9 January 2009
In a New Year’s morning action, fourteen Chicago area peacemakers raised concerns about 123 Colombian families forcibly displaced from their farmland in Las Pavas, Colombia by returning tainted gifts to a local Body Shop retail outlet.
Gifts boxes with “product tainted” return labels lined the sidewalk outside the downtown Chicago store, pronouncing the human and environmental abuses of the chain’s Colombian palm oil supplier, Daabon Organics. “Threats, Corruption, Eviction, Environmental Damage, Unemployment, Poverty,” read the oversize tags.
Those returning the gifts contrasted the realities of Las Pavas–eviction and conversion of the land from biodiverse flora, fauna and food crops to oil palm monoculture for export–with statements from The Body Shop’s web site.
“You promised …protection of human rights, but this palm oil is tainted with armed threats; …to work against greed and dishonesty, but your palm oil is grown on land obtained through corruption; …to campaign against injustice, but your growers evicted farmers with a legitimate land claim; …protection of the earth, but this oil palm monocropping is devastating a rich and diverse ecosystem in Colombia; …sustainable income, but this palm oil took away farm jobs and caused unemployment.”
Palestine, January 9, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Defence for Children International/Palestine Section (DCI/PS) on Wednesday submitted 13 cases to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture for investigation.
The cases relate to the ill-treatment, and in some cases torture, of Palestinian children being held at the notorious Al Jalame Interrogation and Detention Centre near Haifa, in Israel, between February 2008 and March 2009.
In each case, boys between the ages of 16 and 17, report being held in ‘Cell No. 36’ at the Interrogation Centre. ‘Cell No. 36’ is described as measuring approximately 2×3 metres in which the child is forced to sleep on a concrete bed or a thin mattress on the floor. Meals are passed to the child through a flap in the door depriving him of all human contact. One child reports being held in solitary confinement in ‘Cell No 36’ for 65 days.
The walls of ‘Cell No. 36’ are reported to be grey in colour with sharp protrusions preventing the child from leaning against them for support. Perhaps more disturbingly, ‘Cell No. 36’ does not have any windows and only a single dim yellow light which is kept on 24 hours a day. Some children report suffering pain behind their eyes and adverse psychological effects after being detained in ‘Cell No. 36’.
It appears that the dominant purpose for detaining children in ‘Cell No. 36’ is to break their spirits in order to extract confessions. This conclusion is supported by the testimony of one child who states that ‘on the 10th day of interrogation and because I was under so much pressure, I decided to confess so as to get out of the cell.’ All of the children report being kept in ‘Cell No. 36’ between lengthy interrogation sessions in which clearly prohibited techniques were utilised, such as excessive shackling of the legs and hands as well as position abuse.
Children held in Al Jalame for interrogation are denied access to a lawyer and do not receive family visits, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention and multiple human rights treaties. No education is provided to the children at this facility. Further, the detention of Palestinians from the Occupied Palestinian Territory in Al Jalame is in clear violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), which states that an occupying power must detain residents of occupied territory in prisons inside the territory i.e. in the West Bank.
DCIP-alestine has requested that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture investigates and reports on the allegations of ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children at the Al Jalame facility.
There are currently 306 Palestinian children being held in Israeli detention facilities. For further information please see DCIP-alestine’s latest report on child detainees.
Press TV – January 10, 2010
Palestinian sources say Israeli military forces began to demolish their homes in the northern West Bank after evacuating some 40 families from the area.
Five Israeli bulldozers and more than 15 military jeeps stormed the area in the West Bank village of Tana near Nablus on Sunday, Ghassan Daghlas, the Palestinian official in charge of settlement-related issues told Ma’an News Agency.
The army demolished 20 houses and 12 agricultural storehouses.
The owners of the houses said they had appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court of Justice in May 2005 after they received the demolition notices, but were turned down by the courts.
According to Atif Hanini, the mayor of the nearby Beit Furki town, the Tana neighborhood is two kilometers away from an Israeli outpost.
Twenty five Palestinian families were evicted when the military post was positioned in the area in 2005, Hanini said.
By Paul Craig Roberts | January 7, 2010
What are we to make of the failed Underwear Bomber plot, the Toothpaste, Shampoo, and Bottled Water Bomber plot, and the Shoe Bomber plot? These blundering and implausible plots to bring down an airliner seem far removed from al-Qaida’s expertise in pulling off 9/11.
If we are to believe the U.S. government, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged al-Qaida “mastermind” behind 9/11, outwitted the CIA, the NSA, indeed all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies as well as those of all U.S. allies including Mossad, the National Security Council, NORAD, Air Traffic Control, Airport Security four times on one morning, and Dick Cheney, and with untrained and inexperienced pilots pulled off skilled piloting feats of crashing hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center towers, and the Pentagon, where a battery of state of the art air defenses somehow failed to function.
After such amazing success, al-Qaida would have attracted the best minds in the business, but, instead, it has been reduced to amateur stunts.
The Underwear Bomb plot is being played to the hilt on the TV media and especially on Fox “news.” After reading recently that The Washington Post allowed a lobbyist to write a news story that preached the lobbyist’s interest, I wondered if the manufacturers of full body scanners were behind the heavy coverage of the Underwear Bomber, if not behind the plot itself. In America, everything is for sale. Integrity is gone with the wind.
Recently I read a column by an author who has a “convenience theory” about the Underwear Bomber being a Nigerian allegedly trained by al-Qaida in Yemen. As the U.S. is involved in an undeclared war in Yemen, about which neither the American public nor Congress were informed or consulted, the Underwear Bomb plot provided a convenient excuse for Washington’s new war, regardless of whether it was a real attack or a put-up job.
Once you start to ask yourself about whose agenda is served by events and their news spin, other things come to mind. For example, last July there was a news report that the government in Yemen had disbanded a terrorist cell, which was operating under the supervision of Israeli intelligence services. According to the news report, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh told Saba news agency that a terrorist cell was arrested and that the case was referred to judicial authorities “for its links with the Israeli intelligence services.”
Could the Underwear Bomber have been one of the Israeli terrorist recruits? Certainly Israel has an interest in keeping the US fully engaged militarily against all potential foes of Israel’s territorial expansion.
The thought brought back memory of my Russian studies at Oxford University where I learned that the Tsar’s secret police set off bombs so that they could blame those whom they wanted to arrest.
I next remembered that Francesco Cossiga, the president of Italy from 1985-1992, revealed the existence of Operation Gladio, a false flag operation under NATO auspices that carried out bombings across Europe in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. The bombings were blamed on communists and were used to discredit communist parties in elections.
An Italian parliamentary investigation unearthed the fact that the attacks were overseen by the CIA. Gladio agent Vincenzo Vinciguerra stated in sworn testimony that the attacks targeted innocent civilians, including women and children, in order “to force the public to turn to the state to ask for greater security.”
What a coincidence. That is exactly what 9/11 succeeded in accomplishing in the U.S.
Among the well-meaning and the gullible in the West, the supposition still exists that government represents the public interest. Political parties keep this myth alive by fighting over which party best represents the public’s interest. In truth, government represents private interests, those of the office holders themselves and those of the lobby groups that finance their political campaigns. The public is in the dark as to the real agendas.
The U.S. and its puppet state allies were led to war in the Middle East and Afghanistan entirely on the basis of lies and deception. Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not exist and were known by the U.S. and British governments not to exist. Forged documents, such as the “yellowcake documents,” were leaked to newspapers in order to create news reporting that would bring the public along with the government’s war agenda.
Now the same thing is happening in regard to the nonexistent Iranian nuclear weapons program. Forged documents leaked to The Times (London) that indicated Iran was developing a “nuclear trigger” mechanism have been revealed as forgeries.
Who benefits? Clearly, attacking Iran is on the Israeli-U.S. agenda, and someone is creating the “evidence” to support the case, just as the leaked secret “Downing Street Memo” to the British cabinet informed Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government that President Bush had already made the decision to invade Iraq and “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”
The willingness of people to believe their rulers and the propaganda ministries that serve the rulers is astonishing. Many Americans believe Iran has a nuclear weapons program despite the unanimous conclusion of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies to the contrary.
Vice President Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives fought hard with limited success to change the CIA’s role from intelligence agency to a political agency that manufactures facts in support of the neoconservative agenda. For the Bush Regime creating “new realities” was more important than knowing the facts.
Recently I read a proposal from a person purporting to favor an independent media that stated that we must save the print media from financial failure with government subsidies. Such a subsidy would complete the subservience of the media to government.Even in Stalinist Russia, a totalitarian political system where everyone knew that there was no free press, a gullible or intimidated public and Communist Party enabled Joseph Stalin to put the heroes of the Bolshevik Revolution on show trial and execute them as capitalist spies.
In the U.S. we are developing our own show trials. Sheikh Mohammed’s will be a big one. As Chris Hedges recently pointed out, once government uses demonized Muslims to get the new justice (sic) system going, the rest of us will be next.
Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.
Five years after Ukraine’s Orange Revolution, its next presidential election is between two pro-Moscow candidates
By Miriam Elder | The Observer | January 10, 2010
Five years ago, Ukraine’s Orange Revolution was hailed as a new start for a country that had begun to look west towards the European Union and Nato. But as voters prepare to go to the polls next Sunday in the first presidential election since they cast out the country’s Soviet-era leadership, Europe’s most famous colour-coded reform movement seems to have run out of steam.
Both of the front-running candidates in the poll have indicated that firmer ties with Russia, whether for pragmatic or ideological reasons, will be a priority. The poll will thus ring the death knell for a pro-western revolution that degenerated into a morass of political infighting, compounded by economic crisis.
Leading the polls is Viktor Yanukovych, a former prime minister whose initial victory as the Russia-backed candidate in 2004 sparked allegations of a rigged vote. His only serious rival is Yulia Tymoshenko, the prime minister and Moscow’s new favoured candidate. President Viktor Yushchenko, hero of the Orange Revolution, now has an approval rating below 3%. Last week he accused Yanukovych and Tymoshenko of comprising a “single Kremlin coalition”, such was their joint desire for warmer relations with Moscow.
Yanukovych is expected to garner 33.3% of the vote, according to a mid-December opinion poll by Ukraine’s R&B Group, with Tymoshenko scoring 16.6%. A collection of 16 candidates, including Yushchenko, are expected to split 40% of voters between them, while more than 10% of the electorate remain undecided. A second round between the two frontrunners is widely expected – it is scheduled for 7 February – with Yanukovych likely to be in pole position.
Whether Yanukovych or Tymoshenko wins, the goal of Nato membership, still aspired to by Yushchenko, is almost certain to be abandoned. Officials close to the Kremlin have said that Nato membership for Ukraine and Georgia was seen as an “existential threat” to Russia.
Yanukovych last week repeated his long-held stance that he would take Ukraine off the path to Nato membership. “Ukraine was and will be a non-aligned nation, as it is now,” he told Ukraine’s Komsomolskaya Pravda.
While he also said he would keep the country out of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a Moscow-led defence grouping, he would push to join the economic union being formed by Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Russia has lately favoured economic integration, and pushed for the rouble to become a regional reserve currency, as a means of spreading its influence.
Russia has not openly backed a candidate, unlike in 2004 when it threw all its weight behind Yanukovych. “They don’t want to be in a situation like 2004, where they put all their eggs in one basket and lost Ukraine for some years,” said Alexander Rahr, head of the Russia/Eurasia programme at the German Council on Foreign Relations.
Yanukovych is understood to have angered Moscow by supporting Ukraine’s attempt to join the EU. But Tymoshenko has become the unexpected hero of the Kremlin, after tempering the anti-Russian stance that was a hallmark of her 2004 campaign and early premiership. While remaining avowedly pro-EU, she has built a pragmatic alliance with Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister. The two very publicly ended the drawn-out gas dispute between the two countries last winter and were credited with avoiding a repeat this year. Tymoshenko now calls the Orange Revolution “a revolution of lost opportunities”.
The near annual gas dispute first erupted after the inauguration of the Yushchenko government, when Russia suddenly hiked gas prices on the eve of 2005, eager to stop subsidising a neighbour that was no longer a de facto vassal state. Political punishment came in the form of increasingly aggressive rhetoric over the status of Crimea, an autonomous region on Ukraine’s Black Sea coast that used to form part of Russia. That rhetoric is taken seriously after the Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia in summer 2008.
Yushchenko – who is sixth in the vote with an expected 3.8% – has lost his traditional support in the country’s western regions to Tymoshenko and lesser-known candidates. Yanukovych has retained his popularity in the Russian-speaking east and south.
In Ukraine the words of the day on Russia are “pragmatism” and “balance”. “Both [Yanukovych and Tymoshenko] will find a balance of interests between Russia and the west,” said Volodymyr Fesenko, of the Kiev-based Penta Centre for Applied Political Studies.
The election comes as Ukraine wallows in a financial crisis that saw the economy shrink by 15% last year. The country is due to repay £12.5bn of foreign, mainly corporate, debt this year, and the hryvnia is down 50% since the crisis began. Kiev became one of the few governments to appeal to the International Monetary Fund for emergency aid, taking more than £10bn in loans. The IMF has frozen delivery of some tranches, citing a lack of internal reforms.
“The enthusiasm of the west vanished very quickly after 2004,” notes Rahr. “We don’t know what to do with Ukraine. We know what we don’t want – we don’t want Ukraine to become part of Russia again. But that’s not enough, and that’s our strategy.”