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Chomsky is dishonest and deceptive in denying assault on Chavez

By Stephen Gowans on July 6, 2011

An article by reporter Rory Carroll in last Sunday’s Observer titled “Noam Chomsky criticises old friend Hugo Chavez for ‘assault’ on democracy” has set off a storm of controversy among Chomsky and Chavez supporters.

Some, angry at the leftist intellectual for criticizing the Venezuelan president, demanded an explanation. Chomsky replied that Carroll’s article was “dishonest” and “deceptive.”

But a transcript of the interview—which Chomsky told one blogger did not exist—suggests it is Chomsky, not Carroll, who is dishonest and deceptive.

“Let’s begin with the headline: complete deception,” Chomsky replies to one blogger.

Really?

Here’s what Chomsky told the Observer reporter.

Carroll: Finally, professor, the concerns about the concentration of executive power in Venezuela: to what extent might that be undermining democracy in Venezuela?

Chomsky: Concentration of executive power, unless it’s very temporary, and for specific circumstances, let’s say fighting world war two, it’s an assault on democracy (my emphasis).

Carroll: And so in the case of Venezuela is that what’s happening or at risk of happening?

Chomsky: As I said you can debate whether circumstances require it—both internal circumstances and the external threat of attack and so on, so that’s a legitimate debate—but my own judgment in that debate is that it does not.

Earlier in the interview Chomsky told Carroll that, “Anywhere in Latin America there is a potential threat of the pathology of caudillismo and it has to be guarded against. Whether it’s over too far in that direction in Venezuela I’m not sure but I think perhaps it is” (my emphasis).

So, Chomsky tells Carroll that concentration of executive power is an assault on democracy, that there’s a tendency toward concentration in Venezuela, and that in his judgment the circumstances don’t require it.

So how is it that the headline “Noam Chomsky criticises old friend Hugo Chavez for ‘assault’ on democracy” is deceptive and dishonest? Granted, Chavez might not be an old friend, at least not in the literal sense, but the Observer headline hardly seems to misrepresent Chomsky’s words.

Now, we can go around in circles about whether Carroll fairly or dishonestly recounted his conversation with Chomsky (though it looks like the dishonesty here isn’t Carroll’s), but anyone who insists that Chomsky didn’t criticize Chavez is going to have to do a fair amount of straw clutching. Yes, the leftist intellectual did criticize Washington in his interview with Carroll, and he did point out all the good that has happened in Venezuela (which Carroll acknowledges in his article.) But so what? That doesn’t negate Chomsky’s open criticism of Chavez — which is what a number of Chavez partisans are agitated about.

The occasion for the interview was Chomsky’s open letter criticizing the detention of Judge Maria Lourdes Affiuni. Affiuni had freed banker Eligio Cedeno in 2009. Cedeno, who had faced corruption charges, immediately fled the country. Chavez denounced the judge as a criminal and demanded that she be jailed for 30 years.

We can debate whether Chavez’s treatment of Affiuni is heavy-handed, but it doesn’t take a high-profile intellectual of Chomsky’s caliber to figure out that the establishment press will use all the ammunition it can lay its hands on to vilify Chavez, and the best ammunition of all is that which comes from the Left. It’s one thing for a US state official to raise concerns about Chavez. You expect it. It’s quite another for a leftist intellectual to do the same.

It might be said that Chomsky didn’t know the Observer would use his criticism to blacken Chavez’s reputation, but that would be dishonest and deceptive.  It’s hard to swallow the canard that poor old Noam–whose understanding of the media is second to none–blindly stumbled into an ambush. “I should know by now that I should insist on a transcript with the Guardian, unless it’s a writer I know and trust,” Chomsky lamented.

Yeah, right.

Media Lens, springing to Chomsky’s defense, noted perspicaciously that ‘the Guardian (the Observer’s sister newspaper) is normally happy to ignore (Chomsky) and his views. But when Chomsky expresses criticism of an official enemy of the West, he suddenly does exist and matter for the Guardian.”

But hadn’t the co-author of Manufacturing Consent figured this out long ago?

I think it would be fair to suppose he has. That he went ahead anyway, and allowed the press to add his criticisms of Chavez to what he himself calls the “vicious, unremitting attack by the United States and the west generally” on Venezuela, could mean one of two things.

Either Chomsky is a press-hound.

Or he’s not as much of a friend of Chavez as Carroll–and a good number of leftists-think.

Or both.

~

See also:

CHOMSKY ATTACKS CHAVEZ FOR NEOCON CARR CENTRE?

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | 14 Comments

African Union Says ‘Up Yours’ to International Criminal Court

By Glen Ford | BAR | July 5, 2011

The African Union is asking all of its 53 members not to buckle under to the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The International Criminal Court, or ICC, has never indicted anyone but Africans, and many consider it to be a tool of the United States. The Obama administration gives constant lip service to the Court, even though the U.S. is not a member of the ICC and has refused to make its own policies and military answerable to any outside authority.

The African Union, meeting in Equatorial Guinea, said the ICC indictment against Gaddafi for alleged “crimes against humanity” complicates the task of bringing about a cease-fire in Libya. Twice, high level African delegations have attempted to forge a cease-fire, that would protect immigrant workers and refugees and allow for humanitarian aid to the civilian population. Both times, the rebels and their American and European backers rejected the African initiative out of hand – a display of western arrogance that was deeply humiliating to the African Union. The insult still stings. Although the African Union can’t do much to stop NATO from bombing an African nation at will, the AU decided, finally, that it can stand up to the International Criminal Court and its attempt to arrest Gaddafi, a former chairman and great benefactor of the African Union.

The current AU chairman, Jean Ping, spoke for many member states when he said that the ICC “was discriminatory” in its prosecutions, and only went after Africans, disregarding crimes committed by the West in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. For that reason, the AU recommended that its members not cooperate with the execution of the warrant against Gaddafi.

Without doubt, the International Criminal Court is as Eurocentric in its view of the world as are the governments in Paris, London and Washington. So is the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, who had the nerve to chastise China for ignoring the ICC indictment against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. Bashir has travelled in Africa and the Middle East on state visits, and went to China for high level talks, last week. Navi Pillay, the Human Rights Commissioner, whined that she was disappointed with China for not arresting Bashir – although China, like the United States and Russia, is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

Nevertheless, Pillay showed herself to be a true servant of the West. “The whole world favors” putting Bashir on trial,” said the bureaucrat. Most of the continent of Africa does not want to put Bashir on trial. Isn’t Africa part of the world? China does not want to put Bashir on trial. And one out of every five people in the world is Chinese!

Navi Pillay is herself from South Africa, whose president, Jacob Zuma, is trying to engage the Russians in arranging a Libya ceasefire. But Human Rights Commissioner Pillay thinks the whole world revolves around Paris, London and Washington. So does ICC chief prosecutor Luis Morena Ocampo, who wants to deputize the United States military to enforce the criminal court’s arrest warrants – regardless of what the African world or the Chinese world or anybody that is not European or American thinks. It’s sad to say, but at this point in history, the UN serves the Empire.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 3 Comments

Israeli Occupation Forces destroy nine water tanks in parched Palestinian village

By Sean O’Neill | +927 | July 6, 2011

Late Tuesday morning, July 5, around 11:30am, a convoy of IDF, Civil Administration, and Border Police arrived in the Palestinian village of Amniyr accompanying a flatbed truck with a front end loader and a backhoe.  Israeli settlers having a picnic at the settlement outpost next to the Susiya archaeological site looked on as the army destroyed nine large tanks of water and a tent.


(Photo: Joe Yoder, Chrstian Peacemakers Team)

Amniyr is a small village of 11 families in the South Hebron Hills, just northeast of the Palestinian village of Susiya and the Israeli settlement of the same name.  The village of shepherds and farmers, like most villages in the area, is totally dependent in the summer on tanks of water.

That water does not come cheap.  Costs of transportation, due to the poor infrastructure in the area – Palestinians are normally not permitted to build roads in Area C of the West Bank and have restricted access to Israeli roads – mean the cost of water is much higher than normal.  A cubic meter of water in the nearby town of Yatta costs 6 shekels.  In Amniyr it cost 35.  The tanks themselves cost 1000 shekels each, and each tank held 2 cubic meters of water, yielding a total of over 10,000 shekels in damage, which for many in the area is equivalent to a half year’s work.

This is the fifth demolition in Amniyr in the last year, according to village residents and Nasser Nawaja, a B’Tselem worker.  One month ago the army destroyed 11 houses and two cisterns full of water.  The cisterns had also been destroyed 5 months ago and rebuilt with the help of Israeli activists from Ta’ayush.  The ruins of houses from previous demolitions is still present, broken stones and twisted metal.  Located just south of the archaeological site of old Susiya, the Israeli government claims it is state land.

Ten of the families now sleep in Yatta and come during the day to tend to their olive and almond trees as they have no place to stay and no water.    But Mohammed Hussain Jabour and his wife Zaffra refuse to leave.  The morning after the demolition they were making tea on an open fire next to their tent. “I’ve been here with my father and our sheep since I was a little boy,” he said, with visible indignation.  “Now I’m an old man.  And now Israel tells me I can’t be here.  I’m not leaving.”

“What are we supposed to do?”  Zaffra asked.  “What will we drink?  We can’t live without water.”

The demolition comes on the heels of the demolition of 6 tent homes and a lavatory in the village of Bir al Eid, two kilometers to the south, two weeks ago.  Both incidents are the latest in a long history of demolitions of Palestinians homes and buildings in the area by the Israeli army, affecting both these villages and the villages of Susiya and Imneizel, a village south of Susiya.

Sean O’Neill worked for Christian Peacemaker Teams from 2006-2009 in the South Hebron Hills supporting Palestinian-led nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation and continued settlement expansion.  He is currently an MA candidate at New York University in Near Eastern Studies and Journalism.  He is in Israel/Palestine this summer researching for his masters’ thesis.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

‘US, UK war vultures installed a cuckoo zionist identity’

RussiaToday | July 4, 2011

British anti-war activist Dr. David Halpin in an interview with RT.

Israeli-America-British axis sowing chaos in the Middle East

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Regime-Change in a Box

Soft-Powering Cuba

By ROBERT SANDELS | CounterPunch | July 6, 2011

In March, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, placed a hold on a $20 million appropriation for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The money is for democracy promotion schemes in Cuba. Kerry’s purpose was to hold the funds hostage until the State Department responded to a series of questions he had about waste, mismanagement and the general ineffectiveness of the program to actually bring about democracy in Cuba.

USAID grantees in Cuba are soft-power agents engaged in covert subversion. Soft power, as described by its leading academic proponent Joseph E. Nye, Jr., is “getting others to want what you want.” His ideas, however, fell short of assisted regime change.

Here is an example of how USAID money can help Cuba:

Step 1. Give USAID money to grantees like Freedom House to help Cubans document human rights abuses.

Step 2. Send reports of abuses to international human rights organizations.

Step 3. The US Interests Section in Havana reports the discovery of abuses, cites human rights organization, sends information to the State Department.

Step 4. Alarmed, the State Department cites Interests Section, issues scathing report on human rights violations in Cuba.

Step 5. Congress and the Republic of Miami, in righteous indignation, demand more sanctions against Cuba.

Result: USAID money pays handsomely on its initial investment. Now, why would Sen. Kerry not think these programs are cost effective?

Regime-change in a box     

In 2009, Alan Gross went to Cuba on USAID money with equipment to set up Broadband Global Area Networks (BGANs), briefcase-size satellite systems for Internet and cellphone communication networks outside of Cuban government control. The cover story was that he was delivering the equipment to the Cuban Jewish community. They never heard of him even though this was his sixth trip.

The New York Times reported that the United States has deployed this “shadow” communications system in Middle Eastern countries to help dissidents plan anti-government movements.

Kerry said that the Cuban programs in general and the BGAN program in particular only irk Cuban authorities and put taxpayers’ money into the hands of Cuban intelligence, which routinely penetrates the “civil society” organizations and dissident groups the money is supposed to support.

Recent covert attempts to flip Cuban officials, hand out communications gear and satellite antennas disguised as surfboards have been failures amply catalogued in a series of exposés broadcast on Cuban television.

Even as the US government and media gamely maintain that Gross, currently serving a 15-year prison sentence in Cuba, was running an innocent phones-for-Jews program, the State Department doesn’t want to identify USAID contractors for fear they might be arrested like Gross was.

However, there is little likelihood of being arrested for taking cell phones or other real gifts to Cuba.  And Miami Cubans can easily purchase cell phone minutes for users in Cuba from the state telephone company Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETECSA). This can be done via the Internet from anywhere in the world using various foreign commercial service.

If the Obama administration was so keen on having Cubans communicate by cell phone, USAID could have used these services openly, cheaply and legally.

Trouble with the cover story

Anti-Castro fanatics accuse Kerry of aiding Cuban communism, revealing a touching belief that these programs actually work. To Kerry’s assertion that internet-in-a-box exploits landed Gross in prison, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) responded that Kerry was giving his approval to the Cuban government’s “iron-fisted tactics” against “defenders of democracy.”

Wait a minute Sen. Menendez. You’re forgetting the cover story about phones for Jews. Are you saying the Jewish community is a dissident organization?

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) turned on Kerry with particular fury, but if she had listened more carefully she might have seen that the two are not far apart. Kerry is not opposed to overthrowing the Cuban government. He is not against subversion. He has always reassured Miami’s Cuban voters that he supports the blockade against Cuba.

Besides, Kerry threw away highfalutin principles by offering to release all but $5 million of the funds.

The argument over the funding is valid only if we accept at face value the stated USAID goals of bringing democracy, freedom and justice to the Cuban people. Evidently, Kerry and Ros-Lehtinen think or pretend that these are the actual goals.

If we go along with the pretense, we have to conclude that the hapless Gross failed to realize that he could have gone to the Internet and loaded up Jewish cell phones with massive quantities of USAID money from the comfort of his home, avoiding prison and the much greater pretend failure of actually depriving them of telephone contact with Jews around the world; so, no more USAID money for him.

Soft power succeeds by failing  

Setting aside the pretense, with Gross in prison his pretend failure is transformed into success because Obama and the lesser fanatics can say he was imprisoned for helping Jews exercise their freedom of speech.

Even better, Miami and Washington can argue that Cuba used Gross as an excuse to reject Obama’s generous peace gestures.  Far from failing, Gross forces Cuba to take the blame for US aggression. Liz Harper of the US Institute of Peace summed it up nicely writing that the Gross affair “…at best delayed advancements initially sought by the Obama administration.”

And of course, had Gross set up clandestine communication networks all over Havana and had the dissidents used them to plan demonstrations, pass around diatribes against the Cuban government and so on, there would likely be another victory for USAID when Cuban intelligence eventually shuts them down (“clamping down on free speech”) and arrests are made (“iron-fisted tactics” against “defenders of democracy”).

Even after it was widely reported that Gross delivered nothing to the Cuban Jewish community and that his luggage contained equipment to undermine the Cuban government, The Miami Herald stuck to the script. Gross was imprisoned, wrote the Herald, “for delivering communications equipment paid for by the U.S. government to Jewish groups on the island.”

If the Cubans were to sabotage every US gesture of friendship, that means they welcome US aggression and subversion. “The Cuban regime increasingly needs an external threat to blame for the country’s problems,” said an unnamed Pentagon official.

Moral: If a lemon gets arrested, make lemonade out of him.

No democracy promotion money for U.S.

For a few million in US taxpayer dollars, Cuba gets programs for “community improvement activities, identifying and addressing community needs,” expanded access “to uncensored information to help Cubans communicate amongst themselves and with the outside world.”

In the empathy-grant category, the State Department is currently seeking proposals to help the disabled, orphans and homosexuals achieve a better life in Cuba.

But while the United States delivers BGANs to Cubans, there is no government program to free its own people from government surveillance; there is no shadow network. Indeed, social media and internet systems in the United States are thoroughly penetrated by intelligence agencies. The FBI now has the capability to plant permanent spyware on personal computers. It can find out who you are with a Computer and Internet Protocol Address Verifier. It can access communications devices directly through internet service providers and cell towers, which is described as a “comprehensive wiretap system.”

If you worry that electoral democracy in the United States is slipping away, go to Cuba where USAID contractors are dedicated to “finding the legal impediments to democratic elections and suggesting the actions that would be necessary to remove these impediments.”

Concerned about the decline of education in the United States? The State Department has a program in Cuba to train “hundreds of students and young adults in critical thinking,” to help them become self-sufficient and to act “independent of government.”

Lockheed Martin: We fix roofs, audit your taxes

Lest it seem from all this spending for other peoples’ needs that US citizens are not getting a fair share of their own tax money, consider the benefits of soft power at home.

For several years, hard-power weapons makers have won Pentagon contracts to deliver soft-power abroad. The Wall Street Journal reported that Robert Stevens, Lockheed Martin’s CEO, wants the company “to become a central player in the U.S. campaign to use economic and political means to align countries with American strategic interests.”

Lockheed-Martin, the Pentagon’s largest weapons contractor, has diversified its portfolio buying companies involved in public relations, surveillance, auditing, and information systems. Many of these contracts have been in support of ongoing military actions in the Middle East and Africa. At the other end of the scale, one of its subsidiaries trained Liberian lawyers and repaired Monrovia’s court house roof.

Some of the same weapons manufacturers have lately been taking market positions in broad swaths of American life. Sandra I. Erwin, writing in the National Defense Magazine, explained that defense contractors were concerned about possible budget cuts and began looking to State Department and other non-defense budgets to diversify their portfolios.

Lockheed Martin has a $33 million contract with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for Webpage and e-services design, auditing and various taxpayer services. It also has a $1.2 billion contract with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for such services as “screener training and checkpoint reconfiguration.

William D. Hartung of the New America Foundation writes that Lockheed Martin has contracts to watch you, audit you, troll for information on you, scan your iris and pat you down at airports; all in a day’s work at the IRS, FBI, CIA, the Post Office, National Security Administration (NSA), the Census Bureau and the TSA.

“As a result, Lockheed Martin is now involved in nearly every interaction you have with the government,” said Hartung. “Paying your taxes? Lockheed Martin is all over it.  The company is even creating a system that provides comprehensive data on every contact taxpayers have with the IRS from phone calls to face-to-face meetings.”

The State Department maintains that it underwrites social programs in Cuba to make Cubans independent of oppressive government.

Meanwhile, other government departments are farming out some of their duties to weapons producers who are dependent on government contracts but independent of voter oversight.

This is enough to make a reasonable person conclude that in Cuba, the people need to be made independent of their government while in the United States the government needs to be made independent of its people.

Robert Sandels writes on Cuba for Cuba-L Direct and CounterPunch.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Leave a comment

Conspiracies

By Paul Craig Roberts | Intrepid Report | July 6, 2011

In a June column, I concluded that “conspiracy theory” is a term applied to any fact, analysis, or truth that is politically, ideologically, or emotionally unacceptable. This column is about how common real conspiracies are. Every happening cannot be explained by a conspiracy, but conspiracies are common everyday events. Therefore, it is paradoxical that “conspiracy theory” has become a synonym for “unbelievable.”

Conspiracies are commonly used in order to advance agendas. In the July issue of American Rifleman, a National Rifle Association publication, the organization’s executive vice president, Wayne Lapierre reports on a congressional investigation led by Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Darrell Issa of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and Department of Justice conspiracy to further gun control measures by smuggling guns across the border to Mexican criminals and blaming it on American firearm sellers.

Lapierre writes:

“Thanks to federal agents coming forth with evidence on the gun smuggling operation, this government sanctioned criminal conspiracy has been exposed.

“Leading an administration-wide cover up—marked by an arrogant dismissal of Congress’ constitutional role—is Attorney General Eric Holder, who has blocked all efforts to get to the truth. His minions have directed federal employees with knowledge of the gun-running scam to refuse to cooperate with congressional investigators.” [We Need To Extinguish The Firewall Of Lies]

Many Americans will find the uncovered conspiracy hard to believe. The US federal agency, BATFE, with the DOJ’s participation, has been providing firearms to Mexico’s drug cartels in order to create “evidence” to support the charge that US gun dealers are the source of weapons for Mexican drug gangs. The purpose of the government’s conspiracy is to advance the gun control agenda.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s stonewalling of the congressional investigation has resulted in Rep. Issa’s warning to Holder: “We’re not looking at the straw buyers, Mr. Attorney General. We’re looking at you.”

The most likely outcome will be that Grassley and Issa will have accidents or be framed on sex charges.

Conspiracies are also a huge part of economic life. For example, the Wall Street firm, Goldman Sachs, is known to have shorted financial instruments that it was simultaneously selling as sound investments to its customers. The current bailouts of EU countries’ sovereign debt is a conspiracy to privatize public domain.

Economic conspiracies are endless, and most succeed. NAFTA is a conspiracy against American labor, as are H-1B and L-1 work visas. Globalism is a conspiracy against First World jobs.

The sex charge against Dominique Strauss-Kahn could turn out to have been a conspiracy. According to the New York Times, the hotel maid has bank accounts in four states, and someone has been putting thousands of dollars into them.

Sometimes governments are willing to kill large numbers of their own citizens in order to advance an agenda. For example, Operation Northwoods was a plan for false flag terrorist events drafted by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and signed by General Lyman Lemnitzer. It called for the CIA and other “black op” elements to shoot down Americans in the streets of Miami and Washington, D.C., to hijack or shoot down airliners, to attack and sink boats carrying Cuban refugees to the US, and to fabricate evidence that implicated Castro. The agenda of the Joint Chiefs and the CIA was to stir up American fear and hatred of Castro in order to support regime change in Cuba.

Before the reader cries “conspiracy theory,” be apprised that the secret Operation Northwoods was made public on November 18, 1997, by the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board. When the plan was presented to President Kennedy in 1962, he rejected it and removed Lemnitzer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Wikipedia quotes extensively from the plan’s menu of proposed false flag terrorist acts. Those who distrust Wikipedia can obtain a copy of the plan from the National Archives.

When I tell even highly educated people about Operation Northwoods, they react with disbelief—which goes to show that even US government-acknowledged conspiracies remain protected by disbelief a half century after they were hatched and 14 years after being revealed by the government.

An example of a conspiracy that is proven, but not officially acknowledged, is Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. Captain Ward Boston, one of the two US Navy legal officers ordered to cover up the attack, not investigate it, revealed the Johnson Administration’s conspiracy, and that of every subsequent administration, to blame mistaken identity for what was an intentional attack. The unofficial Moorer Commission, led by Admiral Tom Moorer, former chief of Naval Operations and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, proved conclusively that the Israeli attack, which inflicted massive casualties on US servicemen, was an intentional attack. Yet, the US government will not acknowledge it, and few Americans even know about it.

Even the event Americans celebrate on July 4 was a conspiracy and was regarded as such by the British government and American colonials who remained loyal to King George. If we don’t believe in conspiracies, why do we celebrate one on July 4?

~

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary U.S. Treasury, Associate Editor Wall Street Journal, Columnist for Business Week, Senior Research Fellow Hoover Institution Stanford University, and William E. Simon Chair of Political Economy in the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Leave a comment

Lawyers: Protect IP Act would align U.S. Internet policy with ‘repressive regimes’

By Stephen C. Webster | Raw Story | July 5th, 2011

A group of Internet and intellectual property law professors have penned a letter to congressional lawmakers in opposition to the Protect IP Act, which would give the government sweeping new powers to take websites offline, censor search engines and sue Internet publishers accused of infringing activities.

In the letter, they warn that the act would “undermine” U.S. leadership on freedom of speech issues, cautioning that provisions within the legislation are more closely aligned with “repressive regimes” than the traditional American stance on Internet freedom.

They also predict that the Protect IP Act would threaten the security of the Internet at large, as it would give U.S. officials the authority to literally break the Internet’s domain name system (DNS), which links servers to web domains for easy access to pages around the world.

The bill, sponsored and heavily promoted by the entertainment industries, would require Internet service providers and search engines to de-list whole domains on the basis of a copyright claim by a content provider. The claim does not have to be proven to an independent body for a site to be taken offline.

Sites that link to domains accused of hosting infringing activities could also be targeted for domain take-downs or other criminal penalties, and servers outside the U.S. are not exempt from the powers the Protect IP Act seeks to cement into law.

Because of the Internet’s highly interwoven architecture, the bill’s broad language would “make it extraordinarily difficult for advertisers and credit card companies to do business on the Internet,” the lawyers warned.

That point was echoed by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, who said in May that the search giant would fight any order to break the Internet’s addressing system over copyright claims.

The lawyers also suggested that removing websites without so much as a hearing conflicts with standing constitutional law as interpreted by the Supreme Court, cautioning that the act would undermine America’s defense of free speech and “dramatically reduce” the Internet’s usefulness in mass communications.

“At a time when many foreign governments have dramatically stepped up their efforts to censor Internet communications, the [Protect IP Act] would incorporate into U.S. law — for the first time — a principle more closely associated with those repressive regimes: a right to insist on the removal of content from the global Internet, regardless of where it may have originated or be located, in service of the exigencies of domestic law.”

The letter was signed by Professor Mark Lemley of Stanford University, David S. Levine of Elon University and David G. Post of Temple University.

The Protect IP Act, proposed by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is currently on hold in the U.S. Senate thanks to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who placed a freeze on it in May.

The full document follows, below:

PROTECT-IP Letter, Final

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | Leave a comment

Florida fires 1,300 state workers

Press TV – July 6, 2011

As a result of the newly approved state budget, hundreds of workers in Florida have lost their jobs in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates.

According to MiamiHerald.com, about 1,300 workers in Florida lost their jobs after the state’s governor Rick Scott signed a budget plan aimed at reducing the size of the state government bureaucracy.

The new budget targets the most vulnerable classes, where many of those who became jobless earned less than USD 30,000 a year, after years of state employment.

Florida’s unemployment rate currently stands at 10.6 percent.

The Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families will be hit the hardest as a result of the new budget plan.

The new Republican governor in Florida has already cut state programs and employee benefits.

The US has an official unemployment rate of over 9.0 percent.

On Friday, the Minnesota state government in the US was shut down after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on a budget plan.

As a result of the budget dispute, some 23,000 of roughly 36,000 state employees have been laid off without a pay for the near future.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Economics | 2 Comments

Born at a checkpoint

IRIN – 05/07/2011

LONDON — For three years now a UK medical journal, the Lancet, has been working with Palestinian health professionals and researchers to document the effects of stressful living – coping with economic difficulties and shortages, restrictions on movement, political tensions and fear of outside attack – and has just published its latest findings.

Restrictions on movement are an everyday irritant in the occupied Palestinian territories. Apart from tedious and humiliating searches at checkpoints, residents never know for sure how long their journeys will take, or whether, indeed, they can be made at all. But in a medical emergency these restrictions can be a matter of life or death.

Last year the Lancet’s collaborators described vividly the terror of women waiting to give birth during Israeli bombing raids on Gaza in early 2009: They knew they might need urgent medical care at a time when they were trapped in their homes during the attacks. This year another of their researchers has looked at what happens to women already in labor who are caught at checkpoints.

Halla Shoaibi of Ann Arbor University in the USA estimates that in the period she studied (2000-2007) 10 percent of pregnant Palestinian women were delayed at checkpoints while traveling to hospital to give birth. One result has been a dramatic increase in the number of home births, with women preferring to avoid road trips while in labor for fear of not being able to reach the hospital in time.

Their fears are well founded. Ms Shoaibi says 69 babies were born at checkpoints during those seven years. Thirty-five babies and five of the mothers died, an outcome which she considers to amount to a crime against humanity.

When the Lancet group held their first meeting in March 2009, Gaza was still reeling from the Israeli attacks known as Operation Cast Lead, which led to the deaths of over 1,400 people. In the latest publication, researchers return to that period, with further analysis of survey material about the effects of the attack on the civilian population.

The disruption to normal life was great. Forty-five percent of those surveyed had to leave their homes and move in with other people for at least 24 hours; 48 percent had other people moving in with them; 48 percent of homes were damaged. Nearly everyone had power cuts all or part of the time, and many also suffered disruption to other services – telephone, water supply and rubbish collection.

Psychological effects

In terms of psychological effects, over 80 percent reported a family member screaming or crying or having nightmares. Loss of appetite was also commonly reported.

But although Gaza is a relatively small area, the effects varied considerably according to where the respondents lived, with the governorates of Gaza and North Gaza the most, and Khan Younis and Rafah (near the border with Egypt) the least affected.

Another study looked at the feelings of insecurity which remained, even six months after the end of the attacks. Women felt more nervous and insecure than men. The groups who reported lower levels of insecurity were those who were better educated, and had a better standard of living, and also older people, those over 65.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Israeli occupation authority blocks travel of two MPs heading to attend conference in Malaysia

Palestine Information Center – 05/07/2011

RAMALLAH — The Israeli occupation authority blocked the travel of two Palestinian lawmakers who were planning to attend an international parliamentary conference in Malaysia.

MPs Abdul Jabbar Fuqaha and Mohammed Abu Juhaisha were not allowed to cross Allenby bridge from the occupied West Bank to Jordan en route to Kuala Lumpur.

They said that the Israeli intelligence held their passports for a few hours then told them that they were banned from travel.

The lawmakers were supposed to attend the second Islamic parliamentary conference scheduled to open in Malaysia in the period July 10-11.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Israeli occupation authority bars 8-years old Palestinian girl from travel

Palestine Information Center – 06/07/2011

RAMALLAH — The Israeli occupation authority (IOA) unashamedly banned an eight-year old Palestinian girl named Banan Obeid from traveling to Jordan at the pretext she presented a security threat to Israel.

An informed source said the girl was along with her mother on their way to Jordan to visit their relatives there on Monday evening when Israeli troops at King Hussein Bridge detained them for three hours and confiscated their passports.

The troops told her mother that there was a ban on their travel abroad for security reasons, according to the source.

The father of Banan is a prominent Islamic leader in the West Bank and was one of the deportees to the Marj Al-Zohour area in south Lebanon. He also spent sporadically six years in Israeli jails.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Peretz Successfully Escapes British Arrest Warrant

Al-Manar – July 6, 2011

Israel was able to let former Defense Minister Amir Peretz escape from London secretly immediately after an arrest warrant was issued against him.

Zionist Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported that Peretz succeeded in escaping from the country immediately after an arrest warrant was issued against him for executing war crimes during the Israeli outrageous war on Lebanese in July 2006.

The Zionist Minister had arrived to London to hold a lecture, despite being warned by the Israeli security and judicial apparatuses that he might be arrested by the British authorities for committing these crimes. However, Peretz chose not to respond to their advice and took off to London.

The newspaper further pointed out that Israeli security sources informed Peretz at the last moment that the British police have prepared an arrest warrant, which urged him to cancel his lecture, and accompany the Israeli security forces that successfully let him escape before the arrest.

July 6, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | 1 Comment