By Jeremy Scahill | Rebel Reports | December 31, 2009
A federal judge in Washington DC has given Erik Prince’s Blackwater mercenaries a huge New Year’s gift. Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed all charges against the five Blackwater operatives accused of gunning down 14 innocent Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in September 2007. Judge Urbina’s order, issued late in the afternoon on New Year’s Eve is a stunning blow for the Iraqi victims’ families and sends a clear message that US-funded mercenaries are above all systems of law—US and international.
In a memo defending his opinion, Urbina cited a similar rationale used in the dismissal of charges against Iran-Contra figure Oliver North—namely that the government violated the rights of the Blackwater men by using statements they made to investigators in the immediate aftermath of the shooting to build a case against the guards, which Urbina said qualified for “derivative use immunity.” Urbina wrote that he agreed that “the government violated [the Blackwater guards’] constitutional rights by utilizing statements they made to Department of State investigators, which were compelled under a threat of job loss.” He added that the “government is prohibited from using such compelled statements or any evidence obtained as a result of those statements” to bring indictments.
Urbina concluded: “the government has utterly failed to prove that it made no impermissible use of the defendants’ statements or that such use was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. Accordingly, the court must dismiss the indictment against all of the defendants.”
The Nisour Square massacre was the single deadliest incident involving private US forces in Iraq. Seventeen Iraqis were killed and more than twenty wounded.
By F. William Engdahl | December 31, 2009
The Council of Europe member states will launch an inquiry in January 2010 on the influence of the pharmaceutical companies on the global swine flu campaign, focusing especially on extent of the pharma‘s industry’s influence on WHO. The Health Committee of the EU Parliament has unanimously passed a resolution calling for the inquiry. The step is a long-overdue move to public transparency of a “Golden Triangle” of drug corruption between WHO, the pharma industry and academic scientists that has permanently damaged the lives of millions and even caused death.
The parliament motion was introduced by Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, former SPD Member of the German Bundestag and now Chairman of the European Parliament Health Committee. Wodarg is a medical doctor and epidemiologist, a specialist in lung disease and environmental medicine, who considers the current “pandemic” Swine Flu campaign of the WHO to be “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the Century.”
The text of the resolution just passed by a sufficient number in the Council of Europe Parliament says among other things, “In order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies influenced scientists and official agencies, responsible for public health standards to alarm governments worldwide and make them squander tight health resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly expose millions of healthy people to the risk of an unknown amount of side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines. The “bird-flu”-campaign (2005/06) combined with the “swine-flu”-campaign seem to have caused a great deal of damage not only to some vaccinated patients and to public health-budgets, but to the credibility and accountability of important international health-agencies.”
The Parliamentary inquiry will look into the issue of „falsified pandemic“ that was declared by WHO in June 2009 on the advice of its group of academic experts, SAGE, many of whose members have been documented to have intense financial ties to the same pharmaceutical giants such as GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Novartis, who benefit from the production of drugs and untested H1N1 vaccines. They will investigate the influence of the pharma industry in creation of a worldwide campaign against the so-called H5N1 “Avian Flu” and H1N1 Swine Flu. The inquiry will be given “urgent” priority in the general assembly of the parliament.
In his official statement to the Committee, Wodarg criticized the influence of the pharma industry on scientists and officials of WHO, stating that it has led to the situation where “unnecessarily millions of healthy people are exposed to the risk of poorly tested vaccines,” and that, for a flu strain that is “vastly less harmful” than all previous flu epidemics.
Wodarg says the role of the WHO and its the pandemic emergency declaration in June needs to be the special focus of the European Parliamentary inquiry. For the first time, the WHO criteria for a pandemic was changed in April 2009 as the first Mexico cases were reported, to make not the actual risk of a disease but the number of cases of the disease basis to declare “Pandemic.” By classifying the swine flu as pandemic, nations were compelled to implement pandemic plans and also the purchase swine flu vaccines. Because WHO is not subject to any parliamentary control, Wodarg argues it is necessary for governments to insist on accountability. The inquiry will also to look at the role of the two critical agencies in Germany issuing guidelines on the pandemic, the Paul-Ehrlich and the Robert-Koch Institute.
By Sami Ajrami, Hamoudi Gharib
GAZA, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) — Um Hamza, a 22-year-old pregnant woman, from Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza Strip, woke up at night numerous times during the 22-day Israeli war which ended on Jan. 18, sniffing the smell of gas.
Several weeks later she started experiencing terrible pain in the abdomen. Although she had been pregnant for two months then, it was impossible for her to conduct necessary tests as the hospitals were overwhelmed by injured people of Israeli bombardments.
The pain continued for a couple of months before she was finally able to get the medical checkup, and the results left her shocked and speechless. The child she was carrying suffered from malformation and may die either inside her womb or shortly after birth.
The baby came to this world while his brain hung out of his head like a bag of skin covering his eyes, therefore, the baby will never experience sight. Meanwhile, he could not breathe either because of the malformation in his nose as it appears clogged.
The baby’s grandfather, who knew about his grandson’s malformation two months after he was born, said he wished Hamza had died before birth so he could escape the torture, no matter how long.
Um Hamza said she hopes her son would receive treatment abroad, as technology in foreign countries is more advanced, though the chances of recovery is slim.
Since the Israeli Operation Cast Lead last winter, the besieged Gaza Strip saw an increase in the proportion of fetus and newborns malformations.
Thabet Masri, director of neonatal division in the community of medical healing, told Xinhua that from July to September, the rate of children born with different congenital deformities was 17 per month, compared with nine per month over the same period of 2008.
He said the increase of fetal deformity cases is related to the radioactive and toxic materials resulting from Israel’s use of prohibited weapons.
Although fetus malformation was caused by several reasons, we should not ignore the impact of toxic substances and chemicals, especially the white phosphorus, which Israel used in a disproportional way during the war, and white phosphorus is prohibited to use in places of civilians, said the doctor.
White phosphorus bombs are internationally considered dangerous in terms of its impact on respiratory system.
Doctors at the incubation department in the Shifa Hospital said exposure to toxic chemicals and radioactive substances primarily lead to fetal malformations in the first months of pregnancy when the neural tube is formed.
Italian scientists said this month that The Gaza Strip’s soil contains poisonous and cancer-causing materials after collecting soil samples from several areas bombed during the war.
The Telegraph | December 30, 2009
Secret plans for troops to dig graves for the bodies left unburied during the “winter of discontent” were considered, previously unpublished government papers show.
But officials dropped the idea amid fears of “unseemly scenes” if soldiers clashed with pickets outside cemetery gates.
The spectacle of bodies going unburied by striking gravediggers in Liverpool and Manchester came to sum up the industrial anarchy of the winter of 1978 under Jim Callaghan’s Labour government .
A paper drawn up in January 1979 warned that 500 funerals had to be postponed, and that while bodies could be stored for up to six weeks in heat-sealed bags, this was “totally unacceptable for aesthetic reasons”.
The option of bringing in troops was floated. But the MoD opposed the idea on the grounds that it would be viewed with “distaste” by the local populations in important recruiting areas for the forces.
Eventually officials suggested that people find their own unofficial burial sites. The idea was put forward reluctantly.
Russia Today | December 30, 2009
Kazakhstan has denied US reports of possible uranium supplies to Iran.
“Kazakhstan unconditionally observes all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), so any [uranium] sale surpassing the IAEA control is out of the question,” a spokesperson for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying.
The authorities in Tehran have also refuted the reports. According to Iran’s official media, the Iranian UN office said in a statement that this information was “not true”.
The statement came after the Associated Press cited intelligence sources as saying that the countries are about to sign a deal to export 1,300 tons of uranium ore from Kazakhstan.
According to the agency, Iran is willing to pay US$450 million for the consignment. It also said that Kazakh government officials acting on their own were behind the deal.
The UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency have launched talks with the Kazakh government in order to clarify the situation.
By Ghassan Bannoura – IMEMC News & Agencies – December 31, 2009
Israeli settlers uprooted trees and destroyed a natural water spring on Thursday that belongs to the villagers of Qarawit Bani Hassan in northern West Bank.
The villagers told local Media that the settlers destroyed the natural water spring that supplies the village and that its is their only source of water.
The settlers committed their attack under the protection of the Israeli military, the villagers added. The settlers came from the nearby settlement of Yaker, an illegal Israeli settlement built on land that was taken from the villagers of Qarawit Bani Hassan.
Press TV – December 31, 2009 14:10:15 GMT
Organizers of the “Gaza Freedom March” report the death of a French citizen from injuries sustained at the hands of security forces during a demonstration in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
Marie Renee died in the Cairo Hospital. She was traveling with a French delegation of approximately 300 nationals, Ma’an news agency reported.
The French delegates had earlier been camped out on the grounds surrounding the French Embassy in Cairo, reportedly flanked by two lines of Egyptian police.
Hundreds of activists with the “Gaza Freedom March” have continued demonstrations and sit-ins in Cairo to protest the Egyptian government’s refusal to allow them to cross the border into the besieged Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, Egyptian security allowed 84 of the 1,300 who registered to participate in the Gaza Freedom March into the impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave All were traveling with the Codepink delegation, which organized two earlier trips into the blockaded Palestinian coastal sliver since the Israeli war on Gaza last year.
Another 1,200 activists from about 40 states remained in Cairo after Egypt refused entry for the group because of what they called the “sensitive situation” in the Palestinian territory.
The “Gaza Freedom March” activists were hoping to march into Gaza on the anniversary of Israel’s 22-day offensive on the territory as a sign of solidarity with its people, carrying with them aid and supplies.
Israel has continued to close all border crossings to the Gaza Strip for more than two years. The illegal Israeli imposed blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has steadily tightened since 2007, has had a disastrous impact on the humanitarian and economic situation in the coastal enclave.
Some 1.5 million people are being denied their basic rights, including freedom of movement, and their rights to appropriate living conditions, work, health and education. Poverty and unemployment rates stand at approximately 80% and 60% respectively in the Gaza Strip.
Egypt with the Palestinian Authority’s blessings has sealed its borders with the Gaza Strip, effectively cutting off the coastal enclave from the rest of the world.
31/12/2009 – Abd Al Malek Badreldin Al Houthi launched an urgent appeal today by audio message to listeners everywhere:
He questions the deafening silence of the world to the savage crimes against humanity now being committed in Yemen by Saudi, Yemeni, and USA warplanes targeting innocent civilians, and killing women and children, as they bombard population centers far away from the battle fields: towns, market places, mosques…
He also warns of the grave humanitarian crisis created by the bombing, and by the siege of North Yemen. No humanitarian assistance whatsoever has been provided by any party to the thousands of refugees and the wider population which is now starving for basic necessities.
This targeting of civilians is by design. Why the silence?
After all military efforts on the ground have failed to break the resolve of the Houthi fighters, bombing civilians has now become an instrument of war, to force the Houthi fighters to capitulate. All these crimes are being systematically documented.
These crimes only increase the resolve of the Houthis to defend themselves, and increase the numbers of fighters joining the battle.