Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Progressive Radio News Hour Guest for July 1, 2010

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guest for July 1, 2010

Thursday, July 1 at 10AM US Central time: James Petras

Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus, a noted figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles.

He's also a prolific author of hundreds of articles and dozens of books, including his latest titled, "War Crimes in Gaza and the Zionist Fifth Column in America."

His latest views on world and national issues will be discussed.

Saturday and Sunday, July 3 and 4 at noon Central time: PRN will air repeat programs over the holiday weekend.

Death Squad Terror in Honduras

Death Squad Terror in Honduras - by Stephen Lendman

On June 28, 2009, while he slept, dozens of Honduran soldiers stormed President Manuel Zelaya's residence, arrested him at gunpoint, and exiled him to Costa Rica, in violation of the 1982 Constitution, stating:

"No Honduran may be expatriated nor delivered by the authorities to a foreign state," nor may a democratically elected leader be deposed, evidence showing Washington's involvement and support, coordination handled by US Ambassador Hugo Llorens and Thomas Shannon, Jr., current US Ambassador to Brazil, then Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs.

In advance and thereafter, Washington choreographed the entire process, blamed Zelaya for his illegal removal, opposed his return, backed the coup d'etat regime and sham November 2009 election under martial law, elevating fascist Porfirio (Pepe) Lobo Sosa to the presidency on January 27, 2010, now the Obama administration's man in Honduras, succeeding interim leader, Roberto Micheletti.

Under him and Sosa, Hondurans have endured death squad terror at the hands of the military whose officers from captain on up have been trained for decades at the infamous School of the Americas (SOA), renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), where they're taught the latest ways to kill, main, torture, oppress, exterminate poor and indigenous people, overthrow democratically elected governments, assassinate targeted leaders, suppress popular resistance, and work cooperatively with Washington to solidify fascist rule, intolerant of democratic freedoms or leaders not backing ruling class interests, using deep repression to enforce them.

Amnesty International (AI) Report on Honduras

Little has changed since AI published its August 2009 report titled, "Honduras: Human Rights Crisis Threatens as Repression Increases," explaining a systematic reign of terror post-coup against street protestors, human rights activists, journalists, unionists, campesinos, teachers, and anyone potentially threatening state authority.

Brutally repressive tactics have been used, including arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, suspension of civil liberties, martial law, indefinite detentions, beatings, torture, sodomizing men, gang-raping women, suppression of dissent, and death squad murders, at least 14 documented since Lobo took office, including nine journalists, placing all independent reporters at risk, international human rights groups calling Honduras the most dangerous country in the world for them, authorities prosecuting no one for the crimes.

According to Rights Action co-director Grahame Russell:

"....the Honduran regime speaks so derisively and cynically about grave human rights violations - including assassinations, illegal detentions, torture....(It) demonstrates the degree of impunity with which this regime operates."

The rule of law doesn't exist, Washington a party to the worst human rights abuses and injustice, including repression, detentions, torture, land theft, and killings to keep ruling oligarchs in power, and popular resistance suppressed, but it persists.

Established after the coup, the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) is a broad grassroots coalition of campesinos, human rights supporters, unionists, women, students, teachers, and others supporting democratic freedoms in Honduras, saying on its web site:

"One who remains silent in the face of injustice becomes its accomplice....A year old now, the Resistance has grown into a widespread political body (transitioning from short-term action to a) strategy to take power and change the country."

Last summer at "Station number 4," dozens of Hondurans were detained, including 10 or more students, one of them telling AI:

About 200 of them were marching peacefully. "The police were throwing stones, they rounded us up, they threw us face down on the ground and they beat us - there are people with fractures, with head wounds, they beat us on the buttocks. They stole our cameras, they beat us if we raised our heads, they beat us when they were getting us into police cars."

Others reported similar stories, evidence showing they were badly bruised, swollen, and cut. Two days after an El Duranzno demonstration, Roger Abraham Vallejo, a 38-year old teacher, died from a bullet wound to his head. A witness told AI:

"A patrol car was advancing toward the crowd, and as it turned round at speed....police....started to shoot...." Women were treated harshly like men, some sexually abused, police systematically using disproportionate force, in violation of international law standards to which Honduras is party, including the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), affirming the "right to peaceful assembly," and prohibiting torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

In addition, Article 2 of the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials states:

"In the performance of their duty, law enforcement officials shall respect and protect human dignity and maintain and uphold the human rights of all persons."

Article 3 says "Law enforcement officials may use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for the performance of their duty," meaning only under extreme circumstances, never against peaceful protestors or persons posing no threat. Arbitrary arrests, detentions, beatings, torture, and other abuses are strictly prohibited.

Free expression, assembly and association are enshrined in human rights law. Yet Robert Barra, a Chilean independent photo-journalist told AI that police beat him and confiscated his camera while he was covering a peaceful protest. He was severely bruised and cut. Others were treated the same way, and media outlets like Radio Globo, Canal 36, Maya TV and Radio Progreso were taken off the air and shut down. Anyone suspected of threatening state authority faces recriminations, even death.

Rights Action Honduras Update

Published June 22, Grahame Russell calls Honduran repression "very bad," explaining that:

"The (Lobo) regime (has) implemented a policy of state repression (terror) - including the activation of paramilitary death squad groups, to threaten, intimidate, terrorize and kill members of the pro-democracy, anti-coup movement," and potentially anyone challenging state authority, Oscar Geovanny Ramirez, a 16-year old campesino, one of many.

During a violent June 20 joint police/military operation against the Aurora Cooperative of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Agua (MUCA), he was murdered. Five others were arrested.

Witnesses said police and the military arrived in two patrol cars, (one identified as the National Preventive Police), and opened fire at close range. Those arrested were charged with illegal weapons possession and conspiracy.

In December 2009, MUCA signed an agreement with Lobo to recover 11 thousand hectares of land. Objecting, powerful landowners used state security forces to intimidate, threaten, and persecute campesinos, killing eight.

The human rights organization advocating for the right to food, FIAN International, condemned the violence saying:

"We face the never ending story. The murders, persecution and various physical and psychological aggressions continue. When (MUCA) signed (its) agreement with (Lobo), understood was that the aggression by the police and armed individuals would end, but the actual facts disprove the belief."

Human rights expert, Dr. Juan Almendares, said:

"We are living in a state of terror. There is no security in the country....We are in a terrible economic, moral and political crisis....We don't have a democratic process. We have a military process....We have a very powerful oligarchy that is ruling the country with the army" and police - the poor, disadvantaged, and anyone challenging them subject to arbitrary arrest, detention or death.

It's reminiscent of Battalion 316, the CIA-created death squads that disappeared, tortured, and exterminated regime opponents in the 1980s. Reportedly, Billy Joya, a retired police captain, founder of Cobra (an elite Preventive Police hit squad), and one of 316's notorious members under the pseudonym "Mrs. Arrazola," returned from Spain to train soldiers how to terrorize and kill civilian freedom fighters - anyone for social justice and democracy, notions Honduras and Washington won't tolerate.

Since the June 2009 coup, the Committee for the Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) documented 47 assassinations, 14 since Lobo's January 28 inauguration. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Center for Justice and International Law voiced great alarm about ongoing state terror and lawlessness, authorities, of course, doing nothing to address or even recognize a problem.

On May 4, Lobo announced a "Truth Commission," what Rights Action called a "mockery of human rights & rule of law," COFADEH Director Berth Oliva wanting an independent one in her same day article titled, "A Real Truth Commission for Honduras," saying her "beloved and troubled country....desperately needs" it.

Lobo's Commission is a sham, human rights groups like Rights Action and COFADEH calling it a scheme to suppress truths and whitewash murder, mass detentions, torture, and other abuses. Under Lobo's repressive regime, it has no legitimacy, authorities not even acknowledging post-coup terror, ongoing and unabated.

In addition, the Commission was secretly formed with no public input, its members hand-picked to absolve state crimes so security forces can freely terrorize popular resistance with impunity.

The Platform of Human Rights Organizations of Honduras has an alternative proposal - an independent commission addressing ongoing human rights violations, using testimonies of victims - a Honduran Goldstone Commission, fully empowered to report the truth and recommend those responsible be held accountable for their crimes. However, given a repressive Washington/Honduran cabal against truth, human rights, and judicial fairness, sustained activism, and struggle is essential to achieve it.

A Final Comment

Hondurans have endured decades of repression, injustice, and poverty, the latter affecting almost 60% of the population. For over 36%, it's extreme. In addition, the Honduran Institute of Statistics reports unemployment in Honduras at 51%, mainly affecting young workers.

Yet last February, Lobo imposed regressive tax hikes, and 20% across-the-board spending cuts, what IMF and World Bank loans require, both agencies last March formally recognizing his government and unfreezing $194 million in funding, nearly 85% from the IMF.

Washington also restored over $30 million in aid, and at Secretary of State Clinton's urging, the Organization of American States may readmit Honduras, no matter its illegitimate government and draconian austerity against its poor and disadvantaged, measures the IMF and World Bank demand, ones European officials announced at the June G20 session, what economist Michael Hudson calls the "road to financial serfdom," the same one Obama's chosen to transform America into Honduras, complete with police state harshness.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sacking McChrystal: Testimony to a Lost War

Sacking McChrystal: Testimony to a Lost War - by Stephen Lendman

On August 10, 1997, in The New York Times Magazine, David K. Shipler headlined, "Robert McNamara and the Ghosts of Vietnam" saying:

Looking back, one of the key war architects admitted "how dangerous it is for political leaders to behave the way we did" about a war that shouldn't have been fought and couldn't be won.

In his 1995 book, "In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam," former Defense Secretary McNamara wrote: "....we were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why."

In 1965, he knew the war was lost and said so, telling Lyndon Johnson: "I don't believe they're ever going to quit. And I don't see....that we have any....plan for victory - militarily or diplomatically," spoken as he began escalating dramatically, knowing the futility and criminality.

Johnson was also uneasy, telling his close friend, Senator Richard Russell, that he faced a Hobson's choice saying: "I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't," the former being impeachment if he quit, the latter certain defeat that destroyed him. After three heart attacks, he died a sick, broken man, four years after he left office, two days before Richard's Nixon's second inauguration, a man soon to face his own moment of truth, omitting what should have brought him down and his successors.

America's Longest War - As Unwinnable as Vietnam, Reshuffling the Deck Chairs to Delay It

McChrystal's out, Petraeus is in, New York Times writers Alissa Rubin and Dexter Filkins announced the switch June 23, headlining, "Petraeus Is Now Taking Control of a 'Tougher Fight," saying:

He's taking over to execut(e) the strategy (he engineered) with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal....directly responsible for its success or failure, risking the reputation he built in Iraq," not a winning surge, but by buying off Sunni tribal chiefs and key Baathists not to fight, a much tougher strategy in Afghanistan, the traditional graveyard of empires, defeating Alexander the Great, Genghis Kahn, the Brits and Soviets among others, America likely next, but will Petraeus be around when it happens. More on that below.

Waging a War on Terror

September 11, 2001 was the pretext for a global one, a so-called "just war" to defend America against "outside enem(ies)," manufactured to appear real - "radical Islam," including the Taliban, attacked on October 7, 2001, four weeks after 9/11, planned months in advance in anticipation of what then CENTCOM Commander General Tommy Franks called a "terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event," arousing enough public anger to launch it.

It's America's longest war under a president saying he'd end it as a candidate, then in office tripled US forces from 32,000 - 94,000, but promised to begin exiting by summer 2011. He just reneged, saying:

"We didn't say we'd be switching off the lights," adding that "we said we'd begin a transition phase that would allow the Afghan government to take more and more responsibility," meaning America is there to stay, by August at a planned 132,000 force level (and as many or more civilian contractors) under Petraeus, stepping down from his CENTCOM post to take command, perhaps unleashing greater than ever lethal force "until the insurgents are genuinely bloodied," the preferred New York Times strategy in its June 25 editorial, raising Gideon Polya's December 2009 body count of 3.4 million "post-invasion non-violent excess deaths" and another 1.1 million violent ones - genocide by any measure.

Under McChrystal, it was death squad terror, mostly against civilians, what he was trained to do as head of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), what Seymour Hersh called an "executive assassination wing" post-9/11, what Rolling Stone writer Michael Hastings called "a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs," Petraeus perhaps mandated to escalate with greater than ever counterinsurgency (COIN).

Yet America's longest war is unwinnable, according to McChrystal's Chief of Operations, Major General Bill Mayville, saying: "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win. This is going to end in an argument," already a defeat, US polls showing growing numbers against it, what Ray McGovern calls "Vietnamistan," the analogy needing no elaboration, what looks like Obama's last stand, Petraeus his best shot according to some. For others, it's mission impossible, what no one in Washington will accept so war rages on without end.

Also the cost, Iraq and Afghanistan topping $1 trillion, or $1 million per soldier annually, plus tens of billions more in black budgets (one estimate saying over $56 billion a year) with no end of spending in sight, including hundreds of millions to corrupt warlords according to a June congressional Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform report titled, "Warlord, Inc., Extortion and Corruption Along the US Supply Chain in Afghanistan."

Its findings show "a vast (Pentagon supply chain) protection racket run (through Host Nation Trucking contracts) by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others," undermining Washington's war-winning strategy by "funding the insurgency."

The investigation learned the following:

-- mainly warlords protect America's supply chain, contracted by Host Nation Trucking (HNT);

-- they run a protection racket - specifically, "extortion, bribes, special security, and/or protection payments;"

-- the latter, in turn, go to insurgents to ensure safe passage;

-- corrupted Afghan officials extort millions, the largest NHT private security provider saying it has to pay $1,000 - $10,000 monthly in bribes to "nearly every Afghan governor, police chief, and local military unit (through) whose territory supplies pass," HNT reporting the same thing;

-- Afghanistan's logistical nightmare undermines DOD's counterinsurgency (COIN);

-- the Pentagon lacks effective oversight of its supply chain and security contractors protecting it; and

-- it ignored warnings about protection racket payments and the effects on its operations.

In addition, Afghanistan's location and environment present enormous challenges. The country is landlocked, the terrain unforgiving, including desert sandstorms in summer, floods in spring, impassible mud at times, and mountain roads leaving no room for error. Summer heat reaches 120 degrees. Winters are usually snowy and frigid cold. Avalanches often block the only tunnel linking Kabul to the north. Routes can stay closed for days. Poor infrastructure, including few paved roads, creates more hazards, exacerbated by easily planted and concealed explosives along supply routes as well as regular insurgent attacks - "the harshest logistics environment on earth," according to one US official on the ground.

According to General Duncan McNabb, head of US Transportation Command, "....what I worry (most) about at night (is) our supply chain....always under attack," compounded by all the above obstacles and limited processing capacity at distribution hubs. Iraq, by comparison, is easy with its "decent infrastructure," manageable terrain, and access to the Persian Gulf.

Subcommittee chairman Rep. John F. Tierney (D. MA) said the Pentagon "would be well served to take a hard look at this report and initiate prompt remedial action," affecting "a good portion of a $2.16 billion contract's resources into a corruptive (fog of war) environment," lacking oversight to fund warlords and insurgents, what David Petraeus now confronts as commander, a man New York Daily News writer James Gordon Meek said (on June 24) the Taliban "endorses," calling him a wimp after his fainting spell before Congress, no smarter than McChrystal, his firing a "divine victory," according to its spokesman, in a war no US president or general can win.

A Final Comment

After nearly nine futile years, Afghanistan looks less winnable than ever, one of many signs the rising NATO death and injury toll, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman downplaying it saying:

"We have more forces in Afghanistan, ISAF and US forces, than at any other time. The level of activity is high, so as we conduct our operations and engage with the enemy, the opportunities for hostile contact are going to go up."

In fact, escalation strategy was stability. Instead, spiraling violence intensifies, what Petraeus won't likely curb better than McChrystal, sacked not for deriding his superiors, for his leadership, growing popular resistance, and for losing an unwinnable war, one more Afghan deaths can't win.

Nor can a change of command under a politically ambitious man, perhaps contemplating a 2012 run against Obama, using war as the way to the White House, win or lose in his new post. If successful, his popularity will soar. If not, he'll exit early and blame a failed administration policy, saying as president he'll turn it around, what won't matter as long as voters buy it. Excuses can come later. For now, McChrystal's out. Petraeus is in, Obama saying, despite setbacks and growing public doubts, his strategy won't change.

In his Rose Garden announcement, he said: "We have a clear goal. We are going to break the Taliban's momentum," what he told West Point cadets last December 1, announcing the surge, then adding:

"After 18 months, (they'll) begin com(ing) home....our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest fears but the highest of hopes," a goal more distant now than ever after nine futile years, waging war against peace - the supreme international crime, to be escalated under a general perhaps believing a greater body count leads straight to the White House, replacing the current incumbent who ordered it.

A final note. On June 18, the State Department awarded Blackwater (now Xe Services) a $120 million Afghanistan "diplomatic security" contract for its Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif consulates. The firm has another $200 million one to train Afghan forces, and works in country for the CIA, Pentagon, diplomatic corp, and by providing protective services for visiting Washington and foreign officials.

Yet Blackwater is notorious for its lawlessness, for rewarding and encouraging its field employees to destroy Iraqi life, its founder Erik Prince implicated in murder, his top deputies facing indictment for numerous crimes, its Iraq and Afghan operatives charged with killing noncombatants, the company involved in other scandals, the State Department nonetheless telling CBS News that:

"Under federal acquisition regulations, the prosecution of the specific Blackwater individuals does not preclude the company or its successive companies and subsidiaries from bidding on contracts."

Blackwater at times gets no-bid ones, its horrific record a plus in obtaining them, including a potential new assignment worth up to $1 billion, to train the Afghan National Police. It's been bid on, not yet awarded, but who more qualified than the world's most powerful, well-connected mercenary army, notorious for operating below the radar with no accountability, and being handsomely rewarded for its lawlessness, much the way the Pentagon takes care of its own, and how Washington works overall.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Competing Ideologies: G20 v. US Social Forum

Competing Ideologies: G20 v US Social Forum - by Stephen Lendman

Established in 1999, G20 finance ministers, central bank governors, and, at times, heads of state meet semi-annually to "discuss key issues in the global economy," the initial 1999 meeting in Berlin, hosted by German and Canadian finance ministers.

G20.org calls its itself "the premier forum for our international economic development that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability," saying it "support(s) growth and development across the globe," or does it?

The reality suggests otherwise about a political power elite gathering to review past achievements, challenges, and prospects for greater exploitation of world markets, resources, and people everywhere. In other words, to support power and privilege over beneficial social change, a consideration not addressed, discussed, or thought about, except with regard to instituting policies leading to the disintegration and elimination of social democracies, replacing them with the worst elements of developing world harshness, tolerating no opposition.

What economist Michael Hudson suggested in his recent article titled, "Europe's Fiscal Dystopia: The 'New Austerity' Road to Financial Serfdom," saying:

"Europe is committing fiscal suicide - and will have little trouble finding allies at this weekend's G-20 meetings," attendees "calling for cutbacks in public spending" when economic recovery requires stimulus, job creation, and public investment, not global wars, banker bailouts, or other counterproductive measures.

Hudson called the meeting "a carefully orchestrated financial war against the 'real' economy," initiated in America, Obama having "stacked his White House Deficit Commission....with the same brand of neoliberal ideologues who comprised the notorious 1982 Greenspan Commission on Social Security 'reform,' " a topic this writer addressed earlier in a "maestro of misery" article about a man who wrecked the lives of millions for the rich, now cashing in big late in life, claiming no responsibility for decades of harm, a legacy others won't let him forget.

Now it's going global, why Hudson sees Europe "dying....succumb(ing) to a financial coup d'etat rolling back the past three centuries of Enlightenment social philosophy." In lock step, America is erasing its New Deal and Great Society gains, planning mass impoverishment, human misery, and fascist harshness, the hidden G20 agenda not reported in the mainstream, sticking to its party line propaganda, the usual rubbish top officials preach to conceal their real plans from hell.

The G20 - An Explanation

Comprising 85% of global GDP, 80% of world trade, and two-thirds of its population, participating countries include America, Canada, Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Spain (a permanent guest), China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Turkey, Australia, South Africa, and Saudi Arabia as well as EU Council and Commission Presidents.

Other attendees include:

-- the IMF's managing director and chairman;

-- the World Bank's president;

-- the international Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC); and

-- chairman of the IMF/World Bank Development Committee.

Even though they rank higher economically than some members, excluded are Switzerland, Norway, Taiwan, Iran and Venezuela. Included only as part of the EU are Spain, Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Greece and Denmark.

The G20 superseded the G33 that replaced the G22. The year 1975 inaugurated the G6 comprised of America, France, Germany, Britain, Italy and Japan. Adding Canada in 1976 made it the G7, then G8 by including Russia in 1997, the EU also included, but it doesn't host or chair.

On June 26 and 27, 2010, G20 officials met inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto, Canada. Thousands of protestors filled city streets outside, Reuters reporting over 600 arrested, many in a so-called "free speech zone," police spokeswoman Michelle Murphy calling it "quite a messy protest" on Saturday, continuing on Sunday, accusing "masked anarchists" of smashing store and bank windows, then torching two or more police cars.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said "Free speech is a principle of our democracy, but thugs (provocateurs he dispatched) that prompted violence earlier today represent in no way, shape or form the Canadian way of life," he and his government have been systematically destroying in league with Washington.

Against peaceful activists were more than six KM of barriers topped with concertina wire, thousands of newly installed surveillance cameras, patrolling helicopters, the Canadian Armed Forces at undisclosed locations, and over 7,000 police, plain clothes officers, mounted patrols, snipers on rooftops, US Navy Seals (trained killers), about 1,000 private security guards, and planted ("Black Bloc") provocateurs. More on them below.

Police, acting as hooligans, used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, bean bag guns, batons, and other intimidations, a security operation costing Canada a reported $1.2 billion, the Harper government's communications director, Dimitri Soudas, calling protestors "a bunch of thugs who pretend to have a difference of opinions and instead choose violence in order to express" them, adding that police were "ensuring these thugs don't rampage across the city and create even more damage."

In fact, protestors were peaceful, but not police, independent reports saying they exhibited extreme brutality, including against journalists (men and women), beating and punching them, injuring others, and arresting hundreds, some before the summit convened to intimidate others.

Protest organizer, Niki Thorne, reported that 20 police raided her house and arrested four people, saying:

"Police forcibly detained and cuffed a number of people, and refused to allow those in the house to call for legal advice. Without showing warrants, asking consent, or giving notice, (they) did an illegal cursory search of some of the people on the premises as well as the house itself."

According to the Toronto Globe and Mail, those arrested were charged with conspiracy to commit mischief, police alleging they were "planning to break off from peaceful protest and launch violent attacks," with no corroborating evidence.

In fact, quite the opposite, according to reports, video, and other evidence exposing undercover police violence, posing as "street thugs," hooded and dressed in black (the so-called "Black Bloc"), instigating disorder and brutishness, destroying public property, smashing windows, burning police cars, blamed on protestors - an old story in Canada, America, and other global venues to blame state crimes on peaceful activists, the major media reporting it without question, independent journalists kept away to suppress it, public perceptions manipulated by misinformation.

This is how a police state operates, Ameri/Canadian fascism, making false accusations and arrests, employing hooligan tactics against peaceful protestors, and refusing non-mainstream reporters entry into Canada, others arrested to prevent their coverage - violating Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a constitutional bill of rights, affirming:

"freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media communication (as well as) freedom of peaceful assembly (and) freedom of association."

The US Social Forum (USSF) - Another World is Possible

Evolving from the World Social Forum's (WSF) alternative vision, the USSF first met in Atlanta in mid-2007, this year in Detroit for activists, organizers, minorities, labor, the poor, indigenous peoples and others wanting social justice and a better world, mirror-opposite of the G20 agenda - supporting privilege over the common good, plotting to extinguished those old-fashioned notions, forcibly when necessary.

On its web site (ussf2010.org), USSF headlines "Another World is Possible, Another US Is Necessary," calling itself:

"a movement building process. It is not a conference but is a space to come up with the peoples' solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. (It's) the next important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history."

"We must declare what we want our world to look like and we must start planning the path to get there. The USSF provides spaces to learn from each other's experiences and struggles, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, build relationships, and align with our international brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world."

No wonder, the major media ignore it, instead supporting power and privilege, corporate interests, imperial wars, democracy for the few, sham elections, and street thuggery hooliganism. At the same time, social justice concerns are suppressed, ones affecting most people everywhere, their voices never heard, their issues unaddressed, their struggles disregarded and spurned.

But not in Detroit from June 22 - 26, ground zero for the failed economy and counterproductive measures causing it, over 20,000 attending in solidarity for a better world, one that can't come a moment too soon, that won't happen without mass grassroots support no longer tolerating official policies preventing it - in Toronto, Washington, or other global cities where governments deny their own people justice. What better time for change than now, USSF's agenda an inspirational call for it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 2009 Annual Report

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 2009 Annual Report - by Stephen Lendman

Each year, PCHR publishes its annual report on Occupied Palestine, this year's a detailed 250 page review of the past year, including the first days of Israel's war on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, "the major issue in the record of human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the Occupied Palestinian Terrority (OPT) in 2009," the bloodiest since the 1948 Nakba that stole a nation from its people.

Today, 1.5 million Gazans struggle to rebuild their lives, "in spite of sustaining permanent disabilities, losing loved ones or becoming homeless" after war under siege - collective punishment in violation of international law, and fundamental human rights, including free movement of persons and goods, proper shelter, adequate health care and education, and the right to rebuild homes and other structures destroyed by the war's onslaught.

Israel's settlement expansion, Separation Wall, and control matrix exacerbates West Bank conditions, "turning Palestinian communities into (isolated) Bantustans." In addition, efforts continue to consolidate and illegally annex East Jerusalem by dispossessing its residents, en route to making the entire city exclusively Jewish, unheard of in the modern era, especially by a so-called civilized state, in fact, barbarian and brutish while touting its democratic credentials and victimhood, more evidence of a scoundrel caught red-handed.

PCHR stresses the horrific human rights violations and deterioration throughout the year, intensified since Hamas' January 2006 election, including:

"willful killings and violations of the right to life;

-- collective punishment policies represented by a tightened closure and severe restrictions on the right to freedom of movement;

-- detention and torture of Palestinians (official Israeli policy);

-- continued settlement activities and attacks by Israeli settlers; and

-- continued construction of the Annexation Wall inside the West Bank territory," on 12% of stolen Palestinian land.

Nonetheless, the international community doesn't enforce their international law obligation to stop human rights violations and hold those responsible accountable. As such, they're complicit, guilty through silence and failure to act.

Worse still, the West and colluding Arab states participate in Gaza's isolation by financially boycotting, and bogusly criminalizing, its legitimate government, democratically elected, in support of Mahmoud Abbas' coup d'etat regime, Fatah in the West Bank, soundly defeated in the January 2006 election.

Innocent victims are punished, reeling under 43 years of occupation, an unprecedented international betrayal.

Occupation Force Crimes

Numerous ones occur daily, explained in weekly PCHR updates, like its June 17 - 23 one covering:

-- peaceful Gaza and West Bank protestors attacked, injuring three civilians (including a child) in Bal'ein village, west of Ramallah;

-- dozens more harmed by tear gas inhalation;

-- three journalists assaulted in Beit Jala;

-- 10 civilians, including three human rights workers, a journalist and five medical volunteers arrested;

-- four Gazan farmers and workers, including two children, shot and wounded in their fields;

-- 43 civilians, including five children, arrested in 16 West Bank incursions and three others in Gaza;

-- the suffocating Gaza siege continues unabated;

-- the West Bank and East Jerusalem remain locked down by a control matrix of about 630 checkpoints and 60 - 80 "flying" ones, including in and around Jerusalem, severely restricting access to and throughout the city; and

-- ruthless ethnic cleansing continues, stealing land and bulldozing homes for settlement expansions and other Jews only projects.

When completed, the Separation Wall (half finished) will stretch 724 kilometers (on 12% of stolen Palestinian land), encircling the West Bank, further isolating the population. Civilians protesting against it nonviolently are systematically assaulted, tear gassed, fired on, injured and arrested.

In addition, two-thirds of the main roads are closed or controlled by security forces. Further, one-third of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is inaccessible to anyone without a (very hard to get) permit, that if obtained takes months and must be renewed - measures to make life in Occupied Palestine oppressive, punishing, and impossible, including random searches on streets and in private homes, some followed by arrests and imprisonment.

Numbers of Dead and Wounded in 2009

Forty-three years of occupation have taken an unprecedented toll. In 2009 alone, it included:

-- 1,092 killed, including 831 civilians, the others resistance fighters;

-- civilian victims included 305 children and 101 women, targeted the same as men; civilians attacked like freedom fighters;

-- 1,066 were killed in Gaza, 97% of the total;

-- the war's toll killed 1,419 Palestinians and wounded another 5,200, many severely from loss of limbs, brain damage, or other extreme injuries;

-- from September 2000 (the start of the second Intifada) through December 2009, 6,520 Palestinians were killed, including 4,955 civilians, tens of thousands more wounded;

-- after the January 18, 2010 ceasefire, the IDF killed 47 Palestinians, including 26 civilians, seven of them children; 12 civilians were killed by Israeli snipers in Gaza buffer zones, gunned down in cold blood; five others died when tunnels were bombed;

-- in the West Bank, Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians, including 15 civilians, six of them children; Israeli settlers killed three more, including two children;

-- all of them posed no threat, including participants in nonviolent protests against the Separation Wall, land confiscations or home demolitions; nonetheless, Israeli forces murdered them in cold blood, claiming self-defense, the usual bogus pretext.

PCHR investigations confirmed that Israel "used excessive and disproportionate force against Palestinian civilians, who are recognized as protected persons under international humanitarian law" - what Israel doesn't acknowldege or the principles of distinction and proportionality.

Evidence clearly shows that Israeli forces repeatedly used (and continue to use) excessive and disproportionate force against nonviolent Palestinian civilians, in violation of international law.

They posed no threat, yet were killed when their homes, other buildings, factories, or vehicles were bombed. Some were extrajudicially executed, others when their communities were invaded - in all cases, crimes of war and against humanity.

Throughout 2009, Israel tightened closure on the West Bank, and imprisoned Gazans under siege, denying them enough food, medicines, fuel, electricity, and other common essentials - exacerbating a worsening humanitarian crisis, suffocating 1.5 million people, and paralyzing the economy.

"The members of the international community, especially the High Contracting Parties to (Fourth Geneva) have shamefully failed to take the action necessary to ensure" this stops and to hold Israel accountable. Instead, they've been complicit in the worst of its crimes, and share equal guilt, especially America, Israel's paymaster/partner.

Israeli forces also prevent Palestinian civilians from entering Israel or going abroad for medical care, other emergencies, education, or their right of free movement - denied throughout Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians are imprisoned on their own land in their own country by a hostile occupier, there illegally.

Throughout 2009, the humanitarian crisis worsened, the result of:

-- 40% unemployment, over 55% in Gaza where poverty exceeds 80%, affecting 1.2 million people;

-- since September 2000, incomes have steadily decreased, down 45% at yearend 2009; and

-- national output dropped sharply in all sectors, especially in Gaza.

Other Imposed Harshness

In December 2009, at least 9,381 Palestinians were imprisoned, including 310 children and 34 women, mostly inside Israel - a clear international law violation under Fourth Geneva's Article 76 stating:

"Protected persons accused of offences (sic) shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein."

They must also be afforded proper food, hygiene, medical, and other essentials, including spiritual assistance. In addition, minors must be given special care, and women must be confined in separate quarters under female supervision. Israel, however, has male guards in women's prisons and treats children the same as adults, besides violating other international laws regarding the treatment of prisoners.

Israeli forces disregard them as well commit regular assaults, other incursions, and arrests during house raids, especially in West Bank villages and refugee camps. Also at checkpoints, roadblocks and during nonviolent demonstrations.

Throughout 2009, security forces arrested about 5,000 Palestinians, including 1,000 in Gaza, mostly civilian men, women and children, all treated horrifically, included elected officials, imprisoned for belonging to the wrong parties and wanting Palestine to be free.

At yearend 2009, 26 PLC members were incarcerated, most from the Change and Reform bloc, affiliated with Hamas. Another was speaker Dr. 'Aziz al-Dweik, now released. However, civil activists are detained for defending human rights, they like others treated harshly, most of them tortured like other Palestinian prisoners. Others are kept in solitary confinement for prolonged periods.

Testimonies confirm prison horror stories, including physical and mental torture, exposure to extreme heat or cold, starvation, sleep deprivation, beatings, pressure to collaborate in exchange for release, (in some cases, threatened harm to family members if refuse), and/or forced confessions in Hebrew, not Arabic, for crimes they didn't commit.

During Cast Lead, Israel "wantonly and extensively destroyed Palestinian civilian property, including homes, agricultural lands, as well as health, educational, religious and economic facilities," all in violation of international law. As a result, about 450,000 Gazans evacuated their homes for safer locations, "causing many to recall scenes of the forced mass migration" during 1948, what those who endured it can't forget, nor their children who know the toll on their parents, why the event is called the Nakba, the catastrophe, affecting the entire population.

Cast Lead's toll was horrific by any standard, PCHR documenting:

-- 2,116 totally destroyed homes, containing 2,881 housing units for 3,253 families and 18,750 individuals;

-- another 3,277 houses with 4,925 housing units for 5,483 families and 32,703 individuals rendered uninhabitable, their damage so extensive;

-- 16,000 others were partly damaged;

-- in total, 51,453 civilians lost their homes, victimized by illegal bombings or shellings; and

-- in the West Bank, Israel demolished 134 houses, including 83 in East Jerusalem; another 23 Palestinian civilians were forced to destroy their own homes and pay the cost.

Today under the extremist Netanyahu government, conditions are worse than ever. Besides daily repression, settlement construction continues, the Municipality of Jerusalem and Israeli ministries taking bids for 3,400 housing units on occupied Palestinian land, ordering homes demolished and thousands of donums of land confiscated for them.

Complicit with Israeli security forces, the judiciary legitimizes occupation policies, Israel's High Court, for example, rejecting Palestinian petitions against the expropriation of their land for settlement construction and the Separation Wall. Rarely ever does the court order its route changed. Even then, it seldom happens.

Illegal construction imposed new hardships, including farmers denied access to their land beyond the Wall without hard to obtain permits to reach it. Yet to get them, they must be registered owners, nearly impossible due to land registry complications because earlier ownership was under deceased persons' names. In addition, registries haven't been updated, and some heirs don't live in the West Bank.

Other hardships include:

-- new movement restrictions for Palestinians living near the Wall's route, not just affecting farmers; and

-- access to medical care, education, and relatives is impacted, plus restricted hours to move through gates at the Wall, "operated under a strict security system," often closing for no apparent reason, and even when open, onerous to pass through.

A Nation and Occupation Repressively Persecuting Non-Jews

For Palestinians, Israel's legal system is nightmarish, the chance for impartial investigations impossible, in violation of international standards. They require those responsible for crimes be punished, victims afforded redress, and justice to be blind to race, religion or ethnicity.

Under military occupation and for Israeli Arabs, the system is fundamentally flawed and unfair, under laws affording justice solely to Jews. As a result, PCHR and other human rights organizations pursue universal jurisdiction (UJ) remedies, a legal principle empowering courts in other countries to indict, prosecute and convict persons guilty of international crimes, no matter where they occurred.

Nonetheless, winning judgments against Israeli officials is daunting, not accomplished so far, politics and national alliances superseding the rule of law - what no longer can be tolerated at the expense of victims' rights.

The UN Fact Finding Mission conducted extensive investigations into Israel's Gaza war, as well as West Bank and East Jerusalem attacks, confirming gross international law violations - crimes of war and against humanity.

Yet over Q 4 2009, "persistent efforts were made to undermine" reports from the UN Human Rights Council, General Assembly and Security Council, again, Palestinians denied their rights.

As a result, on October 16, 2009, at the urging of the Palestinian leadership, the UN Human Rights Council (at its 12th Special Session) issued a Resolution condemning illegal Israeli acts, especially annexing East Jerusalem lands. It also endorsed the Goldstone Commission's conclusions and recommendations - a first step toward justice, so far not achieved.

Israel's harshness continues. A subservient Mahmound Abbas issues presidential decrees without presenting them to the PLC or involving the legitimate Hamas government.

Though released from detention in June 2009, PLC Speaker, Dr. 'Aziz al-Dwaik, is prevented from even entering his Ramallah office by presidential decree, an illegitimate act by a coup d'etat president.

The split between West Bank and Gaza is untenable, the result of Israel targeting Hamas, bogusly calling it a terrorist organization, Abbas its servile tool obeying orders and being rewarded with White House visits and photo-ops, the benefits for betraying his people, including remaining president long after his term expired and not calling new elections.

Life in Occupied Palestine remains grim, Israeli imposed viciousness creating enormous hardships for millions of victimized Palestinians, ongoing for 62 years, 43 under occupation brutishness - illegal, unjustifiable, and unconscionable by a so-called civilized state, in fact, run by hooligans, war criminals, respecting might alone over right, what grassroots activism no longer can tolerate nor should anyone of conscience anywhere.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sirhan Sirhan: In His Own Words

Sirhan Sirhan: In His Own Words - by Stephen Lendman

Shortly after midnight on June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy was shot, The New York Times headlining:

"Kennedy is Dead, Victim of Assassin; Suspect, Arab Immigrant, Arraigned; Johnson Appoints Panel on Violence"

Sirhan Sirhan was the alleged assassin, convicted, and serving a life sentence at (no pun intended) Pleasant Valley State Prison, CA, despite convincing evidence of his innocence.

In his October 17, 2008 article "The Assassinations of the 1960s as 'Deep Events,' " Peter Dale Scott discussed the killings of both Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, saying:

"The more that I look at these deep events comparatively, ranging over the past five decades, the more similarities I see between them, and the more I understand them in the light of each other."

With respect to both Kennedys and King, official accounts obscured the events, suppressed key facts, enough to question the guilt of the alleged suspects, concealing the real culprits and why men of this stature were assassinated - what Scott called "some continuing and hostile force within our society..."

In his June 13, 2010 article titled, "JFK and RFK: The Plots that Killed Them, The Patsies that Didn't," James Fetzer debunked the official accounts, saying:

"we are looking at staged events that fit into a recurrent pattern in US and world history where innocent individuals (or 'patsies') are baited and framed for cover-up purposes," RFK's killing "in part intended to prevent a reinvestigation into his brother's death....The assassinations of RFK and JFK were both conspiracies. Both involved the destruction of evidence. Both involved the fabrication of evidence. Both involved framing their patsies. Both involved complicity by local officials. Both involved planning by the CIA. Both were used to deny the American people (their) right to be governed by leaders of their own choosing." Both put a myth to the rule of law, judicial fairness, and democratic freedoms.

Both crimes and MLK's assassination eliminated figures dark American forces wanted silenced, blaming innocent "patsies" for the killings, Sirhan Sirhan for RFK's. Fetzer's article explains numerous important facts:

-- multiple shots targeted him, more "than could have come from Sirhan Sirhan's gun;"

-- "RFK was shot behind the right ear from about 1.5 inches, but Sirhan was never that close and always in front of him;"

-- the coroner and LAPD reports were contradictory;

-- LAPD "engaged in massive destruction of evidence from the pantry of the hotel because 'it would not fit into a card file,' " as part of an official cover-up to blame Sirhan for a state-sponsored assassination, evidence suggesting CIA involvement in both Kennedy brothers and MLK killings;

-- Sirhan's gun was a ".22 caliber, eight-round revolver (serial number H-53725);"

-- he "emptied his weapon from a location in front of Bobby Kennedy;"

-- Dr. Thomas Hoguchi's autopsy "showed RFK was hit by four bullets, all of which were fired from behind at upward angles;

-- five others were wounded by separate shots;"

-- as many as 13 shots were fired;

-- Dr. Noguchi's autopsy "did not point to Sirhan as the killer;"

-- an eyewitness, DeWayne Wofler, "testified that the bullets fired at RFK had come from an entirely different gun," not Sirhan's;

-- a security guard, Eugene Cesar, standing right behind RFK, had a drawn gun of the same caliber as the murder weapon; it was never examined nor was he charged; and

-- "a woman in a polka dot dress" left the scene hurriedly, "shouting, "We shot him! We shot him! We shot Kennedy!"

In their book, "The Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy," Jonn Christian and William Turner made a convincing case "indicting Cesar for the crime," concluding "that Sirhan may have been firing blanks."

Fetzer's article has detailed information on both JFK and RFK assassinations, accessed through the following link:

http://www.voltairenet.org/article165721.html

Below, Sirhan gives his own account of what happened that night and why he was at the Ambassador Hotel.

"My Morning with Sirhan"

On January 21, 2010, Academic Prison Teacher, Gerald B. Reynolds, spent time with Sirhan and wrote it up in detail. An account below follows.

At the Delta Facility library, a prison guard let him in. His ID said Sirhan Sirhan. "He looked at me in a calm way with a half-smile. I looked at him....There was an eerie, prolonged silence." He's now 66 years old, 42 of them in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

After another "calm silence....I swiveled in my chair to face Sirhan Sirhan and asked, 'Did you do it?' "

"Did I do what," he responded.

Reynolds: "You know."

Sirhan: "What do you want to know?"

Reynolds: "Did you kill Robert F. Kennedy?"

Sirhan: "No, I did NOT kill Robert F. Kennedy!"

Reynolds: "I know you didn't."

Sirhan: "How do you know?"

Reynolds explained that he studied the details of his case, learned that RFK was killed at point blank range by a bullet to the back of his head.

"The real assassin appears to be Kennedy's 26 year old Ace Security Company bodyguard....Thane Eugene Cesar. At least one eye witness claims to have seen Cesar with a smoking gun in his hand immediately after Kennedy fell to the floor. An audio recording made during the assassination indicates that there were at least 11 shots fired (perhaps more) from possibly three different guns."

"The conclusion is that Kennedy was shot three times from behind with a fourth bullet passing through his suit coat. The fact that you (Sirhan) were standing in front of Kennedy is undisputed and yet according to the coroner's report not one bullet entered Robert F. Kennedy from the front of his body."

Sirhan: "Oh my! I knew this morning when I woke up that God was telling me he had something great in store for me today and this is it! God has sent you to me!....I was beginning to lose hope so you were sent to lift my spirits. Now I can be hopeful again. Thank goodness somebody else knows."

Reynolds: "Have you ever talked to anybody else in prison that knows the truth of your case?"

Sirhan: "Yes. One person, that's all....He was one who drives a truck around and empties the dumpsters....I had a job where I had to take the garbage out of the kitchen....to the dumpster....once in a while he would talk to me. He told me he believed I was innocent."

Reynolds: "Did you talk to this guy often?"

Sirhan: "Actually no. He and I only talked maybe about three times and each time it was only for about five minutes or so."

He explained that he never met anyone in prison, besides him, who knows. He said friends on the outside set up a web site for him - rfkmustdie.com, with information about him, RFK, and whether CIA operatives killed him, framing Sirhan for the crime.

Reynolds: "Do you have an appeal on file right now?"

Sirhan: "Not now. Everything has run its course. I had a great attorney named Lawrence Teeter....He was a wonderful man and a great attorney. He tried several times to win me an appeal and even just to get a new evidentiary hearing but the courts seemed biased against me. The judges wouldn't budge....Teeter died in 2005, and I haven't really tried to work on any appeal since then."

Yet he feels, one day, he can be cleared and set free. "The truth will win out," he believes. Earlier he was on San Quentin's death row for three years. "They thought they were rid of me but then something happened they didn't plan on."

Led by Chief Justice Rose Bird, "the California Supreme Court intervened and ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional. The ruling was retroactive and my sentence was commuted to life in prison. They thought I was dead and yet after 41 and a half years I'm still alive!" Now it's over 42.

But "they stole my life!....I've been rotting in that stinking prison for (over four decades) for nothing!....The bastards stole my life....I have been denied parole 13 times. I am scheduled for another parole hearing in 2011. (Against long odds), Maybe if there was a grassroots movement, like perhaps millions of people finding out how the authorities have buried me unjustly, and coming together in demonstrations all over the country they would have to reconsider and let me go."

Saying to Reynolds, "You do it for me. Become a guest speaker at colleges and universities and speak on my behalf....I hereby give you my permission....I will notify the press of your name and mission."

Reynolds: "Ah, no, not my name. My name can't be attached to this. I could get in big trouble. You know the monsters that run this place."

Sirhan: "OK, I understand. We will keep you anonymous."

Reynolds offered to make this conversation available to anyone "responsible enough to appreciate it." Sirhan suggested sending to magazines and newspapers. Reynolds said he'd try, sent it to one on the progressive left that wouldn't publish it, one reason for discussing it here.

Sirhan also explained he's Palestinian, born in Jerusalem in 1944, "alive during the turmoil that erupted when the United Nations stole our country and gave it to the Jews."

In fact, its 1947 Partition Plan (General Assembly Resolution 181) gave them 56% of historic Palestine, placing Jerusalem (declared a corpus separatum, a separate body) under UN trusteeship as an international city, binding to this day. At the time, Palestinians comprised two-thirds of the population, owning 93% of the land, most of it now stolen. All of it occupied illegally.

Ever since, Israelis treated "my people....like dogs. (They) shoot rockets and tank fire into the West Bank (and Gaza) killing everyone, including women and children. They drop bombs and spray machine gun fire into crowded marketplaces. They are treating my people the same way they were treated by the Nazis....It breaks my heart to see how my people are suffering."

Reynolds: "So, then, you're a Muslim?"

Sirhan: "No....I am a Christian. My whole family is Christian....We have been Christians for at least 800 years. We are Palestinian Christians."

He came to America at age 11, moved to Los Angeles, and settled in Pasadena, attending Altadena's Eliot Junior High School, graduating from John Muir High School, then completing two years of junior college..."

Reynolds asked if he had any connections to Middle East or organized terrorists?

Sirhan: "No. No way! I am alone. I am by myself. I do have a few people in the West Bank that I correspond with but they are just regular people. I have a brother in Los Angeles. But I definitely do not have any terrorist connections and I am not a member of any groups, any groups at all."

Spurious prison information circulated that on 9/11, he "gleefully clapped (his) hands and (was) delighted" to see the twin towers collapse, adding that he had confidential information of the impending attack "by a Middle Eastern terrorist organization whose members revere you as an icon and a hero and do everything they can to honor you."

Sirhan: "Oh my God, that's ridiculous. I've never had anything to do with any terrorist groups. Who said this about me?"

Reynolds: "It was Chief Deputy Warden James Mattingly."

Sirhan said he'll sue him for libel and slander, adding he wants to see his evidence. Reynolds asked what he thought of the incident, Sirhan explaining that he cried because his country was attacked and "felt sadness and anger and wanted to punish the people responsible...."

Reynolds: "Sirhan, what were the events that led up to you being in the pantry of the Ambassador Hotel on the night" RFK was shot there?

Sirhan: "In the evening, I had something to eat at Bob's Big Boy. Then later in the evening, I decided to drive downtown....The Jews were going to be having a big party to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Israel's" Six Day War victory."

Reynolds: "What did you intend to do once your got there?"

Sirhan: " I don't know exactly but I wanted to protest. The Jews should not have been allowed to fill the streets in celebration of stealing more of our land. I can remember driving down Highway 5 with my 22 caliber hand gun lying next to me on the passenger seat."

Reynolds: "Why did you have a gun with you in the car?"

Sirhan: "I had been shooting at the range earlier that day."

Reynolds: "Was the gun....out in the open?"

Sirhan: "No, it was in the plastic box it came in, you know, with the cloth, the cleaning rod, and oil."

Reynolds: "and what did you do when you got downtown?"

Sirhan: "I realized that I was a day early and that the event was to take place the next night. So I just drove back up the freeway."

Reynolds: "Why did you stop at the Ambassador Hotel?"

Sirhan: "I don't know. I can't remember parking and going in there but I must have because I was there."

Reynolds: "What did you do when you got there?"

Sirhan: "It was hot that night and I was very thirsty. I remember that....I went to the bar and had four drinks within about 15 minutes. I couldn't seem to get enough to drink....They were Tom Collins's....(but) I wasn't drunk. I felt drugged. I think somebody slipped something into my drinks. My legs and arms became rubbery. I remember standing by my car but I couldn't drive so I went back inside and got some coffee."

Reynolds: "How did you get downstairs to the pantry?"

Sirhan: "Somebody guided me. I don't know who."

Reynolds: "Did you have your gun with you?"

Sirhan: "Yes. When I was in the pantry, the gun was in my hand."

Reynolds: "Did you know Robert Kennedy was going to be walking toward you?"

Sirhan: "No. I didn't know where I was and I don't know how I got there. I was in a state of blackout."

Reynolds: "You were a Manchurian candidate....It's something the CIA uses. They assassinate a president, or senator, or anyone they wish, and make it look like some crazed, lone-nut assassin did it. But he has been heavily drugged, possibly with LSD, and undergone intense brainwashing followed by reprogramming. Everything you're saying about yourself follows the established pattern of the drugged, duped, CIA patsy."

Sirhan: "They used me, framed me, and they set me up to die."

Reynolds: "Do you remember firing the gun that was in your hand?"

Sirhan: "I can't remember. I was blacked out. I remember feeling woozy and it felt like I was falling down....I don't remember the things that happened that night."

Reynolds: "Do you remember being led in handcuffs out of the Ambassador Hotel and made to sit in the back seat of a police car?"

Sirhan: "I remember being led away but I didn't know why they were doing this to me. Nobody told me anything."

He was interrogated by the police for about 24 hours, detectives telling him he murdered RFK. "They yelled at me. They kept shoving papers at me demanding that I sign...They were documents saying I killed Kennedy. Confession. They insisted I had murdered Robert F. Kennedy and they demanded I confess and sign the papers....At first I resisted, but later I confessed and signed the papers. They broke me down and I told them I would do anything they wanted me to do. I just wanted it to stop."

After he confessed, he was taken to a cell and allowed to sleep. A court trial followed where his "interrogators convinced me to plead guilty and ask for the death penalty....I told the judge I was guilty and wanted the death penalty," explaining he was ashamed.

"They made me believe I had murdered Robert Kennedy in cold blood and I was remorseful and ashamed. Everyone said I was guilty. They said I would get the death penalty....no matter what I said or did. They said it was an open and shut case and that I might as well give up. I just wanted to get the whole thing over with and if it meant me being dead, so be it. I didn't have anything left to live for anyway."

A trial followed, Sirhan represented by attorney Grant Cooper, a man he called "crooked. He had mafia and CIA connections," Sirhan explaining what he knew and his mob involvement. "He was (picked) to make sure I was convicted and sent to my death, and Cooper complied because they were planning to kill him" otherwise.

Reynolds asked him to portray what he remembered doing at the Ambassador Hotel. Sirhan stood up, swayed, his arms gently rising, looked straight ahead, then made a gun shape with his right hand, his arm parallel to the ground pretending to shoot, saying:

"At a specific moment, and I can't remember when or why, I shot my 22 caliber pistol three times. My arms were unsteady but level with the ground. Two of the shots missed. I saw them miss. One of the shots may have bounced off him like a BB. All of a sudden people were grabbing me. They were forcing me down....Did anybody say I reached around behind and shot Robert Kennedy in the back of the head?"

Reynolds: "Nobody."

Sirhan: "But that's what I would've had to do" to kill him....So, what do you think of me now? Do you think I am crazy like they say?"

Not at all, said Reynolds, Sirhan adding "I am just a man. I am a man just like you. I am trained never to allow an inmate to touch me."

In parting, he embraced Reynolds, both of them now "secret friends in a desolate place."

A Final Comment

Evidence strongly suggests that Lee Harvey Oswald, James Earl Ray, and Sirhan Sirhan were patsies, blamed for state-sponsored assassinations, likely carried out by CIA operatives or hired guns they enlisted.

Jack Ruby, with known mob and police connections, fatally shot Oswald on November 22, 1963. Incarcerated without trial, James Earl Ray died in prison on April 23, 1998, proclaiming his innocence. Sirhan Sirhan has been imprisoned since 1968, despite no evidence proving his guilt.

In these and hundreds more cases in US courts, justice was denied, revealing the myth of the rule of law, under a system absolving high-level crime, getting patsies punished for offenses they didn't commit, the major media always going along, supporting official accounts without question.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Occupied Palestine: Good News and Bad

Occupied Palestine: Good News and Bad - by Stephen Lendman

First the good.

On June 22, the International Middle East Media Center reported that the UN Human Rights Council (that established the Goldstone Commission) approved "forming an international committee to probe the deadly Israeli" Flotilla attack, massacring and injuring dozens of nonviolent activists on board. Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak urged Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to shelve it, saying:

"We expressed our view that for the time being, as long as....new flotillas are in the preparation, it's probably better to leave (an investigation) on the shelf for a certain time" - in other words, postpone it long enough to forget, letting Israel's self-examination whitewash top officials' culpability, a vain hope given world outrage, mushrooming toward universally branding Israel a pariah rogue state.

The Human Rights Council (HRC) said committee officials will include lawyers and international law and human rights experts, the body to present its findings in September.

The European Campaign Against the Siege said the International Committee will contact Israel, Greece, Turkey, and the Freedom Flotilla coalition. It will also visit Gaza and urge Tel Aviv's cooperation, what wasn't given the Goldstone Commission, nor will be this time. However, with or without it, the investigation will proceed, exposing Israel's culpability.

On June 1, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) responded to the Flotilla massacre headlining, "All States and the international community must urgently take measures against Israel's violations of international law," explaining that:

Throughout its history, Israel has willfully, arrogantly, and repeatedly violated core international law principles without accountability. "These violations....involve Israel's international responsibility, its obligation to make reparations for the damage resulting from these violations and the obligation of all States to prosecute and punish those responsible for these violations when they concern crimes against international law," especially ones against peace - the supreme international crime.

RTP "insists" on the immediate and unconditional:

-- "lifting of the blockade by Israel of humanitarian aid," what Fourth Geneva and other international laws prohibit;

-- ending the Gaza siege, also lawless and prohibited;

-- "full and independent inquiry into the" Flotilla attack;

-- "suspend(ing) of the EU/Israel Association Agreement in accordance with" its provisions; and

-- implementation of the Goldstone Commission conclusions and recommendations.

Global human rights organizations agree, including BRussells Tribunal Executive Committee member, Dr. Ian Douglas, saying:

"Israel simply cannot face up to its own bloody origin. It is a settler state, founded in violence by individuals who came from outside Arab countries," under rogue governments that support and instigate "terrorism." The solution:

"The international community must cut all economic ties, all defense coordination and contracts, and all diplomatic, intellectual and cultural links with Israel until Zionism is recognized as racism. Until this happens, Israel continues to be the single biggest threat to world peace. The possibility of a better society will keep being suffocated by the black hole of Israel's insistence on perpetuating injustice against the Palestinians," - partnered with Washington, "indistinguishable from Tel Aviv, or vice versa. Obama is either unwilling (or) unable....to break from that....Palestinians have no hope in (him). He won't help them, and never intended to."

More good news - a first in America against Israel.

On June 20 in Oakland, CA, over 800 longshoremen pickets blocked the unloading of an Israeli ship, the ZIM Shenhen, chanting:

"Free, free Palestine. Don't cross the picket line. An injury to one is an injury to all - the Israeli apartheid wall will fall."

An ad hoc Labor/Community Committee in Solidarity with the People of Palestine organized the action. Allied groups included the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, several Palestinian solidarity groups, the Bay Area ANSWER Coalition, and local labor activists.

Their boycott followed the earlier June International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 10 motion condemning the Flotilla massacre, "call(ing) for unions to protest (by) any action they choose to take."

Organizations supporting the boycott included the Oakland Educational Association, San Francisco Labor Council, Alameda County Labor Council, Cuban Labor Federation, Labor for Palestine, the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, and numerous other groups - in solidarity with Occupied Palestinians.

Good news from Sweden - another boycott

On June 23, the Swedish Dock Workers Union announced a weeklong nationwide blockade in all unionized ports, refusing to handle goods from or to Israel until June 29, and demanding more, including lifting the Gaza siege and allowing an independent international investigation of the Flotilla massacre.

Still more - cancellation of Turkey's water sales to Israel.

On June 20, Israel National News.com's Maayana Miskin reported that Turkey "cancelled the planned sale of 1.75 billion cubic feet of water per year to Israel," a 20-year agreement abandoned over the Flotilla massacre, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister, Taner Yildiz, saying sales have been halted unless Israel "apologizes and expresses its regret."

Turkey also recalled its ambassador and froze a plan to supply Israel with Russian natural gas through an underwater pipeline.

Now the bad - a litany of Israeli crimes, some recent ones explained below.

On June 10, Palestine Think Tank.com contributor Kawther Salam headlined, "107 Israeli Crimes Against Palestinian Journalists," saying:

Since January 2010, Israeli attacks included beatings, "breaking their cameras, preventing them from covering events, shooting at them deliberately, arresting and jailing them, fabricating serious charges, fining them, imposing high financial fines before releasing them from detention," denying them access to East Jerusalem and other areas, and let "dozens of armed extremist settlers assault them and damage their cameras."

This is how a police state operates when not waging all out war.

More bad news.

On June 22, the Palestine Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) headlined, "Continued Ethnic Cleansing and Measures Aimed at Creating Jewish Majority in Occupied Jerusalem," in fact, an agenda to make all Jerusalem exclusively Jewish, dispossessing all non-Jews living there.

PCHR responded saying:

It "strongly condemns aggressive (Israeli) measures in East Jerusalem, which are part of a series of (others) aimed at ethnic cleansing," and have included:

-- bulldozing Palestinian houses on lands between Pisgat Ze'ev and Neve Ya'kov settlements to build 600 new units - approved a year earlier to link the two communities;

-- the June 21 implemented "Israeli Municipality in Jerusalem decision to demolish 22 houses in al-Bustan neighborhood in Salwan village (to) establish 'King David's Garden' " on expropriated Palestinian land; on June 23, Haaretz writer Nir Hassan reported that East Jerusalem settlers "threatened to (hire private security firms to) forcibly evict four Palestinian families they claim are living on" Jewish Silwan property; East Jerusalem, in fact, is Occupied Palestinian territory, not belonging to invaders who have no business being there or legal right to the land;

-- the June 20 Israeli High Court ruling, affirming the deportation of PLC member, Mohammed Abu Tir, a member of the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform Bloc;

-- the June 20 closing of the Ilaf Association for Education Support in Jerusalem, using falsified documents to claim Hamas held meetings there; and

-- Israel's ongoing lawlessness in violation of international law, including expropriating Palestinian land, what, so far, the international community won't stop.

More bad.

On June 20, the US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs warned Americans against traveling to Gaza, stopping short of saying those doing it will be prosecuted, but calling it "infiltrating" by flotillas or other means.

The warning "applies to all US citizens, including journalists and aid workers," with no mention of the illegal siege, the Flotilla massacre, or repeated attacks against defenseless civilians. A week earlier, Britain issued a similar alert, suggesting UK citizens doing it wouldn't be welcomed back home. Israel endorsed both statements from its closest allies, together comprising the real axis of evil.

Still more.

On June 20, Haaretz writer Barak Ravid exposed Netanyahu's bogus siege easing, headlining "Netanyahu: Security blockade on Gaza will get stronger," quoting him saying that despite letting in more "civilian" goods:

The "security closure will be tightened from now on (to) keep (weapons and "dual use" goods) out of Gaza," claiming "Our friends around the world are getting behind our decision and giving international legitimacy to the security blockade on Hamas."

So though designated foods, housewares, writing implements, mattresses and toys can enter, cement and shoes (among hundreds of other non-military items) remain banned, Israel bogusly calling them "dual use," meaning materials potentially for violence and conflict.

On June 24, Gaza Gateway.org reported "no significant change in the volume of trucks entering Gaza," despite the supposed easing - last week, 654, fewer than before the Flotilla massacre when 662 entered; this week through four of five allowed crossing days, 567, "consistent with the (imposed) policy since June 2007."

Gaza Gateway said only one crossing operates at near capacity of about 110 trucks a day, five days a week permitted - Kerem Shalom (Kerem Abu Salam). Karni Crossing, Gaza's commercial lifeline, able to handle 1,000 trucks per day, remains closed.

The Obama administration and virtually all members of Congress support the most lawless Israeli policies, including the siege, subsidizing them with billions of dollars annually, the latest weapons and technology, and virtually any special requests - to wage war, commit violence, maintain an illegal occupation against Palestinian civilians and the legitimate Hamas government, bogusly called terrorist.

Confirmation of PA/Israeli/Washington Complicity

According to a June 22 Asa Winstanley Electronic Intifada (EI) article headlined, "Exclusive: Leaked documents show PA undermined Turkey's push for UN flotilla probe:"

"A document sent to Ibrahim Khraishi, (PA UN) representative in Geneva," shows its officials tried but failed to "neutralize a (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) resolution condemning" the Flotilla massacre, by preventing an independent investigation and endorsing an Israeli one - a thinly veiled scheme to whitewash premeditated murder and absolve high-level culpability. Turkey rejected it out of hand. HRC approved an independent committee proceed and report back by September.

EI's article and one document can be accessed through the following link:

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11350.shtml

Last year, Fatah officials tried to undermine the Goldstone Commission's findings, proving they ally with Israel against their own people.

Last October, however, when the Commission's findings were adopted, Mahmound Abbas "was forced into a humiliating U-turn after an outpouring of disgust and protest from Palestinians around the world," not diminishing his contempt for his own people. Perhaps theirs now for him enough to elect a new president serving them, not their oppressive occupier in league with its Washington paymaster/partner.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

High Court Injustice

High Court Injustice - by Stephen Lendman

Two June 2010 decisions show the workings of a right wing High Court, with five Federalist Society members - Chief Justice John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and Samuel Alito.

Once confirmed, Elana Kagan will solidify their control when the Court reconvenes in October - her record exposing extremist positions, including outlandish anti-terrorism practices, unconstitutional federal litigation, and "love (for) the Federalist Society," affirming her endorsement of an organization supporting rolling back civil liberties; defiling human rights; ending New Deal social policies; opposing reproductive choice, government regulations, labor rights, and environmental protections; subverting justice in defense of privilege; and as Solicitor General, arguing against First Amendment rights without which all others are at risk - an ideology the Court endorses, one protecting privilege against the rule of law.

Rolling Back First Amendment Protections

In his same day article, New York Times writer, Adam Liptak, headlined, "Court Affirms Ban on Aiding Groups Tied to Terror (despite no tie whatever), saying:

"In a case pitting free speech against the national security, the Supreme Court....upheld (in a 6 - 3 decision) a federal law that makes it a crime to provide 'material support' to foreign terrorist organizations, even if (it entails) training for peacefully resolving conflicts."

Affirming a bogus terrorist threat, Chief Justice Roberts wrote:

"At bottom, plaintiffs (supporting free speech) simply disagree with the considered judgment of Congress and the executive that providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization - even seemingly benign support - bolsters the terrorist activities of that organization."

US Code Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113B, 2339A, defines "Providing material support to terrorists" as:

(1) "....any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advice or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (and) transportation, except medicine or religious materials;

(2) the term 'training' means instruction or teaching designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge; and

(3) the term 'expert advice or assistance' means advice or assistance derived from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge."

As Solicitor General, Elena Kagan agued the case in February, Justice Roberts at the time contradicting himself saying "The government is wrong that the only thing actually at issue in this litigation is conduct," not protected speech, then adding that combatting terrorism takes precedence over First Amendment rights, Justices Breyer, Ginsberg and Sotomayor disagreeing in their decision.

So did Center for Constitutional Rights plaintiff David C. Cole saying:

"We are deeply disappointed. The Supreme Court has ruled that human rights advocates, providing training and assistance in the nonviolent resolution of disputes, can be prosecuted as terrorists. (This decision says) that the First Amendment permits Congress to make human rights advocacy and peacemaking a crime. That is wrong."

It also criminalizes opponents of US laws in violation of constitutional protections, the Patriot Act and others post-9/11 most prominent, ones making America a police state, supported by High Court complicity. In addition, charity is now a crime, when given to bogusly designated terrorist organizations or any individuals or groups against American imperialism, making them enemies of the state, the Dallas-based Holy Land Foundation Charity (HLF) an example, the largest US Muslim charity until the Bush administration shut it down.

On December 4, 2001, the Treasury Department declared HLF a terrorist group, froze its assets, falsely claimed they were used to funnel millions of dollars to Hamas, when, in fact, they provided vital aid to needy, impoverished families in Occupied Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Bosnia, Albania, Checknya, Turkey, and US cities, HLF explaining:

"We gave:

-- books, not bombs;

-- bread, not bullets;

-- smiles, not scars;

-- toys, not tanks;

-- peace, not terror;

-- liberty, not poverty;

-- hope, not despair;

-- love, not hate; (and)

-- life, not death."

It got its five principles long prison terms, the daughter of former CEO Shukri Abu-Baker, Zaira, interviewed on the Progressive Radio News Hour on June 13, this writer now exchanging emails with her father at Terre Haute federal prison's Communications Management Unit, segregating Muslims from the general prison population, treating them more harshly, no matter that most there are innocent, Shukri one of the most prominent and honorable.

Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) Press Release on the High Court Decision

On June 21, CCR headlined "Supreme Court Ruling Criminalizes Speech in Material Support Law Case," saying:

In Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the first case against the Patriot Act, supporting free speech rights over bogus national security concerns, the Court ruling criminalizes "many groups and individuals providing peaceful advocacy....including President Carter for training all parties in fair election practices in Lebanon." He submitted an amicus brief opposing Holder's position.

Initiated in 1998, plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of laws making it a crime to provide "material support" to designated terrorist groups, CCR's Senior Attorney Shayana Kadidal explaining that:

"The Court's decision confirms the extraordinary scope of the material support statute's criminalization of speech. But it also notes that the scope of the prohibitions may not be clear in every application, and that remains the case for the many difficult questions raised at argument but dodged by today's opinion, including whether publishing an op-ed or submitting an amicus brief in court arguing that a group does not belong on the list is a criminal act."

CCR called the ruling "one of a very few times that the Supreme Court has upheld a criminal prohibition of speech under strict scrutiny, and the first time it has permitted the government to make it a crime to advocate lawful, nonviolent activity."

Given extremist right wing governance under both parties, (Eric Holder the new John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, or Michael Mukasey; Obama the new Bush) no longer do constitutional protections apply. As a result, anyone may be prosecuted for supporting human rights, civil liberties, democratic freedom, writing articles like this one, or airing populist views on programs like the Progressive Radio News Hour.

High Court Lifts Ban on GMO Alfalfa in Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms

On June 21, The New York Times published Greenwire writer Jennifer Koons' article, headlined, "Supreme Court Lifts Ban on Planting GM Alfalfa," saying:

"In its first ruling on genetically engineered crops, the Supreme Court today overturned a lower court's decision prohibiting Monsanto Co. from selling pesticide-resistant alfalfa seeds until the government completes an environmental impact study."

In 2006, environmental groups, farmers and consumers sued the USDA, forcing it to rescind its 2005 approval, arguing that cross-pollination could contaminate farmland, and that overusing Monsanto's Roundup herbicide would harm soil and groundwater, creating "Roundup-resistant 'super weeds.' "

After the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ban, Monsanto appealed to the Supreme Court, winning 7 - 1, Justice Stephen Breyer abstaining because his brother, US District Court Judge Charles Breyer, ruled against the USDA in 2007.

Another case is now affected, "involving Monsanto's breed of pesticide-resistant sugar beets, US District Court Judge Jeffrey White allow(ing) plantings of the modified crops to continue this year but warned that he might block use of Monsanto's seeds in future seasons while an environmental review takes place."

Environmental groups, including the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, and National Resources Defense Council filed an amicus brief against the ruling, arguing that it will limit their ability to rely on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) protections "to ensure a meaningful consideration by federal agencies of the impacts of their actions on the environment, and particularly wildlife and plants."

California, Oregon and Massachusetts Attorneys General also filed briefs for their "states' interests in protecting their natural resources and their citizens' rights to be informed about the environmental impacts of federal actions."

Monsanto supporters included the US Chamber of Commerce, the American Petroleum Institute, CropLife America (favoring pesticide proliferation), and the National Association of Home Builders, filing their own brief, advocating no restraints on the right to pollute and plunder, even at the expense of human health, the usual position they endorse.

Alfalfa is America's fourth largest crop, grown on about 23 million acres, according to Monsanto.

Harmful GMO Seeds and Foods

In 2003, Jeffrey's Smith's "Seeds of Deception" exposed the dangers of GM foods and ingredients, independent tests showing them harmful to human health. For example, rats fed GM potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains, damaged immune systems, and structural changes in their white blood cells, making them vulnerable to infection, disease and early deaths - compared to other rats fed non-GM potatoes.

In addition, after 10 days of testing (the human equivalent of 10 years), thymus and spleen damage, enlarged tissues, liver atrophy, and significant proliferation of stomach and intestines cells (a sign of future cancer risk) showed up.

Yet despite the known risks, GM foods and ingredients saturate our diet, over 80% of processed ones containing them as well as corn, rice, soybeans and soy products, sauces, ice cream, salad dressings, vegetable oils, peanut butter, meat, other animal products, eggs, even infant formula, making everyone consuming them lab rats in an uncontrolled, unregulated mass human experiment, involving risks too late to reverse once enough of them are consumed - no authority representing the public welfare to stop it, corporate interests are all that matter.

In their ruthless pursuit of profit, Monsanto and other agribusiness giants freely contaminate US farmlands (and vast areas globally), making most foods consumed harmful to human health, and organic ones increasingly compromised, because winds carry GM seeds to most other crop acreage, the High Court sanctioning much more once GM alfalfa plantings proliferate.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for June 24, 26 and 27

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for June 24, 26 and 27, 2010

Thursday, June 24 at 10AM US Central time: Catherine Austin Fitts

Fitts is an investment advisor, entrepreneur, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner under GHW Bush, and former Managing Director and board member of the Wall Street firm, Dillon Read & Co., Inc.

She's now editor of Solari.com and runs Solari, Inc. as an "online media company focused on ethical investment and preserving family wealth. Long ago, (she promised never again to) act against the best interests (of her) own people (and do her best) to leave a better world for generations to come."

Her latest economic and global views will be discussed.

Saturday, June 26 at noon US Central time: Jack Rasmus

Rasmus is a Professor of Political Economy at St. Mary's College and Santa Clara University, CA. He's also a freelance journalist, frequent speaker, a playwright and author, including his new book titled, "Epic Recession and Financial Crisis: Prelude to Global Depression."

His latest economic views will be discussed.

Sunday, June 27 at noon US Central time: Robert Abele

Abele teaches humanities and philosophy at Diablo Valley College, CA and has authored four books, including "Democracy Gone" and his newest titled, "Anatomy of a Deception" about the Iraq invasion, occupation, and preparation for the next deception.

Current world and national events will be discussed.

Stanley Sporkin: BP's Ombudsman Fixer

Stanley Sporkin: BP's Ombudsman Fixer - by Stephen Lendman

Some call him Stanley the Fixer, Catherine Austin Fitts for one, a former high level government and Wall Street insider, now editor of Solari.com and running Solari, Inc., an ethical online investment firm specializing in preserving family wealth. Besides on her own firm and a wealth of information on important topics, her site provides extensive coverage of Sporkin, including unanswered questions about him.

On September 5, 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that BP hired him as ombudsman "to hear worker complaints from Alaska and elsewhere in the US," a move to quiet criticism about company operations, given its history of safety and environmental violations, and long record as a serial scofflaw, making daily headlines for the past two months and sure for much longer, keeping Sporkin hyperactive on the job.

"I'll report them as I see them," he said when appointed. "My mandate is to do whatever is necessary to ascertain the facts about and identify solutions for problems that exist today as well as those likely to become issues in the future."

According to Kim Eisler in his Washingtonian.com July 16, 2007 article headlined, "Stanley Sporkin Does Things His Way:"

Sporkin "landed a very big client, BP America, and has been seen around town with (its then) president Bob Malone in tow....attempting to guide (him) through a maze of Capital Hill hearings and state inquests (concerning investigation(s about the company) over everything from Alaska pipeline failures to refinery fires and lost....worldwide CEO in a scandal."

Sporkin calls his job troubleshooting, "leading a team of investigators through the charges and countercharges," using his longtime fixer influence. While his compensation isn't known, "it's said to be substantial - more than (he) ever made during his years as a judge or at the CIA and SEC."

Who then is Sporkin, and what about his dark side? More on the latter below.

He's been a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in its Washington, DC office, involved in corporate governance, other litigation matters, arbitration and mediation services. He's also a member of the Gavel Consulting Group with other former judges and senior government officials, and served as counsel to Wall Street Management & Capital, Inc.

Earlier, he served 20 years with the SEC, the last seven as Director of Enforcement, another five years as CIA General Counsel (under William Casey during the Iran-Contra years - more on that below), and 14 years as a US federal judge for the District of Columbia. He's also a CPA and consummate fixer, given his high-level insider connections, now BP's ombudsman representing its interests, not workers or what benefits them. That's cover for his real job.

Serving Wealth and Power Interests

Sporkin made his reputation doing it, including judicially harming Hamilton Securities, approving its takeover, locking out its staff, and seizing its software and databases - its innovative system to save taxpayers billions of dollars in government-guaranteed mortgage loans, what might have prevented the housing crisis and mortgage fraud, what profiteers engineered collaboratively with Washington, as well as the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, likely to way surpass it before recovery.

A Case History of Sporkin Shenanigans

Catherine Austin Fitts founded and was president of The Hamilton Securities Group, a Washington DC-based investment bank and financial software firm. She explained its establishment as follows:

While serving as Assistant Housing Secretary and FHA Commissioner at HUD (under GHW Bush), she "tried (in vain) on numerous occasions to persuade (HUD Secretary) Jack Kemp and his staff not to propose new policies that would result in the abrogation of government contracts or contractual obligations with respect to financial assets."

Had she succeeded, it might have prevented the housing bubble, mortgage fraud, and spillover financial crisis, destroying the wealth, jobs, home ownership, and futures of millions of Americans, what didn't happen by chance, what was engineered and implemented over years to let Wall Street and other profiteers earn billions at the public's expense.

In 1990, Fitts left HUD to found Hamilton months later, several years afterward winning a competitive bid to serve as the Federal Housing Insurance Administration's financial advisor, executing, from 1994 - 1997, $10 billion in mortgage loan sales as well as strategic services for the agency's $500 billion mortgage and mortgage insurance portfolio, using revolutionary techniques greatly benefitting HUD and millions of taxpayers. On Solari.com, she then explained what happened, saying:

"One day I was a wealthy entrepreneur with a beautiful home, a successful business and money in the bank....The next day I was hunted, living through 18 audits and investigations and a smear campaign directed not just at me but also members of my family, colleagues and friends who helped me."

She believes it "originated at the highest levels," putting her through more than two years of "serious physical harassment, and surveillance, (including) burglary, stalking, having house guests followed, and (finding) dead animals left on (her) doormat."

What most people think can't happen in America, in fact, does, to anyone challenging corporate or government power - trashing the rule of law for their own interests, cleverly manipulating the public not catch on, or when it does, it's too late.

In Fitts' case, Hamilton's business and future opportunities were systematically wiped out, what led her to found Solari.com, focused on ethical investment, to help individuals and families protect their assets by understanding how dark Wall Street/Washington forces collaboratively drain investors and communities.

Hamilton Securities Litigation - Enter Sporkin

By trying to prevent the housing bubble and mortgage fraud, Hamilton was targeted by numerous lawsuits, including Ervin relator for United States v. Hamilton Securities (Qui Tam).

In March 1998, through his appointed Special Master trustee, then US District Court Judge Sporkin approved the court's takeover of Hamilton, and seizure of its software and databases.

As presiding judge in the Ervin Qui Tam case, he "extend(ed) the seal almost four years, without evidence of any wrong doing," despite a confirming FBI investigation and HUD IG audit verifying it. He also let government prosecutors argue contradictory positions, coached Ervin's attorneys from the bench, and may have been involved in why critical transcripts were missing.

Yet he resigned from the bench when Hamilton's legal documents and information about his Ervin Qui Tam case management and other litigation became available online. At the same time, he was involved in the falsified affidavit (http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/wilson102703.pdf), relating to former CIA and Naval Intelligence operative Edwin P. Wilson's conviction (what later got media attention), Wilson having been charged with shipping 42,000 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives to Libya's Moammar Qadaffy in 1977, then hiring Green Beret experts to instruct his agents on their use.

Wilson's defense was that his company, Consultants International, got CIA referral business, and was sanctioned by the Agency to gather intelligence, including about Qadaffy's access to Soviet military equipment. It didn't dismiss the case, but raised doubts in the minds of jurors.

Charles A. Briggs was CIA's third highest ranking official at the time he signed a declaration saying "According to CIA records, with one exception while he was employed by Naval Intelligence in 1972, Mr. Edwin P. Wilson was not asked or requested, directly or indirectly, to perform or provide any services, directly or indirectly, for CIA," later confirmed as falsified and untrue.

Yet as CIA General Counsel at the time, Sporkin certified the affidavit and affixed the Agency's seal, then had it notarized in Fairfax County, VA and presented it as evidence, the jury convicting Wilson on all counts.

On January 20, 2000, the Washington Post's Vernon Loeb headlined, "Back Channels: The Intelligence Community - Never Mind," saying:

"Nearly 17 years after former CIA officer and arms merchant Edwin P. Wilson was convicted of smuggling 20 tons of high explosives to Libya, the Justice Department conceded in a motion filed last week that a critical government affidavit used to convict (him) was inaccurate."

All along, Wilson insisted he was framed, his lawyer, David Adler (a former CIA agent) finding evidence to prove it. As a result, in October 2003, federal Judge Lynn Hughes reversed his conviction, ruling that prosecutors "deliberately deceived the court, (thus) double-crossing a part-time informal government agent" after he left the Agency, Sporkin playing a material role in his conviction as CIA General Counsel when it was decided to hang him out to dry with falsified evidence.

As an insider and skilled attorney, he had to know, willingly went along, and later was appointed to the federal bench, rewarded for his involvement in lawlessness.

On November 1, 2003, the Washington Post reported (http://www.whereisthemoney.org/hotseat/stanley/WParticle11-1-03.htm) that the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility began investigating his alleged misconduct in Edwin Wilson's conviction, as a result of Judge Lynn Hughes' reversal because of falsified evidence, what Sporkin likely knew, yet certified, but was never charged.

Fitts asked "What if anything did the Hamilton litigation, and litigation related to the Wilson conviction, have to do with (his) resignation from the bench" after her firm's legal documents became public, exposing his role in the case.

Perhaps also his involvement in Iran-Contra, Sporkin still CIA General Counsel, and may have drafted the secret DOJ-CIA Iran-Contra Memorandum of Understanding sanctioning Agency drugs trafficking covertly, what investigative journalist Gary Webb later revealed in "Dark Alliance," his explosive book about CIA complicity in illegal drugs, the agency's longstanding practice to help fund its operations, besides tens of billions more in black budget allocations, once estimated at over $50 billion annually by a former Agency insider.

Access these links for more information:

http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/9712/ch11p1.htm.

http://ciadrugs.homestead.com/files/cia-doj-agreement.html.

http://www.dunwalke.com/media/gideonMOU.html.

CIA's Global Drugs Trafficking

CIA's longstanding drugs trafficking connection way precedes its secret 1982 "memorandum of understanding" with the Justice Department - what Director William J. Casey arranged with Attorney General William French Smith, Sporkin, of course, Casey's General Counsel, so he had to know and be involved.

In his books, including Cocaine Politics and Drugs, Oil and War, as well as other writings, Peter Dale Scott has provided detailed information on the CIA-drugs connection, one article stating:

"Since at least 1950 there has been a global CIA-drug connection operating more or less continuously," relating to numerous "deep events" like JFK's assassination, the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, Iran-Contra, and CIA's involvement with the mob, using it for "supportive counterviolence....where Communist forces have appeared strong."

"The global drug connection is not just a lateral connection between CIA field operatives and their drug-trafficking contacts. It is more significantly a global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business, financial and government as well as underworld figures," a sort of "indirect empire (subverting) existing government," Iran-Contra one of many examples.

During Sporkin's CIA tenure, it was the covert CIA operation, involving illegal arms sales to Iran and drugs trafficking to fund the Nicaraguan Contras, the Agency and Reagan administration repeatedly disrupting official investigations until political scandal erupted in late 1986, exposing what, in fact, went on, but not enough to curtail what CIA continues to this day globally. Nor did it imprison its operatives, Bill Breeden, a former minister, the only figure incarcerated - not Ronald Reagan, GHW Bush, William French Smith, John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, John Poindexter, Oliver North, Stanley Sporkin, or others. William J. Casey died in 1987.

Money Laundering

In 2003, the IMF estimated global money laundering at between $590 billion - $1.5 trillion a year, much of it linked to drugs trafficking, $500 billion alone from the elicit (US-controlled) Afghanistan opium trade (plus tens of millions more from hashish), most of it laundered through US and European banks, mainly the largest, but others as well worldwide, perhaps including Australia's Nugen Hand Bank.

Sporkin may have been "Slimey Affirm," the code name connection to the Australian bank, an investigation later revealing its involvement with CIA and organized crime, including drugs trafficking, money laundering, arms dealing, theft, tax evasion, and financing CIA's war in Laos, eventually causing its collapse.

Unanswered Questions

Fitts asked if Sporkin "shut down honest businesses to protect government crime....narcotics trafficking," and facilitate money laundering, what at least he knew about at CIA, his job to provide legal cover if needed.

Collaboratively with HUD, Wall Street, and the Fed, what was his role in the housing bubble, mortgage fraud, and their connection to drugs trafficking and money laundering, in combination destroying poor communities throughout the country? What does he know about government black budgets and their funding, perhaps over $1 trillion annually, many trillions cumulatively, from stolen taxpayer dollars?

Why did BP hire him as ombudsman, a man with a history of CIA involvement, signing off on a falsified federal court affidavit, and targeting legitimate businesses to facilitate massive government fraud and market manipulation?

Was he asked to work for or against BP worker interests? Is his role to whitewash company safety violations, 760 of them called "egregious and willful," according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis? Did he ignore, downplay, or suppress years of shoddy maintenance and environmental destruction? Is he involved in punishing employees who express concerns? What does he know about harmful company practices and top officials involved? Why is he handsomely compensated? Is it for complicity in a cover-up.

Why aren't the media asking tough questions and demanding answers? What could he have done to prevent perhaps the greatest ever ecological disaster?
When will we get straight answers from him, his boss, other BP officials, top administration ones, and the president, a man who talks plenty and says nothing? When will accountability replace government and corporate crime? The public has a right to know.

One of the Best Lawyers

On November 1, 2003, Washingtonian.com writer Kim Eisler headlined, "30 of Washington DC's Best Lawyers," saying:

"Washington is home to some of the world's best," listing the top 30, ones to call on if ever get arrested, a subpoena, or worse, among them Stanley Sporkin, saying "It isn't every day that you can buy the services of a federal judge - legally." He's one of the few retired federal ones in private practice, besides being a consummate insider/fixer, who also "trained many of the top securities lawyers in Washington" when at SEC.

Jamie Gorelick also made the top 30, a well-connected former Clinton Deputy Attorney General, now representing BP in congressional inquiries into the Gulf disaster, and perhaps significant lawsuits it's facing.

Yet she was also compromised as Fannie Mae vice chairwoman when the housing bubble was inflating and company accountants falsified signatures, erasing $9 billion in losses, she earning over $25 million for her services before leaving in 2003 to become a partner at WilmerHale.

She was also one of the 9/11 whitewash commission members, and in 2007 represented BP in another oil spill case, this one in Alaska.

In Washington and corporate board rooms, the powerful take care of their own, targeting anyone in their way, proving the myth of the rule of law, operating outside it from one top position to another, serving the privileged at the expense of beneficial social change.

A Final Comment

Catherine Austin Fitts bears testimony to how to take on the system and win. Despite her Hamilton Securities experience, she regrouped successfully through Solari.com and Solari, Inc., a private company "focused on ethical investment and preserving family wealth....offering a unique perspective on the global financial system and on the political economy," through the Solari Report, Solari Report Digest, and wealth of information on her site, including her personal expertise offered honestly and honorably, a rare commodity in today's investment world. She explains her dedication as follows:

"Long ago, I made a promise that I would never act against the best interests or the excellence of my own people - that I would do my best to ensure that we were worthy of the stewardship of our world and that we did our best to leave a better (one) for generations yet to come. To make and keep such a promise is to understand that money and position are tools, not goals, and that death is not the worst thing that can happen."

Like the mythical Lazarus, she arose in better than ever form, offering subscribers what they're hard pressed to find elsewhere at a time honest advice is badly needed, and too few in the investment world provide it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.