30 June 2010

Kucinich: ‘We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war’ | Raw Story

Kucinich: ‘We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war’ | Raw Story In Afghanistan, corruption is rife. It is so abundant, in fact, that a senior US lawmaker declared on Monday that she'd be freezing $3.9 billion in Afghan aid dollars until the situation is addressed. Rep. Nita Lowey's declaration of principle was made in response to a Wall Street Journal report that claimed over $3 billion has been legally shipped through the airport in Kabul over just the last three years, leading investigators to believe much of it comes from U.S. aid dollars being diverted by corrupt officials. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, making a speech to the House of Representatives on Monday, had a few choice words to describe the situation. "We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war," the iconoclastic Democrat opined. The Journal reported that "the cash – packed into suitcases, piled into pallets and loaded into airplanes – is declared and legal to move" through the airport. The paper added: "The officials believe [...] customers who have sent millions of dollars of their money abroad include high-ranking officials and their associates in President Hamid Karzai's administration, including Vice President Mohammed Fahim, and one of the president's brothers, Mahmood Karzai, an influential businessman. "Where they allegedly get the money is one of the questions under investigation." Speaking before Congress, Kucinich raised the specter of the $12 billion shipped in pallets from the United States to Iraq just after the Bush administration's "shock and awe" bombing campaign. "Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that 'at least $9 billion' of the cash had 'gone missing, unaccounted for,'" he noted. "$9 billion." Kucinich continued: "

Last week, the BBC reported that 'the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords.' Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troops
 ... And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going.

 Back home, millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions and their retirement security. "We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war. Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy." It's not the first time Kucinich has lambasted aid funding to Afghanistan. The Congressman declared in a 2009 press release: "U.S. contractors are paying U.S. tax dollars to the Taliban in order to protect the delivery of U.S. shipments of U.S. goods to U.S. soldiers so that our soldiers can fight the Taliban." Also, in June 2010, responding to a New York Times story, the Ohio Democrat pondered rhetorically, "Is the U.S. paying for attacks on U.S. troops?" "Our troops are dying in Afghanistan, and now it turns out we may be funding their killers," Kucinich said in a statement e-mailed to Raw Story, renewing his longstanding call for a pullout. "Our continued presence in Afghanistan is detrimental to our security." At the time, he vowed to bring the report to the "personal attention" of his colleagues in Congress involved with approving aid dollars for Afghanistan. "The American people are paying to prop up a corrupt government that may be using our money to pay private companies to drum up business by paying the insurgents to attack our troops," he said.

George W. Bush: Patriot or Traitor? - Pravda.Ru

George W. Bush: Patriot or Traitor? - Pravda.Ru

Where is the world? - Israel Opinion, Ynetnews

Where is the world? - Israel Opinion, Ynetnews

Why is West not doing anything in face of upcoming stoning of Iranian woman?

Yoaz Hendel
Published: 06.30.10, 18:01 / Israel Opinion

Sakineh Ashitani has been sentenced to death by stoning in Iran. The image of the miserable woman being led to her death, the hurling of the stones, the saliva dripping from the beards, and the madness in the eyes of the people around her cannot be dismissed as some natural anomaly.

The Iranian adulteress will be finding herself in the same situation faced by previous “sinners” in Iran. We can assume that some Westerners will take a few minutes to click their tongues with unease. Yet we know that the day after we shall wake up to find no commotion whatsoever. We’ll wake up to silence.

After all, everyone understands that there are more important people than another stoned woman in Iran. There’s Israel, and the occupation, and the debate over sanctions and commercial ties with Tehran; and so, the bodies in Iran keep piling up, while the people who on other occasions know how to ask tough questions suddenly grow silent.

The paradox is that Iranian brutality in fact provides a clear reflection of all the silent states that don’t care at all about human life, but rather, only concern themselves with future profits.

Just try to examine the real attitude of this world’s main institutions to Iran, a state where you can be stoned over espionage, violating religious laws, protesting against the government, homosexuality, or just for spiting Ahmadinejad or the Ayatollahs.

Where is Obama?
A few weeks ago, Iran became an official member of the UN’s Women’s Rights Commission, a group established after World War II in order to turn this world into a better place. Now let’s not pretend that UN voters did now know that Iran, the latest senior member of the commission, is not exactly a women’s rights fan.

So while officials in Tehran engage in debates on whether a woman has the right to end her life under a barrage of small stones while she’s buried chest-high, or maybe she has the right to ask for larger stones to be hurled at her, the very same Iran is tasked with protecting global women’s rights in New York.

And will our just world, that is, the Western states whose tax funds sponsor the meetings of the women’s rights commission, do anything about it? Will these states veto Iran’s membership in the commission? And will the US, headed by the most pro-human rights president in its history, embark on a loud campaign against the injustice and immediately cut its funding to the commission? We can assume that the answer is “no.”

After all, these days there is so much work to be accomplished in respect to the Iranian flotilla to Israel; who has time for yet another stoned adulteress? Or as the Persians say, one woman here, one woman there, who cares, as long as law and order is maintained. Otherwise we would just be a bunch of barbarians.

Hezbollah vows to 'defend Lebanese gas' - Israel News, Ynetnews

Hezbollah vows to 'defend Lebanese gas' - Israel News, Ynetnews Roee Nahmias Published: 06.30.10, 15:15 / Israel News Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem addressed the new dispute between Israel and Lebanon over the gas field discovered in the Mediterranean Sea. He said his organization will "defend the natural resources and gas fields discovered in Lebanon's waters." Qassem, who gave an interview on the matter to Hezbollah's television news channel al-Manar, said, "The resistance is prepared and invited to stand against any adventurous and foolish action of the enemy's government. It is Lebanon's right to exercise its sovereignty and control over its natural treasures. As such, the resistance is responsible for using all means to help." Ever since the crisis surrounding the gas deposits about a week ago, Lebanon has refused to remove the issue from the agenda. Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri convened a cabinet meeting with his ministers on Tuesday regarding the gas and oil drilling. Sources in the country estimated that the "oil bill," meant to organize the drilling and mining of natural resources in Lebanon, will soon be passed by the parliament in Beirut. The said bill was proposed as a response against the local political system after Israeli and international companies announced the discovery of gas fields in the Mediterranean Sea while Israel insists that the fields are well within the bound of its territorial waters. Qassem also addressed the political situation, accusing Washington in an interview with AP of taking a one-sided, pro-Israeli approach to the Mideast conflict. "We have no need to dialogue with the Americans as long as they don't change their stance. They support the country that who plays the role of problem starter in the region." Contrary to statements made by various Hezbollah figures, Qassem estimated that "no new war is expected with Israel," but did emphasize that Hezbollah is prepared for another military conflict and "is acting as if it break out tomorrow."

Despite wider remit, soldiers won't be questioned in Gaza flotilla probe - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Despite wider remit, soldiers won't be questioned in Gaza flotilla probe - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News * * Published 02:29 30.06.10 * Latest update 02:29 30.06.10 Despite wider remit, soldiers won't be questioned in Gaza flotilla probe Turkel's demand for wider powers comes amid widespread media criticism that has painted the committee as being designed mainly to retroactively justify the blockade of Gaza. By Amos Harel, Tomer Zarchin, Jonathan Lis and Barak Ravid Tags: Israel news Gaza flotilla The panel investigating last month's botched raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla will soon receive greater authority after its chairman, retired justice Jacob Turkel, told the government the committee could not do its job without expanded investigative powers. Retired justice Jacob Turkel leaving the first session of the flotilla investigation Retired justice Jacob Turkel leaving the first session of the flotilla investigation on June 29, 2010. Photo by: Emil Salman Channel 2 television reported last night that Turkel even threatened to resign if his demands were not met. A spokesman for his committee, however, denied this. Currently, the panel has a very limited mandate. It is only supposed to determine whether Israel's efforts to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza accorded with international law, and whether the soldiers' use of force was proportionate. It has no power to subpoena witnesses and cannot draw personal conclusions against those involved in the raid. Turkel, however, wants to turn it into a full-fledged governmental inquiry committee with real teeth. That would allow it to subpoena witnesses and documents, warn those who testify before it that the panel's findings could harm them, and hire outside experts in relevant fields. The ability to issue warnings is necessary to enable the panel to draw personal conclusions against those involved in the incident; for instance, to recommend that certain officials be dismissed or denied promotion. Warnings also enable witnesses to be prosecuted for perjury if they are later found to have lied to the committee - though in reality, few investigative committees have ever recommended perjury prosecutions. Feverish negotiations have been underway over the last few days between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Turkel in an effort to find a formula that will satisfy the demands of both Turkel and the government. One of the biggest problems is that Barak refuses to let the panel question any Israel Defense Forces soldiers or officers aside from Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Military Advocate General Avichai Mendelblit. Barak fears that soldiers will be reluctant to carry out missions if an inquiry panel can later penalize them for anything that goes wrong. But both army and government sources predicted that Turkel would ultimately agree to keep this restriction in place. If so, other soldiers and officers would instead testify before the internal army probe into the raid's operational aspects that is headed by Maj. Gen. (res. ) Giora Eiland, who would then present his findings to the Turkel Committee. Eiland's report is due to be completed by July 4, though there could be a slight delay. Government sources also said there would be no change in the list of topics the panel is authorized to probe. That means the committee will still not be authorized to examine the way the government approved the raid and whether it considered other alternatives. When he broached his demands to Neeman a few days ago, Turkel listed two key issues. First, he insisted on the full investigative powers of a state commission of inquiry - something the relevant minister is authorized to grant a governmental inquiry committee if it is headed by a current or former judge. Such powers were granted to the governmental panel that investigated the Second Lebanon War of 2006. In addition, Turkel said he wants to expand the committee from three members to five, not including the two foreign observers. Turkel's demand for wider powers comes amid widespread media criticism that has painted the committee as being designed mainly to retroactively justify the blockade of Gaza, the use of force to maintain it and the bloodshed on board the Mavi Marmara when naval commandos were attacked by passengers wielding knives and iron bars. The commandos, who had been ordered to seize control of the ship and divert it to Ashdod Port, opened fire in self-defense. But it appears that what really moved Turkel to demand change was the criticism from other jurists about the panel's limited mandate, as well as a petition to the High Court of Justice by the Gush Shalom movement demanding that the committee be given broader powers. The court was to hear that petition today, but received an urgent request for a 10-day postponement from the State Prosecutor's Office yesterday on the grounds that the government is currently considering expanding the committee's mandate, which would make the petition unnecessary. The request also noted that in light of the possible change in its mandate, the Turkel Committee will not hold its first session until July 11. Netanyahu is expected to be the first witness. The Prime Minister's Office said in a press statement yesterday that it sees no reason why Turkel's demand for greater investigative powers cannot be met. But it stressed that these expanded powers would not include the right to question soldiers. A senior government source explained that both Netanyahu and Barak were adamantly opposed to the idea that every soldier or officer who participated in the raid would now have to hire a lawyer to defend him before the committee. The revised mandate is currently being prepared by Neeman, who will then have to submit it to the cabinet for approval. That could happen as soon as the regular cabinet meeting this coming Sunday. Meanwhile, Turkel has informed the two foreign observers - David Trimble, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who formerly served as first minister of Northern Ireland, and Ken Watkin, a former Canadian judge advocate general - that they will be allowed to question witnesses freely during the hearings and examine any material they wish. The panel's tentative plan is to first have all the witnesses testify, then examine all the printed material, including Eiland's report, and finally call the witnesses back for further questioning. Turkel has pledged to try to complete the probe as quickly as possible, but it is expected to take several months. Many, though not all, of the hearings are expected to be open to the public. In addition to the Turkel Committee and Eiland's panel, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss is planning his own probe into issues such as the government's decision-making that are currently outside the Turkel Committee's purview. However, he does not plan to begin until after Eiland's probe is finished, so that he will have Eiland's findings before him.

Britain, France, Germany Use Torture Intel: HRW | CommonDreams.org

Britain, France, Germany Use Torture Intel: HRW | CommonDreams.org LONDON – Britain, France and Germany use foreign intelligence obtained through torture in the fight against terrorism, a new report from Human Rights Watch said Tuesday. The use by three heavyweight European powers of information from secret services in countries that routinely rely on torture was damaging the reputation of the entire European Union, said the rights group. [The use by three heavyweight European powers of information from secret services in countries that routinely rely on torture was damaging the reputation of the entire European Union, said Human Rights Watch in a new report. (AFP)]The use by three heavyweight European powers of information from secret services in countries that routinely rely on torture was damaging the reputation of the entire European Union, said Human Rights Watch in a new report. (AFP) "Berlin, Paris and London should be working to eradicate torture, not relying on foreign torture intelligence," said Judith Sunderland, Western Europe researcher for HRW. "Taking information from torturers is illegal and just plain wrong." The report, "No Questions Asked: Intelligence Cooperation with Countries that Torture," found: "The actual practices of these leading EU states contradict the EU's anti-torture guidelines, which make eradicating torture and ill-treatment a priority in its relations with other countries." The use of such intelligence obtained under questionable circumstances "damages the credibility of the European Union", added HRW. Intelligence services in the three countries lack detailed instructions on how to assess and respond to information from countries that torture, said the rights group. Torture-tainted information has been used in criminal proceedings in France and Germany, despite domestic and international rules banning the use of such evidence in proceedings, said HRW. "France, Germany, and the UK can engage in necessary intelligence cooperation without undermining the global torture ban," said the rights group. "To do so, they must make genuine inquiries of countries that provide information to determine whether torture was used to obtain it." © 2010 Agence France-Presse

29 June 2010

Billions Missing, Lies Mounting | CommonDreams.org

Billions Missing, Lies Mounting | CommonDreams.org In Congress on Monday, Rep. Dennis Kucinich told it straight on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: billions of dollars "gone missing," as in stolen, by warlords, drug lords, corrupt government officials "underwritten by the lives of our troops." While people at home lose jobs, homes, savings, schooling, pensions, hope. "In a little more than a year the United States flew $12 billion in cash to Iraq, much of it in $100 bills, shrink wrapped and loaded onto pallets. Vanity Fair reported in 2004 that "at least $9 billion" of the cash had "gone missing, unaccounted for." $9 billion.

Today, we learned that suitcases of $3 billion in cash have openly moved through the Kabul airport. One U.S. official quoted by the Wall Street Journal said, "A lot of this looks like our tax dollars being stolen." $3 billion. Consider this as the American people sweat out an extension of unemployment benefits.

Last week, the BBC reported that "the US military has been giving tens of millions of dollars to Afghan security firms who are funneling the money to warlords." Add to that a corrupt Afghan government underwritten by the lives of our troops.

And now reports indicate that Congress is preparing to attach $10 billion in state education funding to a $33 billion spending bill to keep the war going.

Back home millions of Americans are out of work, losing their homes, losing their savings, their pensions, and their retirement security. We are losing our nation to lies about the necessity of war. Bring our troops home. End the war. Secure our economy."

Police, Bankers Exempt From Austerity | CommonDreams.org

Police, Bankers Exempt From Austerity | CommonDreams.org Published on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 by The Toronto Star Police, Bankers Exempt From Austerity by Linda McQuaig The violence of the mob was considerable, with hooligans smashing windows, looting stores and setting police cars ablaze. I'm referring, of course, to the hockey riots in Montreal in April 2008, after the Montreal Canadiens' playoff victory over the Boston Bruins. If you don't remember this thuggery — or similar Montreal riots last month following another hockey victory — it's probably because that violence wasn't used as an excuse to justify a massive police clampdown on a city. What went on in Toronto last weekend — as this usually vibrant city was put under virtual police lockdown — went far beyond any necessary measures to preserve public order and protect world leaders at the G20 summit. Could this massive display of force be an example of Stephen Harper's intense desire to control things, from the PMO right down to street protestors? Certainly, when it comes to those who openly protest his policies, the Prime Minister appears determined to smother dissent at any cost, with little regard for their legal or civil rights. Before the summit even began, Harper was clearly gearing up for a crackdown, with plans to spend $930 million on 19,000 police for the G20 (and smaller G8 summit in Huntsville). This was stunningly out of line with how other big cities have handled G20 summits. Britain spent $28.6 million on 5,000 police to host the G20 in London in April 2009, while the U.S. spent a paltry $12.2 million on 4,000 police for the Pittsburgh G20 summit last September. Yet no world leaders were roughed up in London or Pittsburgh. With Torontonians enraged by the exorbitant cost of arming their city to the teeth, the Harper government seemed determined to make it look necessary. On Saturday afternoon, a number of black-clad hooligans broke from the peaceful march and began an outrageous rampage of vandalism through downtown Toronto. Despite a massive presence of police in the city core, hoodlums were able to smash shop windows unimpeded and leave police cars burning in front of TV cameras, creating the impression the city was dangerously under siege. Police then moved forcefully, swooping up hundreds of people — many of whom were obviously peaceful protestors, including some singing O Canada — and holding them in deplorable conditions in cages at a makeshift detention centre. As the Star reported, a veterinarian was woken at 4 a.m. by police pointing a gun at him in his High Park bedroom, as they searched for a protest organizer. And Sunday evening, dozens of people who weren't even protesting — including some whose apparent crime was waiting for a bus at Spadina and Queen Streets — were detained on the street for four hours, much of it during a torrential downpour. Meanwhile, even as his government hemorrhaged close to a billion dollars on “security” over the weekend, Harper pushed an agenda of austerity and deficit cutting at the G20. This will mean brutal belt-tightening around the world, even though the deficits are clearly the result of the global recession triggered by the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. This connection is not lost on the G20 protestors, who see great injustice in the world's people being made to tighten their belts because of Wall Street's financial speculation. With the top 25 hedge fund managers earning a combined $25.3 billion last year, Wall Street's bailed-out financiers are clearly back in their private jets — while peaceful citizens protesting such injustice are locked up in cages. © Copyright Toronto Star 1996-2010

Congress Jumps to Israel’s 'Self-Defense' | CommonDreams.org

Congress Jumps to Israel’s 'Self-Defense' | CommonDreams.org Published on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 by CommonDreams.org Congress Jumps to Israel’s 'Self-Defense' by Stephen Zunes In a letter to President Barack Obama date June 17, 329 out of 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives referred to Israel's May 31 attack on a humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters, which resulted in the deaths of nine passengers and crew and injuries to scores of others, as an act of "self-defense" which they "strongly support." Similarly, a June 21 Senate letter -- signed by 87 out of 100 senators -- went on record "fully" supporting what it called "Israel's right to self-defense," claiming that the widely supported effort to relieve critical shortages of food and medicine in the besieged Gaza Strip was simply part of a "clever tactical and diplomatic ploy" by "Israel's opponents" to "challenge its international standing." The House letter urged President Obama "to remain steadfast in defense of Israel" in the face of the near-universal international condemnation of this blatant violation of international maritime law and other legal statutes, which the signatories referred to as "a rush to unfairly judge and defend Israel." The Senate letter condemned the near-unanimous vote of the UN Human Rights Council for what it called "singling out" Israel, even though no other country in recent memory has attacked a humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters. Both letters called upon the United States to veto any resolution in the UN Security Council criticizing the Israeli attack. What is perhaps most disturbing is that many of the key arguments in the letters were misleading and, in some cases, factually inaccurate. The Israeli government had acknowledged prior to the writing of the letter that the extensive blockade of humanitarian goods was not necessary for their security, but as a means of pressuring the civilian population to end their support for Hamas, which won a majority of legislative seats in the most recent Palestinian election. In addition, the Israeli government announced a significant relaxation of the embargo two days after the letter was written. Despite this, the House letter claimed that the purpose of the blockade was "to stop terrorists from smuggling weapons to kill innocent civilians," thereby placing this large bipartisan majority of the House even further to the right than Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's rightist coalition. There was no mention in the letter than no such weapons were found on board any of the six ships hijacked by the Israelis nor on the previous eight ships the Free Gaza Campaign had sailed or attempted to sail to the Gaza Strip. In addition, even though the ships had been thoroughly inspected by customs officials prior to their disembarkation, the House letter claimed that had the Israelis not hijacked the ships, they would have "sailed unchecked into Gaza." Similarly, according to the Senate letter, Israel's naval blockade was necessary "to keep dangerous goods from entering Gaza by sea" and falsely claimed that the intent of the Israeli blockade was "to protect Israel, while allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza." Particularly striking is the fact that, despite that the International Committee on the Red Cross and a broad consensus of international legal experts recognize that the Israeli blockade of humanitarian goods is illegal, the Senate letter insisted that the blockade "is legal under international law." The House letter insisted, despite the fact that several of those killed on the Mavi Marmara were shot at point blank range in the back or the back of the head and a video showing a 19-year old U.S. citizen shot execution style on the ground, that "Israeli forces used necessary force as an act of self-defense and of last resort." Similarly, the Senate letter refers to the murders of passengers and crew resisting the illegal boarding of their vessel in international waters as a situation where the Israeli raiders were "forced to respond to that attack" when they "arrived" on the ship. The House letter also claimed that the other ships were "commandeered peacefully and without incident," even though on the other ships, despite completely nonviolent resistance, passengers were tasered and brutally beaten and were attacked with tear gas and rubber bullets. Similarly, the Senate letter insisted that, in spite of these potentially fatal beatings and other assaults, "Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockade." Even though the Israeli government has never entered Gaza to disperse aid to the people of that territory since the start of the siege years earlier and reputable relief organizations have documented that the Israelis had routinely refused to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip, these House members claimed that Israel had offered to "disperse the aid . . . directly to the people of Gaza." And, despite the fact that the five aid ships that Israel had allowed to dock in Gaza in previous months had distributed their humanitarian cargo directly to those in need, the senators claimed that it would have otherwise gone "into the hands of corrupt Gaza officials." Learning what actually transpired in the tragic incident was apparently of little interest to the 87 senators who signed the letter defending the attack. Despite the apparent whitewash forthcoming in the internal Israeli investigation, the senate letter supported Israel's alleged intention to carry out "a thorough investigation of the incident," insisting that Israel "has the right to determine how its investigation is conducted." This comes in spite of a recent public opinion poll shows a clear majority of Americans -- including 65 percent of Democrats -- favor an international inquiry over allowing Israel alone to investigate the circumstances of the attack. Ironically, a number of progressive organizations, web sites and list serves have called on the peace and human rights community to support the re- election of some of the very senators who signed this letter, including Barbara Boxer, Ron Wyden, and Russell Feingold. MoveOn, Council for a Livable World, and other progressive groups with PAC money have been are calling on their members, many of whom are peace and human rights activists, to donate their money to these right-wing Democrats who defend attacking peace and human rights activists and lie about the circumstances to justify it. They have no problems with supporting the re-election of those who lie and mislead their constituents in order to defend illegal actions by allied right-wing governments, even when they kill and injure participants in a humanitarian flotilla on the high seas. There may be an underlying current of racism at work here. It is unlikely MoveOn, Council for a Livable World and other groups would defend such actions if, for example, the activists were helping those under siege in Sarajevo in the 1990s or West Berlin in the late 1940s, who happened to be white Europeans. It is important to remember that the majority of Democrats joined in with Republicans in supporting the Salvadoran junta in the early 1980s and the Suharto regime in the 1990s until voters made clear they would withdraw their support from them if they did not change their policy. AIPAC and other right-wing "pro-Israel" groups are only as powerful as the absence of counter-pressure from the peace and human rights community. Letters like these will continue to be supported by most Democrats only as long they know they can get away with it. Stephen Zunes, an analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus, is a professor of Politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco ana

Turkey closes airspace to some Israeli flights | Antiwar Newswire

Turkey closes airspace to some Israeli flights | Antiwar Newswire SUZAN FRASER AP News Jun 28, 2010 05:24 EDT Turkey has closed its airspace to some Israeli military flights following a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship, the Turkish prime minister and officials said Monday. An official said civilian commercial flights were not affected. Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters in Toronto that Turkey imposed a ban on Israeli flights after the May 31 raid on a Turkish ship that was part of a six-vessel international aid flotilla, according to the state-run Anatolia news agency. The prime minister, who is in Canada to attend a summit of the Group of 20 major industrial and developing nations, did not elaborate. A Turkish government official said, however, that the ban was for Israeli military flights and that commercial flights were not affected. It was not a blanket ban and each flight request would be assessed case-by-case, the official added. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, in line with government rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without prior authorization. On Sunday, Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported that Turkey had not allowed a plane carrying Israeli military officers, en route to a tour of memorial sites in Auschwitz, Poland, to fly over Turkish airspace. The transport plane, with more than 100 officers on board, was forced to make a detour, the paper said. The Israeli military "refrained from responding officially to the event so not to exacerbate the rift in relations," the newspaper added. The Israeli prime minister's office had no comment on Erdogan's statements. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American were killed in the raid that drew Turkish outrage and widespread international condemnation. The aid ships were sailing to Gaza to break an Israeli blockade that it said it imposed to keep weapons and other military components out of the hands of Gaza militants who have attacked Israel with bombs, rockets and mortars for years. Israel insists troops involved in the deadly raid acted in self-defense after being attacked by some of the activists on board. Turkey, which had a close alliance with Israel until the three-week Gaza war, which ended in early 2009, withdrew its ambassador and canceled joint military drills in response to the raid. It has said it will not return its ambassador and will reduce military and trade ties unless Israel apologizes for the raid. It also wants Israel to return the seized aid ships, agree to an international investigation and offer compensation for the victims. "Up to now, we have done whatever is necessary within the rules of law — whether national or international — and we will continue to do so," Anatolia quoted Erdogan as saying, adding that ties with Israel could return to normal if the Jewish state meets Turkey's demands. "We are not interested in making a show. We don't desire such a thing and we have been very patient in the face of these developments," he said, according to Anatolia. Israel has objected to an international inquiry into the operation and has set up its own investigative commission that includes two foreign observers.

28 June 2010

G-8 'fully believes' Israel will attack Iran, says Italy PM - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

G-8 'fully believes' Israel will attack Iran, says Italy PM - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News World leaders "believe absolutely" that Israel may decide to take military action against Iran to prevent the latter from acquiring nuclear weapons, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Saturday. “Iran is not guaranteeing a peaceful production of nuclear power [so] the members of the G-8 are worried and believe absolutely that Israel will probably react preemptively,” Berlusconi told reporters following talks with other Group of Eight leaders north of Toronto. The leaders of the G-8, which comprises Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Canada and the United States, devoted much of their two-day session to discussion of the contentious nuclear programs unfolding in North Korea and Iran. The leaders issued a statement on Saturday calling on Iran to "respect the rule of law" and to "hold a "transparent dialogue" over its nuclear ambitions. In their communiqué, the leaders of the world's richest countries said they respected Iran's right to a civilian nuclear program, but noted that such a right must be accompanied by commitment to international law. "We are profoundly concerned by Iran's continued lack of transparency regarding its nuclear activities and its stated intention to continue and expand enriching uranium, including to nearly 20 percent," they said in a communique. "Our goal is to persuade Iran's leaders to engage in a transparent dialogue about its nuclear activities and to meet Iran's international obligations," adding that they urged the Islamic Republic "to implement relevant resolutions to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program." Their conclusions followed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's declaration late last week that Tehran was prepared to lay down its conditions to the international community regarding discussion of its nuclear program.

27 June 2010

Op-Ed Columnist - The Third Depression - NYTimes.com

Recessions are common; depressions are rare. As far as I can tell, there were only two eras in economic history that were widely described as “depressions” at the time: the years of deflation and instability that followed the Panic of 1873 and the years of mass unemployment that followed the financial crisis of 1929-31.

Neither the Long Depression of the 19th century nor the Great Depression of the 20th was an era of nonstop decline — on the contrary, both included periods when the economy grew. But these episodes of improvement were never enough to undo the damage from the initial slump, and were followed by relapses.

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.

And this third depression will be primarily a failure of policy. Around the world — most recently at last weekend’s deeply discouraging G-20 meeting — governments are obsessing about inflation when the real threat is deflation, preaching the need for belt-tightening when the real problem is inadequate spending.

In 2008 and 2009, it seemed as if we might have learned from history. Unlike their predecessors, who raised interest rates in the face of financial crisis, the current leaders of the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank slashed rates and moved to support credit markets. Unlike governments of the past, which tried to balance budgets in the face of a plunging economy, today’s governments allowed deficits to rise. And better policies helped the world avoid complete collapse: the recession brought on by the financial crisis arguably ended last summer.

But future historians will tell us that this wasn’t the end of the third depression, just as the business upturn that began in 1933 wasn’t the end of the Great Depression. After all, unemployment — especially long-term unemployment — remains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly. And both the United States and Europe are well on their way toward Japan-style deflationary traps.

In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

As far as rhetoric is concerned, the revival of the old-time religion is most evident in Europe, where officials seem to be getting their talking points from the collected speeches of Herbert Hoover, up to and including the claim that raising taxes and cutting spending will actually expand the economy, by improving business confidence. As a practical matter, however, America isn’t doing much better. The Fed seems aware of the deflationary risks — but what it proposes to do about these risks is, well, nothing. The Obama administration understands the dangers of premature fiscal austerity — but because Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress won’t authorize additional aid to state governments, that austerity is coming anyway, in the form of budget cuts at the state and local levels.

Why the wrong turn in policy? The hard-liners often invoke the troubles facing Greece and other nations around the edges of Europe to justify their actions. And it’s true that bond investors have turned on governments with intractable deficits. But there is no evidence that short-run fiscal austerity in the face of a depressed economy reassures investors. On the contrary: Greece has agreed to harsh austerity, only to find its risk spreads growing ever wider; Ireland has imposed savage cuts in public spending, only to be treated by the markets as a worse risk than Spain, which has been far more reluctant to take the hard-liners’ medicine.

It’s almost as if the financial markets understand what policy makers seemingly don’t: that while long-term fiscal responsibility is important, slashing spending in the midst of a depression, which deepens that depression and paves the way for deflation, is actually self-defeating.

So I don’t think this is really about Greece, or indeed about any realistic appreciation of the tradeoffs between deficits and jobs. It is, instead, the victory of an orthodoxy that has little to do with rational analysis, whose main tenet is that imposing suffering on other people is how you show leadership in tough times.

And who will pay the price for this triumph of orthodoxy? The answer is, tens of millions of unemployed workers, many of whom will go jobless for years, and some of whom will never work again.
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on June 28, 2010, on page A19 of the New York edition.

Gulf Daily News » Local News » ISRAEL 'PLOTS TEHRAN RAID'

Gulf Daily News » Local News » ISRAEL 'PLOTS TEHRAN RAID'

MANAMA: Israel is massing warplanes in the Caucasus for an attack on Iran, it was revealed yesterday.

Preparations are underway to launch the military attack from Azerbaijan and Georgia, reports our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej, quoting military sources.

Israel was, in fact, training pilots in Turkey to launch the strike and was smuggling planes into Georgia using Turkish airspace, they said.

However, Turkey was unaware of Israel's intention of transferring the planes to Georgia, the sources said.

The unexpected crisis between Israel and Turkey following an Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza Strip hit Israeli calculations.

Azerbaijan-based intelligence units, working under the cover of technicians, trainers and consultants, have helped with the preparations, the sources said.

Military equipment, mostly supplied by the US, was transported to a Georgian port via the Black Sea.

Georgian coastguard and Israeli controllers are co-operating to hide the operations from Russian vessels, said the sources.

They point out that according to Israel, it will not be in a position to launch a strike on Iran without using bases in Georgia and Azerbaijan due to the limited capabilities of its nuclear submarines stationed near the Iranian coast.

Meanwhile, Iran's Press TV reported that a very large contingent of US ground forces had massed in Azerbaijan, near the Iranian border. The independent Azerbaijani news website Trend confirmed the report.

Those reports came just days after the Pentagon confirmed that an unusually large fleet of US warships had indeed passed through Egypt's Suez Canal en route to the Gulf. At least one Israeli warship reportedly joined the American armada.

Press TV also quoted Iranian Revolultionary Guard Brigadier General Mehdi Moini as saying that the country's forces are mobilised and ready to face Israelli and American "misadventures" near its borders.

* Iran last night said it has cancelled plans to send an aid ship to the Gaza Strip as Israel "had sent a letter to the UN saying that the presence of Iranian and Lebanese ships in the Gaza area will be considered a declaration of war on that regime and it will confront it," Irna said.

25 June 2010

Yfrog Image : yfrog.com/jbkq4j - Uploaded by JeffJedras

Yfrog Image : yfrog.com/jbkq4j - Uploaded by JeffJedras between violating the peoples right to assemble and breaking heads, all good g20 goons take a much needed Hooters break

G20 — Toronto 2010

G20 — Toronto 2010 I especially like the choke hold. Police are the enemy of free people so long as they "obey orders" like good Germans did in Hitler's day and continue to serve the rich over the people.


Rink A skirmish in front of the Winners at College and Yonge. Lucas Oleniuk/TORONTO STAR

One cop poses for me with his tear gas cannister gun, a dozen... on Twitpic

One cop poses for me with his tear gas cannister gun, a dozen... on Twitpic



20100625g20-riotgear.jpg Photo by Jeff Robson. this is the face of the g20.

G20 — Toronto 2010

G20 — Toronto 2010 fresh from Toronto: thug cops about to beat peaceful protesters

5:15 RIOT GEAR Police have donned riot gear and look daunting as they form a line at College and Bay. A cop told the Star's Jennifer Yang: "Move aside now. That's a clue."

Bay-college A police phalanx at Bay and College Sts. Jennifer Yang/Toronto Star

Just being near the G20 security zone can get you arrested - thestar.com

Just being near the G20 security zone can get you arrested - thestar.com
Jennifer Yang Staff Reporter

The province has secretly passed an unprecedented regulation that empowers police to arrest anyone near the G20 security zone who refuses to identify themselves or agree to a police search.

However, Toronto’s police chief says concerns about the new powers – which he requested – are overblown.

A 31-year-old man has already been arrested under the new regulation, which was quietly passed by the provincial cabinet on June 2.

The regulation was made under Ontario’s Public Works Protection Act and was not debated in the Legislature. According to a provincial spokesperson, the cabinet action came in response to an “extraordinary request” by Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, who wanted additional policing powers shortly after learning the G20 was coming to Toronto.

The regulation kicked in Monday and will expire June 28, the day after the summit ends. While the new regulation appeared without notice on the province’s e-Laws online database last week, it won’t be officially published in The Ontario Gazette until July 3 — one week after the regulation expires.

At a news conference Friday, a clearly exasperated Blair insisted that the temporary new rules of engagement had a very limited scope.

People “have a right not to identify themselves. They may leave. If they try to force their way in, they will be arrested,” Blair said. “The five-metre zone around the fence is to protect the barrier. We've all seen film of people trying to pull the fence down. We want to make sure people aren't pulling down the fence.”

Blair also took issue with the suggestion that the new regulation had been passed in secret.

“It’s not a new law, it’s not a secret law,” he said. “If you Google ‘Public Works Protection Act, Ontario’ ” it's there, he said.

“I think they were getting some information that they could breach this fence without any legal consequences, and they now know that that's not true,” Blair said. “And I hope they are deterred.

“We have heard from a number of individuals who have frankly said they're going to come here and wreck the place.

“We need to make sure we have the proper authority to deal with those threats.”

Critics who first learned about the new arrest powers yesterday had a very different view.

“It’s just unbelievable you would have this kind of abuse of power where the cabinet can create this offence without having it debated in the Legislature,” said Howard Morton, the lawyer representing Dave Vasey, who was arrested Thursday under the sweeping new police powers.

“It was just done surreptitiously, like a mushroom growing under a rock at night.”

According to the new regulation, “guards” appointed under the act can arrest anyone who, in specific areas, comes within five metres of the security zone.

Within those areas, police can demand identification from anyone coming within five metres of the fence perimeter and search them. If they refuse, they face arrest. Anyone convicted under the regulation could also face up to two months in jail or a $500 maximum fine.

“It reminds me a little bit of the War Measures Act,” said lawyer Nathalie Des Rosiers of the new regulation. Des Rosiers is a lawyer with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, which has been working to monitor arrests during the summit. “This is highly unusual to have this declaration done by order-in-council without many people knowing about it.”

Des Rosiers learned of the regulation Thursday afternoon, shortly after Vasey was arrested while standing near the security fence.

Vasey said he was exploring the G20 security perimeter with a friend when they were stopped by police and asked for identification. Vasey says he had also been searched by police the night before.

According to Vasey, police explained there was a bylaw in place obligating him to provide identification but he refused, acting on the advice of a “Know Your Rights” information pamphlet given to him by the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, a group assisting protesters.

The York University master’s student was taken into custody at around 4 p.m. He was brought to the Eastern Ave. detention centre, a former movie studio that has been temporarily converted into a prisoner holding pen. According to his charge sheet, he was charged with refusing to comply with a peace officer under the act.

Vasey said he only learned of the new regulation after his release, at around 9 p.m. The summit’s Integrated Security Unit did not respond to interview requests from the Star.

According to Vasey’s lawyer, neither he nor his colleagues at the law union were aware of this draconian new regulation. Des Rosiers said the CCLA and protesters have met with summit officials on several occasions and the regulation was never mentioned.

“They don’t even have signs up saying you can’t be within five metres or you’re subject to the following,” Morton said. “If they really wanted to keep the peace, they would have announced the regulation.”

According to Laura Blondeau, an aide to Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci, the regulation “ensures that police have the legal authority” they need for such a massive security zone.

“They really wanted to ensure they could provide a certain level of security,” Blondeau said Thursday. “The regulation does not include private residences or businesses. It’s for certain streets and sidewalks in the security perimeter.”

Blondeau said “rightly or wrongly,” the new regulation can be compared with airport security.

“You don’t have to get on that plane if you don’t want to be searched and wanded,” she said, adding that Bartolucci carefully weighed public safety and civil liberty concerns before agreeing to the one-time amendment.

“It was an extraordinary request. This is just for Toronto, just for the G20,” she said. “Given the environment that the police were expecting, they needed to be prepared.”

Blondeau emphasized the law only affects those trying to enter the security zone and applies solely to police officers, not to private security guards contracted for the summit.

If someone declines to comply it empowers the police to turn them away — or face being searched.

According to government lawyers, the regulation was passed by cabinet using what is known as a “covering” order-in-council.

“The authority for the regulation is contained in the PWPA (Public Works Protection Act). The PWPA authorizes the designation by cabinet of places as ‘public works,’” the lawyers said.

The Public Works Protection Act was created in 1990 and defines a “public work” as everything from a railway to a bridge or a provincial building. The act says any other building, place or work can also be “designated a public work by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.”

Morton said he’s unaware of any precedents to such a regulation being passed in Ontario and questions if it is even constitutional.

Des Rosiers said the regulation runs contrary to the Charter of Rights because it prohibits people from generally circulating on public land.

The G20 security fence has been a magnet for passersby and protesters alike, with many people approaching to take pictures or just quench their curiosity.

For Des Rosiers, she is especially worried because most people, including protesters, will operate under the assumption they have a right to refuse handing over identification to police.

“Protesters would have been told that the law of the land is that you don’t have to talk to police officers if you don’t want to,” she said. “This changes things because even if you attempt to approach, it gives the power to the guard to demand identification.

“It’s a significant intrusion on people’s rights.”

With files from Robyn Doolittle, Robert Benzie and Jayme Poisson

G20 protesters win small victory versus sound cannon - Yahoo! News

G20 protesters win small victory versus sound cannon - Yahoo! News

TORONTO (Reuters) – A Canadian judge handed protesters of the G20 summit in Toronto a small victory on Friday, restricting the use of a controversial sound cannon for crowd control.

Toronto police agreed to amend their guidelines for use of the cannon, keeping volumes below the maximum and not using the device from close distances.

The portable loudspeakers are also known as sonic guns because the volume, specifically on the "alert" function that emits an ear-piercing beeping sound, can be turned up so high they can be used as weapons.

"I have concluded that a very real likelihood exists that demonstrators may suffer damage to their hearing from the proposed use of the Alert function at certain distances and volumes," Ontario Superior Court Justice David Brown wrote in his ruling.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Labour Congress had sought an injunction curbing police use of the cannon, and their lawyer, Paul Cavalluzzo, said Toronto police "went overboard."

"What this application shows ... is that the police are accountable to the citizens of Toronto, that police are there to serve and protect us, not to endanger our safety," he said.

Police said they hoped they would never have to use the device. "We'll use the alert if necessary in accordance with the guidance by the court," police Staff Superintendent Jeff McGuire said. "We would hope not to have to use it and quite frankly I'd be surprised if we do."

Canada is spending about C$1 billion on security for two international summits this week, with much of that going to control thousands of protesters who are using the events to push demands to end global poverty and address climate change.

On Friday and Saturday, leaders from the Group of Eight industrialized nations are meeting in Huntsville, Ontario, about two hours' drive north of Toronto. The Group of 20 nations will then gather in Toronto on Saturday and Sunday.

Protests have begun at both locations and have been mostly peaceful.

(Reporting by Claire Sibonney and Pav Jordan; Editing by Peter Cooney)

the blogger adds: when the police are free to assault law abiding citizens who are peaceably congregating for the sole purpose of resisting greedy, rich men from Europe, Israel and America from further destroying the quality of life in their country any further, freedom does not exist. When the police are merely bodyguards for the wealthy and have weapons that cause grievous injury or use deadly force against the common people, we live in a Soviet style system. America, her allies and the Israelis have learned the lessons taught by Adolph Hitler perfectly and have delivered Nazism, Stalinism to the United States, destroying the Republic by replacing it with a plutocracy of idiots in bed with a thriving, budding corpocracy. No American should be proud of our lack of morals and civility.

How many Americans are targeted for assassination?

How many Americans are targeted for assassination?

When The Washington Post's Dana Priest first revealed (in passing) back in January that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens targeted for assassination, she wrote that "as of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens." In April, both the Post and the NYT confirmed that the administration had specifically authorized the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki. Today, The Washington Times' Eli Lake has an interview with Obama's top Terrorism adviser John Brennan in which Brennan strongly suggests that the number of U.S. citizens targeted for assassination could actually be "dozens":

Dozens of Americans have joined terrorist groups and are posing a threat to the United States and its interests abroad, the president's most senior adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security said Thursday. . . . "There are, in my mind, dozens of U.S. persons who are in different parts of the world, and they are very concerning to us," said John O. Brennan, deputy White House national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism. . . .

"If a person is a U.S. citizen, and he is on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq trying to attack our troops, he will face the full brunt of the U.S. military response," Mr. Brennan said. "If an American person or citizen is in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place, and they are trying to carry out attacks against U.S. interests, they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response. And it can take many forms."

Nobody -- or at least not me -- disputes the right of the U.S. or any other country to kill someone on an actual battlefield during war without due process. That's just obvious, but that's not remotely what Brennan is talking about, and it's not remotely what this assassination program is about. Indeed, Brennan explicitly identified two indistinguishable groups of American citizens who "will face the full brunt of a U.S. response": (1) those "on the battlefield in Afghanistan or Iraq"; and (2) those "in a Yemen or in a Pakistan or in Somalia or another place." In other words, the entire world is a "battlefield" -- countries where there is a war and countries where there isn't -- and the President's "battlefield" powers, which are unlimited, extend everywhere. That theory -- the whole world is a battlefield, even the U.S. -- was the core premise that spawned 8 years of Bush/Cheney radicalism, and it has been adopted in full by the Obama administration (indeed, it was that "whole-world-is-a-battlefield" theory which Elena Kagan explicitly endorsed during her confirmation hearing for Solicitor General).

Anyone who doubts that the Obama administration has adopted the core Terrorism policies of Bush/Cheney should listen to the concession -- or boast -- which Brennan himself made in his interview with Lake:

Mr. Brennan toward the end of the interview acknowledged that, despite some differences, there is considerable continuity between the counterterrorism policies of President Bush and President Obama.

"There has been a lot of continuity of effort here from the previous administration to this one," he said. "There are some important distinctions, but sometimes there is too much made of those distinctions. We are building upon some of the good foundational work that has been done."

I would really like never to hear again the complaint that comparing Bush and Obama's Terrorism and civil liberties policies is unfair, invalid or hyperbolic given that Obama's top Terrorism adviser himself touts that comparison. And that's anything but a surprise, given that Brennan was a Bush-era CIA official who defended many of the most controversial Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies.

I've written at length about the reasons why targeting American citizens for assassination who are far away from a "battlefield" is so odious and tyrannical, and I won't repeat those arguments here. Suffice to say -- and I'm asking this literally -- if you're someone who believes, or are at least willing to acquiesce to the claim, that the U.S. President has the power to target your fellow citizens for assassination without a whiff of due process, what unchecked presidential powers wouldn't you support or acquiesce to? I'd really like to hear an answer to that. That's the question Al Gore asked about George Bush in a 2006 speech condemning Bush's claimed powers merely to eavesdrop on and imprison American citizens without charges, let alone assassinate them: "If the answer is yes, then under the theory by which these acts are committed, are there any acts that can on their face be prohibited? . . . If the president has th[is] inherent authority. . . . then what can't he do?" Can anyone defending this Obama policy answer that question?

One other thing that is truly amazing: the U.S. tried to import this same due-process-free policy to Afghanistan. There, the U.S. last year compiled a "hit list" of 50 Afghan citizens whose assassination it authorized on the alleged ground (never charged or convicted) that they were drug "kingpins" or funding the Talbian. You know what happened? This:

A U.S. military hit list of about 50 suspected drug kingpins is drawing fierce opposition from Afghan officials, who say it could undermine their fragile justice system and trigger a backlash against foreign troops. . . .

Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, Afghanistan's deputy interior minister for counternarcotics efforts . . . said he worried that foreign troops would now act on their own to kill suspected drug lords, based on secret evidence, instead of handing them over for trial . . . "They should respect our law, our constitution and our legal codes," Daud . "We have a commitment to arrest these people on our own" . . . .

The U.S. military and NATO officials have authorized their forces to kill or capture individuals on the list, which was drafted within the past year as part of NATO's new strategy to combat drug operations that finance the Taliban.. . . . "There is a constitutional problem here. A person is innocent unless proven guilty," [Ali Ahmad Jalali, a former Afghan interior minister] said. "If you go off to kill or capture them, how do you prove that they are really guilty in terms of legal process?"

In other words, Afghans -- the people we're occupying in order to teach about Freedom and Democracy -- are far more protective of due process and the rule of law for their own citizens than Americans are who meekly submit to Obama's identical policy of assassination for their fellow citizens. It might make more sense for Afghanistan to invade and occupy the U.S. in order to spread the rule of law and constitutional values here.

What makes all this most remarkable is the level of screeching protests Democrats engaged in when Bush merely wanted to eavesdrop on and detain Americans without any judicial oversight or due process. Remember all that? Click here and here for a quick refresher. Yet here is Barack Obama doing far worse to them than that without any due process or judicial oversight -- he's targeting them for assassination -- and there is barely a peep of protest from the same Party that spent years depicting "mere" warrantless eavesdropping and due-process-free detention to be the acts of a savage, lawless tyrant. And, of course, Obama himself back then joined in those orgies of condemnation, as reflected by this December, 2008, answer he gave to Charlie Savage, then of The Boston Globe, regarding his views of executive power:

5. Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?

[Obama]: No. I reject the Bush Administration's claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.

So back then, Obama said the President lacks the power merely to detain U.S. citizens without charges; indeed, when asked if "the Constitution permit[s]" that, he responded: "no." Yet now, as President, he claims the power to assassinate them without charges. Could even his hardest-core loyalists try to reconcile that with a straight face? As Spencer Ackerman documented in April, not even John Yoo claimed that the President possessed the power Obama is claiming here. Given Brennan's strong suggestion that there are not merely three but "dozens" of Americans who are being targeted or at least could be ("they also will face the full brunt of a U.S. response") -- and given the huge number of times the Government has falsely accused individuals of Terrorism and its demonstrated willingness to imprison knowingly innocent detainees -- is it time yet to have a debate about whether we think the President should be able to exercise a power like this?

Police Get New Powers for G20 | CommonDreams.org

Police Get New Powers for G20 | CommonDreams.org

TORONTO - Police forces in charge of security for the G20 in Toronto have been granted special powers for the duration of the summit.

['Don't touch that fence!' The new legislation allows police to  search anyone within five metres of the G20 security fence in downtown  Toronto (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)]'Don't touch that fence!' The new legislation allows police to search anyone within five metres of the G20 security fence in downtown Toronto (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)
The new powers took effect Monday and apply only along the border of the G20 security fence that encircles a portion of the downtown core. This so-called red zone includes the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, where delegates will meet.

The new powers are designed specifically for the G20, CBC's Colin Butler reported Friday.

Ontario's cabinet quietly passed the new rules on June 2 without legislature debate.

Sgt. Tim Burrows of the G8/G20 Integrated Security Unit said the new regulations make parts of the existing Public Works Protection Act apply to the G20 security zone in downtown Toronto.

"The public has nothing to fear with this legislation and the way the police will use this legislation," said Burrows. "It really comes down to a case of common sense and officer discretion. If you're approaching that fence line, we want to know why."

The new powers are in effect on the streets and sidewalks in and around the security fence.

Under the new regulations, anyone who comes within five metres of the security area is obliged to give police their name and state the purpose of their visit.

Police, at their discretion, can deny access to the area and "use whatever force is necessary" to keep people out.

Anyone who refuses to identify themselves or refuses to provide a reason for their visit can be fined up to $500.

The new rules also give police the power to search anyone who approaches the fence.

The regulation also says that if someone has a dispute with an officer and it goes to court "the police officer's statement under oath is considered conclusive evidence under the Act."

The new regulations authorize police to use the powers starting on Monday, June 21 and police will have those powers until Monday, June 28 when the G20 delegates leave town.

Burrows said police have already made "two or three" arrests under the new rules as of Friday morning.

"We're bound by duty to protect the people that are going be within that fence line," said Burrows. "If you refuse to tell us [why you're there], then we have to assume that your purposes are not of a peaceful nature."

'Americans Don’t Flinch' – They Duck! | CommonDreams.org

'Americans Don’t Flinch' – They Duck! | CommonDreams.org

'Americans Don’t Flinch' – They Duck!

by Kathy Kelly and Dan Pearson

Yesterday, accepting General McChrystal’s resignation, President Obama said that McChrystal’s departure represented a change in personnel, not a change in policy. “Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks.” he stated, “We persist and we persevere.”

Yet, President Obama and the U.S. people don’t face up to the ugly truth that, in Afghanistan, the U.S. has routinely committed atrocities against innocent civilians. By ducking that truth, the U.S. reinforces a sense of exceptionalism, which, in other parts of the world, causes resentment and antagonism.

While on the campaign trail and since taking office, President Obama has persistently emphasized his view that attacks against civilians are always criminal, unless the U.S. is the attacker, in which case they are justified. We heard this again, yesterday, as the President assured the U.S. people that we will persevere in Afghanistan. “We will not tolerate a safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy Afghan security from within, and launch attacks against innocent men, women, and children in our country and around the world.”

In considering the security of Afghan civilians, it’s crucial to ask why, on May 12, 2009, General McChrystal was selected to replace General McKiernan as the top general in Afghanistan. News reports said it was because he had experience in coordinating special operations in Iraq. That experience involved developing death squads, planning night raids, and coordinating undercover assassinations. McChrystal proved, since his appointment, that he could organize atrocities against Afghan civilians and simultaneously present himself as a protector of Afghan civilians. In doing so, he relied on collaboration and cooperation from Defense Secretary Gates, General Petraeus and President Obama. They are united in their culpability.

We, ourselves, bear responsibility to examine disturbing patterns of misinformation regarding U.S./NATO attacks against Afghan civilians. In each of eleven incidents since April 9th, 2009, U.S. forces killed innocent civilians, then engaged in a cover-up, insisting that they had killed insurgents, and eventually acknowledged having killed civilians. Generally, U.S./NATO officials issued an apology.

Wikileaks is expected to release a video that establishes U.S. responsibility for a May 4th, 2009 air attack which killed an estimated 86 – 140 civilians, mostly women and children. In the days and weeks after the attack, U.S. and NATO military officials made a concerted effort to avoid blame for this attack.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence has maintained a list, assuredly only a partial list, of U.S./NATO attacks, since April 2009, which caused civilian deaths. Below is the entry describing the May 4, 2009 attack.

Date: May 4, 2009 Place: Farah Province near the town of Granai Circumstances: Mainstream media reports estimate that between 86 and 140 people, mostly children, died in a US air attack. According to Reuters, only 22 of the victims were adult males. Initial U.S./NATO response: The following chronology indicates multiple attempts on the part of US officials to avoid blame. May 6, 2009—U.S. officials’ plea ignorance and state that an investigation is under way. (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=54224) May 6, 2009—According to The Guardian, a spokesperson for US forces in Afghanistan, Captain Elizabeth Mathias says, “This was not coalition forces. This was Afghan national security forces who called in close air support, a decision that was vetted by the Afghan leadership,” May 7, 2009An Armed Service Press Service report announces that a team is “investigating differing accounts of the events leading up to the casualties. Those accounts include allegations that the Taliban tossed grenades into homes to ‘frame’ Afghan and coalition forces.” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates states that “the United States and coalition partners do everything we can to avoid civilian casualties.” He goes on to say that “While there have been civilian casualties caused by American and NATO troops, they have been accidental. When the Taliban cause casualties, they are on purpose.” May 8, 2009—Pentagon spokesperson Col. Greg Julian insists that earlier estimates of the death toll were “grossly exaggerated”. May 10, 2009—In an interview with Mike Wallace, General David Petraeus suggests that the Taliban forced people “to remain in houses from which the Taliban was engaging us forces”. May 15, 2009—Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway again blames the Taliban for civilian casualties. “We believe that there were families who were killed by the Taliban with grenades and rifle fire,” he said, “that were then paraded about and shown as casualties from the airstrike.” (http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2009/05/ap_afghanistan_deaths_051509/) U.S. /NATO acknowledgement that the people killed were unarmed civilians: May 13, 2009—Referring to the May 4th raids in an Afghan press interview, Ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry admitted that “there were a number of civilians killed, a number of civilians wounded. We don’t know the exact amount. You are aware that our President of the United States and our Secretary of State and our Secretary of Defense have all very explicitly expressed their condolences for what happened.” June 2, 2009— According to The New York Times “A military investigation has concluded that American personnel made significant errors in carrying out some of the airstrikes in western Afghanistan on May 4 that killed dozens of Afghan civilians, according to a senior American military official.” (http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=54224)

With all due respect for Ambassador Eikenberry’s sincerity, and recognizing that condolences may have been relayed to Afghanistan, we nevertheless want to say that we couldn’t find any record of U.S. officials publicly expressing sorrow, explicitly, for the U.S. attack against Afghan civilians on May 4, 2009. However, we do note that U.S. officials, one week later, nominated General McChrystal to replace General McKiernan. It seems that this appointment signaled U.S. intent to shift assaults against Afghan civilians into the realm of undercover operations, making it much easier to duck the blame.

Kathy Kelly, (kathy@vcnv.org), and Dan Pearson, (dan@vcnv.org), are co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (www.vcnv.org)

Minister: Israel Won’t Hesitate to Use Force Against Lebanon in Gas Field Dispute -- News from Antiwar.com

Minister: Israel Won’t Hesitate to Use Force Against Lebanon in Gas Field Dispute -- News from Antiwar.com

Israel has never needed any particular pretext to attack its neighbor to the north, but with Israel finding itself in possession of (or at least within the vicinity of) some $40 billion in oil and gas fields, the nation’s Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau is threatening the use of military force to back up Israeli claims to owning all of those fields.

Lebanon’s Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for his part accused Israel of “ignoring the map.” They really aren’t, however, they just have a different (and secret) map of their own.

While Lebanon’s map of maritime claims is based on drawing a perpendicular line off the Mediterranean coast at the location of the border, which seems to be the usual practice, Israel’s map assumes that since its declared border juts off at an obtuse angle with Lebanon they can extend the line to claim “economic waters” even though they are off the Lebanese coast. Furthermore, Israel has never actually defined what they claim as their waters.

The offshore fields in question are right along the disputed border, and would put a significant percentage in Lebanese territory. Israeli officials are claiming that the Lebanese objection to Israel building massive oil and gas rigs off the coasts of their southern towns are simultaneously part of a larger objection to Israel’s “very existence” and a cynical attempt to make Israel do all the exploration work and then swoop in and claim a share of the proceeds.

the blogger adds: the israeli's love using violence when it can't get its way.

24 June 2010

BP Oil Spill: Israel's Revenge? | Mother Jones

BP Oil Spill: Israel's Revenge? | Mother Jones yeah, republicans and christian nutjobs believing in the end times are destroying america.

La. Police Doing BP's Dirty Work [Video] | Mother Jones

La. Police Doing BP's Dirty Work [Video] | Mother Jones looks like foreign corporations can exert governmental controls against u.s. citizens. i guess those "american" cops doing the deed are no better than the germans when they rolled over for the nazis.

Israel Lobby Riding High in US Election Run-Up by Jim Lobe -- Antiwar.com

Israel Lobby Riding High in US Election Run-Up by Jim Lobe -- Antiwar.com

Despite the growing international condemnation and isolation incurred by the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the right-wing leadership of the so-called "Israel Lobby" here is riding high in the U.S. Congress.

So far this week, it has chalked up a key victory on Capitol Hill in its longstanding effort to impose "crippling sanctions" against Iran.

It also succeeded in getting a large majority of U.S. lawmakers to fire a shot across the bow of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has led the international chorus of criticism against the Jewish state since the deadly Israeli seizure in international waters of a Turkish vessel carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza.

While privately critical — often scathingly so — of Israel’s recent behavior, especially the May 31 commando raid, top officials of the administration of President Barack Obama are increasingly reluctant to air their complaints in public lest they harm Democratic prospects for retaining control of both houses of Congress after the mid-term elections in November.

Indeed, Obama will himself host Netanyahu at the White House in what is being billed as a "kiss-and-make-up" session Jul. 6 designed to reassure Jewish voters, in particular, that the two leaders’ contretemps over Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem earlier this spring has been put behind them.

Obama, according to some reports circulating here, hopes to receive a return invitation from his guest to visit Israel in October, a month before the November elections here.

Despite their relatively small number — about two percent of the total U.S. population and about three percent of voters in most elections, Jewish Americans are major donors to political campaigns, accounting for as much as 25 percent of all financial contributions to national campaigns and as much as 40 percent of all contributions to Democratic candidates, in particular.

They are also widely — if often mistakenly — seen by political candidates as virtually unconditional supporters of Israel prepared to reward or punish candidates based on their positions on the Jewish state.

"Every Democrat assumes that the biggest discernible group that contributes to their campaign is Jews," according to M.J. Rosenberg, a Middle East analyst who worked for the most powerful Lobby group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), in the 1980s.

"…(I)f a donor has a Jewish name, or is known to be Jewish, the assumption is that he or she is pro-Israel and will be offended by any deviation from the [Lobby's] line," he said.

At the same time, harsh criticism of Israel by the administration risks mobilizing the Christian Right, a major constituency of the Republican Party, whose support for Israel’s ruling Likud Party and Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and the occupied territories is based primarily on its theological views.

Thus, with the mid-term elections less than five months away and a succession of polls predicting major gains for Republicans in both houses, Obama and senior Democrats appear eager to avoid clashing with Israel, an impression that AIPAC and its allies are using to maximum advantage on Capitol Hill.

Under pressure from the Lobby, the Democratic leadership in Congress Monday approved sweeping sanctions legislation aimed at third-country companies that do business with Iran without granting Obama the kind of flexibility in implementing the sanctions — particularly as they apply to Russia and China — that he had sought.

While the White House indicated Tuesday that it still hopes to work out some changes in the bill before Obama agrees to sign it, the fact that the administration’s own lobbying efforts had failed to bring along top Democratic leaders on the issue marked a major victory for AIPAC and its allies.

"AIPAC applauds toughest Iran sanctions ever proposed," crowed the group’s press release after the joint announcement by the leaders of the "conference committee" that was charged with reconciling the differing — and weaker — versions of the sanctions bill that were passed earlier this year by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

"It provides the best hope that political and economic measures can peaceably persuade Iran to end its illicit nuclear program before it is too late," the statement added.

In what many observers saw as a similarly impressive display of the Lobby’s strength, 87 of the 100 senators signed an AIPAC-backed letter to Obama that not only supported Israel’s blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza, but also defended Israel’s efforts to enforce it, specifically its attack on the Turkish vessel.

Nine Turkish activists, including one who was also a U.S. citizen, were killed after Israeli commandos opened fire when they encountered resistance to their attempt to board the ship during the night.

"Late last month when Israel learned that groups operating in Turkey wanted to challenge its blockade of Gaza, Israel made every effort to ensure that all humanitarian aid reached Gaza without needlessly precipitating a confrontation," according to the letter that was jointly circulated by both the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, and the Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell.

"Israeli forces were able to safely divert five of the six ships challenging the blockade. However, video footage shows that the Israeli commandos who arrived on the sixth ship, which was owned by the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (the IHH), were brutally attacked with iron rods, knives, and broken glass," according to the letter, which uncritically recited the version of events propagated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). "They were forced to respond to that attack and we regret the loss of life that resulted."

The letter went on to "recommend" that the administration "consider" adding the IHH to the list of "foreign terrorist organizations" and noted that the signers "have additional questions about Turkey and any connections to Hamas."

Indeed, some lawmakers most closely associated with the Lobby have since called for the administration to suspend military ties with Turkey or to seek its expulsion from NATO.

The letter also "deplore(d)" a resolution approved by the U.N. Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that called for "an independent international fact-finding mission" to investigate the incident, adding that Israel, which announced its own investigation, "has the right to determine how (it) is conducted."

"AIPAC strongly applauds the U.S. Senate’s overwhelming statement of support for Israel’s right to defense in the wake of the Gaza flotilla incident and its call on President Obama to continue standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel at the United Nations, as Democratic and Republican presidents have done since the birth of the modern Jewish state," the lobby group said in a release Thursday that also commended a companion letter circulated by the House leadership and signed by more than 315 of the chamber’s 435 members.

"Addressed to President Obama, both letters state emphatically that the United States must continue to stand with Israel in every international forum because it is in America’s ‘national security interest’," according to AIPAC which stressed the importance of conducting an investigation into "the Turkish terrorist-linked ‘charity’ that led the flotilla."