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Multinational companies mining occupied Palestinian land

Adri Nieuwhof – The Electronic Intifada – 17 May 2011


HeidelbergCement and Cemex, two building materials industries from Germany and Mexico, respectively, are involved in the operation of quarries in the occupied West Bank. The Electronic Intifada has obtained documentation showing loaded trucks leaving the illegal quarries and traveling into Israel.

International law prohibits Israel’s exploitation of natural resources in the occupied West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syrian Golan Heights for its own benefit.

Meanwhile, Israeli run-quarries in the West Bank — including Nahal Raba and Yatir quarries, which are operated by subsidiaries of HeidelbergCement and Cemex — supply almost a quarter of Israel’s construction material.

HeidelbergCement’s subsidiary Hanson Israel operates the Nahal Raba quarry in the West Bank near the green line — Israel’s internationally-recognized boundary with the occupied West Bank — and Kfar Qasim, a Palestinian village in Israel.

Cemex owns fifty percent of Yatir Quarry through its subsidiary ReadyMix Industries. The Yatir quarry lies next to the Israeli settlement of Teneh Omarim in the south Hebron hills of the West Bank.

Invested in the settlements

Who Profits? — a research project of the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace — has documented the illegal activities of the two companies in the West Bank.

All Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Syrian Golan Heights are illegal under international law.

According to the research project, Hanson Israel owns two concrete plants in the West Bank settlements of Modiin Illit and Atarot, and an asphalt plant south of the Elqana settlement.

Meanwhile, ReadyMix owns plants in various Israeli settlements. This includes Mevo Horon, the Atarot industrial zone and the Mishor Edomim industrial zone, all in the occupied West Bank, and Katzerin in the occupied Golan Heights.

ReadyMix also provides concrete elements for the construction of Israel’s wall and military checkpoints in the West Bank and provides concrete for the construction of Israel’s controversial light rail project. The project strengthens Israel’s grip on the greater Jerusalem area by connecting West Jerusalem with several settlements in or surrounding occupied East Jerusalem.

The activities of HeidelbergCement and Cemex subsidiaries in Nahal Raba and Yatir quarry are contrary to international law.

Article 55 of The Hague Regulations of 1907 explicitly stipulates on quarrying that it “forbids wasteful or negligent destruction of the capital value, whether by excessive cutting or mining or other abusive exploitation, contrary to the rules of good husbandry.” UN General Assembly Resolution 1803, passed in 1962, states that permanent sovereignty over natural wealth and resources is a “basic constituent of the right to self-determination.”

In 2004, the International Court of Justice reaffirmed the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination and Israel’s status as the occupying power in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem. The court also determined that Israel’s wall and settlement construction in occupied territory were illegal under international law.

According to an Israeli Ministry of Interior report, the quarries in the occupied West Bank provide 12 million tons of construction material annually. Seventy-five percent of this material is used inside Israel and the rest is used for Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank (the report was referenced in a petition to the Israeli high court filed by attorney Michael Sfard on behalf of Yesh Din).

The Israeli daily Haaretz reports that in its annual report for 2005, Israel’s state comptroller revealed that although any royalties from the quarries should be used for the benefit of the Palestinian population, they were paid into the Israeli state treasury instead (“Digging up the dirt,”3 September 2010).

Photo taken by a human rights researcher documents a truck loaded with material from Yatir quarry entering Israel via Meitar checkpoint, 1 May 2011. (Dror Etkes)

Mining companies taken to court

In 2009, the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din filed a petition with the Israeli high court, demanding a halt to illegal mining activity in West Bank quarries, including those operated by Hanson Israel and ReadyMix.

In Yesh Din’s petition to the court, attorney Michael Sfard wrote: “Indeed, we are committing a crime on the West Bank’s land when we extract deposits of gravel and rock from its soil and take them by the truckload to the sovereign territory of the State of Israel to serve the Israeli economy.”

The Israeli high court refused to order a temporary halt to mining activities or stop new mining concessions from being issued. Instead, it requested the response of the parties involved in the petition, which meant that it was business as usual for the companies operating the 11 quarries identified in Yesh Din’s report.

In response, in May 2009 Avi Dicht of the state attorney’s office wrote that the state would freeze the existing situation, including the planning of new quarries, recommending a six-month review (“Israel freezes expansion of West Bank quarries following high court petition,” The Jerusalem Post, 21 May 2009).

There has been no court action since then.

Meanwhile, the mining at both Nahal Raba and Yatir quarry continues. Dror Etkes, a human rights researcher who initiated and collected the data for the Yesh Din petition, documented how a Volvo truck loaded with construction material left Yatir quarry and entered Israel via Meitar checkpoint on 1 May.

According to Etkes, trucks transport construction material from the quarry into Israel several times per day. WhoProfits? also filmed a truck leaving the Nahal Raba quarry with gravel on 1 May. A video produced by the group indicates where the truck crosses the green line (“Hanson Quarry of HeidelbergCement in the West Bank”).

Mining contravenes corporate responsibility conventions

The involvement of multinational companies HeidelbergCement and Cemex in the plundering of the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights’ natural resources are not only in violation of international law, but also contravene commitments to codes of conduct and conventions which regulate the activities of multinational corporations.

These rules governing corporate responsibility include the 2000 UN Global Compact, the 2003 UN norms on the responsibilities of transnational corporations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises adopted in 2000.

Both Heidelberg Cement and Cemex have endorsed the principles of the UN Global Compact. The UN Global Compact is a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to sustainability and responsible business practices.

The first two principles of the Global Compact state that businesses should support and respect the protection of international human rights within their spheres of influence, and make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

While HeidelbergCement was listed as a participant in the Global Compact in February 2004, today, the company no longer appears as a participant. Nevertheless, the company has developed a sustainability strategy and on its website, it claims that “The fair distribution of natural resources to current and future generations is one of the fundamental goals of sustainable development.”

Meanwhile Cemex continues to be registered as a participant in the Global Compact.

Institutional investors are increasingly wary of investing in companies that openly flout international law and corporate codes of conduct, including the importing of natural resources.

Meanwhile, the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement has exposed the complicity of a number of multinational corporations in the Israeli occupation, leading investors to divest from those companies. It is unlikely that HeidelbergCement and Cemex will be immune to this scrutiny.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Lebanon files complaint against Israel

Press TV – May 16, 2011

Lebanon has submitted a complaint to the United Nations Security Council against Israel over the killing of 10 civilians in the Lebanese border town of Maroun al-Ras.

At least 10 people were killed and over 110 others wounded after Israeli soldiers opened fire on thousands of Palestinian refugees who were holding a symbolic march toward their homeland on the Lebanese side of the border on Sunday.

The Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon were marking the 63rd anniversary of the forcible eviction of 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland by Israelis and the occupation of Palestine, which Palestinians refer to as “Nakba Day,” or the day of catastrophe.

“The attack represents a hostile act and once more highlights Israel’s violation of Lebanese sovereignty and its disregard of UN resolutions,” Lebanon’s permanent mission to the UN said.

Lebanon also called on the Security Council to pressure Israel to end its hostile and provocative policies against Lebanon and hold it accountable for killing civilians.

The leader of Lebanon’s resistance movement Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah, said the protests gave the anniversary a new meaning and proved to Israel that the Palestinians hold onto their uncompromising right to return to their homeland.

“We must bow before the courage, the bravery, of those who protested yesterday at Lebanon and Syria’s borders with occupied Palestine, who faced the tyranny of the enemy with bare chests and their heads held high,” Nasrallah said on Monday.

“Your message, loud and clear, to the enemy is that you will liberate your lands, that the fate of this entity [Israel] is demise, and that no initiatives, treaties or borders will protect it,” he added.

A total of 25 protesters were killed in southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and Syria’s occupied Golan heights by Israeli forces on Nakba Day.

The United Nations has condemned Israel’s “disproportionate, deadly force” against demonstrators marking the anniversary of the creation of Israel.

“I am shocked by the number of the deaths and the use of disproportionate, deadly force by the Israeli Defense Forces against apparently unarmed demonstrators, which I condemn,” UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said on Monday.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Haifa university prevents Arab MK Zoabi from delivering lecture

Palestine Information Center – 16/05/2011

HAIFA — The Haifa university administration disallowed a lecture for Arab MK Hanin Zoabi on the occasion of Nakba under the title of “No to racism on Nakba anniversary”.

The administration, which cancelled another earlier lecture for Sheikh Raed Salah the leader of the Islamic movement in 1948 occupied Palestine, prohibited all activities for the Arab students.

The students branch of Zoabi’s party in the university said that the administration’s practice had turned into a routine, vowing to protest the practice and not to remain silent.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance | Leave a comment

Report: Mitchell resigned because Dennis Ross was biased and working against US interests

Ma’an - May 17, 2011

RAMALLAH — A political adviser to the late president Yasser Arafat issued a statement Tuesday, alleging that US Mideast peace envoy George Mitchell resigned because of the “extreme bias” of his deputy Dennis Ross.

Bassam Abu Shareef said Ross obstructed all US initiatives aiming to achieve progress in the peace process, and blamed the deputy’s bias for Mitchell’s resignation Saturday.

Abu Shareef said senior American officials informed him that Mitchell viewed the appointment of Ross a step to obstruct the peace process. He added that Mitchell believed Ross was working against US interests.

The official paraphrased comments he said were made by Mitchell during a meeting, where he asked: “How can Dennis Ross assist in the peace process when he refuses to meet with the Palestinians, when he despises their leadership and hates their president?”

Abu Shareef also said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “rejects peace,” and would have no part of a Palestinian state with Hamas in its leadership.

“This means they are opening war on Palestinians and their nation,” he added.

~

See also:

Who is Dennis Ross

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

The “International Criminal Court”: Prosecuting Gaddafi With Questionable Evidence While Ignoring NATO-Israeli Atrocities

orwellwasright | May 17, 2011

The International Criminal Court has requested an arrest warrant for Colonel Gaddafi  and his sons for “crimes against humanity”, accusing them of ordering, planning and participating in illegal attacks on civilians. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, International Criminal Court Prosecutor, said, “Based on the evidence collected, the prosecution has applied to pre-trial chamber one for the issuance of arrest warrants against Moammar Muhamad abu Minyar Gaddafi, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Sanoussi.”

But what is the evidence? The press release on the website of the International Criminal Court makes frequent reference to “direct evidence” but fails to cite any of this evidence in detail. In order to try and clarify the grounds for the prosecution, I emailed the ICC:

I’m looking into the ICC Prosecutor allegations of war crimes against Col. Gaddafi and his sons and am struggling to find the evidence on which these accusations are based. Referring to the press release issued on 16th May 2011 (http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/1365E3B7-8152-4456-942C-A5CD5A51E829.htm) there is frequent reference to “direct evidence” obtained by the ICC but nothing in the way of the actual evidence itself. Can you point me to a comprehensive analysis of this evidence so I can refer to it in my article?

A secondary point of which you could be assistance relates to the following passage: “The Office will further investigate allegations of massive rapes, war crimes committed by different parties during the armed conflict that started at the end of February, and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans wrongly perceived to be mercenaries” Given that some of the parties involved in these rapes and attacks against sub-Saharan Africans were armed and funded by Western powers via their proxies in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, will NATO-affiliated forces also be under investigation for their part in these atrocities? Are NATO forces being investigated for the deaths of civilians as a consequence of Operation Mass Appeal, in addition to covert actions carried out by special operations forces prior to the NATO-led bombing campaign?

I look forward to your response and clarification.

The ICC promptly responded, providing me with a document entitled, PUBLIC REDACTED Version Prosecutor’s Application Pursuant to Article 58 as to Muammar Mohammed Abu Minyar GADDAFI, Saif Al‐Islam GADDAFI and Abdullah AL‐SENUSSI.

Needless to say, “redacted” is the operative word.

Sources backing up the frequent assertions in the document regarding crimes against humanity carried out by Gaddafi and his sons are notable by their absence. For example, the document states, “In the early days of the demonstrations, GADDAFI transmitted orders through his Secretariat to “discipline” civilians, by killing them and destroying their property, who had openly rebelled against the regime. Further, AL‐SENUSSI, upon GADDAFI’s instructions, directed and coordinated the operation of the Security Forces in Benghazi and expressly ordered the shooting at civilians. Demonstrators were attacked by members of the Security Forces who opened machine gun fire on them in different areas of the city, such as the Juliyana bridge and Jamal Abdun Naser Street.” The sources for these alleged transmissions and subsequent attacks are not provided. Further, the report uses vague generalisations concerning the history of Libya in an attempt to bolster its case. “Direct evidence of the plan to use extreme and lethal violence is corroborated by the scale, scope and duration of the attacks; the pattern of the attacks in various cities; the speeches and statements of GADDAFI, SAIF AL‐ISLAM and AL‐SENUSSI; the history of the regime’s response to any political opposition within Libya; and the complete authority exercised by GADDAFI and his subordinates over all important security decisions.” Again, the “direct evidence” is not sourced, while appealing to a state’s prior human rights record is not proof by any measure of the current crimes of which they stand accused.

The report continues, stating, “On 20 February, SAIF AL‐ISLAM spoke on Libyan state television, refusing to recognize the Libyans’ demands, blaming the unrest on “foreign agents” and threatening the country with a “civil warʺ “worse than Iraq and worse than in Yugoslavia” that would cause “thousands of deaths”. No mention is made of the presence of the SAS and CIA in the country prior to this point, validating the claim that “foreign agents” were in fact involved in the unrest. Nor does the report concede the rather obvious point that a “civil war” cannot by definition be waged without more than one party, thus implicating forces backed by foreign powers in the “thousands of deaths” that Saif Al-Islam hinted might follow.

The document again makes the claim that Gaddafi opened fire on peaceful protestors without providing any sources for this claim, stating, “During that night, massive demonstrations against GADDAFI took place in different areas of Tripoli after the sunset prayers. GADDAFIʹs Security Forces opened fire as soon as they met groups of peaceful demonstrators that were walking towards the Green Square. Similar incidents were replicated throughout the day mainly in the areas of the Green Square and city center, Mojam’a Al‐Mahakem Court compound and Al‐Dribi. The protesters set on fire government buildings, including the General People’s Congress, and at least one police station and one ministry.” The report provides no video, photographic or any other evidence for these assertions. Perhaps the following point is intended to provide such evidence: “On 22 February GADDAFI spoke on State television from his headquarters in Bab Al‐Azizia, Tripoli. He refused to acknowledge any legitimacy of the demonstrators’ demands and did not regret the crimes committed by his Security Forces. On the contrary, GADDAFI called the protesters ʺratsʺ, “garbage” and “mercenaries” and threatened “to clean Libya inch by inch, house by house, small street by small street, individual by individual, corner by corner until the country is clean from all garbage and dirt”.” Clearly, threatening such actions is not proof by any measure that such actions were indeed carried out – if that were the case, one must present a prosecution for war crimes against the State of Israel, since shortly before Operation Cast Lead the deputy defence minister Matan Vilnai threatened a “shoah”. The slaughter that followed proved that this was no empty threat – yet the ICC has made no effort to present a case for prosection against Israel for the killing of Gazan civilians, which included over 300 children in the death toll.

The report continues with more unsupported assertions, stating, “On 25 February, Friday, one week after the beginning of the attacks and a day of prayer for the Muslim community, GADDAFI issued further instructions to attack civilians. He learned that demonstrations were scheduled that day after the prayers and instructed the deployment of Security Forces throughout the city. Snipers strategically placed awaited the crowds to leave the mosques. Multiple sources describe how civilians were shot at throughout the city when they were pouring from the mosques after the prayers. On this day alone GADDAFI’s forces killed up to one‐hundred civilians in Tripoli in the areas of Green Square, Souq al‐Jomaa, Arada, Zawyet al dahmani, Tajoura and Fashloom, among others.” Despite refering to “multiple sources” not a single one of these is cited.

The document then continues. “In sum, the evidence demonstrates that GADDAFI conceived a plan to quell the popular demonstrations of February 2011 by all means, including through the use of extreme and lethal violence.” Unfortunately, as appears to be self-evident from the frequent unsourced assertions combined with the proliferation of redactions throughout the document, it is perhaps fair to conclude that there is very little evidence to demonstrate the central claims of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution against Colonel Gaddafi and his sons. This is perhaps best highlighted on page 17 of the document:

E. SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE AND OTHER INFORMATION ESTABLISHING REASONABLE GROUNDS TO BELIEVE THAT MUAMMAR MOHAMMED ABU MINYAR GADDAFI, SAIF ALISLAM GADDAFI AND ABDULLAH AL‐SENUSSI COMMITTED CRIMES WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE COURT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 58(2)(d) OF THE ROME STATUTE

1. REDACTED
2. REDACTED
3. REDACTED
4. REDACTED
5. REDACTED
6. REDACTED

Following on from this I emailed the ICC once again:

Many thanks – it would seem that the evidence is flimsy and circumstantial at best (that is, the evidence that hasn’t been redacted) – most of the key claims (use of snipers against civilians etc) appear to be completely lacking sources. Will a version of this be released for public consumption without the redactions?

Can you respond to my second point with regards to prosecuting NATO forces for civilian deaths/attacks on hospitals and civilian infrastructure and the repeated use of depleted uranium? Also, is a case going to be brought against Israel for the recent killing of protestors as well as the attack on the humanitarian ship Spirit of Rachel Corrie in international waters?

The evidence for these crimes against humanity is certainly overwhelming in comparison to the evidence provided by the ICC in their case against Gaddafi, yet the ICC has remained steadfastly silent when it comes to the crimes committed by NATO and Israeli forces, both recent and historical. The crimes of which Gaddafi and his sons are accused by the ICC may indeed have occurred, although the paucity of evidence provided – at least, in the redacted public version cited above – seems to cast some doubts on this. No conclusive video or photographic evidence has been provided by either the ICC or the mainstream media who have made similar accusations. If it existed, there is little doubt that it would have been broadcast to the world constantly across the news channels.

Contrast this with the strong evidence of war crimes committed by Western powers such as the US, UK and Israel, and the corresponding absence of prosecutions against these nations by the ICC, and it seems fair to conclude that the institution has a conception of justice which appears to be one-sided at best.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 11 Comments

Israeli soldier shoots photographer

Press TV – May 17, 2011

An Israeli soldier has deliberately shot Palestinian photographer Mohammad Othman as he was covering protests in the Gaza Strip, says Reporters Without Borders.

The group said on Tuesday that Othman was clearly identifiable as a journalist at the time of the shooting and was deliberately targeted on Sunday.

The photographer was covering demonstrations near the Erez crossing in northern Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, thousands of Palestinians staged protests to mark the anniversary of the Nakba Day or “day of the catastrophe,” May 15, 1948, when Palestine was occupied by Israel.

Israeli Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter planes flew over the demonstrators, whereas troops fired tank shells near marching protesters on the border crossing.

Medical sources and Othman’s family told AFP on Tuesday that he was still in hospital in a “critical but stable” condition.

“He underwent an operation early this morning to remove a piece of shrapnel from his spine,” said Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for the medical services in Gaza.

A doctor said the 26-year-old Othman was shot in the arm and was hit in the chest by shrapnel, which entered his lungs and spine.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

The Democrats’ Attack on Unions

Cuts and Concessions

By SHAMUS COOKE | CounterPunch | May 17, 2011

Obvious political truths are sometimes smothered by special interests. The cover-up of the Democrats’ national anti-union agenda is possible because the truth would cause enormous disturbances for the Democratic Party, some labor leaders, liberal organizations and, consequently, the larger political system.

Here is the short list of states that have Democratic governors where labor unions are undergoing severe attacks: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, California, New York, Illinois, Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota, Maryland and New Hampshire. Other states with Democratic governors are attacking unions to a lesser degree.

The Democrats in these states have sought to distance themselves from the Republican governors of Wisconsin and Ohio, who have specifically attacked the collective bargaining rights of unions. The above Democrats all hide their anti-union attacks behind a “deep respect for collective bargaining;” akin to a thief who will steal your car but, out of respect, will not target your deceased Grandma’s diamond earrings.

For example, the anti-union Democratic governor of Connecticut is demanding $1.6 billion in cuts from state workers! The contract has not been ratified yet, but Governor Malloy referred to the agreement as: “historic because of the way we achieved it – we respected the collective bargaining process and we respected each other, negotiating in good faith, without fireworks and without anger.”

The anti-union Democratic governor of the state of Washington uses similar language:

“They [labor unions] contributed [to fixing the state budget deficit] with a salary cut; they contributed by paying more in health care. They have stepped up and said we want to be a part of the solution. I did it by going to the table, respecting their collective bargaining rights and we got the job done.”

The anti-union Democratic governor of Oregon is demanding 20 to 25 percent pay cut for state workers:

“But [says the Governor] those concessions will be made across a bargaining table through our collective bargaining process and with mutual respect.”

This garbage normally wouldn’t fool a 4th grader, but some labor leaders are playing dumb, in the hopes that the above attacks will not ruin the long-standing friendship between unions and Democrats. Of course, such hopes are founded on illusion: workers are not so blind as to not notice that the governors they campaigned for are now demanding their wages and benefits be destroyed in an unprecedented attack.

But by minimizing the Democrats role in targeting unions, some labor leaders are disarming the labor movement. On the one hand, labor leaders of both the AFL-CIO and Change to Win federations have drawn some correct conclusions from the events in Wisconsin, especially when they say that “labor is in the fight of its life” and “the corporations are out to bust unions.” On the other hand, both union federations have made excuses for the anti-union Democratic Party, enabling labor to be vulnerable on its “left” flank to the anti-union attack.

The fight against massive cuts in wages and benefits cannot be separated from the attack on collective bargaining; they are two sides of the same coin. Workers only care about collective bargaining because it enables them to improve their wages and benefits. A union that agrees to massive cuts in wages will not remain a union for long, since workers will not want to pay dues to an organization that cannot protect them. Concessionary bargaining destroys the power of a union in the same way that cancer destroys the body; pulling the plug [ending collective bargaining] comes after losing a battle with cancer.

Fighting the concessionary cancer is the essence of the problem. This is the real lesson of Wisconsin: workers want to fight back against the nationwide attack against their livelihoods, whether it be wages and benefits or collective bargaining. The AFL-CIO and Change to Win realize this to a certain degree; they are separately creating campaigns to deal with the attack, with SEIU jumping out in front with its Fight for a Fair Economy.

These union campaigns are doomed to fail if the energy generated by them is funneled into the 2012 campaign for Barack Obama.

Any successful union campaign will require that massive resources and energy be used, since the attack workers are facing is colossal. If workers are told to halt their campaigns to door knock and make phone calls for Obama, the campaign will lose all legitimacy, since Obama has established himself as a friend of Wall Street and thus no friend to workers. Voting for Democrats has a demoralizing effect on workers when the inevitable “betrayal” happens; and demoralized union members will not fight as effectively for their own pro-union campaign.

A successful union campaign will require that workers are energized about it. SEIU’s campaign focuses largely on making more connections with other labor and community groups, which is very positive. However, without waging an energetic battle to prevent state workers from making massive concessions, the campaign will fail, because workers who make massive concessions will be demoralized and not take the union campaign seriously, since it failed to address their most pressing needs. The fight to defend state workers has the potential — as Wisconsin proved — to unleash tremendous fighting energy among workers, while also uniting those in the broader community, who are eager for working people to fight back.

If labor unions continue down their current path of making huge concessions in wages and benefits while making excuses for the Democrats attacking them, the movement will wither and die.

If, on the contrary, labor unions demand that state budget deficits be fixed by taxing the rich and corporations, workers would respond enthusiastically; if public-sector unions demanded No Cuts, No Concessions, workers would energetically join the union’s cause; if unions banded together to demand that a national jobs campaign be created by taxing the top 1 percent, a flood of energy would erupt from working people in general; if, during election time, unions joined together to run their own independent candidates with these demands, an unstoppable movement would quickly emerge.

Without using aggressive demands aimed at solving the immediate problems facing working people, a social movement cannot be created to deal with the crisis facing labor unions and working people in general. ONLY a national social movement with Wisconsin-like energy has the potential to shift the direction in which the country is going, away from the rich and corporations towards working people. Such a social movement cannot be born from soft demands, half-fought battles, or campaigning for Democrats.

Shamus Cooke can be reached at shamuscooke@gmail.com

May 17, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

Creating the bin Laden Reality

By Paul Craig Roberts | LewRockwell.com | May 17, 2011

I have heard one dozen times today (May 13) from media that the US killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan. I heard it three times from National Public Radio, twice from the BBC, and from every TV and radio station I encountered, even those stations that play the rock and roll music of the 1950s and 1960s. The killing of bin Laden has now entered the legends of our time and, no doubt, the history books.

The US government that told us that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” and “al Qaeda connections” and that Iran has nuclear missiles that require the US to ring Russia with anti-ballistic missile systems, finally told us the truth for once. Obama found Osama and had him murdered, apparently unarmed in his underwear, defended not by al Qaeda, “the best trained, most dangerous vicious killers on the planet,” but by two unarmed women.

As I offered previously, if you believe this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I can let you have for a cheap price.

The government has created another reality for us proles. We won again. Us white hats got the black hat, just like in the western movie. Fantasy is better than fact, and us good guys are on a roll. It makes everybody happy, even those who have lost their jobs, their houses, their pensions.

So, who’s the next black hat? The military/security complex cannot do without a bad guy, or the budget could be cut and billions of dollars in profits would go missing. Without someone for Americans to hate, the show can’t go on.

Homeland Security says the next black hat will be “domestic extremists.” The CIA says it will be the next al Qaeda leader, bin Laden’s replacement, who will terrorize us white hats for killing bin Laden. The neocon brownshirts say it is Pakistan, who hid bin Laden from us, thus protecting him from justice being done. Hillary says it is China, and as the US economy continues its collapse, more and more fingers will point at China.

Airport Security will pat down more babies, feel more genitals, and radiate more air travelers.

But without bin Laden, we will feel safer and more secure, which is counterproductive for the military/security complex. Obama has made a fundamental mistake. He has killed Emanuel Goldstein (bin Laden), the hate figure who justified the trillions of dollars we have blown trying to get him.

Once Homeland Security, the CIA, and the White House decide who the new hate figure is to be, we will be off and running again.

It took 10 years to get bin Laden. This proves that all those security experts who say that the war will last for 30 years might be underestimating the necessary commitment. If it takes 10 years each to find and murder the next two leaders, we are faced with conflict that lasts across generations.

As I wrote previously, bin Laden’s killing serves so many different agendas that even those who don’t believe the story have hooked their wagon to it. Al Qaeda itself can no longer take credit for acts of terrorism without declaring that it was to avenge bin Laden.

The bin Laden story is now set in stone, immune from fact. Global Research has provided us with bin Laden’s last known interview, which appeared in a Pakistan newspaper on September 28, 2001 and was translated and made available to the West by the BBC World Monitoring Service on September 29, 2001.

In the interview, bin Laden says: “I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. . . . Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks the common American people have been killed. . . .The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which makes us surprised, but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. . . . Terror is the most dreaded weapon in the modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people.”

But who would believe a demonized bin Laden when to do so requires them to disbelieve George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Western media?

We all know, don’t we, that in America the government always has the best interest of ordinary people at heart and always tells them the truth. If you don’t believe this, you are anti-American.

~

Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, has been released by Random House.

Copyright © 2011 Paul Craig Roberts

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 3 Comments

War Crimes & the Bombing of Libya

Conn Hallinan | Dispatches From The Edge | May 16, 2011

According to the New York Times (5/16/11), Gen. Sir David Richards, “Britain’s top military commander,” is proposing that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) target Libyan “infrastructure,” including electrical power grids and fuel dumps, in government held areas.

Frustrated by the two-month old stalemate, Gen. Richards told the Times that “The vice is closing on [Muammar el-] Qaddadi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military activity.” The British are playing a major role in the bombing campaign, and Gen. Richards was in Naples, the command center for the war in Libya, when he talked with the Times.

The Times went on to write, “The General suggested that NATO should be freed from restraints that precluded attacking infrastructure targets.”

Let us be clear what “infrastructure” means: “The fundamental facilities and systems serving a country, city or area, as transportation and communication systems, power plants and schools”(Random House Dictionary, Second Edition).

Now let’s see what the 1977 Protocol Addition to Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 say on the business of attacking “infrastructure.”

“In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.”

Part IV, Section I, Article. 48

“It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuff, agricultural areas for the production of foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works…”

Article 54

“It is prohibited for the Parties to the conflict to attack, by any means whatsoever, non-defended localities…”

Article 59

In short, you can’t bomb power plants, electrical grids, water pumping plants, or transport systems that service the civilian population, even if the military also benefits from them. As Article 50 states: “The presence within the civilian population of individuals that do not come within the definition of civilians does not deprive the population of its civilian character.”

The pressure to step up the bombing and widen the delineation of targets reflects the fact that the war has turned into a stalemate. “We need to do more,” Gen. Richards told the Times, “If we do not up the ante now there is a risk that the conflict could result in Qaddafi clinging to power.”

That last statement appears to be a violation of United Nations Resolution 1973, which called for “protection of civilians,” a “no-fly zone,” “sanctions,” a “freeze of assets” and an “arms embargo.” Nowhere does 1973 mention regime change and getting rid of Qaddafi.

So are we being dragged into a war whose goals violate UN Resolution 1973, and whose means violate the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts?  It is hard not to answer that question in anything but the affirmative.

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Leave a comment

   

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