A group of US generals reportedly visited Paraguay for a meeting with legislators on June 22 to discuss the possibility of building a military base in the Chaco region, which borders on Bolivia in western Paraguay. The meeting coincided with the Congress’s sudden impeachment the same day of left-leaning president Fernando Lugo, who at times has opposed a US military presence in the country. In 2009 Lugo cancelled maneuvers that the US Southern Command was planning to hold in Paraguay in 2010 as part of its “New Horizons” program.
More bases in the Chaco are “necessary,” rightwing deputy José López Chávez, who presides over the Chamber of Deputies’ Committee on Defense, said in a radio interview. Bolivia, governed by socialist president Evo Morales, “constitutes a threat for Paraguay, due to the arms race it’s developing,” according to López Chávez. Bolivia and Paraguay fought a war over the sparsely populated Chaco from 1932 to 1935, the last major war over territory in South America.
The US has been pushing recently to set up military bases in the Southern Cone, including one in Chile and one in Argentina’s northeastern Chaco province, which is close to the Paraguayan Chaco, although it doesn’t share a border with Paraguay [see Update #1129]. Unidentified military sources say that the US has already built infrastructure for its own troops in Paraguayan army installations near the country’s borders with Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil; for example, an installation in Mariscal Estigarribia, some 250 km from Bolivia, has a runway almost 3.8 km long, in a country with a very limited air force.
*Translated by Weekly News Update
The Israeli Regional Planning and Construction Committee in Jerusalem approved, Monday, a plan to build a Military College near the Augusta Victoria Hospital in Mount Olive, in occupied East Jerusalem.
Palestinian researcher specialized in Israeli settlement affairs, Ahmad Sob-Laban, issued a press release revealing, that under this plan, Israel will be constructing a military college on nearly 14 Dunams (3.459 Acres) north east of the Old city.
He added that the college will be able to accommodate nearly 400 students and 130 academics, and aims at moving more government and military facilities into the eastern part of Jerusalem, as part of Israel’s plans and illegal settlement activities in the occupied city.
Sob-Laban further stated that the settler-led government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and several settlement organizations, heavily supported by Israel lobbies and some Jewish millionaires in the United States, is trying to create facts on the ground by creating this chain of settlements and military bases in and around the Old City, starting in Ath-Thoury neighborhood and Silwan in the south, going through Ras Al-Amoud and At-Tour areas, and ending in Sheikh Jarrah in the north.
The official said that constructing the new military college will be the beginning of a new settlement outpost in the area, adding that At-Tour neighborhood already has two illegal settlement outposts, and that the planned college is only a few dozen meters away from these outposts.
He said that the new plan was discussed by the regional committee in mid-April, and was approved less than three months after submission, an issue that indicates that the Israeli government is rushing to approve and construct more settlement and military facilities in occupied East Jerusalem.
Last week, Israel approved the construction of 180 units for Jewish settlers in east Talpiot settlement, and issued bids for the construction of 171 units in Abu Ghneim (Har Homa) illegal settlement, in addition to putting 24 units in Beit Orot illegal settlement for sale.
In the same time-frame, Israel demolished and evicted several Arab-owned stores in the Old City, and approved a plan to install a lift and a tunnel linking between the Jewish Quarter in the Old City with the Al-Boraq Wall (The Western Wall).
- Israel To Demolish Buildings In East Jerusalem To Build “King David” Park (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Israel Approves 180 New Units For Settlers In Jerusalem (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com)
- Jewish Extremists Burn Mosque Near Jerusalem (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Illegal Settlements Bonanza: Israel Plots an Endgame (alethonews.wordpress.com)
File photo shows Israeli spy devices near Lebanese capital which were concealed in fake rocks
An Israeli warplane has fired missiles into southern Lebanon to destroy an espionage device Tel Aviv had planted in the area.
The move came after the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah discovered the spy system, apparently a listening device, in al-Zreiriyyeh area on Monday.
Some reports say the device was placed on Hezbollah telecommunications lines in the area.
The Lebanese army has discovered and dismantled several Israeli spy systems planted inside the country in recent years.
In December 2010, the Lebanese army said it had located two sophisticated, Israeli-made surveillance devices in mountains near the capital, Beirut.
Yesterday, Republican Senators introduced a rewrite of their cybersecurity bill, known as SECURE IT. Advocates registered their opposition to the bill last month and its CISPA-like expansion of military authority to collect sensitive information on Americans’ internet use.
Despite claims the contrary, the new bill has not been substantially amended and still does not meaningfully limit the amount or type of information that the government can collect from companies that hold very private and personal data. Most importantly,
• SECURE IT still allows companies to give sensitive American information directly to the National Security Agency and other military agencies. The ACLU has long argued, and even the Obama administration agrees: domestic cybersecurity programs must be run by civilian agencies.
• The bill lacks any requirement that companies first remove personally identifiable information unrelated to cybersecurity from what they share with each other or the government. That’s right – companies that have access to what we buy, what we read, and where we go don’t even have to attempt to suppress identifying information.
• SECURE IT-collected information can be used by the government not only for cybersecurity purposes, but for undefined national security purposes and to prosecute a long list of crimes unrelated to cybersecurity.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has promised cybersecurity will be brought to the floor in July. So it looks like we’ll see a vote in the next few weeks. Now’s the time to contact your Senators and tell them to vote against any legislation that lets the government start cyber spying!
RobertPeakDesign | June 11, 2012
Interview with Miko Peled, Buffalo, New York, March 11, 2012.
Miko Peled is Author of General’s Son: Journey of An Israeli In Palestine.
Interviewer is Russel Mokhiber.
The University of California – Berkeley Police Department (UCPD) has acquired a $200,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to purchase an “Armored Response Counter Attack Truck,” a police department spokesman told Campus Reform on Friday.
The eight-ton vehicle, commonly referred to as a “Bearcat,” is used by U.S. troops on the battlefield and is often equipped with a rotating roof hatch, powered turrets, gun ports, a battering ram, and a weapon system used to remotely engage a target with lethal force.
Lt. Eric Tejada, a spokesman for UCPD, said the university plans to use the vehicle along with neighboring counties in dangerous situations that could involve heavy weapons.
Tejada said that although he does know of any incident in the university’s 144-year history in which such a vehicle would have saved a life, the police department would have liked to deploy it in an incident last year when they mistakenly believed a man had an AK-47 assault rifle.
University of Virginia Professor Dewey Cornell, an expert in violence prevention and school safety, told Campus Reform on Friday that with approximately 4800 four-year colleges in the U.S., and an average of 10 homicides per year on college campuses, the average college can expect a homicide about once every 480 years.
“With all we hear we hear about the federal deficit it’s a shame there is money available for things like this but not for prevention,” said Cornell. “If a university has to resort to a Bearcat that means there is a failure somewhere else.”
A June 19 log of a Berkeley City Council meeting, however, suggests that that UCPD also intends to use the vehicle for “large incidents” including university sporting events and an annual street festival called the Solana Stroll.
The tactical working group of which the UCPD is a member said “the armored vehicle is needed for ‘large incidents’ such as CAL games and the Solano Stroll,” notes the meeting meetings minutes.
The grant was obtained under the DHS’s Urban Areas Security Initiative. The vehicle will be shared with two neighboring jurisdictions and likely will not be stored on UC-Berkeley’s campus, said Tejada.
Follow the author of this article on twitter: @JosiahRyan
This week we have seen a US drone strike in Pakistan which was reported to have killed six people (or ‘militants’ as those killed by drones are normally labelled) and a strike in Yemen which was reported to have killed three “suspected al-Qaida militants” on the outskirts of Aden. Such strikes have become almost routine, even though international condemnation is growing with both UN representatives and former US president Jimmy Carter speaking out in recent days.
Less routine was a “mystery” strike on a convoy of trucks in Northern Mali which was also reported this week. According to the Magharebia website (which it should be notedis supported by United States Africa Command) seven “terrorists” of a brigade linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) were killed while several others were injured. US intelligence officials contacted by the Long War Journal would neither confirm nor deny US involvement in the strike.
The airstrike echoed that of a similar ‘mysterious’ airstrike in the Philippines in February 2012 when 15 people were killed including three senior alleged leaders of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah.
Although the Philippines insists that it carried out the strikes using their Bronco OV10 aircraft – experts have suggested this is unlikely. We know from the Wikileaks cables that similar claims by the then Pakistani and Yemeni governments were actually lies and that US drones had indeed carried out the strikes. President Benigno Aquino, admits that US drones operate over the Philippines but insists they are only for surveillance purposes.
While it remains unclear whether the US has undertaken drone strikes in Mali and the Philippines it looks increasingly likely that drone strikes will continue in Afghanistan and Pakistan after the bulk of US forces leave at the end of 2014. Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry (and previously a US General serving in Afghanistan) argued in a keynote speech to the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) that “drones play a very important role in Afghanistan and Pakistan” and would in fact ”play an even more important role” in the region after US withdrawal.
RAMALLAH – The Palestinian Circus School sent a letter to the General Management of Cirque du Soleil calling on it not perform in Israel, according to statement issued Monday. Cirque du Soleil is scheduled to perform in August.
“We do not take lightly calling for Cirque du Soleil, or any circus for that matter, to not perform in Israel, especially since we ourselves are totally committed to the art of circus and are committed to bringing the circus everywhere we can,” said the letter.
“However, for circus to be faithful to its art form, we are also unrelentingly committed to human rights. Thus, we write to request that Cirque du Soleil reconsider its planned performance in Israel, a military occupying power and violator of international law and human rights, and join other artists from around the world who have called on you to support human rights and the right of all people to be free from military occupation,” said the letter.
“Our kids and youth are oppressed by a prolonged military occupation and deprived of their most basic rights. Many are still recovering from Israel’s onslaught on the Gaza Strip, known as Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009, which left 1385 Palestinian dead, of which 318 were minors, and another 5,300 wounded,” it said.
“Your visit to Israel will be fully facilitated by the Israeli authorities, at the time when our movement as students and artists of the Palestinian Circus School is permanently crippled by military law that denies us entry to Jerusalem, Jaffa, Akka, Haifa or Nazareth, not to mention the completely closed Gaza Strip,” added the letter.
“Those same Israeli authorities prohibit, by the use of force, our ability to participate in artistic performances or any exchange with our Palestinian friends and families in these areas. Not only do they limit our freedom of movement, they deport international circus artists who come to perform in Palestine, like the famous Spanish clown Ivan Prado, a prime example that received international attention,” it said.