Friday, July 26, 2013

The Globe and Mail and Harper Government's Real View of Military Coups d'Etat


The Difference between Fact and Political Spin in Canadian Corporate Media 

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice

What’s the difference between fact and political spin in Canada’s “national” newspaper?

Not much if a recent Globe and Mail article is any indication.

In an article about the overthrow of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, foreign affairs reporter Campbell Clark claims Ottawa faced a “conundrum in responding to” Morsi’s ouster since “the Harper government [is] normally critical of any military takeover”.

Did anybody bother to check if this was true? If anybody had, it would have quickly become obvious that Clark’s claim has no basis in fact. The Harper government has backed military coups, opposed pro-democracy movements and deepened ties to monarchies from Morocco to Saudi Arabia.

The Conservatives stuck with the military-backed Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak until literally the last possible minute of his 29-year reign. After 18 days of popular protest and about three hours before Mubarak’s resignation was announced publicly on February 11, 2011, Stephen Harper told a Newfoundland audience: “Our strong recommendations to those in power would be to lead change. To be part of it and to make a bright future happen for the people of Egypt.” Unlike many allied countries, the PM failed to call for Mubarak’s immediate departure.

The Harper government took a similar position towards the Tunisian pro-democracy protests that erupted weeks before Mubarak’s downfall. Harper stuck with the 23-year dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to the bitter end despite protests by Tunisian Canadians and various international organizations.

According to internal documents acquired by Postmedia, two weeks into mounting popular protests, on December 30, 2010, Freedom House asked Foreign Affairs to make a statement on the “ever-worsening situation” in Tunisia. The Conservatives stalled, waiting for the US/European reaction to Ben Ali’s repression. “Given that like-minded (allies) have not issued statements and the time lag since events, we do not see a strong rationale to issue something now,” one internal email explained. Twenty-six days after the protests began, on January 12, Foreign Affairs finally released a somewhat tepid statement criticizing Ben Ali’s worst excesses. And, after Ben Ali stepped down on January 14, Ottawa immediately endorsed his political party’s bid to maintain control through a dubious transition plan.

On June 22 of last year the left-leaning president of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, was ousted in what some called an “institutional coup”. Upset with Lugo for disrupting 61 years of one-party rule, Paraguay’s ruling class claimed he was responsible for a murky incident that left 17 peasants and police dead and the senate voted to impeach the president. The vast majority of countries in the hemisphere refused to recognize the new government. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) suspended Paraguay’s membership after Lugo’s ouster, as did the MERCOSUR trading bloc. But Canada was one of only a handful of countries in the world that immediately recognized the new government.

Paraguay was not the first Latin American country where the Conservatives played the role of Ugly Canadians. In 2009 the Harper government tacitly supported the Honduran military’s removal of elected president Manuel Zelaya.

While the coup government shut down numerous media outlets, imposed a curfew and killed demonstrators, Minister of State for Latin America, Peter Kent, continued to highlight Zelaya’s alleged transgressions. The Conservatives also refused to suspend its small training program with the Honduran military and Canada was the only major donor to Honduras — the largest recipient of Canadian assistance in Central America — that failed to sever any aid to the military government. The World Bank, European Union and even the US suspended some of their planned assistance to Honduras after the coup.

Politicians often tout their support for democracy but the mere fact of proclaiming something doesn’t make it so. Serious journalists look beyond the government’s claims and investigate their actions, before deciding what is true.


Yves Engler is the author of Lester Pearson's Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt. His latest book is The Ugly Canadian: Stephen Harper's foreign policy. Read other articles by Yves, or visit Yves's website.

Israel/Palestine "New Chapter": Is Anyone Reading This Old Book?


Peace Talks: New Chapter, Old Book

by Robert Jensen - CounterPunch

New negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians may begin next week, with much talk of a “new chapter” in the seemingly intractable conflict. A new chapter, perhaps, but who is writing the book?

Any public discussion about the “peace process” is tense, in part because there is no widely shared understanding of the history and politics of — even an appropriate terminology for — the conflict. That’s as true in the United States as in Palestine and Israel.

I never gave much thought to the question until I was 30 years old, in the late 1980s. Before that, I had a typical view of the conflict for an apolitical American: It was confusing, and everyone involved seemed a bit crazy. With no understanding of the history of the region and no framework for analyzing U.S. policy in the Middle East, it was all a muddle, and so I ignored it. That’s one of the privileges of being in the comfortable classes in the United States — you can remain comfortably ignorant.

But as a frustrated journalist with a newfound freedom to examine the politics of news media in graduate school, I began studying law and human rights, in the domestic and international arenas. I also started digging into the issues I had been avoiding. In the case of Palestine/Israel, I began reading about the roots of the conflict, how the United States was involved, and how U.S. journalists were presenting the issues.

I came to this inquiry with no firm allegiance to either side. As a white U.S. citizen from a centrist Protestant background but with no religious commitments, I felt no cultural or spiritual connection to either national group. I don’t speak Hebrew or Arabic, and I had never traveled to the Middle East. I had no personal relationships that predisposed me to favor one group over the other. Like any human, I was not free of bias, of course. As a relatively unreflective white man rooted in a predominantly Christian culture, I was raised with some level of anti-Semitism and anti-Arab racism, for example, and no doubt that affected my perceptions. But based solely on my personal profile, I didn’t have a dog in that fight, or so I thought.

After a couple of years of studying the issues, I realized that the categories of “pro-Israeli” and “pro-Palestinian” didn’t fit me. When people asked me where I stood on the issue, I would say that I supported international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As a U.S. citizen, I asserted that my primarily obligation was to evaluate the legality and morality of my own country’s involvement in the conflict and the region.

The more I learned about all those things, the more I became opposed to my government’s policy on this issue, in the Middle East, and around the world. The more I learned, the more I realized I lived in the imperial power of the day, and it became clear to me that imperial policies are designed to enrich the few while ignoring the needs of the many, at home and abroad. I became a critic of U.S. policy based on careful study that included, but was not limited to, mainstream sources. I could no longer accept the conventional story and the policies that flowed from that story.

Today, the situation in Palestine and Israel is as grim as ever. Decades of Israeli expansion and the Palestinian leadership’s failure to build a vibrant movement to challenge that expansion (or, perhaps, to let such a movement emerge on its own) have narrowed the prospects for a just peace. And in the background lurks the United States, still the major impediment to progress as long as it offers Israel nearly unconditional support for the occupation.

More than ever, the case for international law and human rights needs to be made clearly, but the conditions for that dialogue deteriorate. Despite recent efforts by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, there seems little basis for optimism, short or long term. As U.S. officials scramble to save an empire in decline, with its whole Middle East policy in disarray, it’s difficult to imagine a breakthrough.

I have no great insights into how to solve the conflict or deepen the dialogue. But as I think about the conflict, I’m drawn back to my roots in feminist intellectual and political life for some basic observations.

My return to graduate school has led me to inquire about many aspects of the world over the past two decades, but the first of those inquiries was into gender, with a focus on men’s violence against women. That led me to radical feminist theory, which has helped me understand not only the question of gender but offered a framework for understanding hierarchy. Feminism taught me how to think not only about gender but also about power, and a central lesson of feminism that applies here is the problem of assuming false equivalency in analyzing conflict.

Take a classic example of a husband who physically assaults his wife. The problem is rooted in patriarchy, a system that gives men control over women in a hierarchy that is naturalized and normalized: Men rule, women submit. The man’s violence in this case is used to ensure the submission, but the physical violence typically is only one method of control; such relationships often include emotional abuse and sexual violence. Within that dynamic, the woman may engage in all kinds of dysfunctional behavior herself, and she may strike out violently against the man at times. But feminist analyses of male power and men’s violence have made two things clear.

First, any specific incident can’t be understood outside the larger context, not only of that relationship but of the power dynamics of the culture. So, if we were drawn into a chaotic incident in the couple’s home, we might be tempted to assess the situation on the basis of what had just happened, but focusing only on the immediate occurrence would leave us ill-equipped to understand it. We need to know the couple’s history and understand the patriarchal context in which that history plays out.

Second, if we wanted to help resolve the conflict, it would be folly to assume that the man and woman were equally responsible and that a productive dialogue could go forward on that basis. Any claim that the man and woman should sit down as equals and talk would favor the man; without an acknowledgement of his greater power and a history of using that power to dominate, any “dialogue” would be a farce. While some men react to any call for such conversation with force, other men pursue a more sophisticated strategy that continues the dialogue so long as his fundamental power, in the relationship or in society, is not challenged. Some men pursue both strategies, depending on the moment. Real dialogue is possible only when the discrepancy in power is addressed.

If there is to be progress toward a just and peaceful solution in Palestine/Israel, those two lessons are crucial. We must recognize the larger political context in which the conflict is set and not assume there’s a level playing field for dialogue. That means acknowledging that since the end of World War II, the United States has pursued a policy of domination — through diplomacy and force — in the Middle East, and that for more than four decades a central component of that policy has been U.S. support for Israel’s expansionist policies in exchange for Israeli support of the U.S. project in the region (though not without disagreements and tension between the two countries). It also means that discussions about the issue, whether among citizens or by officials at the negotiating table, must begin with an acknowledgement of the power wielded by Israel, backed by the United States.

For more than 20 years I have tried to recognize the many ways in which I live with unearned privilege and tried to support the struggles of marginalized and oppressed people to justice. That has led me to support the basic aims of Palestinian nationalism, even if I do not always support specific strategies or tactics of various Palestinian groups. I also have criticized Israeli policy in public, in writing, and on film. But as a citizen of the United States, I have tried always to bring discussions on my home turf back to the responsibility of citizens to hold their own government accountable.

That is my dog in the fight. I live in a nation in which there is a tremendous gap between leaders’ rhetoric of freedom and justice, and the reality of imperial policies that perpetuate injustice. To close that gap, our public discussions must take account of the context and be honest about power. Nowhere is that more crucial that the intellectual and political engagements on the Palestine/Israel conflict.

Robert Jensen is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Getting Off: Pornography and the End of Masculinity (South End Press, 2007). He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online at http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~rjensen/index.html.

Energy Sector Movers for 2013

6 Key Oil & Gas Discoveries of 2013 – Who's Worth Owning

by OilPrice.com Premium Analysts

The pace of oil and gas exploration is frightening, and discoveries are weekly, if not daily, with volumes investors would only have dreamt of a decade ago. With each new discovery, it becomes difficult to keep track of the playing field, and even more difficult to rank the potential. There are also a lot of juniors popping up on the scene now, exploring, finding and developing with the intent to lure the bigger players to buy them out. So we'll make it easy for you here, with our list of 6 key oil and gas discoveries so far this year, followed by a short list of the companies we think have the best potential—and they're not necessarily the ones who have made the biggest discoveries.

Last year, it was all about East and West Africa, with game-changing finds in Kenya, Mozambique, Angola, Ghana and Ivory Coast that have sent explorers on a feeding frenzy looking for analog plays in the region and finding plenty. This year, so far, we like the discovery revival in the Gulf of Mexico and handful of new sub-salt and pre-salt plays.

6 Key Discoveries of 2013

Shenandoah-2/Gulf of Mexico

In mid-June, Anadarko Petroleum (APC) announced a major new discovery in this deep-water play: more than 500 million barrels of crude oil in the Shenandoah-2 well. This find is important: the implications are massive and this means we could be looking at a major oil rush in the Lower Tertiary trend. (Anadarko shareholders should be thrilled). And it wasn't easy (or cheap): Anadarko drilled through some six miles of rock in water at a depth of 5,800 feet.

The Lower Tertiary trend and its sub-regions could hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil. What this discovery means is that the US oil boom is far from over, and the Gulf of Mexico Lower Tertiary trend is still surprising us. Anadarko's find solidifies a trend that began with ExxonMobil's 2010 discovery of the Hadrian field (700 million barrels); Royal Dutch Shell's discovery of the Appomattox field (500 million barrels); Chevron's discovery of the Moccasin field (200 million barrels); and BP discovery of the Mad Dog field (est. 4 billion BOE).

Coronado Prospect/Gulf of Mexico

In May, Chevron Corp (CVX) announced a new discovery at its Coronado prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, at the Walker Ridge Block 98-1 well. The well is some 190 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Lower Tertiary sub-salt trend, in water of around 6,127 feet, but it's been drilled to a depth of 31,866 feet! (One of the deepest wells ever drilled and probably cost at least $250 million, though we don't know for sure). The scale of the reserves is still under appraisal for commercial viability, and Chevron currently holds a 40 percent working interest in the prospect. Other owners of the Coronado prospect are ConocoPhillips ( COP ) with a 35 percent stake, a subsidiary of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. ( APC ) with a 15 percent stake, and Venari Offshore LLC with a 10 percent stake.

Harpoon Discovery/Newfoundland

In mid-June, Norway's Statoil announced it was evaluating a new discovery of high-quality oil off the coast of Newfoundland, about 500 kilometers northeast of St. John's. The Harpoon discovery is under some 1,100 meters of water. While we don't know the extent of the Harpoon discovery just yet, what we like is that it is only 10 kilometers from the earlier Mizzen discovery, which is estimated to hold between 100 million and 200 million barrels of oil. Statoil owns a 65% stake in Harpoon (the rest is owned by Husky).

Offshore Cote d'Ivoire

In late April, France's Total SA announced a major discovery in the deep waters off the western coast of Cote d'Ivoire, encountering 91 feet of net oil pay while drilling in Block CI-100 in about 7,400 feet of water. It was the first block Total drilled. What is significant about this discovery is not the net feet of pay, but the fact that it confirms an extension of reserves in the Tano basin, home to the giant Jubilee field in neighboring Ghana. The Jubilee field is one of the richest oil fields in Africa with potential reserves eclipsing 1.8 billion barrels. This is the second major find in Cote d'Ivoire recently; last year Tullow Oil—which is also exploring in Ghana, made an offshore discovery here as well.

Gullfaks, North Sea


In April, Statoil said it could be sitting on 40-150 million recoverable BOE in the North Sea in its Gullfaks license, where it is still working to confirm its findings. Gullfaks is in the North Sea's Shetland Group/Lista Formation. The Gullfaks finds are younger, shallower deposits than its primary areas. Gullfaks has three permanent installations that have so far produced over 2.4 billion barrels of oil and over 56 billion cubic meters of gas. Statoil is the operator of the license, with a 70% interest, along with Petoro (30%). The Gullfaks discovery follows two other recent massive discoveries in the North Sea: Johan Sverdrup and King Lear.

Santos Basin/Libra, Brazil

In May, Petrobras doubled the estimate for its Libra field to 12-15 billion barrels. This makes it Brazil's largest ever discovery. Brazilian officials say it could easily produce a million barrels of oil per day once it is fully developed—that's TWICE the output of OPEC-member Ecuador. Production could begin in five years, with plans for up to 12-18 production vessels permanently anchored on the field, each of them pumping up to 30,000 barrels per day. For state-run Petrobras, which owns the field, it means more expenditures and more debt (and it's already drowning). The answer: Petrobras is taking the show on the road, preparing to offer foreign investors up to a 30% stake in this amazing prospect. (The Libra auction will take place in October, and 70% of the field will be up for grabs).

WHAT'S WORTH OWNING

Genel Energy (LON:GENL)

We can't get enough of Anglo-Turkish Genel, which is advancing like a hurricane in Kurdistan (discovery after discovery and amazing drilling success), and also faring nicely in Africa. Shares in the company have advanced almost 50% over the past year on success in Kurdistan, and now it's about to hit the roof as its crude oil pipeline nears completion and is slated to start pumping crude to Turkey by the end of September. There is a short window of opportunity here to get in while this is still a bit undervalued. (And there are a number of undervalued stocks operating out of Kurdistan).

Genel is the largest producer in Iraqi Kurdistan, and its holdings are impressive. We're talking about 7 production-sharing contracts with some nice geological diversity. Its largest producing fields in Kurdistan are Taq Taq and Tawke, which have an estimated gross proven and probable reserves of 1.4 billion barrels of oil and gross proven, and probable reserves of 1.9 billion barrels. By 2014, Genel is aiming for a production capacity of 140,000 net bopd.

Anadarko Petroleum (APC)


Anadarko has great onshore assets in the US Gulf of Mexico and diverse offshore, deep-water assets off the coasts of Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique, Brazil, China, Indonesia and New Zealand, with proven oil and gas reserves at about 2,560 million BOE as of end 2012. We're looking at liquids-natural gas ratio of 46%-54%. For 2012, Anadarko saw a 10% increase in overall production. This year, Anadarko plans to spend some $5.5 billion developing its onshore US assets alone, and about $1 billion on its overseas plays. So we expect another nice increase in production for 2013. The company will shift its key activities a bit to account for low natural gas prices, so we'll see more focus and money spent on the Gulf of Mexico and less at the Marcellus shale, for instance. Anadarko is trading at $86.10 per share with a total market cap of more than $43.1 billion.

In the second week of June, shares of Anadarko rose 3.7% on the news of a major new discovery in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Shenandoah-2, mentioned above).

Noble Energy Inc (NYSE:NBL)


When you think about the Levant Basin these days, you think about Houston-based Noble Energy. In late May, Noble announced a new discovery in the Mediterranean Sea, just 20 miles northeast of its Tamar field in its Karish well after drilling to a total depth of 15,783 feet. The well encountered 184 feet of net natural gas pay, and Noble thinks it potentially holds up to 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This brings its estimated combined resources in the Levant Basin—including the Tamar and Leviathan fields—up to 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Noble is definitely on a roll in the Levant Basin, and this latest discovery is its 7th so far in the eastern Mediterranean.

Back in the US, it's more good news for Noble. In mid-June, Noble confirmed that its second Gunflint appraisal well in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico had an estimated gross resource of 65-90 million bbl of oil equivalent. This means Noble's plans for a subsea tieback development at Gunflint are a green light for this year. Production is targeted for the end of 2015 at both Noble's Gunflint and Big Bend deep-water discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico.

Oryx (OXC)


Sorry, but it's got to be Kurdistan—again, but this time Oryx, a company we've written about before but you may not have heard of. If you haven't you're missing out. About a month ago, Oryx—the upstream division of AOG--offered up 17% of its shares (16,700,000 common shares) on the Toronto Stock Exchange for C$15 per share) with gross proceeds of $250 million. The proceeds will allow Oryx to complete its exploration and appraisal plans through mid-next year, and they expect some serious results over the next 12 months.

Oryx is the brainchild of Swiss billionaire Jean Claude Gandur, who made his grand entrance onto the oil and gas scene in 2008 with the sale of Addax Petroleum to China's Sinopec for $7.2 billion. Since then, he's been out of the fossil fuels game—so Oryx is his re-entry ticket. Gandur owns 77% of Oryx through AOG.

Oryx is exploring in west Africa and Iraqi Kurdistan, but it's the Kurdistan assets we really like. Gandur is an excellent diplomat who can navigate power brokers, which will make or break a junior company in this territory. Oryx isn't making any money yet, but it will, and that's why we think now is the time to get in on this. It could very easily go the way of Addax, which was making about $300 million annually in net income when it was sold to Sinopec. Gandur has dumped $700 million into Oryx, which has been busy buying up licenses and drilling wells. It's sitting quite nicely in Kurdistan right now with a 100% focus on oil and 143 billion bbls of proven oil reserves.


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Some People's Kids: American Parents of Israeli Soldiers in the Media


Another Journalist with Children in the Israeli Military

by Alison Weir - CounterPunch

The New York Times recently published a news brief, reporting that Israel is going to re-investigate an incident in which an American citizen, Tristan Anderson, was permanently maimed.

Anderson suffered extensive brain damage (part of his frontal lobe was destroyed) and paralysis, and was blinded in one eye, after Israeli soldiers shot him with a tear gas canister intended as a “barricade penetrator” from inappropriately close range. According to eyewitnesses, Anderson was shot as he was taking photographs in a Palestinian village after an unarmed protest against the illegal and extensive confiscation of village land.

Israeli forces have a history of shooting unarmed protesters with these canisters, which one expert likens to “a small missile.”

Yet the New York Times report, “Israel Reopens Inquiry Into Activist’s Injury” (July 11, 2013, P. 9) reveals few of these details.

The Times article states that Anderson was injured when he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister and is partly paralyzed and blind in one eye, but does not mention his extensive brain damage and that his paralysis is over half his body. It doesn’t reveal that the type of canister used is extraordinarily destructive or that it was fired at such close range.

The report also omits the fact that this incident is part of a pattern, even though Israeli forces have killed at least two Palestinians with these canisters, and shot out the eye of an American student with another. According to a report by an Israeli organization, Israeli forces “frequently fire tear-gas canisters directly at demonstrators.”

The Times report states that the protest was “against the extension of Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank” without citing the villagers’ actual complaint — the confiscation of their land and, thus, livelihood by Israel. It similarly fails to mention that over previous decades Israel confiscated over 80 percent of the village land and now intends to take between a quarter and a third of what remains to build the “barrier.”

Finally, the Times report repeats, without attribution, the Israeli security forces’ claim that the shooting occurred “during a clash,” implying that it happened accidentally during a violent engagement, ignoring eyewitness testimony that the protest had dissipated and most people had gone home.

The byline on the Times report is Myra Noveck. Noveck has bylined a number of stories for both the New York Times and its European affiliate the International Herald Tribune, where ZoomInfo lists her as a contributor.

Noveck is frequently cited in New York Times news reports as a contributor to stories, and a prominent Israeli newspaper calls her the Times’ “deputy bureau chief” for the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, its bureau for covering Israel-Palestine.

From information she has posted online, it appears that Noveck is an American who moved to Israel after college. According to Torah in Motion, which promotes Jewish dialogue and speakers, two of her children were serving in the Israeli military as of 2012. It is unclear whether her children are currently still on active duty or whether they are now serving as Israeli reserve soldiers.

In either case, it appears that while Noveck has been writing and contributing to news reports about Israel and about the Israeli military, her children have been serving in it.

Such a situation appears to constitute a clear conflict of interest – even according to the Times’ own ethics standards – and should normally cause a journalist to be assigned to a different area of reporting.

When it came to light in 2010 that then chief of the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, Ethan Bronner, had a son in the Israeli military, even the Times’ own ombudsman concluded that Bronner should be reassigned.

In response to requests for information and interviews with Noveck and Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, a Times spokesperson issued a written statement claiming that Noveck is “not a reporter,” but merely a “long-time news assistant in The Times’s bureau in Jerusalem.”

The statement went on to say: “She works under the direction of our bureau chief primarily doing translation and research. She is an Israeli citizen. If she has children and they are also Israeli citizens, presumably they would be required to serve in the military*. This situation would not constitute a ‘breach with impartiality.’”

I wrote back pointing out (1) that Times’ conflict of interest requirements include family members and (2) that Noveck’s byline appeared on a news report. The spokesperson then admitted that Noveck “on rare occasions received a byline” but still maintained that “she is not a reporter.”

However, the Times’ published ethics standards generally extend ethical requirements ”to all newsroom and editorial page employees, journalists and support staff alike.”

Reporters Frequently Have Ties to Israeli Military

This incident is part of a pattern of ethics violations concerning reporting on Israel.

Isabel Kershner, a senior Times reporter in the region, is an Israeli citizen whose husband, according to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (Fair) works for an Israeli organization, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which has close ties to the Israeli military and is “tasked with shaping a positive image of Israel in the media.”

A FAIR study of articles that Kershner had written or contributed to since 2009 found they had overwhelmingly relied on the INSS for analysis about events in the region.

A multitude of journalists at the Times and elsewhere have had close personal and family ties to the Israeli military – almost none of them ever disclosed, including the previous Times bureau chief Ethan Bronner, as noted above.

Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Israel, quotes a Jerusalem bureau chief who stated: “… Bronner’s situation is ‘the rule, not the exception. I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

Cook writes that the bureau chief explained: “It is common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their Zionist credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children.”

For more information on journalists’ pro-Israel conflict of interest violations see ”US Media and Israeli Military: All in the Family,” “Jodi Rudoren, Another Member of the Family: Meet the New York Times’ New Israel-Palestine News Chief,” “Ethan Bronner’s Conflict With Impartiality,” and ”AP’s Matti Friedman: Israeli citizen and former Israeli soldier.”

It would appear from this pervasive pattern that many of the owners, editors, and journalists who determine U.S. reporting on Israel-Palestine believe that normal ethics requirements don’t apply in regard to Israel.

This situation holds serious consequences for the American public. American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day (more than to any other country) and, as a result, most of the world views Americans as responsible for Israeli actions, exposing us to escalating risks.

Osama Bin Laden and others have often cited U.S. support for Israeli crimes as a primary cause of hostility against us.

It is thus essential that Americans be accurately and fully informed. This is unlikely to happen while those reporting for American news media (whether “reporters” or “assistants”) have such close ties to Israel and its powerful military forces.

Witnesses Describe Soldiers Shooting Protesters with High-Speed Canisters

Anderson was shot in 2009 after a protest in the Palestinian village of Ni’lin in the West Bank. Since 2007 Ni’lin villagers and others have been demonstrating against the illegal Israeli confiscation of up to a third of the village’s land (following previous confiscations in which the majority of the village’s original land was taken by Israel).

Gabby Silverman, a witness to the shooting of Tristan Anderson, describes the incident: “Tristan had wandered off with his camera. I was looking at him. And out of nowhere, they opened fire on us. The first shot they fired, they got Tristan.”

Anderson is now in a wheelchair with permanent brain damage. He is hemiplegic (paralyzed on the left, formerly dominant, side of his body). He is blind in his right eye and part of his head and frontal lobe were destroyed.

The kind of canister Israeli forces shot at Anderson is particularly dangerous, according to their manufacturer itself. The shells have a range of several hundred meters, yet Israeli soldiers fired at Anderson from approximately 60 meters away.

The canisters’ manufacturer, Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI), classifies them as “barricade penetrators” and advises that they should not be fired at people. A spokesperson for an Israeli human rights organization says, “It’s like firing a small missile.” Because of an internal propulsion mechanism, they hurtle through the air at 122 meters per second.

CSI is reportedly the primary supplier of tear gas to Israel. A watchdog group reports that the company flew the Israeli flag at its Jamestown, Pennsylvania, headquarters until, in advance of a planned Martin Luther King Day demonstration, CSI took it down and replaced it with the Pennsylvania state flag.

According to an in-depth report on CSI by Pennsylvania professor Dr. Werner Lange, the company was founded by two Israelis, Jacob Kravel and Michael Brunn.

A month after Anderson was shot, a Palestinian nonviolence leader was killed by this same type of tear gas canister when an Israeli soldier shot it into the victim’s chest (the fifth Palestinian killed in Ni’lin by the Israeli military in a year and a half).

The next year Israeli forces fired a similar canister at a young American art student, Emily Henochowicz, destroying one eye. An eyewitness reported that an Israeli soldier intentionally aimed the canister at Henoschowitz while she was participating in a nonviolent demonstration.

In 2012 another Palestinian was killed when an Israeli soldier shot him in the face with what appears to have also been a long-range CSI canister.

The occupying Israeli forces have consistently suppressed the Ni’lin villagers’ unarmed protests against the stealing of their land. As of 2012, Israel had arrested more than 350 villagers, killed 5 – including a 10-year-old child – injured “multiple” protesters with live ammunition, and broken the bones of 15 people with tear gas projectiles, according to the villagers’ website, created to document the situation.

There are similar reports from other Palestinian villages, where several other protesters have died from tear gas fired by Israeli forces.

It is unfortunate that almost none of this was even hinted at in Myra Noveck’s New York Times report.

*While military service is required for both males and females in Israel, only about 50 percent actually serve; many Israelis have refused to serve in the Israeli military for reasons of conscience.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. She can be reached through contact@ifamericansknew.org.

For more information on Anderson, videos of the incident, and the latest updates go to http://www.justice4tristan.org/.

Ni’lin is also sometimes referred to as Nilin or Na’alin.

The United States of Military Operations on Urban Terrain (USMOUT)


The Militarization of America


by Bill Van Auken - WSWS

This week’s deployment of Blackhawk helicopters in Chicago is only the latest in a series of “urban warfare training” exercises that have become a familiar feature of American life.

As elsewhere, this exercise was sprung unannounced on a startled civilian population. Conducted in secrecy, apparently with the collusion of local police agencies and elected officials, Democrats and Republicans alike, the ostensible purpose of these exercises is to give US troops experience in what Pentagon doctrine refers to as “Military Operations on Urban Terrain.”

Such operations are unquestionably of central importance to the US military. Over the past decade, its primary mission, as evidenced in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been the invasion and occupation of relatively powerless countries and the subjugation of their resisting populations, often in house-to-house fighting in urban centers.

The Army operates a 1,000 acre Urban Training Center in south-central Indiana that boasts over 1,500 “training structures” designed to simulate houses, schools, hospitals and factories. The center’s web site states that it “can be tailored to replicate both foreign and domestic scenarios.”

What does flying Blackhawks low over Chicago apartment buildings or rolling armored military convoys through the streets of St. Louis accomplish that cannot be achieved through the sprawling training center’s simulations? Last year alone, there were at least seven such exercises, including in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Tampa, St. Louis, Minneapolis and Creeds, Virginia.

The most obvious answer is that these exercises accustom troops to operating in US cities, while desensitizing the American people to the domestic deployment of US military might.

Preparations for such deployments are already far advanced. Over the past decade, under the pretext of prosecuting a “global war on terror,” Washington has enacted a raft of repressive legislation and created a vast new bureaucracy of state control under the Department of Homeland Security. Under the Obama administration, the White House has claimed the power to throw enemies of the state into indefinite military detention or even assassinate them on US soil by means of drone strikes, while radically expanding electronic spying on the American population.

Part of this process has been the ceaseless growth of the power of the US military and its increasing intervention into domestic affairs. In 2002, the creation of the US Northern Command for the first time dedicated a military command to operations within the US itself.

Just last May, the Pentagon announced the implementation of new rules of engagement for US military forces operating on American soil to provide “support” to “civilian law enforcement authorities, including responses to civil disturbances.”

The document declares sweeping and unprecedented military powers under a section entitled “Emergency Authority.” It asserts the authority of a “federal military commander” in “extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.” In other words, the Pentagon brass claims the unilateral authority to impose martial law.

These powers are not being asserted for the purpose of defending the US population against terrorism or to counter some hypothetical emergency. The US military command is quite conscious of where the danger lies.

In a recent article, a senior instructor at the Fort Leavenworth Command and General Staff College and former director of the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies laid out a telling scenario for a situation in which the military could intervene.

“The Great Recession of the early twenty-first century lasts far longer than anyone anticipated. After a change in control of the White House and Congress in 2012, the governing party cuts off all funding that had been dedicated to boosting the economy or toward relief. The United States economy has flatlined, much like Japan’s in the 1990s, for the better part of a decade. By 2016, the economy shows signs of reawakening, but the middle and lower-middle classes have yet to experience much in the way of job growth or pay raises. Unemployment continues to hover perilously close to double digits …”

In other words, the Pentagon sees these conditions—which differ little from what exists in the US today—producing social upheavals that can be quelled only by means of military force.

What is being upended, behind the scenes and with virtually no media coverage, much less public debate, are constitutional principles dating back centuries that bar the use of the military in civilian law enforcement. In the Declaration of Independence itself, the indictment justifying revolution against King George included the charge that he had “affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.”

Side by side with the rising domestic power of the military, the supposedly civilian police have been militarized. An article published by the Wall Street Journal last weekend entitled “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” graphically described this process:

“Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the US scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”

The article describes the vast proliferation of SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) units to virtually every town in America, fueled by some $35 billion in grants from the Department of Homeland Security, “with much of the money going to purchase military gear such as armored personnel carriers.”

This armed force was on full display in April when what amounted to a state of siege was imposed on the city of Boston, ostensibly to capture one teenage suspect. The entire population of a major American city was locked in their homes as combat-equipped police, virtually indistinguishable from troops, occupied the streets and conducted warrantless house-to-house searches.

Underlying this unprecedented militarization of US society are two parallel processes. The immense widening of the social chasm separating the billionaires and multi-millionaires who control economic and political life from American working people, the great majority of the population, is fundamentally incompatible with democracy and requires other forms of rule. At the same time, the turn to militarism as the principal instrument of US foreign policy has vastly increased the power of the military within the US state apparatus.

Both America’s ruling oligarchy and the Pentagon command recognize that profound social polarization and deepening economic crisis must give rise to social upheavals. They are preparing accordingly.

The working class must draw the appropriate conclusions and make its own political preparations for the inevitable confrontations to come.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A Note to Trayvon's Dad: "Sue!"


An Open Letter to Trayvon Martin's Father

by Greg Palast - Truthout 

Dear Mr. Martin,

I have a 16-year old son. I cannot imagine losing him because some beast decided to play Lone Ranger.

And so, with cautious humility, I make this suggestion, this plea.

Sue the beast. You must.

I understand you are reluctant to launch another painful trial of uncertain outcome and cost, monetary and emotional. And I know a money judgment won't bring your son home.

But imagine this: George Zimmerman gets a half-million-dollar book deal and $25,000 a pop to appear at gun shows - plus a fee to put his name on a 9mm semi-automatic. The 'Zimmerman Protector.'

There's only one way to put this monster out of business: Justice can only come out of the barrel of a lawsuit.

Only in a lawsuit can you force Zimmerman to the witness stand. That's crucial. In the criminal case, Zimmerman's daddy, a magistrate no less, could say it was poor George yelling for help on that desperate phone call.

In a civil action, your son's lawyer can say to Zimmerman, "Come on, George, let's hear you scream for help. George, let's hear you scream that this skinny kid is going to kill you. Come on, George, show us how Trayvon somehow grabbed your big fat head while he was taking the gun from your hand."

A federal indictment won't do that: Zimmerman can't be called as a witness in a criminal case. A federal trial won't disgrace Zimmerman nor stop him from getting rich off your son's corpse.

A civil trial has none of that "reasonable doubt" crap that can get Zimmerman off the hook with some fantasy story about Trayvon as the dangerous aggressor. Zimmerman's consigliere said it was Trayvon’s own fault he was murdered. The “decision [to get shot] was in Trayvon Martin's hands more than my client's.” Do you want that to be the last word about your son?

Maybe you don't want the money. OK, then: Set up a foundation and make Zimmerman turn over all that blood money, those book deals and gun show fees, to the Trayvon Foundation. Make him work every day of his lousy life for Trayvon.

There’s another advantage to civil action. To be blunt, you won't have to rely on painfully befuddled prosecutors like the ones we witnessed in that courtroom. In a lawsuit, you can choose the best legal gunslingers in the country.

I'm not guessing about that. I asked fearsome Florida trial lawyer Mike Papantonio if he and his partner, civil rights attorney Bobby Kennedy Jr., would take on the case if called. Papantonio said his firm is standing by, ready to help your legal team if asked. And I have no doubt there are other great plaintiff lawyers who would leap to your cause.

Americans love to complain that there are "too many lawyers." I agree that if some corporate defense lawyers drown in their hot tubs, only their mothers should cry. But it is our unique system of tort law that gives Americans the true Hammer of Justice. Plaintiff lawsuits, even more than government agencies or the FBI, are what keep drug companies from poisoning us and keep dangerous toys from maiming our kids. And, using section 1983 of the federal civil rights statute, it’s the power of the plaintiffs’ bar that stops racist jerks from denying jobs, mortgages and freedoms to people of color.

And there's one final reason to bring a civil action. Let the word go forth to any Zimmerman wannabe dreaming that wealth and admiration requires only their hunting down another dark-skinned kid in a hoodie: Maybe sick Florida law will keep you out of prison, but you will have your sorry ass dragged onto a witness stand, where you will be ripped up, ruined and busted for the rest of your life.

So I'm asking you, as one dad to another, stand your ground and sue this killer - for Trayvon and for all our kids.

With respect,

Greg Palast



Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers, Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

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B.C. Chemical Experiments Resume: Aerial Spraying Recorded Over Victoria

Aerial Spray Experiments Resume Over Victoria

by C. L. Cook

Following a period of respite, the skies over Victoria are again home to chemtrail applicators; the blue of summer replaced by the hazy mirk of an unofficial program of geo-engineering.



Adam Blainey recorded the resumption of Victoria overflights July 24th, 2013.

Chris Hedges in Conversation with Real News Viewers

Chris Hedges Answers Questions from Viewers

by TRNN

On the final episode of Reality Asserts Itself with Paul Jay, Chris Hedges answers questions like: "Do you believe the US or Israel will attack Iran?" and "Is there any hope for Bradley Manning?"




Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Senkaku Saga: "Military" Intrusion Claims Exaggerating China/Japan Tensions


Is AP and/or the Japanese Government Really Confused About the Difference Between a Fighter Jet and a Surveillance Turboprop?

by Peter Lee - China Matters

After raking the Irish Times over the coals for screwing up the headline it tacked onto the Reuters story about the alleged intrusion of a Chinese military aircraft into Japanese airspace by calling a Y-8 turboprop a “fighter plane”, I was…interested? bemused? incensed? to see AP run its story with the fighter plane characterization in the body of the text. As in:
Tokyo expressed unease Thursday over Chinese military and maritime activity near disputed islands that Japan controls, as China defended a flight by one of its fighter jets near Japanese airspace.

I think it was a flub by AP, though I would be interested to find out if the reporter was simply passing on an incorrect? misleading? dishonest? characterization by a Japanese government official.

Was it a fighter plane to begin with, and initial Japanese government statements got it wrong? Or was it a turboprop, which is now turning into a “fighter jet” in order to give the story some more legs? Inquiring minds want to know.

For military aviation enthusiasts, Wikipedia tells us that the Y-8 turboprop, when converted to an airborne early warning aircraft, is called the KJ-200 Balance Beam. Why “balance beam”? Ask a gymnast.



Here is a picture I found on the Internet of this fearsome armament:
Doesn’t look much like a fighter jet.

Anybody get a picture of the Chinese intruder? The great thing about maritime confrontations is that there’s nobody out there except the Japanese Self Defence Forces, so the Japanese government has near total control of the stories that come out.

As I reflect on the ongoing Senkaku/maritime saga, I am increasingly of the opinion that Prime Minister Abe welcomes tensions with China because it gives him a pretext to expand? exceed? the boundaries of the pacifist constitution with new missions and capabilities for the Japanese military without the need to make difficult explanations to the U.S. government and Japan’s neighbors about his manifest desire to transform the Japanese military into a strategic asset: one that not only intimidates and deters Japan’s neighbors and gives Japan the necessary capability and credibility to construct and lead alliances of lesser regional states, but also turns Japan into a self-sufficient and independent actor in the Asian security game: one that can dare ignore or defy the United States, and perhaps even use its unilateral capabilities to force the U.S. to either endorse its actions, follow them…or get out of the way.

So aggressive Japanese government spin about Chinese intentions and actions that push the boundaries of plausibility and truth are to be expected.

As to whether Japan would actively foment or misrepresent confrontations with China, well, for now I leave that interesting question to the intrepid journos of the leading media outlets.

Jailing the Messenger: Yemeni Journo Freed Despite Obama Meddling

Yemeni Reporter Who Exposed U.S. Drone Strike Freed from Prison After Jailing at Obama’s Request

by DemocracyNow!

Prominent Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye has been released from prison after being held for three years on terrorism-related charges at the request of President Obama. Shaye helped expose the U.S. cruise missile attack on the Yemeni village of al-Majalah that killed 41 people, including 14 women and 21 children in December 2009.

Then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his intention to pardon Shaye in 2011, but apparently changed his mind after a phone call from Obama.

In a statement, the White House now says it is "concerned and disappointed" by Shaye’s release.

"We should let that statement set in: The White House is saying that they are disappointed and concerned that a Yemeni journalist has been released from a Yemeni prison," says Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, who covers Shaye’s case in "Dirty Wars," his new book and film by the same name.

"This is a man who was put in prison because he had the audacity to expose a U.S. cruise missile attack that killed three dozen women and children." We’re also joined by Rooj Alwazir, a Yemeni-American activist who co-founded the Support Yemen media collective and campaigned for Shaye’s release.

Privatizing CBC: Why Won't This Ad Air on the State Broadcaster?

The Man Behind the Desk

by Friends of Canadian Broadcasting

CBC has refused to air an advertisement critical of the Conservative government’s meddling in the public broadcaster’s affairs.

The non-profit group, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, have created an ad highly critical of Stephen Harper's government.

The ad, which comes in 30 and 60 second versions, attacks the most recent budget bill and runs down the list of scandals, oversights, muzzlings, and mysterious cash losses that are fast becoming the hallmarks of Harper's tenure as prime minister.

After the main character in the ad—a journalist—questions whether the federal government is turning the CBC into a state broadcaster, he is tied up and thrown in the back of a car.

The group approached the CBC to air the ad, only to have it rejected. The CBC claims its decision was to avoid appearing as if it was endorsing the ad's campaign.

Lucky for us, the Internet is still sort of free, so watch it now. Although your IP address will likely be logged by CSIS for use at a later date.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is currently trying to raise $60,000 to buy air time for its ad to air on non-CBC TV networks.

Into Darkness: Fukushima Spewing Poison Yet

Fukushima Continues to Spew Its Darkness

by Harvey Wasserman - CounterPunch

Radiation leaks, steam releases, disease and death continue to spew from Fukushima and a disaster which is far from over. Its most profound threat to the global ecology—a spent fuel fire—is still very much with us.

The latest steam leak has raised fears around the planet. A worst-case scenario of an on-going out-of-control fission reaction was dismissed by the owners, Tokyo Electric, because they didn’t find xenon in the plume. The company says the steam likely came from rain water being vaporized by residual heat in one of plant’s stricken reactors.

But independent experts tend to disbelieve anything Tepco says, for good reason. Reactor Units One, Two and Three have exploded at Fukushima despite decades of official assurances that commercial atomic power plants could not explode at all. The company has been unable to clear out enough radioactive debris to allow it to put a cover over the site that might contain further airborne emissions.

Tepco has also been forced to admit that it has been leaking radioactive water into the ocean ever since the disaster began on March 11, 2011. In one instance it admitted to a 90-fold increase of Cesium in a nearby test well over a period of just 3 days.

Earlier this year a rat ate through critical electrical cables, shorting out a critical cooling system. When Tepco workers were dispatched to install metal guards to protect the cabling, they managed to short out the system yet again.

Early this month Fukushima’s former chief operator, Masao Yoshida, died of esophogeal cancer at the age of 58. Masao became a hero during the worst of the disaster by standing firm at his on-site command post as multiple explosions rocked the reactor complex. Tepco claimed his ensuing cancer and death were “unlikely” to have been caused by Fukushima’s radiation.

The impact of work in and near the reactors has become a rising concern. Critics have warned that there are not enough skilled technicians willing to sacrifice themselves at the plant. Tepco has worsened the situation by applying to open a number of its shut reactors elsewhere in Japan, straining its already depleted skilled workforce even further.

Meanwhile, a staggering 40% rise in thyroid irregularities among young children in the area has caused a deepening concern about widespread health impacts from Fukushima’s fallout within the general public. Because these numbers have come in just two years after the disaster, the percentage of affected children is expected to continue to rise.

And the worst fear of all remains unabated. At Unit Four, which apparently did not actually explode, the building’s structural integrity has been seriously undermined. Debate continues to rage over exactly how this happened.

But there’s no doubt that a pool containing many tons of highly radioactive used fuel is suspended 100 feet in the air, with little left to support the structure. Should an earthquake or other trauma knock the pool to the ground, there’s a high likelihood the fuel rods could catch fire.

In such an event, the radioactive emissions could be catastrophic. Intensely lethal emissions could spew for a very long time, eventually circling the globe many times, wrecking untold havoc.

The Japanese have removed two apparently unused rods from the fuel pool so far. But intense international pressure to clear out the rest of them has thus far been unsuccessful.

So while a depleted, discredited and disorganized nuclear utility moves to restart its other reactors, its stricken units at Fukushima continue to hold the rest of us at the brink of apocalyptic terror.

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and is author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His SOLARTOPIA GREEN POWER & WELLNESS SHOW is at www.prn.fm. This article was first published at www.progressivemagazine.com

Sightless in Halls of Power: "I Do Not Have a Dream"

Political Dreaming in the Twenty-First Century - Where Has It Gone?

by Ira Chernus  - TomDispatch

All right, I confess: I have a dream. I bet you do, too. I bet yours, like mine, is of a far, far better world not only for yourself and your loved ones, but for everyone on this beleaguered planet of ours.

And I bet you, like me, rarely talk to anyone about your dreams, even if you spend nearly all your time among politically active people working to improve the planet. Perhaps these days it feels somehow just too na├»ve, too unrealistic, too embarrassing. So instead, you focus your energy on the nuts and bolts of what’s wrong with the world, what has to be fixed immediately.

I’m thinking that it’s time to try a different approach -- to keep feeling and voicing what Martin Luther King, Jr., called “the fierce urgency of now,” but balance it with a dose of another political lesson he taught us: the irresistible power of dreaming.

Tomgram: Ira Chernus, I Have(n't) a Dream

Before plunging into TomDispatch regular Ira Chernus’s piece on political dreaming, there’s one historical reality worth considering in the largely dreamless night that is our present planet. As everyone knows -- but few give the slightest thought to these days -- the Soviet Union, that “evil empire,” that other “superpower,” gave up the ghost in 1991. In that moment, history as humanity had long known it ended. A series of great power rivalries that dated back at least to the sixteenth century, often involving several imperial states, each eager to gain further control over parts of the planet, was instantly relegated to the dustbin of human experience. More than half a millennium of history came to an end with only one imperial power left standing, representing a single economic system, a single way of life, a single way of thinking called capitalism. On Planet Earth, it no longer mattered whether you called yourself a “communist” power, you were traveling “the capitalist road,” as was everyone, whether they liked it or not.

I suspect we still haven’t fully absorbed the meaning of that moment. If 1992 was Year One of the new system, the following years would be hailed as the era of “globalization.” That was the word chosen to celebrate the triumph of Washington and its global system, the much-hailed victory of Hollywood, the Swoosh, the Golden Arches, and the so-called Washington consensus. There can be no question that one kind of dreaming, or perhaps a dreamy public-relations frenzy, was sparked at that moment and didn’t end until the global economic meltdown of 2007-2008. Then, the dirty underside of capitalism’s great boom was revealed for all to see (and feel), while a spotlight suddenly fell on the rise of “the 1%” and ever more staggering economic inequality.

In those years, something else occurred: a kind of flattening of the planet that wouldn’t have made a bestselling book for New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. Think of it as a let-the-good-times-roll(-over-you) phenomenon. With all other systems discredited and abandoned, with only one way to imagine, political dreaming was flattened, too. Wherever you looked, it seemed that you just saw another version of the same old same old. Without a sense that alternatives were possible, it proved remarkably hard to dream, to have a vision of something else, something better.

It’s strange, though, how few have mentioned the global dreamlessness of the post-1991 era, which is why Chernus’s piece couldn’t be more timely -- especially in this post-meltdown moment when, as revolts and turmoil grow across an increasingly crippled planet, we are being shown the way into a world of darkness and fears, but also new dreams and hopes. That some of us dream in waking life is crucial, as Chernus points out today, because if you can’t dream, politically speaking, if you can’t imagine a different world, how will you begin to fix the one we have, the ever hotter, more tumultuous planet we continue to create, to the detriment of those who follow us? Tom 

Political Dreaming in the Twenty-First Century - Where Has It Gone?

by Ira Chernus

I started reflecting on this when I returned from a long trip and found my email inbox crammed with hundreds of urgent messages from progressive groups and news sources, all sounding the alarm about the latest outrages, horrors, and disgraces, punctuated by an occasional call for a new policy to right at least one of the horrendous wrongs described and denounced.

Suddenly, I found myself thinking: Same old same old. The particular words keep changing, but the basic message and the music of our song of frustrated lament remain the same. We give the people the shocking facts and call them to action. And we wonder: Why don’t they listen?

Then I looked at the calendar and noticed that the end of the summer would bring the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s greatest speech -- and I realized what was missing from virtually all those email messages: Where was the dream? Where was the debate about what the world we seek would look like?

In most of them I could dimly sense that the writer might indeed have a vision of a better world. But it was always hidden somewhere between the lines, as if in the century when capitalism had “triumphed” and nowhere on Earth did there seem to be an alternative, the writer was ashamed to speak such things aloud.

Occupied Dreams

It wasn’t always so. I remember how incensed I used to get in the 1960s when hearing the charge from the right: “Those hippie radicals. They don’t know what they’re for, only what they’re against.” “Those hippie radicals” knew what they were for: concrete changes in political policies that would turn their dreams into reality. And they talked constantly about the dreams as well as the policies.

It was Dr. King, above all, who inspired them. If, on that hot summer day in 1963, he had only denounced the evils of racism and proposed policy remedies, we would scarcely recall his speech half a century later. It holds a special place in our public memory only because he concluded by confessing his dream. Daring to be a public dreamer propelled him to greatness.

Now, I fear, we mostly talk only about what we’re against. The just-give-‘em-the-facts approach, so tilted toward denunciation (however well deserved), scarcely leaves room for any other impression.

There are still a few dreamers. You can find them among environmental activists, who give us science fiction-like descriptions of technology that can create a clean, sustainable environment for the whole biosphere. Except that isn’t simply a fantasy: much of the technology already exists.

You can also find dreamers in religious communities, sharing the words of holy scriptures informed by eschatological visions of a better future. Occasionally, even a hard-boiled devotee of the facts like Noam Chomsky gives us a peek into his dream: a world without borders.

Not long ago, you could find dreamers occupying parks and public spaces across the country, short-lived as their moment was mainly because of an onslaught of police violence. For that brief season, they showed us that our dreams had been occupied and needed to be freed. In the past, though, movements have persisted much longer, even in the face of massive state violence.

The Occupy movement, however, emerged in a distinctly twenty-first-century world in which activists have long become accustomed to hiding their dreams. Without such shared dreams, political activism can easily feel like nothing more than an endless struggle against insurmountable odds -- like being part of a small band of good guys besieged on every side. Who can blame them for feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, and hopeless?

Once most Occupiers were forced to retreat from public spaces, I suspect they, too, felt tired, cramped, hemmed in. Occupy could flourish only in the open, where people could share their dreams and imagine that all the boundaries that limit us might, in that open-air spirit, dissolve.

Realism and Dreams

Boundaries and limitations dissolving: that’s not merely Chomsky’s dream, it’s the essence of all dreaming -- to transcend the barriers that separate one person from another, one group or nation from another, and all humanity from its natural environment.

Dreaming is the realm of pure freedom. In dreams, we can see, do, or be anything. When our dreams are political, they help us sense what it might be like to escape the limits imposed by corporations, the state, the media, the advertisers, powerful forces of every kind. They help us imagine in new ways what is possible. In our dreams, none of the powers that be can touch us.

Freud said that every dream is the fulfillment of a wish, but political dreams aren’t about our private desires. They are visions of the public realm being freed from the artificial divisions and constraints of the present. There, as in our nighttime dreaming, we experience whole new worlds, constantly changing, often in remarkable detail. Dreaming is the realm of permanent revolution that the great political visionaries from Thomas Jefferson to Che Guevara spoke of.

Constant change, pure freedom, the sense that anything is possible: combined, they can give us the daytime energy we need to work for change despite the obstacles and failures we inevitably face. When political life is infused with a dream, traveling without a map can feel exhilarating. In politics as in physiology, we must dream on a regular basis to restore our energy.

But a political dream is quite different from the dreaming of sleep because it happens while we are wide-awake. It may even make us feel more awake, allowing us to pierce the pre-packaged version of reality handed to us by the rich and powerful, who demand that we take their distorted version of how this place, this country, this planet works as “realism” itself.

When we see by the light of imagined futures, the present and its real possibilities come into clearer view, offering us a broader framework into which we can fit the chaotic pieces of current reality and the specific changes we are working for.

We don’t have to wait for some distant future to see our dreams realized. The essence of the nonviolent action that Dr. King preached is to pierce the lies and distortions in the here and now by acting out, with our bodies, the authentic reality we have seen -- to persist in what is really real (which is the best translation I know of Gandhi’s term satyagraha).

So we should never let anyone dismiss our political dreams as “unrealistic.” The world as we wish it to be is no mere fantasy. It is often our most reliable guide to knowing the truth.

Never Stop Dreaming

Whether they know it or not, everyone has their own dream of the world as it should be, and every dream is open to endless interpretation. Dr. King had his. I’ve got my interpretation of his. I’ve got my own, too. And you’ve got yours. The point is not to argue about who has the one “correct” dream, but to bring all of our dreams out of the closet and voice them openly, share our interpretations of each other’s dreams, and start a conversation about the politics of dreaming.

When that kind of dream-sharing becomes part of political life, it begins to create myths. By “myth” I don’t mean a lie. I mean a story that a community tells itself to interpret its life, to express the fundamentals of its worldview and values, to give meaning and hope to events great and small.

A myth, it is often said, is a collective dream. In myths, as in dreams, anything can happen. And once new myths start circulating, anything can indeed happen. There is a real chance that one myth (or several with much in common) will -- by some mysterious, unpredictable process -- grab hold of a big enough part of the body politic to stir it to action. The U.S saw that process at work in the 1770s (the dream of a republic), the 1860s (the dream of abolishing slavery), and the mid-1930s (the dream of basic economic security for all).

In the late 1960s, the dream of radical democracy and equality for all took hold in millions of American minds. It happened surprisingly fast. In 1963, when Dr. King gave the nation permission to share our dreams, few could have imagined how radically the political and cultural landscape would be reshaped by new myths within just a few years.

Of course, we should never confuse our dreams and myths with specific policy proposals. That would endanger the chances of achieving policies that could bring us a few steps closer to realizing those dreams. Policies, after all, are always political artifacts, produced by compromises between our dreams and the hard facts of the present.

The coming commemoration of the “dream” speech should remind us of Dr. King’s recipe for meaningful political change: take one part facts to reveal the world’s evils, one part policy proposals to remove those evils, one part shrewd political strategy, and one part dreams -- shared aloud -- and stir artfully into a political movement.

So don’t stop shouting from the rooftops about everything that’s outrageously wrong. Don’t stop the grinding political work of changing specific policies. But take the time to show how your outrage, policies, and politics are propelled by your dreams. Share those dreams: talk or write or draw or sing or dance them. Describe the kind of world you are working for and show how it could be linked to policies and politics. And don’t let anyone dismiss you as an “unrealistic dreamer.”

Yes, it’s true, the world will never look exactly like our mythic dreams. But we can’t get to any better future unless we first imagine that future, together. A political dream is a magnet that pulls us toward our goals. It may also be an asymptote -- a promised land that we can never reach. Yet even if we never get there, every dream takes us closer to a transformed reality.

Ira Chernus, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and a TomDispatch regular, blogs at MythicAmerica.us. He shares his own dream of a radically revisioned America in the “Alternatives” section of his online “MythicAmerica: Essays.”

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Copyright 2013 Ira Chernus

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Taking Out Chinese Laundry: EU Ironing Board Tariff Extended


Where Have You Gone, Iron Man?

 by Peter Lee - China Matters

Just in case you thought the cumbersome structure of the EU precluded prompt tit-for-tat in a trade war, via Reuters:
The European Union has renewed anti-dumping duties on ironing boards imported from China for a further five years, but lifted corresponding tariffs on the product from Ukraine.

The extension, announced on Tuesday, follows an appeal by three EU iron board makers against the potential ending of measures taken in 2007. They contended that Chinese producers in particular would resume dumping, selling at below cost or fair market price.

The EU market for ironing boards is worth around 100 million euros (86.0 million pounds), a tiny fraction of the 290 billion euros of goods imported from China, but the extension of measures is a further irritant to Chinese producers and the Beijing government.

EU-China trade tensions are high. The EU last month began imposing duties on imports of solar panels from China, worth 21 billion euros in 2011, prompting Beijing to launch an investigation into EU wine.

For ironing boards, Chinese producers had a 40-45 percent share of the EU market, with annual sales of some 10 million boards, but this fell to 15-20 percent in 2011 after duties were imposed.

The notice in the Europe Union's official journal on Tuesday said the Chinese were still undercutting the prices of EU makers by 20 percent.

It concluded that a repeal of anti-dumping measures would result in increased Chinese exports at dumped pricing levels.

For Ukraine, with single producer Eurogold Industries Ltd, its share of the market actually rose to 10 from 8 percent, even with duties, principally because Chinese competition eased.

Duties were originally set in 2007 at 9.9 percent for imports from Ukraine and up to 38.1 percent for those from China. In 2010 the EU cut the Ukraine tariff to 7.7 percent and introduced a new top rate for Chinese producers of 42.3 percent.

I particularly enjoy the supernatural predictive powers of the EU, which knows for certain that the Chinese makers will start dumping as soon as the 42.3% tariff--which has been in place for over five years--comes off.

Who can Chinese ironing board manufacturers and free market capitalists turn to in their time of need?

Iron Man, of course!



[Housekeeping Note: Frequent visitors to China Matters will notice that the blog now looks different. Rest assured, China Matters does not worship blindly at the altar of useless novelty. It transpired that Google, with its usually thoughtfulness, had quietly degraded support for the original Blogger templates to the point that the post archiving function no longer worked properly. Therefore, I gritted my teeth and upgraded to a new template and will tweak the content as time permits. I don’t know if people who follow the blog consider it necessary or desirable to have their avatars displayed at the bottom of the page. If there are any concerns or suggestions please e-mail me and I will deal with the matter…in mid-August, when I get back to blogging after a trip.]

Back in the USSA

Role Reversal: How the US Became the USSR

by Paul Craig Roberts

I spent the summer of 1961 behind the Iron Curtain. I was part of the US-USSR student exchange program. It was the second year of the program that operated under auspices of the US Department of State. Our return to the West via train through East Germany was interrupted by the construction of the Berlin Wall. We were sent back to Poland. The East German rail tracks were occupied with Soviet troop and tank trains as the Red Army concentrated in East Germany to face down any Western interference.

Fortunately, in those days there were no neoconservatives. Washington had not grown the hubris it so well displays in the 21st century. The wall was built and war was avoided. The wall backfired on the Soviets. Both JFK and Ronald Reagan used it to good propaganda effect.

In those days America stood for freedom, and the Soviet Union for oppression. Much of this impression was created by Western propaganda, but there was some semblance to the truth in the image. The communists had a Julian Assange and an Edward Snowden of their own. His name was Cardinal Jozef Mindszenty, the leader of the Hungarian Catholic Church.

Mindszenty opposed tyranny. For his efforts he was imprisoned by the Nazis. Communists also regarded him as an undesirable, and he was tortured and given a life sentence in 1949.

Freed by the short-lived Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Mindszenty reached the American Embassy in Budapest and was granted political asylum by Washington. However, the communists would not give him the free passage that asylum presumes, and Mindszenty lived in the US Embassy for 15 years, 79% of his remaining life.

In the 21st century roles have reversed. Today it is Washington that is enamored of tyranny. On Washington’s orders, the UK will not permit Julian Assange free passage to Ecuador, where he has been granted asylum. Like Cardinal Mindszenty, Assange is stuck in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London.

Washington will not permit its European vassal states to allow overflights of airliners carrying Edward Snowden to any of the countries that have offered Snowden asylum. Snowden is stuck in the Moscow airport.

In Washington politicians of both parties demand that Snowden be captured and executed. Politicians demand that Russia be punished for not violating international law, seizing Snowden, and turning him over to Washington to be tortured and executed, despite the fact that Washington has no extradition treaty with Russia.

Snowden did United States citizens a great service. He told us that despite constitutional prohibition, Washington had implemented a universal spy system intercepting every communication of every American and much of the rest of the world. Special facilities are built in which to store these communications.

In other words, Snowden did what Americans are supposed to do--disclose government crimes against the Constitution and against citizens. Without a free press there is nothing but the government’s lies. In order to protect its lies from exposure, Washington intends to exterminate all truth tellers.

The Obama Regime is the most oppressive regime ever in its prosecution of protected whistleblowers. Whistleblowers are protected by law, but the Obama Regime insists that whistleblowers are not really whistleblowers. Instead, the Obama Regime defines whistleblowers as spies, traitors, and foreign agents. Congress, the media, and the faux judiciary echo the executive branch propaganda that whistleblowers are a threat to America. It is not the government that is violating and raping the US Constitution that is a threat. It is the whistleblowers who inform us of the rape who are the threat.

The Obama Regime has destroyed press freedom. A lackey federal appeals court has ruled that NY Times reporter James Risen must testify in the trial of a CIA officer charged with providing Risen with information about CIA plots against Iran. The ruling of this fascist court destroys confidentiality and is intended to end all leaks of the government’s crimes to media.

What Americans have learned in the 21st century is that the US government lies about everything and breaks every law. Without whistleblowers, Americans will remain in the dark as “their” government enserfs them, destroying every liberty, and impoverishes them with endless wars for Washington’s and Wall Street’s hegemony.

Snowden harmed no one except the liars and traitors in the US government. Contrast Washington’s animosity against Snowden with the pardon that Bush gave to Dick Cheney aide, Libby, who took the fall for his boss for blowing the cover, a felony, on a covert CIA operative, the spouse of a former government official who exposed the Bush/Cheney/neocon lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever serves the tiny clique that rules america is legal; whatever exposes the criminals is illegal.

That’s all there is to it.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available.

The Other Long War: Syrian Overthrow Attempt at 2


The Long War in Syria

by Gary Leupp - CounterPunch

Two years ago, Barack Obama announced that Syrian President Bashar Assad must “get out of the way.” “The time has come,” he declared on August 18, 2011, “for President Assad to step aside.”

Needless to say, Assad ignored him. He was probably not surprised at Obama’s demand, given the unrelenting U.S. hostility to his regime, and that of his father, Hafez Assad, for several decades. This is due mainly to Syria’s close relationship with Iran and its support for Lebanon’s Hizbollah and Palestinian organizations including Hamas, and the deployment of Syrian troops in Lebanon to 2005. U.S. hostility to Syria (listed by the State Department as a sponsor of terrorism) reflects that of Israel, which illegally occupies Syria’s Golan Heights.

The proximate reason for Obama’s call was that Assad had fired on his own people. One must question Obama’s authority to make that moral judgment, given that police in the U.S. fire on unarmed people, especially young black men, all the time (especially in Chicago, L.A. and Philadelphia); and that the U.S. arms security forces in countries including Egypt and Bahrain that fire on their people as well.

Obama was simultaneously (from March 2011) accusing Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi of “attacking his people” and planning mass slaughter (a charge many analysts questioned, there being little evidence for it). It was just another Big Lie, comparable to the Big Lie that the Taliban was in bed with Osama bin Laden and complicit in 9-11. Or that Saddam Hussein was aligned with al-Qaeda and producing weapons of mass destruction.

But it served as the pretext of U.S.-NATO intervention on behalf of armed rebels and their western-trained front men, who have plunged Libya into chaos and made it fertile ground for al-Qaeda-linked groups since the fall and murder of Qaddafi in October 2011.

On the other hand, the Obama administration did not call on Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to step down even as his forces fired on the people, killing 850 in 2011. It delayed giving Mubarak his marching orders until February, when the mass upheaval had become so powerful, and the U.S. so despised for its complicity in repression, that it became impossible to extend the Egyptian dictator further support. And it has never called upon the Bahraini king to step down, even as he attacks his own people. Many people paying attention see some hypocrisy here.

If Obama thought that Assad would be driven from power, or step down at his arrogant command, he was badly mistaken. David R. Shedd, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, now says the conflict in Syria will likely last “many, many months to multiple years.” (I don’t believe he indicated, in a talk at the Aspen Security Forum, whether or not further supply aid from the U.S. would likely shorten the conflict. Imagine a proxy war going on a decade, like the U.S. proxy war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.)

There are several reasons for this projected long duration. Assad’s forces are stronger than Obama expected and have scored some notable victories lately against the rebels. The opposition is divided into about 1,200 groups. The strongest rebel military force is the al-Qaeda faction, the Al-Nusra Front. If the U.S. and its allies want to strengthen and use the non-jihadi forces (whom they are aiding with weaponry, and who may or may not wish to create a western-friendly, non-Islamist “democracy”) they will have a lot of work to do since even the “moderates” seem to appreciate the superior fighting skills of the Islamist fighters. And Russia and China stand behind Assad, promising to veto any UN resolution such as the one used to legitimate the assault on Libya, ostensibly to “protect” its people.

Nicholas Burns, a George W. Bush-era undersecretary of state, writing in March 2011 about U.S. support for anti-Qaddafi forces in Libya, noted, “This is the first time in American history when we have used our military power to prop up and possibly put in power a group of people we literally do not know.”

(The world has since come to know them, through such events as the attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi; the repeated resignations of ministers in the dysfunctional, impotent cabinet in Tripoli; the persecution of blacks and Tuaregs; inter-tribal clashes, etc.)

But it seems Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry would like to do this a second time—that is, take a risk and place in power people they don’t know. One wonders what their real reasons might be. Surely Israel plays a major role in their reasoning, but Israel may be ambivalent about U.S. arms to rebels who might be as hostile to it as Assad. And Assad has in fact offered to recognize Israel following the return of the Golan Heights. Israel appreciates the fact that he has maintained peace along the border, even importing Golan-grown apples. His secular, religiously tolerant Baathist regime is preferable to an Islamist one.

Surely a key U.S. goal is to weaken Iran, and the Syria-Iran-Hizbollah alliance. But if that goal were to be obtained through handing a central Arab state to al-Qaeda, would it be worth it?

Al-Qaeda once seemed scattered, vitiated, defeated. But then the U.S. invaded Iraq, and al-Qaeda which had never been there before mushroomed overnight in Al-Anbar province, causing the occupation big headaches. Libyan jihadis flocked to Iraq, and returning home created a new Maghreb branch of al-Qaeda, which in turn spawned a Sahel branch now causing mischief in Mali. The majority of the al-Nusra fighters in Syria seem to be arriving from Iraq.

Meanwhile U.S. missile strikes on Yemen build sympathy for Al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula—totally counterproductive.

The lesson is, U.S. imperialism (which once worked alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan; and which alienated bin Laden through its unlimited support for Israel, its support for hated Arab regimes, its sanctions on Iraq which killed half a million children, etc.) positively nurtures al-Qaeda and its affiliates. Even as the interminable terror war justifies the limitless expansion of the surveillance state, unprecedented prosecution and abuse of whistle-blowers and the continued practice of torture.

The more the U.S. and its allies get involved in Syria, the more jihadis will likely get involved. Al-Qaeda has proven that it thrives on U.S. interventions. This is just one reason to demand the U.S. stay out of Syria.


GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu