Friday, September 30, 2011

Rage Against Wall Street Crooks

Rage Against Wall Street Crooks - by Stephen Lendman


Angry New Yorkers organized an initiative called "Occupy Wall Street." Beginning September 17, they called for "tak(ing) the bull by the horns," referring to the familiar New York financial district symbol.


Its web site statement said:


"The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%."


Saying "I am sick and tired of being sick and tired," civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer's epitaph said it her way.


Today, we're all sick and tired of corrupted officials letting Wall Street crooks steal public wealth at the expense of millions ripped off to enrich them lavishly.


Occupy Wall Street activists are angry about "profit over and above all else." Because of political Washington collusion, it dominates public policy in America.


Comparing their initiative to Arab Spring uprisings, they said:


"On the 17th of September, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up beds, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months."


"Like our brothers and sisters in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and Iceland, we plan to use the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic of mass occupation to restore democracy in America. We also encourage the use of nonviolence to achieve our ends and maximize the safety of all participants."


One of many protester signs read:


"The corrupt fear us. The honest support us. The heroic join us."


Adbusters organized the protests. On September 16, ahead of its September 17 inaugural, it published an "Orientation Guide," saying:


"Saturday's occupation begins at noon in Bowling Green Park....See you at the bull....The first people's assembly will start at 3pm at One Chase Manhattan Plaza and continue until our one demand is agreed by all."


Suggested ideas include:


-- revoking corporate personhood;


-- reinstating Glass-Steagall, decoupling commercial from investment banks and insurers, among other provisions to curb speculation;


-- imposing a Tobin tax on large financial transactions;


-- making corporations and rich Americans pay their fair share;


-- demanding Obama establish an "American Democracy Reform Commission" to end "monied corruption in Washington;" in other words, get money out of politics;


-- creating a similar commission for banking to assure for starters too-big-to-fail banks don't exist;


-- perhaps an "END THE MONIED CORRUPTION OF AMERICA MANIFESTO;" or


-- all of the above and more to create a level playing field.


Most important is returning money power to Congress as the Constitution's Article 1, Section 8 demands, saying:


"The Congress shall have Power....(t)o coin Money, (and) regulate the Value thereof...."


It didn't say bankers have a divine right to control the most important of all powers. More on that below.


"Agree to be bold (and) decisive against the financial corruption of America," say Occupy Wall Street organizers.


Kick it off there, then spread it nationally. Tough tasks take time, impossible ones a little longer. Anything is possible with enough sustained commitment. Survival depends on generating it.


On September 17, "our Tahrir moment beg(an)....strength, courage, nonviolence!"


Web sites, social networks, and one-on-one contacts spread the word to fight corrupt politics, corporate power, and Wall Street crooks.


Adbusters editor-in-chief Kalle Lasn said:


"We need to shake up the corporate-driven capitalist system were in. To do that, we need something radical."


Media Reaction


Major media scoundrels first said nothing, then dismissively gave it short shrift. As America's lead wealth and power voice, The New York Times barely noticed. Then it did offensively in Ginia Bellafante's September 23 article headlined, "Gunning for Wall Street, With Faulty Aim," saying:


Occupy Wall Street is "a noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people...."


"(A) default ambassador (is) a half-naked woman who called herself Zuni Tikka....Ms. Tikka had taken off all but her cotton underwear and was dancing on the north side of Zuccotti Park, facing Liberty Street, just west of Broadway."


Bellafante arrogantly called real grievances "street theater." She mocked social injustice, calling protesters "a diffuse and leaderless convocation of activists...."


She scorned their "lack of cohesion and....apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably...."


She downplayed crowd size, grit, anger and nonviolence. She mentioned scores of arrests but ignored police brutality.


Cops always do it, especially defending social injustice. Trends analyst Gerald Celente calls them "enforcers for crime bosses." They serve and protect America's super-rich, not ordinary Americans they attack for demanding their rights.


Since September 17, they've been out in force in New York, practicing their stock and trade (no pun intended), beating up on nonviolent protesters instead of supporting them.


They were pepper sprayed, maced, thrown to the ground, beaten, handcuffed, dragged off, and locked up. Even though hundreds, not thousands, turned out, they were committed, spreading the word, and urging others to join them.


Nonetheless, on September 26, Wall Street Journal writer Gordon Crovitz called last week's protests "a bust," saying "over-educated and under-employed" participants "learned a lesson: Just because it's on social media doesn't make it true."


Mocking social grievances, he added:


Most in Zuccotti Park "were typical left-wing critics of markets, Zionism and people who wear fur...."


"A tabloid headline, 'Violence Erupts at Wall St. Protest,' proved overstated."


Billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg said nothing about arrests and gratuitous abuse.


Police brutality victims were outspoken. On September 25, New York Daily News writers Matt Deluca and Christina Boyle expressed them, headlining: "Wall Street protesters cuffed, pepper-sprayed during 'inequality' march," saying:


"Scores of protesters were arrested in Manhattan Saturday as a march against social inequality turned violent."


"Witnesses said they saw three stunned women collapse on the ground screaming after they were sprayed in the face."


"I saw a girl get slammed on the ground. I turned around and started screaming," said a young Brooklyn woman who said she was sprayed.


Another woman said:


"I was shocked because it seemed like one person after another was being brutally tackled, and it wasn't clear why. I was deeply disturbed to see (police) throw a man (down) and immediately they were pounding on him. Their arms were going back in the air. I couldn't believe how violent five people needed to be against one unarmed man."


Video images showed NYPD commander Anthony Bologna using pepper spray. In fact, he and other New York cops were sued for police violence during the 2004 Republican National Convention.


At the time, 1,800 were arrested. Many were held incommunicado under appalling conditions. The case will go to trial next year. Abused nonviolent protesters want justice.


Crovitz mocked Wall Street demonstrators, saying:


"Wall Street has survived much worse than some ragged protesters trying to occupy it....(S)ome ideas deserve to be sold short."


So do media scoundrels, making pimps, prostitutes and dope peddlers look good by comparison.


Wall Street Protest Spirit Going Viral


On September 27, Occupy Wall Street began going national. In Chicago, protesters camped out in front of the Federal Reserve. Others rallied outside the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.


On September 26, Michael Moore and Susan Sarandon joined New York protesters. They and others stressed that change never comes top down, only bottom up.


In early October, rallies are planned across America in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego, Washington, Lexington, KY, Seattle, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, Tampa, New Orleans, and dozens more communities including Canadian ones, hoping they'll show up everywhere committed for long denied social justice.


America's First Amendment guarantees free expression and assembly rights. Thuggish police across America attack them. Peaceful protesters are treated like criminals.


Police indeed are "enforcers for crime bosses," and not just in New York.


Money Power: The Root of All Evil in Private Hands


This writer's new book explains, titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War."


It discusses how Wall Street crooks transformed America into an unprecedented money making racket, facilitated by government collusion at the highest federal, state and local levels.


As a result, working Americans got scammed. For years, they've lost their savings, jobs, homes and futures to let privileged elites get richer and more powerful. The book explains, pulling no punches in exposing their criminality and duplicity.


At issue is powerful bankers having control over money, credit and debt for private enrichment. They've used it illegitimately to bankroll and collude with political Washington to implement laws favoring them and turn a blind eye to their criminal fraud and abuse.


As a result, decades of deregulation, outsourcing, economic financialization, and casino capitalism followed, producing asset bubbles, record budget and national debt levels, as well as depression-sized unemployment, depravation and anger.


Today's contagion is global. Billions suffer. Economies are wrecked to save banks. Washington is Wall Street occupied territory. They've gotten trillions of dollars to socialize losses, private profits, and run their printing press overtime for as much more as they want.


Whatever Wall Street wants, it gets. Powerful banks run America. Speculative fraud is their stock and trade. In their hands, corruption became an art form. Markets are manipulated to serve them. Politicians are used like handmaidens.


For decades, war on working Americans raged, transferring wealth to Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites already with too much.


Moreover, high-paying/good benefit jobs went overseas to cheap labor markets. Fewer low-pay/low or no benefit temporary or part-time ones replaced them. Essential social services eroded en route to eliminating them altogether, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and public pensions.


Worse still, corporate/government collusion conspires to end all worker rights, return America to 19th century harshness, and enforce it by police state brutality.


America's well along toward the worst of all possible worlds, a hellish dystopia no one should tolerate.


Occupy Wall Street protesters know it. So do others across America. Everyone needs to!


Join the struggle for what's possible no other way!


It's high time to fight back, putting bodies on the line for long denied social justice!


There's no other way to get 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/.

Entrapping Muslims in America

Entrapping Muslims in America - by Stephen Lendman


Post-9/11, American Muslims became fair game, targeting them for their faith, ethnicity, and at times prominence and charity.


As a result, they've been ruthlessly vilified and exploited as "war on terror" scapegoats for political advantage.


Entrapment is commonly used. Guilt or innocence doesn't matter, just the illusion that America is safer when, in fact, every victim assures greater insecurity and fear. Many are left wondering who's next.


Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn't be committed. However, it doesn't apply in cases of willingness to act lawlessly, government merely aiding, abetting, or facilitating a chance to do so.


It involves the following:


  • government officials or agents initiate the idea;


  • individuals are persuaded to act; and


  • they had no previous intent or willingness to do so.


Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that subjects weren't entrapped. Otherwise, due process convictions are prohibited. However, in today's climate, judicial fairness is lost in cases involving anyone for political reasons.


Muslims are especially affected, America's target of choice. They've been hunted down, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus charges, given long sentences, then incarcerated as political prisoners.


Charged with plotting to blow up the Pentagon and US Capitol, Reswan Ferdaus is the latest victim.


On September 28, New York Times writer Abby Goodnough headlined, "Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington," saying:


Ferdaus planned to "us(e) remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives....The arrest was the result of an undercover operation (read sting) that included a cooperating witness with a criminal record (read paid informant)."


On September 28, the FBI Boston Division headlined, "Massachusetts Man Charged with Plotting Attack on Pentagon and US Capitol and Attempting to Provide Material Support to a Foreign Terrorist Organization," saying:


Ferdaus, a Muslim US citizen, "plot(ted to) us(e) large remote controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives."


Of course, civilians have no access to this type firepower without help from authorities that have it.


Nonetheless, he was charged, including "with attempting to provide material support and resources to....al Qaeda, in order to carry out attacks on US soldiers stationed overseas."


"The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled (read fake ones supplied) by undercover FBI employees (UCs). The defendant was closely monitored as his alleged plot developed, and the UCs were in frequent contact with him (read manipulated to entrap him)."


"The FBI used an undercover operation (read sting) to conduct this investigation. Undercover operations are used to combat (read entrap) all types of (alleged) crimes and criminals, including in the counterterrorism arena."


The FBI claims Ferdaus "began planning to commit a violent 'jihad' against the US in early 2010. He obtained mobile phones, each of which he modified to act as an electrical switch for an IED. He then supplied the phones to FBI UCs."


They were FBI plants posing as Al Qaeda operatives who likely manipulated him to create an IED without his knowledge.


"In recorded conversations with the CW (paid cooperating witness) that began in January 2011, Ferdaus stated that he planned to attack the Pentagon using aircraft similar to 'small drone airplanes' filled with explosives and guided by GPS equipment."


In April 2011, he "expanded his plan to include an attack on the US Capitol."


The FBI also claimed he surveilled and photographed targets in Washington. Allegedly he "decided to couple his 'aerial assault' plan with a 'ground directive,' " involving six people "armed with automatic firearms...."


If convicted, Ferdaus faces up to 15 years on material support charges, up to 20 for attempting to "destroy national defense premises," and a "five-year minimum mandatory (sentence) and up to 20 years on the charge of attempting to damage and destroy (US) buildings...."


"On each charge, (he) also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine."


In other words, if convicted on all charges, he faces up to life in prison unless concurrent sentences are imposed - even though he's likely innocent.


In fact, his alleged plot sounds more like a bad film script than serious scheme, including the FBI saying they'd supply him with an F-86 remote-controlled aircraft, C-4 plastic explosives, assault rifles and grenades.


Maybe they'd throw in a bunker buster for good measure, or perhaps say anything to manipulate another innocent man into making suggestive comments easily twisted to sound criminal.


Hundreds of other entrapped political prisoners like him languish in America's gulag. Moreover, past plots were just as implausible, targeting innocent victims.


They include five Muslim men allegedly conspiring to attack American soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey despite no plot, no crime or intent to commit one.


Other cases involved alleged plans to attack US marines at Quantico, VA, down National Guard jets with stinger missiles, target Pakistan's ambassador with a surface-to-air missile, blow up Chicago's Sears Tower, and others just as preposterous.


They include a fake shoe bomber, fake underwear bomber, fake Times Square bomber, an earlier fake one there, fake shampoo bombers, fake Al Qaeda woman planning fake attacks on New York landmarks, fake Oregon bomber, fake armed forces recruiting station bomber, fake 9/11 bombers, and others to enlist public support for the fake war on terror.


All cases entrapped Muslims. Accusations against them were bogus, yet they were arrested, charged, convicted and sentenced to long imprisonments - for being Muslims in America at the wrong time, not intent or conspiracies to commit crimes.


Notably, none for the past decade were committed. Every alleged plot was foiled. No one outwitted authorities. At issue is whether any were, in fact, planned.


That alone makes charges suspect, yet media scoundrels headline them to convict likely innocent people in the court of public opinion.


In addition, Attorney Holder defends entrapment, using stings involving undercover FBI employees or paid "cooperating witnesses." The latter are usually either convicted or charged felons, well compensated to cooperate for leniency.


Last year, a notable Southern California scheme backfired. It involved Craig Monteilh, a convicted felon, aka Farouk al-Aziz, code name Oracle, paid to entrap Irvine Islamic Center Muslims.


They, however, were alarmed enough by his violent jihad talk to obtain a restraining order against him. Notably, they also reported to the same FBI office that enlisted him.


Working as a paid informant, he built a terrorism-related case against a mosque member that collapsed. The Justice Department had egg on its face. Prosecutors portrayed an innocent man as a dire threat.


They lied like they always do, hyping non-existant threats to create media hysteria, public fear, and justification for war on terror imperial adventurism. It's America's global game against peace, security, and democratic freedom, putting everyone at risk, especially Muslims.


This time, however, Monteilh went public. Revealing secret FBI tactics, he said his "handlers" trained him to entrap Muslims in mosques, their homes and businesses. He's now suing the FBI. Officials declined comment except to confirm he was a paid informant. In fact, court records and other documents showed he got $177,000 tax free in 15 months.


Southern California Muslims were incensed, citing a pattern of pervasive surveillance and covert entrapment, snaring innocent victims for alleged crimes.


Last February, the Southern California ACLU and Council on American-Islamic Relations of the Greater Los Angeles Area (CAIR-LA) filed a class action lawsuit against the FBI for infiltrating and surveilling area mosques, as well as targeting Muslim Americans solely for their faith.


During 2006 and 2007, FBI agents planted informants in Orange County mosques to get information on hundreds of California Muslims. Craig Monteilh was specifically named.


The suit seeks injunctive relief on behalf of everyone bogusly targeted. It also requires the FBI to turn over or destroy all information collected through discriminatory investigations. Moreover, it wants damages for emotional stress caused.


Representing many others harmed, three plaintiffs are involved - Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Ali Malik, and Yassir Abdel Rahim.


Orange County has a vibrant Muslim community with about 120,000 residents. It's home to America's second largest Muslim population after Dearborn, MI.


They and other Muslims are tired of being targeted for their faith and ethnicity.


Everyone should embrace their struggle at a time government of, by, and for the people applies only to its privileged.


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, September 29, 2011

Israeli West Bank Annexation Bill

Israeli West Bank Annexation Bill - by Stephen Lendman


Palestinians petitioned the UN for sovereign recognition and full UN membership.


Four extremist MKs responded, calling for West Bank settlements annexed. A previous article explained, accessed through the following link:


http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2011/09/calls-to-annex-west-bank-settlements.html


MK Deputy Speaker Danny Danon wants more.


On September 27, the JTA Global News Service of the Jewish People headlined, "Knesset to vote on annexing the West Bank," saying:


On September 27, Danon said the Knesset will "take up the bill, which he authored, at the end of October."


It includes rescinding Israeli/PA financial obligations established by prior agreements. According to Danon:


"If the Palestinian Authority wishes to proceed on this reckless path and bring further instability to the region, Israel cannot continue to pour funds into this sinking ship of failed leadership."


"The funding agreements with the PA were reached with the hope that their leaders would work to create an environment of lasting peace and security with Israel. Given that it is clear that the Palestinians have no such desire, Israel must no longer be required to stand by these arrangements."


Palestinians, of course, want and deserve what Israel denied them for 63 years after stealing their homeland violently. Using long ago discredited arguments, Danon and others like him think Israel has a divine right to their land.


Growing millions globally disagree, including Israeli Jews and others everywhere able to distinguished between right and wrong.


Danon said his bill nullifies Oslo, stating:


"All obligations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as established by international agreements....will be considered null and void."


Oslo, of course, was a Palestinian Versailles, benefitting Israel, not them. Sovereign recognition and full UN membership are first steps to reversing unilateral surrender.


Representative Joe Walsh (R. IL) is as hardline as Danon. On September 8, he introduced HR 394:


"Supporting Israel's right to annex Judea and Samaria (the West Bank and Jerusalem) in the event that the Palestinian Authority continues to press for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations."


He didn't address if that would make them Israeli citizens, subhuman serfs to be exploited, or illegal infiltrators on Israeli land, subject to arbitrary expulsion.


Nor did consider what right he, others in Washington, or outsiders anywhere have to meddle in internal Palestinian affairs. America, of course, long ago refined it to an art form, attested to by mass global deaths, destruction and human misery.


Walsh also introduced HR 2457: Palestinian Accountability Act:


"To restrict funds for the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes."


In other words, obey or we'll cut off your allowance. Coming with strings, it's less aid than bondage to do what we say or we'll spank you with more than harsh words.


On September 27, Turkish Prime Minister proposed a different solution than Walsh and hardline MKs. On September 27, Haaretz headlined, "Erdogan: UN sanctions on Israel could aid Mideast peace process," saying:


Sanctions "would have resolved the issue of Mideast peace long ago....adding that he felt the Quartet('s)" proposal fell far short of resolving the longstanding Israeli/Palestinian conflict.


Through today, he said, "the UN Security Council has issued more than 89 resolutions on prospective sanctions related to Israel, but they've never been executed....One might" ask why?


"When it's Iran in question, you impose sanctions. Similarly with Sudan. What happens with Israel then."


If sanctioned, the "conflict would have been resolved long ago." As a result, he believes the Quartet has no interest in resolution. "Unfortunately, I do not even see (its) traces within the Quartet. Because if (it) was so willing to resolve this issue, (it) would have imposed certain issues on Israel today."


Of course, strained Turkey/Israeli relations place both countries on opposite sides of various issues, including Palestinian statehood.


Despite the Quartet's anti-Palestinian UN membership proposal, Haaretz headlined, "Israel's cabinet fails to reach consensus on Quartet plan for talks with Palestinians," saying:


Netanyahu "and the eight senior cabinet members were unable to (agree on) the Quartet's initiative for renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians."


Despite Netanyahu's support, consensus so far isn't reached. Meanwhile, Security Council deliberations continue on and off behind closed doors.


Reports disagree on whether Palestinians have nine needed votes to force a US veto. Haaretz said UN sources say Washington has enough support to avoid a it.


EU representatives acted like Joe Walsh to a degree, telling PA officials they risk losing European aid by acting "unilaterally."


On September 28, Haaretz headlined, "Palestinian statehood bid to be reviewed by UN committee," saying:


On Wednesday, the Security Council "unanimously agreed to hand the Palestinian application to join the United Nations to a committee" for review.


Normally, it takes "a maximum of 35 days, but Western diplomats say that this limit can be waived and might take much longer...."


In other words, delay, obstruct, and consign Palestinian membership to memory hole oblivion. It's simple to get around it through the General Assembly, whether or not the Security Council provides support.


It recommends. The General Assembly alone admits new members provided Abbas goes that route properly.


A Final Comment


Palestinians have always been on their own since Britain's 1917 Balfour Declaration, promising a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It included a hollow one to indigenous Palestinians that "nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities."


During its Mandate period, they were systematically denied until losing them in 1948, then entirely in 1967. Israel was born in the original sin of mass slaughter and forced expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians, wanting only to live in peace on their own land.


With full backing from Washington and Western states, Palestinians never got justice. Israel operates outside the law with impunity. Peace process conflict resolution never existed and doesn't now.


Palestinians understand and want official sovereign recognition and full UN membership. In 1987, Law Professor Francis Boyle drafted its 1988 Declaration of Independence.


Through the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377, full UN membership is obtainable if Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad want it. A simple two-thirds General Assembly majority gets it.


On the Progressive Radio News Hour to air October 2, Boyle said the 170 nations support it, according to the Financial Times. If all 193 UN members vote, 129 are needed.


According to Boyle, if Abbas petitions the General Assembly under Resolution 377, full UN membership can be gotten in two weeks, making Palestine the body's 194th member.


Despite enormous Washington/Israeli pressure to back down, what Palestinians have wanted for 63 years is within easy reach. It's for Abbas and Fayyad now to follow through for them.


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/.

Imploding Bubble Economies

Imploding Bubble Economies - by Stephen Lendman


Economic meltdown comes in stages. Recognition takes longer. Tout TV pundits stay in denial longest, calling crisis conditions a normal correction.


Reality suggests otherwise with US unemployment approaching 23%, home foreclosures multiplying, and poverty levels double or more official distorted numbers that artificially hold them down.


Longtime market expert and regular Progressive Radio News Hour guest Bob Chapman says Eurozone countries are collapsing.


They're "in a state of contagion with six of its sovereign members in serious financial trouble....The creators of the EU, euro zone, and ECB have a failing monstrosity on their hands," an out-of-control debt bomb.


"There is absolutely no way a financial crisis can be avoided," and it's already been unfolding since 2008. No combination of countries can bail out others in crisis "without destroying themselves. Can 21 nations find $4 to $6 trillion to bail out six?"


Impossible! "Fragile isn't the word for it. Neither is contagion. The operative (word) is abject failure," heading for collapse.


Economist David Rosenberg sees "imminent" Greek default. In mid-September, its one year treasury yield exceeded 100%, telling intrepid investors it already happened for those willing to buy worthless junk.


At a dismal 57.8 reading, University of Michigan consumer sentiment also spells trouble.


In comparison, it was 70.3 in September 2008 when Lehman Bros. collapsed, 81.8 in September 2001 after 9/11, 97.4 in October 1998 after Long Term Capital Management faced imminent bankruptcy and Russia defaulted on its debt, and 89.3 in October 1987 when Wall Street had its largest ever one day decline (22.6%).


On September 16, Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin's (GEAB) latest economic update headlined, "Global systemic crisis - Fourth quarter 2011: Implosive fusion of global financial assets," saying:


Over many months, nearly $10 trillion and 15 trillion in "ghost assets....have gone up in smoke. The rest (and probably much more) will vanish in" Q 4.


GEAB sees a "perfect storm" coming "that will make the summer problems look like a slight sea breeze." Six elements, in fact, already are apparent:


(1) America's congressional "super committee" won't resolve budget austerity tensions.


(2) As a result, automatic cuts required will cause a political crisis. Moreover, this "automatic function (will) generate major disturbances in the functioning of the state system" because it amounts to executive and congressional abdication of decision-making authority.


(3) Other credit rating agencies will join S & P in downgrading US credit. Diversifying out of Treasuries will follow.


(4) Federal Reserve money printing can't go on forever. At some point, it'll have to resort to jawboning and market manipulation, but those tactics have short to intermediate-term shelf lives.


(5) America's debt will keep increasing dramatically "as tax revenues are already in the process of collapsing..."


(6) Like his 2009 jobs plan, Obama's new one won't work even if Congress approved it which it won't.


The combination of the above elements "will trigger (a) major financial shock," perhaps much greater than in 2008.


Financial expert and investor safety advocate Martin Weiss agrees, saying:


"We stand on the threshold of one of the most dramatic financial disasters of our lifetime."


Greece's imminent default "threaten(s) the largest economies in the history of civilization - the European Union and United States."


Financial analyst Claus Vogt believes growing numbers of German politicians and European central bankers realize "Greece is long past the point of no return."


It's bankrupt but hasn't said so. Soon enough others will. It's not a liquidity problem. It's a solvency crisis too far gone to fix.


All the bailouts and quick fixes piled on more of them won't put Greece back together again. And behind it comes Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. It's just a matter of time.


In fact, Greek default alone is more serious than Lehman's 2008 collapse that triggered market mayhem. It's because Western banking and its entire financial system never recovered, so is much more vulnerable to economic shocks now than then.


Even though G-7 countries promised to save weak ones, who'll save them when they fail? Who'll save America, especially Main Street mired in Depression with baked in the cake austerity assuring worse ahead, not better?


Already credit is tight. Expect further tightening with interbank lending freezing up at any price. Private credit markets also with small and intermediate size businesses as well as consumers unable to get loans.


As bad as conditions are now, expect worse ahead. It doesn't matter how much money is printed. Job markets have collapsed with no effective policy initiatives to revive them. Rhetorical promises substitute for meaningful initiatives to stimulate growth. They're not forthcoming so expect decline.


In America, virtually everything points down, including business and consumer sentiment, production, retail sales, employment, housing, credit, and growth.


Rosenberg compares today's credit contraction crisis to the 1930s and Japan in 1990 when its equity and real estate bubbles collapsed. Subsequent downturns were protracted. Recoveries were "fragile and soon aborted."


A major difference between conditions now and Japan then was its 20% saving rate that let households "hold together as housing, commercial construction, and capex (capital expenditures) collapsed."


In contrast, Americans are way over-leveraged enough to require years more needed to reduce it to normal levels. As a result, household purchasing power will be greatly restrained.


Pent-up discretionary demand is absent to reduce debt and interest payment burdens. Rosenberg calls it a "secular downsizing shift."


Moreover, despite zero interest rates, banks aren't lending and consumers aren't borrowing as they're up to their ears in debt. They need less, not more. As a result, it'll keep receding for years. It represents a generational semi-permanent shift, promising protracted negative or weak growth.


Rosenberg also calls it "the movie of (past decades) in reverse: savings growth (replacing) discretionary spending."


Frugality is in, frivolity out. From the early 1980s through 2007, debt surged, leaving household balance sheets way overstretched.


Declining demand and supply of credit ahead has "profound implication for interest rates, inflation, economic growth and corporate earnings."


The only positive is one day the pain will end. So far, it's nowhere in sight as economic contraction continues.


Expect angry Americans to react. Perhaps they'll replicate disruptive protests across Europe.


Trends analyst Gerald Celente explains that when people lose everything and they have nothing else to lose, they lose it.


As America sinks deeper into Depression, perhaps that day of reckoning approaches.


For long-suffering households, it can't come a moment too soon.


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, September 28, 2011

Calls to Annex West Bank Settlements

Calls to Annex West Bank Settlements - by Stephen Lendman


Since 1967, Israel established 121 settlements, recognized by the Interior Ministry as "communities." Another 100 unauthorized outposts were built.


In addition, 12 annexed Jerusalem neighborhoods are considered settlements under international law. Moreover, settler enclaves exist in Palestinian East Jerusalem areas. They include:


  • the Old City's Muslim Quarter;


  • Silwan;


  • Sheikh Jarrah;


  • Mount of Olives;


  • Ras al-'Amud;


  • Abu Dis; and


  • Jabal al-Mukabber.


Overall, Israeli occupied territory, including settlements, exceeds 40% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, its choicest parts.


However, for extremist MKs, it's not enough. They want all Judea and Samaria west of the Jordan River, comprising the West Bank and Jerusalem. For now, however, they'll settle for annexing occupied settlements.


On September 27, Haaretz writer Jonathan Lis headlined, "Israel must annex West Bank settlements, right-wing MKs tell Netanyahu," saying:


In response to Palestinians petitioning the UN for statehood, the following MKs responded to their "unilateral" move:


  • Likud chairman Ze'ev Elkin;


  • Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli;


  • Habayit Hayehudi (the Jewish Home) chairman Uri Orbach; and


  • National Union MK Yaakov Katz.


They want Netanyahu to initiate steps to annex "all West Bank settlements; (cut or eliminate) Palestinian aid money; (accelerate) settlement building; (cancel) PA officials' VIP ID cards; and (prohibit) any Palestinian construction in areas controlled by Israeli security forces."


Stopping short of declaring war, they wrote Netanyahu:


"The PA's UN bid on unilateral recognition is a blunt breach of (Oslo and subsequent agreements), which have, in the last 18 years, taken their severe toll on us."


It condemned states involved in the Accords, now deliberating whether or not to support Palestine's bid.


"We call upon you to make it clear to those nations that their conduct during this crisis rules them out (as) mediators in future negotiations, (warning that) serious damage could befall Israel if it chooses to avoid response."


Israel would "completely lose its deterrence, thus stimulating the Palestinians to continue their actions against it in the international arena."


"In fact, the international damage that Israel could suffer in the wake of the UN vote is significantly smaller than that it would suffer if it doesn't follow up on the principle you set up a decade ago - 'If they give, they'll get; if they don't give, they get nothing.' "


Fact check


In 1948, they "gave" 78% of historic Palestine. The rest followed in 1967.


In return, they "got" occupation, persecution, violence, premeditated war, mass arrests, imprisonments, torture, intimidation, daily terror, dispossessions, targeted assassinations, and loss of all rights.


Now they want them back under statehood and full UN membership. After 63 years, they want justice long denied. They'll settle for nothing less nor should they.


According to Maan News, not only won't Netanyahu agree, he wants more, including no end to settlement construction.


"We already gave at the office," he said, referring to an alleged 10-month moratorium during which time construction never stopped. Israel's land grab continued.


In many settlements, building proceeded apace. Dozens of construction sites remained active. Building on 2,000 units continued. Not even a visible slowdown occurred. Like its Washington paymaster/partner, Israel said one thing but did another.


Now it's doing more. Netanyahu called settlements "a pretext (Palestinians) use again and again....as a ruse to avoid direct negotiations."


Moreover, he won't halt construction, including plans for 1,100 new East Jerusalem Gilo neighborhood homes.


"I don't think there is anything new," he said. "We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period. (It's) the same way Israeli governments have (operated for) years - since the end of the 1967 war."


"We build in Jewish neighborhoods. The Arabs build in Arab neighborhoods. That is the way the life of this city goes on and develops for its Jewish and non-Jewish residents alike."


In fact, East Jerusalem is Palestinian territory. Israel is systematically dispossessing Palestinians to entirely Judaize it. Indeed, it's way life "goes on" for Arabs to lose out so Jews alone can benefit.


An unnamed State Department official called Israel's decision "counterproductive to the resumption of direct negotiations. Our position has not changed."


"Like every America administration for decades, we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel's future itself."


At the same time, Haaretz said US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro never favored making a freeze a condition for negotiations, saying:


"We've never said that, in this administration or any other, as a precondition for talks. What we have said consistently is that we believe direct talks are the only way to resolve this conflict, and (it) can only be resolved by the parties themselves in those talks, and they should be entered without preconditions."


In other words, Washington calls construction "counterproductive" to peace, but rejects its continuation on stolen Palestinian land as a reason to halt talks that never worked before and won't now.


Israel won't tolerate peace so why bother, but wants its terms imposed unilaterally to impose unconditional surrender.


Imagine if South African Blacks required their apartheid government's permission to end the abhorrent practice. In fact, it took decades of struggle to achieve it.


Under it, pass laws segregated blacks from whites, restricted their movements, required pass books be carried at all times, and produced on demand or face arrest and prosecution.


Evolving from the 18th and 19th century until their 1986 repeal, they restricted entry to cities, forcibly relocated blacks, denied them most public amenities and many forms of employment, and became apartheid's most hated symbol.


Under Israeli military occupation, repression is worse than South Africa's. It's a sophisticated form of social, economic, political and racial discrimination, strangulation, and genocide.


It incorporates the worst elements of colonialism and apartheid as well as repressive dispossession, displacement, and state terrorism to separate Palestinians from their land and heritage, deny them their rightful civil and human rights, and gradually remove or eliminate them altogether.


Apartheid is the worst form of racism. Israeli militarized occupation is the worst form of apartheid, incorporating violence, military incursions, land theft, home demolitions, targeted assassinations, murder, mass arrests, torture, destruction of agricultural land, and isolation. These measures amount to genocide, including suffocating Gazans under siege.


On Monday, a divided Security Council began closed door discussions. Washington urged other members to delay enough to consign Palestine's petition to memory hole oblivion.


The Palestine News & Information Agency (WAFA) reported Washington saying:


"There is no rush to act on the bid submitted Friday. The US has vowed to veto the Palestinian resolution and would prefer to avoid (an embarrassing) vote on the matter. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe confidential diplomacy."


Israeli settlers claim "This is Israel's land," no matter how long Palestinians lived on it as their own peacefully with a small Jewish population as neighbors.


In contrast, Arabs are barred from Jewish communities. As a result, they deserve their own sovereign state to escape a system as oppressive as how Nazis terrorized Jews. After 63 years, they're entitled to that an more.


A Final Comment


On September 25, JTA Global News Service of the Jewish People said:


"Top White House officials briefed Jewish community leaders about (the) Quartet('s proposal), urging Israelis and Palestinians to return to talks with no preconditions, a key Israeli demand."


What about Palestinian "demands," including the right to decide their own fate, not have Israel do it for them its way.


The Islamophobic Anti-Defamation League praised the call for no-condition talks, but wants Palestinians "sent the clearest possible message (that) the sole path to statehood lies in direct negotiations with Israel" so it has sole authority to decide.


In fact, most UN member states believe Palestine already is a state. At issue is its belligerent occupation, the longest in modern history.


PLO Executive Committee member and PA legislator Hanan Ashrawi raised the possibility of using the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377 in the General Assembly for statehood.


In 1987, Law Professor Francis Boyle was Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) legal advisor in drafting its 1988 Declaration of Independence. It was a roadmap designed to succeed, avoiding legal loopholes to subvert it.


On Sunday, October 2, on the Progressive Radio News, Hour, Boyle will explain how Palestinians can achieve it in days.


Given their overwhelming world support, it's simple by following proper procedure through the General Assembly under Resolution 377.


At issue only is do Abbas and Fayyad want it. Listen Sunday to hear an expert explain.


He should know. He wrote the book on it and understands its fine points better than anyone.


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/.

Ahmad Qatamesh: Israeli Prisoner of Conscience

Ahmad Qatamesh: Israeli Prisoner of Conscience - by Stephen Lendman


On April 21, 2011 at 2:00AM, Israeli soldiers arrested Qatamesh at his brother's Ramallah home.


An hour earlier, his wife (Suha), daughter (Hanin), and two female relatives were held hostage to force his surrender.


At gunpoint, they forced Hanin to call him. When connected, a soldier threatened to hold his family hostage and destroy his house if he didn't surrender.


On May 2, in an Electronic Intifada article, Hanin recounted her ordeal, saying:


After breaking in and occupying their home, "(t)hey pointed their machine guns at us and told us they wanted to search the house."


"After a futile search, the soldiers went to the apartment right above ours whose owners - US citizens - were away. They knocked down the main door and wrecked the place."


"They confiscated our phones, disconnecting us from the outside world....The commander forced me at gunpoint to call my father....He then grabbed my phone and shouted at him, 'Surrender yourself or we'll destroy the house!' "


"Perhaps the most important principle that I learned from my dad was never to allow obstacles to keep me from realizing my dreams. I will continue to dream of Palestinian freedom. Along the way, I will continue to expose the brutality of Israel's occupation and our land - and houses."


Qatamesh's wife Suha said:


"It's so clear that he is there because of his ideas and political activism. He is a prisoner of conscience and he is there because of political reasons."


After arrest, he was taken to Ofer detention center in Beitunia.


At the time, the Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association expressed grave concern, saying:


"not only because (it's) motivated by his political opinions and beliefs and as such should be considered a case of arbitrary detention, but also because (he's) been (targeted by) Israeli authorities before on numerous occasions, notably" for long incarcerations without charge.


Addameer later composed an undated letter to Netanyahu, Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, and other Israeli officials on his behalf for supporters to sign and use. In part it says:


"I am writing to express my strong concerns regarding Ahmad Qatamish's administrative detention, which violates international human rights and humanitarian law."


"Mr. Qatamish, a renowned and respected Palestinian author and political scientist, has been held in administrative detention since 3 May 2011 despite a number of irregularities with his detention that should provide sufficient ground to invalidate" it.


It ended saying:


"I therefore urge you to intervene in this matter without delay and:


  • Immediately and unconditionally release" him;


  • "Immediately put an end to Israel's practice of administrative detention and arbitrary arrests;


  • At all times ensure strict respect for international human rights and humanitarian law during arrests and detention in the occupied Palestinian territory."


More on Israel's abusive administrative detentions below.


Speaking on his behalf, Palestinian activist Mustafa Barghouti called Israel's arrest "a shameless attempt at muzzling him in an unjustifiable attack on his freedom of expression."


Gerarda Ventura, Euromed Platform of NGOs vice president, called him "one of the most sensitive and intellectual people I have ever met," especially in the struggle for "freedom, justice and peace."


A distinguished writer, scholar, academic, lecturer and activist, Qatamish earned his doctorate in political science. He wrote several books on political, philosophical and literary topics, and spoke often at local universities and research centers.


In 2010, he taught at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, the only Arab institution of higher learning in the divided city.


His ordeal began in 1969 when he was detained a few months, then released. In 1972, he was arrested again and imprisoned for four years.


Until 1992, he went underground to stay free until September when he was again arrested and administratively detained for the next five and half years. At the time, he was Israel's longest ever uncharged detainee.


In prison, he was tortured and abused for weeks. Israel called him a "dangerous" national leader. Later he documented his ordeal in prison notes called "I Shall not Wear Your Tarboush."


On September 9, 2011, an Amnesty International (AI) "URGENT ACTION" said:


Qatamesh "received a new six-month administrative detention order on 2 September. The military review of the order has been postponed; he remains in detention and cannot appeal until the review takes place."


AI "is concerned that (he) may be detained solely for the peaceful expression of his political views, in which case the organization would consider him a prisoner of conscience."


"Amnesty urges that action be taken....before 21 October 2011 by sending appeals to Israeli military authorities and diplomatic representatives."


Since detained last April, he's faced numerous delays, irregularities, and other obstructions to keep him isolated. Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency) claims secret evidence justifies it.


At issue is his outspoken activism, not evidence about alleged crimes. Nonetheless, Israel can hold him indefinitely to silence him.


Abusive Israeli Administrative Detentions


Those held are denied due process. They may be held indefinitely, aren't told why, can't dispute it, cross-examine witnesses, or present contradictory evidence to refute them.


Four Israeli entities have decision-making authority:


  • Shin Bet (the Israel Security Agency);


  • the military commander in charge;


  • the military's prosecutor's office; and


  • military judges who adjudicate cases.


Three Israeli laws authorize detentions:


  • the Order Regarding Administrative Detention; it's part of military law governing the West Bank;


  • the Emergency Powers (Detentions) Law for Israel; and


  • the Internment of Unlawful Combatants Law (the 2002 Unlawful Combatants Law).


America has a similar one Law Professor Francis Boyle once called a:


"quasi-category universe of legal nihilism where human beings can be disappeared, detained incommunicado, denied access to attorneys and regular courts, tried in kangaroo courts, executed, tortured, assassinated and subjected to numerous other manifestations of State Terrorism."


Prior to detention, the ISA or police conduct interrogations, lasting from a few days to a few weeks. If no indictment follows, the military commander decides whether or not to detain and for how long. A judge must then approve it.


Each order lasts six months, sometimes three, but can be indefinitely renewed so can last years in Israeli Prison Service (IPS) facilities.


Most detainees are held pursuant to individual administrative orders under the West Bank's Administration Detention Order. It lets commanders order detentions based on a "reasonable (belief) that the security of the region or public security" is at issue.


As a result, prolonged arbitrary detentions are common, grievously breaching international law. Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:


  • "Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law."


  • Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.


  • Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful."


Although exceptions are permitted when public emergencies threaten national security, Israel abusively violates international law, including Fourth Geneva's Article 78 stating:


"If the Occupying Power considers it necessary, for imperative reasons of security, to take measures concerning protected persons, it may, at the most, subject them to assigned residence or to internment.


Decisions regarding such assigned residence or internment shall be made according to a regular procedure to be prescribed by the Occupying Power in accordance with the provisions of the present Convention. This procedure shall include the right of appeal (decided on) with the least possible delay. (If it's upheld), it shall be subject to periodical review...."


Acting arbitrarily to silence dissent, Israel spurns international law and norms. Detentions without charge normally last six months in Israeli territory.


Subject to bi-annual reviews, however, military judges can order detainees held indefinitely. Decisions may be appealed to Israel's Supreme Court, but rarely does it intervene.


Administrative detentions never substitute for customary criminal proceedings. Their purpose is only to prevent future lawless acts.


Moreover, detained Palestinians held are protected persons. International law prohibits transferring them to Israeli territory or holding them indefinitely uncharged.


Nonetheless, Israel systematically, abusively, and repeatedly flaunts international law with impunity, including by imprisoning some of Palestine's most heroic figures like Qatamish.


It's done to silence and intimidate anyone challenging Israeli lawlessness.


Israel doesn't have enough prison space for them all or their growing millions of global supporters.


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/.