Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for September 2, 4 and 5, 2010

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for September 2, 4 and 5, 2010

Thursday, September 2 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 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 important new book will be discussed.

Saturday, September 4 at noon US Central time: John Kozy

Kozy is a retired philosophy and logic professor, now blogging on social, political, and economic issues. He taught for many years and has been a writer for many more. Visit his web site at www.jkozy.com.

His latest writing will be discussed.

Sunday, September 5 at noon US Central time: Dahr Jamail

Jamail is an activist and independent award-winning journalist who reported "unembedded" from Iraq from 2003 - 2005. His Dahr Jamail's Dispatches can be followed on his web site - dahrjamailiraq.com.

He's also an author, his latest book titled, "The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Since the spring Gulf of Mexico disaster, he's been reporting regularly from affected areas, producing the same honest journalism he did on Iraq.

The ongoing Gulf disaster will be discussed.

Legislation for Greater Agribusiness Empowerment

Legislation for Greater Agribusiness Empowerment - by Stephen Lendman

On July 29, 2009, the House passed HR 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 "To amend the (1938 as amended) Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market, and for other purposes."

An earlier July 2009 article discussed it, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/07/hr-2749-agribusiness-empowering-act.html

On March 3, 2009, S. 510: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was introduced as the Senate's version of the House bill. On December 18, 2009, it cleared committee and was placed on the Senate's Legislative Calendar for consideration. Thus far not addressed, it likely will be and passed in the wake of the egg salmonella scare though, like its companion bill, it's for agribusiness empowerment, not food safety, used as cover to enhance greater industry consolidation at the expense of small farmers and consumers.

Current laws and regulations are adequate but not enforced, with good reason. Run by industry officials, the USDA is woefully understaffed, under-budgeted, and only performs perfunctory inspections. The FDA operates the same way, fronting for agribusiness, Big Pharma, and related industries, not consumer protection.

If House and Senate bills pass, it will gain new powers and fewer judicial restraints on its actions. Although some provisions address improving America's food, the bills' vague and deceptive language increases the potential for inappropriate application and enforcement, harming small farmers and consumers for big business, what's vital to avoid but less likely given the egg recall.

Now there's a push for corporate friendly legislation masquerading as pro-consumer, the way Congress always works. So expect the worst, for sure what Obama supports, stiff-arming his constituents across the board in deference to corporate and power interests.

According to the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, S. 510:

"will have the unintended destructive consequence of eliminating small farms and consumer access to local food (because it) grants sweeping powers to the (FDA) and US Dairy Association, (imposes harmful new regulations, and lets federal) agents go on to (small) farms, where less than one half of one percent of food-borne illnesses originate, (nearly all of it from factory farms) without having credible evidence that a problem exists, needing only 'reason to believe' in order to quarantine or shut down a farm."

PPJ Gazette writer Marti Oakley calls the Senate bill (and by inference the House one) the "Making America Sick Through Adulteration of Food" act, saying the nation "is only as successful as its farmers and ranchers" able to feed the public at all times. "And by farmers and ranchers I don't mean industrialized corporate farming for massive profits while we defile everything in sight," including safe food because FDA and USDA officials front for business, not consumers, on their own without protection.

The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) on Food Safety and Congressional Legislation Not Designed to Protect It

FTCLDF (the Fund) represents family farmers' right "to provide processed and unprocessed farm foods directly to consumers," and their right to buy them from family farms. It also protects small farms "from harassment by federal, state, and local government interference with food production and on-farm food processing."

The Fund opposes the House and Senate bills, saying they threaten "to leave small farmers and local producers unable to afford the cost of complying with legislative requirements." In addition, the FDA will be more greatly empowered to help agribusiness and harm local farming and consumers. Besides, "neither bill would improve food safety" because that's not their purpose.

Their anti-consumer provisions will empower bigness, increase imported food, create new safety concerns, and restrict the ability of Americans to get food choices they want from sources they prefer.

Unmentioned in the House bill, S. 510 references the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) 22 times, especially in Section 108(a)(1), calling for the Health and Human Services (HHS) and Agriculture secretaries to coordinate with HHS to prepare and submit to Congress the "National Agriculture and Food Defense Strategy."

Sounding more like preparing for war than food safety, Section 108(5) requires the strategy be consistent with the National Incident Management System, the National Response Framework, the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, and the National Preparedness Goals - programs created by presidential Executive Orders and National Security Directives, (not acts of Congress) to help big, not small farmers or consumers.

For example, over "terrorism" hysteria, the 2004 Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD) 9 designated DHS "responsible for coordinating the overall national effort" to protect America's food system, its Secretary "the principal federal official to lead, integrate, and coordinate federal, state, local and private sector elements."

Of concern is HHS' role in "food defense and critical infrastructure protection." In 2007, its Office of Inspector General suggested why, based solely on three minor incidents, including:

-- in 1984, an Oregon religious cult poisoning 10 salad bars causing 751 illnesses;

-- in 1996, a Texas hospital employee tainting the facility's snacks causing 12 illnesses; and

-- in 2003, a Michigan supermarket employee infecting 200 pounds of beef causing 92 illnesses, hardly reasons to wage war on bad food and call out the Marines.

Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional food contamination (raising no eyebrows) cause 76 million food-related illnesses annually.

In addition, the 2007 OIG report explained that:

-- DHS consolidated 22 preexisting agencies and organizations, all unrelated to food;

-- the sector's size and complexity poses vexing challenges, compounded by new DHS food sector obligations compromised by incompatible internal documents;

-- the agency has "no major organizational entity (focused) exclusively or even largely" on food;

-- no DHS official has overall food responsibility; and

-- other inconsistencies in its new mandate, assuring snafus doing more harm than good.

"A more effective way to protect our food supply is to create" more localized diversity nationwide, not greater concentration and a war against food terrorists.

Yet passing legislation with Section 108 "would be a major step toward" putting the nation's food system "on a permanent crisis-mode footing." Instead of federalizing supply and enhancing agribusiness power, our best food defense "is to promote the decentralization of food production, encouraging local communities" to be as self-sustaining as possible.

In other words, promote small and local, not big and global, a sure formula for higher prices, less variety, weaker consumer protections, and greater likelihood for tainted products because industry officials run the FDA and USDA before recycling back into high-paying corporate jobs. In both capacities, their job is maximizing profits, not food safety.

The Movement of Food

Information from the above-referenced link details concerns with HR 2749, including:

Establishing enforcement authority under Section 133 to restrict the movement of food, giving unelected officials power to shut down food movement in a state by quarantine without court order.

Criminal and Civil Penalties

Under Sections 134 and 135, criminal or civil penalties are imposed against anyone alleged to knowingly introduce or deliver adulterated or misbranded food through interstate commerce, the penalty being 10 years in prison.

Under current law, it's one year or three in cases of willfully defrauding or misleading. Civil penalties are also stiffer, as high as $7,500,000 (up from a maximum $250,000) for a corporate offender (including small ones), each day in violation considered a separate offense. Even delays in complying with registration requirements carry substantial fines.

As a result, these provisions let the FDA "harass and bankrupt small farmers and local producers" to help large ones, the reason for their inclusion, corporate lawyers, of course, writing these bills, the same procedure for all congressional legislation, including healthcare and financial reform, to protect their bottom-line concerns.

HACCP Plans

HR 2749, Section 102 and S. 510, Section 103 require registered facilities to have written Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans, prepared by:

-- conducting a hazard analysis;

-- identifying, implementing, and monitoring effective preventive controls;

-- instituting corrective actions if needed;

-- providing verification;

-- maintaining proper records; and

-- reanalyzing for hazards as needed.

Evaluating HACCP based on past meat industry experiences shows that corporate slaughterhouses and processing plants "operate in the relative absence of USDA inspections," in many cases none at all or personnel occasionally showing up but not doing their job.

Yet, the USDA's Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) web site states that "Slaughter facilities cannot operate if FSIS inspection personnel are not present (and) Only Federally inspected establishments can produce products that are destined to enter commerce."

In contrast, small plants are harassed, burdened with extra paper work, and targeted with more enforcement actions - many, as a result, driven out of business; from 2000 - 2005 alone, a 21.9% decline in processing plants and 19% for slaughterhouses.

Food Traceability

Under HR 2749, Section 107, the HHS Secretary is mandated to establish a domestic and imported food tracing system, using "identif(ied) technologies and methodologies" burdensome to small producers. It's to let the Secretary "identify each person who grows, produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, holds or sell such food" in the shortest practicable time but "no longer than two business days."

Exempted is food produced on owner, operator or agent in charge farms, selling directly to consumers, restaurants or stores. Records must still be kept at least six months, and farmers selling to other ones or wholesalers are subject to traceability requirements.

The provision is about "further integrating the American food system into the global market" to help agribusiness and harm small competitors. Instead of greater globalization, US policy should promote local self-sufficiency, a notion not in Congress' or regulatory agencies' vocabulary in deference to the corporate interests they serve.

The FDA and USDA (like all federal agencies) don't "protect the health of the American people but rather" the profits of industry producers.

Produce Safety Standards

HR 2749, Section 104 and S. 510, Section 105 deal with standards for produce safety to minimize health risks, from growing to transporting and storing it. Even local roadside stands and farmers' markets would be subject to national safety standards, including record keeping, under FDA jurisdiction. Of concern is the cost burden on many, perhaps great enough shut them down, the whole idea behind these provisions.

Survey Results Reveal Other Problems

A 2008 Resource Conservation District of Monterey County, CA survey of 600 irrigated raw crop growers found 8% had their crops rejected for reasons including:

-- deer intrusion;

-- "potential frog habitat;"

-- the "presence of frogs and tadpoles in creek;"

-- planted crops "near trees needed a buffer of 100 to 150 feet;" and

-- "deer tracks near" one farmer's field.

Overall, so-called good agricultural practices (GAPs) are extremely burdensome to small producers, in many cases driving them out of business.

Codex Alimentarius (CA) Provision in S. 510

An earlier article explained Codex's threat, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/08/codex-alimentarius-threatens-human.html

Ostensibly created "to develop food standards, guidelines" and related "codes of practice," CA, under
World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, is corporate controlled. It lets global food, pharmaceutical, and banking giants, in league with complicit UN and government agencies, promote GMO foods and drugs, not healthy natural ones. In addition, it will restrict or prohibit vitamin and dietary supplements, except ones they control. Also processed organic foods will be tainted by irradiation and harmful synthetic additives or ingredients.

If CA's standards and guidelines are adopted, binding one-size fits all global rules will be established, overriding sovereign national laws and safe practices. GMO foods and drugs will proliferate. Labeling will be banned. Food and drug giants will decide what will and won't be sold and at what price. Governments will have no power to countermand them, and everyone's health will be jeopardized.

S. 510, Section 306, covers the capacity of governments with respect to food. Its subsection (5) recommends bilateral and multilateral arrangements and agreements, a giant leap toward implementing CA, what's been ongoing incrementally for years, the Obama administration on board fast-tracking it.

On June 10, 2010, a White House press release announced "Executive Order - Establishing the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council," a stealth CA-endorsing measure about profits, not public welfare.

Under a de facto CA council, its "Section 6(g) contains specific plans to ensure that all prevention programs outside the Department of Health and Human Services are based on (industry-crafted) science-based guidelines (said to have been) developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under subsection (d) of this section."

In other words, all non-corporate controlled good health, disease-preventing products and supplements will be banned under full CA implementation, what's coming unless stopped, what S. 510 tries to legislate, what Barack Obama will sign into law if successful.

Final Comments

House and Senate bills "represent landmark legislation that will significantly increase the federal government's power to regulate intrastate commerce while hurting (America's) ability to produce safe food" and achieve local sustainability. Small farms and producers will be most harmed, the sector "producing the safest most nutritious food," thus benefitting agribusiness and importers, those most responsible for food safety problems.

Rather than declaring war on food terrorism, Congress should decentralize food production, processing and distribution, assuring safer, cheaper, lower priced products. Instead it's pushing the opposite.

Greater than ever FDA empowerment will be counterproductive and harmful, its record tainted by industry control, promoting hazardous to health GMO foods and unsafe industry practices like concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), "the antithesis of food safety," by an agency destructive to small farmers, local producers and consumers.

Passing S. 510 and reconciling it with HR 2749 will jeopardize food safety and make it harder to buy products consumers want from sources they prefer. Defeating S. 510 is thus crucial, now at risk by the egg salmonella scare, a large hurtle essential to overcome.

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/.

Lawsuit Challenges Obama Administration's Targeted Assassination Policy

Lawsuit Challenges Obama Administration's Targeted Assassination Policy - by Stephen Lendman

An earlier article addressed the issue, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/targeted-assassinations-challenging-us.html

In February, then Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair acknowledged it saying CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads have been authorized to kill US citizens abroad, suspected of terrorist involvement.

Disapproval came from an unlikely source, Hollywood tough guy Chuck Norris in an article titled, "Obama's US Assassination Program? 'A Shortlist of US Citizens Specfically Targeted for Killing?" saying:

It's true, an "abandonment of our Constitution....based on nothing more than" suspicion of terrorist involvement. "That's right. No arrest. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just a bullet," bomb or slit throat, Washington's new approach along with torture as official policy - justice, American-style under Republicans and Democrats, Obama even more extreme than Bush, the rule of law defunct and defiled, the "land of the free" disgraced, the entire world unsafe.

Enough to arouse the ire of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and ACLU, on August 30, filing a federal lawsuit (Al-Aulaqi v. Obama) challenging America's right to kill US citizens abroad in cold blood "far away from any armed conflict and without charge, trial or judicial process," the way the Obama administration interprets US and international law.

Access CCR's full statement through the following link:

http://www.ccrjustice.org/Al-Aulaqi-v-Obama+

Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki is a US citizen living in Yemen, targeted for opposing US belligerency, not alleged or committed crimes, putting all Americans at risk globally if outspoken against Washington's imperial extremism, including its permanent war agenda endangering planetary life and civil homeland society.

CCR and ACLU are rightfully outraged, filing a successful August 3 suit against the US Treasury and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for violating Separation of Powers and First Amendment protection of "the right of non-profit lawyers and legal organizations to give pro bono legal representation to any US citizen," guaranteed also under the Fifth Amendment. Still at issue is enjoining the assassination of all Americans abroad, including al-Awlaki.

On August 30, on behalf of his father, Dr. Nasser al-Aulaqi, CCR and ACLU filed suit against Barack Obama, CIA Director Leon Panetta, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, challenging their right to kill his son, in violation of US and international law.

In early July, Dr. Aulaqi retained CCR and ACLU for his son, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner calling him a "specially designated global terrorist" on July 16, putting him on a hit list to be assassinated. He's currently in Yemen, "without charge, trial or any form of due process."

After him, who's next abroad or at home, maybe writers expressing outraged criticism, media hosts doing it on air, and speakers justifiably denouncing the rule of law's trashing. Under America's new standard, they're now potential "terrorists," making everyone, everywhere unsafe because of rampaging government policy, recklessly out-of-control, unhinged, without morals, ethics, or even knowledge or interest in the difference between right and wrong.

CCR and ACLU state:

"Under international human rights law, lethal force may be used in peacetime only when there is an imminent threat of deadly attack and when lethal force is a last resort" to stop it. In contrast, "A program in which names are added to a list through a secret bureaucratic process and remain there for months....goes beyond" a last resort justification as well as recognized US and international law.

"Moreover, targeting individuals for killing who are suspected of crimes (not proved) without oversight, due process or disclosed standards....also poses the risk" of erroneously targeting innocent people.

Post-9/11, thousands of them, men and some women like Aafia Siddiqui, have been wrongfully designated terrorists, then imprisoned and brutally tortured, discovery later revealing their innocence in court, in some cases too late to matter, their emotional and physical well-being so systematically destroyed, no amount of therapy can restore them.

Obama plans to speed up judgements under a ready, fire, aim policy, murdering US citizens for their justifiable outrage, showing how low American justice has sunk, hitting rock bottom under a president who promised change - in fact, delivering it, a different kind than imagined by too many Walter Lippmann once called "the bewildered herd," out of touch and supportive. Why others have to spread enlightenment before it's too late to matter.

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, August 30, 2010

Israel Threatens War with Lebanon

Israel Threatens War with Lebanon - by Stephen Lendman

Palestine is belligerently occupied. Threats continue against Iran and Syria as well as Lebanon, specifically Hezbollah, elected partner in the nation's unity government, bogusly designated a US State Department Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), what Israel also calls it, repeating veiled and overt warnings, suggesting violence or an impending attack.

Why not, after so many earlier in 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, and 2006. Also numerous incidents besides:

-- refusing to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 425 by occupying South Lebanon belligerently and illegally for 18 years until mostly, but not entirely, withdrawing in May 2000 - still holding Sheba Farms, the 14-square mile water-rich land near Syria's Golan, also illegally occupied since 1967; in addition, Ghajar, the Lebanese village bordering Golan;

-- during its occupation, using a proxy Christian South Lebanon Army as enforcer, UNIFIL Blue Helmets giving them and the IDF free reign instead of maintaining peace, how UN forces always operate, as paramilitaries against people they're supposed to protect; and

-- for over 40 years, repeatedly violating Lebanon's territory, often daily, including 12 Israeli jet overflights on August 19.

Hezbollah - Israel's Pretext for Incursions, Violence and War

Hezbollah was born out of Israel's 1982 Lebanon invasion, its horrific war slaughtering around 18,000 people, mostly civilians, including in the Sabra and Shatila camps, what journalist Robert Fisk called "one of the most shocking war crimes of the 20th century."

In 1999, it was put on the FTO list, removed after condemning the 9/11 attack, then added back by Dick Cheney after bogusly linking it with Al Qaeda.

Throughout his tenure, George Bush (and other administration officials) called Hezbollah, Iran and Syria "the root cause" of Middle East terrorism, despite Israel being the only threat, a notorious regional menace.

In mid-July 2010, Rep. Sue Myrick (R. NC) was over the top accusing the organization of being a threat on the US-Mexican border, saying:

"Our intelligence sources have really clarified that they are in Mexico, that there is an operation that is quite large in place there, and it's very frightening to me because this is national security. We know some of them have gotten across the border in the past....They are starting to target the United States and that's my concern."

She also linked Hezbollah with Mexican drug cartels, DEA assistant intelligence administrator Anthony Placido saying "There are numerous reports of cocaine proceeds entering the coffers of Islamic radical groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas" - reports as credible as Saddam's WMDs.

Hezbollah, in fact, is politically legitimate, former Lebanon President Emile Lahood calling it "an integral part of the Lebanese government....(also) part of our military (and) social order," what former Prime Minister Rafik Harriri confirmed. It's also a social, charitable, educational, and medical organization, involved in establishing over 50 hospitals, over 100 schools, many libraries, and providing other essential social services, why it has broad support, especially among Shiites, comprising over 35% of Lebanon's population.

In addition, its military wing is for defense, not belligerency, but it's prepared to respond effectively when attacked, what Israel learned painfully in the 2006 war, outfoxed and humiliated despite a vastly superior force. It's a lesson the IDF never forgot and wants to avenge, as well as conceal its own terrorist history, by far the region's most extensive with tentacles reaching globally.

An early 2007 American University of Beirut study documented 6,672 Israeli terrorist acts against Lebanon and Palestine alone from 1967 - 2007 (plus thousands more since then), unrewarded by inclusion on America's FTO list, Israeli influence getting others on it, including Hezbollah and Hamas, Palestine's legitimate government.

Without evidence, Hezbollah's rap sheet includes the 1983 US Lebanon Embassy and Marine barracks bombings, highjackings, hostage taking, rocket attacks against Israel, suicide bombings, and more, charges the organization vehemently denies, saying it responds only in self-defense against militants, not civilians, its leader Hassan Nasrallah stating:

"Hezbollah remains on the US and Israel 'terrorism' list for purely political reasons and to punish the organization for its resistance to Israeli aggressions against Lebanon and (America's) plans for the region."

Expecting its members to be charged with assassinating former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005, he accused Israel of the crime, presenting visual and audio material as evidence. They included Israeli surveillance footage (intercepted in real time) of routes he used to be able to target his motorcade, Nasrallah saying:

"We have definite information on the aerial movements of the Israeli enemy the day Hariri was murdered. Hours before....an Israeli drone was surveying the Sidon-Beirut-Junieh coastline as warplanes were flying over Beirut. This video can be acquired by any investigative commission to ensure it is correct. We are sure of this evidence, or else we would not risk showing it."

He also said an Israeli spy "confess(ed) in front of a camera that he had repeatedly tried to falsely convince Hariri that (Hezbollah) intended to assassinate him." Though not a smoking gun, this information warrants serious investigation, especially given Israel's history of similar acts, inside and outside the region.

According to Lebanese University Professor Hasan Jouni, an international criminal law expert, Nasrallah's evidence was exceptional, saying:

"Logically and legally, in this stage, any new finding should be investigated by the general prosecutor. Sayyed Nasrallah submitted tangible evidence of the Israeli potential role in Hariri's assassination." It appears incriminating. "Furthermore, the previous investigations which were circulated here and there should be revised."

Antoine Airout, North Lebanon Bar Association head, agreed, saying: "Sayyed Hasrallah's revelations are very serious and objective," especially given Israel's long-term interest in destroying Lebanon to seize portions for itself. Hariri's assassination furthered that goal.

In late July, Nasrallah further disclosed the arrest of nearly 100 Israeli spies who'd infiltrated Lebanon's military and security sectors, including Ret. Army Brig. General Fayez Karam, once head of its antiterrorism/counterespionage units.

In his recent article titled, "Israel Takes Control of Lebanon," investigative journalist Wayne Madsen covered the same issue, saying:

He's "learned from (his) Lebanese intelligence sources that the Lebanese government is coming to realize that Israeli intelligence penetration of all political groups in the country is worse than originally believed."

"The Israeli espionage network also extends to Syria. Lebanese sources report that former Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam, who accused Syrian President Bashar al Assad of ordering (Hariri's) assassination, is tactically backed by Israel and the United States." He heads the National Salvation Front (NSF) effort to oust Assad, getting Israeli, American, French and German help to do it.

For decades, the US/Israeli partnership ruthlessly pursued its joint regional imperial project, including assassinations, state terrorism and wars. Murdering Hariri indeed furthered their goal, and if an August 28 Press TV report is right, more is planned, the Iranian English language network saying:

"Israel is reportedly preparing to strike arms depots and weapons manufacturing plants in Syria, claiming they belong to....Hezbollah....Tel Aviv (having) escalated its military presence in" Golan and Lebanon's Shebba Farms, according Haaretz, "citing a report in the (August 28) edition of the Kuwaiti daily Al Rai. (It) quoted European sources as saying that recent Israeli reconnaissance flights (over) Lebanese and Syrian airspace, are indications that Israel is ready to start a war in the area (against) targets....far inside Syrian territory...."

Targeting Lebanon - Stoking Tensions, Threatening More War

In early 2010, Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak warned Hezbollah to "avoid entering conflict with us, (adding that) We need to constantly prepare for a change in the status quo, though we don't know when it will occur. We don't want for it to happen, and it might not, but we will not be afraid to react if we have to fight back."

Thinly veiled fighting words with July 23 elaboration, provocatively telling the Washington Post that Israel will hold the Lebanese government responsible for Hezbollah's actions, saying "we will see it as legitimate to hit any target that belongs to the Lebanese state, not just to the Hezbollah" - the same 2006 blitzkrieg strategy causing vast destruction, billions in damage, killing over 1,000, injuring thousands more, and displacing one-fourth of Lebanon's four million population, the vast majority being civilians, including 300,000 children, Israel's "Dahiya Doctrine" strategy.

Named after the Beirut suburb destroyed in 2006, it's how past and future wars will be fought, including Cast Lead, applying disproportionate force against civilians and non-military infrastructure, carried out with overwhelming intimidating force in violation of fundamental international law, prohibiting collective punishment and attacks against non-combatants, Israel's preferred targets.

On a mid-April US visit, Jordan's King Abdullah II expressed concern, telling a "Congressional Friends of Jordan Caucus" that he fears "imminent" conflict again with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

At the same time, AFP reported that Washington "voiced alarm" about Syria's "possible sale of Scud missiles to Hezbollah militants, warning it would put Lebanon at 'significant risk.' " On April 13, Israeli President Shimon Peres accused Syria of doing it, saying it "claims it wants peace while at the same time it delivers Scuds to Hezbollah whose only goal is to threaten the state of Israel" - false and Peres knows it.

In response, an unnamed US official said a sale was suspected but not verified. Syria flatly denies it, and unmentioned was American aid to Israel, more than to all other nations combined, including annual billions of dollars in military aid, additional amounts when requested, plus the latest weapons and technology, enough to destabilize the entire region and beyond, given Israel's capacity and inclination to wage war aggressively and illegally.

It's bloodstained history confirms what US major media reports suppress - that no outside threat or attack on its territory occurred since the October 1973 Yom Kippur war, nearly 37 years ago after which Israel repeatedly attacked Lebanon and Occupied Palestine. It also menaces the entire Middle East, its goal being to divide, conquer and control it, a future article dealing solely with that topic.

At the end of the 2006 Lebanon war, UN Security Council Resolution 1701 called for a full cessation of hostilities on both sides, specifically that Hezbollah cease "all attacks" and disarm, Israel given freedom to respond to perceived threats. In other words, it can claim bogus ones justify war, Hezbollah denied comparable discretion.

Since passage, Hezbollah refused to disarm, but committed no aggressive acts. For its part, Israel breaches the resolution daily, including regular airspace, territorial, and sea encroachments. In early 2010, Michael Williams, UN special envoy to Lebanon said:

"To the best of my knowledge, there is probably no other country in the world which is subject to such an intrusive regime of aerial surveillance," other intrusions and spying. In fact, none besides America, Israel's paymaster/partner and early mentor, both countries the world's most bellicose and aggressive, what Hezbollah understands and will respond.

Lebanon's government also, saying it supports its right to defend sovereign state territory, Foreign Minister Ali al-Shami calling Israel a "permanent menace" with good reason.

Further, Syria said it will act if Lebanon is attacked, adding it considers a threat to Beirut's security one to its own. Hamas' Ali Baraka also avowed to back Hezbollah if attacked, stoking more tension, what Israel's expert at exploiting, manufacturing threats when none exist.

On August 2, the George Soros-funded International Crisis Group published a report titled "Drums of War: Israel and the 'Axis of Resistance,' " saying:

More war, if it comes, will be "far more devastating and broader in scope," the regional dynamics dangerously explosive, so any "miscalculations" may launch it, including against Syria.

Despite a deceptive quiet, "Beneath the surface, tensions are mounting with no obvious safety valve." Hezbollah's readiness and "escalating Israeli threats (could) trigger the very outcome" so far avoided.

With "no effective forum for communication, (there's) ample room for misunderstanding and misperception. Meanwhile, (Israel has waged) an underground war of espionage and assassinations....now a substitute for more open confrontation."

"There is scant reason for optimism on the peace front," not helped by America talking only with one side (Israel), "keeping another at arm's length (Syria), ignoring a third (Hezbollah) and confronting the fourth (Iran)."

As a result, "the world should cross its fingers that fear of a catastrophic conflict will continue to be reason enough for the parties not to provoke one."

Not explained is that Israel and America alone pose threats, the same ones for over 40 years, what all regional states know and fear, hoping they won't end up like Iraq - destroyed by imperial lawlessness, the fake August 19 "combat" troop pullout just PR cover for permanent occupation, or as one Iraqi official said: "This is about America's midterm elections," Washington's presence is here to stay, even Newsweek calling it a "nonevent," saying:

"The departure of the last 'combat troops' from Iraq (more a strategic retreat than victory lap) is hardly the end of American combat there. (What about the other) 50,000....staying behind? They didn't exactly send their (formidable weapons arsenal) out with that Stryker brigade. And they're not going to transform themselves into the Peace Corp overnight," or, in fact, ever.

The region's strategic importance assures permanent war, America's presence, and continued danger for everyone there - cursed, not benefitting from oil.

A Final Comment

Besides bordering on Israel, Lebanon's resources make it vulnerable, namely its water and natural gas reserves, one reason for the 2006 war, South Lebanon to the Litani River especially important. Also the Wazzini springs feeding into the Hasbani River tributary of the Jordan River. It flows into Israel two miles downstream from the Wazzini, then into the Sea of Galilee that's Israel's largest fresh water source.

Israel covets the 20-mile stretch from its border to the Litani to use Lebanese water for its own needs, a considerable supply if controlled, besides what's gotten from Golan, seized from Syria in 1967 and still held.

The Tamar and Leviathan offshore natural gas fields are also key, located off Israel's north coast and Southern Lebanon. Tamar contains an estimated 8.5 trillion cubic feet supply, Leviathan another 16 trillion, and on August 29, Israel National News.com said it may hold four billion or more barrels of oil, making it a richer than ever prize.

The London-based Lebanese newspaper As-Safir said if Israel attempts to siphon gas from Lebanese waters, conflict could result. The paper's Israel affairs analyst, Hilmi Mousa, said Leviathan "lies mostly off Lebanese shores and in international waters between the sea border of Palestine (and Cyprus waters). However, Israel received a guarantee from Britain, which has no rights in Palestine, to search for oil in the area near the Lebanese shores. The map of deposits, as published in the Israeli economic papers, shows the scope of the deviation into Lebanon's international waters," ones Lebanon surely will protect.

Yet Mousa headlined, "Israel preparing to steal gas fields in Lebanon's waters," saying doing so "will quickly turn into a new conflict (in which) Lebanon....will defend its rights in the water." Other sites include Rut and Alon, also off Lebanese shores or in areas far from Israel. The situation bears watching given the possibility that Israel may attack Lebanon and Hezbollah, needing or inventing a pretext to do it, an old trick it may use again, Lebanon perhaps the next target.

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, August 29, 2010

Yale University's Pro-Israeli, Anti-Islamic Conference

Yale University's Pro-Israeli, Anti-Islamic Conference - by Stephen Lendman

On August 25, Yale University ended a three day global anti-Semitism "crisis" conference promoting the notion that Israeli criticism is "anti-Semitic," no matter how justified.

Boola boola, for shame, mighty Yale displaying the same type anti-Islamic hatred virulent throughout America, raging daily in headlines over the proposed New York City Islamic cultural center, falsely called a mosque, but does it matter?

What matters is racism, hate-mongering, and persecuting Muslims for political advantage - on display at Yale for a three day propaganda hate fest. Imagine what's taught in its classrooms.

The Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA)

Calling itself "dedicated to the scholarly research of the origins and manifestations associated with antisemitism globally, as well as other forms of prejudice, including racisms, as it relates to policy," YIISA presented its "Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity conference, at a time the supposed "crisis" is more rhetoric than reality.

Yet its mission statement states:

"Anti-Judaism (or) Antisemitism is one of the most complex and, at times, perplexing forms of hatred, (emerging) in numerous ideological(ly) based narratives and the constructed identities of belonging and otherness such as race and ethnicity, nationalisms, and anti-nationalisms." In modern globalized times, "it appears that Antisemitism has taken on new complex and changing forms that need to be decoded, mapped and critiqued."

What's needed is debunking the relationship between legitimate Israeli criticism and anti-Semitism and notion of a serious anti-Jewish crisis when none, in fact, exists.

Last October 29, Reuters reported that:

"Anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States are at a historic low, with 12 percent of Americans prejudiced toward Jews, an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey found," based on September 26 - October 4 polling with a plus or minus 2.8% margin of error.

ADL said its level matched 1998's as the lowest in the poll's 45-year history. Yet in his 2003 book, "Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism," national director, Abraham Foxman, said he's:

"convinced we currently face as great a threat to the safety of the Jewish people as the one we faced in the 1930s - if not a greater one," contradicted by Cato Institute research fellow Leon Hadar (in the January 2004 Chronicles), saying that public opinion polls "indicate (racial and religious forms of) anti-Semitism (have) been in steep decline in most of Western Europe." The same holds for America, putting a lie to Yale's "crisis" and need for a conference to hawk it.

Badly needed are efforts to expose and denounce anti-Islamic rhetoric, actions and persecutions of people for their religion and/or ethnicity, but don't expect Yale to hold it or discuss it in classrooms.

YIISA stacked its conference with pro-Israeli zealots, omitting voices for sanity and the right of Palestinians to live free of occupation in their own land or in one state affording everyone equal rights, an apparent blasphemous notion at Yale and many other US and Canadian campuses, firing even distinguished tenured professors for supporting the wrong religion or people too vigorously.

Opening conference remarks were made by YIISA Director, Dr. Charles Small, Yale's Deputy Provost, Frances Rosenbluth, Rabbi James Ponet, director of Yale's Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, and Aviva Raz Schechter, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director for Combatting Antisemitism.

They all, of course, presented one-sided, pro-Israeli views, underscoring the notion that Israeli criticism is anti-Semetic, when, in fact, it's principled, honest and more needed now than ever to expose and halt an Israeli/Washington partnership to conquer, divide and control the Middle East by force, stealth, deceit, intimidation, occupation, and political chicanery, common tools used by rogues and imperial marauders.

Hebrew University Professor Menahem Milson was the first of several keynote speakers. He's also Chairman of the extremist Middle East Research Institute (MEMRI), whose board and advisors include a rogue's gallery of pro-Israeli right-wing zealots, including:

-- Oliver "Buck" Revell, former FBI Executive Assistant Director in charge of criminal investigative, counterterrorism and counterintelligence;

-- Elliot Abrams, former Reagan and Bush administration official and convicted Iran-Contra felon, later pardoned by GHW Bush; and

-- Steve Emerson, a notorious anti-Islamic bigot, well-known for using unscrupulous tactics to accuse innocent Muslims of terrorism and instill "Islamofascist" fear over the public airwaves.

Its board of advisors includes:

-- Ehud Barak, former Israeli Prime Minister and current Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister;

-- Bernard Lewis, Princeton Professor Emeritus of near eastern studies, known for his anti-Islamic views;

-- James Woolsey, neocon former CIA director;

-- John Bolton, former neocon war hawk Bush administration UN ambassador, recess-appointed because Congress was too embarrassed to do it;

-- Rabid Zionist Elie Wiesel, a man Professor Norman Finkelstein calls "vain, arrogant, gullible, naive about international affairs, (and defender of) the worst excesses of previous Israeli governments;"

-- John Ashcroft, former Bush administration Attorney General, the man who indicted Lynne Stewart, famed human rights lawyer now imprisoned on bogus charges for doing her job honorably, what Ashcroft never did;

-- Michael Mukasey, another Bush administration Attorney General, as bad as Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales; and

-- many other disreputable members, known for their pro-Israeli bias, including Richard Holbrooke, a proponent of imperial wars, who stepped down temporarily to become Obama administration Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Other YIISA presenters included (among others):

-- Itamar Marcus, a West Bank settler movement leader, connected to the New York-based Central Fund of Israel, raising money for it in America out of a Sixth Avenue/36th Street fabric store near Times Square;

-- Canadian politician Irwin Cotler, who attacked the Goldstone Commission report viciously and unfairly;

-- Harvard Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature Rush Wisse, a pro-Israeli zealot this writer once had the displeasure of debating briefly by email;

-- Barak Seener, Greater Middle East Section Director for the UK-based Henry Jackson Society, who believes Israeli Arabs are a fifth column threat to the state;

-- Anne Bayesfsky, right-wing pro-Israeli supporter, senior fellow at the neocon Hudson Institute, associated with UN Watch devoted to attacking anti-Israeli criticism, and member of the Israel-based Ariel Center for Policy Research, a Likud Party-affiliated group supporting hardline writers in the Middle East, North America and Europe;

-- Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, whose leaders and advisors include Newt Gingrich, former FBI Director Louis Freeh, James Woolsey, the senator from AIPAC, Joe Lieberman, neocon writer Charles Krauthammer, former Reagan assistant Defense Secretary Richard Perle, and Jeane Kirkpatrick, Reagan's UN ambassador, among others;

-- Anne Herzberg, NGO Monitor's legal advisor, a notorious pro-Israeli group; and

-- Samuel Edelman, board of director member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, another Israeli advocacy organization.

Noticeably absent were notable figures from the Palestinian community as well as US truth and justice scholars and analysts who base their views on facts YIISA wants suppressed. There was no James Petras, Ilan Pappe, Jeff Halper, Joel Kovel, Norman Finkelstein, Rashid Khalidi, Phyllis Bennis, Uri Avnery, Neve Gordon, Nurit Peled-Elhannan, Ramzy Baroud, or any of the thousands of equal justice advocates listed on a so-called "Shit List," including this writer given three unsympathetic paragraphs.

Instead, numerous speakers discussed provocative topics, including:

-- Radical Islam and Genocidal anti-Semitism;

-- Christianity and anti-Semitism;

-- The Islamization of Anti-Semitism;

-- The Internet and the Proliferation of Anti-Semitism;

-- Law, Modernity, and Anti-Semitism;

-- the Central Role of Palestinian Anti-Semitism in Creating the Palestinian Identity;

-- Islamism and the Construction of Jewish Identity;

-- Global Anti-Semitism and the Crisis of Modernity;

--Genocidal Anti-Semitism: Ahmadinejad's Regime as a Case Study;

-- Contemporary Anti-Semitism and the Delegitimization of Israel;

-- Discourse of Contemporary Anti-Semitism;

-- Confronting and Combating Contemporary Anti-Semitism in the Academy;

-- Anti-Semitism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust;

-- Lawfare, Human Rights Organizations and the Demonization of Israel;

-- The Islamist Islamization of Anti-Semitism;

-- the Iranian Threat;

-- Social Theory and Contemporary Anti-Semitism

-- Discourses of Anti-Semitism in Relation to the Middle East;

-- the Media and the Dissemination of Hatred;

-- Global Anti-Semitism;

-- An Uncertain Sisterhood: Women and Anti-Semitism;

-- Hannah Arendt and Anti-Semitism: A Critical Appraisal;

-- Approaches to Anti-Semitism;

-- Models for Combating Anti-Semitism: The Case of the United Kingdom;

-- Understanding the Impact of German Anti-Semitism and Nazism;

-- 400 Years of Anti-Semitism: From the Holy Office to the Nuremberg Laws;

-- Embracing the Nation: Anti-Semitism and Modernity

-- Anti-Semitism and the United States;

-- Variations of European Anti-Semitism;

-- Anti-Semitic Propaganda in Europe;

-- Self-Hatred and Contemporary Anti-Semitism;

-- Discussions in the Study of Anti-Semitism; and

-- YIISA Director Small's concluding remarks.

Final Comments

On August 25, Mondoweiss co-founder Philip Weiss discussed the conference, quoting Charlotte Kates (writer, organizer, and National Lawyers Guild Middle East Subcommittee Co-Chair) saying:

the people invited "who attack Palestinian scholars' academic freedom find conferences such as this to be perfectly acceptable and legitimate."

Weiss added that it's not "possible to understand this conference without understanding the prominence of Zionist donors in prestige institutional life." He also quoted journalist/author Ben White, specializing in Israeli/Palestine issues, saying:

"What is the role of Yale/academia in this kind of exercise?" It's particularly galling and hypocritical that "fighting anti-Semitism - an anti-racist struggle - is being openly appropriated by far-right Zionist groupings, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, lobbyists like the NGO Monitor, and Orientalist 'Arab/anti-terror experts."

It's especially disturbing that Yale lent its name to a three day hate fest, supporting:

-- wrong over right;

-- state terrorism over human rights and equal justice;

-- colonizers over the colonized;

-- what Edward Said called "the familiar (America, the West, us over) the strange (the Orient, East, them);" and

-- Jewish "exceptionalism" over a "lesser malevolent" Islam.

Shamefully, presentations excluded discussions about:

Islam's common roots with Judaism and Christianity, its tenets based on:

-- love, not hate;

-- peace, not violence;

-- good over evil;

-- charity, not exploitation; and

-- a just and fair society for people of all faiths.

Also not addressed was the right of Palestinians to live freely like Jews. Yale apparently disagrees, why students against hate and bigotry should enroll elsewhere to be taught truths excluded from Yale's curriculum.

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, August 28, 2010

Ramsey Muniz: Guilty of Being Latino and Activist in America

Ramsey Muniz - Guilty of Being Latino and Activist in America - by Stephen Lendman

An earlier article explained America's longstanding political repression agenda, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/political-prisoners-in-america.html

Ramiro (Ramsey) Muniz is one of the victims, imprisoned for life without parole on a bogus drug charge. Now age 67, he's been incarcerated nearly 17 years, earlier at Leavenworth, KS federal prison, the country's largest maximum security one, more recently at the US Medical Center, Springfield, MO recovering from life threatening complications from surgery.

In September 2009, he was transferred to the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution, Beaumont, TX.

Friends and supporters can write him there as follows:

Ramiro "Ramsey" Muniz
Prison No. 40288-115
FCI Medium Beaumont
PO Box 26040
Beaumont, TX 77720

For years, he suffered painfully from an untreated herniated disc, knee injuries, and a deteriorated hip, only now beginning to regain his strength, yet burdened by years of injustice.

A League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) described him as follows:

A Corpus Christi, TX native, he "contributed greatly to the Chicano Civil Rights Movement during the 1970s as a leader for justice and equality for all Mexican Americans, Hispanics, and Latinos throughout the United States."

In 1972 and 1974 (at ages 30 and 32), he was Texas gubernatorial candidate for the La Raza Unida Party (RUP), established to help Mexican Americans achieve greater economic, social, and political self-determination, especially in South Texas, where, though a majority in many counties and locales, they held little or no power.

Muniz Background

A graduate of Baylor University and its School of Law, he was a legal assistant, practicing attorney in Waco and San Antonio, TX, and activista for Latino rights since junior high and high school as a student council leader. Professionally, he championed their inclusion as teachers and politicians, including on school boards, city councils, state and federal positions. He also helped elect the first ever Mexican American Waco and Robstown, TX mayors.

His impact was profound, noted Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin (who represented Muniz) saying he:

"changed the face of politics in Texas. He gave power of inclusion to Hispanic Americans. He particularly changed the face of political offices in South Texas. There has been a lot of resentment from the Establishment because of that. A lot of people would like to see him fall because of who he is and what he did."

They got their wish. In 1976, he was framed, convicted, and imprisoned on drug conspiracy charges, the idea being to discredit him and RUP. Later, he was repeatedly stalked and spuriously charged again with crimes he didn't commit. His present troubles began innocently.

The Entrapment Sting

On a business trip, he was arrested on March 11, 1994 in Lewisville, TX, events unfolding as follows:

On March 10, DEA Agent Kimberly Elliott tracked Muniz to the Lewisville Ramada Inn, checked his telephone toll calls, and recorded his license plate number in the parking lot. The following day, he was entrapped after agreeing to return a prospective client's car (in fact, a government agent) to a rental company. It was a sting, 39 kilograms of cocaine planted in the trunk, uncovered by drug-sniffing dogs when he was confronted.

Prosecutors prevailed by withholding key information from the defense, intimidating jurors to convict, and getting right wing justice to go along. As a result, during proceedings, the court ruled that Agents had probable cause to stop and search regarding a suspected drug deal, though no plausible reason connected Muniz to an $800,000 one with a perfect stranger.

At trial, obvious unanswered questions were: How often do drug dealers operate this way? No money was found. Where was it? No fingerprints either. Why not? Who supplied the cocaine, and for whom? Clearly not Muniz, set up and entrapped for prosecution and imprisonment - to silence a powerful voice for Latino justice.

During proceedings, prosecutors claimed he checked into his motel under a false name to hide his identity. In fact, Ramada records proved otherwise. He was also accused of making suspicious phone calls from the lobby. In fact, all phone records confirmed they were for legitimate business. Another false claim was that motel employees alerted DEA agents about him. When interviewed, they denied it. The entire case was fabricated to convict, prosecutors doing it by lying, their usual strategy against political activists opposed to systemic injustice.

The trap was set. Muniz was bait. Events played out as planned, and, though innocent, he's now imprisoned for life without parole, one of many political prisoners in America - a shocking indictment of criminal injustice, absolving the powerful, targeting human rights, civil liberties, and equal justice defenders, Muniz one of the best.

Information about him can be accessed through the following link:

http://www.freeramsey.com/

His moving home page comment states:

"Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of false chains and shackles, the imprisonment of innocence? I know not what others will do, but as for me I will forever continue the struggle for my freedom until I die."

After imprisonment, appeals to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court were denied, Muniz explaining that government prosecutors can use their "power of indictment" to invent non-existent conspiracies, then convict and incarcerate.

"I knew what the government was trying to do. The time had come to put pressure on who they believed would never compromise or change. Guess what? They were right about never compromising my principles, but the truth of what actions they took to convict me and incarcerate me will all come with time."

Often "I was in solitary confinement and knew that the government was out not only to confine me physically, but to break my will and power. Of course, as we all know, I have become stronger in my principles and convictions, and know truthfully what I advocated will" one day happen.

How? "Even now as I find myself confined in the darkness of this oppressive political system, I firmly believe with my life and heart that we, as a people, as a race, as a nation within a nation, will never be totally liberated, until we formulate and establish our 'own' political power in America."

It's why he never voted Republican or Democrat, twice ran for governor, and voted for the first time for himself. He calls his current status "in exile," saying "I will never give up (proclaiming my innocence and) claiming that my trial was not conducted fairly." Nor believing that one day he'll be vindicated and free.

A Final Comment

On August 16, Muniz's wife Irma, Chairperson, National Committee to Free Ramsey Muniz, in a letter to Barack Obama said:

"I write to express the continued support shared by many for a Commutation of Sentence for Ramiro "Ramsey" Muniz. His case is important as he is remembered for bringing about political, educational, and economic advancements for Mexican Americans, Hispanics, and others during the Civil Rights Movement."

Incarcerated for nearly 17 years, "he has suffered greatly. (He's) been a model inmate....We ask that you consider his conduct in your decision to grant him Executive Clemency. National Hispanic organizations, federal and state representatives, and many others ask that you grant (him) an immediate Commutation of Sentence."

In a June 4 press release, the National Committee referred to "blatant injustice," highlighting the "intentionally withheld" evidence at trial, the unjust sentence and incarceration in "the hardest maximum security penitentiaries" to inflict pain and break his spirit.

Civil rights activist Jaime Martinez avowed that "There is no question in my heart and in the hearts of the people, who continue to fight against injustice in the spirit of non-violence practiced by Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar E. Chavez, that we will win his freedom."

More information can be gotten from the National Committee to Free Ramsey Muniz at 409-363-1878.

Note: Irma Muniz will be the featured guest on the Progressive Radio News Hour Sunday, August 29 at noon US Central time.

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, August 27, 2010

America Facing Depression and Bankruptcy

America Facing Depression and Bankruptcy - by Stephen Lendman

Long-time economic, political and market analyst Bob Chapman publishes the International Forecaster, offering incisive analysis absent through mainstream sources, especially important now given America's deepening economic crisis getting harder to conceal as evidence mounts.

His August 25 issue says the following:

"Twenty countries (including America) are headed into bankruptcy and more will follow. That brings up the subject of state debt in the US. America has been in an inflationary depression for 18 months. States have been cutting back for two years," but still face huge budget gaps required to be closed....2011 will be a terrible year (with) 80% of states expect(ing) deficits of more than $200 billion. 2012 looks even worse." Most worrisome, "there is no recovery and there never has been....the US economy and financial system is comatose." The worst is yet to come and will hit hard on arrival.

On August 24, economist David Rosenberg said, "Now (I'll) tell you why this is a depression, and not just some garden-variety recession," what he's been repeating for months unlike few others, corporate analysts claiming the fall 2007 downturn "ended sometime last year." Not so, it's deepened, growing evidence providing more clarity.

Offering a historical perspective, Rosenberg said the Great Depression wasn't marked by declining GDP each quarter. The 1929 - 33 recession lasted four years, followed by recovery and another "deep downturn" in 1937 - 38.

During the first one, "there were no fewer than six - six! - quarterly bounces in GDP data," averaging 8% at an annual rate, accompanied by sharp market increases, then declines confirming false positives. So "guess what? We may be reliving history (now). If you're keeping score, we have recorded four quarterly advances in real GDP," averaging only 3%. The late 1930s reversal showed "how fragile the post-bubble recovery really was," a faux one again repeated in a weaker economy now than then, one headed for serious trouble ahead, harming millions more Americans as a result.

The Fed cut interest rates to near zero with no effect, at best buying time, resolving nothing. "Then the Fed tripled the size of its balance sheet - again with little sustained impetus to a broken financial system."

Weeks back, then confirmed with new data, Rosenberg stressed weakness, numerous indicators turning down, including production, retail sales, consumer confidence, and housing, a bellwether industry impacting the entire economy. New reports show it's collapsing, some readings to record lows, others disturbingly weak throughout the country.

July existing home sales dropped 25.5%, the largest monthly decline since records began in 1968, bringing annualized sales back to 1995 levels, and signaling worse trouble ahead. Other housing data confirm the malaise, including new home sales, housing starts and permits.

As worrisome were increasing layoffs and first-time unemployment claims hitting 500,000, flashing red for trouble nearly three years after the initial downturn, combined with a near-22% unemployment rate, not the bogus 9.5% headline number, the 1980 calculation reengineered to conceal weakness like all other fake economic data, putting lipstick on an economy, increasingly looking and smelling more like a pig, a sick one.

According to Rosenberg, "You know you are in a depression when:

-- "Congress (extends) jobless benefits seven times (in the past two years) when almost half (of those) unemployed have been looking for at least a half year;"

-- the adult male unemployment rate (25 - 54 years) "hit a post-WW II (high and still tops) the 1982 peak," the worst then since the Great Depression;

-- "youth unemployment is stuck near 25%," and for inner-city black youths it's 80% or higher; "these developments will have profound long-term consequences - social, economic and political;"

-- the depression's fiscal costs keep mounting, the federal deficit soaring with no end to it in sight;

-- for over a year into a supposed recovery, the Fed still contemplates new ways to stimulate growth, its tool, of course, printing money (funny money, or as one analyst calls it, "toilet paper") and quantitative easing, compounding the deficit, or the equivalent of throwing fuel on a fire instead of monetary and fiscal sanity plus sound economy policies to extinguish it;

-- after two years of record trillion dollar plus deficits to kick-start the economy, interest rates are shockingly low, flashing weakness, not strength; to wit, on August 24, the 5-year note was 1.36%, 7-year at $1.95%, 10-year at 2.50%, and 30 year at 3.57%; as well as 30-year fixed mortgage rates at record lows below 4.5% (4.42% on August 24), despite "no fewer than eight (government) programs to put a floor under the housing market;" we're in big trouble "when (Washington) can expend so many resources (on) one sector" in vain;

-- the FDIC keeps shuttering more banks; again, the carnage keeps spreading, yet most economists cling tenaciously an economic recovery theme, at most hit by a soft patch; Rosenberg's response - "Some recovery (when) the private credit market is basically defunct....what replaced it was rampant government intervention (buying time) by trying to (put) a floor under the economy;" once it stops, and it will, they'll be no hiding the dire truth, and no end of pain for growing millions.

The Worst Is Yet to Come

Financial expert and investor safety advocate Martin Weiss began warning about a major economic decline long before it began and keeps at it, citing evidence most analysts downplay or ignore, including:

-- America's worst ever housing depression showing no signs of abating; since January 2006, housing starts alone have plunged from 2.3 million annually to a recent 477,000 low that may not yet reflect a bottom because demand is so weak for this bellwether industry;

-- record long-term unemployment, its worst since first officially tabulated over 60 years ago; and

-- "the most chronic credit squeeze ever recorded....suffer(ing) its deepest plunge since WW II."

As a result, he sees deepening economic trouble ahead, no matter what steps the administration, Congress or the Fed undertake. He expects little more stimulus, just another futile central bank attempt to print money (lots of it) to buy time. "These paper dollars will not create real prosperity," just an illusory, "temporary, false prosperity," but none at all for most people, hung out to dry on their own.

He also expects a sovereign debt crisis to hammer Europe and the US, saying America's plight exceeds the dire situation of PIIGS countries (Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain), citing the Bank of International Settlements (the central bank of central bankers) saying US debt will hit 400% of GDP, more than triple Greece's burden at 129% that plunged the country into (undeclared) bankruptcy. Indeed the worst for America is yet to come.

America Is Already Bankrupt

Boston University Economics Professor Laurence Kotlikoff explains it in his August 10 article, titled "US Is Bankrupt and We Don't Even Know It," saying:

"Let's get real. The US is bankrupt. Neither spending more nor taxing less will help the country pay its bills." What's needed, he says, is reengineering the economy by "radically simplify(ing) its tax, healthcare, retirement and financial systems...." Revitalization depends on it with unfunded liabilities topping $110 trillion and growing. Even the IMF is worried, saying "closing (America's) fiscal gap requires a permanent annual fiscal adjustment equal to about 14 percent of US GDP," meaning, of course, from working households, not corporate interests or national security, the most glaring areas needing reform.

The fiscal gap represents "the difference between projected spending (including debt service) and projected revenue in all future years. (It's) the government's credit-card bill and each year's 14 percent GDP is the interest on that bill."

When it's not paid, it increases the balance owed. And each trillion the Fed prints bailing out bankers compounds it. Make them pay, not the public they robbed, starting with shutting them down, breaking them up, seizing their assets, and nationalizing them for the collective good.

Kotlikoff is scary saying "Uncle Sam's Ponzi scheme will stop, (perhaps) in a very nasty manner," citing three possibilities:

(1) massive benefit cuts on retirees;

(2) huge tax increases hitting working Americans hardest, and/or

(3) printing vast amounts of money ad infinitum until debt overload crashes the economy eventually.

Calling America "Worse than Greece," he believes "Most likely we will see a combination of all three responses with dramatic increases in poverty, tax(es), interest rates and consumer prices," the path we're on heading us for the worst of all possible worlds.

Based on the latest Congressional Budget Office (CBO) data, he calculates a $202 trillion fiscal gap - "more than 15 times the official debt" because Congress "label(s) most of its liabilities 'unofficial' to keep them off the books, (out of sight) and far in the future" to concern other officials, not them. Labeling, of course, isn't fixing. It's just concealing unpleasant realities, letting others, not them, face the music in out years.

Current federal revenue totals $14.9% of GDP, the IMF saying that closing it requires "an immediate and permanent doubling of our personal-income, corporate and federal taxes as well as the payroll levy set down in the Federal Insurance Contribution Act."

Such policy would produce a 5% surplus this year, the IMF prescribing ad infinitum fiscal austerity, saying delay will make it tougher ahead. "Is the IMF bonkers?" Not at all, just preferential, wanting workers, not special interests hit hardest, the way it's raped and mauled economies for years, serving capital, not people, now aiming at America, the biggest plum of all ripe for plucking with millions of vulnerable households, easy pickings for the powerful, harming, not relieving their needs by:

-- cutting wages and benefits;

-- destroying, not creating jobs; privatizing everything for private gain; and

-- turning America into Guatemala, a corporatist's dream.

Indeed let's get real. Bad policy begets bad results, and bad solutions makes it worse. For sure, America is "broke and can no longer afford no-pain, all-gain 'solutions.' "

It needs responsible ones, too many to list, but here's a few:

-- end imperial wars and a bloated defense budget;

-- reinvent government to make it responsive to public needs and democratic values;

-- make offenders pay most, starting with Wall Street, defense contractors, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Agribusiness, and other corporate predators profiting at public expense for decades;

-- make now the time for payback, assuring their victims fair and equitable reimbursements;

-- reinvigorate industrial America;

-- end Wall Street's financial chokehold;

-- return money creation power to Congress as the Constitution mandates;

-- encourage publicly-owned state banks like North Dakota's, making it prosperous when most states are debt-strapped and faltering;

-- create full-time, good-paying jobs with benefits; don't destroy them;

-- bring back those offshored;

-- protect homeowners from foreclosure;

-- re-institute progressive taxes, including a Tobin tax (perhaps 1%) on all speculative financial transactions, a millionaire's/Wall Street bank levy generating a huge windfall, enough to smack if not close the budget gap, making those most able pay; for example, the Bank for International Settlements estimated annual 2008 global over-the-counter derivatives trading at $743 trillion; a 1% tax would yield $7.43 trillion, and if taxes curbed speculation, the take would still be enormous;

-- dismantle corporate predators;

-- think small and local, not big and global;

-- reinstitute financial, environmental, and other consumer-friendly regulations;

-- get money out of politics;

-- end the two-party monopoly;

-- institutionalize a free, open, fair media and Internet;

-- assure equitable social benefits for all, including universal, single-payer health care, government-supported public and higher education, and more; and

-- reinvigorate an eroding democracy before it's too late to matter.

Responsible policies, all of the above and more, will reinvigorate America. The unsustainable fiscal crisis is reason enough to do 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/.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Israeli Lobby: Declassified Documents Expose Its Influence

The Israeli Lobby: Declassified Documents Expose Its Influence - by Stephen Lendman

James Petras' powerful 2006 book titled, "The Power of Israel in the United States" explained the enormous Jewish Lobby influence on US Middle East policies. Often harming American interests, they're pursued anyway because of its grassroots and high-level control over government, the business community, academia, the clergy and mass media since at least the 1960s.

Intolerant of opposing views, they're suppressed for its own agenda, funded by PR propaganda domestically and overseas, America's top publications paid off to go along, now revealed by a secret document subpoenaed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (FRC) investigation into the American Zionist Council (AZC), AIPAC's parent lobbying arm.

"Between 1962 - 1963, the FRC subpoenaed" AZC's internal documents, examining their activities as "registered agents of foreign principals," learning that over $5 million in tax exempt (and perhaps overseas funds) "had been laundered through the Jewish Agency's American Section into the (AZC)."

The Agency is a quasi-Israeli government branch, funded to review legislation ahead of its submission to the Knesset under its Covenant Agreement - in violation of IRS regulations regarding tax exempt charitable funds and the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act.

No matter. Israel got a pass to act illegally for nearly 50 years, doing it today more aggregiously than ever. In 1962, after being ordered to register as a foreign agent, AZC transferred its responsibilities to AIPAC, "which refuses to register as (an Israeli) foreign agent" and gets away with it.

In November/December 1960, news and editorial content covered Israel's new nuclear reactor (for peace, not bombs they said), Arab refugees when the General Assembly was discussing them, the Eichmann case, Israel's aid to African states, and seating the UAR in the Security Council, reports presenting one-sided, pro-Israeli propaganda.

"It can be said that the press of the nation, during 1960, has by and large shown sympathy and understanding of Israel's position." Arab views have been largely "counteracted."

"The US contingent of 60 Mayors returned from Israel where they attended (an earlier) Conference....While (there), a number of them were interviewed by (US reporters) who sent (pro-Israeli) stories back to their hometown papers; they were also recorded in interviews for local radio stations."

Other plans were made to have those attending meet with Jewish and Christian audiences to disseminate friendly Israeli commentaries. In addition, opinion makers are invited to Israel at government expense, paid off to report friendly stories. An Israeli student got a scholarship "to transfer to the Monterey Peninsula College where propaganda carried on by three Arab professors has been most hurtful."

Other schools were infiltrated the same way. Further, "We continue to cultivate (pay off) faculty people in many areas and are making progress here....our friends in San Francisco (are trying) to persuade Stanford to drop Fayez Sayeh from the faculty on the grounds that he is a paid propagandist rather than an objective academician." Efforts at other US schools were similar - pressure to fire Arab professors, replacing them with pro-Israeli ones.

"Prof. Arnold Toynbee was invited to spend about five months in this country....When (his) accusations first broke in the press, we (enlisted) major non-Zionist groups and evolved a common policy (to):

(1) Discourage all Jewish (organizations) from issuing invitations to Toynbee;

(2) Monitor all (his) public appearances and refrain from bringing up the subject of Israel or the Jews unless Toynbee raises the subject in his presentation."

Overall, measures were taken to counteract his unfriendly Israeli positions, the same policy used against all critical public figures, strike back to discredit them.

Calling the American Council for Judaism (ACJ) "the most effective anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli force on the American scene," efforts were made to give them "much more attention....than in the past."

Bribing major US publications and their writers helped do it, including at the Reader's Digest, Atlantic Monthly, Look, Holiday, Parade, Saturday Review, the New York Times Magazine, and various women's and business ones. Today, the entire US major media serve as Israel's PR arm, its mouthpiece, the fruition of efforts begun 50 years ago.

Earlier, and of course now, TV shows were also arranged, and "We continue to counteract Arab speakers wherever they appear, by placing our own speakers on the same platforms...." In addition, "Mailings have gone out to public opinion molders dealing with current issues...."

In November 1961, the Atlantic Monthly was paid off to run a pro-Israeli "64-page Supplement, (featuring) some of Israel's top names." Earlier in September, the Atlantic ran a "20-page article on "The Arabs of Palestine" which is "one of the best (we've seen done) on the subject." Jack Anderson also did a friendly piece for Parade Publications after returning from Israel.

In addition, AZC officials arranged speaking engagements for pro-Israeli figures throughout the country. Their mission - counteract "anti-Israeli propaganda....a careful check of newspapers, bulletins and confidential sources of our own (can) give us reliable information on the movements and itineraries of these propagandists." Community contacts were then alerted to furnish speakers to discredit them.

AZC's Research Bureau also analyzed books and articles on Israel. "When a book is favorable, it is recommended. When (it's not), it is analyzed and distortions are pointed up by providing the factual data required, so that our local Councils will be prepared to react....Further, we (arrange) book presentations (in) community and university libraries...."

Written for the AZC, Marc Siegel's play, "A Message from Dimona" was described by The New York Times as a "story of a new city in the Israeli desert," suppressing the reactor's bomb-making purpose, Israel's open secret, well known, but not discussed.

"The nuclear reactor story inspired (other) editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists. Most of (them) accept(ed) the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs....Drew Pearson's syndicated column justified Israel's secrecy; (science writer) William Laurence in the New York Times stressed Israel's peaceful intent."

In 1945, the same William Laurence led a double life as both Times science writer and shill on the War Department's payroll. Writing press releases for the Manhattan Project, he mislead the public, sold the program, lied about Alamorgordo, NM tests and the Hiroshima/Nagasaki horrors. He also denied what historian/attorney Jonathan M. Weisgall later called the "silent nuclear terror of radioactivity and radiation" - that it condemns exposed people to a slow, painful death, but it benefitted Laurence.

He won a Pulitzer Prize for his lying, and got to fly on the plane that bombed Nagasaki, later describing the experience in The Times with religious awe. Today, the entire US major media cheerlead for Israel, even its most unjustifiable, unconscionable, criminal acts. Entirely suppressed is its history of international law violations, including:

-- a violence doctrine over peace;

-- crimes of war and against humanity;

-- excessive force and abuse;

-- collective punishment and economic strangulation;

-- expanding illegal settlements;

-- dispossessions and home demolitions;

-- mass arrests and political imprisonments;

-- targeted assassinations and torture;

-- land theft and crop destruction;

-- policies of closure, separation, isolation, checkpoints, ghettoization and curfews;

-- denial of the most fundamental human rights and civil liberties; and

-- an overall Kafkaesque "matrix of control" designed to crush Palestinians' will to resist.

In the old days, journalists were bought off to ignore them. They now do it willingly and reflexively, knowing the consequences otherwise, the Israeli Lobby's power to remove unfriendly voices - from Congress, academia and the media.

Demanded is that Israel be portrayed as peaceful, never aggressive, surrounded, beleaguered, and victimized, acting solely in self-defense. In contrast, Palestinians are called militant terrorist threats to Israeli security, its propaganda machine relentless in pounding that message, the Senate's investigation failing to expose and halt it.

As a result, it's more virulent and pervasive than ever, what no congressional committee will touch, what no major media report will reveal. Israel's power in America suppresses everything unfavorable, willing fourth estate stooges going along, or else.

It's why Project Censored warns about a "truth emergency," the urgency for media reform, and need for a cadre to do what all responsible journalists should - their job, what's sorely absent in America, especially in reports about Israel.

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, August 25, 2010

Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for August 26, 28 and 29

The Progressive Radio News Hour Guests for August 26, 28, and 29 2010

Thursday, August 26 at 10AM US Central time: Stjepan Mestrovic

Mestrovic is Professor of Sociology at Texas A&M University and author of "The Good Soldier on Trial: A Sociological Study of Misconduct by the US Military Pertaining to Operation Iron Triangle, Iraq."

Four low-ranking soldiers and lawyer Paul Bergrin were spuriously charged to absolve Colonel Michael Steele, the Pentagon high command, and responsible top US officials.

America's imperial war strategy will be discussed, Obama an out-of-control warlord like Bush.

Saturday, August 28, 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 newest book titled, "Epic Recession: Prelude to Global Depression."

His latest economic views will be discussed.

Sunday, August 29 at noon US Central time: Irma Muniz

Muniz is the wife of Ramiro "Ramsey" Muniz, an American political prisoner for nearly 17 years for his heroic activism for Latino rights and empowerment. It got him framed and incarcerated for life without parole, a shocking yet common miscarriage of justice.

Discussion will focus on his case and efforts to free him.

America's Gulf: Updating the Greatest Ever Environmental Crime

America's Gulf: Updating the Greatest Ever Environmental Crime - by Stephen Lendman

For months, US media reports distorted and lied about its severity, running cover for BP and the Obama administration, now practically avoiding the crisis altogether as it worsens. An August 20 Inter Press Service report is revealing, quoting Biloxi, MS fisherman Danny Ross saying hypoxia (depleted oxygen) is driving horseshoe crabs, stingrays, flounder, dolphins, and other sea life "out of the water" to escape. Another area fisherman, David Wallis said he's "seen crabs crawling out of the water in the middle of the day."

Other reports cite strange marine life behavior, sighted near the surface when they normally stay well submerged. Alabama fisherman Stan Fournier said in 40 years of work, he's never seen anything like it. "It looks like all the sea life is trying to get out of the water," unable to breathe in their normal habitat, what US media reports won't touch, instead hyping success, saying BP's well capped and most oil dissolved when, in fact, it won't degrade for decades, remaining a lethal cocktail combined with dispersants, killing wildlife and poisoning anyone eating it, assuring a coming epidemic of cancers and other diseases.

On August 19, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) senior scientist Bill Lehr, in testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, retracted his earlier claim about most oil dispersed and dissolved. He now says "I would say most of that is still in the environment," as much as 90%, only 6% burned and 4% skimmed, the rest contaminating a large part of the Gulf, spreading, and devastating wildlife.

In addition, on August 19, the journal Science published a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) study, confirming a giant oil plume floating about 1,200 meters below the surface - 35 km-long (22 miles), two km wide, and 200 meters thick. Persisting "for months without substantial biodegradation," it poses a serious threat to sea life, one of the article's writers, Dr. Chris Reddy, saying, "At this point, we know the plume exists, and we know more about its potential biological activity in the future" and harm it can cause.

It'll be years before the full extent of damage is known. However, it's already extensive and extremely dangerous, containing 50 micrograms per liter of "a group of particularly toxic petroleum compounds," 6 - 7% of it a deadly benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene cocktail - released from BP's Macondo well, the evidence clearly showing it according to research team head Richard Camilli.

He expects the plume to spread and biodegrade very slowly in cold waters. In addition, other independent researchers discovered other even larger plumes. University of Georgia Marine Sciences Professor Samantha (Mandy) B. Joye said the WHOI plume "doesn't hold a candle" to one her team found in May. Nonetheless, BP and Obama officials signaled an all-clear, denying their existence and the catastrophic disaster, out of sight and mind instead of dealing with it responsibly.

It's why on August 23, the Union of Concerned Scientists alerted members and supporters to "Help end America's dangerous addiction to oil," saying for decades it's warned about the US's "misguided energy and transportation policies (instead of) promoting innovative solutions to reduce our dependence on oil. (The Gulf disaster) is a painful reminder of the work" left to be done and urgency of doing it.

On August 20, Kieran Suckling, Center for Biological Diversity Executive Director headlined his press release, "Gulf of Mexico Still in Crisis Four Months After BP Explosion: Center for Biological Diversity Tour Finds Oiled Beaches, Water and Wildlife....Drilling Policy Reforms Still Too Weak, Too Late," saying:

The Center's team saw "firsthand how oil is still killing wildlife and fouling beaches and marshes. This crisis is far from over." Grand Isle, LA beaches were contaminated with oil, liquid surface pools and more mixed with sand in hardened mats along the water's edge.

"Some beaches appear fine from a distance but are actually sitting atop massive amounts of oil, which bubbled to the surface when the team walked across the sand. Digging into (it) with rubber gloves," oil was found six inches below the surface. Crabs and birds are covered with it as they cross beaches or marsh land. "Fish and sea turtles are forced to swim through oil on the surface and below," looking for food. "In short, (the Gulf) is still an oily mess despite rosy assertions" by BP and Obama officials, claiming most oil is gone. They know damn well it's there to stay, poisoning everything it touches.

The Center's survey supports independent scientists saying most remains, fouling beaches, waters, marshes and wildlife. Working for reform and serious remediation, Center officials filed seven lawsuits against BP and government regulators, including "the largest Clean Water Act suit in history," seeking $19 billion in fines from BP. More on their likely resolution below.

Firsthand Reports from the Gulf

Reporting from the area, investigative journalist Dahr Jamail calls Grand Isle, LA's condition "post-apocalytic," spotting "tar balls that bob lazily underwater, amidst sand ripples in the shallows....Oil-soaked marsh abounds....the island smell(ing) like a gas station. Noxious fumes infiltrate my nose, causing me to cough. Piles of oiled oysters rest on the tide line."

Tar balls are everywhere. "In some places, there are literally huge mats of fresh tar....The scene is apocalyptic....It is one of the more disgusting, vile scenes I've even seen....All we can do is take photos. The stench is overpowering. I gag. My eyes water from the burning chemicals....I feel dizzy." The entire Gulf Coast has been raped and destroyed. Official coverup is criminal.

Only time will assess the full damage on humans and wildlife. However, the toll already is devastating, the Obama administration complicit with BP, culpable for a crime they want suppressed, ignored and forgotten, what will affect the lives of millions perhaps forever.

According to Florida State University ocean scientist Ian MacDonald: "The (disaster's) imprint will be there in the Gulf of Mexico for the rest of my life. It is not gone," and won't ever "go away quickly," warning of a potential tipping point beyond which wildlife and the ecosystem won't recover, the crossed Rubicon after which return no longer is possible, a shocking assessment perhaps already true.

JAMA Reports Direct Threats to Human Health

In its August 16 edition, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) writers Drs. Gina M. Solomon and Sarah Janssen headlined, "Health Effects of the Gulf Oil Spill," saying "it (and dispersants pose) direct threats to human health from inhalation or dermal contact," besides harming seafood and mental health.

Solomon and Janssen explained that crude oil's main components are "aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons." Containing volatile organic compounds (including benezene, toluene and xylene), they "can cause respiratory irritation and central nervous system (CNS) depression."

Benzene also causes leukemia, and toluene "is a recognized teratogen (causing embryo malformation) at high doses." Naphthalene and other higher molecular weight chemicals are "reasonably anticipated to cause cancer in humans...."

Released hydrogen sulfide gas, nonvolatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and heavy metals from oil "can contaminate the food chain. Hydrogen sulfide gas is neurotoxic and has been linked to both acute and chronic CNS (central nervous system) effects. PAHs include mutagens and probable carcinogens. Burning oil generates particulate matter, which is associated with cardiac and respiratory symptoms and premature mortality."

Massive dispersants use greatly exacerbates the problem. They contain toxic detergents, surfactants and petroleum distillates, including known respiratory irritants like 2-butoxyethanol, propylene glycol, and sulfonic acid salts.

As a result, area residents and cleanup workers experienced headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coughs, respiratory distress, chest pain, and other symptoms - warning signs of potentially greater future health problems.

"Skin contact with oil and dispersants causes defatting, resulting in dermatitis and secondary skin infections. Some individuals may develop a dermal hypersensitivity reaction, erythema (injured or irritated skin), edema, burning sensations, or a follicular rash."

Potential long-term health risks are high, wildlife contamination making anyone eating Gulf seafood vulnerable. "Community residents should not fish" in oil-contaminated areas, nor should federal, state or local officials allow them.

Some Final Comments

On August 20, New York Times writer Ian Urbina headlined, "BP Settlements Likely to Shield Top Defendants," saying:

"People and businesses seeking a lump-sum settlement from BP's $20 billion oil spill compensation fund will most likely have to waive their right to sue not only BP, but also all the other major defendants involved with the spill, according to internal documents from the lawyers handling the fund."

In other words, the fix is in, Obama and BP officials conspiring to let responsible parties off the hook, settlement terms designed to deny victims just compensation and for many, perhaps most, none at all, given the strict guidelines of eligibility required.

Claims czar Kenneth Feinberg is a notorious "fixer," mandated to save BP, Transocean, Halliburton, and blowout preventer maker Cameron International potentially tens of billions in liabilities, strong-arming victims to waive their right to sue in return for amounts too meager to matter.

According to Urbina, the dilemma for those suing is deciding between "years of litigation (or) accept(ing) the (offered) settlement....before the full (extent of) damage" is known. Most important is that "those who cannot demonstrate damages caused by the direct impact of oil on beaches and fisheries will be ineligible for money."

For example, small businesses, not located directly on affected beaches, experiencing sharp revenue drops "will not be able to receive compensation...." in violation of the federal Oil Pollution Act that excludes geographical limitations. The same holds for area residents living away from the shoreline.

Property owners who've seen sharp valuations drops, will also be cheated. So will cleanup workers and area residents later contracting diseases, mental illness, lost income, or other harmful effects.

As point man, Feinberg will deny, obstruct, and let criminal defendants off the hook, then (on BP's payroll) be handsomely paid for his services, the same ones he performed earlier for Wall Street banks, Agent Orange producers, asbestos manufacturers, and Dalkon Shield maker AH Robins as well as against 9/11 victims.

Only corporate interests matter, not people whose lives they destroy, Obama officials doing nothing to help them - instead being complicit partners in the greatest ever environmental crime, whitewashing it by giving the all-clear, declaring "mission accomplished," and protecting corporate criminals at all costs.

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/.