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Pakistan to buy 1,100 MW of electricity from Iran: Gilani

Press TV – April 1, 2012

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has announced that Islamabad plans to purchase 1,100 megawatts (MW) more electricity from its western neighbor, Iran.

The electricity supplied from Iran to the Pakistani Balochistan Province would prove especially helpful in overcoming the country’s energy shortage, Gilani said during a meeting with the Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Javad Mohammadizadeh in Boao, China.

The Pakistani prime minister also expressed interest in buying oil, gas and electricity from Iran despite the US-led sanctions imposed against the Islamic Republic over Tehran’s nuclear energy program, Dawn News reported on Sunday.

On February 26, 2012, Iran doubled its power supply to the Makran region of Pakistan from 35 MW per day to 70 MW after the enhancement of transmission lines.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Water and Power told reporters that the daily 70 MW supply will meet the electricity demand of the Makran division for the next five years.

Iran is currently exchanging electricity with Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Pakistan, Nakhichevan, Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Iran’s total power generation capacity stands at 63,403 MW while the total length of the power grid exceeds 780,000 km.

The Islamic Republic seeks to become a major regional exporter of electricity and has attracted more than USD 1.1 billion in investments to build three new power plants.

April 1, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hundreds arrested for swarming NATO HQ in Belgium

Press TV – April 1, 2012

Police in Belgium have arrested some 483 peace activists from hundreds of protesters, who tried to break into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization headquarters in Brussels.

The Sunday demonstration organized by the Belgian Association Action for Peace was called to protest NATO intervention in Afghanistan and Libya, and nuclear arming.

The activists crossed fields and sought to climb over fences leading to the NATO compound but were stopped by the five to six hundred police officers who were deployed to counter the protesters.

“We neither want the anti-missile shield, nor intervention by NATO in Libya or Afghanistan, nor nuclear bombs that are illegal in our country,” a spokesman for Action for Peace, Benoit Calvi said.

Demonstrators most of them in their twenties, came from 10 European countries including Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Spain, and Sweden.

“A military alliance that intervenes all over the world and has nuclear weapons is a threat to world peace,” Action for Peace said.

The protest came ahead of next month’s NATO summit in Chicago.

April 1, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Hundreds arrested for swarming NATO HQ in Belgium

AL QAEDA AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda…. An Incessant and Repetitive Public Discourse

Part I

By Professor Michel Chossudovsky | Global Research | March 24, 2012

There is something disturbing in the nature of post 9/11 public discourse. Incessantly, on a daily basis, Al Qaeda is referred to by the Western media, government officials, members of the US Congress, Wall Street analysts, etc. as an underlying cause of numerous World events. Occurrences of a significant political, social or strategic nature –including the US presidential elections campaign– are routinely categorized by referring to Al Qaeda, the alleged architect of the September 11 2001 attacks.

What is striking is the extent of media coverage of “Al Qaeda related events”, not to mention the mountains of op eds and authoritative “analysis” pertaining to “terror events” in different part of the World.

Routine mention of Al Qaeda “fanatics”, “jihadists”, etc. has become –from a news standpoint– trendy and fashionable. A Worldwide ritual of authoritative media reporting has unfolded. At the time of writing (March 24, 2012), “Al Qaeda events” had 183 million entries on Google and 18,200 news entries.

A panoply of Al Qaeda related events and circumstances is presented to public opinion on a daily basis. These include terrorist threats, warnings and attacks, police investigations, insurgencies and counter-insurgencies, country-level regime change, social conflict, sectarian violence, racism, religious divisions, Islamic thought, Western values, etc.

In turn, Al Qaeda – War on Terrorism rhetoric permeates political discourse at all levels of government, including bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill, in committees of the House and the Senate, at the British House of Commons, and, lest we forget, at the United Nations Security Council.

All of these complex Al Qaeda related occurrences are explained –by politicians, the corporate media, Hollywood and the Washington think tanks under a single blanket “bad guys” heading, in which Al Qaeda is casually and repeatedly pinpointed as “the cause” of numerous terror events around the World.

Human Consciousness: Al Qaeda and the Human Mindset

How does the daily bombardment of Al Qaeda related concepts and images, funnelled into the Western news chain and on network TV, affect the human mindset?

Al Qaeda concepts, repeated ad nauseum have potentially traumatic impacts on the human mind and the ability of normal human beings to analyze and comprehend the “real outside World” of war, politics and the economic crisis.

What is at stake is human consciousness and comprehension based on concepts and facts.

With Al Qaeda, however, there are no verifiable “facts” and “concepts”, because Al Qaeda has evolved into a media mythology, a legend, an invented ideological construct, used as an unsubtle tool of media disinformation and war propaganda.

Al Qaeda constitutes a stylized, fake and almost folkloric abstraction of terrorism, which permeates the inner consciousness of millions of people around the World.

Reference to Al Qaeda has become a dogma, a belief, which most people espouse unconditionally.

Is this political indoctrination? Is it brain-washing? If so what is the underlying objective?

People’s capacity to independently analyse World events, as well as address causal relationships pertaining to politics and society, is significantly impaired. That is the objective!

The routine use of Al Qaeda to generate blanket explanations of complex political events is meant to create confusion. It prevents people from thinking.

The American Inquisition

The notion of Al Qaeda –“the outside enemy” which threatens Western civilization– is predicated on “an inquisitorial doctrine”. The Homeland Security State personifies what might be described as the “American Inquisition”.

As in the case of the Spanish Inquisition, the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) consensus cannot be challenged.

Reference to Al Qaeda as a central paradigm used to understand the world we live in is ultimately intended to instil fear and insecurity. In the words of Britain’s comedy group Monty Python: “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise…surprise and fear…fear and surprise…. Our two weapons are fear and surprise…and ruthless efficiency…. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency…and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope….”

Unconditional submission to the Homeland Security State in today’s America is not dissimilar from the process of “fanatical devotion” prevailing under the Spanish feudal order. What is at stake in our contemporary World, in the words of Monty Python, is “fear and surprise” and the unconditional compliance to the “ruthless efficiency” of a dominant political, economic and military order.

The American Inquisition redefines the entire legal and judicial framework. Torture and political assassinations are no longer a covert activity as in the heyday of the CIA, removed from the public eye. They are “legal”, they are the object of extensive news coverage, they are sanctioned by the White House and the US Congress. Conversely, those who dare confront the “War on Terrorism” consensus are branded as “terrorists”. Upholding true justice by challenging America’s “holy crusade” against Al Qaeda becomes an outright criminal act.

A new threshold in US legal history has unfolded. High ranking officials within the State and the Military no longer need to camouflage their crimes. In fact, quite the opposite. Torture of Al Qaeda suspects is a public policy with a humanitarian mandate:

“Yes we did order torture, but it isn’t really torture, its not really war, because these people are terrorists and “we must fight evil”. And the way to uphold democracy and freedom is to “go after the bad guys”, “wage war on the terrorists”. “Its in the public interest.”

Moreover, anybody who questions our definition of “fighting evil” (which of course includes torture, political assassination and concentration camps directed against “the bad guys”) is by our definition also “evil” and can be arrested, tortured and sent to concentration camps. (Michel Chossudovsky, The Spanish Inquisition, Made in America, Global Research, 2004)

Al Qaeda is presented to public opinion as the terror instrument of “radical Islam”, which threatens the Homeland, undermining Western civilization and moral values. Everybody must comply; nobody dares to question “the American Inquisition”.

Al Qaeda and the “Big Lie”

The Al Qaeda Legend sustains the “Big Lie”. It turns realities upside down. It creates both a perception and a belief which cannot be questioned. It permeates US foreign policy and the conduct of international diplomacy. Al Qaeda and the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) constitute a central component of US military doctrine.

“Al Qaeda did this”, “Al Qaeda did that” statements provide a simple and trouble-free elucidation of complex events, while disguising and concealing “the real reasons”, namely the unspoken and forbidden truth behind these events.

Nobody seems to take the time to examine “who is this elusive enemy Al Qaeda”, which has succeeded, with limited military means, in confronting America’s multi-billion dollar war machine.

The Al Qaeda blanket explanation not only overshadows the normal channels of human comprehension, it also precludes a move to the next step of rational explanation, which consists in saying: if Al Qaeda is “the cause” as stated in numerous press reports, then: “What is Al Qaeda?” and “Who is behind Al Qaeda?”

But these are questions which in the post 9/11 era are rarely addressed. To investigate “Who is behind the terrorists” has become unmentionable, a political taboo, despite evidence pertaining to the historical role of US intelligence in creating and promoting the Islamic jihad.

Today, if Al Qaeda were to be revealed for what it really is, –e.g in the context of a specific false flag terrorist attack– the legitimacy of the “war on terrorism” and those officials in high office who support it, would collapse like a deck of cards.

While the identity of Al Qaeda is fully documented, including its links to US intelligence, the truth has not trickled down to the mainstay of public opinion.

Ronald Reagan meets Afghan Mujahideen Commanders at the White House in 1985 (Reagan Archives)

Acknowledged by the CIA, the Islamic jihad “was” a US sponsored “intelligence asset” going back to the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1989).

The intelligence community admits, yes we created the Mujahideen, we set up the training camps and the Koranic schools together with Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Acting on behalf of the CIA, the ISI was involved in the recruitment, training and religious indoctrination of the “jihadists” described by President Ronald Reagan as “Freedom Fighters”.

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 to the present, various Islamic fundamentalist organizations became de facto instruments of US intelligence and more generally of the US-NATO-Israel military alliance.

Unknown to the American public, the US spread the teachings of the Islamic jihad in textbooks “Made in America”, developed at the University of Nebraska:

… the United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation.

The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books,..

The White House defends the religious content, saying that Islamic principles permeate Afghan culture and that the books “are fully in compliance with U.S. law and policy.” Legal experts, however, question whether the books violate a constitutional ban on using tax dollars to promote religion.

… AID officials said in interviews that they left the Islamic materials intact because they feared Afghan educators would reject books lacking a strong dose of Muslim thought. The agency removed its logo and any mention of the U.S. government from the religious texts, AID spokeswoman Kathryn Stratos said.

“It’s not AID’s policy to support religious instruction,” Stratos said. “But we went ahead with this project because the primary purpose . . . is to educate children, which is predominantly a secular activity.”

… Published in the dominant Afghan languages of Dari and Pashtun, the textbooks were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska -Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies. The agency spent $ 51 million on the university’s education programs in Afghanistan from 1984 to 1994.” (Washington Post, 23 March 2002)

The role of Western intelligence agencies in support of Al Qaeda affiliated organizations will be outlined in Part II

April 1, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Comments Off on AL QAEDA AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda…. An Incessant and Repetitive Public Discourse

Kofi Annan: black skin, white masks

By Thierry Meyssan | Voltaire Network | March 30, 2012

Although Kofi Annan’s track record at the UN is an indisputable success in terms of management and efficiency, he has been sharply criticized for his political shortcomings. As Secretary General, he aspired to bring the Organization into line with the unipolar world and the globalization of U.S. hegemony. He called into question the ideological foundations of the UN and undermined its ability to prevent conflicts. Notwithstanding, he is today in charge of resolving the Syrian crisis.

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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize, Kofi Annan, has been designated by Ban Ki-moon and Nabil El Arabi as joint special envoy to negotiate a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. With Annan’s extraordinary experience and shiny brand image, his appointment was welcomed by all.

What does this top international official really represent? Who propelled him to the highest-ranking positions? What were his political choices, and what are his current commitments? These questions are met with a discreet silence, as if his previous functions were in themselves a guarantee of neutrality.

Handpicked and trained by the Ford Foundation and the CIA

His former colleagues praise him for his thoughtfulness, his intelligence and subtlety. A very charismatic personality, Kofi Annan left a strong imprint behind him because he did not behave simply as the “secretary” of the UN, but more like its “general,” by taking initiatives that revivified an organization that was mired in bureaucracy. All that is known and has been repeated ad nauseam. His exceptional professional qualities earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, although this honor in theory should have been bestowed for personal political commitment, not a management career.

Kofi and his twin sister Efua Atta were born on 8 April 1938, into an aristocratic family of the British colony of the Gold Coast. His father was the tribal chief of the Fante people and the elected governor of Asante province. Although he opposed British rule, he was a faithful servant of the Crown. With other notables, he took part in the first decolonization movement, but looked upon the revolutionary fervor of Kwame Nkrumah with suspicion and anxiety.

In any event, Nkrumah’s efforts led to the independence of the country in 1957 under the name of Ghana. Kofi was then 19 years old. Though not involved in the revolution, he became vice-president of the new National Student Association. It was then that he was spotted by a headhunter from the Ford Foundation who incorporated him into a program for “young leaders.” From there, he was invited to follow a summer course at Harvard University. Having noticed his enthusiasm for the United States, the Ford Foundation offered to sponsor his complete studies, first in economics at Macalester College in Minnesota, followed by international relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

After the Second World War, the Ford Foundation, created by famous industrialist Henry Ford, became an unofficial instrument of U.S. foreign policy, providing a respectable facade for the activities of the CIA [1].

Kofi Annan’s overseas study period (1959-1961) coincided with the most difficult years of the African-American civil rights movement (the start of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign). He saw it as an extension of the decolonization he had witnessed in Ghana, but once again did not get involved.

Impressed with Annan’s academic achievements and political discretion, his U.S. mentors opened for him the doors of the World Health Organization, where he landed his first job. After three years at WHO headquarters in Geneva, he was appointed to the Economic Commission for Africa based in Addis Ababa. However, not sufficiently qualified to pursue a career at the UN, he returned to the United States to take up management studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1971-1972). He then attempted a comeback in his home country as director of tourism development, but found himself perpetually at odds with the military government of General Acheampong; he gave up and returned to the United Nations in 1976.

A successful career despite tragic failures

There, he held various positions, initially within UNEF II (the peacekeeping emergency force established to supervise the cease fire between Egypt and Israel at the end of the October 1973 war), then as Director of personnel at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It was at this time that he met and married Nane Lagergren Master, his second wife. The Swedish lawyer is the niece of Raoul Wallenberg, Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest during World War II. Wallenberg is famous for having saved hundreds of persecuted Jews by issuing them protective passports. He also worked for the OSS (forerunner of today’s CIA) as a liaison with the Hungarian resistance. He disappeared at the end of the war, when the Soviets allegedly captured him to stem US influence in the country. In any event, Kofi Annan’s successful marriage opened the doors that he could not have passed through on his own, especially those of Jewish organizations.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar chose Kofi Annan as Assistant Secretary-General in charge of human resources management and staff safety and security (1987-90). With the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq, 900 UN employees remained stranded in that country. Kofi Annan was able to negotiate their release with Saddam Hussein, a feat that boosted his prestige within the Organization. He was then successively put in charge of the budget (1990-92) and peacekeeping operations under Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1993-96), with a brief interlude as a special envoy for Yugoslavia.

According to Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Kofi Annan failed to respond to his many appeals and carries the primary responsibility for UN inaction during the genocide (800,000 dead, mainly Tutsis, but also Hutu opponents) [2].

A similar scenario was repeated in Bosnia, where 400 peacekeepers were taken hostage by Bosnian Serb forces. Kofi Annan remained deaf to the calls of General Bernard Janvier and allowed the perpetration of predictable massacres.

In late 1996, the United States vetoed the reappointment of the Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General, regarded as dangerously Francophile. They succeeded in imposing their candidate: a senior official from within the international organization itself, Kofi Annan. Far from playing against him, his failures in Rwanda and Bosnia blossomed into assets after he candidly confessed to them and promised to reform the system so that they wouldn’t recur. He was elected on this basis and took office on 1 January 1997.

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Pocantino Conference Center

United Nations Secretary General

Kofi Annan immediately set up an annual two-day seminar behind closed doors for fifteen UN ambassadors. This “retreat” (sic) was generously hosted by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund at the Pocantico Conference Center (upstate New York). There, outside the official framework of the United Nations, the Secretary General discussed the reform of the Organization with the representatives of the States whose support he knew he could count on.

In this context, he reallocated the expenditures of the UN in line with political priorities and significantly reduced the budget of the General Secretariat. He reorganized the administrative functioning around four objectives (peace and security, development, economic and social affairs, humanitarian affairs). He created a post of deputy secretary-general to stand in for him and endowed himself with a real cabinet capable of acting promptly on the decisions of the Security Council and General Assembly.

Kofi Annan’s landmark initiative was the Global Compact, the mobilization of civil society for a better world. On the basis of a voluntary dialogue, businesses, unions and NGOs were brought together to discuss and commit to respect human rights, labor standards and the environment.

In practice, the Global Compact did not yield the desired effect on the ground. On the contrary, it deeply distorted the nature of the UN by playing down the power of nation-states and emphasizing that of transnational corporations and of associations which are “non-governmental” only in name and which are covertly funded by the great powers. By promoting lobbies as partners of the United Nations, Kofi Annan buried the spirit of the San Francisco Charter. It is no longer a question of saving mankind from the scourge of war by recognizing the legal equality of nations large and small, but of improving the human condition by supporting the convergence between private interests.

The Global Compact is a deviation from the nearly universally accepted logic that international law serves the common good, to a logic embraced only by the Anglo-Americans for whom the common good is a chimera and good governance consists in bringing together the largest number of special interests. Ultimately, the Global Compact has had the same effect as the charity galas in the U.S.: to give oneself a good conscience by launching high-profile initiatives while condoning structural injustices.

In that sense, the terms of Kofi Annan (1997-2006) reflect the reality of the historical period, that of a unipolar world subjected to the globalization of U.S. hegemony at the expense of nation-states and the peoples that they represent.

This strategy is in line with the device set up by Washington in the 1980’s involving the National Endowment for Democracy, an agency that, contrary to its title, aims to carry forward the subversive action of the CIA by manipulating the democratic process [3]. The NED subsidizes, legally or not, employers’ organizations, labor unions and associations of all kinds. In return, the beneficiaries participate in the Global Compact, thereby bending the positions of the Nation-States which lack the means to fund their own lobbies. Peace has stopped being a concern for the UN since the unipolar world has its own policeman, the U.S.; thus the organization can concentrate instead on absorbing all forms of protest to better corroborate the global disorder and justify the progressive global expansion of U.S. hegemony.

The soothing rhetoric of Kofi Annan reached its zenith at the Millennium Summit. 147 heads of state and government pledged to eradicate poverty and solve major health problems worldwide, including AIDS, in fifteen years. Universal happiness can dispense with political reform, provided everyone makes an effort and chips in. Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? But alas, the Millennium remained wishful thinking; injustice was not eradicated and continues to nurture war and misery.

In the same vein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s 20 September 1999 speech to the General Assembly outlined what has been termed the “Annan doctrine.” Using his own impotence in Rwanda and Bosnia as an excuse, he argued that in both cases the States had failed in their duty to protect their own people. He therefore concluded that the sovereignty of States, guiding principle of the UN Charter, constitutes an obstacle to human rights protection. The African Union adopted this view under the name of “Responsibility to Protect;” the UN followed suit in 2005 during the World Summit responsible for the follow-up of the Millennium Summit. The Annan doctrine is nothing more than the reincarnation of the right to intervene invoked by the British to wage war against the Ottoman Empire and, more recently, updated by Bernard Kouchner. The new concept will be used explicitly for the first time in 2011 to legalize the colonial operation against Libya [4].

In addition, Kofi Annan’s terms as UN Secretary-General were marked by the “Oil-for-Food” programme which was devised by the Security Council in 1991, but was effective only from 1996 to 2003. It was originally intended to ensure that Iraq’s oil revenues would be used exclusively to meet the needs of the Iraqi people and not to finance new military adventures. However, in the context of the international embargo and under the personal supervision of Kofi Annan, this program became an instrument in the hands of the U.S. and the UK to bleed Iraq while they occupied the “no-fly zone” (which corresponds roughly to the current autonomous Kurdistan region) until the outbreak of the aggression against and destruction of the country [5]. For years, the population was undernourished and deprived of life-saving medicines. Several international officials who were in charge of that program qualified it as a “war crime” and even resigned after refusing to apply it. Among them, the UN Assistant Secretary-General Hans von Sponeck and UN Humanitarian Coordinator Denis Halliday considered that this program brought about the genocide of 1, 5 million Iraqis, including at least 500,000 children [6].

It was not until the invasion and destruction of Iraq that Kofi Annan finally rebelled and denounced those who had paid for his education, propelled his rise to Secretary-General of the UN, and awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize. He described the attack on Iraq as illegal and voiced public concern that this precedent would eviscerate International Law [7] Washington responded brutally with a spying operation against Kofi Annan, his cabinet, his family and even against his friends. The Secretary-General’s son, Kojo Annan, was accused of embezzling “oil for food” program funds with his father’s blessing. The prosecution did not manage to convince UN member states and, on the contrary, consolidated the authority of the Secretary-General [8] However, during the last two years of his mandate, Kofi Annan was paralyzed and forced to toe the line.

Back to square one

After 10 years as Secretary-General, Kofi Annan continued his career in several more or less private foundations.

In December 2007, elections in Kenya degenerated into conflict. President Mwai Kibaki appeared to have defeated the candidate backed by Washington, Raila Odinga, reportedly a cousin of then-Senator Barack Obama. U.S. Senator John McCain challenged the election results and called for revolution as waves of anonymous SMS exacerbated inter-ethnic differences. Within days, riots left more than 1,000 dead and 300,000 displaced. Madeleine Albright proposed the mediation of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. The institute sent two mediators: former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, both members of the Board of Administration.

As a result of that “mediation,” President Kibaki was forced to bow to U.S. wishes. He was able to stay in office, but first had to accept a constitutional reform that stripped him of his powers in favor of the Prime Minister and to agree to the choice of Odinga as Prime Minister. In his role as wise old African, Kofi Annan helped to give a veneer of legitimacy to a regime change imposed by Washington [9].

Kofi Annan currently exercises two key responsibilities. First, he chairs the Africa Progress Panel, an organization created by Tony Blair after the G8 summit held in Gleeneagles for the purpose of ensuring media coverage of the actions of the British Ministry of Cooperation (DFID). Unfortunately, like the Millennium Summit, the G8 promises were not fulfilled and the activity of the Africa Progress Panel is negligible.

He also serves as chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which aims to solve the food problems of the black continent through biotechnology. In fact, AGRA is a lobby funded by the Bill Gates and Rockefeller Foundations to promote the dissemination of GMO’s produced by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta and others. Most independent experts agree that, beyond the issue of their environmental impact, the use of non-reproductible GMO crops keeps farmers under the thumb of their suppliers and introduces a new form of human exploitation.

Kofi Annan in Syria

So what has this former high-ranking international official come to Syria for? In the first place, his appointment suggests that the current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, whose image has been tarnished by his kowtowing to the United States and by a string of corruption scandals [10] was not up to the task, while Kofi Annan, despite his balance sheet, still enjoys a positive image.

Secondly, a mediator can succeed only to the extent that he has been selected by the parts in the conflict. But this is not the case. Kofi Annan represents the Secretary-General of the UN and his Arab League counterpart. He defends the honor and reputation of both institutions in the absence of clear political instructions.

If the appointment of Mr Annan was approved de facto by the members of the Security Council and those of the Arab League, it is because it satisfies conflicting expectations. For some, the joint special envoy is not intended to broker peace, but to clad a peace that has already been negotiated between the great powers so that everyone can stand tall. Others expect him to repeat the Kenyan script and bring about regime change without further violence.

Over the past three weeks, the action of Kofi Annan has been to present his own plan, an amended version of the one developed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In doing so, he has rendered the plan palatable for Washington and its allies. In addition, Mr. Annan has intentionally introduced an element of confusion by suggesting that he had convinced President al-Assad to appoint one of his vice presidents, Farouk al-Shara, to negotiate with the opposition. This is portrayed as a concession made by Syria to the Gulf Cooperation Council. In fact, Vice President al-Shara has been in charge of these negotiations for a year and the demand made by Saudi Arabia and Qatar is totally different: that President al-Assad should step down because he is an Alawite and that power be transferred to the Vice President for being a Sunni. It would thus seem that the joint special envoy is engineering a way out for those states that have attacked Syria and invented the fable of a democratic revolution crushed in blood.

However, the doublespeak of Kofi Annan, who when in Damascus was satisfied with his meeting with President al-Assad but expressed disappointed once back in Geneva, has not raised any questions about his true intentions.

April 1, 2012 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Israel Casually Bars UN Fact Finding Team

By Sami Zaatari | Palestine Chronicle | March 31, 2012

Imagine if Iran had recently denied allowing a UN fact-finding team from entering their country to inspect and investigate their atomic energy program. What kind of reaction would most likely come out? With no doubt, the United States, as well as Israel would begin to sound the drums of condemnation, and would point to this act as further proof of how sinister Iran is. Yet this is precisely what has recently happened, although it was not the dreaded Iran that barred a UN fact-finding team, rather it was none other than Israel.

There has hardly been any negative reaction or condemnation for Israel’s act. I waited for almost a week to write this article just to see if there would be any negative reaction towards Israel for this act. None. The US said nothing of the matter in terms of condemnation, and Israel has yet again proven it’s complete double standards to the world.

The UN fact finding team that was barred from Israel was part of the UN’s human rights council. Their mission was to go into Israel, and the West Bank to be able to investigate the illegal settlements that Israel has built and continues to build in the West Bank. Once again, contrast this with Iran, what would have happened if Iran did this? Coincidently, Iran has often opened up its atomic energy program for the UN and international inspectors to come in and investigate. Furthermore Iran hasn’t even breached any international law by their atomic energy program for anything to be inspected or investigated in the first place. On the other hand Israel is breaching international law in regard to their settlement building, therefore the UN has a full right to come and investigate the matter, yet Israel has barred them from doing so. Just think about that for a second, Iran is not breaching any law by their atomic energy program, yet they allow investigators in. Israel is breaching international law, yet doesn’t allow any investigators to come in and investigate.

As mentioned, this yet again exposes Israel’s double standards, and once again lays waste to their claims that they supposedly care for international law or respecting UN resolutions. What makes this all the more ironic is not that Israel simply pretends to care about international law or UN resolutions, but rather that they use such concepts/institutions when they seek to drum up pressure against Iran. Whenever Israel seeks to condemn Iran, Israeli politicians enjoy referring to international law, UN resolutions, but when it comes to Israel itself it openly disrespects and defies the very same concepts and institutions.

And where is the US in all of this? Nowhere to be seen, America yet again demonstrates why no level headed Middle Easterner (let alone dissatisfied American citizens) can take them seriously, or can lend them their trust. How can the US on one hand condemn Iran and refer to international law, the UN etc, but when it comes to Israel’s flagrant disregard for such institutions, it stands by quietly? Not to mention that Israel is actually in breach of international law by the very settlements themselves. So one would think that the US would be more than happy for such illegal settlements to be investigated, and would be incensed by Israel’s act of barring such an investigation. If the US wants to be a serious peace broker within the region, and if it actually wants to gain the trust and respect of you’re average Arab on the street, then it is time for America to get rid of it’s open bias in regard to Israel and do what is right in order for peace to be achieved within the region.

Let us end with these words of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman who said the following in regards to the UN fact finding team: “It means that we’re not going to work with them. We’re not going to let them carry out any kind of mission for the Human Rights Council, including this probe.”

Sami Zaatari is an American of Palestinian-Iranian descent. Zaatari is a writer, and a public speaker who has taken part in public events of inter-faith and inter-community discussions. Zaatari also holds an MSc in the field of Middle East Politics.

April 1, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Results of Nationwide Government Cell Phone Tracking Records Request Show Frequent Violations of Americans’ Privacy Rights

By Catherine Crump, ACLU Staff Attorney | March 31, 2012

The ACLU has just released the results of our affiliates’ public records requests to hundreds of police departments around the country asking them about their cell phone tracking policies.

What we have learned is disturbing. Many of the approximately 200 law enforcement agencies that responded said they track cell phones without a warrant. As The New York Times reports, this invasive form of surveillance often happens without any court oversight at all.

A small number of agencies, such as in North Las Vegas and Wichita, said they do obtain warrants based on probable cause before tracking. Others, such as the Kentucky State Police, said they use varying legal standards, such as a warrant or a less-strict subpoena. The result is unclear or inconsistent legal standards from town to town that frequently fall short of probable cause.

The government should have to get a warrant before tracking cell phones. That is what is necessary to protect Americans’ privacy, and it is also what is required under the Constitution.

The fact that some law enforcement agencies do get warrants shows that a probable cause requirement is a completely reasonable and workable policy, allowing police to protect both public safety and privacy.

Last August, in an unprecedented effort to penetrate the secrecy around the policies, 35 ACLU affiliates around the country filed over 380 requests under states’ freedom of information laws. The ACLU asked state and local law enforcement agencies about their policies, procedures and practices for tracking cell phones. An in-depth summary of what we found, with links to documents, is here.

The responses varied widely, and many agencies did not respond at all. The documents included statements of policy, memos, police requests to cell phone companies (sometimes in the form of a subpoena or warrant), and invoices and manuals from cell phone companies explaining their procedures and prices for turning over location data. There’s a map with links to the documents and requests state-by-state here.

The documents provide an eye-opening view of police surveillance of Americans. In Wilson County, N.C., police obtain cell phone tracking data where it is “relevant and material” to an ongoing investigation – a standard much lower than probable cause. Police in Lincoln, Neb., without demonstrating probable cause, obtain even GPS location data, which is more precise than cell tower location information. In Tucson, Ariz., police sometimes obtain cell phones numbers for all of the phones at a particular location at a certain time (this practice is known as a “tower dump”).

The U.S. Supreme Court in January held in U.S. v. Jones that prolonged location tracking is a search under the Fourth Amendment, but the effects of that ruling on law enforcement have yet to be seen.

The ACLU supports bipartisan legislation currently pending in both the House of Representatives and the Senate that would address this problem called the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act. It would require law enforcement officers to obtain a warrant to access location information from cell phones or GPS devices. It would also mandate that private telecommunications companies obtain their customers’ consent before collecting location data. At least 11 state legislatures are also considering bills related to location tracking.Technology is evolving quickly, and often to the detriment of privacy. How much privacy Americans enjoy is a choice that ultimately is ours as a society to make.

Tell Congress: Support the GPS Act!
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April 1, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | 3 Comments