Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ron Paul's Anti-Progressive Agenda

Ron Paul's Anti-Progressive Agenda - by Stephen Lendman


Compared to a rogue's gallery of Republican aspirants, supporters claim Paul looks good by comparison. Look again and think carefully about America in his hands.


True enough, he wants the Federal Reserve abolished. He calls it "dishonest, immoral, unconstitutional," and America's "great(est) threat to....security and prosperity."


"Out-of-control (and) secretive, (it) pumps money into the economy whenever it chooses and makes secret deals with Wall Street executives, foreign central banks, and other politically-connected insiders without any significant oversight from Congress."


Several times in Congress he introduced the Federal Reserve Abolition Act. Without co-sponsors, no further action followed.


Yet, restoring sound money and producing growth requires Fed abolition. Money power in private hands is scandalous. Returning it to public hands where it belongs is essential; namely, the US Treasury as the Constitution's Article I, Section 8 mandates.


Wanting America's wealth used for productive growth, Paul opposes squandering it on imperial wars. At the same time, his hard-right world view stops short of criticizing US imperialism and endorsing peace, despite saying:


"We can no longer afford to police the world, in terms of both dollars and American lives. We will destroy ourselves if we do not stop, build a strong national defense at home, and focus on commerce with the world instead of empire."


Nonetheless, he backed attacking Afghanistan, no matter its illegality. However, he strongly opposed war on Libya, saying:


"The current situation may be a short-term victory for empire, but it is a loss for our American Republic."


He also called Washington's involvement "unconstitutional," but stopped short of including all US post-WW II wars. Only Congress, not presidents, can declare war under UN Charter provisions. None were since December 8, 1941.


Addressing the House in October 2002, Paul's main opposition to attacking Iraq was over ceding congressional power to Bush. It was also about giving UN members say over US foreign interventions and undermining national defense by costly spending and overstretching US military forces.


Rather than UN resolutions, he "like(s) it more when the president speaks about unilateralism and national security interests." When America "depends on the UN for our instructions, we end up in no-win wars."


Paul left international law unexplained. Supporting congressional power on war, not the executive, he omitted under what conditions belligerence by one state against another is justified.


UN Charter power is inviolate. Article 2(3) and Article 33(1) require peaceful settlement of international disputes. Article 2(4) prohibits force or its threatened use. And Article 51 allows the "right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member....until the Security Council has taken measures to maintain international peace and security."


In other words, justifiable self-defense is permissible. However, Charter Articles 2(3), 2(4), and 33 absolutely prohibit any unilateral threat or use of force not:


  • specifically allowed under Article 51;


  • authorized by the Security Council; or


  • permitted by the US Constitution only amendments ratified by three-fourths of the states can change.


Although he knows better, he said Bush I "didn't go all the way" in 1991 because "the UN did not give him permission to." Going "through the back door" with UN-declared wars lets them "last longer and you do not have a completion, like we had in Korea and Vietnam."


Weeks after Bush II invaded Iraq, he promoted his American Sovereignty Restoration Act to "end US membership of the United States in the United Nations."


He also credited Bush for "ultimately upholding the principle that American national security is not a matter of international consensus, and that we don't need UN authorization to act."


In other words, he believes "the supreme law of the land" under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2) doesn't matter even though all treaty obligations automatically become US law.


He warned that if America didn't leave the UN, its "global planners" would establish "true world government" that would "interfere not only in our nation's foreign policy matters, but in our domestic (ones) as well (and) America as we know it will cease to exist."


He's also against police state laws like the USA Patriot Act, though not for the right reasons. Key for him is loss of personal privacy.


While advocating free trade, he's against NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, and other one-sided FTAs. They serve special interests, not everyone equitably.


Saying prohibition laws negate freedom, he calls the war on drugs "costly and ineffective, while creating terrible violent crime." It's also largely responsible for the world's largest gulag. Filled mostly with nonviolent offenders, at most they deserve reprimands or fines, and those incarcerated for drug-related crimes deserve freedom.


As a libertarian, he believes government's only role is to respect, protect, and defend personal liberties.


As the Libertarian Party's Preamble states:


Everyone should retain "sovereign(ty) over their own lives," not "sacrifice (it) for the benefit of others."


In other words, government's responsibility for universal healthcare, education, and other essential services is incompatible with personal freedom. Everyone should be on their own to provide them, even though millions, through no fault of their own, can't.


In contrast, progressives have different view of freedom and responsibility. They believe government must assure equity, social justice, and safety net protections for society's least advantaged. Throwing them overboard can't be tolerated.


Paul's Background


Paul served on and off in Congress since 1976. In 1988, his Libertarian Party presidential campaign failed. So did his 2008 Republican bid. Instead of running as a Libertarian or independent, he endorsed Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin.


He's also a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist. Reportedly, he delivered thousands of babies.


In 1976, he founded the Foundation for Rational Economics and Education (FREE). It's "dedicated to public education on the principles of free-market economics, sound money and limited government."


His books include "Gold, Peace, and Prosperity;" "Challenge to Liberty;" "Freedom Under Siege;" "Ten Myths About Paper Money;" and "The Case for Gold." In 1989, a FREE spinoff called the National Endowment for Liberty (NEFL) was established to disseminate more information about its ideology.


Paul's Ten Principles of a Free Society


(1) Personal freedom.


(2) Support for all peaceful, voluntary economic and social associations.


(3) The inviolable right to justly acquired property.


(4) Opposition to government redistributing wealth or special privileges to any individual, group or business.


(5) The inviolability of individual sovereignty. Governments must never protect people from themselves.


(6) Governments must never claim monopoly power over a people's money nor engage in official counterfeiting for any purpose.


(7) Opposition to aggressive wars, no matter their stated purpose.


(8) Jury nullification, pertaining to jurors judging the law as well as related facts.


(9) Opposition to all forms of involuntary servitude, including slavery, conscription, forced association, and mandated welfare distribution.


(10) Requiring governments, like people, to obey laws, abstain from force to coerce behavior, manipulate social outcomes, manage the economy, or tell other countries how to behave.


Paul's Plan to Restore America


Its elements include:


(1) Balancing the budget.


(2) Cutting $1 trillion in his administration's first year by eliminating five departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior and Education), abolishing the Transportation Security Administration, ending corporate subsidies, halting foreign aid, prohibiting foreign wars, and returning most spending to 2006 levels.


(3) Entitlements: Maintaining them for seniors and veterans, but letting younger workers opt out toward eventually ending them altogether. Block-granting Medicaid and other social programs to states. In other words, transition Washington entirely out of social spending.


(4) Cutting the federal workforce by 10%. Slash congressional pay and perks, and curb excess federal travel.


(5) Lowering corporate taxes to 15%. Let US companies repatriate capital tax-free. Extend all Bush tax cuts, and abolish income, capital gains, estate and personal savings taxes.


(6) Repealing Obamacare, Dodd-Frank financial reform, and Sarbanes-Oxley, pertaining to new or enhanced standards for corporations, top officials and public accounting firms. Also, mandating REINS requirements, pertaining to congressional up or down votes on all proposed measures with economic impact over $100 million. Moreover, abolish all onerous regulations by Executive Order.


(7) Conducting full Federal Reserve audits, and implement competing currency legislation to strengthen the dollar and stabilize inflation.


Paul on Other Issues


(1) Taxes: Abolish income, capital gains, and estate taxes, as well as the IRS. Provide more tax credits and deductions. Rely on excise taxes, non-protectionist tariffs, fees, and minimal corporate ones.


(2) Energy: Remove all restrictions on drilling, mining and nuclear power. Repeal federal taxes on gasoline. Abolish the EPA, and provide tax credits as incentives to develop and produce alternative energy technologies.


(3) Immigration: Enforce border security to keep undocumented immigrants out. Prohibit amnesty and social benefits for those here, and end automatic birthright citizenship for their children born on US soil.


(4) Abortion: Repeal Roe v. Wade granting abortion rights up to viability (fetal survival outside the uterus). Define life as beginning at conception, even for rape victims.


(5) Gun Ownership: Assure the Second Amendment's right to bear arms even though it pertains to militia rights "to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions."


Repeal the Brady Bill and Assault Weapons Ban restricting firearms purchases, and end US support for global gun control laws and other initiatives. Presidents, says Paul, should "be 100% committed to defending our God-given right to keep and bear arms," even those most destructive apparently.


(6) Right to Work: Without saying so, he opposes hard-won labor rights, including failed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) provisions to let workers "form, join, or assist labor organizations, to provide for mandatory injunctions for unfair labor practices during organizing efforts, and other purposes."


Paul on Israel


Paul emphatically denies accusations of racism and anti-Semitism. He calls Israel one of America's "most important friends."


He supported Israel attacking Iraq's Osirak reactor in June 1981. He also believes America should be less involved in its affairs. "They can take care of themselves," he said. "Why do we have this automatic commitment that we're going to send our kids and send our money endlessly to Israel?"


"I am personally against all foreign aid. We give $3 billion to Israel....It is ridiculous for us to be borrowing money from China and giving it to" other countries.


"The First Amendment grants all citizens the right to petition the US government, and this applies to AIPAC as much as anyone else. However, I oppose certain lobbying groups having more of an undue influence than others, and since one of the main purposes of AIPAC is to lobby for generous taxpayer subsidies to Israel, that portion of their influence would end under my administration."


Racism Accusations


Truth and fiction define them. In 1992, commenting to on the Los Angeles riots, his newsletter said "(o)rder was only restored in LA when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began."


It added that looting resulted from government providing Black communities with "civil rights, quotas, mandated hiring preferences, set-asides for government contracts, gerrymandered voting districts, black bureaucracies, black mayors, black curricula in schools, black TV shows, black TV anchors, hate crime laws, and public humiliation for anyone who dares question the black agenda."


He also denounced America's media support for establishing "an unlimited white checking account for underclass blacks."


On January 8, 2008, New Republic contributor James Kirchick added more, quoting Paul's newsletter saying:


"(I)f you have ever been robbed by a black teen-aged male, you know how unbelievably fleet-footed they can be."


It called Black representative Barbara Jordan "the archetypical half-educated victimologist (whose) race and sex protect her from criticism."


"Racial Violence Will Fill Our Cities (because) mostly black welfare recipients will feel justified in stealing from mostly white 'haves.' "


"Jury verdicts, basketball games, and even music are enough to set of black rage, it seems."


Whether or not Paul wrote or endorsed these and other comments isn't clear. However, they appeared in newsletters bearing his name. He now disavows them. According to his 2008 campaign spokesman, Jesse Benton:


Paul granted "various levels of approval" to newsletter material, ranging from "no approval" to material he actually wrote. However, he never saw many issues so attributing comments in them to him appear suspect.


Responding to charges about hanging out with white supremacists, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and other extremist views, Texas NAACP president Nelson Linder said he's known Paul for 20 years not to be racist. In fact, he called Martin Luther King a "hero."


He also condemned police repression in Black communities and discriminatory mandatory sentencing rules directed mostly at them.


A Final Comment


Paul's America endorses personal freedom, abolishing social spending, leaving everyone on their own sink or swim, reducing government's size, minimally taxing corporations and super-rich elites, freeing them to operate as they wish, and returning the nation largely to 19th century harshness.


If elected, supporters may get more than they bargained for and not government serving everyone equitably, especially society's least advantaged through no fault of their own.


The Constitution's "general welfare" clause (Article I, Section 8) states:


"The Congress shall have power to....provide for (the) general welfare of the United States," meaning all citizens. The Preamble's opening words are "We the People."


Increasingly, they're just words. Under Paul, they'll be abolished. Know what you'll get by supporting him.


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/.

State of Human Rights in Israel

State of Human Rights in Israel - by Stephen Lendman


Annually, the State Department publishes human rights reports for over 190 countries. Its latest April 8, 2011 Israel assessment noted serious human rights abuses, including:


(1) numerous NGO complaints about torture and other abuses in Gaza and the West Bank.


(2) Israel's High Court of Justice (HCJ) ruling against painful shackling. At issue is tightening restraints to inflict pain.


In Public Committee Against Torture in Israel v. Prime Minister, former HCJ President Aaron Barak said:


"A reasonable interrogation is an interrogation without torture, without cruel or inhuman treatment of the interrogee, and without a humiliating attitude thereto."


"It is forbidden to use brutal and inhuman measures during the course of the interrogation."


"Painful cuffing is a prohibited action. Moreover: other means exist to prevent escape from lawful custody or to protect the interrogators which do not involve pain and suffering to the interrogee."


(3) the UN fact finding commission finding that Israeli security forces "arbitrarily" killed nine Mavi Marmara humanitarian activists.


(4) targeted assassinations.


(5) whitewashed investigations, unaccountability, and few prosecutions of Israelis involved in killings and other human rights abuses.


(6) "unnatural deaths" in prisons.


(7) prison "deficiencies," including sub-standard isolation cells.


(8) detentions without charge up to six months, "renewable indefinitely."


(9) arrests for "security reasons," "even when the accused posed no clear danger."


(10) "denial of fair public trial(s)."


(11) "arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home or correspondence."


(12) free expression and press restrictions, including prohibiting journalists from entering Gaza; requiring media organizations "submit to military censors any material relating to specific military issues" or strategic ones; impeding free assembly, association, and movement; as well as other civil liberty violations.


(13) discrimination against citizens and residents of Arab origin.


(14) human rights violations against refugees and asylum seekers with regard to status, social rights, safety, and "hot return" policy.


Association for Civil Rights in Israel Annual Human Rights Report


Annually, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) publishes its "State of Human Rights - Situation." For 2011, it documents "grave violations of rights in Israel's prisons and describes a rising trend of restrictions of liberty" overall, including:


  • freedom of expression;


  • freedom of political activity; and


  • freedom of thought and opinion.


It also covers last summer's mass social rights protests, infringing protesters' freedom of expression, and few results so far achieved.


According to ACRI's Executive Director, Hagai El-Ad:


"With this report, ACRI displays the reality of human rights issues: when some of us are less equal than others - none of us are equal. When freedom of expression is under threat - we are all in danger."


"In the face of threats to democracy in Israel, we saw this past summer how more and more citizens demand to become active partners in designing reality, in order to realize human rights and social justice in Israel. We hope that the Situation Report will raise public debate and help in bringing the desired change(s)."


Part I discusses deplorable conditions in Israeli prisons. No one's addressing them or efforts to safeguard prisoner dignity and basic rights.


Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, refugees, asylum seekers, and migrant workers are especially affected. Months or years in prison usually follow arrests. It's the rule, not the exception, including for many uncharged.


Arresting minors is also commonplace, despite international law requiring prosecutions and imprisonment used only as a last resort.


In Occupied Palestine, Israel's permit system, militarized presence, checkpoints, Separation Wall, Jews only roads, and other barriers severely restrict free movement. Gaza remains besieged. Jordan Valley residents are disconnected from other West Bank communities, and East Jerusalemites face dispossessions to entirely Judaize the city.


Tactics employed against basic freedoms have a chilling effect overall. They undermine popular efforts and motivation to hold free discussions about fundamental human and civil rights.


Democracies can't exist without them. Nor when citizens can't participate actively and be able to influence policies.


Summer 2011 social justice protests united dissimilar groups, including Arabs and Jews, workers and unemployed, poor and middle class, young and old, men and women, and migrants and refugees among others. Success remains elusive.


However, a new awareness permeated Israeli society. People know change demands social activism. Moreover, when marginalized groups are harmed, everyone's affected.


Part II covers imprisoning the spirit, including rights violations in the broadest sense. Violence, restrictions, and other crackdowns diminish democratic discourse. Unidentified masked police violate Israeli law.


Requiring released demonstrators pledge no further protests stifles free expression. So does harassing and threatening them in "warning talks."


In Occupied Palestine, demonstrations are prohibited. Violence confronts participants. Injuries, arrests and at times deaths follow.


Anti-democratic legislation's been passed. More's coming. Individual liberties are threatened, including those of minorities. Affected groups include those named above and anyone criticizing government policies, including Jews.


In Part III, social rights are discussed. Israelis demand. Netanyahu's government turns a deaf ear. Socioeconomic gaps follow years of degrading rights. Ethnic, national and cultural minorities are especially affected. So are all Israelis in areas of healthcare, education, housing, employment and welfare.


ACRI endorses a new Basic Law: Social Rights to enshrine fundamental rights and dignified living for all. Israel wants none of it, serving the same corporate interests as in America, Europe, and elsewhere.


A Final Comment


Religious extremism and violence threaten all Israelis. On December 27, thousands protested against gender segregation near Beit Shemesh's Orot girl's school. Ultra-orthodox Haredi extremists were involved.


Israel's Channel 2 broadcast the plight of eight-year old Na'ama Margolese. Daily to and from school, she faces Haredi abuse. She's young, cursed, spat on, and bewildered about what's happening.


On December 26, Haredim clashed with police and TV news crews. Arrests and detentions followed. Earlier on Christmas day, a Channel 10 TV news team was targeted. An hour later, Channel 2 personnel were assaulted with eggs, and a videographer attacked.


Haredim also pelted police with rocks. Rising tensions brought calls for Beit Shemesh's mayor to resign. He refused but opposes religious extremism. Saying he'll "act decisively against anyone who lifts a hand on children," he stopped short of adding more.


On December 28, a Haaretz editorial headlined, "Religious extremists threaten democracy in Israel," saying:


Incidents like in Beit Shemesh "should set off major alarm bells." Public outrage massed against them on Tuesday and "the enormous threat" they represent. Everyone's affected.


Haredim "rioters....are criminals in every sense of the word. They cannot hide behind their religious worldview, behind their rabbis' rulings on matters of halakha (Judaic law). Nor can they hide behind the argument (even though correct) that government authorities have preferred to ignore" their growing violence and let them "terrorize the city's residents and turn them into defenseless hostages."


Most Israelis want no part of enforcing halakha to the exclusion of secular rights. They want freedom to live as they choose within the law. Authorities must use it against Haredim and their rabbis "who encourage and incite them to run wild."


They endanger everyone. So do US Christian fascists. They want their extremist dogma forced on everyone. Like Haredim, it includes male gender dominance, disdain for non-believers, opposition to free thought, and everyone against their views.


Political, religious, and other extremists threaten freedom everywhere. They dominate Israel's Knesset and political Washington dangerously.


Their out-of-control agenda puts humanity at risk. Stopping them is job one.


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, December 30, 2011

Israel v. Palestine in 2012

Israel v. Palestine in 2012 - by Stephen Lendman


Palestinians have endured decades of ruthless occupation. World leaders decline support. They're left largely on their own despite growing millions globally supporting them.


Life in occupied Palestine is harsh and repressive. On December 26, Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barakat, delivered another blow. The Municipality will classify 70,000 Israeli Arab citizens non-residents and involuntarily transfer them to West Bank locations.


At issue is entirely Judaizing Jerusalem through forced ethnic cleansing to facilitate escalated settlement construction. It's also part of creating a greater Jerusalem and preventing a two-state solution.


Two new Haaretz reports are also significant heading into 2012, one by writer Barak Ravid.


After refusing peace negotiations with Israel unless illegal settlement construction stops, he said:


"The Palestinian leadership submitted a proposal to renew peace talks with Israel that drops their longstanding demand that Israel ceases all West Bank settlement construction, a top Israeli official said on Wednesday."


In mid-December, PA officials told Quartet members peace talks could resume if Israel releases 100 long held Palestinian prisoners in good faith.


Abbas faced heavy pressure for months, no matter decades of past peace process futility because Israel won't tolerate it. It needs enemies to justify confrontation and violence.


Nonetheless, EU and other Quartet members told Abbas he'll share responsibility if talks don't resume by late January.


"There's real concern in the Quartet that after that date, Abbas will return to UN initiatives," an unnamed Israeli official said. At the same time, Netanyahu vowed no talks if Fatah/Hamas unity government plans proceed, saying:


Fatah will have to "choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas." Reconciliation shows "weakness. There cannot be peace" if both sides unite. "What happened....in Cairo is a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism."


Israel wants Hamas marginalized, isolated, and bogusly accused of terrorism. In fact, it's Palestine's legitimately elected government.


Baseless accusations are Israel's stock in trade. Hamas wants peace, equity and justice for all Palestinians. Numerous times its present and past leaders expressed willingness to recognize Israel in return for self-determination in peace inside pre-1967 borders - 22% of historic Palestine. Moreover, they agreed to unilateral ceasefires in spite of repeated Israeli violations.


Nonetheless, defensive responses follow continued Israeli provocations. Washington and Israel call it "terrorism." Under international law, it's legitimate self-defense.


Despite Abbas' offer, Israel rejected it out of hand, claiming one precondition replaces another and his proposal is too vague. Will full or preparatory talks follow? Will new conditions be demanded?


In fact, Israel negotiates one way. Its long suit never included equity, justice and fairness. Negotiations at any level will prove futile like earlier. Both sides know it, but the charade continues whether or not talks resume.


According to Palestine's chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, no preconditions were set, saying:


"A freeze of settlement construction, holding negotiation on the 1967 lines, and the release of prisoners are not preconditions but Israeli obligations, without which we can see no renewal of negotiations with Israel."


Netanyahu countered, saying Israel rejects talks if Palestinian unity proceeds, and “(t)he peace process can only advance while maintaining security arrangements, which is becoming more difficult in light of the current situation in the region."


At the same time, Haaretz writers Yanir Yagna and Gili Cohen headlined, "IDF confirms preparations for extensive future Gaza military action," saying:


Following on and off air strikes and ground assaults since summer, the IDF's "Gaza Division is preparing for a possible large-scale incursion into the Gaza Strip...."


According to Gaza Division's Southern Brigade General Tal Hermoni:


"We are preparing and, in fact, are ready for another campaign, which will be varied and different, to renew our deterrence."


Stopping short of saying war, he left little doubt what he means. So does IDF chief General Benny Gantz. Commenting on Cast Lead's third anniversary, he called it "an excellent operation that achieved deterrence for Israel vis-a-vis Hamas."


However, warning about new emerging cracks, he said expect more conflict. Israel will initiate "swift and painful" punishment. "I do not advise Hamas to test our mettle." The next Gaza campaign will be shorter than Cast Lead with much greater firepower, he stressed.


Gantz and Hermoni left no doubt. Israel plans war. Perhaps its timing will coincide with expected Washington belligerence against Syria and Iran. At risk is inflaming the entire region.


General war may follow. Nuclear weapons may be used. Humanity will be threatened.


Washington, key NATO partners, and Israel plan world dominance, even if destroying it happens in the process.


A Final Comment


Hamas is Palestine's legitimate government. At Israel's behest, Washington spuriously calls it a Foreign Terrorist Organization.


Al-Zatouna Center contributer Dr. Mohen Moh'd Saleh discussed its eight distinct features. His narrative diverges greatly from hostile Western discourse. Notably, Hamas is characterized by:


(1) "moderate Islamic discourse."


(2) "high dynamism" that lets it function "under difficult circumstances and regain its strength and vitality after harsh strikes."


(3) "Shura-based" consultation that keeps it cohesive and strong regardless of Israel's response.


(4) emphasis on polity, social needs, charity, jihad for liberation, and education.


(5) effective resistance.


(6) popularity at home and abroad.


(7) remaining corruption free.


(8) legitimacy to gain moral and financial support.


It also wants Palestinian unity through elections. However, participation entails perils under occupation. Washington and Israel won't permit a legitimate process unless assured Fatah, not Hamas, will win and maintain Israeli imposed harshness.


Moreover, authority and resistance conflict. In part, getting along entails going along to assure needed financial and other aid continues.


Yet liberation depends on resistance. It also requires Palestinian consensus and replacing farcical peace talks with real ones.


Palestinians deserve leaders able to deliver what they've long been denied - to live free on their own land, in their own country securely in peace.


If equitable unity government is possible, perhaps it's how to get it, but not without considerable more struggle ahead.


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/.

Saudi Arabian State Terror

Saudi Arabian State Terror - Stephen Lendman


Annually, the State Department publishes human rights reports for over 190 countries. Its latest April 8, 2011 Saudi Arabia assessment discusses "significant human rights abuses and the inability of citizens to change its absolute monarchal rule. Abuses include:


  • "torture and physical abuse;


  • poor prison and detention center conditions;


  • arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention;


  • denial of fair and public trials and lack of due process in the judicial system;


  • political prisoners;


  • restrictions on civil liberties such as freedom of speech (including the Internet);


  • assembly, association, movement, and severe restrictions on religious freedom; and


  • corruption and lack of transparency."


Also mentioned were inequality and violence against women, human trafficking, no labor rights, discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, sect and ethnicity, and violations of children's rights.


Saudi's absolute monarchal rule is despotic, lawless and brutal. It's a police state practicing state terrorism internally and regionally. It's also Washington's main Middle East ally after Israel.


In early December, Amnesty International (AI) published a report on the kingdom titled, "Saudi Arabia: Repression in the Name of Security."


Largely unnoticed in the West like the State Department's April assessment, major media scoundrels suppressed its ugly findings.


AI quoted Khaled al-Johani addressing reporters in Riyadh on the March 11, 2011 "Day of Rage," saying:


"I am here to say we need democracy. We need freedom. We need to speak freely. We need no one to stop us from expressing our opinions."


Shortly afterward he was arrested and charged with "communicating with the foreign media." He's now held incommunicado in Saudi's notoriously repressive prison system.


On March 5, Press TV reported the arrest and detention of senior Saudi cleric Sheikh Tawfiq al-Amer. At issue was his call for constitutional monarchal rule.


On March 23, Press TV reported 100 Shia protesters arrested after participating in anti-government demonstrations for political reforms and immediate political prisoner releases.


More recently on December 5, Press TV reported large anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich Eastern Province and another one on December 9 in Awamiyah, an Eastern Persian Gulf village.


Last April, Saudi's Interior Ministry said 5,831 people were arrested for being associated with a "deviant group," allegedly Al Qaeda. About 600 were sentenced. Another 600 awaited trials. Unsubstantiated terrorist related charges assures long, repressive prison terms.


A more recent high-profile case involved 16 men, including nine prominent reformists. They were sentenced to up to 30 years for allegedly trying to seize power by financing terrorism with laundered money. Their charges and trial had no legitimacy whatever. They were victimized for advocating political change and human rights.


AI said Saudi authorities "launched a new wave of repression in the name of security." Human rights protesters have been brutally oppressed. At the same time, a new anti-terror law exacerbates the absence of civil and human rights.


Last June, AI got a leaked copy. Provisions in it include:


  • prosecuting peaceful dissent as terrorism and "harming the reputation of the state or its position;"


  • a minimum of 10 years imprisonment for anyone questioning the integrity of the king or crown prince;


  • authorities will have carte blanche power to detain alleged security suspects indefinitely without charge or trial; and


  • terrorism's definition is expanded to include endangering "national unity" and/or questioning the integrity of the king or regime.


Overall, abusive practices will be legalized, including an anything goes policy of crushing dissent.


Saudi Arabia's Repressive Government


Saudi state power rests solely with the king and ruling Al Saud family. He especially wields absolute power to rule despotically. The nation's Constitution affords ordinary citizens and other residents no rights. Women are especially marginalized and denied.


The Constitution gives sole power to the ruling monarchy. Saudi Basic Law, adopted in 1992, declared the kingdom a monarchy ruled by the sons and grandsons of King Abd Al Aziz Al Saud. It also proclaimed Sharia (Islamic) law supreme.


Political parties and national elections are prohibited. Saudi kings appoint a Council of Ministers, including a prime minister, first and second deputies, 20 ministers, various advisors, and heads of major autonomous organizations.


Thirteen provinces comprise the kingdom. The ruling monarch appoints their governors. They're either princes or close royal family relatives. In 1993, ministers became subject to four-year term limitations. In 1997, a Consultative Council was expanded from 60 to 90 members.


Legislation is by Council of Ministers resolution, subject to royal approval. Democracy is a dirty word. Saudi's 27 million residents have no rights whatever. The media are severely constrained. Anyone dissenting is subject to arbitrary arrest and detention, including political critics, bloggers, academics, foreign nationals, and others.


On September 25, King Abdullah said women, beginning in 2015, will be allowed to run in municipal elections, and be appointed to the Shura Council monarchal advisory body.


Nonetheless, they're severely restricted. They can't travel, drive, engage in paid work or higher education. They also can't marry without male custodian permission.


Rage Bubbling Up Against the Regime


Perhaps mindful of other regional protests, Saudis have begun rallying publicly for change. They demand human rights be respected. They want social and political reforms, including free, open and fair elections. They also want political prisoners released.


In response, severe crackdowns followed. Hundreds of peaceful protesters were arrested and detained without trial. Others were charged with "vague security-related and other offenses. (AI) considers many of (them) prisoners of conscience, held solely for peacefully expressing their rights to freedom of expression and assembly."


In recent years, thousands have been detained on security grounds and remain imprisoned under horrific conditions. Victims include clerics, alleged Al Qaeda members, anyone with alleged connections or sympathies, and others suspected of anti-regime sentiment or its ties to Washington and other Western states.


Everyone arrested for security reasons faces torture and other forms of abuse. It's commonplace "because interrogators know that they can commit their crimes without fear of punishment."


Abuse is also encouraged by the "ready acceptance by courts of 'confessions' forced (from) detainees (by) beatings, electric shocks, and other forms of torture and ill-treatment."


Many detainees are untried. Others brought to court face grossly unfair proceedings, including secret ones with no right of appeal. Since established in October 2008, Saudi's Specialized Criminal Court hears them.


Victims are mostly human rights defenders, political reform activists, members of religious minorities, and many others guilty of no internationally recognized offense.


In the past, sporadic political violence occurred against state institutions, oil installations and Western nationals. Severe crackdowns followed. AI's report focused mainly on 2011 developments. Philip Luther, AI's Middle East/North Africa director said:


"Peaceful protesters and supporters of political reform in the country have been targeted for arrest in an attempt to stamp out the kinds of call for reform that have echoed across the region."


Many arrested are charged with "disrupting order." Some are forced to sign pledges to never again protest. In addition, they're forbidden to travel. Others face secret kangaroo proceedings. Those affected are guilty by accusation.


A Final Comment


Washington has close ties to despotic regional regimes, including Saudi Arabia. It uses them advantageously to advance its Greater Middle East project for unchallenged dominance.


Wars are waged to replace independent regimes with client ones. Saudi and other regional governments rule despotically. They're also US proxies when called on, including against Gaddafi's Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria.


As a result, they're rewarded for partnering with Washington's worst crimes. Who said it didn't pay!


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, December 29, 2011

Escalating Anti-Iranian Tensions

Escalating Anti-Iranian Tensions - by Stephen Lendman


Whether or not anti-Iranian rhetoric, saber rattling, sanctions, other policy measures, and recent events signal war isn't known. Growing dangers though mount.


America targets all independent regimes. At issue is replacing them with client ones.


In October, Washington falsely charged Iran with plotting to kill Saudi Arabia's US ambassador. In November, outdated, forged, long ago discredited, and perhaps nonexistent documents were used to claim Iran's developing nuclear weapons.


According to America's latest March 2011 intelligence estimate, no credible evidence proves it. Nor was Iran involved in 9/11.


Nonetheless, on December 15, Manhattan Federal Judge George Daniels said he'll sign an order accusing Iran, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda of 9/11 responsibility.


In response to a lawsuit brought by family members of 9/11 victims, he claimed Iran provided material support to Al Qaeda. He based it on fake evidence and spurious testimonies from three Iranian defectors. Their affidavits remained sealed during court proceedings.


In late December, Daniels assessed Iran $100 billion in damages. According to attorney Dennis Pantazis:


"We have worked over eight years, consulted hundreds of intelligence experts, reviewed thousands of documents and reports and traveled to three continents and multiple countries to interview eyewitnesses. The ruling stands for the proposition that no matter how big or powerful evil is, it will always be revealed."


His rant omitted clear evidence of CIA and Mossad involvement, not Iran, Hezbollah or Al Qaeda. Among others, David Ray Griffin's exhaustive research exposed the 9/11 lie.


On April 5, 2006, he said:


"It would seem, for many reasons, that the official story of 9/11, which has served as a religious Myth in the intervening years (and still does), is a myth in the pejorative sense of a story that does not correspond to reality."


In his newest book titled, "9/11: Ten Years Later," Griffin said:


"Getting the 9/11 lie exposed is essential. One obvious reason is simple justice," including for 9/11 family members, deserving most of all to know. "There also needs to be justice in the sense of punishment for those who engineered this crime," including top government, military, and intelligence officials. They're "guilty of murder and treason."


War Winds Target Iran


Tensions and dangers mount. A New York Times November editorial accused Iran of "pushing its nuclear program forward." Separately, The Times called Iran's commercial program "one of the most polarizing issues in one of the world's most volatile regions."


Without explaining why, it claimed both Bush and Obama administrations tried engaging Iran diplomatically when, in fact, they continued years of hostile relations and provocations.


In July 2008, Seymour Hersh said Congress agreed "to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence and congressional sources."


At issue is destabilization. Minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups, as well as other dissident organizations are supported. Intelligence operations targeting Iran's nuclear program remain ongoing.


"United States Special Operations Forces have been conducting cross-border operations from southern Iraq." Revolutionary Guard Al Quds commandos were kidnapped and taken to Iraq for interrogation.


CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) operations were "significantly expanded." Current tensions suggest these and perhaps other covert operations continue.


In June 2011, Hersh said despite "years of covert operations inside Iran, extensive satellite imagery, and the recruitment of many Iranian intelligence assets, the United States and its allies, including Israel, have been unable to find irrefutable evidence of (a covert) nuclear-weapons program in Iran, according to intelligence and diplomatic officials here and abroad."


Of course, replacing an independent regime with a client one is at issue, not an alleged nuclear weapons program. Yet its provocatively used for possible planned conflict.


Hostile Rhetoric Increasing


Addressing a Union for Reform Judaism audience on December 16, Obama called "a nuclear Iran unacceptable" and ruled "no options off the table." Perhaps he signaled war.


It wouldn't be the first time. After extending sanctions on Gaddafi last March, he said "the bottom line is that I have not taken any options off the table at this point." Days later, NATO began bombing.


On December 5, State Department arms advisor Robert Einhorn said Iran's "violating international obligations and norms. It is becoming a pariah state....The timeline for its nuclear program is beginning to get shorter, so it is important we take these strong steps on an urgent basis."


On December 7, Republican presidential aspirant Mitt Romney said, "Ultimately, (Iranian) regime change is what's going to be necessary." He called for "covert and overt" efforts to destabilize Tehran's government.


Other Republican candidates also escalated tensions. Newt Gingrich said he'd use "covert capability" for "regime change." Former Senator Rick Santorum said:


"There have been scientists turning up dead in Russia and in Iran. There have been computer viruses. There have been problems at their facility. I hope the United States has been involved with that." Foreign scientists helping Iran are "enemy combatant(s and should be) taken out by the United States."


An unnamed senior Western intelligence official told Israel News that "(t)here is deep concern within (Iran's) senior leadership....that they will be (targeted by) a surprise military strike by either Israel of the US."


According to Britain's Daily Mail, Guardian and Independent, it's already begun to control regional oil and gas riches.


On December 19, Secretary of Defense Panetta suggested Iran's a year away for having nuclear weapons. Washington "will take whatever steps necessary to deal with it," he said.


On December 20, Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey said "the options we are developing are evolving to a point that they would be executable, if necessary." He added that his "biggest worry is that (Iranians) will miscalculate our resolve."


On December 22, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to Washington remarks, saying they "make clear a fact that was already known to us from closed-door (meetings). It makes clear to Iran that it faces a real dilemma."


On December 23, former Secretary of Defense Office strategist/Council on Foreign Relations (CRF) Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow Matthew Kroenig's CFR Foreign Affairs article advocated war titled, "Time to Attack Iran."


Harvard's Stephen Walt called his piece "a textbook example of war-wongering disguised as analysis. It is a remarkably poor piece of advocacy....This is not fair-minded 'analysis;' it is simply a brief for war designed to reach a predetermined conclusion." Nonetheless, it escalated tensions further.


Obama Continues America's Permanent War Agenda


Throughout his tenure, Obama aggressively waged war. He's unrestrained for more. He'll even risk regional war with unpredictable consequences. If Russia and China enter to protect their strategic interests, all bets are off.


For years, Washington pushed the envelope with Iran. The Bush administration authorized covert CIA destabilization. Congress appropriated $400 million for it. Obama continues similar policies.


Moreover, Iranian nuclear scientists were murdered. Its Atomic Energy Organization head, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, was wounded by bombs attached to nearby cars.


Last spring, Iranian intelligence discovered the Stuxnet malware computer virus infecting its Bushehr nuclear facility. At the time, its operations were halted indefinitely.


Israel was blamed. Washington was also implicated. Calling it a hostile act, General Gholam-Reza Jalali said if Bushehr went online infected, Iran's entire electrical power grid could have been shut down.


On November 12, an explosion destroyed the Revolutionary Guard's Bid Kaneh base. Seventeen deaths resulted, including a founder of Iran's missile program. On November 28, another Isfahan explosion badly damaged a uranium enrichment facility.


On December 4, Washington's sophisticated stealth RQ-170 drone illegally entered Iranian airspace. Iran downed it intact by hacking into its cyber system. Its design replicates America's B-2 stealth bomber.


Washington has many ways to destabilize, weaken and oust regimes. They include provocations, fake accusations, political and economic sanctions, isolation, covert or direct confrontation, and cyberwar, among other dirty tricks.


On December 13, House and Senate leaders agreed on legislation imposing new sanctions on Iran. They're aimed at penalizing foreign financial institutions doing business with Tehran's central bank. It's the main conduit for its oil revenues. US corporations, including banks, are already prohibited from dealing with the Islamic Republic.


Additional measures expanded sanctions on companies doing oil related business, including investments, selling Iran refinery goods and services, and providing Tehran with refined products worth $5 million or more annually.


Obama's preparing to sign the measure. If fully implemented, Iranian oil shipments may be affected. If so, energy prices will rise during global economic weakness.


Other measures sanctioned developing infrastructure, ports, buying Iranian sovereign debt, and companies helping Tehran, North Korea or Syria pursue nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, as well as missile development programs.


Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Iran's naval forces can readily block the Strait of Hormuz in response to hostile Western actions. He spoke a day after Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned not a drop of oil would pass through the Strait if Iran's oil exports are sanctioned. If so, expect energy prices to skyrocket until normal flows resume.


A Final Comment


Obama appears inching toward more war, no matter the potentially devastating consequences, especially if nuclear weapons are used.


Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. Leaders ordering Syria and Iran attacked are deranged.


They infest political Washington and Israel. Buckle up. Anything ahead’s possible, no matter extreme dangers sensible officials wouldn't plan, risk, or even contemplate.


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/.