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Hanford nuclear waste tanks at risk of explosion

RT | April 03, 2013

US residents near the Hanford Nuclear Reservation may be in grave danger: a nuclear safety board found that the underground tanks holding toxic, radioactive waste could explode at any minute, due to a dangerous buildup of hydrogen gas.

After Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) asked the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DFNSB) about the risks posed by the nuclear site, board members relayed their concerns about the potential for hydrogen gas buildup within the walls of a tank – particularly those with double walls.

“All the double-shell tanks contain waste that continuously generates some flammable gas,” the board said in a letter received by Wyden on Monday. “This gas will eventually reach flammable conditions if adequate ventilation is not provided.”

The safety board had previously issued a warning about their concerns, which have not yet been addressed. In September, the board sent a letter to the Department of Energy, claiming that there were no adequate safeguards to protect against the buildup of flammable gasses inside Hanford’s waste storage tanks. The letter, which outlines the concerns shared with Sen. Wyden on Monday, was declassified on Tuesday.

If the tanks were to explode, there would be flammable releases that would “have considerable radiological consequences, endanger personnel, contaminate portions of the Tank Farms, and seriously disrupt the waste cleanup mission,” the previously classified DFNSB report states.

Hanford’s double-shelled tanks contain some of the deadliest mixtures of nuclear and chemical waste left over from World War II and Cold War-era plutonium production. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation has been a serious cause of concern, since six of the facility’s tanks were found to be leaking about 1,000 gallons of nuclear waste each year. The Department of Energy discovered the leaks years ago, but has failed to address the problem.

Last September, the safety board recommended that state and federal officials more closely monitor the tanks and increase ventilation. Federal officials have allegedly taken those recommendations into consideration and are working on a plan to address the board’s concerns, the Associated Press reports.

But despite continuous problems and public health risks associated with the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, construction of a waste treatment plant has been delayed. Such a plant would make the toxic chemicals safe for long-term disposal and would be crucial in preventing all of the radioactive waste from leaking into the ground.

The DFNSB hopes that discussing the very real possibility of an explosion will alarm Department of Energy officials and prompt them to take action. The Hanford site currently holds 56 million gallons of radioactive toxic waste that is  leaking into the soil. Wyden, who chairs the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee, believes there is no time to waste in regards to the cleanup process.

“The next Secretary of Energy – Dr. Moniz – needs to understand that a major part of his job is going to be to get the Hanford cleanup back on track, and I plan to stress that at his confirmation hearing next week,” Wyden said in a statement Tuesday.

The US government spends about $2 billion each year cleaning up the waste generated by the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, about one third of which goes towards the flawed design and construction of the plant. The $2 billion also makes up about one third of the federal government’s nuclear cleanup budget, and costs are only expected to rise.

Although the DFNSB and Sen. Wyden have long been emphasizing the risks created by the plant, the Department of Energy has long failed to acknowledge the severity of the problem. And after the latest warnings about the very possible risk of a nuclear explosion, the department countered the report.

“All DSTs are actively ventilated, which means they have blowers and fans to prevent hydrogen gas build-up,” the Department of Energy said in a statement. “These ventilation systems are monitored to ensure they are operating as intended.”

Wyden said he plans to ask tough questions during Moniz’s confirmation hearing regarding the future of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism | , , , , , | Comments Off on Hanford nuclear waste tanks at risk of explosion

Hotel completely engulfed by fire in Chechnya fails to collapse into it’s footprint

RT | April 3, 2013

Flames have enveloped all floors of the highest building in the North Caucasus, southern Russia. All people have managed to leave the building. The Grozny-city complex in the Chechen Republic includes luxury apartments and a 5-star hotel.

The local emergency service said the call about the fire on between the 4th and 5th floors was received at around 18:00 PM local time (14:00 GMT).

According to witnesses’ pictures that immediately started to appear on Twitter, all stories of the building are covered with flames.

At the same time there have been reports suggesting that the fire started on the top floor and the bottom floor was on fire as well.

All people have managed to leave the the 145-meter skyscraper ; one woman was seen to be supported by others, witnesses said. Local police confirmed no one was injured.

Fire units and ambulances have arrived at the scene. Nearly 300 people are involved in extinguishing the fire. The area around the Grozny-City complex has been cordoned off.

In two hours the fire has completely engulfed three sides of the skyscraper from the top to bottom as the flames spread rapidly due to the plastic trimming on the building. It has also reached the world’s largest clock face, located near the apex of the building.

Firefighters have managed to extinguish the flames on the lower floors. However, the fire has spread very quickly, making it difficult to tackle the blaze from the ground. Helicopters have been sent from the southern city of Pyatigorsk to help out, but have not received the go-ahead for lift-off.

“We are ready, but the helicopters won’t be able to maneuver between the buildings, which are packed tight,” said emergency ministry official Aleksandr Barsuk.

A criminal case has been launched in connection to the violation of fire safety rules. According to the initial version the cause of the fire was a short circuit, LifeNews tabloid reported citing a local police source.

“According to preliminary information, the cause of the fire in the skyscraper was a short circuit. A more concise report will be done after experts examine the building,” the source told the tabloid.

In the burning skyscrapers called “Olympus” is an apartment belonging to French film star and tax exile Gerard Depardieu. LifeNews tabloid reports local administration confirmed the Frenchman’s apartment is on the 27th floor, facing the so-called “heart of Grozny”- central mosque.

“The fire has completely enveloped the right-hand side of the skyscraper. Both the wall and the window of the actor’s apartment have been damaged,” the tabloid quoted a local police source as saying.

The head of Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov granted the actor the status of “Chechen’s honorable resident” and presented an apartment in Grozny-City shortly after the Frenchman was granted Russian citizenship.

The Grozny-City complex was partly open in 2011. It consists of seven skyscrapers both condominiums and a hotel: one 40-storey (currently on fire), one 30-storey, three 28-storey and two 18-storey buildings. The completed complex would boast 1000 apartments.

“We will reconstruct the building, and make it more beautiful with help from Allah,” said Kadyrov on his Instagram account.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video | 3 Comments

Chinese tanker loads Iranian crude for first time since EU ban

Press TV – April 3, 2013

A Chinese supertanker loaded crude from Iran’s largest export terminal in late March, for the first time since Europe enforced sanctions on Iranian oil shipment insurers in July 2012.

According to shipping data and a Chinese industry official, the Yuan Yang Hu supertanker, able to haul 2 million barrels of crude, docked at Kharg Island on March 20-21 and is currently en route to China.

The vessel is owned by Dalian Ocean, a subsidiary of state shipping giant China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO).

At the beginning of 2012, the US and the European Union imposed new sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sectors with the goal of preventing other countries from purchasing Iranian oil and conducting transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

China has relied mainly on the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) to ship Iranian crude to Chinese refineries over the past nine months.

According to Chinese customs data, China imported about 410,000 bpd of Iranian crude in the first two months of 2013, a figure which is 3 percent higher than one year earlier.

The US has spearheaded several rounds of Western sanctions against Iran in recent years, based on the unfounded accusation that Iran is pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 1 Comment

U.S. “Human Rights” Wars: Arms Control as a Weapon

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by executive editor Glen Ford | April 3, 2013

The United Nations General Assembly vote on regulation of the international arms trade purports to be a modest step away from violence in the world, but is in fact the very opposite. The newly approved Arms Trade Treaty is conceived and designed as a facilitator of war by its main sponsor, the United States.

At the core of the treaty is a ban on arms exports to countries that are under U.N. embargoes, or that are accused of promoting genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. But such language is only a tool of war in the hands of the U.S. The cold fact is that, since the establishment of the United Nations to this very day, the United States and its allies, clients and proxies have been the worst perpetrators of crimes against humanity. From Vietnam to East Timor to Guatemala to Iraq to Somalia and to Congo, the U.S. has caused the deaths of well over ten million people over the past 60 years.

In the 21st century, in a cruel joke on humanity, the mass murderers in Washington put on their “human rights” hats and declared themselves to be the international community’s protectors against so-called “rogue” nations. The doctrine of “humanitarian military intervention” was inflicted on the world. It was not coincidental that each of those nations designated as rogue violators of human rights were also at the top of Washington’s hit list for regime change. Haiti was attacked and occupied, its sovereignty stolen under the auspices of the UN, for supposedly “humanitarian” reasons. Libya was bombed for seven months and plunged into a race war, under the “humanitarian” umbrella. The Democratic Republic of Congo has lost six million people at the hands of U.S. humanitarian policy. Let us one day be saved from the fatal embrace of the humanitarian superpower, who has made human rights a weapon of mass destruction.

The newly minted international Arms Trade Treaty, like humanitarian warfare and that racist mockery of an International Criminal Court, is simply another device to strip nations targeted for U.S. attack of the ability to defend themselves.The immediate targets are Syria, Iran, and North Korea, which is why they voted against the treaty. Twenty-three other countries abstained, including Russia, China and India. They understand that this treaty is not about limiting warfare, but about making nations into outlaws, to be more easily subdued by the United States. In a stroke of supreme cynicism, America and its allies argued that non-state actors – like their jihadist proxies waging a war of terror against Syria – should not be subject to the treaty, because “national liberation movements” should be able to protect themselves. What shameless hypocrisy! The U.S. and Europe now sing the praises of national liberation movements, after having killed tens of millions to stifle the national aspirations of most of the world’s people.

But, that is no more insane than Washington posing as a force for peace. Not only is the U.S. the top arms exporter in the world, but 8 of the top 10 war-profiteering corporations on the planet are American. On the lips of U.S. presidents, arms control is bogus, human rights is a sham, and words of peace are actually weapons of war.

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

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Argentina vs. the Vultures: What You Need to Know

By Arthur Phillips and Jake Johnston | cepr Americas Blog | April 2, 2013

Just ahead of the midnight deadline set out by the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals’ three-judge panel, Argentina’s government submitted a letter (view document here) describing how it would go about paying holders of defaulted bonds. The payments would be for creditors who refused to take part in two previous debt exchanges, including the so-called “vulture fund” plaintiffs in this ongoing case, NML Capital, Ltd. V. Republic of Argentina.

Following the letter’s submission, a number of financial analysts quoted in the major media were unimpressed by Argentina’s latest move. The Wall Street Journal noted that one portfolio manager said “There was some hope they would have a more rational approach to this exercise, but that’s definitely not the Argentina way.” Financial analyst Josh Rosner predicted to an AP reporter that “Monday morning is going to be a disaster.” He also asked, “What if somebody took that new bond, and the Argentine government defaulted the next day?” Rosner may have momentarily forgotten that the South American government has made timely payments on all the bonds issued in the 2005 and 2010 settlements. The gist of the response in the media was “more shenanigans from Argentina.”

But what was lost in most reactions in the media is that Argentina has made significant concessions to creditors that until recently it had vowed, on principle, not to offer. (The plaintiffs, for their part, have shown no willingness to compromise.) Furthermore, the terms offered to NML would represent a sizeable return on the fund’s original investments in 2008 and would satisfy the requirement under the pari passu clause—which is at the heart of the case— that all bondholders are treated equally. Indeed, to offer a sweeter deal would appear to violate that clause at the expense of bondholders who took part in the 2005 and 2010 exchanges and accepted restructured bonds worth between 25 and 29 cents on the dollar.

With this in mind, the offer that Argentina presented on Friday followed the terms of the 2010 exchange. Plaintiffs could choose between “Par” and “Discount” options. The former would be worth the face value of the original bonds and would pay interest rates rising from 2.5 percent to 5.25 percent until they came due in 2038. Plaintiffs would also receive an immediate payment of interest past due since 2003, the same period offered to participants in the 2010 exchange, and would receive “GDP units” that would pay them whenever Argentina’s GDP growth exceeds 3 percent per year. The “Par” option, meant for small-holders of Argentina bonds, is limited to $50,000 per series of bonds.

The second option offers discounted bonds, meant for the larger institutional investors, with interest rates of 8.25 percent, part of which would be added to the principal (and therefore accrues a greater total payout). Plaintiffs would also receive an upfront payment of past due interest, but at a higher (8.75 percent) rate than under the Par option, and GDP Units for when the economy grows beyond 3 percent.

As Argentina argues in its letter, the proposal “provides for a fair return going forward, and also gives an upside in the form of annual payments if Argentina’s economy grows.” This worked out for those who took part in previous exchanges, as the Argentine economy grew by 94 percent in real terms in the 10 years after default. Argentina goes on to make the argument that the plaintiffs cannot use the equal treatment clause—the case’s linchpin—to “compel payment on terms better than those received by the vast majority of creditors who experienced precisely the same default as plaintiffs, and whose restructured debt obligations arose out of, and served as consideration for the surrender of, the very same defaulted debt held by plaintiffs.”

In its letter to the court, Argentina provides a breakdown of what it is offering to “vulture funds” versus what the payment formula from the original district court decision, of which the current proceedings are an appeal, would imply. The results can be seen in the following table.

Argentina 3

The key point here is that the lead plaintiff, NML Capital, as well as the other “vulture funds,” bought most of this debt for just cents on the dollar after Argentina’s default. NML purchased the majority of their holdings from June-November 2008, paying an estimated $48.7 million for over $220 million in defaulted bonds, a price of just over 20 cents on the dollar. The Argentine offer, far from forcing NML to take a loss, would imply a 148 percent aggregate return in terms of current market value, and would become more valuable over time. This compares to the payment formula proposed by the district court, which would imply a 1,380 percent return for NML.

Despite what many reporters have written, Argentina—not the district court or NML Capital—appears to enjoy broad support in this case and on this particular legal matter. The list of institutions that have explicitly disagreed with the court’s ruling is formidable: the Bank of New York Mellon, the American Bankers Association, and the U.S. government, for starters. Given Washington’s recent relationship with Buenos Aires, it is striking to see the government so strenuously argue Argentina’s case, as it did in an amicus brief: “the district court’s interpretation of the pari passu provision could enable a single creditor to thwart the implementation of an internationally supported restructuring plan, and thereby undermine the decades of effort the United States has expended to encourage a system of cooperative resolution of sovereign debt crises.” It is even more striking given the expensive lobbying campaign on behalf of the “vulture funds.”

Argentina’s offer has fueled speculation among financial analysts that Argentina “is now much more likely” to default, as they do not expect the court to accept the offer. Yet unlike most cases of default, where a government either cannot or will not pay, a default for Argentina this time would be because the district court bars the government from making payments to bondholders who took part in previous exchanges. Argentine Vice President Amado Boudou stated over the weekend that “it would be a judicial absurdity to block payments by a country that has the capacity and willingness to pay.” He added, “one way or another, Argentina will pay.” If the court rules against Argentina and prevents the U.S.-based financial institution that makes payments on behalf of the government from paying bondholders, Argentina could use a different financial institution outside the jurisdiction of the New York courts to continue making payments.

What the case really boils down to, and what is often missing from discussions about NML or the court’s ruling, is that the court is siding with the vulture funds in a case in which they have no legitimate claim.  The Argentine debt restructuring was not a choice—the government could not pay its debts after the economic collapse of 1998-2002. As a result, an agreement was reached between the creditors and the government.  Of course, the debt in question is also arguably illegitimate—racked up by a military dictatorship working with international financiers, along with an economic collapse for which the international community, represented by the IMF, had a major responsibility.  But even aside from these questions of legitimacy of the original debt, to give in to the vulture funds’ claim would be to deny the validity of any sovereign debt restructuring, for the enrichment of a few hedge fund managers. This is something that the world cannot afford, and it is indefensible.  As the Jubilee USA Network, a coalition of civil society and faith-based organizations, said in a statement responding to Argentina’s recent letter, “the behavior of these vulture funds is morally bankrupt.”

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , | Comments Off on Argentina vs. the Vultures: What You Need to Know

NYT’s Lopsided Coverage of the Korean Conflict

By Michael McGehee | NYTX | April 2, 2013

It should go without saying that all sides of any conflict should refrain from provocations. And when nuclear weapons are involved this rule becomes even more important. But judging from the decades-long conflict in the Korean Peninsula between North Korea and South Korea/U.S., it’s difficult to find this balanced view at The New York Times. In the more than one dozen NYT articles published in the last couple of months which were reviewed to analyze news coverage of the conflict the bias and disparity in language is quite revealing, though predictable (to this day readers will not find a NYT journalist who referred to America’s invasion of South Vietnam in 1963 as an “invasion”).

According to the “paper of record,” one thing stands out: only North Korea “threatens”:

The headlines jump out at you with the claim that we are threatened by a foe. The articles themselves hold true to these depictions, but anything “our” side has done, or is doing, does not receive similar treatment.

Massive military exercises in the Korean Peninsula by South Korea, along with 40,000 U.S. troops (BBC)? Apparently not a threat according to the NYT, but rather an “exercise.” In all but one of the six articles bulleted above—“North Korea Threatens to Restart Nuclear Reactor”—the NYT manages to acknowledge that North Korea is responding to these “war games,” in which “whenever they happen, North Korea warns of war,” but whether it is seen as a threat to the North is never considered, or explored.

South Korea saying it will destroy the North’s “command leadership”? The NYT calls it “pushing back.”

South Korea “break[ing] a decades-old taboo by openly calling for the South to develop its own nuclear arsenal”? Why, that’s just harmless “flirting.”

The U.S. running “two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on a practice sortie over South Korea”? NYT journalists Thom Shanker and Choe Sang-Hun write that the act “showed the United States’ ability to ‘provide extended deterrence to our allies in the Asia-Pacific region’ and to ‘conduct long-range, precision strikes quickly and at will.’ ”

The U.S. pushing for new sanctions at the UNSC? Just an “order.”

In other words, the U.S. and South Korea can escalate a confrontation and then feign shock and outrage when the North responds with more escalation. Since nuclear weapons are involved the NYT should be devoting more space to the U.S.’s and South Korea’s reckless escalations than North Korea’s predictable reactionary saber-rattling, or at least provide balanced coverage of it.

The NYT regularly confirms that North Korea is being reactionary, though the disparity in language remains. While North Korea “threatens,” South Korea “flirts” and the U.S. “deters.” Readers of the NYT should be curious why it is that such dangerous escalations with “the most unpredictable country in Asia” gets such silent and biased coverage. If the NYT was doing their job the politics of this conflict would be closely considered and evaluated in their news coverage. There is nothing that North Korea has done, or is doing, that the United States does not support or tolerate with its allies. Human rights abuses and nuclear weapons programs are common in allied countries like Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Israel, Rwanda, India, and elsewhere around the world, yet it is North Korea, who is not aligned with the United States, that is singled out with sanctions and military threats (much like Iran).

That the United States would risk a possible nuclear war with a country it sees as “Blustering, Not Acting” is as reprehensible as North Korea’s behavior. And this observation deserves a place in news coverage, and if it were it is conceivable that public opinion would not only be better informed, but would turn against Washington over its actions and policies. Here is a thought: Perhaps the editors of the NYT know this and are acting as public relations consultants for Washington. If that’s not the case then readers ought to ask: Then what gives?

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

Cyprus bailout inside info? 132 companies pull out over $900mn in deposits

RT | April 02, 2013

One hundred and thirty-two companies reportedly had inside knowledge of Cyprus’ impending levy tax as they withdrew deposits worth US$916 million in the run-up to the bailout deal.

The companies withdrew their savings in the two week period (between March 1 to March 15) leading up to the rescue deal that enforced heavy losses on wealthy depositors in Cypriot banks, according to Greek newspaper Proto Thema.

Shortly after this the EU ministers and the IMF hammered out a 10-billion-euro (US$13 billion) bailout agreement with Cyprus, which included a one-time tax on deposits held in Cypriot banks.

In the meantime all banks in Cyprus temporarily froze the amounts required to pay the tax on their clients’ deposits and stopped all transactions while the government negotiated the details of the agreement.

The companies on the list withdrew their deposits in euro, USD, GBP and Russian rubles and later transferred to banks outside of Cyprus. The total amount withdrawn comes to US$916 million.

The list consists of shipping and energy companies, legal practices and state-run companies, Der Spiegel reported. The published list was not yet verified.

It includes A Loutsios & Sons Ltd, reportedly co-owned by John Loutsios, the husband of Nikos Anastasiadis’ daughter Elsa. The company said to have transferred 21 million euro (US$27 million) from Laiki Bank in the week running up to the bailout. The money was then deposited in a London bank, Haravgi newspaper reported.

A Loutsios & Sons Ltd denied that it had withdrawn any money from its Cyprus bank account.

Anastasiades also denied the charges and called the reports an “attempt to defame companies or people linked to my family … [This] is nothing but an attempt to distract people from the liability of those who led the country to a state of bankruptcy.”

Earlier Haravgi newspaper reported that Cypriot Finance Minister Michalis Sarris has confirmed that the government knew in advance that the Eurogroup planned to impose a tax on bank deposits of more than 100,000 euro.

The list raises suspicion that certain companies had inside knowledge of the decision adopted by the eurozone’s 16 countries to finance Cyprus’ deficit.

Just last week the troika of international lenders along with Cyprus agreed on a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) bailout plan, according to which the depositors with more than 100,000 euro ($128,000) in the Bank of Cyprus would lose 37.5 per cent of their savings in exchange for bank shares.

These big depositors may further lose up to 22.5 per cent more if the experts consider the bank’s balance insufficient.

This means that those with big deposits in Cyprus’ largest bank could lose could lose up to 60 per cent of their savings in the harsh new EU and IMF bailout deal. Those with deposits less than 100,000 euro will be protected under the Cyprus deposit guarantee.

Financial journalist Clem Chambers believes other eurozone countries will follow the sad example of Cyprus.

“The system is not addressing the underlying problem of all of this, which is deficits – state deficits, trade deficits. Europe and America are bleeding to death and they are not doing anything about it,” he told RT.

“Unless they turn that round – and there is no sign they are going to – then the dominos must fall.”

The list, provided by the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, of the 132 companies that allegedly made substantial withdrawals prior to the levy’s announcement can be viewed at RT.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Comments Off on Cyprus bailout inside info? 132 companies pull out over $900mn in deposits

The role of the Israel lobby in the growth of “Christian Zionism”

By Alison Weir | April 2, 2013

While some individuals, both Jewish and Christian, have talked about a Jewish “return” to Palestine throughout past centuries, today’s version of Christian Zionism was largely invented in the 19th century; adherents of political Zionism, a movement to create a Jewish state, were a major factor in how and why it grew.

As I write in my article on the history of US-Israel Relations, the precursor to today’s pro-Israel lobbying groups, the “American Zionist Emergency Council” (AZEC), played a significant role in creating Christian support for Zionism. Below is an excerpt from my piece:

Secret Zionist funds [by AZEC], eventually reaching $150,000 in 1946, were used to revive an elitist Protestant group, the American Palestine Committee. This group had originally been founded in 1932 by Emanuel Neumann, a member of the Executive of the Zionist Organization. The objective was to organize a group of prominent (mainly non-Jewish) Americans in moral and political support of Zionism.

[AZEC head] Rabbi Abba Silver’s headquarters issued a directive saying, “In every community an American Christian Palestine Committee must be immediately organized.”

The Christian committee’s operations were hardly autonomous. Zionist headquarters thought nothing of placing newspaper advertisements on the clergymen’s behalf without bothering to consult them in advance, until one of the committee’s leaders meekly asked at least for prior notice before public statements were made in their name.”

AZEC formed another group among clergymen, the Christian Council on Palestine. An internal AZEC memo stated that the aim of both groups was to “crystallize the sympathy of Christian America for our cause.”

By the end of World War II the Christian Council on Palestine had grown to 3,000 members and the American Palestine Committee boasted a membership of 6,500 public figures, including senators, congressmen, cabinet members, governors, state officers, mayors, jurists, clergymen, educators, writers, publishers, and civic and industrial leaders.

[For citations, and additional information on the Scofield Annotated Bible – a significant source of Christian Zionist beliefs – see my article.)

In the 1970s the Israeli government gave Jerry Falwell a jet plane, helping him to spread his version of theology.

Numerous Christians, including a great many evangelical pastors and theologians, have long opposed the Christian Zionist interpretation of the Bible.

Among this large and extremely diverse group have been Philip Mauro writing in the 1920s and Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick and Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin, two of the most celebrated pastors of their day (’20s through the ’50s); William Sloan Coffin in the 1970s; and today’s Gary BurgeRev. Stephen SizerCarl Medearis, members of Sabeel, the organizers of Christ at the Checkpoint, and numerous others. The list could go on and on.

A number of people have made a wide range of documentaries on this topic. Some are specifically from a fundamentalist, evangelical perspective and are particularly intended to reach Christians who hold Christian Zionist beliefs; one, “Christian Zionism, the Tragedy and the Turning,” contains interesting information about the Scofield Bible; another,  “With God On Our Side,”  has been shown with considerable effect in many churches.

However, none of the above individuals have the jet planes and massive funding of a Jerry Falwell or John Hagee to deliver their views and information to American Christians.

Two final notes: many of the politicians who support Israel do so for the simple reason that the pro-Israel influence in Congress and the media is extremely significant to their chances for re-election rather than out of religious motivation.

North Carolina’s Jesse Helms was an example: he demanded that Palestinians receive a “just settlement of their grievances” until he learned that such a stance would hurt his coverage by the media, at which point he changed it.

It is also important to be aware that numerous members of the Israel Lobby are behind the efforts to create Islamophobia in the American public. Please see CNI’s large, detailed section on this.

While there is a growing focus on Christian Zionism, which leaves out virtually all of the information above, there is a simultaneous coverup on the nature of Jewish fundamentalism and its role in Israel. I discuss this a bit in my article “What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding.”

Israeli author Israel Shahak’s books are esssential reading on this. Both are available online:

Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years

Jewish Fundamentalism In Israel, co-authored with Norton Mezvinsky.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia Set for Lebanon Comeback

By Nasser Charara | Al-Akhbar | April 2, 2013

Following the Lebanese prime minister’s resignation, Saudi Arabia has been working behind the scenes to boost its presence in Lebanon. Here’s a look at how the kingdom views a future Lebanese government.

During the two-year tenure of Najib Mikati’s government, Saudi Arabia, to some extent, kept its distance from Lebanese affairs. Yet one question remained largely unanswered: Did Mikati take office with a green light from Saudi?

Throughout the lifespan of the previous Lebanese government, all attempts by Sunni Lebanese leaders to get answers failed miserably. Today, as the country searches for a new government to replace Mikati’s outgoing cabinet, Lebanon is once again a hot topic in Saudi Arabia’s corridors of power.

Despite all the reported affirmations that Saudi will let Future head Saad Hariri name a candidate for the post, Arab and Lebanese sources say that Riyadh has a special agenda.

As part of that agenda, Saudi has resolved to make a comeback in Lebanon, in accordance with a formula that mimics the former role of Syria. In other words, the kingdom would not act as a party to the internal conflict, but rather as a “referee,” managing and helping resolve crises among Lebanese factions.

According to the sources, it is possible that in the coming days Lebanese figures from different sects will visit Saudi to discuss solutions to the present crisis. The same sources maintain that though it was Riyadh – in addition to Washington – that instructed Mikati to resign, Saudi Arabia is in favor of him returning to preside over the future government. The goal, the sources claim, is to form another government led by Mikati, but under a different set of alliances and conditions.

In short, Riyadh wants Mikati to return to lead a government not dominated by the March 8 coalition, especially with the Free Patriotic Movement controlling the lion’s share of cabinet portfolios. From the Saudi point of view, Mikati would help safeguard the moderate-centrist ground in the political spectrum.

Designating Mikati to form a cabinet again would also alleviate the March 8 and 14 polarization. This would produce a “moderate” and religiously diverse bloc, bridging the gap between Hezbollah and the Future Movement – the source of most Sunni-Shia tension.

To successfully see its bid through, Riyadh is betting, among other things, on President Michel Suleiman adopting a strong stance in favor of its scheme. Furthermore, Riyadh is acting based on the assumption that Hezbollah wishes to defuse Sunni-Shia tension.

While leaving the door open to discussions, Saudi prefers to see Mikati form a government that is neutral in appearance. In this vein, Suleiman reportedly intends to stand his ground on several issues, like holding the 2013 general election within the constitutional deadlines.

Behind closed doors, Suleiman shares Riyadh’s view that Mikati is the best choice for prime minister, as he has shown an ability to manage the political game despite its complexities.

Another item on the Saudi agenda, which also happens to be Mikati’s signature stroke, is the dissociation policy over the conflict in Syria. The policy remains desirable internationally, despite recent reservations.

More than ever, Riyadh is enthusiastic about Lebanon’s dissociation approach. For one thing, Saudi is rumored to be planning a gradual withdrawal from the quagmire in Syria. The same sources reckon that Damascus is aware of this recent shift in Saudi attitudes, but that it remains cautious.

It is worth noting that Riyadh, throughout the previous phase, had postponed tackling the situation in Lebanon, waiting instead for the dust to settle in Damascus. But the sources believe that Saudi has finally decided to stop putting its Lebanon policy on hold.

April 3, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Comments Off on Saudi Arabia Set for Lebanon Comeback