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Four Palestinians and one female German demonstrator shot with live ammunition at “Open Shuhada Street” protest


Israeli military sniper aiming up the road towards the Open Shuhada Street demonstrators
International Solidarity Movement | February 28, 2015

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On February 27 in occupied Al-Khalil (Hebron), Israeli forces fired live ammunition towards nonviolent protesters participating in the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration, injuring five including four Palestinian activists, one of them 17 years old, and one German citizen. More were also injured by rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades as soldiers and Border Police blocked the roads leading towards Shuhada Street and attacked the protesters.

Close to a thousand Palestinians, accompanied by Israeli and international supporters, marched towards one of the closed entrances to Shuhada Street carrying flags and signs and chanting. They called for the opening of Shuhada Street, whose closure to Palestinians has become a symbol of Israel’s Apartheid system, and for an end to the occupation. The march was turned back by stun grenades, rubber coated steel bullets and live ammunition fired by the Israeli military. Around twenty demonstrators were injured in total; Hebron Hospital reported that at least six were admitted and two required surgery. One Palestinian activist, Hijazi Ebedo, 25, was arrested at the demonstration; all he had been doing was chanting and holding a sign.

Issa Amro, coordinator and co-founder of Youth Against Settlements (YAS) stated: “The protest, which was joined by groups from all over Palestine, marked the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. Israeli occupying forces shot live ammunition towards peaceful protesters, which is against international law. The Israeli military should be held accountable in international court for their actions.”

“Julia was standing and filming next to me when suddenly she fell to the ground,” stated Leigh, a Canadian activist who was standing next to Julia when she was shot.

Julia, the injured 22-year-old German activist from Berlin, was evacuated to Hebron Hospital where she is being treated for a live gunshot wound which entered and exited her leg. “The brutality of Israeli forces is unbelievable, it seems like they don’t have a limit,” she stated. “In Palestine I have seen Israeli forces shooting tear gas, stun grenades, rubber and live ammunition at any kind of demonstration that is against the occupation. It doesn’t matter for them if it is peaceful or if there are kids attending. Yesterday I saw the army attack children who had been dancing in the street. Two people were shot with live ammunition in Bil’in. They shot me as I was standing and filming. It seems the soldiers just shoot at any one.”

The Open Shuhada Street demonstration marks the anniversary of the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when right wing extremist settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians while they worshipped in the mosque. Following the massacre, Israeli forces shut down Palestinian businesses on Shuhada Street–once a commercial center–and began to implement the policies which would lead to what is now a total closure of the vast majority of the street to Palestinians. Twenty one years after the massacre, settlers from illegal Israeli settlements use the street freely while Palestinians are assaulted, shot and arrested when they attempt to reach it en masse during the Open Shuhada Street demonstration every year.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama Regime Proposes Ridiculous Anti-Consumer Plan for GMO Labeling

By | February 26, 2015

Despite polls showing overwhelming support for labeling for genetically engineered foods, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack proposed yesterday that consumers should use their smartphones to scan bar codes on food packages to find out whether their food contains GMOs.

Vlisack’s idea is sure to cheer the food industry, while denying Americans the right to know what is in our food.

Why not just enforce our right to know what is in our food? Why does the Obama administration stand up for Big Food and not consumers?

A fancy smart phone and a pricy data plan should not be prerequisites for knowing if your food has been genetically engineered.

In 2007, as a presidential candidate, then-Senator Obama promised mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. He said: “Here’s what I’ll do as president … We’ll let folks know if their food has been genetically modified, because Americans should know what they’re buying,” Obama has yet to keep his promise.

In 2001, then-Governor Vilsack was named Governor of the Year for the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

A January 24 statement published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe — signed by 300 scientists, physicians and scholars — asserts there is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rich get richer from fewer labor unions, study says

RT | February 28, 2015

A study by the International Monetary Fund tracked three decades of income and found that as unionization declined, the wealth of the richest 10 percent in advanced countries showed a continuous increase.

More specifically, the study’s authors found that when researching income levels during the period of 1980-2010, the decline in unionization explained about half of the rise in incomes for the richest 10 percent, and half of the increase in the Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality).

“While some inequality can increase efficiency by strengthening incentives to work and invest, recent research suggests that higher inequality is associated with lower and less sustainable growth in the medium run, even in advanced economies,” argued the paper’s authors, Florence Jaumotte and Carolina Osorio Buitron.

The authors said traditional research has argued that the rise of inequality in advanced economies can be attributed to skill-based technology changes – such as new technology displacing workers – and globalization. They found that these developments led to some inequality changes at different rates and magnitudes, but not enough to account for the consistent increase in inequality that was being measured.

Researchers looked for answers in recent studies that made the claim that financial deregulation and lower taxes were another factor – but again, that wasn’t showing the steady increases that researchers were charting.

“…A rising concentration of income at the top of the distribution can reduce a population’s welfare if it allows top earners to manipulate the economic political system in their favor,” they wrote, referring to things such as lower taxes and business subsidies.

They then considered what effect the decline in unionization and a flat-lining minimum wage could have on wealth disparity. Previous research said such things were unlikely to have a direct impact, but that is not what Jaumotte and Buitron found. They took samples of advanced economies between 1980 and 2010 and considered gross income, labor market institutions and controls for globalization, financial liberalization, and common global trends.

“Our results confirm that the decline in unionization is strongly associated with the rise of income shares at the top…about half the increase…in net income is driven by deunionization,” said Jaumotte and Buitron.

Economists argue that stronger unions and higher minimum wages increase unemployment, but there isn’t strong evidence to support the claim. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development only found three studies out of 17 that showed an association between unions and unemployment.

What it did find was that union rules lead to equal pay for workers, and that unionization didn’t maintain wages above “market-clearing” levels and cause unemployment. And unions, by mobilizing workers, encourage policymakers to engage in income redistribution and support for social and labor rights.

In the US, there were 14.5 million union members in 2013, or 11.3 percent of the working population, compared with 17.7 million in 1983. Union members in the private sector have fallen under seven percent, levels not seen since 1932. Internationally, Germany has 18.4 percent of its population in unions, Canada 27.5 percent, and Finland 70 percent.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

Making the World Safe for Atrocity

By Nick Alexandrov | CounterPunch | February 27, 2105

Commentators marked World War I’s centenary last year with cloudy references to its “dreadful lessons” and “emotional legacies.” And the victor countries’ leaders stressed the “profound sacrifice” (Barack Obama) the conflict’s “generation…made for us” (David Cameron). But if these recollections are any guide, one of the war’s dark chapters has been largely forgotten.

George Bernard Shaw discussed this episode nearly a century ago, in July 1919. “We are at present at a climax of national exultation over the most magnificent military triumph in our long record of victory,” he observed. “But the splendour of the end,” he added, “had better not blind us to the grimness of the means, which were the work of our hands.” Shaw meant that England had “starved the children of Germany, and of many other lands as well.”

The starvation campaign’s centenary is next month. It was on March 1, 1915, that “Britain and France announced that they intended to expand the objectives of the naval blockade of the Central Powers to include the interdiction of food,” Alexander Downes writes in Targeting Civilians in War. This declaration followed Germany’s, on February 4, signaling the start of submarine warfare, but merely exploited the Kaiser’s pronouncement as “an excellent pretext to interdict German food imports in a way that avoided offending neutral opinion,” Downes explains.

Depicting the blockade as a response to German aggression deflected attention from British criminality. Ralph Raico writes that, “according to everyone’s interpretation of international law except Britain’s,” the expanded blockade “was illegal,” and Downes argues that “the reigning norms and laws of naval warfare—codified in the Declaration of London, negotiated by the leading naval powers in 1908-9”—forbade it. But the law proved as great an obstacle to British officials as moral concerns. Winston Churchill clarified in 1914, while First Lord of the Admiralty, that the goal with Germany was “to starve the whole population—men, women, and children, young and old, wounded and sound—into submission.” Top defense official Maurice Hankey agreed, writing in 1915 that there was no “hope to starve Germany out this year,” though “next year” looked better.

Hankey’s forecast was accurate. The war was devastating, writes Matthew Stibbe, since “Germany depended on foreign imports for around one-third of its food needs” before 1914. “Without access to imported fertilizers,” Downes notes, “the yields of German harvests declined over the course of the conflict,” falling from “4.4 million tons of wheat in 1913” to “2.5 million tons in 1918.” Furthermore, “German consumption of meat products plummeted from 1,050 grams per week in 1913 to 135 in 1918.” Exacerbating the problem, according to Hans-Jürgen Teuteberg, was that the German “state did virtually nothing to reduce the dependence on food imports.”

German suffering sharpened during the 1916-17 winter, Stibbe explains, when “ordinary civilian rations had fallen below 1,000 calories a day”—“barely sufficient for a child of two or three years old,” Britain’s official historian of the blockade elaborated. C. Paul Vincent relates the story of one Dr. Neumann, who in 1916 “performed an experiment in which he limited himself to the legally allowed food ration for an average person. After six months on this regimen, the professor had lost a third of his weight and his capacity for work had been destroyed.”

But hunger and illness brought the most ruin to women and children. Downes writes that “by 1918 the female death rate in Germany had increased 50 percent over the rate in 1913, and was also 50 percent higher than the corresponding rate in England.” “The death rate of children between the ages of one and five” jumped 50% during the war, with a 55% rise for children aged five to fifteen, according to Vincent. “The infanticide in Bethlehem was child’s play compared with the starvation of German children as a result of the three years of economic blockade,” a Berlin priest and anti-war activist remarked, surveying the wasteland. One wonders how he would have ranked President Clinton’s Iraq sanctions, estimated to have killed 500,000 children by 1995—“worth it,” in Madeleine Albright’s view.

For German survivors, withered by hunger, life reduced to a series of grim alternatives. Lina Richter told of a 16-year-old who “attempted to destroy her life by suffocation with gas, owing to despair over the home conditions,” and was then hospitalized. Evelyn, Princess Blücher conversed with a woman for whom living “on the minimum of food still possible under the circumstances was so dreadful, that she thought it would be the most sensible thing to go with her child and try to get shot in one of the numerous street-fights;” a second woman considered “turning on the gas on herself and her two small children, and putting an end to the horrors of living.”

The blockade continued after the armistice, lifting only in July 1919, by which point the excess civilian death toll was somewhere between 475,800, in historian Jay Winter’s estimate, and the official German figure of 763,000. And the U.S. had backed the starvation campaign upon entering the war. “Not given to half-measures, Wilson ensured that every loophole left open by the Allies for the potential reprovisioning of Germany was closed,” Vincent argues. Critiquing Wilson-style diplomacy, George Kennan cited its “legalistic-moralistic approach” as a chief weakness. His assertion, weighed next to Washington’s support for illegal and murderous British policy, describes the exact opposite of Wilson’s method—worth bearing in mind, given Kennan’s reputation as a “first-class strategic thinker” (John J. Mearsheimer).

Wilson’s standing as an incurable dreamer also rests on dubious assumptions. It seems obvious that his actions, publicly justified by the looming “German menace,” were the greatest wartime threat to U.S. citizens. He oversaw “one of the worst suppressions of civil liberties in the history of the United States” (Richard Striner) while taking the country into “a holy war to redeem the Old World” (Lloyd Ambrosius). “Because there had been no direct attack on the United States,” Geoffrey R. Stone adds, “the Wilson administration needed to create an ‘outraged public’ to arouse Americans to enlist,” and to this end “established the Committee on Public Information (CPI) under the direction of George Creel, a progressive journalist and public relations expert. Creel’s goal was to generate enthusiasm for the war”—to convince young men to enter a slaughterhouse, in other words.

Wade Davis details the front’s butchery with bleak poeticism, describing victims “caught on the barbed wire, drowned in mud, choked by the oily slime of gas, reduced to a spray of red mist,” their “quartered limbs hanging from shattered branches of burnt trees, bodies swollen and blackened with flies, skulls gnawed by rats, corpses stuck in the sides of trenches….” Both there and in Germany, Wilson’s liberal idealist path dead-ended at a graveyard—one of the war’s “dreadful lessons” recent commentary ignores.

Nick Alexandrov lives in Washington, DC.  He can be reached at:


February 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Washington supplying Kiev with satellite intelligence of conflict in east – report

RT | February 28, 2015

The US is supplying Kiev with spy satellite imagery of enemy positions in eastern Ukraine, but does so by deliberately reducing the quality, apparently so as not to anger Russia too much, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A debate has been on in the US for some time on whether the Obama administration should provide the Kiev government with actionable intelligence. As with providing “defensive” weapons, the disagreements are similar.

However, imagery reduced in quality has apparently been green-lighted, but only arriving to the Ukrainians 24 hours late at the least. This step is apparently to ensure the US isn’t in any way thought of as a participant in the conflict, the newspaper said, referencing its own sources.

Another reason for why the images are somewhat degraded is in the event of the photos accidentally ending up with the Russians, who as a result would learn more about American spy satellite capabilities.

Ukraine does not like the way things are at the moment, complaining that it hampers its efforts against what it calls Russia-backed troops.

“This assistance is not sufficient… We don’t have a day to wait for satellite images. The information should be real time,” Andriy Parubiy, first deputy chairman of the Ukrainian Rada told WSJ.

Moscow has repeatedly denied aiding the rebels.

Parubiy, on the other hand, adds that a deal is already in place with Canada to supply more real-time and more high-resolution data.

His concerns about timeliness and quality are shared by many within the American political elite, especially the famously anti-Russian Senator John McCain, who has been making claims of weapons support for the uprising from Russia.

Nonetheless, the White House has last year agreed to Kiev’s request for intelligence on east Ukraine, albeit after things are done to it. This also allegedly includes blacking out Russian territory.

These compromises are there allegedly to give the Ukrainians a better idea of what they’re dealing with at home, rather than what takes place a stone’s throw away on foreign soil.

Ukraine meanwhile continues to pressure the US for weapons as well, from radars to missiles to drones, but only getting so much, as it’s not a NATO member – unlike Russia’s other immediate neighbors Poland, Lithuania and Estonia, who have all got Javelin missiles.

Ukraine’s non-membership is thought to have led to a consensus among NATO members to hold off on supplying it with lethal aid, according to an unnamed military official.

READ MORE: US, UK meddling in OSCE’s mandate in Ukraine – Russia’s envoy to UN

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Secretly Arrests Golani Druze, Accusing Him of Exposing Syrian Rebel-Jewish State Collaboration

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | February 28, 2015

Israel’s Shin Bet rearrested Golani Druze Sedki al-Maket (age 48). Until his release in 2012 (Hebrew), he’d been the longest serving Israeli security prisoner, having spent 27 years detained. News of his arrest is under gag order by Israeli media. The gag is laughable since the arrest has been reported not only by Syrian media, but in a Hebrew Facebook post.

Though Israeli security services haven’t offered any reason for his arrest, it’s likely they’re angered because a week ago he followed Syrian rebels to a meeting inside Israeli-occupied territory. The rebels met with Israeli forces who’ve previously been shown to receive logistical and intelligence support from Israel in previous reports here and in Israel and foreign media. Al Maket filmed a video  while the meeting was underway, in which he described what he saw and offered it to Syrian TV.  It was aired to the entire nation and likely monitored by Israeli security.

The Shin Bet doesn’t want any further leaks about such collaboration because it allows the Syrian regime to paint the rebels as Israeli stooges. It also gives the lie to those Israeli intelligence figures and journalists who’ve spoken falsely about Israel remaining neutral regarding the two sides fighting in Syria. Despite numerous air attacks against Syrian government facilities, assassinations of Syrian, Hezbollah and Iranian military, and security cooperation with rebels, Israel continues to maintain the fiction it hasn’t chosen sides.

If anyone wonders why Islamists are beheading western journalists and occupying Iraq and Syria, while carefully avoiding Israeli targets, this will explain a lot. It will also explain Israel’s approach which is to weaken central power in Syria, so that the Golan region closest to the border will become a protectorate, as was southern Lebanon until Israel’s withdrawal in 2000. Having Syrian rebels under Israeli sponsorship ruling the Syrian Golan will be much more conducive to maintaining Israel control and occupation for years to come.

Meanwhile, the Israeli media is content to publish happy news about the Golani Druze village of Majd al-Shams (home to al-Maket), which apparently has become a playground for a certain hip Israeli scene which enjoys pub crawling in the midst of Israeli-occupied Golan. If the report is to be believed, you can hardly tell the difference between it and Berlin or New York!

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 2 Comments

Israeli troops ‘violently’ attack Palestinian teen at border crossing

Ma’an – 28/02/2015

JENIN – A teenage Palestinian boy from the northern West Bank says he was violently assaulted by Israeli soldiers at al-Jalama crossing north of Jenin while he was trying to cross into Israel.

Muhammad Asri Fayyad, 17, told Ma’an Saturday that on Thursday morning he arrived at the crossing along with a busload of young men and teenagers who had organized a trip to Israel and obtained the needed permits from Israeli authorities.

He says he entered the crossing and complied with the instructions Israeli officers were giving through loudspeakers. The instructions included “that we shove our mobile phones in one place and we cross from a different place which we did.”

“Everybody received back their mobile phones except me. The soldiers asked me to pass through a path under a bridge on top of which stood a number of soldiers pointing their guns at me.

“They then asked me to enter a room which has several doors and I obeyed the orders. All the doors were immediately locked before the officers started to shout through loudspeakers demanding that I take off my clothes and my shoes.”

He added that he took off his shoes first but the soldiers continued to shout “violently” repeating that he must take off all his clothes.

“When I took off my clothes, they turned on a huge ceiling fan which caused frigid coldness. I told them to turn off the fan because I was freezing, but they didn’t, and so I knocked on the fan in an attempt to cause it to stop. At that point the soldiers broke into the room and started to beat be with rifle butts until I fell to the ground.

“They then tied my hand to a steel bar behind my back and tied my foot to another bar. I remained in that position from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. After that a number of soldiers arrived and a female soldier untied me after she took a silver necklace I was wearing. She ordered me to put on my clothes, then she handcuffed and blindfolded my eyes and escorted me outside the crossing and told me that I was denied entry to Israel. She gave me a small sack in which I found the remnants of my mobile phone which had been smashed.”

Muhammad says he has been suffering severe shoulder and foot pain ever since.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Hamas slams ‘terrorist’ label by Egypt court

Sami Abu Zuhri

Hamas spokesperson, Sami Abu Zuhri
MEMO | February 28, 2015

Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday denounced as “shocking” an Egyptian court decision to designate the movement a “terrorist organisation”.”Labeling Hamas as a terrorist organisation is a dangerous decision that represents a shift in Egyptian-Palestinian relations,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Anadolu Agency.

“Unfortunately, the situation has been turned upside down: Israel the enemy has become a friend of Egypt while Hamas – which is an integral part of the Palestinian people – has become a terrorist,” Abu Zuhri said.

The spokesman, however, said that Hamas will not be affected by the Egyptian court verdict as it came to “export Egypt’s domestic problems.”

Earlier Saturday, an Egyptian court designated Hamas as a “terrorist” group over claims that the group had carried out terrorist attacks in Egypt through tunnels linking the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.

In March 2014, the same court outlawed Hamas’ activities in Egypt and confiscated its offices.

The court had said that the ban would be temporary until another court – which is trying ousted President Mohamed Morsi for alleged “collaboration” with Hamas to carry out “hostile” acts in Egypt – delivers its final verdict.

Last month, the same court declared the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, a terrorist organisation.

A number of Hamas members have been among the defendants in two trials that Morsi – a Muslim Brotherhood leader – currently faces for alleged espionage and jailbreak.

Egypt’s media has blamed Hamas, an ideological offshoot of the Brotherhood, for a series of deadly attacks on security forces since Morsi’s ouster. Hamas has consistently denied the allegations.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

“How Dare you Say Peace is the Answer.” … Fear is a Much Better Alternative

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky | Global Research | February 28, 2015

The following email was sent to me by a Global Research reader, widow of an American serviceman, an unspoken victim of  America’s wars.

Her response shows how effective war propaganda has become, in turning concepts up side down.

Western civilization is threatened, the ISIS bogeyman seeks World domination. Our American way of life is threatened.

She blames the enemy for the death of her husband, rather than the US government.

I offered to send her my book regarding the impacts of nuclear war. I signed my email with the words “For Peace”.

She responded by saying:  ”How dare you think peace is the answer.”

War is the solution, she says. “total annihilation is the answer. .. What we have to do is to teach nations to fear us” :

Have we become so complacent of fear that we will not use mass destruction against the Middle East. We did it against Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end all threats from  those who have no regard for other humans?  [first email]

 In response  to your email, I am a military brat  and have good experience with war.

Have you ever been to a little place called Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran, or Iraq.  I had 6 very good friends, drafted  to Vietnam, who never returned.

I am a war widow and raised an 18 month old son, alone!!

How dare you think peace is the answer.

For countries, that threaten our way of life, war is not good enough to slap hands, total annihilation is the answer.

If we had done that,  ISIS would not be beheading people.

They are encouraging our own people to join ISIS to retaliate against America.

Are you ready to live under ISIS world domination? Remincent of a little man named Adolf Hitler, who annihilated 6 million  Jews.

If we can teach nations to fear us, then we wouldn’t  need war, then our precious military would not die on foreign soil, leaving families devastated.

Think about that. Peace, Fear is a much better alternative. [second email]

(minor editing by M.Ch.)

The Victims of War Propaganda

Her response is the product of a propaganda campaign within the US Armed Forces.

She is the victim of America’s wars, the widow of an American serviceman. She is also the victim of war propaganda which instills hatred and upholds war as the solution.

Upon reading her message,  I felt that the most important thing to do was to reach out to her, and the victims of war propaganda, provide them with concepts and information, which will enable them to know the truth about US led wars.

More broadly Americans are misinformed as to the true nature of America’s wars. “Wipe out the rest of the world to ensure the security of the American homeland.”

Going after “Islamic terrorists”, carrying out a worldwide pre-emptive war to “protect the Homeland” are used to justify a military agenda. This has become a consensus shared by millions of people. In turn, “The Global War on Terrorism” is presented as a “Clash of Civilizations”.

Evil folks are lurking. A good versus evil duality prevails, which instills in the minds of millions of people the notion that war is a humanitarian undertaking.

What is required is counter-propaganda to sensitize our fellow-citizens, with a view to confronting the stream of lies emanating from the US government and the mainstream media. This campaign should be extended to members of the Armed Forces and their families.

Spread the word far and wide.  Reverse the Tide. Obama’s “Global War on Terrorism” is Fake, it’s a criminal undertaking.

The fundamental issue, which is obfuscated by the media is that the Islamic State (ISIS) is a creation of US intelligence, which is used to destabilize and destroy sovereign countries as part of a global war of conquest.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 2 Comments

US fails to take Cuba off list of state sponsors of terrorism

Press TV – February 28, 2015

The United States and Cuba have held another round of talks to reestablish diplomatic relations and explore the possibility of opening embassies in Washington and Havana.

However, the Friday talks left a serious issue unresolved as Washington has failed to remove Cuba from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism” so far.

The US said it was still reviewing Cuba’s place on the list maintaining that the issue is separate from the talks and won’t affect the reestablishment of diplomatic relations.

However, the head of the Cuban delegation, Josefina Vidal, said that the removal from the terror list was a “very important issue” and a priority for Havana.

“It would be difficult to explain that Cuba and the US have re-established normal diplomatic relations while Cuba is kept on that list that we believe we have never belonged to,” Vidal said.

The US State Department says the process is more complicated than it seems. If President Barack Obama wants to remove Cuba from the list, he must forward that to Congress and it cannot take effect for 45 days according to the law.

Following the talks, the head of the US delegation expressed optimism that the two countries could re-open embassies before a regional summit in April.

On December 17, Obama announced that Washington will start talks with Cuba to normalize diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in US foreign policy towards the communist country in over 50 years.

Several Republican lawmakers have criticized Obama for trying to restore relations with Cuba because they say it could provide the Caribbean nation with legitimacy and money while it continues with its alleged human rights violations.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 1 Comment

Cuba: the Weight of a Long History

200 Years of US Interventionism

By MANUEL R. GÓMEZ | CounterPunch | February 27, 2015

The U.S. and Cuba are meeting again this week for their second round of normalization talks. When asked by the media what she expected from the first round, Roberta Jacobson, the senior diplomat leading the U.S. team, said that she was “not oblivious to the weight of history.” She was right on target: There is a very long history that begins well before the Revolution, deserves careful analysis, and will impact the talks.

As far back as 1809, Jefferson tried to purchase Cuba. In 1820 he went further; he told Secretary of War J.C. Calhoun that the U.S. “ought, at the first possible opportunity, to take Cuba.” As President, John Quincy Adams predicted that Cuba would fall “like a ripening plum into the lap of the union.” These are but two of many prominent examples of a widespread ambition to annex Cuba, or at least to control its destiny, from very early in U.S. history. After “the West,” Cuba figured as a prominent second place in U.S. expansionist aims from the beginning of the Republic.

In subsequent decades, support for annexing Cuba shifted tactically to Southerners who saw Cuba as a potential new slave state, though “manifest destiny” continued to be the fundamental driving force. Presidents Polk, in 1848, and Pierce, in 1854, offered unsuccessfully to buy Cuba. John Louis O’Sullivan, the newspaper editor who coined the phrase “Manifest Destiny” in 1845, supported Cuba’s best known “annexationist,” taking him to Polk’s White House in search of support for his armed expeditions. And even Walt Whitman—no advocate of slavery—wrote in 1871 that, “‘manifest destiny’ certainly points to the speedy annexation of Cuba by the United States.”

President McKinley again unsuccessfully offered to buy Cuba in 1898, shortly before declaring war on Spain. Only a year before, his Undersecretary of War, I.C. Breckenridge, had reflected the annexationist thinking in a memo arguing that: “We must impose a harsh blockade so that hunger and its constant companion, disease, undermine the peaceful population and decimate the Cuban Army….in order to annex the Pearl of the Antilles [Cuba].” He meant the Cuban independence army, who had all but defeated the Spanish well before Roosevelt with his Rough Riders arrived to clean up. It was advocacy of a policy to starve the Cuban population and its army, just to make sure that the U.S. alone could determine the future of the island. The push for annexation eventually failed, in no small part because its supporters realized that Cubans would likely continue their war if the U.S. tried to impose it. Yet those who favored annexation were able to impose the Platt Amendment on the new Cuban Constitution in 1904, in effect granting the US the right to intervene in Cuba for practically any reason the US saw fit. Cuba’s independence was brutally truncated, and the U.S. intervened on the island again in 1906, 1912, 1917 and 1920.

During the 1930’s and 40’s, the ambition to control Cuba’s destiny continued—if somewhat more subtly and without troops. The U.S. sent Sumner Welles as a special envoy to Cuba in the 1930’s to ensure that the outcome of a populist insurrection against Gerardo Machado, then Cuba’s dictator, did not steer the island away from U.S. tutelage. This intervention gave rise to the U.S. support for Fulgencio Batista, which lasted until his overthrow in 1959 by the Revolution. As our ambassador to Cuba at the time, Earl T. Smith, asserted during a Senate hearing in 1960: “Until Castro, the U.S. was so overwhelmingly influential in Cuba that the American ambassador was the second most important man, sometimes even more important than the Cuban president.”

The ambition to control Cuba, in other words, already had a long and complex history by the time of the victory of the Revolution in 1959. The list of U.S. interventions seeking regime change that followed is too long to detail here. The Bay of Pigs, assassination efforts, hundreds of acts of sabotage and terrorism, and, of course, the embargo since 1960. And what did the embargo seek? Well, President Eisenhower said that “if the [Cuban people] are hungry they will throw Castro out,” a view that President Kennedy reiterated when he asserted that the end of the Revolution would come from “rising discomfort among hungry Cubans.” Arguably, a policy with the same goal of maintaining Cuba as a client state as the Breckenridge memo of half a century before. The embargo was then codified in the so-called Torricelli and Helms-Burton laws of 1992 and 1996, both supposedly granting the U.S. the right to decide what kind of government the island could have, and laws that were passed well after the Soviet Union had collapsed, the Cold War ended, and Cuba had stopped its revolutionary activities in both Africa and Latin America. In effect, these laws are modern versions of the Platt Amendment, no longer “justified” even by the Cold War fig leaf.

So the history of U.S. policy towards Cuba shows a continuity that is hard to deny. Even those who might disagree with this interpretation should not find it hard to imagine how the Cuban government, and Cubans as a whole, would react with profound skepticism and distrust of the intentions of the most powerful country in the world, as reflected by these kinds of pressures and policies for more than two centuries. Beyond the immediate issues, such as the irrational listing of Cuba in the list of countries that sponsor terrorism, Ms. Jacobson will certainly have a very heavy weight of history to consider in her discussions with her Cuban counterparts. If the President directs her, however, she, on behalf of our country, will have a unique opportunity to break clear from the interventionist thrust of our past interventionist policies, and seek agreements that nurture common interests and respect the obvious differences between the U.S. and the island.

Manuel R. Gomez is a Cuban-American public health professional who resides in Washington, DC.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment