An Argentine Federal court handed a life sentence to 15 out of 21 people accused of crimes against humanity during the last Argentine military dictatorship on Friday. Among the accused were soldiers, policemen, and former politicians.
The court also gave a sentence of between 12 and 13 years to four of the accused, and absolved one of them.
The 21 people were stood trial for their participation in the illegal detention center known as “La Cacha”. The judge ruled that they collaborated in the genocide that killed thousands of Argentinians.
They were also found guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Laura Carlotto, daughter of Estela de Carlotto, founder of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. This movement searches for the disappeared babies that were taken away from their parents by the military during the dictatorship.
The proceedings began in December 2013, and ended with the reading of the verdict on Friday.The attendees, most of them human right activists, labeled the accused “murderers”.
Between 1976 and 1983, the Argentine dictatorship kidnapped, tortured and slaughtered some 30,000 people, most of them citizens and activists who opposed the military government. Up to now the grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo have identified more than 110 of the disappeared children.
Three months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was violently brought down from the skies over Ukraine, there are still no definitive answers to what caused the tragedy.
Civil conflict in the area prevented international experts from conducting a full and thorough investigation.
The wreckage should have been collected and scrupulously re-assembled to identify all the damage, but this standard investigative procedure was never carried out. Until that’s done, evidence can only be gleaned from pictures of the debris, the flight recorders or black boxes and eye-witnesses’ testimonies. This may be enough to help build a picture of what really happened to the aircraft, whether a rocket fired from the ground or gunfire from a military jet.
The Jewish state of Israel in the Levant (JSIL) and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are different in many ways. The most fundamental difference is that the former is a recognized state and a member of the United Nations, while the latter is not recognized as a legitimate polity and is considered a political/military terrorist organization. However, the two share core characteristics that define them and by recognising these similarities observers may be able to make predictions about their futures.
Divine right to exist
Both JSIL and ISIS display what might be termed “self-defined righteousness.” Although Israel is a modern state, its politics and treatment of others (Palestinians) are based on religious concepts and principles that can be traced back to the first century BC and the teachings of Rabbi Hillel, someone who would be considered a fundamentalist today. He instructed Jews to have a religious and social identity separate from those of other people (tribes). Israel introduces itself to the international community as a Jewish state and, based on this interpretation of Zionist Judaism, is a home to Jews wherever they are in the world. In other words, it is a state which includes all Jews but excludes the indigenous people of Palestine, the Palestinians. It uses its interpretation of Judaism to deny Palestinians equal rights and prevent them from accessing their lands.
ISIS believes that it is enacting God’s will and defines itself as the force to enforce the Islamic moral code, religious rituals and law (Sharia). ISIS’ interpretation of Islam goes back to Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328) who promoted the idea that Muslims are different from non-Muslims both in their way of life as well as in religious instruction. This notion of non-acceptance together with cultural differences led Ibn Taymiyyah’s followers to the practice of excluding others and in some cases putting them to death. This particular interpretation of Islam also means the rejection of other branches of Islam.
The form of righteousness practiced by ISIS leaders and Israeli politicians is also used to set apart the “good” people from the “bad” ones. The good are those who believe and support their respective political projects while the bad ones are those who stand against them. It is this stance that makes it permissible for Israel to inflict damage on the bad ones and reward the good. As such, the Palestinian people are depicted in the official Israeli narrative as the bad people who work hard to inflict damage on the good Israeli Jews.
Historically, the state of Israel was established on the self-proclaimed premise of the Zionist movement, that anti-Semitism and murder might surge again in the world. Thus, the resurgence of another wave of anti-Semitism will inflict another Holocaust on the world’s Jews. The Zionist movement took anti-Semitism and the Holocaust out of their historical context. In other words, the concepts were given an absolute ahistoric “religious” meaning. Consequently, the “Jews” started to become reified as an ethnic identity and Israel as a refuge for the world’s Jewry from harm.
For ISIS, one of the underlying reason for Muslims’ degeneration over the centuries is that too many people have strayed far from the fundamental principles of Islam. The role of ISIS is to establish an Islamic state ruled by the caliph. It considers itself to be the force that will revive true Islam and create a state in which all Muslims can live in under its interpretation of Islam. Similarly to Israel, where non-Jews are discriminated against, there is no place for non-Muslims to live as equal citizens in the so-called Islamic State.
Both JSIL and ISIS use the self-serving interpretation of religious texts to enact pragmatic politick. The Zionist narrative that gave birth to the state of Israel and is now its official ideology starts with the idea that the Jews are God’s chosen people and that God promised them the holy land. These two concepts of chosenness are ahistorical, unconditional, and self-limited. Thus, settler colonial expansion in Palestine beyond the 1948 borders is seen as the redemption of the biblically named Judea and Samaria for the Jewish people. Putting Palestinian communities under closure during Jewish holidays is usually disguised as a religious instruction and therefore not seen for what it is: a measure of control.
ISIS also claims it is justified in its actions; it considers itself the group fighting for God and enforcing the latter’s instructions on earth. The group’s interpretation of religious texts is based on its spiritual-political leaders’ rulings that place people into two main categories – believers in ISIS’ ideology are viewed as being on the right path for following the “correct” version of Islam while everyone else, including followers of other branches of Islam, is on the wrong path. Thus the expulsion or execution of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis in Mosul who refuse to convert or pay Jizya (a tax paid by non-Muslims) is introduced as a religious instruction that permits politically motivated discrimination.
Indiscriminate attacks on perceived “enemies”
International humanitarian law forbids parties in armed conflict from deliberately launching attacks against civilians but both Israel and ISIS carry out indiscriminate attacks against their enemies, and they cite similar justifications for such attacks, mainly operational reasons.
JSIL, like ISIS, says that engaging in conflict in residential areas makes it difficult to avoid harm to civilians. Israel, which deems itself “superior” to others, says it launches military operations to prevent harm to its own people whose lives are worth much than those of “others.” ISIS believes it is on the right path and views everyone else as living in a state of sinfulness and, according to the group, sinners deserve to be put to death. Ultimately, ISIS and Israel attack civilians as part of their strategy to dispose of the natives and remove them from their lands. As such, in their quest for control of the land they both practice ethnic cleansing under a myriad of guises.In areas controlled by ISIS, in both Syria and Iraq, the group has carried out the mass executions of opposition militants captured by its forces and any person who assists its enemies is liable to be sentenced to death. Israel carries out a similar strategy of collective punishment against Palestinian resistance. It used it in its latest war on the Gaza Strip and during the so-called Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09. Even when Israel states that its attacks are intended to kill only resistance fighters, its bombardment of residential areas always leads to the killing of civilians. These attacks are clearly designed to target and punish the combatants’ families and homes.
During Israel’s latest war on Gaza in the summer of 2014, the Israeli army intentionally converted 40 percent of the Gaza Strip into uninhabited land. The Israeli army displaced up to 500,000 Palestinians out of their neighborhoods. This is the same tactic ISIS has been using in vast swaths in Syria and Iraq. The latest incident is the ongoing fighting in Kobane, the Kurdish city under Syrian jurisdiction, where ISIS’ shelling of the city forced the majority of its citizens to be displaced.
Displacement, collective punishment, terrorism and ethnic cleansing in the name of God are but a few similarities between the two entities. It is worth considering how the state of Israel has embraced the legend of the Maccabees, a sect of Judaism which fought other Jews and foreign powers in the name of piousness and righteousness, and how it has incorporated it within the contemporary ethos. The Maccabees were fundamentalists who used violence against their enemies, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and carried out forced conversions much as ISIS does today.
Samer Jaber is a political activist and researcher. He is the managing director for Dar el-Karma Inc. for Media, Researches and Publication. He tweets at @Jerusalem_sbj
The French government has prosecuted a pro-Palestinian activist for disregarding the official ban on anti-Israel rallies during its recent offensive on the Gaza Strip, Press TV reports.
France has put the spokesperson of the New Anti-Capitalist Party on trial for his attempts to organize an “illegal demonstration” against the Israeli regime.
Meanwhile, several demonstrators held a rally on Wednesday to protest against the government’s prosecution of the pro-Palestinian campaigner.
“To incriminate the spokesman of a political party who is also a strong supporter of unions… is totally unjustified and unacceptable. We would like to know why the government singled him out,” said Patrick Picard, a member of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT).
France was heavily criticized by rights groups after it officially banned demonstrations against the Israeli regime’s deadly attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip in summer. Thousands of people defied the French government’s decision, saying it was a glaring breach of their constitutional basic right to demonstrate.
“This government made two decisions this summer: to support the extreme-right regime of Benjamin Netanyahu, which was in the process of massacring people in Gaza and then, … it tried to weaken the Palestinian solidarity movement here in France by claiming it was anti-Semitic and violent which we totally reject,” stated the national secretary of Left Front Party (PG), Eric Coquerel.
The French government has recently intensified the trend of prosecuting social activists who disagree with the unpopular policies of President Francois Hollande.
Zionism is incompatible with peace. (Tamar Fleishman/PC)
I tried to explore the long term plans of the ruling elite of Israel regarding the Palestinians. But since no Israeli government ever publicly revealed its long term vision other than maintaining the status quo, I sought to examine their thoughts through one of their surrogates, Caroline Glick. I read her book “The Israeli Solution” that has been published recently. Caroline Glick is a right wing Israeli and a strong supporter of Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu policies. She is American born Israeli journalist, the deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and she writes for the Israeli daily newspaper, Makor Rishon. In her book, she covers many topics that reflect the right wing Zionists views on Palestine, and she also promotes a one state plan in Palestine.
Glick argues that the two-state-solution is not acceptable because it falls short of meeting the Zionists’ goals. She writes: “The Jewish people’s rights to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria [West Bank]—as with their rights to the rest of the Land of Israel—are overwhelming from historical and political perspective.” She calls for creating an ethnic religious Jewish majority state that includes the West Bank “Judea and Samaria” and Jerusalem, but the one-state she is advocating does not include Gaza Strip and she rejects the refugees’ right of return.
Her plan offers Israeli citizenship and the right to vote to the Arab population of the West Bank neighborhoods. Glick claims that Gaza had been already an independent Palestinian state since Israel withdrew its military forces and removed its civilians from the Strip. She removed Gaza from the demographic equation and gave the Palestinians of the West Bank the option of moving to Gaza in the event that they prefer to live under Palestinian sovereignty. But she claims that Israel has the right to levy a maritime blockade of Gaza coast since it is a foreign entity governed by a terrorist organization that routinely engages in acts of war against Israel. She used a Machiavellian divide-and-conquer lie to exclude Gaza from her plan by creating fictional cultural differences between the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. She writes that the cultural affinity of the Palestinians in Gaza with Egypt is much higher than their cultural affinity with “Judea and Samaria.”
Glick states that once Israel annexes the West Bank it makes amends for the historic injustice that Jews there had suffered under the British regime which barred them from buying land! Glick ignored the November 2nd, 1917 infamous Britain’s “Balfour Declaration” that recognized the Zionist goal of establishing a Jewish home in Palestine, a country that was not a British land, its indigenous population never been consulted, and the Jews never constituted more than one percent of its population. Britain even allowed the Zionist leadership to dictate the text of the Declaration, and Britain executed it while occupying Palestine as a Mandate Power.
To support the feasibility of her one-state vision, Glick uses empirical analysis from a 2007 extensive official Israeli government study for expanding the state by absorbing all historical Palestine and maintaining Jewish majority. Based on this study, she concludes that demography is one of Israel’s greatest advantages if it decides to impose a one-state-solution. According to her book, Israel assembled a team of Israeli and American researchers to review the Palestinian population. The team was called American-Israel Demographic Research Group (ADRG). Its members included academic experts in forecasting models, demographics, and history, the former head of the civil administration in the West Bank “Judea and Samaria”, and experts in mathematical modeling. Findings compiled by the research team were presented to the leading US demographer Nicholas Eberstadt from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). It uncovered new demographic facts that had not been recognized in the past. Of the combined population of Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank, 67% are Jewish, 14% are Israeli Arab citizens living in Israel proper, 3% live in East Jerusalem, and 16% are the West Bank Arabs. The study shows annexing the West Bank would have less impact on Israel’s democracy than previously believed.
AIDRG presented to the Israeli government a step-by-step analysis of each zone in the West Bank, demonstrating that Israel can review the impact of dealing with each zone while considering territorial and security needs. Any decision made by the state was based on a rational discussion within the Israeli government and its AIDRG consultants. It was compared against alternatives for governing this same zone population by the Palestinian Authority, by a third party such as Jordan, or by intervention of the international community. Israel, according to this study can annex the West Bank gradually and retain its Jewish character.
The AIDRG study discovered that the 1997 census done by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) was a “fraud”. The Palestinians had exaggerated their population figures by 50 percent, or 1.34 million according to the report. The flaw in the PCBS census was in the natural growth forecast projection of annual growth of 4.4 percent in the West Bank “Judea and Samaria” and 5.2 percent in Gaza between 1997 and 2003. Growth based on actual data from the Israeli records showed real growth of 1.8 percent in the West Bank and 2.9 percent in Gaza. The PCBS census also forecast that the Palestine Authority would experience receiving 236,000 people in the West Bank and Gaza between 1997 and 2003, but the official numbers tallied by Israeli border authorities was only 74,000.
Actions by successive Israeli governments in the occupied lands since 1967 suggest they are thinking in the direction of Glick’s Greater Israel plan: the establishment of a one Jewish majority state within the borders of the 1922 British Mandate and maintain its Jewish character. The 600,000 settlers that Israel has transplanted in the West Bank and Jerusalem with their networks of freeways, roads, electricity and water suggests that Israel is in the process of creating the state which Glick proposes.
Israel continues to build new settlements and expand the old ones. Palestinian’s homes and villages are being demolished because they were built without permits and permits are denied because the applicants are Palestinians. Israel drove more than 56,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites out of their city by denying them residence permits because they work outside the city municipality borders, and even prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque are disallowed by the military or interrupted by Jewish extremists under the protection of the Israeli security. Israel and Egypt have no intention to ease or lift the crippling economic blockade and siege on Gaza that has been destroyed multiple times and kept its inhabitants in absolute poverty. International donors convened in Cairo to raise funds for the reconstruction of the Strip following the third Israeli brutal assault in five years, but not to end the occupation and realization of Palestinian sovereignty, the main cause of violence. There is urgent need to rebuild Gaza now, but that does not compensate for the loss of thousands of innocent lives; and the aid is not even a temporary solution to the suffering of refugees of two wars living for decades under inhumane conditions. Until the occupation ends and the Palestinians live free in their country and a just solution for the refugees is reached, there will be a never-ending cycles of violence and destruction.
Israel insists that no concessions are possible on territorial or security issues, Jerusalem or the Palestinians’ right of return.Israel’s economy minister, Naftali Bennett said recently: “The idea that a Palestinian state should be established within the land of Israel has reached a dead end”. In his 2014 speech to the UN General Assembly, Netanyahu denied that Israel was occupying Palestinians lands. He said, “The people of Israel are not occupiers in the land of Israel. History, archaeology and common sense all make clear that we have had a singular attachment to this land for over 3,000 years.” He also said on last July 11: “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.” Israel’s Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon ruled out the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel in a speech at a cultural event recently in the South Sharon Regional Council.
In the mean time the Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders who lost credibility among their people promise to liberate their people from occupation and threaten to prosecute Israel in the International Courts while their security forces collaborate with the occupation forces to suppress any Palestinian resistance against the occupation. Members of the PA security force may even join the Israelis at the tightly monitored crossings to Gaza to prevent any possibility of allowing goods shipped to the starved people in the Strip that would threaten Israel’s security. Zionism is incompatible with peace and it is not easy for the Palestinians to be optimistic about the future when no one trusts a thing their leaders say!
- Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D. is a political analyst. His latest book, Is The Two-State Solution Already Dead? (Algora Publishing, New York), now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.
Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari at the UN: “In Golan terrorists get paid ransom by Qatar with the help of Israel”.
The Ukrainian army used cluster bombs against civilian populated areas in Donetsk, a report published by The New York Times on Monday claims.
According to the newspaper’s reporters on the ground, physical evidence and interviews with witnesses and victims have confirmed the use of such weaponry, banned in most of the world.
Evidence recovered by the newspaper such as munition fragments also indicates the use of cluster bombs.
Cluster bombs are like regular bombs but carry sub-munitions which expands the impact area indiscriminately.
Some local victims were far from the explosion site but still were affected by the bombs.
Boris V. Melikhov, 37, was chopping wood outside his house in the Gladkovka neighborhood of Donetsk when he heard a loud explosion from the street. Suddenly he felt a strong push in the back.
“I felt the blood running down my back, down my leg,” he recalled in an interview given to The New York Times last week from his hospital bed. Doctors there found several identical metal fragments in his leg, chest, shoulder and hand.
Over 100 nations have banned cluster bombs for their indiscriminate effects on the area where they are fired.
Despite a cease-fire agreement with rebel forces, implemented in the first week of September, the report also found that the Ukrainian military had fired rockets against civilian populated areas as early as the first week of October.
Witnesses also confirmed that regular army troops fired rockets from their positions in the dates coinciding with the Times’ analysis.
Press officers for the Ukrainian military denied that their troops had used cluster weapons during the conflict. But media reports as early as July had claimed there is evidence of the use of cluster bombs, ballistic missiles and some even point at the use of phosphorous bombs by the army against civilian populations in Eastern Ukraine.
The latest evidence compiled by the U.S. daily also provides evidence that recent fighting in Donetsk over the control of the airport has been launched by the Ukrainian army, contrary to official versions which claim the military responded to attacks by the rebels.
The White House is reportedly wrestling over how to interpret a ban on “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” ahead of a meeting in Geneva next month concerning the United Nations charter on torture.
According to the New York Times, the Obama administration remains divided over what stance a Washington delegation will officially take at the UN-sponsored Committee Against Torture panel early next month in the Swiss city.
Although Barack Obama said before and after being elected to the White House that United States officials should never engage in torturous activity, Times national security journalist Charlie Savage reported on Sunday this week that administration officials might formally adopt another stance — one on par with the policies of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush — when the panel convenes in a couple of weeks.
The Times reported that the attorneys who answer to the president are conflicted over whether or not the White House should revisit the Bush administration’s interpretation of a UN treaty, the likes of which authorized the use of enhanced interrogation tactics, like waterboarding and sleep deprivation, on individuals detained by military and intelligence agencies in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks at facilities such as the Guantanamo Bay detention center and CIA so-called “black sites.”
The upcoming meeting will be the first one of Obama’s presidency, Savage acknowledged, presenting the commander-in-chief with a rare opportunity to speak of the UN Convention Against Torture, a treaty that since the 1980s has aimed to ensure prisoners the world over aren’t subjected to inhumane conditions.
In Sunday’s report, Savage wrote that Obama, then a US senator, spoke out adamantly against Pres. Bush when it was revealed in 2005 that his administration had been interpreting the UN treaty in a manner that they argued made it acceptable for CIA and Pentagon officials to disregard the prohibitions against torture if they weren’t on American soil.
Obama the president later condemned that reasoning with an executive order “ensuring lawful interrogations,” Savage added, although next month’s meeting may change that.
“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” Savage wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”
“State Department lawyers are said to be pushing to officially abandon the Bush-era interpretation,” Savage added, which would simply continue to let the 2009 Obama-signed executive order stand as Washington’s official word and further ensure that American officials are obligated to adhere to the torture treaty regardless of where in the world they are located.
Other attorneys, he added, have a different idea of what to do at next month’s meeting, however. “But military and intelligence lawyers are said to oppose accepting that the treaty imposes legal obligations on the United States’ actions abroad,” Savage wrote. “They say they need more time to study whether it would have operational impacts. They have also raised concerns that current or future wartime detainees abroad might invoke the treaty to sue American officials with claims of torture, although courts have repeatedly thrown out lawsuits brought by detainees held as terrorism suspects.”
Should those arguing on the latter side provoke, then the current administration could soon find itself agreeing with past policies that continue to be controversial nearly a decade after the Bush White House’s use of torture started to surface.
“Many foreign political leaders and non-governmental organizations have called for members of the Bush administration, including Bush himself, to face prosecution for allowing the abuse of detainees in US custody during the course of the US campaign against Islamic militant groups spurred by the 9/11 attacks,” Mark Hanrahan wrote for the International Business Times on Sunday. “The Bush administration, which launched the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, had to contend with a number of allegations it allowed US officials to use torture against detainees during the course of its campaigns,” including the infamous Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq.
If the Pentagon and CIA attorneys prevail, then Washington could once again interpret the UN treaty in a manner that allows those same torturous practices to be performed on detainees once against, as long as any such instances occur abroad.
Last week, McClatchy news service reported that a classified $40 million probe launched by the Senate to investigate the CIA’s Bush-era detention and interrogation program concludes without holding any administration officials responsible for the scandals at Abu Ghraib and other facilities that to this day remain a major scar on the presidency.
“This report is not about the White House. It’s not about the president. It’s not about criminal liability. It’s about the CIA’s actions or inactions,” a person familiar with the report told McClatchy. “It does not look at the Bush administration’s lawyers to see if they were trying to literally do an end run around justice and the law.”
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry rejected a report by Germany’s foreign intelligence agency that E. Ukraine militia shot down flight MH17 with a BUK missile captured from a Ukrainian base. The report also accused Kiev of falsifying intelligence.
“The Command of the Air Force of Ukraine officially states that information about the capture of anti-aircraft missile system Buk-M1 from a military unit of the Air Force of Ukraine by militia is not true,” the country’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The ministry has responded to a recent report published by the German daily Der Spiegel. It revealed that on Oct. 8 BND President Gerhard Schindler announced at a secret meeting that there is “ample evidence” that militia in Donetsk captured BUK defense missile system from a Ukrainian base and fired a rocket from it. The alleged launch on July 17 resulted in deadly crash of civilian MH17 flight by Malaysian Airlines, with 298 passengers and crew on board, the report claims.
The Ukrainian Ministry insists that the BND’s finding cannot be true because “personnel, military equipment and armament stationed in the Donetsk region” was “quickly” relocated on June 29, more than two weeks before the tragedy.
“At the time when rebels entered the territory of that military base, only old and unusable vehicles were left there,” the Ministry said.
In its report the German intelligence agency has also accused Kiev of providing false information on the crash, saying that “this can be explained in detail.”
However, no “evidence” has been presented by the BND yet, which claims that it based its conclusions on “satellite images and diverse photo evidence.” It has not made any official statements on the matter.
Germany has officially refused to comment on the report, saying that the BND “collects data that are reported to the Audit Committee of the Bundestag, reported to the government.”
“But this is all secret information,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s deputy spokesman, Georg Streiter, told reporters as he was asked to comment on the news.
The Head of Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency has said that Moscow “does not understand this position, the conclusions reached by German intelligence.”
“First of all, it is hard to speak about any information presented by German intelligence, because now everybody is discussing [only] what was published in this magazine,” Aleksander Neradko said.
He said that from the very beginning Russia has been calling on everyone to report only facts and hard information to the investigation committee.
“The Russian side, for example, did so: all facts we had we passed to the investigation committee. Thus, we are adherents of the principle of transparent, comprehensive, open and objective investigation. Therefore, we do not understand this position, these findings of German intelligence.”
An international probe led by Dutch experts is still ongoing. A preliminary report issued in September confirmed that the plane crashed as a result of structural damage caused by a “large number of high-energy objects” that struck from outside. The investigation has not yet established who was behind the fatal launch.
Shortly after the plane’s downing, Ukrainian side blamed the crash on anti-Kiev rebels in eastern Ukraine. Officials claimed that militia targeted MH17 with a BUK system provided by Russia. This view was echoed by the international community, but no evidence proving that has ever been presented.
The United States has withheld assurances from Germany that the Ebola virus – among other related diseases – would not be weaponized in the event of Germany exporting it to the US Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases.
German MFA Deputy Head of Division for Export Control Markus Klinger provided a paper to the US consulate’s Economics Office (Econoff), “seeking additional assurances related to a proposed export of extremely dangerous pathogens.”
Germany subsequently made two follow-up requests and clarifications to the Army, according to the unclassified Wikileaks cable.
“This matter concerns the complete genome of viruses such as the Zaire Ebola virus, the Lake Victoria Marburg virus, the Machupo virus and the Lassa virus, which are absolutely among the most dangerous pathogens in the world,” the request notes.
The Zaire Ebola virus was the same strain of Ebola virus which has been rampaging through West Africa in recent months.
“The delivery would place the recipient in the position of being able to create replicating recombinant infectious species of these viruses,” the cable notes.
However, it also points out that Germany has in place an “exceptionally restrictive policy,” adding that approval would not be granted to the export until US assurance was provided.
“A decision about the export has not yet been made. Given the foregoing, we would appreciate confirmation that the end use certificate really is from the Department of the Army and of the accuracy of the data contained therein,” the document stated.
There is no follow-up document available to confirm whether the US Army eventually provided Germany with the necessary guarantees.
Bioweapons were outlawed in the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and was signed and ratified by 179 signatories, including Germany, the US and Russia.
It dictates that signatories, “under all circumstances the use of bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons is effectively prohibited by the Convention” and “the determination of States parties to condemn any use of biological agents or toxins other than for peaceful purposes, by anyone at any time.”
Mount Horeb, Wisconsin — Bonnie Block, Jim Murphy, Lars and Patty Prip, Mary Beth Schlagheck, and I were at Rest Area 10 along I- 90/94, about 5 miles south of Mauston, from 10:00 am – noon on Thursday October 9, 2014. We had a model drone and a stack of flyers “6 Things You Should Know About Drones” to help us in reaching the public and so they can learn more about what is going on just up the road at Volk Field Air National Guard Base. We were there in solidarity with others around the country as part of “Keep Space for Peace Week” and global days of actions against drones sponsored by Code Pink, Know Drones, and other groups.
We chose to leaflet at this particular rest area because it is the closest one to Volk Field Air National Guard Base, about 20 miles south of the base. We, as Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, have been vigiling outside the gates of Volk Field for almost three years, protesting the training there of pilots who operate the Shadow Drones. We are at the base with our signs every 4th Tuesday of the month from 3:30-4:30. At 4:00 pm around 100 cars leave the base and drive right past us and so we have a lot of exposure.
Jim has been urging us to try leafleting at the rest area for a couple of years and it turned out to be an excellent opportunity for public education. We were able to connect with a real cross-section of middle America and we had a chance to hand out our leaflets and talk to people about what is going on at Volk Field, as well as in the drone wars overseas. A fair number of people were very supportive and engaged with us. Quite a few seemed like they did not have a lot of feelings about drone warfare one way or the other. There were a small number of people who were very unhappy to see us there and let loose with some pretty unfriendly language.
Shortly after we arrived at the rest area and began setting up the drone, the manager of the rest area came out and told us we would have to pack up and leave. We said we were on public property and that we planned to stay there until noon. We also told her that we would not block anyone or act threatening, and we gave her a flyer. She became upset and angry when we told her this and she said that if we didn’t leave she would have to call the State Patrol and she didn’t think that we would want it to go that far. We responded that we would like her to call the State Patrol because we knew we had the right to be there. She left in a huff.
It was 15 minutes or so before a plain clothes officer dressed in a suit with a neat crew cut and a badge around his neck approached us. He said that he had been told there was a disturbance, and he asked us if there was a disturbance. Jim responded by asking if it looked like there was a disturbance. The officer angrily replied that he would be asking the questions and we would answer.
We explained to him what we were doing, that we were on public property and it was our constitutional right to be there. We told him we were not blocking anyone and if they didn’t want a flyer we didn’t push it.
At that point a uniformed State Patrol officer arrived at the scene. The officer we were talking to said that the uniformed officer would be taking over. After the two of them talked for several minutes, the uniformed officer came over and we told him what we were doing. He told us that some people might not appreciate our position, and he said that if they started saying things we didn’t like we should turn the other cheek. We told him we practice nonviolence and are good at de-escalating those kinds of situations. He told us to have a good day and walked away. It felt like this was a small win for us. It is not often that the police are called and they end up telling us to go ahead and keep doing what we are doing.
Several minutes later a Juneau County Sheriff car pulled into the rest area and parked. He didn’t talk to us, but spent several minutes talking to someone in an unmarked police car before they both drove away. Citizen activism seemed to have won out for the day.
I want to relate a story about one man I talked to. As I handed him a leaflet, he said he was supportive of what we are doing. But, he said, his grandson was in the military and operated a camera for the drones and he didn’t kill children. (One of our signs said “Drones Kill Children”.) I replied that there are many innocent people, including many children, who are being killed by drone attacks in countries overseas. He said again that his grandson didn’t kill children. I told him that we had a list of names of many of the children who have been killed. He said again that his grandson was a family man with four children and he wouldn’t kill children. He added that he had been a nurse assisting in surgery with children for many years and he knew what it was like for traumatized children and his grandson would not kill children.
This story really illustrates the disconnect and denial going on in our society, about how much we want to believe that we are the good guys, that we wouldn’t hurt others. Yet, people are dying all around the world as a result of our government’s policies. It seems like there are not enough people speaking out against what is going on because so many people refuse to really look at the death and destruction our military is leaving all around the globe. It is so much easier to close our eyes. I think this was a genuinely good man that I talked to, and there are so many good people like him. How do we get these good people to wake up and join the fight, to be able to admit to and take responsibility for the horrors that our government, and we, are perpetrating around the world?
All six of us who were there felt like it was a successful venture and we all agreed that we need to go back to the rest area where we can reach people who would otherwise not be reached. It is impossible to know what kind of impact we may have had, but we are hopeful that we touched a few people.
Please consider rest areas near you as a possible place for demonstrations. We no longer have town squares. It is illegal, at least in Wisconsin, to protest at shopping malls because they are privately owned. It is not always easy to find a public space where there are a lot people, but this was a good test today and we discovered that the police will not try to prevent us from demonstrating at a rest area in Wisconsin. But then again, who knows what may happen the next time. All I know for sure is that we will be back.
US war plans against North Korea recently included the option of a nuclear strike, former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta revealed in his memoirs, triggering major controversy.
Panetta described a 2010 briefing in Seoul by General Walter L. ‘Skip’ Sharp, the commander of US forces in South Korea, where it was made clear that the nuclear option was on the table if North Korean forces crossed into the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between the North and the South.
“If North Korea moved across the border, our war plans called for the senior American general on the peninsula to take command of all US and South Korea forces and defend South Korea— including by the use of nuclear weapons, if necessary,” Panetta wrote in ‘Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace’.
Panetta added that he left the briefing with “the powerful sense that war in that region was neither hypothetical nor remote.”
Panetta’s revelations sparked various responses, ranging from surprise to indignation.
“Typical wooden-headedness on the part of a US official,” a former top CIA expert on Korea told Newsweek. “How in the world do we think South Koreans will react to the news that the US is prepared to use nuclear weapons on the peninsula? It doesn’t reassure them, only makes them think having the US bull in their china shop is maybe not such a good idea.”
Others said Panetta did not write anything unexpected. A ‘Joint Vision’ statement signed between US-South Korea in 2009 “references extended deterrence to include the nuclear umbrella … in many respects, the information is not new,” Korea expert at the Naval War College Terence Roehrig said. “The United States has long had a position that South Korea was under the US nuclear umbrella.”
The US sent over tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula in 1958, but their deployment was only revealed in mid-1970s.
The Korean War took place in 1950-1953, with no peace deal ever signed between North and South Korea. Thus the two countries remain technically at war.
High-level military talks
Meanwhile, the relationship between the North and the South remain tense. On Wednesday senior-level military talks were held between them to resolve a series of recent live-fire incidents in South Korea and maritime borders, AFP quoted Seoul’s Defense Ministry as saying.
The meeting was referred to as the highest-level military exchange in seven years. It lasted for five hours and included officers up to the rank of general.
The main focus of the talks was Friday’s incident involving an exchange of gunfire after North Korea’s military shot at balloons launched by anti-Pyongyang activists. Tuesday’s fire exchange between North and South Korean naval patrol boats near the disputed Yellow Sea border was also discussed.
“Our side clarified our position that North Korea should respect (the maritime boundary) … and that as a democratic nation, we cannot regulate balloon launches by civilian groups,” South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.