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Canada: An alleged democracy

| May 7, 2012 

Made with publicly available footage from spring 2012, mostly in Montreal.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Video | Comments Off on Canada: An alleged democracy

Italy’s army may interfere against violent protests over economic woes

Press TV – May 14, 2012

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has pointed to the possibility of calling in the army to deal with the violent protests in the country over the government’s economic policies.

Monti raised alert levels on Sunday at some sensitive sites across Italy to handle the recent violence that has hit the country.

Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri also said on Sunday that she was considering bringing in the army to defend certain locations.

“There have been several attacks on the offices of Equitalia (the agency handling tax collections) in recent weeks. I want to remind people that attacking Equitalia is the equivalent of attacking the State,” she said.

“The army could be used to guard buildings which could be the target of violent protest. The danger of an escalation exists. It’s a situation which demands drastic action,” she added.

On Saturday, two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the offices of Equitalia in Livorno, Tuscany, and severely damaged the front of the building after they blew off. Moreover, a letter bomb, which did not blast, was sent to the organization’s offices in Rome on Friday.

Earlier this month, a senior executive of state-controlled nuclear engineering group Ansaldo Nucleare was shot in the leg, with an Italian rebel group claiming responsibility for the attack.

Italy has faced a fresh wave of attacks in the last six months since Monti took office as prime minister and introduced a harsh austerity package to save the country from bankruptcy. The three-year austerity and growth package includes budget cuts, pension reforms as well as tax hikes worth 30 billion euros.

Italy, one of the biggest eurozone economies, fell into recession after its economy contracted by 0.2 percent in the third quarter and by 0.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The Italian government has been urged to implement economic reforms and budget cuts to reassure investors concerned about the country’s debt.

Italy’s debt ratio in the eurozone is second only to Greece.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism | , , | Comments Off on Italy’s army may interfere against violent protests over economic woes

A failure to indict killer police

Don Lash | SocialistWorker | May 14, 2012
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. (second from right) listens as lawyers discuss why the officers who killed his father won't be charged
Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. (second from right) listens as lawyers discuss why the officers who killed his father won’t be charged

THE DECISION of a grand jury in Westchester County, New York, to not indict any police officers in the shooting death of Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. has sparked anger and outrage from Chamberlain’s family and others seeking justice.

Chamberlain, a 68-year-old former Marine and prison guard, was Tasered and then shot with bean bags and live bullets after police burst into his apartment in White Plains, N.Y., outside New York City, on November 19, 2011.

The police who came to Chamberlain’s apartment in a White Plains housing project at 5 a.m. weren’t responding to reports of a crime in progress, but a possible medical problem, after Chamberlain set off a Life Alert pendant, probably by accident in his sleep. A recording by the medical device in his home captured the horrific crime that was to follow.

Despite the fact that Chamberlain told police he was fine, and the Life Alert company also reported the false alarm, police demanded to enter the apartment. When Chamberlain said through the closed door that he was okay, one officer responded, “We don’t give a fuck.” Another officer can be heard referring to Chamberlain as a “nigger” and making a mocking reference to his Marine service.

Police then took Chamberlain’s door off the hinges. They claim he threatened them with a knife before they attacked. Chamberlain’s family disputes this, saying that video taken after the door was removed shows Chamberlain standing inside his apartment, wearing only boxer shorts, with his arms at his side and his hands empty.

The outrage sparked by the police killing of Chamberlain grew, especially in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin, along with several other cases of police killings in New York and elsewhere. Chamberlain’s family refuses to quietly accept his killing, speaking out instead to the media, and with an online petition demanding justice that has garnered thousands of signatures.

Finally, last month, it was announced that a grand jury would convene to consider bringing charges against the officers in the case.

~

THE HOPE of getting justice for the murder of Kenneth Chamberlain was short-lived, however.

On May 3, 2012, a grand jury in Westchester County, New York, voted not to indict any police officers in the shooting. In announcing the decision , Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore presented it as the result of an independent review of the evidence.

But grand jury proceedings are completely secret and controlled by the prosecutor, so the failure to indict almost always means the DA didn’t want an indictment. The fact that DiFiore waited months to convene a grand jury, and reluctantly did so only after the Chamberlain family generated media attention about the shooting, suggests where her sympathies lie.

In addition, she refused to reveal the name of the shooter, and confirmed his identity only after newspaper reporters discovered it was Officer Anthony Carelli. Carelli is currently being sued by two Jordanian immigrants claiming that he and other officers beat them with batons while they were handcuffed to a pole. They claim Carelli referred to them as “ragheads.”

Additionally, police initially shielded the identity of another officer, who is heard on the tape, yelling at Kenneth Chamberlain, “We have to talk, nigger!” Eventually, lawyers for the Chamberlain family revealed that officer to be Officer Steven Hart. Hart is also being sued in federal court by a Hispanic bank manager who claims Hart beat him during an arrest.

The Chamberlain family has stated that it will not accept the results of the grand jury process, and is pressing on with a civil suit and demands for a federal investigation.

After a service at Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church during which Rev. Calvin Butts compared the Chamberlain killing to those of Trayvon Martin and Ramarley Graham, Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. said, “My father is not here anymore… I refuse to mourn him until there is some justice for my father. And when I say that, I mean indictments. Criminal indictments.”

The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which includes Westchester County, has agreed to review the case.

Kenneth Chamberlain’s death is not the only case of this kind of gross injustice in Westchester County. In 2008, a 23-year old Black man name Christopher Ridley, an off-duty Mount Vernon cop, was shot and killed by a white officer as he tried to break up a fight on the street. Ridley’s family alleges in a pending lawsuit that DiFiore participated in a cover-up and engineered a grand jury decision not to issue indictments in the case.

Then, in 2010, a 20-year old unarmed Black college student name Danroy Henry was fatally shot in his car by a police officer who claimed the young man was trying to run him over as he fled. The police version is disputed by eyewitnesses, who say that Henry never tried to flee, and was attempting to comply with a police directive to move his car from a fire lane when he was shot.

Remarkably, Henry was bleeding to death in handcuffs while an ambulance crew prioritized an officer’s minor leg injury, prompting a classmate of Henry’s to step in and administer chest compressions in an attempt to keep him alive. Henry’s family urged the appointment of an independent prosecutor to take the investigation away from DiFiore.

~

THE EVIDENCE in the Chamberlain case has now been made public, including a series of four calls from the medical alert company. It clearly shows that police unnecessarily escalated the situation leading to Chamberlain’s death.

In the second call, the company dispatcher tells a police dispatcher that the company has made contact with Chamberlain and confirmed he is okay. The company dispatcher attempts to cancel the emergency call, but the police dispatcher says police want to enter Mr. Chamberlain’s home anyway.

In a third call, the medical dispatcher attempts to patch Kenneth Chamberlain’s sister through to police, but the police dispatcher dismisses her offer by saying they don’t want to “mediate.”

In a fourth, the medical company dispatcher again attempts to relate an offer to have Chamberlain’s son called to help deescalate the police confrontation. Eventually, the dispatcher takes a phone number for Chamberlain’s sister, but apparently never made contact.

Police and local news accounts have highlighted Chamberlain’s angry refusal to allow the police entry into his home, and the fact that he had consumed alcohol in his home. Left unexplained, however, is why police were so intent on gaining entry even when they were aware that the call was a false alarm.

Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. had committed no crime, and police had no warrant or probable cause to believe that a crime was in progress. While they have characterized him as “delusional” and “emotionally disturbed,” police have not explained why pounding on his door in an effort to force entry, mocking his military service and calling him “nigger” were the best tactics to gain control of the situation–or why they repeatedly spurned offers of help from his family.

In one of the chilling recordings, immediately before the door is taken off its hinges, Chamberlain announced that police were about to break down his door and do him harm. As it turns out, this is the most accurate testimony on the encounter available.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Comments Off on A failure to indict killer police

Nakba Law in action: Students must pay expenses for ceremony

By Noam Sheizaf | +972 | May 13 2012

A little over a year ago, the Israeli Knesset passed the Nakba Law, stating that institutions who receive state funding are not to permit any commemoration of the Palestinian catastrophe in 1948. During Israel’s War of Independence, 80 percent of the Arab population in what later became the State of Israel was displaced. Some of the Palestinians fled battle grounds, others were forcefully removed. None were allowed back, and their property was confiscated by the State of Israel. Palestinians mark their national catastrophe on May 15, the day following Israel’s declaration of independence.

A couple of years ago, the Knesset passed a bill aimed at limiting the discussion and commemoration of the Nakba entirely. The original bill ordered any person organizing a ceremony in memory of the Nakba to face criminal charges and a prison term of up to three years. The Knesset ended up passing a softer version of the bill, stating that any institution – even a Palestinian one – could lose state funding if it was to sponsor a Nakba-related event.

Tel Aviv University has permitted a Nakba memorial ceremony planned by Jewish and Palestinian students, but ordered it to take place just outside the university gates, in the main plaza. The university also forced the students to pay for the security expenses of the ceremony, contrary to the practice in all other events organized by students within the campus. The university cited the Nakba Law as the reason for this decision.

Haaretz reported today that Israel’s Minister of Education, Gidon Saar, urged Tel Aviv University to cancel the event altogether.

Needless to say, these developments cast a shadow on Israel’s self-perception as a democracy even within the Green Line. When mentioning an historical event at an academic institution is outlawed, one wonders what is truly left of freedom of speech.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Nakba Law in action: Students must pay expenses for ceremony

Israel arrests 800,000 Palestinians since 1948

Petra | May 12, 2012

Gaza – Israel has arrested and imprisoned around 800,000 Palestinians since 1948 including children, according to Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs Abdul Nasser Farwaneh.

He added in a statistical report released today that the Israeli occupation forces adopted the policy of arrest on a daily basis to humiliate Palestinians, noting that Israel used some of them as human shields and executed many of them.

The Director of Palestinian Statistics Department said the period between 1948-1967 was the worst for Palestinian and Arab prisoners as there were random arrests and collective detention.

The Palestinians prisoners had been exposed to severe torture and abuse as they were deprived of minimum rights guaranteed to prisoners of war and conflicts by international conventions.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Comments Off on Israel arrests 800,000 Palestinians since 1948

Punished over Iran: South Africa Petrol under Threat

By Iqbal Jassat | Palestine Chronicle | May 13, 2012

Pretoria – Amidst reports that pro-Israeli lobbies in the United States have secured an assurance from the Obama administration to relentlessly pursue countries seen to be wavering in their compliance with rigorous sanctions on Iran, South Africa has been singled out for punishment. Though largely under-reported in the local media, pressure is building on the ANC-led government to immediately suspend its economic ties with Iran or risk being barred from the US economy.

While there were initial signs of panic with different government departments giving contradictory statements on this highly contentious US demand to shut off the country’s petroleum lifeline from the Islamic Republic, very little is currently known about South Africa’s ultimate decision as the deadline grows closer. However, a recent statement issued by the South African Petroleum Industry Association [PIA] gives a clue of frantic behind-the-scenes talks. Claiming that it sought to expedite requests to the United States for a postponement and temporary exemption from the sanctions, it also clearly alludes to political pressure.

PIA Executive Director Avhapfani Tshifularo is reported to have said: “This is not a business decision for us. It involves a political decision about political pressure”. Following the initial flurry of uncertainty as to whether the SA government had succumbed to demands made by clandestine visits by senior US Treasury Department officials, it now appears that a formal decision by the Zuma Cabinet has yet to be made.

What may have irked Israeli lobbyists in America is that South Africa’s crude oil imports from Iran have increased to $434.8 million in March from $364 million in February. Instead of a reduction, imports from the Islamic Republic represent 32% of the country’s total crude oil supplies, suggesting that the ANC-led government is reluctant to have America dictate its economic policy.

While these figures project a country unwilling to disrupt its trade with a stable reliable source such as Iran, it is aware of the enormous power possessed by Israeli-lobbies that in effect have manipulated US domestic and foreign policies. It certainly would be aware that the push for war on Iran is high on the agenda of these lobbies and that  unilaterally imposed sanctions by the US therefore cannot be treated lightly.

While this conundrum confronts decision makers in Pretoria, it is equally intriguing that the European Union has called on South Africa for funding to bolster the banking systems of some EU member states on the brink of collapse. Commenting on this, the convener of UCT’s Applied Economics for Smart Decision Making course Pierre Heistein, said that there is something inherently perverse about this situation.

He explains that looking for $400 billion to prevent the collapse of a few EU member economies causing the others to fold like a pack of cards, the International Monetary Fund [IMF] has turned to Brics for aid after the US and Canada refused to contribute. It appears that Brics economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have between them agreed to provide funding to the tune of $72bn, though exact individual amounts will only be released next month, according to Heistein.

He speculates that South Africa’s proportionate share of the Brics amount could amount to R16bn. Though not a “crippling sum of money” it could increase spending on economic infrastructure by as much as 10 percent or lift health and education by 5 percent. “But does it make sense that a country as poor as South Africa should be contributing funds to traditionally wealthy European states? Consider that in order for South African farmers to export to Spain they have to compete with annual farming subsidies amounting to more than E7 billion [R72.7bn] and now Spain is calling for South Africa’s financial aid”, is the all important question posed by Heistein.

This question alongside others including whether President Zuma and his cabinet will succumb to Washington’s blackmail ought to feature in the national discourse related to socio-economic challenges. Global disparities as they exist in both political and economic spheres make it imperative for emerging economies to jealously guard their capacity to grow. This means that they must shun foreign interference especially if such meddling undermines job creation and service delivery.

While the IMF’s stretched hand may provide South Africa [a means] to enhance its leverage within this seat of power, it may be short-lived if American pressure becomes more ruthless to force it to abandon Iran. Unfortunately, the current malaise in which the ANC finds itself – both as a formidable political formation and as the de facto government, may not allow it to snub either the US or the IMF. After all such firmness of principle requires a strong moral underpinning.

Iqbal Jassat is an executive member of the advocacy group, the Media Review Network.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Punished over Iran: South Africa Petrol under Threat

Hunger-striking detainees sign deal with prison authority

Ma’an – 14/05/2012

BETHLEHEM – Detainees on Monday signed a deal with the Israeli prison authority to end their mass hunger strike, officials told Ma’an.

Prisoner representatives from each of the factions agreed to the deal in Ashkelon jail, prisoners society chief Qaddura Fares said in a statement.

Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet confirmed the deal, the Israeli news site Ynet reported.

Terms

Senior Hamas official Saleh Arouri, who was a member of the negotiations team, said Israel agreed to provide a list of accusations to administrative detainees, or release them at the end of their term.

In comments to the Hamas-affiliated new site Palestine Information Center, he said that under the Egypt-brokered deal Israel agreed to release all detainees from solitary confinement over the next 72 hours.

Israel will also lift a ban on family visits for detainees from the Gaza Strip, and revoke the “Shalit law,” according to the official.

The “Shalit law” restricted prisoners’ access to families and to educational materials as punishment for the five-year captivity of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Shalit was freed in October in a prisoner swap agreement.

All or nothing

Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Ma’an that all prisoners must end the hunger strike within 72 hours, and not later refuse food, for the deal to hold.

Around 2,000 prisoners joined a mass hunger strike launched on April 17 to demand fair prison conditions, according to prisoners groups’ estimates.

Another group of prisoners held in administrative detention launched an earlier strike in protest at their detention without charge, including Bilal Diab, 27, and Thaer Halahla, 33, who have gone for 77 days without food.

Their lawyer Jamil Khatib told Ma’an that Diab and Halahla were informed of the deal earlier Monday. They were told the agreement includes their release at the end of their detention term but both refused to stop their strike unless they were immediately released, Khatib said.

On Monday evening, a relative of Halahla said the long-term hunger-strikers were still deciding on next steps. Prisoners society lawyer Jawad Bulous is heading to the prison hospitals to discuss the deal with hunger-strikers, minister Issa Qaraqe told reporters.

Power of non-violence

PLO official Hanan Ashrawi applauded the deal and said it proved the power of non-violent resistance.

“The Palestinian prisoners in facing the Israeli Prison Authority is a victory not only for them and their families, but also for the millions of Palestinians living in the occupied Palestinian territory and in exile,” Ashrawi said in a statement.

“The hunger strikers’ courage is magnificently inspiring, and their selflessness deeply humbling,” the official added.

She also thanked Egyptian mediators, the international community “and people of conscience worldwide” for supporting the strikers.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Hunger-striking detainees sign deal with prison authority

What’s NATO Ever Done?

A Global Crime Spree

By JOHN LaFORGE | CounterPunch | May 14, 2012

Wondering why anyone would confront NATO’s summit in Chicago this month? A look at some of its more well-known crimes might spark some indignation.

Desecration of corpses, indiscriminate attacks, bombing of allied troops, torture of prisoners and unaccountable drone war are a few of NATO’s outrages in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere. On March 20, 2012 Pakistani lawmakers demanded an end to all NATO/CIA drone strikes against their territory. As reported in The New York Times, Pakistan’s foreign secretary Jalil Jilani said April 26, 2012, “We consider drones illegal, counter-productive and accordingly, unacceptable.” On May 31 last year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai gave what he called his “last” warning against NATO’s bombing of Afghani homes, saying “If they continue their attacks on our houses … history shows what Afghans do with trespassers and with occupiers.”

While bombing Libya last March, NATO refused to aid a group of 72 migrants adrift in the Mediterranean. Only nine people on board survived. The refusal was condemned as criminal by the Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog.

NATO jets bombed and rocketed a Pakistani military base for two hours Nov. 26, 2011—the Salala Incident— killing 26 Pakistani soldiers and wounding dozens more. NATO refuses to apologize, so the Pakistani regime has kept military supply routes into Afghanistan closed since November.

The British medical journal Lancet reported that the US-led unprovoked 2003 bombing, invasion and military take-over of Iraq—which NATO officially joined in 2004 in a ‘training’ capacity—had resulted in over 665,000 civilian deaths by 2006, and 200,000 in the UN-authorized, 1991 Desert Storm massacre led primarily by the US with several NATO allies.

On April 12, 1999, NATO attacked the railway bridge over the Grdelica Gorge and Juzna Morava River with two laser-guided bombs. At the time, a five-car civilian passenger train was crossing the bridge and was hit by both bombs. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused NATO of violating binding laws that require distinction, discrimination and proportionality.

NATO rocketed the central studio of Radio Televisija Srbije (TRS) in Belgrade, the state-owned broadcasting corporation, on April 23, 1999 during the Kosovo war. Sixteen civilian employees of RTS were killed and 16 wounded when NATO destroyed the building. Amnesty Int’l reported that the building could not be considered military, that NATO had violated the prohibition on attacking civilian objects and had therefore committed a war crime.

Headlines chronicle NATO’s crime spree 

“U.S. troops posed with body parts of Afghan bombers.” Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2012

“Drones At Issue…: Raids Disrupt Militants, but Civilian Deaths Stir Outrage.” New York Times, March 18, 2012

“G.I. Kills 16 Afghans, Including 9 Children In Attacks on Homes.” New York Times, March 12, 2012

“NATO Admits Airstrike Killed 8 Young Afghans, but Contends They Were Armed.” New York Times, Feb. 16, 2012

“Informer Misled NATO in Airstrike That Killed 8 Civilians, Afghans Say.” (Seven shepherd boys under 14.) New York Times, Feb. 10, 2012

“Video [of U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters] Inflames a Delicate Moment for U.S. in Afghanistan.” New York Times, Jan. 12, 2012

“Commission alleges U.S. detainee abuse.” Minneapolis StarTribune, Jan. 8, 2012

“Six Children Are Killed by NATO Airstrike in Afghanistan.” New York Times, Nov. 25, 2011

“American Soldier Is Convicted of Killing Afghan Civilians for Sport.” New York Times, Nov. 11, 2011

“Pakistan: U.S. Drone Strike Kills Brother of a Taliban Commander.” New York Times, Oct. 28, 2011

“Afghanistan officials ‘systematically tortured’ detainees, UN report says.” Guardian, & BBC Oct. 10; Washington Post, Oct. 11, 2011

“G.I. Killed Afghan Journalist, NATO Says.” New York Times, Sept. 9, 2011

“Cable Implicates Americans in Deaths of Iraqi Civilians.” New York Times, Sept. 2, 2011

“Civilians Die in a Raid by Americans and Iraqis.” New York Times, Aug. 7, 2011

“NATO Strikes Libyan State TV Transmitters.” New York Times, July 31, 2011

“NATO admits raid probably killed nine in Tripoli.” St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 20, 2011

“U.S. Expands Its Drone War to Take On Somali Militants.” New York Times, July 2, 2011

“NATO airstrike blamed in 14 civilian deaths.” St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 30, 2011

“Libya Effort Is Called Violation of War Act.” New York Times, May 26, 2011

“Raid on Wrong House Kills Afghan Girl, 12.” New York Times, May 12, 2011

“Yemen: 2 Killed in Missile Strike.” Associated Press, May 5, 2011

“NATO Accused of Going Too Far With Libya Strikes.” New York Times, May 2, 2011

“Disposal of Bin Laden’s remains violated Islamic principles, clerics say.” Associated Press, May 2, 2011

“Photos of atrocities seen as threat to Afghan relations.” St. Paul Pioneer Press, March 22, 2011

“Missiles Kill 26 in Pakistan” (“most of them civilians”) New York Times, March 18, 2011

“Afgans Say NATO Troops Killed 8 Civilians in Raid.” New York Times, Aug. 24, 2010 

“A dozen or more” Afghan civilians were killed during a nighttime raid August 5, 2010 in eastern Afghanistan, NATO’s officers said. Chicago Tribune, Aug. 6, 2010

“Afghans Say Attack Killed 52 Civilians; NATO Differs.” New York Times, July 27, 2010

In June 2008, NATO bombers attacked a Pakistani paramilitary force called the Frontier Corps killing 11 of its soldiers. New York Times, Nov. 27, 2011

“Afghans Die in Bombing, As Toll Rises for Civilians.” New York Times, May 3, 2010

John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog and anti-war group in Wisconsin and edits its Quarterly.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

AIPAC Resolution Demanding War With Iran On House Floor Tomorrow

M J Rosenburg | May 14 2012

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives is slated to vote on a resolution designed to tie the president’s hands on Iran policy. The resolution, which is coming up under an expedited House procedure, was the centerpiece of AIPAC’s recent conference. In fact, 13,000 AIPAC delegates were dispatched to Capitol Hill, on the last day of the conference, with instructions to tell the senators and representatives whom they met that supporting this resolution was #1 on AIPAC’s election year agenda.

Accordingly, it is not particularly surprising that the resolution is being rushed to the House floor for a vote, nor that it is expected to pass with very little opposition. Those voting “no” on this one will pay a price in campaign contributions (the ones they won’t receive) and, very likely, will be smeared as “anti-Israel.” That is how it works.

Most of the language in H. Res.568 is unremarkable, the usual boilerplate (some of it factual) denouncing the Islamic Republic of Iran as a “state sponsor of terrorism” that is on the road to nuclear weapons capability.

The resolution’s overarching message is that Iran must be deterred from developing weapons, a position the White House (and our allies share). That is why the sanctions regime is in place and also why negotiations with Iran have resumed (the next session is May 23).

But the resolution does not stop with urging the president to use his authority to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. If it did, the resolution would be uncontroversial.

But there is also this: The House “urges the President to reaffirm the unacceptability of an Iran with nuclear-weapons capability and opposition to any policy that would rely on containment as an option in response to the Iranian nuclear threat.”

Think about that.

The resolution, which almost surely will pass on Tuesday, is telling the president that he may not “rely on containment” in response to “the Iranian nuclear threat.”

Since the resolution, and U.S. policy itself defines Iranian possession of nuclear weapons as, ipso facto, a threat, Congress would be telling the president that any U.S. response to that threat other than war is unacceptable. In fact, it goes farther than that, not only ruling out containment of a nuclear armed Iran but also containment of an Iran that has a “nuclear weapons capability.”

That means that the only acceptable response to a nuclear armed or nuclear capable Iran is not containment but its opposite: war.

Any doubt that this is the intention of the backers of this approach was removed back in March, when the Senate was considering new Iran sanctions. Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Bob Casey (D-PA) offered their own “no containment” language to the sanctions bill and the Senate moved to quickly to accept it.

However, amending a bill once it is already on the Senate floor requires unanimous consent and one, and only one, senator objected. Rand Paul (R-KY) said that he would oppose the containment clause unless a provision was added specifying that “nothing in the Act shall be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization of the use of force against Iran…”

That did it.

Neither the Democratic or Republican leadership would accept that (knowing that AIPAC wouldn’t) and Paul’s objection killed the bill, for the time being. In other words, the purpose of “no containment” language is precisely to make war virtually automatic. Because Paul’s provision would thwart that goal, it was unacceptable.

So now it’s the House’s turn.

On the substance, the “no containment” idea is absurd and reckless.

Imagine if President Kennedy had been told by the Congress back in 1962 that if the Soviet Union placed missiles in Cuba, he would have no choice but to attack Cuba or the USSR. If it had, it is likely none of us would be around today.

Presidents need latitude to make decisions affecting matters of national security and, until now, all presidents have been afforded it, as provided for in the United States Constitution. But, in the case of Iran, the cheerleaders for war are trying to change the rules. They are doing that because they understand that after almost a decade of war, the last thing Americans want is another one.

No president is going to ask Congress to declare war, or even to authorize it. Making war against Iran automatic would eliminate that problem. (That is precisely Sen. Paul’s objection; he believes that backing into war is unconstitutional. He recalls the Gulf of Tonkin resolution of 1964 which led to ten years of war in Vietnam and 50,000 American dead without a declaration of war or even a specific authorization for war).

So why would the House vote for a resolution like this? The main reason is AIPAC. It may be the only lobby pushing for war with Iran but it also, by far, the most powerful foreign policy lobby and also the one that sees to it that those who play ball with it are rewarded and those who don’t are punished. AIPAC has been pushing war with Iran for a decade; it won’t stop until the missiles fly. 

The other reason is that the resolution is non-binding. Voting for it is good politics but does not affect policy.

Believing that is a mistake. An overwhelming vote for “no containment” may not tie the president’s hands legally, but it does go a long way to tying his hands politically. After all, Congress will be expressing its clear (bipartisan) intent. A president cannot easily ignore that.

Moreover, the lobby is unlikely to stop with a non-binding resolution. Once the House and Senate have passed that, the lobby will look for an opportunity to make it binding. The goal is to take the president’s discretion away from him because this president is unlikely to choose war when there are other options available.

It is those options that the lobby is determined to block. It remains hell-bent for war.

POSTSCRIPT: It can’t hurt to call your House member at 202 225 3131 to tell him that you know about the vote on the AIPAC resolution and will be watching.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 4 Comments

U.S. Sides With Israel’s Nukes Over Iran’s Lack Thereof

By Russ Wellen | FPIF | May 14, 2012

In the Hindu on May 8, we catch Hillary Clinton putting too fine a distinction on the Israel-Iran rivalry.

Drawing a distinction between Iran, which has violated provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and Israel, which hasn’t signed it, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said here on Monday that the latter has “made numerous overtures to try to have a peaceful resolution” to the situation in the Middle-East.

Of course, logic dictates that an overriding distinction be drawn between a state with an unacknowledged nuclear-weapons program that never signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and one with not only no nukes, but no development program and that has signed the NPT, with no evidence of substantive violations. Secretary of State Clinton, however, attempts to suggest that Israel’s other virtues more than compensate for an illegal nuclear arms program (not that we believe, according to international law, that any nuclear program is exactly legal). First, she claims that Israel “‘has made numerous overtures to try to have a peaceful resolution’ to the situation in the Middle-East.”

It’s unclear about what Ms. Clinton is speaking: Iran or the Palestinian people? Conflating the two is shoddy thinking, especially for a top official. In any event, are Israel’s overtures more numerous — or genuine — than Iran’s or Palestine’s? We’ll leave it to Middle-East experts to divvy them up. But that’s not Ms. Clinton’s only defense for favoring Israel over Iran on the issue of nuclear weapons.

Responding to a question on the U.S. pressing for sanctions on Iran on account of its nuclear programme, while taking no action against Israel, which is in violation of several United Nations resolutions, apart from not being a signatory to the NPT, Ms. Clinton quipped: “Well, I don’t think we have convinced India to sign the NPT either.”

At the risk of being childish, we feel compelled to point out that two wrongs don’t make a right. Then, along with siding with more than one country in the nuclear wrong, she adds to her list of countries that, like Iran, she believe are deserving of blame.

“It isn’t the only country causing worry. We worry regarding nuclear weapons proliferating in some other countries,” Ms. Clinton said, adding that the biggest fear was that nuclear weapons may fall into the wrong hands.

Then Ms. Clinton pulls out the “state sponsor of terrorism” card.

At this moment in time, the “principal threat is a nuclear-armed Iran,” she said, alleging that the country was a “state sponsor of terrorism.” She cited the recent attack on Israeli diplomats in Delhi, and a plot to kill the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. — both allegedly planned by the Iranian government — as examples.

In the end, Ms. Clinton seems to be resorting to the unspoken rationality index that Washington uses to rate states. By that calculation, Iran not only scores low because it is a “state sponsor of terrorism,” but because its motivations may be apocalyptic. But this is the height of disingenuousness on the part of Washington, which knows very well that Iran’s policies are as realist, or more so, than other states.

Meanwhile, it’s as if, by refraining from using its illegal nuclear weapons, Israel has demonstrated its rationality to Washington … thus providing yet another reason for a state that aspires to nuclear weapons to act on its aspiration.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Weekend’s Extravaganza of Crapoganda on Iran’s Nuclear Program

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | May 14, 2012

Two news reports by major wire services this weekend demonstrate just how pervasive misinformation and propaganda are in the mainstream media when it comes to the Iranian nuclear issue.

The first:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reuters reported this week that Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and chief nuclear negotiator for the P5+1, has high hopes for the new round of talks with Iran resuming May 23rd in Baghdad and will approach the meeting as a “serious set of discussions that can lead to concrete results.”

Sounds positive enough, especially when coupled with the statement Ashton made at the end of last month’s meeting in Istanbul. “We have agreed that the Non-Proliferation Treaty forms a key basis for what must be serious engagement, to ensure all the obligations under the NPT are met by Iran while fully respecting Iran’s right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”

However, another comment made by Ashton on Friday is cause for considerable concern. She told reporters in Brussels, “My ambition is that we come away with the beginning of the end of the nuclear weapons programme in Iran. I hope we’ll see the beginnings of success.”

Such a statement is certainly alarming. Despite the hysterical cries of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing acolytes here in the U.S., both Western and Israeli intelligence, along with the IAEA, have consistently confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapons program.

One would assume that the chief P5+1 negotiator would understand and acknowledge this simple – and vitally important – fact. Perhaps Ashton’s recent private audience with Netanyahu in Jerusalem was more dangerous and detrimental to the negotiations than one would even expect.

(Of course, the sheer absurdity of Ashton’s meeting with the Prime Minister of a state that is not a signatory of the NPT, has an undeclared stockpile of hundreds of nuclear warheads, is a constant violator of international law and perpetrator of war crimes, and which is in consistent breach of countless Security Council resolutions gos without saying. That Netanyahu would have any role whatsoever in these discussions, let alone issuing demands to both the U.S. government and Ashton herself, proves beyond a shadow of a doubt how designed for failure these negotiations were from the start.)

The second:

In one of the most embarrassing examples of published propaganda over the Iranian nuclear program to date, The Associated Press today “reported” that it has obtained an undated “computer-generated drawing” of “an explosives containment chamber of the type needed for nuclear arms-related tests that U.N. inspectors suspect Tehran has conducted” at its Parchin military complex.  The news agency says it was bequeathed this rendering “by an official of a country tracking Iran’s nuclear program who said it proves the structure exists.”

One version of the AP exclusive contains this detail:

That official said the image is based on information from a person who had seen the chamber at the Parchin military site, adding that going into detail would endanger the life of that informant. The official comes from an IAEA member country that is severely critical of Iran’s assertions that its nuclear activities are peaceful and asserts they are a springboard for making atomic arms.

What mysterious country could that possibly be, one wonders?!  The answer is so painfully obvious as to make AP scoopster George Jahn’s attempts at anonymity patently ridiculous and pathetic.  Jahn, unsurprisingly, has a long history of silly reporting on the Iran nuclear issue.

This detonation chamber stuff, by the way, has been debunked for half a year now.

The story also notes that former IAEA official Olli Heinonen, who himself has a long history of pushing dubious information about Iran’s nuclear file, said that the computer graphic provided to the press is “‘very similar’ to a photo he recently saw that he believes to be the pressure chamber the IAEA suspects is at Parchin.”  Heinonen added that “even the colors of the computer-generated drawing matched that of the photo.”

Pretty convincing, huh?  Ok, here‘s the computer drawing this whole thing is about:


Yes, really.

That’s it.  Really.  No, please stop laughing and believe me.  That’s really the thing they’re talking about.  Yes, seriously.  I mean it.

These are the depths to which propaganda about the Iranian nuclear program have sunk.  It’s not even clever anymore, it’s just stupid.

Just in case anyone is interested, I have successfully uncovered the true identities of the crack Israeli computer graphics team that came up with that drawing:

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on This Weekend’s Extravaganza of Crapoganda on Iran’s Nuclear Program

Terrorist groups kill 23 Syrian soldiers in Rastan

Press TV – May 14, 2012

Terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government have killed 23 more security forces in the northern city of Rastan, opposition activists reported.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, dozens of others were also injured in the early morning violence on the outskirts of Rastan, in the crisis-hit Homs Province, on Monday.

Three troop carriers were also destroyed in the fighting, the group added.

Armed groups also killed two officers in the capital, Damascus, and southern city of Dara’a, Syrian official news agency SANA reported.

The latest round of violence comes despite a ceasefire declared by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan a month ago.

There are currently 189 UN observers in Syria to monitor the truce, some two-thirds of the total intended for deployment as part of a six-point peace plan brokered by Annan.

Meanwhile, the European Union has imposed fresh sanctions on Syria in a bid to increase pressure on the government, which includes an assets freeze and visa ban on two companies and three pro-government figures. It is the 15th round of EU sanctions against Damascus since the beginning of unrest in the country.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011 and many people, including security forces, have been killed in the unrest.

While the West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of the killings, Damascus blames ”outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups” for the unrest, insisting that it is being orchestrated from abroad.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment