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Penguins, Polar Bears and Sea Ice

Jim Steele

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Part 1 Climate Sensitivity and Drought: Landscape Changes vs CO2

Part 2 Droughts and Heatwaves: Ocean Oscillations vs CO2

Part 3 Recovering Whales, Ocean Acidification, and Climate Horror Stories

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Video | Leave a comment

When Henry Kissinger Makes Sense

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By Robert Parry | Consortium News | November 12, 2014

The American public is faced with an information crisis as the New York Times and other mainstream U.S. media outlets have become little more than propaganda organs on behalf of the neoconservative agenda and particularly the rush into a new Cold War with Russia – so much so that even ex-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has broken ranks.

MSM articles consistently reek of bias – and in some cases make little sense. For instance, Times correspondent David M. Herszenhorn, one of the leading propagandists, wrote an alarmist story on Wednesday about a new Russian “invasion” of Ukraine but curiously he had the alleged Russian tank column heading east toward the Ukrainian city of Donetsk which would be back toward Russia, not westward into Ukraine.

According to Herszenhorn’s article, “The full scope of the Russian incursion is not clear, [NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Philip M. Breedlove] said, though the convoys seemed to be heading east toward Donetsk, an O.S.C.E. spokesman, Michael Bociurkiw, said Wednesday.”

Typical of his anti-Russian bias, Herszenhorn also cited Ukrainian government complaints that the Russians had been using a shaky cease-fire to bolster the ethnic Russian rebels in the east, but the reality is that both sides have been accusing the other of such maneuvering. Herszenhorn surely knows this but he wrote only:

“Ukrainian officials have complained all along that Russia was taking advantage of the so-called truce to reinforce the rebels in eastern Ukraine with more fighters and equipment.”

The reality is that there has been widespread alarm among eastern Ukrainians that the Kiev regime was using the relative lull in the fighting to resupply and reposition its forces for a new offensive like the one that killed thousands over the summer. Though human rights organizations have criticized Kiev for indiscriminate shelling of cities and unleashing brutal militia forces on the population, the Times and other mainstream U.S. newspapers have either ignored or downplayed such facts.

On Wednesday, Herszenhorn also compared the alleged new Russian incursion with the “invasion” of Crimea, although there really was no “invasion” of Crimea since the Russian troops that were involved in supporting Crimea’s popular referendum to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia were already in Crimea under an agreement with the Ukrainian government regarding the Russian naval base at Sebastopol.

Herszenhorn’s use of the word “invasion” is just an exaggeration like the rest of the imbalanced reporting that has made a rational U.S. public response to the crisis in Ukraine nearly impossible.

Since the start of the crisis in February, the New York Times’ coverage has been remarkable in its refusal to present the Ukraine story in anything like an objective fashion. For example, the Times has largely ignored the substantial public evidence that U.S. government officials and agents helped orchestrate the Feb. 22 coup which overthrew the elected President Viktor Yanukovych. [See Consortiumnews.com’sThe Whys Behind the Ukraine Crisis.”]

The Times also has buried evidence that extreme right-wing and neo-Nazi elements played key roles in firebombing police, forcing Yanukovych and other government officials to flee for their lives, and spearheading later attacks on ethnic Russians. When this reality is referenced, it is usually presented with little meaningful context or tacked on in the last few paragraphs of long articles on other topics.

Mocking Medvedev

Herszenhorn himself has been a leading violator of journalistic standards. For instance, in mid-April, early on in the crisis, he penned a mocking story from Moscow ridiculing Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev for predicting a possible civil war.

In the article entitled “Russia Is Quick To Bend Truth About Ukraine,” Herszenhorn accused Medvedev of posting an item on Facebook that “was bleak and full of dread,” including noting that “blood has been spilled in Ukraine again” and adding that “the threat of civil war looms.”

Herszenhorn continued, “He [Medvedev] pleaded with Ukrainians to decide their own future ‘without usurpers, nationalists and bandits, without tanks or armored vehicles – and without secret visits by the C.I.A. director.’ And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.”

This argumentative “news” story spilled from the front page to the top half of an inside page, but Herszenhorn never managed to mention that there was nothing false in what Medvedev wrote. Indeed, as the bloodshed soon grew worse and escalated into a civil war, you might say Medvedev was tragically prescient.

It was also the much-maligned Russian press that first reported the secret visit of CIA Director John Brennan to Kiev. Though the White House later confirmed that report, Herszenhorn still cited Medvedev’s reference to it in the context of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories.” Nowhere in the long article did the Times inform its readers that, yes, the CIA director did make a secret visit to Ukraine.

In this upside-down world of MSM disinformation, there has been very little criticism of the glaring biases of the mainstream Western media but instead continued attacks on the professionalism of the Russian media, including an adverse finding this week by an official British agency that monitors alleged bias in news outlets operating in the UK. The agency, known as Ofcom, accused Russia’s RT network of failing to meet standards for “due impartiality” in early Ukraine coverage.

Interestingly, Ofcom did not judge any of the RT reports false in their description of neo-Nazi thugs participating in the Feb. 22 coup, a possible role of coup-related snipers in the slaughter of scores of people at the Maidan, and the unconstitutionality of the new government.

But Ofcom faulted RT for not meeting the fuzzy concept of “due impartiality” and threatened regulatory sanctions against RT if it didn’t shape up. Ofcom defined “due impartiality” as “impartiality adequate or appropriate to the subject and nature of the programme.”

The image of a British regulatory body threatening RT with sanctions for not toeing the pro-Western propaganda line that nearly all UK and U.S. news outlets do has an Orwellian feel to it, singling out one of the few sources of news that doesn’t accept the prevailing “group think.”

It would be one thing if the same standards were applied to Western media outlets for their one-sided reporting on Ukraine, but that apparently would ruffle too many important feathers.

Kissinger’s Dissent

Curiously, one of the few prominent Westerners who has dared question the prevailing wisdom on Ukraine is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who said, in an interview with the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, that the West was exaggerating the significance of the Crimean annexation given the peninsula’s long historic ties to Russia.

“The annexation of the Crimea was no bid for world domination,” the 91-year-old Kissinger said. “It is not to be compared with Hitler’s invasion in Czechoslovakia” – as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others have done.

Kissinger noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin had no intention of instigating a crisis in Ukraine: “Putin had [spent] tens of billions of dollars for the Olympic Winter Games … in Sochi. Russia wanted to present [itself] as a progressive nation. … It does not make sense that Putin, a week later, [launches] the Crimea attacks and a war for Ukraine begins.”

Instead Kissinger argued that the West – with its strategy of pulling Ukraine into the orbit of the European Union – was responsible for the crisis by failing to understand Russian sensitivity over Ukraine and making the “fatal” mistake of quickly pushing the confrontation beyond dialogue.

But Kissinger also faulted Putin for his reaction to the crisis. “I do not want to say that Russia’s response was appropriate,” Kissinger said.

Still, Kissinger told Der Spiegel that “a new edition of the Cold War would be a tragedy. … We must keep in view, that we need Russia to solve other crises, such as the nuclear conflict with Iran or Syria’s civil war.”

When Henry Kissinger starts to sound like the voice of reason, it says a lot about how crazy the New York Times and the rest of the MSM have become.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

WHAT WE TRULY LEARNED FROM THE GREAT WAR AND THE ABSURDITY OF REMEMBRANCE DAY

By John Chuckman | Aletho News | November 13, 2014

No matter what high-blown claims the politicians make each year on Remembrance Day, The Great War was essentially a fight between two branches of a single royal family over the balance of power on the continent of Europe, British foreign policy holding to a longstanding principle that no one nation should ever be permitted to dominate the continent.

It was also a war between the world’s greatest existing imperial power, Britain, and another state, Germany, which aspired to become a greater imperial power than it was.

To a considerable extent, it was a war resulting from large standing armies and great arms races, a telling indictment of those who preach the false gospel of ever-greater military strength to defend freedom. As with any huge, shiny new investment, great armies will always be used, and the results are almost invariably great misery.

The First World War was not a war to end all wars, as a slogan of the time claimed. If anything, it was a precursor for a great many wars to follow, and, most importantly, it was a powerful and important cause of World War II.

It also was not a war about democracy since none of the participants, including Britain, would qualify as democracies by any reasonable reckoning with their heavily limited voting franchise and government structures stacked in the interests of old and privileged orders, quite apart from their holding empires whose populations enjoyed no franchise at all.

The war was also one of history’s great instances of mass hysteria, particularly among the young men of several countries. In Britain, there have been many laments over the loss of some fine and promising young men who rushed to join up. In Germany, it was no different, and we note one young man, then of no importance, by the name of Adolph Hitler rushing to join up, much as his British contemporaries, to share in the “glory.”

Today, we pretend shock that young men sometimes go abroad to fight for a cause, religious or otherwise, but compared to the mass insanity of World War I, what we see today is truly petty. The authorities everywhere then made great efforts to push young men, using songs, marching bands, slogans, shame and social pressure in many forms, and countless lies. The nonsense about the Kaiser’s troops bayonetting babies was one example, a lie served up again decades later with a slight twist by George Bush the Elder’s government as it desperately wanted support to invade Iraq, the babies the second time around supposedly being ripped from respirators.

World War I made absolutely no sense. It achieved nothing worth achieving, and it did so at immense cost. Apart from killing about 20,000,000 people, the war left countless crippled and disabled and created a great swathe of destruction across Europe.

If Germany had been allowed to dominate Europe for a time, it would have made comparatively little difference to the lives of most people. Indeed, today, that is the situation we find in the European Union.

It is important to realize that large wars are always revolutionary in nature, and no one at the outset can possibly predict the outcomes of such chaotic storms in terms of social, economic, and political change. World War I very much set the stage, with huge losses of men and the incompetence demonstrated by Imperial commanders, for the Communists to take power in Russia, a development which led ultimately to the Cold War.

The War’s immense costs and the realization by millions of soldiers from abroad that they fought for a nation which gave them no rights provided the great first blow towards ending the British Empire. The approaching World War II would finish the work of imperial rot and collapse.

The First World War set the stage for the rise of Hitler less than two decades later and made inevitable the catastrophe of World War II, which would inflict at least two and a half times as many deaths again and would see such horrors as the Holocaust and the use of atomic bombs.

So why, about a century later, do we still treat The Great War with reverence and sentimental remembrance?

The act of remembrance actually contradicts the sound human tendency to forget terrible experiences. Of course, we hear repeated countless times the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” one of those glib and catchy sayings which seem at first hearing to carry some deep truth. Just the consideration that in real life no two events ever can be identical makes the saying a pleasantly-phrased nonsense, resembling the aphorisms on far lighter subjects from Oscar Wilde.

Those repeating the glib phrase as received wisdom from an unimpeachable prophet always neglect to remind us of the importance of scrupulously defining what it is that you are remembering. If we remember World War One for exactly what it was, and not for what we wish it had been, we see a vast, pointless slaughter that succeeded in setting conditions for still more slaughter. Never repeating it would be a blessing indeed.

But if we see it as moving and inspirational, if we associate its name with thoughts of ending war or protecting democracy or of great camaraderie and shared hardship, if we are emotionally moved by troops in uniforms and flags flying and bugles and drumbeats, then we most assuredly will repeat it, as we have already done more than once, and I’m pretty sure that’s what the arrogant politicians and jingoes want us ready to do.

Remembrance Day surely is not about the loss of life, as we pretend it is, because the only way to hold those or any lives sacred is not to send them off to war in the first place. The ugly truth is that governments, run by men with great egos – likely more often than not, actual narcissists – who are supported by privileged wealth wanting to keep or expand its privilege, make the decision for wars largely on the basis of fairly primitive instincts, instincts about being first or not letting a competitor gain an advantage, or just vague and meaningless stuff about being manly or resolute – standing your ground, keeping a stiff upper lip, putting up with no nonsense, showing your manhood, and so on and so forth.

One American politician, in a play on an infamous quote by George Wallace, said no one would ever “out-commie” him again in an election. Such was the thinking of Lyndon Johnson in making the fatal decision to start a major war in Southeast Asia. On just such hormone-laden considerations hung a decade’s brutal fighting and the deaths of 3 million Vietnamese.

The real reason for the ceremonies and parades and speeches is to keep young men keen to go and kill and die, there being no group of humans more subject to cheap emotional appeals about glory and heroism than young men, as we see, ad nauseam, generation after generation.

As I’ve written before, humans are little more than chimpanzees with larger brains, those larger brains enabling us to magnify immensely the power of our murderous instincts, a fact we seem determined proudly to display every Remembrance Day.

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

FBI’s “Suicide Letter” to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Dangers of Unchecked Surveillance

By Nadia Kayyali | EFF | November 12, 2014

The New York Times has published an unredacted version of the famous “suicide letter” from the FBI to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The letter, recently discovered by historian and professor Beverly Gage, is a disturbing document. But it’s also something that everyone in the United States should read, because it demonstrates exactly what lengths the intelligence community is willing to go to—and what happens when they take the fruits of the surveillance they’ve done and unleash it on a target.

The anonymous letter was the result of the FBI’s comprehensive surveillance and harassment strategy against Dr. King, which included bugging his hotel rooms, photographic surveillance, and physical observation of King’s movements by FBI agents. The agency also attempted to break up his marriage by sending selectively edited “personal moments he shared with friends and women” to his wife.

Portions of the letter had been previously redacted. One of these portions contains a claim that the letter was written by another African-American: “King, look into your heart. You know you are a complete fraud and a great liability to all us Negroes.” It goes on to say “We will now have to depend on our older leaders like Wilkins, a man of character and thank God we have others like him. But you are done.” This line is key, because part of the FBI’s strategy was to try to fracture movements and pit leaders against one another.

The entire letter could have been taken from a page of GCHQ’s Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG)—though perhaps as an email or series of tweets. The British spying agency GCHQ is one of the NSA’s closest partners. The mission of JTRIG, a unit within GCHQ, is to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt enemies by discrediting them.” And there’s little reason to believe the NSA and FBI aren’t using such tactics.

The implications of these types of strategies in the digital age are chilling. Imagine Facebook chats, porn viewing history, emails, and more made public to discredit a leader who threatens the status quo, or used to blackmail a reluctant target into becoming an FBI informant. These are not far-fetched ideas. They are the reality of what happens when the surveillance state is allowed to grow out of control, and the full King letter, as well as current intelligence community practices illustrate that reality richly.

The newly unredacted portions shed light on the government’s sordid scheme to harass and discredit Dr. King. One paragraph states:

No person can overcome the facts, no even a fraud like yourself. Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure. You will find yourself and in all your dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk exposed on the record for all time. . . . Listen to yourself, you filthy, abnormal animal. You are on the record.

And of course, the letter ends with an ominous threat:

King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. You have just 34 days in which to do it (this exact number has been selected for a specific reason, it has definite practical significance). You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.

There’s a lesson to learn here: history must play a central role in the debate around spying today. As Professor Gage states:

Should intelligence agencies be able to sweep our email, read our texts, track our phone calls, locate us by GPS? Much of the conversation swirls around the possibility that agencies like the N.S.A. or the F.B.I. will use such information not to serve national security but to carry out personal and political vendettas. King’s experience reminds us that these are far from idle fears, conjured in the fevered minds of civil libertarians. They are based in the hard facts of history.

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 2 Comments

US words on Gitmo torture ‘laughable’ without release of force feeding tapes

Reprieve | November 13, 2014

The US has announced that it will this week tell the United Nations that it now considers a ban against torture to apply to US prisoners held overseas – including those 148 men held without charge or trial at Guantanamo Bay. The US had previously only considered the U.N. Convention Against Torture to apply within US borders.

A US Federal Judge recently ordered the US government to release to the public video tapes of a hunger striking detainee being force-fed and manhandled, a decision the Obama administration is expected to appeal.

Commenting, Reprieve staff attorney Alka Pradhan, said:

“For the US to say it has ‘banned’ torture at Guantanamo is laughable, given the ongoing abuse at the prison. The rules at GTMO are actually written precisely to allow such abuse, and the video footage of force feedings is incredibly disturbing. Our clients, on hunger strike in peaceful protest at their indefinite detention without charge, are regularly hauled to what they call the ‘torture chair’, and force-fed in such a painful, punitive manner that even some camp personnel refuse to be involved. But don’t take my word for it – US medical experts and the World Medical Association have also condemned these abuses. The US needs to uphold its supposed ‘torture ban’ and stop punishing the detainees for their rightful protest – while the tapes I have seen should be released to the public without delay.”

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

‘Glaring Error’ in Sydney Terror Case Evidence, Says Defense

teleSUR | November 13, 2014

On Thursday, the lawyer of a Sydney man accused of plotting a terror attack said a phone call at the heart of the case was mistranslated.

“There are inaccuracies in the translation … there is apparently one glaring error, which goes to the absolute crux of whether this man is acquiescing to be involved in a terrorist act,” the accused man’s barrister, Winston Terracini QC stated, according to The Australian newspaper.

Police have alleged that the accused, Omarjan Azari conspired to carry out the attack with accused Islamic State group sympathizer, Mohammad Baryalei.

The prosecution told the court they are still analyzing other evidence, but Terracini claimed police have little else against Azara.

“It seems in fact there was only one phone call, despite previous claims there are others,” he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Azari, was arrested in September, during a raid touted by law enforcement as the largest counter-terrorism raid of its kind in Australia’s history.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated the raids were made in response to a “serious risk” that the Islamic State group was planning to behead random members of the public in Sydney.

At the time, local media carried images of police seizing a sword from one home, with the Daily Mail printing the headline, “Was this the lethal sword terror cell planned to use to behead an innocent victim on a Sydney street?”

According to the sword’s owner Mustafa Dirani, the answer is no. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald in October, Dirani said the sword is a common Shiite household ornament, and it’s made of plastic.

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Obama and the Convention Against Torture

By Steve Breyman | CounterPunch | November 13, 2014

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US and ARVN soldiers waterboard a North Vietnamese prisoner during Operation Wheeler in 1967

On November 12—thirteen years after the onset of George W. Bush’s dirty underground war against “unlawful combatants”—the Obama administration finally told the United Nations Committee Against Torture that the United States believed, in the words of Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski, “that torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment are forbidden in all places, at all times, with no exceptions.” Finally! Not so fast.

Torture is as old as human civilization. Assyrians skinned victims alive. Torture was a routine feature of Greek and Roman interrogations. Execution by torture took the form of crucifixion for the Romans, stoning for the Jews, and desert sun death for the Egyptians. Chinese emperors preferred lingchi—the slow slicing—of their prisoners (the infamous “death by a thousand cuts”). The Aztecs favored blood sacrifices that included consumption of the hearts of their victims.

Torture was not the sole preserve of heathens and idolators. The Dominicans, endlessly inventive in the torture of “heretics” and “witches” in Spain, made sexual humiliation of victims their trademark. John Calvin had a fellow early Protestant tortured and beheaded. Guy Fawkes spent time on the rack following his capture during the Gunpowder Plot.

As with slavery and the mass execution of hostages, torture slowly, fitfully came to be seen as barbaric and ineffective, although it took over two millennia for official if hypocritical and imperfect bans to appear. The British outlawed “cruel and unusual” punishment in the Bill of Rights of 1689; the prohibition protected Britons only as American, Boer, Irish, Indian, and Iraqi patriots knew well. The Americans included a similar ban in the Eighth Amendment to their Constitution—which applied only to citizens, not slaves or Natives. And lynching did not of course end following the Reconstruction Amendments. Napoleon forbade the use of torture by his armies in 1798, history forgotten by French troops in Algeria a century and a half later. Pius VII waited until 1816 to overturn the papal bull of 1252 permitting torture during the Inquisition. The Chinese outlawed lingchi in 1905 (which did not stop Nationalists and Communists from torturing one another before and during the Civil War).

The horrors of the twentieth century’s two world wars led to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which effectively (in the legal sense of the word) banned torture of civilians or military personnel. That these icons of international law weren’t effective in reality became abundantly clear during the counter-insurgencies waged by the United States and European imperial powers resistant to decolonization of the Third World from the late forties through the mid-seventies. They were joined by the secret police of the Soviet bloc controlling Eastern European dependencies. They were joined too by the secret police and armed forces of dozens of Arab monarchies, and Latin American, African and Asian (military) dictatorships. Torture during the Cold War knew no ideological or territorial boundaries.

The United States and the Soviet Union masterfully outsourced and offshored torture during their decades long rivalry. Vast empires run by remote brutes require burden sharing with local brutes. The Soviets trained East Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Bulgarians, Romanians, and Poles in the dark arts. As Chomsky and Herman detailed in The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism (1979), Americans trained military and police in twenty-six countries that according to Amnesty International practiced torture. These included Iran, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey and Brazil.

The Pentagon cast further light on the postwar American way of torture with the release of seven “intelligence training” manuals in 1996. Written and perfected by the CIA during spasms of concentrated violence like Operation Phoenix in South Vietnam, the manuals were widely distributed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and put into practice by Special Forces Mobile Training Teams. US Special Forces are today present (mostly on training missions) in more than one hundred countries, including Iraq and Afghanistan. The US Army’s School of the Americas crafted a custom manual for Central and Latin American trainees.

By the eighties, amidst the bloody interventions of the Reagan administration and the brutal Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the world was ready to make another effort at outlawing torture. The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted in 1984, entered into force in 1987, signed by Ronald Reagan in 1988, and ratified by Congress during Bill Clinton’s first term in 1994. The US—with the largest prison population in the world—failed to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention (adopted in 2002; entered into force in 2006) that provides for regular, unannounced visits to prisons and detention centers, and for private interviews with detainees.

Barak Obama first criticized the Bush record on torture following revelations that emerged from the Senate confirmation hearings of Alberto Gonzalez as Attorney General in 2005. Gonzalez claimed that the provisions of the Convention Against Torture did not govern official US behavior against “aliens” overseas. Obama was a strong rhetorical supporter of the legislation reaffirming official US condemnation of torture that passed the following year (to which George Bush added a signing statement permitting the CIA to continue should the Commander in Chief deem it necessary).

On his second day in office, Obama issued Executive Order 13491—“Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”—to revoke Bush’s Executive Order 13440 of 2007 (designed to further ‘legalize’ CIA detention and “interrogation” of al Qaeda and Taliban “unlawful enemy combatants” after the fact; Bush’s lawyers first invented the category of “unlawful enemy combatant” in 2002). The long international nightmare of official US endorsement of torture—brought to life in the shameful corridors of Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and the CIA’s “black sites”—appeared over. Not even close.

The Convention on Torture, other international treaties, and domestic law require the president to investigate allegations of torture, and to prosecute those responsible. Obama has, contrary to the law, shown zero interest in pursuing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice or the other enablers and defenders of criminal behavior in the country’s name; “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.” There’s been no full-scale public inquiry into or publication of the various torture memos written by John Woo, or other records of official lawlessness. Neither have we witnessed a reckoning by the Obama Justice Department with the illegal and outrageous practice of extraordinary rendition.

The White House (with the CIA looking over its shoulder) holds up publication of a five hundred page executive summary of the Senate’s 6300 page report on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program. Chances are that what finally squirts out will be so blacked out as to further shield the evildoers.

Indefinite detentions in Guantanamo likely violate the Convention; the failure to offer redress to detainees certainly does. US military commissions violate at least two articles of the Convention. US refusal to grant independent monitors access to Guantanamo violates at least two articles of the Convention. Transfer of prisoners to countries known to practice torture (common during the Bush years) clearly violates the Convention. Hyper-aggressive domestic counter-terror investigations (especially the widespread use of sting operations by the FBI) appear to violate “human rights safeguards in law and practice.”

“Special housing units,” supermax cells, and other forms of solitary confinement of domestic prisoners, including children, clearly constitute torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. On any given day, more than 80,000 people are held in isolation in US federal and state prisons. Capital punishment appears to most civilized peoples as torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Continued US failure to put in place adequate safeguards against sexual assault in state and federal prisons violates the Convention.

Local police departments’ failure to pursue allegations of sexual assault (the most underreported crime in the country) violates victims’ right to be free from mistreatment. The epidemic of police killings, brutality, racial profiling, and asset seizures is among the most egregious violations of the Convention during the Obama years. The policy of deporting immigrants (including especially unaccompanied children) without proper screening to assess their prospects for torture or mistreatment violates the Convention, and deserves a special place in the annals of perfidy.

When George Bush declared “we don’t torture,” the world knew it was a lie. What about when Nobel Peace Prize winner Barak Obama says it?

Steve Breyman is a former William C. Foster Visiting Scholar Fellow in the US State Department. Reach him at breyms@rpi.edu

 

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Police investigation failure increases in ideological offenses against Palestinians despite new Nationalistic Crimes Unit

Everyone did as they saw fit

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By Yossi Gurvitz | Yesh Din | November 12, 2014

Imagine the following scenario: you’re in your courtyard, when a gang shows up, insulting you in what is supposed to be your safest place, beating you in the presence of your children, stealing or destroying your belongings. Picking yourself up, you know there’s no point in calling the police – because in the vast majority of cases, the police won’t catch the offenders. Oh, by the way – the criminals are from a different ethnic group.

Do you think you could live this way? Because this is how many Palestinians in the West Bank have to live. We have just published our annual data sheet on law enforcement – or rather the lack of law enforcement – in the West Bank.

If you are a Palestinian and you’ve been attacked or otherwise harmed by Israeli civilians in the West Bank, there is little to no chance the police will solve the case. Yesh Din has been monitoring the police investigation cases of complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli civilians since 2005. The unambiguous data show that of 1,045 cases we are monitoring, the police concluded its investigation of 970 cases. 72 indictments were made (about 7.4% of the cases), and the police managed to lose 11 file cases. 884 cases were concluded due to police investigation failure.

593 cases were closed as “perpetrator unknown”, meaning the police failed to identify a suspect. 195 cases were concluded because of “lack of sufficient evidence”, i.e. the police managed to suggest a suspect but lacked the evidence to indict the suspect. 76 cases were closed on the grounds of “absence of criminal culpability” – that is, police claims that no crime was committed; we appealed 25 of these cases, since the investigation was unfinished or we believed there was enough evidence for an indictment. Finally, 12 cases were closed due to “lack of public interest”.

In two cases, the police concluded the perpetrator could not be indicted, probably due to age (minors); and one case was closed because it fell under the jurisdiction of another agency. The police’s general failure rate in 2005-2014 is 85.2%. Ironically, it was in the two years (2013-2014) in which the Nationalist Crime Department was active that the rate of police failure actually rose to 89.6%. The police tell us they invest many more assets and efforts in fighting nationalist-based crimes; so far, it fails to demonstrate results.

And why do I speak of “people breaking into your courtyard”? Because settlers enter private Palestinian property in the West Bank time and again. In our files from 2013-2014 we emphasized the setting of the crimes. It turns out that 28.3% of the recorded incidents took place within Palestinian villages and towns. Most of the incidents still take place in the countryside near the villages – territories which are to be dispossessed – but more than a quarter of the incidents are invasions of towns and villages, places where the settlers have no reason to visit, uninvited.

And the Israeli police, including the new and much ballyhooed Nationalist Crime Department, doesn’t know – or, perhaps, knows but is unwilling – how to deal with Israelis who commit nationalist crimes. This failure is anything but new: back in 1982 the Karp Report warned that Palestinian residents in the West Bank do not trust the Israeli justice system, and that in many cases they avoid complaining to the police since it is pointless. The Karp Report further found that law enforcement in the West Bank failed – and was the first government report to note this failure.

This is Israeli law and order. This is how it has been maintained for over 30 years: an order of rulers and ruled, with a thin legal coating of “laws of occupation” which allows us to say all is well, since it is temporary. For the past 47 years.

Read the full data sheet

Map of locations of offenses against Palestinians in the West Bank

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel won’t cooperate with UN as it continues to violate Gaza ceasefire

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Al-Akhbar | November 13, 2014

The Israeli authorities decided not to cooperate with a United Nations Human Rights Council investigation into this year’s Israeli aggression on Gaza, an Israeli spokesman said Wednesday.

“Since the Schabas commission is not an inquiry but a commission that gives its conclusions in advance, Israel will not cooperate with the UN Commission on Human Rights over the last conflict with Hamas,” Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.

The UN panel, due to make its first report by March, is meant to look into the conduct of both the Israeli Occupation Forces and the Hamas resistance movement during the 50-day assault.

But the Israeli government has already dismissed the investigation as a “kangaroo court,” accusing its chairman, Canadian academic William Schabas, of anti-Israeli bias.

In August, Canadian lawyer William Schabas was named as the head of the UN commission, angering Israel, where he is widely regarded as hostile to Israel over reported calls to bring Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the International Criminal Court.

“In view of the fact that the Schabas committee is not a fact-finding panel but an investigation whose results are predetermined … Israel will not cooperate with the committee,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

It added that the decision was also taken due to what it called the Geneva-based council’s “obsessive hostility to Israel.”

On October 30, the UN Human Rights Committee, chaired by British expert Sir Nigel Rodley, said Israel’s latest land and aerial attacks on the Gaza Strip in July-August caused a “disproportionate number of casualties among civilians, including children.”

For 51 days this summer, Israel pounded the Gaza Strip by air, land and sea.

More than 2,180 Palestinians, at least 70 percent of whom were civilians, were killed and 11,000 injured during seven weeks of unrelenting Israeli attacks in July and August.

According to UN figures, at least 505 Palestinian children were killed during the offensive.

UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said 138 of its students were killed during the assault, and the organization’s spokesperson Christopher Gunness said an additional 814 UNRWA students were injured and 560 have become orphans due to the Israeli onslaught.

The offensive ended on August 26 with an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal.

Gaza’s attack this summer was the third major conflagration in just seven years.

“(Israel) should ensure that all human rights violations committed during its military operations in the Gaza Strip in 2008-2009, 2012 and 2014 are thoroughly, effectively, independently and impartially investigated, that perpetrators, including, in particular, persons in positions of command are prosecuted and sanctioned,” the committee of 18 experts said.

Moreover, Amnesty International said in a report last week that the Israeli military displayed “shocking disregard” for civilian lives in Gaza and documented eight instances in which Israeli forces attacked homes in Gaza “without warning,” killing “at least 104 civilians including 62 children.”

“The report reveals a pattern of frequent Israeli attacks using large aerial bombs to level civilian homes, sometimes killing entire families,” Amnesty added.

Leftover Israeli shells

On Wednesday, a Palestinian man in Gaza was injured after an Israeli ordnance exploded in Khan Younis, medics said.

The man, identified only as M.A. and said to be in his 20s, was moderately injured.

Witnesses said he was removing rubble from a building destroyed during Israel’s summer assault when the explosion occurred.

The Gaza Strip is still littered with a large number of unexploded Israeli shells, one of which recently killed 4-year-old Mohammed Sami Abu-Jrad from the northern Gaza city of Beit Hanoun.

Although Gaza police explosives teams have been working across the territory to destroy unexploded ordnance and prevent safety threats to locals, lack of proper equipment due to the seven-year Israeli siege as well as a general lack of resources have hindered efforts.

Even before the most recent Israeli assault, unexploded ordnance from the 2008-9 and 2012 offensives were a major threat to Gazans.

A 2012 report published by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that 111 civilians, 64 of them children, were casualties to unexploded ordnance between 2009 and 2012, reaching an average of four every month in 2012.

Watch groups have warned that the ordinance can be a particular threat to children, who often think the bombs are toys.

Gaza fishermen continue to suffer

Meanwhile, Israeli naval boats fired at and sank a Palestinian fishing boat in the sea off the coast of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday evening.

Witnesses said that the Israeli navy fired shells at a boat belonging to the al-Bardaweel family and completely destroyed it.

Fishermen on board jumped into the water before the shell exploded.

On Monday, the Israeli navy shot and injured three Palestinian fishermen off the coast of the southern Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said Israeli forces shot at the boat until it caught fire, and that fishermen in a nearby boat managed to pull the injured aboard and escape under heavy fire.

The injured fishermen were taken to the Abu Yousef al-Najjar hospital in Rafah.

The Egypt-brokered ceasefire agreement stipulated that Israel would immediately expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore, and would continue to expand the area gradually.

However, since the ceasefire was signed, Israeli forces have fired at several fishermen who they claim have ventured beyond the newly-imposed limit of six nautical miles.

There have also been widespread reports of the Israeli navy opening fire at fishermen within those limits.

In October, the head of the Gaza fishermen syndicate accused Israel of constantly violating the terms of the agreement.

“Since signing the truce, the Israeli army has violated (the agreement) many times, arresting fishermen and destroying a giant fishing boat, in addition to firing at fishermen on a daily basis,” he said.

There are an estimated 4,000 fishermen in Gaza. According to a 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross, 90 percent are poor, a 40 percent increase from 2008. This change is believed to be a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

The eight-year Israeli blockade has severely crippled Gaza’s economy and contributed to the frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gaza residents.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces detained two Palestinians who allegedly crossed the Gaza Strip border into Israeli-occupied territories, a military official claimed Wednesday.

The two unarmed Palestinians were taken for questioning, an Israeli army spokeswoman said.

Goods and reconstruction material to enter Gaza

On Thursday, the Israeli authorities opened the Kerem Shalom crossing in the southeastern Gaza Strip to allow aid and goods into the enclave.

Raed Fattouh, a Palestinian official responsible for the entry of goods into Gaza, said that the Israeli authorities will allow 350 truckloads of goods for the trade, agricultural, transportation and aid sectors.

Fattouh added that Israel will also allow five trucks of cement for international construction projects.

Meanwhile, Ann-Sofie Nilsson, from the Swedish Consul General, on Wednesday signed an agreement with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to fund a project led by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to step up financial support for the reconstruction of the war-torn Gaza Strip.

“The situation in Gaza is alarming after the devastating war this summer, especially with winter approaching. There is a need for rapid support to the Government of National Consensus in its efforts to kick-start the reconstruction. We are pleased to contribute to alleviate somewhat the difficult situation,” Nilsson said.

Sweden, the first Western European Union country to recognize Palestine as a state, also announced last week a five-year strategy for developing cooperation with Palestine which entails a 50 percent increase in development support.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said last month during a visit to the Gaza Strip that the devastation he had seen was “beyond description.”

According to UN estimates based on preliminary information, as many as 80,000 Palestinians homes were damaged or destroyed during the days of hostilities, and over 106,000 of Gaza’s 1.8 million residents have been displaced to UN shelters and host families.

Israel routinely bars the entry of building materials into the embattled coastal enclave on grounds that Palestinian resistance faction Hamas could use them to build underground tunnels or fortifications.

For years, the Gaza Strip has depended on construction materials smuggled into the territory through a network of tunnels linking it to Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

However, a recent crackdown on the tunnels by the Egyptian army has effectively neutralized hundreds of tunnels, severely affecting Gaza’s construction sector.

(Al-Akhbar, Ma’an)

November 13, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment