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Berlusconi suffers defeat in referendum

Press TV – June 13, 2011

The majority of Italians have backed an opposition-proposed referendum which calls for abolishing immunity for Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and banning nuclear power production.

The government worked hard to keep the turnout below 50 percent to be able to scrap the vote, but Italians flocked the polls to vote in opposition to the government.

With the turnout of 57 percent, over 90 percent voted against the government, since the majority of voters were opponents.

The opposition has already begun calling on the government to step down.

“At this point they should resign,” Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of Italy’s main opposition Democratic Party, told reporters.

During the two-day referendum, Italians voted against legislation that allows the country’s ministers to avoid attending corruption trials. They further opposed an existing law that forces the privatization of local water utilities, as well as a plan to resume nuclear power production.

The Italians’ main concern was voting on whether their country should resume nuclear power production, following Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster triggered by a powerful earthquake and an ensuing tsunami in March.

The nuclear vote aimed at putting an end to Berlusconi’s plans to restart Italy’s atomic energy program by 2014.

Most of those who participated in the referendums were reportedly supporters of the center-left opposition. Berlusconi, on the other hand, had urged his supporters to boycott the ballot.

The referendum is widely viewed as a test measuring Berlusconi’s popularity and power base. The Italian premier is currently involved in four corruption trials.

The 74-year-old has had an extensive history of criminal allegations, including mafia involvement, corruption, and bribery of police officers, lawyers, and judges.

The vote comes after Berlusconi’s party suffered a humiliating defeat in mayoral elections in Milan and Naples last month.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Corruption, Nuclear Power | Leave a comment

Harper targeted First Nations for increased surveillance, fears Native “unrest,” newly released government documents show

Money for housing on reserves slashed, money for surveillance of Natives increased

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa (IPSMO) – June 13, 2011

Newly exposed internal documents from Indian Affairs and the RCMP show that shortly after forming government in January of 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had the federal government step up intelligence gathering on First Nations to anticipate and manage First Nations political action across Canada.

Information obtained by the First Nations Strategic Bulletin through Access to Information requests reveals that almost immediately upon Harper’s taking power in 2006, the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) was given the lead role to spy on First Nations. The goal was to identify the First Nation leaders, participants and outside supporters of First Nation occupations and protests, and to closely monitor their actions.

To accomplish this task, INAC established a “Hot Spot Reporting System.” These weekly reports highlight all those communities across the country that engage in direct action to protect their lands and communities. They include Tsartlip First Nation, the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Six Nations, Grassy Narrows, the Likhts’amsiyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory, and many more.

“Rather than listening to the needs of First Nations communities Harper is making plans to use force to stifle the dissent that inevitably arises from chronic poverty and dispossession in Native communities,” said Russell Diabo, Mohawk policy analyst, in response. “First Nations education and housing is chronically under-funded, but policing and surveillance of legitimate Indigenous movements is always a priority.”

The documents reveal that First Nations are a closely monitored population who are causing a panic at the highest levels of the Canadian government.

Says Gord Elliot of Tsartlip First Nation, “Obviously trust and good faith are expected when working with INAC, the RCMP and other agencies of the Government. We are outraged to discover these same Ministries are spying on us. We were identified as a ‘hotspot’ because we had a roadblock demonstration to voice our concerns about the Treaty process and non-acknowledgment of Section 35 Constitutional Rights and Title.
We felt we had no choice because the Canadian Government won’t acknowledge our Constitutionally protected Aboriginal Rights and Title.”

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties | Leave a comment

Rape in Libya: America’s recent major wars have all been accompanied by memorable falsehoods

Peter Dale Scott | The Aasia-Pacific Journal | June 13, 2011

It is a troubled Time for NATO’s campaign against Libya. President Obama has seen a near-revolt in Congress against the costly war, while Defense Secretary Gates in Brussels has warned his European allies that their tepid response “is putting the Libya mission and the alliance’s very future at risk.”1 Back home, according to the London Daily Mail, “Mr Gates has requested extra funds for Libya operations, but has been rebuffed by the White House.”2

The past history of American wars tells us that, when the war-going begins to get tough, the professional p.r. campaigns get going, often with wholly invented stories. For example, when in 1990 Defense Secretary Colin Powell was expressing doubts that the United States should attack Kuwait, stories appeared that, as revealed by classified satellite photos, Saddam had amassed 265,000 troops and 1500 tanks at the edge of the Saudi Arabian border. Powell then changed his mind, and the attack proceeded. But after the invasion a reporter from the St. Petersburg Times viewed satellite photos from a commercial satellite, and “she saw no sign of a quarter of a million troops or their tanks.”3

Hawks in Congress, notably Tom Lantos and Stephen Solarz, secured support for the attack on Iraq with a story from a 15-year-old girl, that she had seen Kuwaiti infants snatched from their incubators by Iraqi soldiers. The story was discredited when it was learned that the girl, the daughter of the Saudi ambassador in Washington, might not have visited the hospital at all. She had been prepped on her story by the p.r. firm Hill & Knowlton, which had a contract for $11.5 million from the Kuwaiti government.4

The history of American foreign interventions is littered with such false stories, from the “Remember the Maine” campaign of the Hearst press in 1898, to the false stories of a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. destroyers in the so-called Second Tonkin Gulf incident of August 4, 1964. We know furthermore that in their Operation Northwoods documents, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962 proposed a series of ways, some of them lethal, to deceive the American people in order to engineer a war against Cuba.5

Since the fiasco of the false Iraqi stories in 1990-91, these stories have tended to be floated by foreign sources, usually European. This was conspicuously the case with the forged yellowcake documents from Italy underlying Bush’s misleading reference to Iraq in his 2003 State of the Union address.6 But it was true also of the false stories linking Saddam Hussein to the celebrated anthrax letters of 2001. (Their anthrax was later determined to have come from a U.S. biowarfare laboratory.)7

This recurring history of falsified stories to justify interventions should be on our minds as we now face the allegations, as yet neither proven nor disproven, that Gaddafi has been using rape as a method to fight insurrection, and may have been guilty of raping victims himself. These charges were made on June 8 by Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), who claimed (according to Time Magazine)

there were indications that Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi had ordered the rape of hundreds of women during his violent crackdown on the rebels and that he had even provided his soldiers with Viagra to stimulate the potential for attacks.*

According to Time, the rape stories are being circulated by doctors who claim to have met and treated patients but do not have patients’ permission to reveal their identities. Earlier, according to a Libyan doctor interviewed in an Al Jazeera video, “many doctors have found Viagra and condoms in the pockets of dead pro-Gaddafi fighters, as well as treated female rape survivors. The doctor insists this clearly indicates the Gaddafi regime is using rape as a weapon of war.”9

But what of Moreno’s charge that “Now we are getting some information that Gaddafi himself decided to rape, and this is new.”10 This is a sensational charge: until we learn there is a reliable source for it, one can suspect it was made to grab headlines.

One problem in investigating these charges is that Libyan culture is so unkind to rape victims that they are reluctant to come forward. Researchers for Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International were unable to find one woman who said she had been raped. A U.N. human rights investigator, Cherif Bassiouni, told Agence France-Presse that the rape and Viagra stories were being circulated by the Benghazi authorities as “part of a ‘massive hysteria.’” In fact he had discovered only three cases.11

Military conflict of course is normally accompanied by rape. What might constitute a war crime would be whether (to quote Time) Gaddafi “had provided his soldiers with Viagra.” Moreno actually said, according to the Associated Press, that “some witnesses confirmed that the [Libyan] government was buying containers of Viagra-type drugs ‘to enhance the possibility to rape.’”

Others have objected that the purchase of Viagra-type drugs falls far short of indicating a war crime. Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, in Tripoli on an investigative mission, has pointed out in her emails that to date the one army known to have distributed Viagra as part of its war operations is the U.S. Army – as a bribe to entice information from aging tribal leaders in Afghanistan.12

Time’s subtle enhancement of Moreno’s claim – from purchasing Viagra to providing it to soldiers, reminds us of the sorry record of the U.S. mainstream media in circulating past false stories to justify war. It is painful to say this, but virtually every major U.S. military intervention since Korea has been accompanied by false stories. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo should be pressed to come forward quickly with the supporting evidence for his charges, which should be based on more than the testimony of doctors working for the Benghazi regime.

Notes

1Gates rebukes NATO allies, warns of ‘dismal’ future,” Agence France-Presse, June 10, 2011.

2 “The billion dollar war? Libyan campaign breaks Pentagon estimates costing U.S. taxpayers $2 million a day,” London Daily Mail, June 9, 2011.

3 “No Casus Belli? Invent One,” Guardian (London), February 5, 2003.

4 Ted Rowse, “Kuwaitgate – killing of Kuwaiti babies by Iraqi soldiers exaggerated,” Washington Monthly, September 1992.

5 Scott, American War Machine, 195-201.

6 Terry H. Anderson, Bush’s Wars, 97.

7 Consider the following story in the London Daily Mail by Simon Reeve: Iraq has been identified as the most likely source of the anthrax used to terrorise America during recent weeks. New plans are now being considered for retalia tory military strikes against Saddam Hussein, according to American government officials. Although studies of the anthrax spores sent through the mail are continuing, American scientists have discovered “hallmarks” that point to Iraqi involvement. American investigators are increasingly convinced that the anthrax was smuggled into the US and mailed to a number of targets by unidentified “sleeper” supporters of Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda organization. (Simon Reeve, “Scientists Link Iraq to Anthrax Terror Attacks,” Sunday Mail.

8 [London], October 28, 2001; discussed in Peter Dale Scott, American War Machine, 194-95). [The example is also interesting in its fusing of Saddam and Al Qaeda, in fact bitter rivals]

9 Karen Leigh, “Rape in Libya: The Crime That Dare Not Speak Its Name,” Time, June 9, 2011.

10 Washington Post Blogpost, March 29, 2011.

11 Agence France-Presse, June 9, 2011.

12 “UN investigator casts doubt over Libya mass rape claims,” Agence France Presse, June 9, 2011.

13 Toby Hamden, “CIA give Afghan warlords Viagra in exchange for information on Taliban,” Telegraph [London], December 26, 2008.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Leave a comment

‘US to stay in Afghanistan for decades’

Press TV – June 14, 2011

A new report has revealed that secret talks between American and Afghan officials could see foreign troops remain in Afghanistan for several decades.

In a report published Monday, The Guardian, quoted US and NATO sources, as saying that secret negotiations have reportedly been underway for more than a month.

American negotiators will be in Kabul for a new round of talks later this month. The talks are aimed at securing a strategic partnership agreement that includes US presence in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 withdrawal deadline.

According to the report, any such agreement is likely to see American troops, spies and air power stay in the country for decades.

Meanwhile, senior NATO officials have also predicted that their troops will remain in Afghanistan far beyond 2014. However, Russia, China and India have voiced concern over any such ‘strategic partnership’ deal that would prolong US presence in the region.

The report comes days after and Washington exchanged proposals on possible US presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

“Our proposal had gone to the US government in response to their proposal. A delegation will come from the United States to discuss this and that will determine the nature of US presence in Afghanistan (after 2014),” Karzai said during an official visit to the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Saturday.

Senior US and NATO officials have signaled that foreign troops will remain in the country beyond 2014. This is while US President Barack Obama had pledged a major drawdown from Afghanistan by July 2011.

Experts have described the new contradictory transition dates as a devastating truth for Americans.

Washington says the transition does not mean that Afghan forces will be in charge everywhere. Obama has promised to keep American forces in Afghanistan even after other Western countries withdraw their troops.

According to official figures, over 2,500 US-led soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion began in 2001.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Illegal Occupation, Militarism | Leave a comment

After Running Out Of Anesthesia, All Surgeries In Gaza Put On Hold

By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | June 14, 2011

Dr. Atef Al Kahloot, head of the Medical Services in the Gaza Strip, reported Monday that all surgeries in hospitals across the coastal region have been put on hold until further notice as they ran out of anesthesia medications and supplies.

Al Kahloot stated that all hospitals and medical centers in the Gaza Strip will be totally out of all supplies related to Anesthesia within 48 hours. Al Kahloot added that there are 180 types of medications that have run out of in addition to 200 types of medical supplies.

He called on the international community and international human rights groups to intervene, and to save the residents from a serious humanitarian crisis.

Al Kahloot further called on the Ministry of Health in the central West Bank city of Ramallah to act on sending all needed medical supplies to the hospitals and medical facilities in the Gaza Strip.

Over 300 patients have died, since Israeli imposed the siege on Gaza in 2007, due to a lack of essential medical equipment. The patients were denied permits to leave the Gaza Strip to seek medical attention elsewhere.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Israeli forces demolish 5 wells in Hebron

Ma’an – 14/06/2011

HEBRON — Israeli forces demolished five water wells in the southern West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday morning, targeting a neighborhood in the city’s south.

The wells belonged to the Al-Jamal family, brother of the owner Samir Abdul-Hamid told Ma’an.

Soldiers and crews from Israel’s Civil Administration arrived on the property early, Samir said, assaulting family members who attempted to prevent the demolitions and then deploying tear-gas to drive them out of the area.

Five wells were destroyed and filled-in, “under the guise that they were built without a license,” Samir said.

An Israeli military spokesman said border police securing the area had used “riot dispersal mechanisms” in the area, but officials from the unit could not be reached for comment, nor could a representative of the Civil Administration.

On 30 May, eight wells near Jenin were demolished by order of the Civil Administration, which said the wells were unlicensed.

A spokesman for Israel’s Civil Administration said the wells had not been approved by the Joint Water Commission, a body set up under the Oslo Accords. According to the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, Israeli partners on the committee “constantly vetoed Palestinian water projects, hindering any development.

“Due to the non-functioning management of the water sector there are no water recycling pumps that will allow the people to have enough water for agriculture,” the spokesman noted, though researchers say attempts to build water treatment facilities have been stymied.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

   

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