguay and Argentina.
Last October former military ruler Gregorio Alvarez was sentenced to 25 years in prison for murder and human rights violations.
By Philip Weiss | February 13, 2010
Yesterday, and somewhat shockingly, the Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece by Rabbi Martin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) defending the desecration of the Mamilla Cemetery in Jerusalem so that the SWC can build its “Center for Human Dignity– Museum of Tolerance” there. I say shockingly because the piece contained so many falsehoods. I excerpt Hier below. Then I will point out the stretchers. Rabbi Hier:
The museum is not being built on what can rightfully be called the Mamilla Cemetery, but on a three-acre site in the heart of West Jerusalem that, for more than half a century, served as the city’s municipal car park. Each day, hundreds of people of all faiths parked in the three-level underground structure without any protest from Muslim religious or academic leaders or interest groups. Additionally, telephone and electrical cables and sewer lines were laid deep below ground in the early 1960s, again without any protest.
As the [Israeli] Supreme Court noted in its ruling, “for almost 50 years the compound has not been a part of the cemetery, both in the normative sense and in the practical sense, and it was used for various public purposes.” It also noted: “During all those years no one raised any claim, on even one occasion, that the planning procedures violated the sanctity of the site, or that they were contrary to the law as a result of the historical and religious uniqueness of the site. . . . For decades this area was not regarded as a cemetery by the general public or by the Muslim community. . . . No one denied this position.”
Now let us go to this week’s petition to international human-rights bodies by a coalition of groups trying to preserve the Mamilla cemetery. In that petition, you will read the following facts:
There has never been any doubt about the centrality of the 33-acre Mamilla cemetery to Muslim practice in Jerusalem. Throughout the 1800s, Ottoman rulers “fastidiously” recognized the boundaries of the cemetery by surrounding it with a wall and roads. As for the Brits who followed, in 1938 and 1944, they officially recognized cemetery as an “Islamic endowment” and an “antiquities site.”
In 1948 the Israelis took over West Jerusalem. And from the beginning of Israeli rule, Muslim authorities appealed to Israel to protect the cemetery. In 1948 the Israeli Relgious Affairs Ministry said the cemetery “is considered to be one fo the most prominent Muslim cemeteries,” with remains going back to the great general of the Crusades, Salah-ah-Din. “Israel will always know to protect and respect this site.”
For a few years the Israelis kept their word. And then the encroachments began. The petitioners write: “Israel has gradually expropriated and destroyed most of the cemetery.” It began by building an “Independence Park” over half the cemetery in the 1960s. Then in 1964, it built that parking lot Hier refers to, over about three acres of the cemetery. Then it built an underground parking garage and ran cables and other infrastructure through the site.
Palestinians have never been silent about the desecration. On at least one occasion they petitioned UNESCO to stop it.
In recent years, the Israeli Antiquities Authority awarded the 3-acre parking lot site to the Simon Wiesenthal Center to build its Tolerance hall on, and an archaeologist was sent in to see what was going on. The report of this “Chief Excavator” was emphatic: There are thousands of graves under this parking lot that date to the 12th century. They have already been disturbed by construction. Some of these bodies have been removed. The construction zone is shrouded in secrecy.
If just one of those bodies were Jewish, the petitioners demonstrate, construction would stop in a nanosecond.
The archaelogist, Gideon Suleimani, was pressured to conclude his work in a perfunctory manner. But he said that the project was an “archeological crime” and “We’re talking about tens of thousands of skeletons under the ground there, and not just a few dozen.”
Suleimani’s report was suppressed by the Israeli government when it went to the Supreme Court to get the opinion that Hier quotes so approvingly above. That is why the Mamilla petitioners, who include Muslim and Jewish groups, are going to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN special rapporteur on religious freedom, the UN special rapporteur on racism, and UNESCO.
As Rashid Khalidi, whose own ancestors are buried in Mamilla, has said: We have exhausted all recourse inside Israel against this “grotesque” project.
The desecration of Mamilla is all about the dangers of occupation. It is about the fact that Jerusalem was deemed to be an international space under the 1947 UN Partition plan– “a corpus separatum”–but its independence has never been respected by the Israelis.
Finally, consider this: Over the last 40 years under its “Protection of Holy Sites Law,” the Israeli Government has recognized 137 designated holy sites. ALL OF THEM ARE JEWISH. The U.S. State Department has protested this discrimination. “Non-Jewish holy sites do not enjoy legal protection under it because the government does not recognize them as official holy sites,” the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report of 2009 stated.
Will this outrage pass? Will the LA Times give equal space to the petitioners to point out Hier’s falsehoods? Will the American Jewish community redeem itself from its blind support for a government that discriminates against an ethnic minority? To be continued…
Update, and my bad: The LA Times did run a piece by Saree Makdisi opposing the Museum of Tolerance (without countering the falsehoods in Hier’s account).
Chutzpah, a Yiddish word meaning “shameless audacity,” has been famously defined as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” Considering Israel’s increasingly outrageous behaviour, perhaps it’s time for a new definition. The one that springs to mind is “that quality enshrined in a state, which having induced its ‘allies’ into a disastrous invasion of Iraq, then urges them to attack Iran.”
At a recent dinner in honour of visiting Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took yet another rhetorical swipe at Tehran. “Humanity stands before one of its most difficult tests since World War II,” Netanyahu intoned. “The radical Islamic regime threats [sic] the well-being of the state of Israel, the region, and all of humanity.”1
Sounding more like an Israeli envoy than the head of a sovereign nation, Berlusconi responded, “My job is to make sure that world leaders do not commit the same error of the past, the error of indifference that brought about the greatest tragedy in history.”
In Defamation, a highly revealing 2009 documentary on anti-Semitism by Israeli filmmaker Yoav Shamir,2 Professor Norman Finkelstein noted this strategy of invoking past Jewish suffering to justify future wars. “The irony is that the Nazi holocaust has now become the main ideological weapon for launching wars of aggression,” said Finkelstein, the author of The Holocaust Industry. “Every time you want to launch a war of aggression, drag in the Nazi holocaust.”
Or, to be more precise, every time Israel wants other countries to launch a war of aggression on its behalf, it drags in the Nazi holocaust. In the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Netanyahu was one of many Zionists who did just that. In a September 20, 2002 Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “The Case for Toppling Saddam,”3 Netanyahu laid on the guilt trip: “We now know that had the democracies taken pre-emptive action to bring down Hitler’s regime in the 1930s, the worst horrors in history could have been avoided.”
And as he and other Zionists are now doing with Iran, Netanyahu was in 2002 hyping a non-existent Iraqi nuclear threat. Saddam Hussein, he claimed, was “feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons.” Moreover, “the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs,” the then former Israeli Prime Minister speculated, could be produced “in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country—and Iraq is a very big country.” To uncover Saddam’s hypothetical “portable manufacturing sites of mass death,” Netanyahu warned that “nothing less than dismantling his regime will do.”
One might think that with over a million people dead and almost five million others displaced in Iraq—and not a weapon of mass destruction to be found—that Netanyahu might be showing some remorse. Instead, he’s beating the drums loudest for an even more catastrophic war with Iran.
That should tell us a lot not only about the man but about the nature of the ideology that drives him. Zionism, like the fictional Jewish parenticide, shamelessly attempts to turn reality on its head.
Instead of acknowledging that it is the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East,4 Israel and its supporters focus the world’s attention on imaginary threats from its regional rivals.
Rather than apologizing for their crimes against humanity—most notably, the dispossession and virtual imprisonment of the Palestinian people— Zionists arrogantly portray themselves as the defenders of humanity against Islamic aggression.
And instead of admitting that they lied about Iraqi WMD, Iraqi ties to al-Qaeda, Iraqi mobile biological weapons laboratories, Iraqi yellowcake uranium from Niger, and Iraqi meetings in Prague, Zionist propagandists are busy concocting similarly brazen lies about Iran.
If world leaders are indeed committing an “error of indifference,” it is hardly their supposed resistance to Zionist scaremongering. Rather, it is their indifference to the suffering of Arab and Muslim peoples. Foremost among them are the Palestinians—the ultimate victims of the shameless audacity of Zionism.
PIC | 13-02-2010
Al-KHALIL — Israeli occupation forces (IOF) killed a Palestinian citizen from Al-Khalil city, south of the West Bank, in cold blood Friday evening, alleging that he tried to stab one of their soldiers.
Medical sources told the Palestinian information center (PIC) that Fayez Faraj, 41, was shot dead without warning by Israeli soldiers during his presence in the Shalala street in the city, noting that there were no clashes in the area.
The sources added that the IOF troops kidnapped the citizen despite the fact that he was seriously bleeding and took him to an unknown destination before declaring his death.
In a related context, the Palestinian center for human rights said in its weekly report that Israeli violations of international and humanitarian law escalated in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the week extending from 4 to 10 February 2010.
The report pointed out that during the week, the IOF troops wounded seven Palestinian civilians including two cameramen and a child in the village of Burin, south of Nablus, and in Sha’fat refugee camp in occupied Jerusalem.
In the Gaza Strip, IOF troops launched a series of aerial, naval and land attacks on civilian targets in Gaza. They also detained four fishermen for several hours, confiscated two fishing boats and bombarded Gaza international airport.
During the reporting period, IOF troops carried out at least 22 military incursions into West Bank areas and kidnapped 32 Palestinian civilians, including seven children, one woman, and two international human rights activists. They also detained 60 others in Sha’fat refugee camp.
On 10 February 2010, following the identification of a Palestinian who allegedly stabbed an Israeli soldier near Za’tara checkpoint, south of Nablus, IOF troops stormed Al-Kheljan village, southwest of Jenin, raiding and ransacking a number of houses, including the home belonging to the family of this Palestinian, Mahmoud al-Khatib.
They ordered the family to vacate the house in order to demolish it and withdrew from the village at night after kidnapping six Palestinian civilians, including Al-Khatib’s four brothers.
The report also talked about settlement activities and Israeli settlers’ continued attacks on Palestinian civilians and property as well as the severe restrictions imposed on the movement of Palestinian civilians throughout the West Bank including east Jerusalem and the tight blockade on Gaza.
By Philip Giraldi | February 13, 2010
“I am a Roman citizen” was a proud boast in the first century A.D. It implied the obligations of citizenship but also guaranteed privileges and rights that would be observed and protected by the Roman government. Among those rights was the ability to demand one’s day in court to produce evidence if accused of a crime. No citizen could be tortured and the death penalty was reserved for cases of treason. Some might recall that the Roman citizen Apostle Paul of Tarsus, placed under arrest in Jerusalem, successfully claimed his right to appeal to the Emperor and ask for trial in Rome. He was duly transported to the capital city to be tried.
It was not so long ago that “I am an American citizen” might have had a similar resonance. Embattled farmers at Lexington and Concord fired the shot heard round the world, the start of the first successful revolution staged by a colony against a European monarch. The founders of the United States sealed the victory with a Constitution which was intended to guarantee in perpetuity the rights and freedoms that their fellow Americans had fought and died for. Those freedoms were enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment states that no American can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” And then there is the Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State,…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
Fast-forward two centuries to find that the United States Congress and a President, now defined by some as a unitary executive, have done much to dismantle the rights and privileges that once defined American citizenship. The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 might well be described as one of history’s more spectacular euphemisms employed to gut a constitution. It is better known as the Patriot Act I. Patriot Act I became law six weeks after the fall of the twin towers and was followed by the the Patriot Act II of 2006, the two laws together diminishing constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of association, freedom from illegal search, the right to habeas corpus, prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom from the illegal seizure of private property. The First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments in the Bill of Rights have all been discarded or abridged in the rush to make it easier to investigate, torture, and jail both foreigners and American citizens. The also incorporates the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of October 17th, 2001, which permits the freezing of assets and investigation of individuals suspected of being financial supporters of terrorism. “Suspected” is the key word, as there is no oversight or appeal to the process.
The Military Commission Act of 2006 followed the Patriot Acts, creating military tribunals for the trying of “unlawful enemy combatants,” including American citizens. Unlike a civil or criminal court, the accused needs only a two-thirds vote by the commission members to be convicted. The act permits the indefinite jailing of suspects in a military prison without providing access to a lawyer or charging with a crime. The government is not required to produce any normally admissible evidence at a commission hearing and can rely on hearsay or even on information obtained overseas during torture to make its case. Detainees do not have access to any classified information being used against them and cannot cross examine or even know the identity of witnesses. The MCA suspends habeas corpus for anyone charged and forbids the application of the Geneva Conventions to mitigate conditions of confinement or to challenge the judicial process or verdict. The Geneva Conventions also cannot be invoked if the accused subsequently claims he was tortured or otherwise abused, protecting overly zealous interrogators from later charges of “war crimes.” The act was also designed to cover all cases that were pending, meaning that it was retroactive.
Those concerned about civil liberties could have predicted that worse might be coming and it has, it seems, finally arrived. On February 3rd Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair told members of the House Intelligence Committee that the United States government can kill American citizens overseas who are “taking action that threatens Americans.” Blair reportedly was revealing a secret policy that has been in place since the Bush Administration. It is the ultimate irony that Blair is representing the new Administration in Washington headed by President Barack Obama, who had, during his campaign, opposed the infringements on liberties inherent in the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts. Instead of confining those Acts to the dustbin, Obama has continued them and has also strengthened his Administration’s ability to use the state secrets privilege to silence criticism and dissent.
Blair’s remarks ought to mortify every American citizen but instead have attracted very little critical commentary. They should be examined in some detail. He told the congressmen that the intelligence agencies and Department of Defense would “follow a set of defined policy and legal procedures that are very carefully observed.” That, in all probability, means that if actionable intelligence indicating that an American citizen who is suspected of ties to a sanctioned group is developed a US government lawyer and senior bureaucrat can get together and decide that he should be killed. As the criteria for that decision are secret there is no way to know if there is any kind of rational due process involved.
There are reported to be three American citizens who are on the current hit list, including US-born Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, who has been connected to the US Army Major Malik Nadal Hasan, responsible for the November 2009 Fort Hood Texas shooting incident, and also to Christmas underwear bomber Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Al-Aulaqi denies any connection to any terrorist conspiracy and the evidence that he or any other individual is actually planning to kill fellow Americans is subject to the usual problem, i.e. that intelligence can be and frequently is wrong or inadequate while divining the intentions of any individual is most often sheer speculation. It all comes down to an official deciding that someone is a terrorist without the government having to prove its case with the penalty for the unfortunate suspect being death.
Blair then went on to explain in more detail, saying “We’re not careless about endangering American lives as we try to carry out the policies to protect most of the country” adding “We don’t target people for free speech. We target them for taking action that threatens Americans.” A question from Representative Peter Hoekstra revealed the mindset behind the policy in asking what to “do when it comes to Americans who have joined the enemy.” Blair responded that the intelligence community will take “direct action” against terrorist citizens when “that American is involved in a group that is trying to attack us, whether that American is a threat to other Americans.”
It doesn’t take a genius to see the flaws in the policy, beyond the semantic problems with an assassination program that protects “most of the country” and presumably leaves everyone else vulnerable. Few would dispute the US government’s right to kill someone who is acting in flagrante, either planting a bomb or participating with a group of armed insurgents to kill American soldiers or civilians. But that is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a US citizen who is living overseas being accused of a capital crime based on secret evidence and being assassinated under orders of the President of the United States. He is not necessarily killed while engaged in an act that directly threatens American citizens but rather can be assassinated when he is asleep with his family, traveling in a car with associates, or having dinner in a restaurant. Anyone unfortunate enough to be near him will quite likely also die. And the suspect has no appeal in the process and no ability to have his day in court to demonstrate that the evidence against him might be wrong.
Anyone who has followed the intelligence narratives linked to the so-called global war on terror now-called overseas contingency operations realizes that intelligence is often flawed or deliberately faked. Most of those arrested on terrorism charges in the US are never charged as terrorists. Overseas, note how many civilians have been killed by drone strikes in AfPak. By one estimate in the Pakistani media, 700 civilians have been killed in Pakistan by drones in attacks that have killed only five militants while the Brookings Institute believes the ratio is more like ten to one. So to my mind, Anwar al-Awlaki and the others on the government hit list are innocent until proven guilty and all are entitled to their day in court, the same rights that I would like to enjoy if I were accused of a crime.
Blair also opens the door wide to extending the practice of killing Americans. He says that the US government can target anyone “involved” with a group that threatens to attack American targets. Well, involvement can mean anything from contributing to a charity that is tied to an organization that the US calls terrorist to sending a letter to the local newspaper defending a group’s actions. Where does it stop? And Blair’s claim that the US government is not interested in targeting free speech is essentially hollow because his own elastic definition of his authority permits him pretty much to go wherever he wants to when it comes to killing whomever he presumes to be a terrorist.
Obama’s decision to assassinate Americans overseas without any due process might well be viewed as an inevitable development from the established practice of killing foreigners using hellfire missiles fired from unmanned drones in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The United States has not declared war on any of those countries yet it reserves to itself the right to attack and kill local residents based on information that it does not subsequently have to reveal. This process is given a legal fig leaf by the US assertion that anyone connected to a terrorist group can be killed anywhere in the world and at any time. It assumes that in such matters the United States has extraterritorial jurisdiction, a claim that no other nation makes and which might reasonably be contested by those on the receiving end. It also does not require the President of the United States to prove his case that someone actually was a terrorist.
The role of the Washington as the Lord High Executioner for the world is tough to reconcile with the high idealism of the Founders as expressed in the Bill of Rights. It also begs the question of where it might go from here. Now that the government is not being challenged in its belief that it can assassinate American citizens anywhere overseas it is perhaps not too much to suggest that killing Americans at home will also become more acceptable to a public that has been properly prepped through fear of terrorism. Indeed, some might argue that Waco and Ruby Ridge demonstrate that that process is already far advanced. Dennis Blair’s comments should serve as a wakeup call for all Americans who care about their liberties, but it is possibly too late. The tepid reaction in the media and from congress reveals that just another few deaths, even if they are American citizens, really don’t matter very much anymore.
Press TV – February 13, 2010
US forces have shot eight Iraqi people, most of them ‘innocent bystanders,’ in a raid in a village southeast of Baghdad, Iraqi provincial officials say.
Iraqi provincial council officials described the US raid as slaughter and demanded financial compensation for the relatives of the victims.
Maysan province governor Mohammed Shia al-Sudany told state-run television that eight people were killed, one wounded and 12 arrested in the village 75 km (46 miles) north of the provincial capital of Amara.
“What happened this morning was a massacre in every sense of the word. Eight people were killed. Most of them were innocent,” Reuters quoted Sudany as saying.
The US military, however, said the raid was against suspected members of what it called a terrorist Iran-backed group.
“The joint security team was fired upon by individuals dispersed in multiple residential buildings … members of the security team returned fire, killing individuals assessed to be enemy combatants,” the US military said in a statement on Friday.
“While the number of casualties has not yet been confirmed, initial reports indicate five individuals were killed,” the statement added.
This is while Iraqi officials have called on US troops to release all those arrested during the raid and to apologize for the attack.