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Defeat of USA FREEDOM Act is a Victory for Freedom

By Ron Paul | November 23, 2014

It will not shock readers to hear that quite often legislation on Capitol Hill is not as advertised. When Congress wants to do something particularly objectionable, they tend give it a fine-sounding name. The PATRIOT Act is perhaps the best-known example. The legislation had been drafted well before 9/11 but was going nowhere. Then the 9/11 attacks gave it a new lease on life. Politicians exploited the surge in patriotism following the attack to reintroduce the bill and call it the PATRIOT Act. To oppose it at that time was, by design, to seem unpatriotic.

At the time, 62 Democrats voted against the Act. On the Republican side there were only three no votes: former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), former Rep. Butch Otter (R-ID), and myself.

The abuses of the Constitution in the PATRIOT Act do not need to be fully recounted here, but Presidents Bush and Obama both claimed authority based on it to gut the Fourth Amendment. The PATRIOT Act ushered in the era of warrantless wiretapping, monitoring of our Internet behavior, watering down of probable cause, and much more. After the revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, we know how the NSA viewed constitutional restraints on surveillance of American people during the PATRIOT Act period.

After several re-authorizations of the PATRIOT Act, including some cosmetic reforms, Congress last October unveiled the USA FREEDOM Act. This was advertised as the first wholesale PATRIOT Act Reform bill. In fact, the House version was watered down to the point of meaninglessness and the Senate version was not much better. The final straw was the bill’s extension of key elements of the PATRIOT Act until 2017.

Fortunately, last week the USA FREEDOM Act was blocked from further consideration in the US Senate. The procedural vote was significant and important, but it caused some confusion as well. While some well-meaning pro-privacy groups endorsed the FREEDOM Act as a first step to reform, some anti-liberty neoconservatives opposed the legislation because even its anemic reforms were unacceptable. The truth is, Americans should not accept one more extension of the PATRIOT Act and should not endorse its continued dismemberment of our constitutional liberties. If that means some Senators vote with anti-liberty colleagues to kill the extension, we should still consider it a victory.

As the PATRIOT Act first faced a sunset in 2005, I had this to say in the debate over whether it should be re-authorized:

“When Congress passed the Patriot Act in the emotional aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a sunset provision was inserted in the bill that causes certain sections to expire at the end of 2005. But this begs the question: If these provisions are critical tools in the fight against terrorism, why revoke them after five years? Conversely, if these provisions violate civil liberties, why is it acceptable to suspend the Constitution for any amount of time?”

Reform is often meant to preserve, not repeal bad legislation. When the public is strongly opposed to a particular policy you will almost never hear politicians say “let’s repeal the law.” It is always a pledge to reform the policy or law. The USA FREEDOM Act was no different.

With the failure of the FREEDOM Act to move ahead in the Senate last week, several of the most egregious sections of the PATRIOT Act are set to sunset next June absent a new authorization. Congress will no doubt be under great pressure to extend these measures. We must do our very best to make sure they are unsuccessful!

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , | 1 Comment

Ben & Jerry’s Israeli Factory and Israel’s Stolen Land and Stolen Water

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Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel

The Ben & Jerry’s factory is in Be’er Tuvia, adjacent to the town of Kiryat Malachi, one of four Israeli localities located on the lands of the former village of Qastina, in territory allotted to the Arab state under the 1947 UN Partition Plan. However on July 9, 1948, after Israel’s declaration of independence and the ensuing war, Qastina and its more than 147 houses were completely destroyed by Israeli forces of the Givati Brigade, and the land incorporated into Israel. (Based on information documented at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qastina, accessed December 2012).

nakba345x230Ghatheyya Mifleh al-Khawalda was a 15-year old teenager when she fled to Gaza from her home in the village of al-Qastina, now the town of Kiriyat Malachi and site of the Ben & Jerry’s factory, during the Nakba of 1948. So this woman, a refugee living only a day’s walk from the village that she was driven from, represents a personal and tragic link to the site where now the Ben & Jerry’s factory churns out ‘Peace and Love’ ice cream. Yes, they do profit from this stolen land, and yes, the Nakba was a crime, and yes, the occupation is an affront. Ghatheyya is one of generations of Palestinians in Gaza who are locked away from their land, their families and the world. Some seethe with anger and resort to violence – three people in Kiriyat Malachi died in November 2012 in a rocket attack from Gaza. Ghatheyya said, “We had a very nice house, a big house with marble floors in the hallway. My father was a farmer, and we had farmland with orange trees, apple trees, grapefruit trees and others. We were very happy.” Her life changed dramatically in 1948, when Jewish militias arrived. “Some Jewish militia members were wearing uniform and others had civilian clothes,” Ghatheyya said, “and when they arrived in the village they began firing at people, killing three villagers. We ran away, afraid for our safety, and went to Tal al-Safi, a nearby village. It was within walking distance, and we were in a hurry to leave, so we didn’t take anything with us. It was like Doomsday. It was utter terror. We couldn’t think of anything except leaving, not even simple things like bringing food with us.” After a few days in Tal es-Safi, militias came again and forced them to leave. Ghatheyya and her family fled to Beit Jibrin to spend the night, but were followed and forced to leave again. “If you wanted to die, you stayed. If you wanted to live, you left,” she recalls. “Their main aim was not to kill us, but to get rid of us. If they had wanted us all dead, not one of us would have survived. They used fear to force us to leave our land.” The family walked along the coast until they reached Gaza. “There were thousands of people who fled other villages, sleeping in mosques or on the street,” Ghatheyya says, and UNRWA began to build tents for the families. (From a story “Nakba survivor: If you wanted to live, you left” at Ma’an News )

Water Used by the Factory

When investigating Ben & Jerry’s business dealings in Israel and the occupied territory, we also set out to determine if the company’s franchise was benefiting from Israel’s criminal diversion of Palestinian water. Our inquiry, which included discussions with an international water consultant, led us to the tentative conclusion that Ben & Jerry’s factory in Kiryat Malachi may be drawing water from the Jordan River system and the Mountain Aquifer in the occupied West Bank, the two highest-quality water sources in the region, thus diverting it from Palestinian use.

Palestinians under occupation have been denied access to the Jordan River since 1967, leaving the Mountain Aquifer as their only source of water. A study by The World Bank determined that “Palestinian per capita access to water resources in the West Bank is a quarter of Israeli access and is declining.” This is a result of Israeli government planning and regulation.

To make matters worse, Israeli settlers in the West Bank often obstruct or disconnect the flow of water to Arab communities, while 500,000 settlers consume in total approximately six times more water than three million Palestinians. This difference is even higher when agricultural use is factored in. Regular access to water explains why one commonly sees green lawns and swimming pools in Israeli settlements. In stark contrast, throughout the year, but especially in the summer, Palestinian cities and villages are denied continuous access to water, sometimes for weeks on end. This gross injustice is aggravated by Israel’s policy of denying permits to Palestinians to drill new wells or rehabilitate old ones.

By manufacturing in Israel and marketing in the occupied territory, Ben & Jerry’s is a willing partner to a water system that is grossly inequitable, transgresses international law, and denies Palestinians their fair share of the Mountain Aquifer and the Jordan River. Please see Our Report for more information on Israel’s water crimes in the occupied territory.

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Recovering Whales, Ocean Acidification, and Climate Horror Stories

Part 3 Jim Steele’s Presentation to the Life Members of the International Electrical and Electronic Engineers. Jim is the author of “Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism”

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | 1 Comment

Bahrain opposition slams ‘ridiculous’ official voter turnout rate

Al-Akhbar | November 23, 2014

A war of words over the turnout rate in Bahrain’s legislative election heightened Sunday, between the authorities and the opposition, with the latter accusing the regime of “misleading the public.”

With the vote-counting still underway after Saturday’s elections to the 40-member parliament, the focus was on voter turnout, which became a key marker of the election’s validity after Bahrain’s main opposition movement, al-Wefaq, which was banned in October from carrying out any activities for three months for allegedly “violating the law on associations,” and four other opposition groups boycotted the polls.

The opposition demand a “real” constitutional monarchy with an elected prime minister who is independent from the ruling royal family. But the US and Saudi-backed King Hamad al-Khalifa, whose family has been in power for over 200 years, has refused to yield.

The Bahraini official electoral commission said 51.5 percent of registered voters turned out to vote, but the opposition, which has dismissed the elections as a “farce”, slammed the official turnout rate as “ridiculous”, saying that only 30 percent of eligible voters had turned out.

Both sides also traded accusations of electoral malpractice, with the opposition saying it has proof that tens of thousands of people were pressured to vote, while the authorities accused “militants” of preventing others from reaching ballot stations.

”Amusing and ridiculous”

Voting closed at 1900 GMT Saturday after a two-hour extension decided by the electoral commission, in a likely bid to boost turnout.

An hour later the head of the commission, Sheikh Khaled al-Khalifa, who is also justice minister, claimed initial estimates showed 51.5 percent of registered voters turned out to vote.

“Turnout for the legislative elections was 51.5 percent… (and this result) puts an end to confessionalism in Bahrain,” he said in reference to the opposition’s boycott call.

Al-Wefaq, which withdrew its 17 lawmakers after the regime’s violent crackdown on protests in 2011, called the official turnout rate “amusing, ridiculous, and lacking credibility”.

Government officials were “trying to fool public opinion and ignore the large election boycott by announcing exaggerated figures,” the opposition group said in a statement published early Sunday.

The opposition instead cited a turnout figure of “around 30 percent,” allowing a possible five percent difference either way.

It also accused the authorities of making tens of thousands of state employees vote or face consequences.

“Even a 30 percent turnout would not have been possible if the authorities had not pressured and threatened state employees,” the statement said, adding that “80 percent of voters are serving in the security, military and public apparatuses.”

”3,000 political prisoners behind bars”

With Saudi Arabia’s help, Bahrain, a country ruled by an unelected monarchy, crushed peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations that began on February 14, 2011.

Saudi Arabia and other Gulf neighbors sent troops into Bahrain in March 2011, reinforcing a crackdown that led to accusations of serious human rights violations.

At least 89 people are estimated to have been killed and hundreds have been arrested and tried since the uprising erupted.

In a press conference held by the National Democratic Opposition Parties at al-Wefaq headquarters on Saturday, al-Wefaq chief Sheikh Ali Salman said the regime continued to commit major human rights violations.

“The elections are being held while more than 3,000 prisoners are behind bars, including Ibrahim Sharif, who is the former chief of the National Democratic Action Society, and many other prominent political figures”, said Salman, adding that the authorities have repeatedly misled the public in the past.

Today, Bahrain, a key ally of Washington and home to the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, has the distinction of being the country with the second highest prison population rate per 100,000 amongst Arab states in the West Asian and North African region.

Over 200 minors are being held within these prisons, forced to stay side-by-side with adults, and some have faced torture and sexual abuses.

Authorities ignored pleas by human rights groups to release political prisoners, instead increasing the punishment for violent crimes.

Besides imprisonment, 50 Bahrainis have had their citizenship revoked and several have also been deported since Bahrain adopted a law last year stipulating that suspects convicted of “terrorist” acts could be stripped of their nationality.

The Ministry of Interior in November 2012 revoked the nationality of 31 pro-democracy activists in the name of the Bahrain Citizenship Law, “under which the nationality of a person can be revoked if he or she causes harm to state security,” Amnesty International said in a report.

“The Bahraini authorities are running out of arguments to justify repression. They are now resorting to extreme measures such as jail sentences and revoking nationality to quell dissent in the country, rather than allowing people to peacefully express their views,” Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa deputy director, Hassiba Sahraoui, said in the report.

Moreover, government officials Saturday also accused “militants of provoking incidents” and blocking roads in areas of the capital Manama in order to prevent people from voting.

Clashes erupted between youths and security forces, with the latter firing tear gas and rubber-coated bullets at protesters, in many villages around Bahrain Saturday.

“Peaceful protesters in more than 50 areas around Bahrain were violently attacked and many have been left with shotgun injuries,” Salman added, urging UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “to sanction a political solution to the Bahraini crisis.”

(Al-Akhbar, AFP)

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , | Comments Off on Bahrain opposition slams ‘ridiculous’ official voter turnout rate

Iran’s Ever-Ticking Nuclear Clock: Countdown to Nothing

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | November 22, 2014

Recycled rhetoric that sounds ominous, yet signifies nothing – least of all reality – is standard practice when fear-mongering about, well, anything. But especially about Iran’s nuclear program, constant threats to bomb it, and the dire predictions of how soon Iran will have an atomic weapon.

Time is always running out on diplomacy, a military operation is always around the corner, and Iran is always just months away from decimating Israel and holding the world hostage with a single nuclear bomb that it isn’t even making. The clock, we hear ad nauseum, is ticking.

With nuclear negotiations nearing their latest deadline in Vienna this weekend, we are hearing – once again – that it’s “crunch time” for diplomacy and anything less than a comprehensive deal sets the stage for war.

While a fair and just nuclear deal would certainly be in the best interest of all parties involved, we’ve heard all this before. The “clock” has long been “ticking” when it comes to Iran, or so we’ve been told for over a decade now.

Here’s a little trip down memory-hole lane and here’s hoping that, come Monday and the inking of an multilateral agreement, this talking point’s time will finally be up.

Associated Press / The Columbus Dispatch, November 9, 2014:

New Europe – October 16, 2014:

Council on Foreign Relations, September 17, 2014:

Newser, July 15, 2014:

AFP, July 1, 2014:

The Globe and Mail, June 10, 2014:

SBS, February 19, 2014:

CNN, January 13, 2014:

The New York Times, November 25, 2013:

The Jerusalem Post, November 4, 2013:

Roll Call, August 2, 2013:

American Enterprise Institute, July 10, 2013:

BBC News, April 7, 2013:

The Wall Street Journal, March 13, 2013:

The Hill, March 5, 2013:

The Telegraph, December 26, 2012:

James G. Zumwalt, December 26, 2012:

CBS DC, October 22, 2012:

The Sydney Morning Herald, October 2, 2012:

Foreign Policy, August 30, 2012:

The American Spectator, August 27, 2012:

Ha’aretz, August 14, 2012:

Albuquerque Journal, June 28, 2012:

Reuters, June 21, 2012:

NewsMax, February 8, 2012:

CBS Sunday Morning, January 15, 2012:

The New York Times, December 29, 2011:

The Weekly StandardDecember 19, 2011:

AEI Center for Defense Studies, December 12, 2011:

UPI, November 9, 2011:

The Hill, November 8, 2011:

Associated Press, November 4, 2011:

New York Post, January 18, 2011:

The Atlantic, August 20, 2010:

The New York Times, March 19, 2010:


Voice of America, December 6, 2009:


The Spectator (UK), December 1, 2009:

New York Post, November 16, 2009:

Christian Science Monitor, November 3, 2009:

Los Angeles Times, September 20, 2009:

Meet the Press, June 21, 2009:

Politico, June 19, 2009:


The Washington Post, March 8, 2009:

EurasiaNet, June 13, 2008:

Toronto Star, May 17, 2008:

Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2006:


Institute for Science and International Security, March 27, 2006:

Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), May 26, 2005:

Dawn, March 19, 2005:

Voice of America, September 19, 2004:

*****

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , | Comments Off on Iran’s Ever-Ticking Nuclear Clock: Countdown to Nothing

Zionist Settlers Torch Palestinian Home in West Bank

Al-Manar | November 23, 2014

304810_345x230Zionist extremists firebombed a house in a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank early on Sunday.

The mayor of Khirbet Abu Falah, Masud Abu Mura, reported the attack, saying: “At 4:00 am (0200 GMT), settlers came and threw molotov cocktails at a house which partly burned down.”

Four women were inside the house at the time, but they all escaped unharmed, the mayor of the village which lies northeast of Ramallah said.

Near the house, the assailants scrawled “Death to Arabs” in Hebrew.

Mohammad Abdelkarim Hamayel, whose aunt and two female cousins live in the house, said the assailants were believed to be from the Shilo settlement, a few kilometers to the north of the village.

“In the middle of the night, my aunt woke up when she heard voices speaking Hebrew. Someone knocked on the door but she didn’t answer because she was afraid,” he told AFP.

“They threw a tear gas canister and several molotov cocktails at the balcony which caught fire.”

Israeli occupation police also confirmed the attack, with its spokesman Luba Samri saying: “It is a two-storey house and the fire caused major damage to the ground floor.”

On November 12, Zionist settlers also torched a mosque in the neighboring village of Al-Mughayir.

Source: AFP

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Comments Off on Zionist Settlers Torch Palestinian Home in West Bank

UK Security Enforced Media Blackout of Government Child Abuse

teleSUR | November 22, 2014

Two British newspaper bosses claim that national security services prevented them from publishing allegations of a government pedophile ring in the 1980s on the grounds that it was intelligence that might damage national security.

The executives were issued with the D-notices in 1984, when they were due to print damning details enclosed in a dossier on the child sex abuse scandal handed to them by former Labour minister, Barbara Castle.

Officials say that no records of the media blackout notices can be found however, leading investigators into the case to believe that they were destroyed, further heightening suspicions of a government cover-up.

Security officials said that files “going back beyond 20 years are not complete because files are reviewed and correspondence of a routine nature with no historical significance destroyed.”

However, the security services deny a whitewash.

“I cannot believe that past D-notice secretaries would have countenanced the destruction of any key documents. I can only repeat that while any attempted cover-up of this incident might have been attributed to a D-notice the truth would be that it was not,” a spokesperson for the unit that handles D-notices said.

The case, which was finally exposed in June of this year, relates to a number of prominent politicians and security chiefs under Margaret Thatcher’s government who repeatedly sexually and physically abused young boys, holding ‘sex parties’ in a central London residence.

This month, a man who claims to have been a victim of the ring, revealed that he saw a Conservative Member of Parliament murder a young boy during one of these depraved sex parties, and that two other boys were killed by the gang.

London’s Metropolitan Police say they are taking the man’s account seriously and are now investigating a “possible homicide.”

November 23, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments