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Israeli bill to give settler group authority in Silwan

By Jillian Kestler-D’Amours – The Electronic Intifada – 5 May 2011

A new Israeli parliamentary (Knesset) bill that would give direct control of national parks to private organizations is causing alarm amidst Jerusalem-area activists, who say that its underlying aim is to provide legitimacy to a right-wing Israeli group’s control of an archeological site in East Jerusalem.

“[It] is quite incredible that Knesset members would go ahead and privatize one of the most important public assets in order to save one settler group,” said Orly Noy, the spokesperson for Israeli nongovernmental organization Ir Amim, which monitors governmental policies and actions in Jerusalem. “But on the other hand, it also indicates that they do understand that what’s going on today is illegal,” she told The Electronic Intifada.

The situation in question involves Elad, a private, right-wing Israeli settlement organization that controls and manages the City of David National Park, an archeological site just outside Jerusalem’s Old City. The site sits at the foot of the Haram al-Sharif, or Noble Sanctuary, the third holiest site in Islam, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

Located at the entrance to the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of the East Jerusalem village of Silwan, the City of David is said to represent the location of biblical Jerusalem, which was captured by King David more than 3,000 years ago.

According to the City of David website, Elad, also known as the Ir David Foundation, “is committed to continuing King David’s legacy as well as revealing and connecting people to Ancient Jerusalem’s glorious past through four key initiatives: archaeological excavation, tourism development, educational programming and residential revitalization.”

In July 2010, Ir Amim and various academics and civil servants submitted a petition to the Israeli high court against the Nature and Parks Authority, the Ministry of Nature Preservation, the Jerusalem municipality and the Elad organization, demanding that the City of David be removed from Elad’s control.

“The petition refers to an un-transparent agreement, a contract between the authorities for the Nature and Parks Authority and Elad which transferred all the management authorities in this national site into the hands of Elad,” Noy explained.

“We claim that this is not just highly inappropriate in light of Elad being an extreme right-wing organization, but according to our understanding, it is completely illegal. National parks should be managed by statutory bodies, meaning the [Israeli Nature and Parks Authority],” she added.

Led by Israeli Knesset member Israel Hasson, the new bill — which would give any private, nonprofit organization the right to manage national parks — was initially presented as an effort to help the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority manage the many national parks under its responsibility.

The Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported, however, that MK Hasson admitted that the bill was prompted by Ir Amim’s petition against Elad. “I don’t see why, because of some political agenda, an organization that knows how to do it can’t be allowed to continue running a national park,” Hasson said (“Despite jurists’ opposition, government to privatize national parks,” 21 March 2011).

According to Orly Noy, Elad’s control of the City of David is problematic because it “gives Elad an incredible basis to promote its political agenda in a very aggressive way in Silwan, which is the heart of Palestinian Jerusalem and a very sensitive and strategic place.”

“Elad also gets to decide who gets excavations, where do they dig and most importantly, how are the findings being presented and interpreted. This gives them the ability to establish the narrative of the place as an exclusive Jewish one, disregarding the amazing diversity of the site’s history,” she added.

Israeli settler take-over of Silwan

The City of David website states that Elad — an acronym for El Ir David, “To the City of David” in Hebrew — was founded in 1986 by David Be’eri, a former deputy commander of the Duvdevan Special Forces Unit, an Israeli army unit that conducts undercover operations in the occupied West Bank.

According to a May 2009 report released by Ir Amim titled “Shady Dealings in Silwan,” Elad’s first actions in Silwan were the takeover of Palestinian homes and the settlement of Jewish families therein.

This was accomplished both through an unwritten agreement between Be’eri himself, the Jewish National Fund and Hemanuta, a subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund, and through the use of Israel’s Absentee Property Law, the report states (“Shady Dealings in Silwan“ [PDF]).

The Absentee Property Law, passed in 1950, allows the Custodian of Absentee Property — an Israeli governmental body under the umbrella of the Ministry of Finance — to take possession of land formerly belonging to internally and externally-displaced Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled during and after the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948.

It is estimated that as many as 800,000 Palestinians were forced to flee during this period. According to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, “assessments by Israel, Palestinian institutions and UN agencies as to the extent of the properties taken pursuant to this [Absentee Property] law range from around 2 million dunams to 16 million dunams [a dunam is the equivalent of 1,000 square meters] of land” (“Adalah to Attorney General and Custodian of Absentee Property: Israel’s Sale of Palestinian Refugee Property Violates Israeli and International Law,” 22 June 2009).

The “Shady Dealings” report states that David Be’eri himself posed as a tour guide in the late 1980s in order to gain information about Palestinian homes in Silwan. In one such instance, dating back to September 1987, Be’eri and the Israeli Lands Administration exerted pressure on the Custodian of Absentee Property to declare the Abbasi house — a Palestinian home in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood that comprised nine apartments and two warehouses — an absentee property.

“Members of Elad broke into the house in the middle of the night while the family was sleeping. The intruders suspended themselves by rope from a window in the roof, broke door locks, threw furniture into the courtyard and ascended on the roof, where they broke into song and dance and waved the Israeli flag in the light of the breaking day,” the report states.

While the Jerusalem District Court later found that the Abbasi home didn’t constitute absentee property after all, legal procedures are still ongoing and Elad-affiliated Israeli settlers continue to live in the house.

“Altogether, in this manner 68 properties in East Jerusalem were transferred to the hands of right-wing organizations, including 14 in Silwan that were transferred to Elad … All in all, the State and the Jewish National Fund gave Elad 36 dunams of the total area (about 116 dunams) of the City of David/Wadi Hilweh, or one quarter of the neighborhood’s land,” the report finds.

Today, it is estimated that approximately 400 Israeli settlers live amidst Silwan’s 40,000 Palestinian residents. The Wadi Hilweh Information Center has produced a map of the planned park superimposed on a birds-eye-view of the village.

Settlement impact in Silwan palpable

One Friday in late April, nearly 200 Silwan residents gathered for midday prayer at a protest tent in the village’s al-Bustan neighborhood. Only a few minutes after the prayer ended, a familiar scene unfolded: young Palestinian men clashed with Israeli police who, in full riot gear, shot sound grenades, rubber bullets and tear gas into the densely-populated area.

The clashes lasted for almost five hours.

“They [have] arrested us and arrested our children. They pushed us into the corner,” explained Fakhri Abu Diab, head of the al-Bustan Popular Committee, moments before the clashes began on 29 April. “We’re suffering psychological things, social things. Now we have no choice,” he told this reporter.

The weekly violence in al-Bustan, Abu Diab said, can be attributed to the Israeli settlers who are gradually taking over more and more Palestinian homes in the area, and who are supported by the Israeli army, police force and the Jerusalem municipality itself.

“[The Elad organization takes] homes and they have a religious agenda and they do not want us. We have no communications between us and between them but they have support from the Israeli government, the Jerusalem municipality,” Abu Diab said.

In 2004, the Jerusalem municipality unveiled its plan to build a new national park on land in the al-Bustan neighborhood. This park — which is said to represent King David’s ancient gardens — would necessitate the eventual demolition of 88 Palestinian homes and the forced eviction of nearly 1,000 residents.

“Because King Solomon traveled here 3 or 4,000 years ago, they want to turn this area into national gardens. We’re not against King Solomon or King David or whoever, but we said, ‘Who’s more important? The humans, the people, or the gardens?’” Abu Diab said.

“If the municipality of Jerusalem wants to make gardens, they can do it in an open area. But we know that they have a political agenda and they want to make settlements around the Old City and push us outside of this area,” he added.

According to Israeli archaeologist Yonathan Mizrahi, the Israeli Antiquities Authority has to date never conclusively stated that the King’s Garden is even located in the al-Bustan neighborhood.

“The Israeli Antiquities Authority is not saying that this is the place where the King’s Garden used to be. Definitely we’re not expecting to find a major archaeological find in this valley of al-Bustan,” Mizrahi, who is a member of Emek Shavek, a group of archaeologists and activists that examines how archaeology is being used in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The story of the past is not one story. If you understand that this past belongs to everybody — to the Palestinians, to the Israelis and maybe to the international community — you can understand that you cannot come to a community and say that you want to demolish part of [the] neighborhood because of the past,” Mizrahi told The Electronic Intifada.

Mizrahi explained, however, that by controlling the past, right-wing Israeli organizations like Elad are providing legitimacy to Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem and distorting the layered history of the area.

“[They are] coming and saying, ‘we are controlling the past [and] we have [legitimacy] to the present because of this past. Also the past shows that the Palestinians, they are irrelevant to this place and actually the Palestinians are the ones that behave like settlers because they have no roots here. The roots are ours.’ That’s how it’s been represented,” Mizrahi said.

“By having this power, it definitely can give you lots of options [for] how to increase your hold on the land. According to my understanding, the power of the past is a major tool in this conflict. And unfortunately, so far it’s in the hands of the right-wing in Israel and it’s a very important tool for them.”

Israeli-controlled ring around the Old City

According to the “Shady Dealings in Silwan” report, Israeli control of important archaeological sites in East Jerusalem doesn’t end at the City of David National Park.

Instead, a plan to build and connect nine parks “around the Old City, from the slopes of Mount Scopus in the north through the Mount of Olives, King’s Valley (the al-Bustan neighborhood) in Silwan to the Valley of Hinnom in the South,” is underway.

“In many cases, it aims to prevent Palestinian growth,” Ir Amim’s Orly Noy explained. “In East Jerusalem, nothing that the Israeli government or the Israeli authorities do can be seen as apolitical. Everything has political goals to deepen the Israeli grasp [on] East Jerusalem.”

According to Fakhri Abu Diab, who was born in the al-Bustan neighborhood in 1962 and has lived there ever since, the impact of Israeli settlement activity in Silwan is devastating and will likely only get worse, before it gets better.

“We don’t know if they’re coming to demolish homes. It’s very, very difficult, but we will never leave,” he said.

“My children, I couldn’t persuade them to live with the other side with peace,” he added. “My children said, ‘How can we live with the other side, the Israelis, in peace if they want to demolish my life, my future, my home?’”

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Israeli bill to give settler group authority in Silwan

Ex-Bahraini MP dies under detention

Press TV – May 5, 2011

A former Bahraini lawmaker and member of the country’s main opposition group has died in a hospital after being held in custody of the Manama regime.

Jawad Firouz who was a member of al-Wefaq political society, was recently arrested and detained by Bahraini police, local sources said on Thursday.

The development comes after rights group Amnesty International appealed to rulers in Manama on Wednesday to end the arrest of opposition members.

Manama regime has intensified its crackdown on the popular revolution against the decades-long ruling of al-Khalifa dynasty in the small Persian Gulf country, which has been continuing since Mid-February.

On Tuesday, the Bahraini parliament voted to extend the state of emergency for three more months, due to expire on June 15.

Human rights organizations have strongly criticized Saudi-backed Bahrain forces for their heavy-handed crackdown on peaceful protesters.

On March 13, Saudi-led forces were dispatched to the Persian Gulf island at Manama’s request to quell countrywide protests.

According to local sources, dozens of people have been killed and hundreds arrested so far during the government clampdown on peaceful demonstrations.

Bahrain is home to major military base of the US Navy Fifth Fleet.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Ex-Bahraini MP dies under detention

Russia warns US, Romania over base

Press TV – May 5, 2011

Russia has issued a warning after Romania agreed to host the US missile system site at a Soviet-built base in the country’s southern town of Deveselu.

Moscow warned that the deployment of US interceptor missiles on Romanian territory comes without considering the talks between Moscow and Washington on the issue.

Earlier in the week, the US and Romania announced that elements of US missile system would be stationed at the former Romanian airbase of Deveselu.

Russia said that the planned missile system “may pose risks for Russian strategic nuclear deterrence forces in the future,” Russia Today reported on Wednesday.

“We regret to say that practical steps on building the European segment of the US global missile defense system are being made regardless of the Russian-US dialogue on missile-defense issues, which was launched under the initiative of President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said Washington continues to implement “the phased adaptive approach” toward building a segment of the US global missile system in Europe.

Washington announced these plans back on September 17, 2009.

Russia had warned earlier that it would take “adequate measures” if the US and NATO choose to build the European missile system without Moscow’s participation.

US Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher, however, said on Wednesday that the missile system posed no threat to Russia.

“It is a system that will defend NATO and, if Russia chooses to work with us in a cooperative manner, the system will defend Russia, too,” she said.

“We have good relations with Russia. We have just ratified the New START treaty, we are working together on various other issues,” she told Romanian lawmakers.

Tauscher is scheduled to meet with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Thursday.

Russia was not the only one caught off-guard by the surprise announcement of the US-Romanian decision. Reports say that Romanian officials were also unaware of the decision and the Romanian media kept mum on the issue until President Traian Basescu announced it on Tuesday night.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Militarism | Comments Off on Russia warns US, Romania over base

The False Promise of Biomass

Blowing Smoke

By MATTHEW KOEHLER, IAN LANGE and JOHN SNIVELY | CounterPunch | May 5, 2011

Last fall news broke that the University of Montana was planning to construct a $16 million wood-burning biomass plant on campus next to the Aber Hall dormitory. UM officials claimed the biomass plant would save UM $1 million annually and protect Missoula’s air quality by reducing emissions over the existing natural gas heating system.

As interested citizens, we attended the university’s biomass “poster presentation” last December, which, unfortunately, raised more serious questions than it answered. So we continued to ask questions and research the proposal. In March, we even conducted an “open records” search of UM’s biomass project file, pouring over hundreds of documents and emails between UM officials and representatives of Nexterra, a Canadian biomass boiler manufacturer, and McKinstry, a Seattle energy services company. Suffice to say, our records search turned up even more troubling questions, especially related to costs, maintenance and emissions.

As the Missoulian reported last month, information in UM’s air quality permit application to the Missoula City-County Health Department showed that “Contrary to previous claims by UM administrators, the university’s proposed biomass boiler will not reduce emissions to levels below that of natural gas. In fact, UM’s proposed state-of-the-art biomass gasification plant will produce nearly twice as much nitrogen dioxide as its existing natural gas boilers – and in some cases, will release three times as much particulate matter.” The emissions are higher than what McKinstry’s feasibility study predicted.

Our records search also turned up a document showing that the biomass plant would also increase emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds by 40 percent or more over the existing natural gas system.

Obviously, Missoula is prone to severe inversions and air stagnation, especially during winter, when the greatest load would be on the biomass system. We found a UM biomass grant application that stated, “The Missoula Valley’s constrained topography presents ideal research conditions for long term analysis of environmental impacts of efficient woody biomass boiler combustion.” Do we really want to risk Missoula’s air quality for the sake of research?

It’s also been difficult to get an accurate assessment from UM of the biomass plant’s up-front and long-term costs, something all Montana taxpayers deserve. For starters, we noticed in the project file that in April 2010 the cost of the biomass plant was $10 million. By July, the cost went to $14 million. Now it sits at $16 million. UM’s financial pro forma also shows that during the first 20 years the biomass plant would need nearly $10 million for additional operation and maintenance expenses over the existing natural gas system.

The pro forma is also troubling in other aspects. It over-estimates the cost of natural gas, while under-estimating the cost of biomass fuel trucked to campus, especially given rising diesel costs. The pro forma also completely zeros out all natural gas expenses and maintenance costs, even though UM now admits that a natural gas boiler would be used during cold winter days to augment the biomass system, and also used from May to September, when the biomass system is too powerful to use.

Further complicating the picture, UM realized during the permitted process that its existing natural gas boilers are in violation of air pollution limits. The fix will cost around $500,000. And UM’s contract with McKinstry was amended recently, meaning that UM is already contractually committed to McKinstry for $532,000 just for project development.

It is our belief that all of these significant issues need to be fully analyzed and rechecked, not just by the biomass project’s supporters, but also by the Board of Regents, independent of McKinstry and UM. Guarantees of performance by McKinstry need to be carefully scrutinized, as other colleges have paid the price for poorly written contracts or poorly vetted companies.

At the end of the day, Montana taxpayers deserve to see accurate, updated financial information from UM concerning all aspects of the biomass plant, including the initial $16 million price tag and $10 million needed for additional operation and maintenance expenses. And Missoula’s citizens have a right to expect that the University of Montana would not risk Missoula’s fragile air quality by needlessly increasing emissions over present levels.


Matthew Koehler is executive director of the WildWest Institute; Ian M. Lange is a professor emeritus, Department of Geosciences at the University of Montana; and Dr. John Snively is a retired dentist. All three live in Missoula.

This column was originally published by The Missoulian.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | Comments Off on The False Promise of Biomass

Skyrocketing Crime Rates and Imperial Wars

By James Petras | 05.04.2011

Imperial interventions in civil wars have a devastating effect on countries that last for decades and affect the entire economy and society. One indicator of the long-term consequences of imperial military intervention is the tremendous increase of violent crime, the multiplication of gangs, homicides and general insecurity in Central America.

Violence increased far beyond what existed prior to imperial wars in such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. In the period prior to imperial intervention in Central America, during times of revolutionary ferment, high levels of social organization via inclusive social movements, channeled discontent into political and social channels. Revolutionary movements organized armed resistance against specifics targets; repressive police, military and death squad militias. Imperial intervention included military advisers and counter-insurgency strategies which uprooted peasants via scorched earth policies and destroyed communities. Assaults on urban barrios led to the break-up of family and neighborhood networks. The social bonds which integrate people into a moral and social community were ruptured: the goal of imperial planners is to decimate any independent popular civil-society organization as a political threat to its illegitimate collaborator regime.

In El Salvador, the US provided over $300 million a year in arms and training for almost a decade. The Pentagon through its advisory missions, in collaboration with local landlords and generals, financed and forcibly recruited thousands of peasants into death squad ‘civilian militias’ to assassinate local movement activists and terrorize farm workers’movements and trade union organizations. Under imperial military pressure the leaders of the major Central American guerrilla organizations signed on to a peace agreement. The “peace accords” retained the US collaborator regimes in power and the promised social reforms were never implemented. As a result, the homicide rate skyrocketed. The discharged guerrilla militants and unemployed right wing militia members, armed and trained, and with no future, became the bases for gangs, drug and people traffickers, kidnappers and extortionists. The number of people who were annually killed in violent crime (1991-2011) exceeded the number who died each year during the revolutionary struggle (1979-1990).

Having successfully blocked the prospects of positive socio-economic transformations in wealth, land ownership, the judicial system and allocation of public investments, the US pushed for neo-liberal ‘free trade agreements’ which further decimated small farmers and retail commerce. Mass outmigration and crime became the ‘roads out of poverty’ in the aftermath of imperial intervention. Violent crime became so pervasive that the business elites of the US and Central America were hesitant to invest and profit from the low wages and the unemployed who crowded the labor market. The cost of hiring private security armies to protect upscale neighborhoods, business operations, country clubs, and exclusive restaurant and leisure centers became prohibitive. Faced with the “unfavorable climate for business” created by the very same pro-business Pentagon intervention, after two decades of murder and mayhem, the World Bank intervened. The World Development Report (WDR) for 2010 (published in 2011) focuses on the theme of “conflict, security and development”. The Report proposed a series of measures to lessen what it calls “mass violence”. The Report was taken up and elaborated in the Financial Times (4/27/11 p. 9) by Martin Wolf in an article titled “Remove the scourge of conflict”. The Report and Wolf provide time series data between 1999-2009 showing the vertical growth of “criminal violence after civil wars”; time series data show that countries with high poverty rates based on the (percent of population with income below $1.25 per day) have experienced greater violence than those with low poverty rate; time series data show that greater ‘violence’ reduced real GDP growth.

Both the WB Report and the Financial Times fail to identify the true nature of the ‘violent conflict’, the principle source of violence and the foreign and domestic elite economic policies which deepen and prolong ‘violence’.

In the case of Central America, particularly El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Honduras, the WB and Financial Times resort to vacuous generalization to avoid discussing the massive military role of US imperialism in promoting large scale, long term violence in the countries. Instead the FT strikes a phony philosophical note “man is a violent animal” (Alas). In fact imperialist rulers are violent animals; especially with regard to poor countries attempting to free themselves of US backed oligarchies. To their discredit the WB and FT obfuscate the data by claiming that the deaths were a product of “civil wars”.

Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s the US and Israel provided arms, advisers, technical capacity to the murderous Guatemalan regime which slaughtered over 300,000; mostly Indians and wiped off the map over 420 villages. During the US decade long proxy war against the progressive Sandinista revolutionary movement via the Somoza dictatorship (1969-78) and the decade long Contra terror war against the Sandinista government (1979-89), over 50,000 people were killed, hundreds of thousands maimed and displaced and productive farms, factories, infrastructure, clinics and schools and co-operatives were targeted by US counter-insurgency advisers.

As mentioned earlier, El Salvador’s social movements and their supporters throughout civil society were targeted by US backed military and paramilitary groups forcing hundreds of thousands to flee to urban squatter settlements or across borders and overseas. Similar outcomes occurred during the US counter-insurgency campaign in Honduras and invasions of Grenada and Panama in the 1980’s.

Imperial backed invasions, counter-insurgency campaigns and the subsequent imposition of corrupt oligarchs led to the total disarticulation of local social networks and the bankruptcy of small scale farms because of the importation of subsidized US foodstuffs. These led to the presence of a deadly combination: thousands of automatic rifles, tens of thousands of unemployed displaced rural youth living in urban slums and an economy geared to enriching elite importers, exporters and US bankers and creditors. The WB Report in all of 301 pages and numerous tables does not contain a single phrase about the nature, consequences and the profound and lasting impact of imperial intervention on the out of control homicide rates in Central America or elsewhere. Instead we are told it’s all about a “civil war”.

The mendacious cover-up proceeds to the current decade. The WB Report and the FT sound an optimistic note claiming that annual battle deaths have “fallen to 42,000 in the 2000’s”. First, calling the US-NATO invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan a “civil war” is a travesty to common knowledge; and then falsifying the over 1 million Iraqi deaths into a few thousand, flies in the face of independent surveys published in the prestigious British medical journal the Lancet.

What is striking about the imperialist interventions and most relevant to the growth of violent crime, is the fact that the subsequent client rulers, are themselves deeply enmeshed in international criminal networks. Drug dealing and large scale theft of billions in aid funds and public revenues is the hallmark of Central American clients who are most intimately tied to Washington. The same is true in Iraq and Afghanistan: tribal clans and ethnic gangs who pledged allegiance to the US occupiers run billion dollar heroin enterprises. They murder civil society activists and undermine the bases of community based organizations.

Policy Proposals

Based on a diagnosis that ignores the imperial causes of social breakdown and the subsequent spiraling violent crime rate, the WB Report and the FT propose “lessons” for a “successful transition to ending high rates of violence”.

Since their diagnosis of the historical roots of crime is deeply flawed, the prescriptions fail to come to terms with the political and economic transformations necessary to reduce spiraling homicide rates.

The WB Report proposes (1) “inclusive coalitions” for change, (2) impact programs that produce quick results and impress people, (3) reforms of the security and justice institutions, (4) a pragmatic perspective of several decades to bring about change. In other words the WB Report recognizes that its policies, allies and agencies are so embedded in the current system that its “reform proposals” are at best designed to co-opt local leaders in coalitions, to pursue incremental changes, which will not reverse homicide rates for several decades.

The WB Report proposes to create bottom-up “links” between the neo-liberal state and civic society: an impossible task when “the state” is the principle agency undermining employment via its free market policies. Their proposal to act against corruption and to reform the police and judicial system overlooks the fact that the past and present closest political and judicial collaborators of US counter-insurgency and dominance are precisely those corrupt officials willing to repress popular movements and provide military bases. The WB Report calls for greater intervention by “external institutions” (like itself and US AID) to “deliver support”, when it was precisely external intervention which short circuited changes fought for by “bottom up” grass roots movements.

The point of departure for a reduction of violent crime is precisely to reduce or eliminate external intervention by the US: the need to eliminate military aid and training programs which block and repress social movements and organize coups; to eliminate WB programs promoting agro-export elites and to promote agrarian reforms led by and for co-operatives and family farmers; to end free trade and the saturation of the local market with subsidized US food exports so as to allow peasants to produce for local markets. Above all there is a need for the US and WB to pay $ multi-million dollar compensation for the destruction caused by the counter-insurgency war and neo-liberal policies, as a way of creating alternative employment for young people tempted by the drug gangs. Because of the long term destruction resulting from imperialist wars, the process of decriminalizing society will require a profound revolution in institutions and culture, one which will by necessity need to root out the current crop of generals, oligarchs and World Bank trained economists who perpetuate the conditions which spawn crime. Those changes will require supporting social movements independent of the state; immediate positive impacts to attract popular support will result from movements engaged in direct action – like occupying large rural estates. Police and security reforms can only be instituted as part of a process of regime changes in which ties to repressive overseas experts are replaced by links to community councils. Crime will be reduced in direct relation to greater independence from the regional policemen and with greater freedom to pursue an alternative economy based on social solidarity.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Skyrocketing Crime Rates and Imperial Wars

The Agendas Behind the bin Laden News Event

Paul Craig Roberts | | May 5, 2011

The US government’s bin Laden story was so poorly crafted that it did not last 48 hours before being fundamentally altered. Indeed, the new story put out on Tuesday by White House press secretary Jay Carney bears little resemblance to the original Sunday evening story. The fierce firefight did not occur. Osama bin Laden did not hide behind a woman. Indeed, bin Laden, Carney said, “was not armed.”

The firefight story was instantly suspicious as not a single SEAL got a scratch, despite being up against al Qaeda, described by former Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld as “the most dangerous, best-trained, vicious killers on the face of the earth.”

Every original story detail has been changed. It wasn’t bin Laden’s wife who was murdered by the Navy SEALs , but the wife of an aide. It wasn’t bin Laden’s son, Khalid, who was murdered by the Navy SEALs, but son Hamza.

Carney blamed the changed story on “the fog of war.” But there was no firefight, so where did the “fog of war” come from?

The White House has also had to abandon the story that President Obama and his national security team watched tensely as events unfolded in real time (despite the White House having released photos of the team watching tensely), with the operation conveyed into the White House by cameras on the SEALs helmets. If Obama was watching the event as it happened, he would have noticed, one would hope, that there was no firefight and, thus, would not have told the public that bin Laden was killed in a firefight. Another reason the story had to be abandoned is that if the event was captured on video, every news service in the world would be asking for the video, but if the event was orchestrated theater, there would be no video.

No explanation has been provided for why an unarmed bin Laden, in the absence of a firefight, was murdered by the SEALs with a shot to the head. For those who believe the government’s story that “we got bin Laden,” the operation can only appear as the most botched operation in history. What kind of incompetence does it require to senselessly and needlessly kill the most valuable intelligence asset on the planet?

According to the US government, the terrorist movements of the world operated through bin Laden, “the mastermind.” Thanks to a trigger-happy stupid SEAL, a bullet destroyed the most valuable terrorist information on the planet. Perhaps the SEAL was thinking that he could put a notch on his gun and brag for the rest of his life about being the macho tough guy who killed Osama bin Laden, the most dangerous man on the planet, who outwitted the US and its European and Israeli allies and inflicted humiliation on the “world’s only superpower” on 9/11.

When such a foundational story as the demise of bin Laden cannot last 48 hours without acknowledged “discrepancies” that require fundamental alternations to the story, there are grounds for suspicion in addition to the suspicions arising from the absence of a dead body, from the absence of any evidence that bin Laden was killed in the raid or that a raid even took place. The entire episode could just be another event like the August 4, 1964, Gulf of Tonkin event that never happened but succeeded in launching open warfare against North Vietnam at a huge cost to Americans and Vietnamese and enormous profits to the military/security complex.

There is no doubt that the US is sufficiently incompetent to have needlessly killed bin Laden instead of capturing him. But who can believe that the US would quickly dispose of the evidence that bin Laden had been terminated? The government’s story is not believable that the government dumped the proof of its success into the ocean, but has some photos that might be released, someday.

As one reader put it in an email to me: “What is really alarming is the increasingly arrogant sloppiness of these lies, as though the government has become so profoundly confident of their ability to deceive people that they make virtually no effort to even appear credible.”

Governments have known from the beginning of time that they can always deceive citizens and subjects by playing the patriot card. “Remember the Maine,” the “Gulf of Tonkin,” “weapons of mass destruction,” “the Reichstag fire”–the staged events and bogus evidence are endless. If Americans knew any history, they would not be so gullible.

The real question before us is: What agenda or agendas is the “death of bin Laden” designed to further?

There are many answers to this question. Many have noticed that Obama was facing re-election with poor approval ratings. Is anyone surprised that the New York Times/CBS Poll finds a strong rise in Obama’s poll numbers after the bin Laden raid? As the New York Times reported, “the glow of national pride” rose “above partisan politics, as support for the president rose significantly among both Republicans and independents. In all, 57 percent said they now approved of the president’s job performance, up from 46 percent.”

In Washington-think, an 11% rise in approval rating justifies a staged event.

Another possibility is that Obama realized that the the budget deficit and the dollar’s rescue from collapse require the end of the expensive Afghan war and occupation and spillover war into Pakistan. As the purpose of the war was to get bin Laden, success in this objective allows the US to withdraw without loss of face, thus making it possible to reduce the US budget deficit by several hundred billion dollars annually–an easy way to have a major spending cut.

If this is the agenda, then more power to it. However, if this was Obama’s agenda, the military/security complex has quickly moved against it. CIA director Leon Panetta opened the door to false flag attacks to keep the war going by declaring that al Qaeda would avenge bin Laden’s killing. Secretary of State Clinton declared that success in killing bin Laden justified more war and more success. Homeland Security declared that the killing of bin Laden would motivate “homegrown violent extremists” into making terrorist attacks. “Homegrown violent extremists” is an undefined term, but this newly created bogyman seems to include environmentalists and war protesters. Like “suspect,” the term will include anyone the government wants to pick up.

Various parts of the government quickly seized on the success in killing bin Laden to defend and advance their own agendas, such as torture. Americans were told that bin Laden was found as a result of information gleaned from torturing detainees held in Eastern European CIA secret prisons years ago.

This listing of possible agendas and add-on agendas is far from complete, but for those capable of skepticism and independent thought, it can serve as a starting point. The agendas behind the theater will reveal themselves as time goes on. All you have to do is to pay attention and to realize that most of what you hear from the mainstream media is designed to advance the agendas.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 2 Comments

Bedouin hamlet destroyed for 3rd time

Ma’an – 05/05/2011

HEBRON — Women of the Bedouin herding hamlet of Khirbet Amniyr sat on the earth and watched Israeli forces demolish their 12 tent homes for the third time on Thursday morning.

The women said they were waiting for the soldiers to leave so they could rebuild their tent homes and once again re-establish their lives and livlihoods.

Amniyr, south of Yatta in the southern West Bank, is said to be located in an Israeli military zone.

Military zoning laws enforced by Israel’s Civil Administration, make up part of the 60 percent of the West Bank that is inaccessible to Palestinians.

As the troops left, the woman remained seated, surveying the destruction, as their tents and mattresses lay buried under a thin layer of dirt.

“I appeal to God to save us from the cruelty of the Israeli occupation,” said the hamlet’s matriarch, as she stood and began to collect her belongings from under the dust.

The hamlet has been taken down twice before, first on February 22 when the Israeli military buried homes and water wells, later preventing ICRC workers from delivering aid equipment.

On March 29, seven Bedouin were beaten by Israeli border police when the same 12 tents were taken down a second time.

The 12 families of Khirbet Amniyr were ordered out of their tent homes earlier in the year, but remained, saying they had little choice but to stay and had nowhere else to go.

The spokesman of Israel’s Civil Administration could not be reached by phone for comment on the latest demolition.

Amniyr is one of three Bedouin hamlets currently under Israeli evacuation orders, with a second in the south Hebron hills area, and a third in the northern West Bank district of Nablus which has been demolished six times.

In Israel’s Negev region, the Bedouin community in Al-Araqib have seen their homes taken down a total of 16 times, to make way for a park.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | 4 Comments