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Ocean of corruption in Spain

PressTVGlobalNews · May 25, 2013

A senior Spanish judge says he will launch a second investigation into corruption allegations against the ruling People’s Party (PP). High Court Examining Magistrate Pablo Ruz said in a ruling that he would launch the probe into allegations that the former PP treasurer, Luis Barcenas, held a secret record of illegal cash donations that were purportedly channeled to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and other members of the party. The allegations have sparked anger among Spaniards who have to deal with high unemployment, harsh cutbacks in social welfare and an ailing economy.

In the first investigation, Barcenas had been accused of involvement in bribery, tax evasion and money laundering. The government of Prime Minister Rajoy has been blamed for the harsh austerity measures, which has led companies to shutdown and driven the unemployment rate above 26 percent. Corruption scandals have also hit Inaki Urdangarin, the son-in-law of Spain’s king. Urdangarin has allegedly embezzled millions of euros of public money paid to a company he managed several years ago.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Video | , , , | 1 Comment

Kafr Qaddum – Blocked from life’s basics; pushed back when doing something about it

International Solidarity Movement | May 24, 2013

Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine – Tear-gas showered down on villagers in Kafr Qaddum yesterday, nearly blinding one media worker in a direct hit and nearly suffocating a child as villagers protested the roadblock that has hindered their lives for a full decade. The villager’s own stone barricades, meant to slow Israeli vehicle access during demonstrations, were bulldozed and jeeps entered the village shooting tear-gas indiscriminately. At least 5 dunams of land was also set fire to by tear-gas, some intentionally shot in such a way as to cause fire by the searing hot canisters.

The villagers marching towards the Israeli roadblock did not even get to the edge of the residential area as usual before a jeep, specially equipped to fire multiple rounds of tear-gas simultaneously, sent villagers back in order to breathe. With the gas barely cleared, villagers regained momentum and continued. Awaiting them was a bulldozer, a familiar sight in Kafr Qaddum, which ploughed through the numerous stone barricades that stall incursions by jeeps. The bulldozer, specially designed to withstand physical damage, was escorted on foot by the Magav (so-called ‘border’ police), who fired additional tear-gas at those symbolically throwing stones at the bulldozer as it dismantled the scant protection they have against Israeli jeeps rapidly storming into their village. The rocks gone, two jeeps pursued the protesters further into the village with the Magav firing tear-gas at them to aid in their advance.

Gathering themselves together again, the demonstrators moved towards a point in the village to which the Magav had then pulled back. New road barricades were placed and a brief stand-off ensued. Then officers on foot fired tear-gas from their rifles; one directly-aimed canister hit Ayman Nazzal, from a television news crew there, right in the face. Fortunately, his gas mask absorbed most of the impact but he sustained an injury just above his right eye, which would have been critical had it been a finger-width lower. Immediately following this volley of gas by the Magav, the bulldozer went in for a second time, trailed by the jeeps and then the officers who had stood alongside the bulldozer, who intermittently shot tear-gas in whatever direction they saw villagers that had not been chased by the pair of jeeps.

Additional border police, on top of the adjacent mountainside overlooking the whole scene, had meanwhile shot tear-gas down at those gathered on the slope below them; the tear-gas canisters caused several large fires amongst the dry bushes and several olive trees, the villagers’ livelihoods. The fire service was called in and, after the protest had finished, they remained along with a few villagers to calm the flames.

By the close of the demonstration, Yazan Brham, only 10 years-old, had to receive medical treatment after inhaling the toxic gas shot. He and Ayman are in a stable condition, with Ayman having had an overnight stay in Rafidia Hospital in west Nablus, the city to which the roadblock impedes direct access from Kafr Qaddum.

“There are two things that are most important to us: organization and character,” said Murad Shtiawi, a local participant. Recent weeks have displayed the kind of organization Murad noted as the village demonstrators have faced bulldozers, a skunk truck, foot soldiers in the village and raining tear-gas propelled from army jeeps; all countered with careful response by the demonstrators as they communicate throughout the protest and constantly employ media to document their resistance. At the protest a fortnight ago, soldiers waited on the top of the adjacent mountainside, hid amongst roadside olive tree groves and inside army trucks, attempting to surround the protesters from three sides. As villagers saw the trap coming, they stayed back in stalemate until a bulldozer arrived to remove barricades the residents had built to slow potential invasion of the village by Israeli forces. In front of the bulldozer walked the Magav, firing tear-gas canisters and clearing the way in front of the bulldozer.

Kafr Qaddum is a 3,000 year-old agricultural village that sits on 24,000 dunams of land. The village was occupied by the Israeli army in 1967 and 1978 saw the establishment of the illegal settler-colony of Qedumim. The settlement, built on the remains of a former Jordanian army camp, occupies 4,000 dunams of land stolen from Kafr Qaddum. The villagers are currently unable to access an additional 11,000 dunams of land due to the closure of the village’s main and only road leading to Nablus by the Israeli army in 2003.

The road was closed in three stages, ultimately restricting access for farmers to the 11,000 dunams of land that lie along either side to one or two times a year. Since the road closure, the people of Kafr Qaddum have been forced to rely on an old goat path to access this area; the road is therefore small and narrow, suitable, as the locals describe, only for animals. In 2004 and 2006, three villagers died when they were unable to reach the hospital in time. The ambulances carrying them were prohibited from using the main road and were forced to take a 13km detour. These deaths provoked even greater resentment in Kafr Qaddum and, on 1st July 2011, the villagers decided to unite in protest in order to re-open the road and protect the land in danger of settlement expansion along it.

Kafr Qaddum is home to only 4,000 people, yet almost 500 residents come to the weekly demonstrations held after Friday prayers. The villagers’ resilience, determination and organisation has been met with extreme repression. More than 120 village residents have been arrested. Most of them spend between three to eight months in prison and together they have paid over 100,000 Shekels to the Israeli courts.  Two thousand residents have suffocated from tear-gas inhalation, some in their own homes and 100 residents have been shot directly with tear-gas canisters. On 27th April 2012, one man was shot in the head by a tear-gas canister, fracturing his skull in three places and costing his ability to speak. An Israeli soldier released his dog into the crowded demonstration on 16th March 2012, where it attacked a young man for nearly 15 minutes whilst the army watched. When other residents tried to assist him, they were pushed away and some were pepper-sprayed directly in the face.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama Expands Militarization of Police

TheRealNews | May 22, 2013

Among items transferred to local law enforcement agencies have been assault rifles and grenade launchers, even Blackhawk helicopters and .50 caliber machine guns. In fiscal year 2011 alone, the Pentagon transferred almost $500 million worth of materials to domestic law enforcement — near double the previous year’s total.

Transcript

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Comments Off on Obama Expands Militarization of Police

MI5 ‘tried to recruit’ Woolwich murder suspect

RT | May 25, 2013

UK intelligence service MI5 approached Woolwich killing suspect Michael Adebolajo to offer him a job, a friend of the alleged murderer claimed in a BBC interview. Shortly after his statement, police detained the interviewee for questioning.

Abu Nusaybah, who claims to be a close friend of Adebolajo, was promptly arrested on BBC premises following an interview regarding the brutal killing in Woolwich on Wednesday. During the interview, Nusayaba stated that Adebolajo told him MI5 had “harassed” him for information on repeated occasions, and had even attempted to recruit him.

“But after him saying that he didn’t know these individuals, what he said was they asked him if he would be interested in working for them. He was explicit in that he refused to work for them but he did confirm he didn’t know the individuals,” Nusayaba said.

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Friday that a 31-year-old man had been detained in London under the Terrorism Act. Police said the arrest was not directly related to Wednesday’s murder.

MI5 acknowledged on Thursday that Adebolajo had been known to them for eight years, prompting criticism that they could have taken steps to prevent the murder of 25-year-old Army Drummer Lee Rigby.

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale are suspected of hacking Rigby to death in broad daylight on Wednesday. The two suspects were shot by police during their arrest, and are now in hospital awaiting police questioning. Footage of Adebolajo surfaced showing him brandishing a bloody cleaver, claiming the attack was an “eye-for-an-eye” act to avenge Muslims killed abroad by UK troops.

Nusayaba claimed that when he became acquainted with Adebolajo, the murder suspect did not exhibit any extremist Islamist tendencies. However, following a trip to Kenya last year where Adebolajo was allegedly taken into custody by the Kenyan military and was tortured and sexually abused, Nusayaba said he changed.

“He was not his bubbly self,” Nasayaba said, adding that he became less talkative following the trip.

Relatively little is known about the two suspects who committed the atrocity in Woolwich on Wednesday, which was condemned in the UK press as “Baghdad-style violence.” It was confirmed that Adebolajo and Adebolawe are UK citizens from devout Christian families of Nigerian descent, who later converted to Islam.

He was also known to hand out radical Islamist leaflets that decried UK military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Police raided Adebolajo’s family home in Lincolnshire following the killing. The family reportedly moved away from London over concerns their son was becoming more radicalized.

There have been a number of arrests in London in connection with Wednesday’s murder. Detectives took a 29-year-old woman at a residential address in south London into custody on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder on Thursday. A 29-year-old male was also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , | Comments Off on MI5 ‘tried to recruit’ Woolwich murder suspect

Wall Street is writing its own regulation bill

RT | May 24, 2013

Bank lobbyists have a direct influence on financial legislation drafted in Congress, and are in some cases even writing the measures themselves. Citigroup this month drafted a regulation bill that has already passed through a House committee.

To soften financial regulations, bank lobbyists frequently ‘assist’ lawmakers in writing draft legislation that serves to benefit them at the expense of American taxpayers, according to a New York Times investigation.

Lobbyists working for Citigroup Inc., a multinational financial services corporation, wrote 80 percent of a regulation bill that was approved by the House Financial Services Committee this month. Citigroup wrote 70 lines of 85-line bill, which exempts “broad swathes of trades” from new regulation, the Times reported based on e-mails it obtained.

Two paragraphs of the bill were copied “nearly word for word” from what Citigroup drafted. The only difference between the versions were two words, which lawmakers changed to make plural.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law in 2010, inflicted heavy financial regulatory reform following the most recent recession. The bill was pushed into law by Democrats, but now, both Democrats in the House and Senate are siding with bank lobbyists to roll back parts of the regulation overhaul.

The bill drafted primarily by Citigroup this month was starkly opposed by the Treasury Department, but easily made it through the House Financial Services Committee, the Times reports. MapLight, a nonprofit group that analyzes campaign finance records, found that lawmakers who supported Wall Street’s legislation received twice as much in contributions from financial institutions than those who opposed such measures, which appears to indicate that lawmakers’ support can be bought.

This month, Wall Street groups also held fundraising dinners for lawmakers who co-sponsored the bills they backed and in some cases co-wrote. As a reward for siding with bank lobbyists, these lawmakers were granted a dinner in which attendees paid up to $2,500 for a plate.

When questioned by the Times, bank industry officials said that helping draft legislation was a common practice on Capitol Hill, but argued that they do not undermine Dodd-Frank.

“We will provide input if we see a bill and it is something we have interest in,” said Kenneth E. Bentsen Jr., a Wall Street lobbyist. Bentsen is a former lawmaker himself, and many financial institutions’ lobbyists have worked as Capitol Hill aides and staffers before taking on their current roles.

Jeff Connaughton, a former lobbyist and former congressional staffer, said that Wall Street has so much influence on the Hill that it “skews the thinking of Congress.”

“It’s appalling, it’s disgusting, it’s wasteful and it opens the possibility of conflicts of interest and corruption,” Rep. Jim Himes, a top recipient of Wall Street donations and a former banker at Goldman Sachs, told the Times, admitting his own faults. “It’s unfortunately the world we live in.”

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , , , , | Comments Off on Wall Street is writing its own regulation bill

Obama Distorts ‘Just War’ Principles

By Daniel C. Maguire | Consortium News | May 24, 2013

OBAMA-IN-ISRAELIn his address on terrorism and America’s counterterrorism policy, President Barack Obama invoked the “just war” theory to justify the continued use of assassination by drones as America’s increasingly favored war policy. The President and most Americans need schooling on just what the “just war theory” (JWT) is.

JWT lays out the tests that state-sponsored violence must pass to be deemed morally defensible. JWT has its roots in the first tentative moves – in ancient Hebraic, Greek and Roman societies – away from total obliteration of the enemy, its people and its land as the goal of war. It was and is an effort to put some limits on collective violence.

According to JWT, there are six tests a war must pass to claim some moral justification. If the war fails on any of the six, that war is immoral and the killing it involves is murder.

1. A Just Cause: As ethicist David Hollenbach writes: “The only just cause is defense against unjust attack.” Aggressive, imperial or preemptive wars fail this test and open the door to international barbarism.

Drone attacks that kill “suspected terrorists” based not on due process proceedings but on “intelligence” agencies, do not pass this initial test. Those are the same agencies that gave us the fictional weapons of mass destruction in Saddam’s Iraq resulting in a decade of unjustified slaughter and havoc.

2. Declaration by Competent Authority:  For the United States, proper declaration is defined in Article One, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution which says that it is the prerogative of Congress “to declare war” and to “provide for the common Defence.” James Madison said that “in no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war and peace to the legislature and not to the executive department.”

The United States has not obeyed this part of the Constitution since December 1941. The constitutional requirement was alluded to at the onset of the Korean War but bypassed ever since.  Instead Congress surrenders its right to declare war by giving blank check authorization to the president (whether Lyndon Johnson or George W. Bush) to go to war if he, in his royal wisdom, chooses to do so.

When President Bush was given authorization to use “force” after the 9/11 attacks, the decision to use kill-power was seen as entirely his and the wisdom of the Constitution was trashed. President Obama’s drone policy – sending unmanned aircraft around the world to kill people – continues to rely on this congressional abdication of responsibility.

The United States further defined proper declaration of war when it helped to draft and signed on to the United Nations Charter. As Richard Falk writes, that historic document outlawed state vigilantism and entrusted “the Security Council with administering a prohibition of recourse to international force (Article 2, Section 4) by states except in circumstances of self-defense, which  itself was restricted to response to a prior ‘armed attack’ (Article 51) and only then until the Security Council had the chance to review the claim.”

This is called “the policing paradigm” and it would put upon states the communitarian and legal restraints imposed on use of violence by police and would also serve as a deterrent since to attack one was to attack all.

Briefing Congress before, or more often, after using state-sponsored drone violence mocks the right and abandoned duty of Congress to declare war. So does ignoring the UN Security Council.

3. Right Intention: This requirement of JWT involves honesty about the real reason for the violence and avoidance of excessive secrecy. It does not hide the truth and suppress the vox populi. It also does not substitute force for due process.

4. Non-combatant immunity: Drone warfare involves long-distance killing by remote control. It is disingenuous to say that drone usage honors non-combatant immunity. The targeted individual will rarely be found alone. The loose definition of who is and who is not a “militant” further belies the claims of sensitivity to civilian casualties.

5. Last Resort: Totally missing from President Obama’s May 23 address was the question why? Why do these targeted people hate us but don’t hate Sweden or Japan or Brazil. Why is killing them the answer when there has been little or no consideration of the grievances that lead them to engage in suicide attacks to hurt us?

Are we not stupidly striking at the bitter fruit of the tree while still nourishing its roots and thus guaranteeing more bitter fruit? If war is to be the last resort, shouldn’t we first ask what legitimate grievances animate the animosity toward our nation?

American economic supremacy has played a big part in producing a world where 82 percent of the world’s income goes to the top 20 percent, leaving the rest to face hardship or starvation. Our paltry foreign aid does little to alleviate world poverty and the world knows that.

As to the trouble zones in the Middle East, there is a question that is not permitted in our halls of political power or even in the American press. It was asked by Jesuit scholar John Sheehan who studied in the Middle East. His question: “Whenever I hear that Israel is our best friend in the Middle East I ask why is it that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East?”

Our financial, political and military support for Israeli expansionism and militarism make us no friends in the Middle East or elsewhere in the world. It is also not good for Israel or for us to be Israel’s ever deferential enabler. Friends do not let friends drive off a cliff and Israel is doing just that by having started the nuclear arms race in the Middle East and with its policy of occupation and expansionism. It’s not friendly of us to keep paying for that.

In the Suez crisis of 1956, when President Dwight Eisenhower threatened cutback of aid if Israel did not retreat from its expansionism, Israeli officials agreed to retreat. When George H. W. Bush did the same in 1989 regarding settlements in Palestinian territory, the Israeli government again stopped, only to restart at the end of his term.

Tony Judt has called us Israel’s “paymaster.”  When the paymaster makes demands – not feeble entreaties – the recipients listen.

6. Proportionality: War must do more good than harm, a proviso that is increasingly infeasible given the advances in weaponry. When drones are causing constant fear and dread for Pakistani children and their parents, are those elusive demons in the sky doing more good than harm? What good do we envision when we export terror into other nations’ homes?

Is it not past time to realize that our kill-power is not making us safe but sowing fear and enmity? In regard to that recognition, Obama’s May 23 speech is not reassuring.

Is American genius not up to the challenge of sensitive diplomacy, the kind that does not love its enemies but strains to understand their grievances? Are our fingers grown too rough with bludgeoning to undertake the needlepoint of peace-making diplomacy? Much of the world seems to think so.

~

Daniel C. Maguire, a professor of religious ethics at Marquette University, is author of The Horrors We Bless: Rethinking the Just-War Legacy, Fortress Press.

May 25, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment