Month: June 2011

Remembering Brian Haw

Early morning June 18, lung cancer claimed 62 year old UK anti-war activist Haw after a long battle, a man London Independent contributor Mark Wallinger called “the conscience of the nation grown quiescent.”

His family left a message, saying: “He left us in his sleep and in no pain, after a long, hard fight,” ending three months of treatment in Germany. His long vigil, in fact, contributed to his poor heath. It also led to a divorce and largely separated him from his seven children.

After others stopped protesting America’s Afghan and Iraq wars, Brian was steadfast against his own government’s complicity. In fact, from June 2001, months before 9/11, he camped out in London’s Parliament Square against the UN’s appalling economic sanctions. They got former UN representative for Iraq’s Oil and Food program Denis Halliday to resign for being asked to commit the equivalent of genocide, killing 5,000 children monthly.

Haw, in fact, documented horrific Gulf War depleted uranium birth defects, repeated lies and evasions of US and UK leaders, and imperial lawlessness waging unconscionable wars. Resolutely he remained tenacious against injustice, championing peace and love.

See here an Interview where Brian Haw talks about peace:

On his own, his decade-long presence pressured his government relentlessly. In return, authorities hounded, arrested, and assaulted him. In 2002, the Westminster City Council petitioned Britain’s High Court for an injunction to remove him, claiming he blocked the pavement. The Court, however, declined, ruling his presence wasn’t unreasonable.

In 2003, the House of Commons Procedure Committee recommended a law change, prohibiting unlicensed protests on security grounds. He never left.

In 2005, after Tony Blair called him a nuisance to get rid of, the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA) passed, legislation enacted against him, making it illegal to protest within a one km radius of Parliament without police permission.

Nonetheless, he successfully argued that his vigil predated parliamentary terrorism, winning the right to continue protesting against Britain’s lawless participation in Washington’s imperial wars.

Preaching “Love….peace….justice….for all,” he camped out night and day every day, in good and bad weather, in spite of everything authorities tried to harass, deter, and banish him.

Using a megaphone, banners, placards, homemade signs, peace flags, photos, and slogans, his message resonated in Westminster and worldwide, a testimony to his heroic spirit, dogged presence against war, and refusal to quit until illness forced him.

Wallinger called him “a unique and remarkable man,” citing his “tenacity, integrity and dignity,” then asking: “What are we going to do now there is no (Brian) there?”

A lead Independent article called him a “Rebel with a cause….(a) one-man peace camp….a mighty irritant slap in front of the seat of national government,” challenging the illegal war-making of three prime ministers.

He survived numerous arrests, dozens of eviction attempts, and the mayor of London’s failed effort to clear his pavement space for Britain’s royal wedding. His resilience made him a hero for many.

In 2007, Channel 4’s Political Awards voted him the Most Politically Inspiring Figure of the Year. By then, in fact, he was internationally recognized. In Britain, tour guides included him on their itineraries, and documentaries and docudramas on Britain’s involvement in America’s wars featured him.

On June 19, a message from supporters on his web site said:

“Brian showed great determination and courage during the many long hard years he led his peace campaign. (He) showed the same courage and determination is his battle with cancer. He was keenly aware of and deeply concerned that so many civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine did not have access to the same treatments that were made available to him.”

On June 2, 2001, police asked him how long he’d be there. He replied, “As long as it takes.” He kept his word until his deteriorating health demanded treatment in Germany.

He’s survived by his wife former Kay, seven children, and legions of global admirers, perhaps inspired enough by his courage to pursue peace in his absence.

A Final Comment

On June 20, anti-war activist former UK MP Tony Benn headlined a London Guardian op-ed, “Brian Haw gave his life for peace,” saying:

He stood for principle against lawless wars. “Every MP on the way to work would pass Brian and know he was always there and underst(ood) what he was saying.”

His activism “frightened the establishment” enough to try stopping him legislatively, mindless of his dogged determination to resist.

“The remarkable thing about Brian was not only his principle, but his determination, alone, to be effective as indeed he was; for millions of people must have seen him there or on television, and came to know of his campaign.”

Some called him “the man of peace in Westminster,” a different message from warmongering MPs, Benn never one of them.

“Brian did not stop the Iraq war” or others, “but he will be remembered as a man who stood” for peace and gave his life championing it.

“He will be sadly missed and his death marks the end of a historic enterprise by a man who gave everything to support his beliefs” – honorable ones against Washington and UK war criminals, reigning terror and destruction he valiantly tried to stop.

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Entrapping Innocent Muslims

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A recent New York University School of Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) report is titled, “Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the ‘Homegrown Threat’ in the United States.”

Post-9/11, Muslims have been ruthlessly targeted. Paid informants have infested mosques and their communities to entrap them. As a result, over 200 were persecuted on bogus terrorism related charges. Despite “tout(ing) these cases as successes in the so-called war against terrorism….former (FBI) agents, local lawmakers,” and many others “have begun questioning the legitimacy and efficacy” of entrapping innocent victims for political advantage.

CHRGJ discussed several high-profile cases, using well-paid informants often performing services in return for reduced charges or sentences they face, a powerful incentive to cooperate.

Nearly always, Washington invents plots foiled in the nick of time, entrapping innocent victims with no intent to commit crimes. America’s media headline them. The public feels safer with no idea they’ve been scammed or that blameless citizens and residents are falsely charged.

In fact, calling Muslims “potential threats” or “homegrown terrorists” violates core constitutional freedoms. Nonetheless, it’s now common law enforcement practice assuming that:

— Muslims are more likely to become terrorists;

— they’re increasingly “radicalized” and compelled to commit violence in the name of Islam; and

— counterterrorism policies should identify and stop them before they act.

In fact, research contradicts these notions. Moreover, relying on them violates fundamental human rights long ago discarded for political and judicial expediency. As a result, Muslims most often face terrorism charges because “they hate us” or other spurious reasons.

Muslim men (and “Muslim looking people) are especially vulnerable. In addition, Muslim culture and religious practices are also cited as indicators of potential terrorism. As a result, they’re maliciously targeted, surveilled, investigated, entrapped, charged, unjustly prosecuted, and convicted.

Notably, a 2007 NYPD report titled, “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat” popularized these beliefs, using “thinly sourced, reductionist” notions, claiming:

“the path to terrorism has a fixed trajectory and that each step of the process has specific, identifiable markers,” despite no corroborating evidence. In fact, research suggests the opposite, exposing racist, discriminatory beliefs and practices.

In fact, Washington uses these notions maliciously, targeting innocent Muslims for their faith and ethnicity. Moreover, in February, Senator Joe Lieberman called on the National and Homeland Security Councils to develop “a comprehensive national approach to countering homegrown radicalization to violent Islamist extremism.

In March, Rep. Peter King chaired a racist congressional hearing, duplicitously claiming radicalized Muslims are increasing at an alarming rate, endangering US security. In fact, the only law enforcement witness testifying refuted his accusations.

Most alarming is that Obama’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), FBI, and Justice Department (DOJ) all embrace racist radicalization notions to entrap innocent victims with “preventive” policing nearly always with no evidence of wrongdoing. Instead of pursuing criminals, they target people for their faith, religious practices, and appearance unjustly, using well-paid informant snitches.

Post-9/11, repressive laws were enacted to facilitate the process, “resulting in the criminalization of a range of behaviors (not) indicative of….intent to commit…violent crime(s).” At the same time, law enforcement powers were recklessly expanded in violation of constitutional rights. As a result, abusive practices proliferated against Muslims, making it the wrong time for them to be here, even native born ones .

Using informants to illegally entrap is especially alarming when no legal limits constrain the targeting of one segment of society. Because of earlier COINTELPRO and other abuses, Attorney General Edward Levi (in 1976) established Guidelines “proceed(ing) from the proposition that Government monitoring of individuals or groups because they hold unpopular or controversial views is intolerable in our society.”

However, they eroded steadily, notably post-9/11, so today virtually anything goes extralegally on the pretext of national security. In 2008, Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s Guidelines were profoundly lawless, authorizing informants, surveillance, and other abusive practices in cases involving no suspected criminality.

For example, FBI agents may direct informants to collect names, emails, phone numbers, and other information about devout mosque attendees, based only on their religiosity.

Specifically, intrusive “assessments” may be made in situations with no “information or….allegations indicating” wrongdoing or threat to national security. As a result, groups or meetings infiltrated covertly, attendees questioned casually, and physical surveillance of “homes, offices and individuals” conducted extralegally.

The FBI’s Domestic Investigative Operational Guidelines (DIOGs) are used this way without supervisory approval or constraints on abusive practices. As a result, virtually anything goes, primarily against one segment of society, creating a troubling law enforcement standard common in police states unencumbered by laws.

Moreover, even though the 2003 DOJ Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies bans profiling by race and ethnicity, it implicitly permits doing so for faith and national origin purposes, as well as targeting anyone for national and border security purposes.

The Mukasey Guidelines also permit illegal entrapment and other abusive practices. As a result, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies lawlessly target Muslim communities to identify potential terrorists. In fact, New York city guidelines specifically permit intrusive investigations of “potential terrorist activity before an unlawful act occurs.”

Unconstrained informants are used, subject only to Deputy Commissioner of the Intelligence Division directives. As a result, “NYPD has become a leading advocate for law enforcement based on the flawed radicalization model,” authorizing illegal acts, including “inducement(s)….to engage in crim(inal)” activity to facilitate entrapment.

FBI guidelines also authorize expansive powers, including targeting individuals or groups for their views or religious practices. Critics include former FBI counterterrorism agent (now ACLU Senior Policy Counsel) Mike German, saying “the FBI (is) out of compliance with its (own) guidelines to an extraordinary extent,” by providing few checks on illegal practices, including entrapment.

It occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn’t be committed. However, it doesn’t apply in willing lawlessness instances, government merely aiding, abetting, or facilitating chances to do so.

Specifically, it involves:

— government officials or agents initiating the idea; then

— persuading individuals to discuss, plan or commit actions they otherwise never intended.

To convict, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt no entrapment was used. In fact, it’s common against innocent people, especially Muslims targeted for political or other reasons.

CHRGJ concluded that “types of evidence relied upon by the government in terrorism-related prosecutions are highly prejudicial, and build on the conflation of Muslim religious practice, political opinions critical of US foreign policy, and (alleged) terrorism. The prejudicial nature of relying on such evidence is magnified” by entrapment, claiming defendants’ are predisposed to commit crimes, based on fabricated, secret, or other evidence to prejudice, pressure, and intimidate juries to convict.

Based on empirical research, however, no link exists between religion or political views and a propensity to commit violent acts. Nonetheless, most convictions result from bogusly conflating them as proof of “intent or predisposition.”

As a result, victims are usually defenseless against abusive government practices, including through wrongful conviction civil rights lawsuits right-wing courts rule against or disallow, especially in national security related cases involving alleged terrorism or conspiracy to commit it.

CHRGJ covered several case examples, including David Williams, one of “the Newburgh Four (NY)”, bogusly charged with plotting to blow up a Bronx synagogue and shoot down military aircraft with Stinger surface-to-air missiles. Using an FBI sting, an informant was lawlessly used to entrap them. Despite no plot or crime, they were arrested, charged and convicted.

Another case involved Eljvir, Dristan and Shain Duka, three of the Fort Dix Five, falsely charged and convicted on multiple counts, including planning to attack US soldiers at Fort Dix, NJ, despite no plot, crime or legitimate evidence. Another entrapment sting operation was used.

A third case involved Shahawar Siraj Matin, also entrapped by a police informant in an alleged subway bombing plot despite no crime or intent to commit one.

Another case involves two Bowling Green, KY Iraqis (Mohanad Shareef Hammadi and Waad Ramadan Alwan) beyond the study’s timeline, the Louisville Courier-Journal saying on May 31 they were indicted on terrorism charges.

Specifically, they were charged with “conspiring to kill US soldiers with improvised explosive devices in Iraq,” as well as plans to send Stinger missiles, cash, sniper rifles, and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Iraq.

In fact, the alleged plot is as implausible as attacking Fort Dix, downing military aircraft, attacking marines at Quantico, VA, bombing New York landmarks, and other concocted schemes to entrap and convict innocent victims.

A Final Comment

CHRGJ said “practices described in the Report raise serious concerns about the US government’s compliance with its international human rights obligations,” including rights to a fair trial, non-discrimination, freedom of expression, religion, and other rights under US and international law.

Federal, state, and local enforcement agencies systematically violate them to target and convict unjustly, sending innocent victims to prison for being Muslims in America at the wrong time, leaving everyone just as vulnerable.

As a result, it’s “proved impossible for” victims “to gain redress” at a time imperial priorities take precedence. Its ravages are felt abroad and at home, especially by Muslim families.

Wives lose husbands, children their fathers, and wrongfully convicted Muslim men their freedom, some for decades or the rest of their lives to satisfy America’s lust for conquest and domination, no matter the human cost.

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Remote Control Killing Like Sport – unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

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Defence contractor giants like Boeing, Lockeed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and others, as well as smaller rivals compete for growing demand for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). They include remote control operated killer drones, also called unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs).

It’s America’s newest sport. From distant command centers, far from target sights, sounds, and smells, operators dismissively ignore human carnage showing up as computer screen blips little different from video game images. The difference, of course, is people die, mostly noncombatants. More on that below.

On March 10, 2010, Der Spiegel writer Marc Pitzke headlined, “How Drone Pilots Wage War,” saying:

They “sit in air-conditioned rooms far away from (America’s wars). They guide their weapons with joysticks and monitors. The remote warriors work with a high degree of precision – at a fraction of the cost of a fighter jet,” but just as deadly.

Operators use computer keyboards and five monitors. One says “I’ve got eight missiles and two bombs on two Predators. Weapons ready.”

The main monitor shows a target’s aerial view “from a considerable height….Three, two, one. Impact,” after pushing a red button. “Excellent job,” the man says after a destructive explosion. The entire mission lasted two minutes “against a faceless enemy” attacked by remote control half a world away.

“The whole thing looks like a computer game,” virtual war “that doesn’t require combatants to get their hands dirty” or perhaps souls compromised for mindlessly slaughtering civilians lawlessly – what America’s media never explain or why Washington wages war.

Each drone system includes four aircraft, a ground station, a satellite link, and launch site maintenance crew, keeping UAVs ready to use round-the-clock on a moment’s notice. Like America’s wars, moreover, drone technology is a growth business, Insitu’s Steven Sliwa saying the industry is well positioned like the aeronautical one during WW II – up-up-and-away for big profits.

America’s Drone Command Centers

Two currently operate, the CIA’s at its Langley, VA headquarters, the Pentagon’s at Nevada’s Creech Air Force Base, about 35 miles from Las Vegas.

Look-alikes, they’re sterile, insular, secure computer rooms manned by “combat commuters.” By day, they wage war, then drive home for dinner, relaxation, and family time, dismissive of killing for a living like mafia hit men, except they do it daily on a global scale against nameless, faceless targets.

Working in pairs, a pilot sits at one end of a computer station, a sensor operator at the other, controlling visual surveillance, able to zoom in for closer views, capturing images from drone cameras and satellites.

The Pentagon’s team maintains constant radio contact with its Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) Qatar headquarters and US Kandahar, Afghanistan base where UAVs take off and land.

ACLU National Security Project director Hina Shamsi calls Predator drones “targeted international killings by the state.” On February 8, 2010, she and Law Professor Philip Alston’s London Guardian article headlined, “A killer above the law?” saying:

Sanitized killing on the cheap leaves disturbing issues unanswered, including a program shrouded in secrecy, no accountability, and dubious “no reports” of civilian casualties despite “credible (ones) that hundreds of innocents have died.”

International law, in fact, demands accountability. “When complete secrecy prevails, it is negated. Secrecy also provides incentives to push the margins in problematic ways….Equally discomforting is the ‘PlayStation mentality’ that surrounds drone killings. Young military (recruits, CIA operatives, and private civilian contractor) personnel raised on a diet of video games now kill real people remotely using joysticks.”

Lawless abuses always follow secrecy without accountability, killer drones a perfect example. On July 12, 2009, Greg Grant’s Infowars.com article headlined, “Drones Hardly Even Kill Bad Guys,” saying:

Counterinsurgency advisor David Kilcullen “told lawmakers last week that drone strikes” successfully hit militants 2% of the time. All others are noncombatant civilians. These casualties then “become an extension of war by other means. Tactics that physically defeat elements of the enemy and lose the population lose the war,” besides issues of legality.

In his book “Wired for War,” Peter Singer called drone technology disturbingly “seductive” because it makes combat look “costless.”

Britain’s former Iraq air chief marshal said it was “virtueless war,” requiring no heroics or getting one’s hands dirty.

According to Law Professor Mary Dudziak, “Drones are a technological step that further isolates the American people from military action, undermining political checks on….endless war,” as well as its fallout, including the human cost, and America’s illegal targeted assassination program.

Ramping Up Drone Warfare

In FY 2012, the Air Force plans to double its advanced killer drone fleet, including the RQ-4 Global Hawk class, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1 Predator.

General Atomics MQ-9 Reapers are especially valued, the first hunter-killer UAV designed for long endurance, high surveillance targeting, used by the Air Force, Navy, US Customs and Border Protection, UK Royal Air Force, and Italian Air Force. The CIA prefers smaller, lightweight, less obtrusive drones for killing.

The Pentagon just released its 30-year aircraft procurement plans, projected to be more robotic than ever, budgeted for about $25 billion annually, including doubling its robot fleet by 2021, saying:

“The number of platforms in this category – RQ-4 Global Hawk-class, MQ-9 Reaper, and MQ-1 Predator-class unnammed aircraft systems – will grow from approximately 340 in (FY) 2012 to approximately 650 in FY 2021.”

The Army’s got a Gray Eagle Reaper-like drone. The Marines want a similar one as part of their Group 4 Unmanned Air System program. The Navy’s so-called Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Strike and Surveillance initiative aims to put jet-powered killer drones on carrier decks no later than 2018. Around the same time, the Air Force may start buying jet-powered ones to complement its prop-driven Reaper.

By decade’s end, it hopes to have enough medium and large drones to maintain at least 65 round-the-clock “orbits” compared to now. Combined with other service branches, 100 or more permanently positioned killer drones may launch precision-guided bombs and missiles on targets virtually anywhere.

Moreover, improved sensors like the Air Force’s Gorgon Stare and new foliage-penetrating radars will let new generations of drones do what multiple ones are needed for now.

Given the profit potential, US defense contractors are scrambling for part of a bigger pie, developing new killer drone models, including Boeing’s X-45C, Northrop Grumman’s X-47B and General Atomic’s Avenger. Others will follow to satisfy the Pentagon’s insatiable appetite for remote killing and destruction on a global scale.

If America’s military had a motto, it would be war is good, the more the better. How else can generals get stars?

Remote Control High Altitude Killing

In March 2010, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit:

“demanding that the government disclose the legal basis for its use of unmanned drones to conduct targeted killings overseas. In particular, the lawsuit asks for information on when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, the number and rate of civilian casualties and the other basis information essential for assessing the wisdom and legality of using armed drones to conduct targeted killings.”

At issue is using them against civilians, including US citizens abroad after Obama authorized targeting any suspected of terrorist involvement, with or without proof.

The ACLU sued the Defense, State, and Justice Departments after each provided no requested information “nor have they given any reason for withholding documents. The CIA answered the ACLU’s request by refusing to confirm or deny the existence of any relevant documents.” CIA wasn’t sued because the ACLU appealed its non-response to the Agency Release Panel.

UAVs were first used in Vietnam, mainly as reconnaissance platforms. In the 1980s, radar killer drones called Harpy air defense suppression systems were employed. In the Gulf War, unmanned combat air system (UCAS) and X-45 air vehicles were used.

Others were deployed in Bosnia in 1995 and against Serbia in 1999. America’s new weapon of choice is now commonplace in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and domestically, including for law enforcement – in fact, virtually anywhere for targeted attacks and/or surveillance globally.

At issue is their legality, given their use outside traditional battlefields for extrajudicial assassinations, a practice US and international laws prohibit. Yet reports confirm Obama’s ramped up use with long-term grander schemes – why the ACLU and other human rights groups express concern.

A December 2009 Social Science Research Network Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper titled, “Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones: A Case Study of Pakistan, 2004 – 2009” said the following:

“First drones launch missiles or drop bombs, the kind of weapons that may only be used lawfully in an armed conflict. Until the spring of 2009, there was no armed conflict (in Pakistan). International law does not recognize the right to kill without warning outside an actual armed conflict. Killing without warning is only tolerated during the hostilities of an armed conflict, and, then, only lawful combatants may lawfully carry” them out.

CIA members “are not lawful combatants and their participation in killing persons – even in an armed conflict – is a crime.” US military forces may be “lawful combatants in Pakistan” only if its government officially requested them. It did not.

Further, beyond targeted individuals, collateral killing is commonplace. “Drones have rarely, if ever, killed just the intended target. By October 2009, the ratio has been up to” 50 civilians for each militant. As a result, drone use violates “the war-fighting principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality and humanity.”

Nonetheless, violations continue daily in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now Libya, having escalated dramatically in recent years. Along with bombers and helicopter gunships, their use in Afghanistan (and North Waziristan, Pakistan) is so pervasive that anyone in the open or near targeted sites risks death – civilians, including vulnerable women and children for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On March 13, 2010, Der Spiegel headlined, “Drones Are Lynchpin of Obama’s War on Terror,” calling them his weapon of choice. “But the political, military and moral consequences are incalculable.”

One report said in the past two years the Air Force Research Laboratory embarked on a program to “build the ultimate assassination robot (described as) a tiny, armed drone for the US special forces to employ in terminating ‘high-value targets’ ” that most often are noncombatants.

On April 4, 2010, New York Times writers Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah headlined, “Drones Batter Qaeda and Allies Within (North Waziristan) Pakistan,” referring to a “stepped-up campaign….over the past three months (casting) a pall of fear over an area (by) fly(ing) overhead sometimes four at a time, emitting a beelike hum virtually 24 hours a day, observing and tracking targets, then unleashing missiles on their quarry….”

The ferocity of strikes, in fact, got one Pakistani to say, “It seems they really want to kill everyone….,” civilians, of course, most vulnerable. Almost daily, noncombatant casualties are reported, sparking public anger and protests, including over America’s regional presence.

In late April, Obama authorized a major Libyan war escalation, ordering the use of killer drones. At an April 21 press conference, Defense Secretary Gates and Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Gen. James Cartwright announced the deployment of Predator UAVs, saying:

“What they will bring that is unique to the conflict is their ability to get down lower, therefore to be able to get better visibility on….targets now that they have started to dig themselves into defensive positions.”

Also announced was that surveillance drones have flown throughout the conflict. Now Hellfire missile firing ones are being used, supplementing daily terror bombings and low-flying Apache helicopter gunship killing machines hitting anything on the ground that moves.

A recent CBS News poll shows 60% of Americans against the Libyan war, only 30% saying military involvement in North Africa is justified. It represents a sharp drop from March when 70% supported intervention.

World outrage is also growing, including from the Pan Afrikanist Steering Committee of Namibia against The United Nations Resolution 1973 (PSCNAUNR), calling NATO’s Libya war “a desecration of the Afrikan homeland by a set of Europeans.”

Saying it’s an “appalling atrocity,” Western supported “mercenaries” are being used “to kill, maim, destroy local infrastructures, and attack Afrikans….living in fear of their lives within Libya.”

NATO, “under the guise of the UN, deliberately started its bombardment under a hidden agenda for Regime Change” in violation of international law. “It is now crystal clear that the motive behind Resolution 1973 was of a sinister nature, (effectively) representing a Declaration of War” against a nonbelligerent state.

June 12 on the Progressive Radio News Hour, Cynthia McKinney reported from Tripoli, saying hospitals, schools, residential houses, and other non-military sites have been bombed, causing numerous civilian casualties. NATO and America’s media duplicitously deny it.

However, other independent sources confirm strikes on commercial airports, seaports, power generating facilities, and other sites unrelated to military necessity, terrorizing, killing, and injuring Libyan civilians by intensified attacks.

A Final Comment

As president, Obama intensified US belligerence in multiple theaters, defying international and constitutional law. He may, in fact, have a new target in mind, what a June 10 White House press release suggests, saying:

“The United States strongly condemns the Syrian government’s outrageous use of violence…particularly in the northwestern region. There must be an immediate end to the brutality and violence. We regret the loss of life and extend our condolences to all those who have suffered.”

The double standard gross hypocrisy requires no comment, especially in light of the Washington, Israel, Saudi, and Lebanon’s March 14 Alliance project to destabilize Assad’s government, including by inciting and supporting armed militants for regime change.

So far, Russia and China have blocked a proposed Security Council resolution condemning Syrian violence, fearing passage perhaps means more war. It’s America’s favored strategy against regimes it doesn’t control.

Notably, three rogues senators (John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham) openly support regime change, saying in a joint statement:

“By following the path of (Gaddafi) and deploying military forces to crush peaceful demonstrations, al-Assad and those loyal to him have lost the legitimacy to remain in power in Syria. We urge President Obama to state unequivocally (that it’s) time for (him) to go,” stopping short of calling for war they may join with others in demanding it.

Despite waging multiple imperial wars, Obama, in fact, may oblige them, heading America perilously closer to all out general war, especially to distract growing millions from their economic misery at home.

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Global Economic Crisis Deepening

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In the 1960s, economist Arthur Okum began calculated America’s Misery Index by adding the unemployment and inflation rates for a sense of public pain or lack of it in good times.

In May, it hit a record high exceeding 25, surpassing the earlier June 1980 21.98 top, based on how both measures were then calculated, not today’s methodology, manipulated to hide painful truths.

At issue is:

— over 22% unemployment, including discouraged workers and the so-called “birth-death model” estimate of net non-reported jobs from new businesses minus losses from ones no longer operating; during hard times, painful truths are hidden by creating non-existent jobs out of whole cloth instead of subtracting them to reflect fewer, not additional new businesses;

— double digit inflation, including soaring food, energy, healthcare, college tuition, and other costs omitted or understated in core figures;

— rising poverty, more than one in seven affected according to way understated Census Bureau figures, using threshold measures developed 40 years earlier;

— record numbers on food stamps;

— record measures of food insecurity – Feeding America.org reporting one in six American facing hunger;

— predicted record 2011 numbers of home foreclosures, estimated at 1.2 million after one million lost last year;

— record homelessness numbers up to 3.5 million on any given night, needing refuge wherever they can find it or face life on city streets; and

— other measures of worsening conditions during a Main Street depression, affecting Europe, Japan and elsewhere like America.

Economic recovery? Explain how to millions unemployed or underemployed, foreclosed homeowners, bankrupt business owners, impoverished legions, and many others food insecure at a time US and European leaders enforce austerity when massive social stimulus is needed.

Across Europe, large deficits and public debt crises are spreading, an Economist April 29 article highlighting “a moment….when events spiral out of control. As panic sets in, bond yields lurch sickeningly upwards and fear spreads to shares and currencies.”

It happened in September 2008, a decade earlier when Russia defaulted, and similar past events. “When the unthinkable becomes the inevitable,” contagion and panic follow like a tsunami sweeping away everything in its path.

Numerous European countries are deeply troubled, notably Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain, entrapped in debt, locked in a Eurozone straightjacket. Perhaps heading for default, they’ve inflicted painful austerity on working households, rallying them en masse in protest.

On May 30, financial expert and investor safety advocate Martin Weiss said:

“Never before have I seen so many threats to your safety and wealth converging in one time and place,” citing:

— deteriorating bank safety, evident from increasing failures and other systemic risk measures;

— a deepening housing market depression with no end in sight;

— a worsening European sovereign debt crisis; and

— most worrisome, the contagion spreading to America.

According to Weiss:

“If you thought the debt crisis of 2008-2009 was a harrowing experience, wait till you see what’s coming next.” Last time, corporations were affected. Sovereign states are getting hammered now, including America.

On May 16, the Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB) headlined, “Global systemic crisis: Confirmation of a Major Alert for the second half of 2011 – Explosive fusion of world geopolitical dislocation and the global economic financial crisis,” saying:

As it predicted in February 2008, GEAB again believes conditions now suggest a later in the year “explosive fusion….(a worldwide) geopolitical dislocation on the one hand and (a) global economic and financial crisis on the other.”

Combined they show major economic trauma coming, extinguishing economic recovery hopes, notably in debt entrapped America, “represent(ing) the end of an era (in which the) dollar was the currency of the United States and the rest of the world’s problem.”

Ahead, it’s becoming “the main threat weighing on the rest of the world” and America. Summer 2011 “will confirm that the Federal Reserve has lost its bet: the US economy has, in fact, never left the ‘Very Great Depression which it entered in 2008 despite” massive money creation.

As a result, interest rates will rise. Government deficits will explode. Economic decline will intensify. Equity valuations will decline. The dollar will behave erratically “before suddenly losing 30% of its value” as earlier predicted.

At the same time, “Euroland,” BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) and “commodity producers will rapidly strengthen their cooperation while launching a final attempt to salvage” the remnants of Bretton Woods and a US/UK dominated world.

“(I)t’s unrealistic to imagine (Obama) who has shown no major international stature so far, proving himself” statesmanlike enough to take risks ahead of the 2012 election cycle.

Under his leadership, America “is completely in dreamland. Whilst the country has reached unsustainable levels of debt, (its leaders) have made this topic an election issue.”

Moreover, America today is seen as the “sick man of the world in which any sign of weakness or serious inconsistency can trigger uncontrolled panic.”

In addition, the combination of “(c)razy central bankers, world leaders without a roadmap, economies at risk, inflation rising, currencies in trouble, frenzied commodities, uncontrolled Western debt, (high unemployment), (and) stressed societies” leaves little doubt about looming trouble ahead as early as second half 2011.

A Final Comment

In late May, Gerald Celente highlighted “the most trend-significant story” getting little or no coverage in Western media reports. The combination of weather, economic, and geopolitical events portend “far-reaching and disastrous” socioeconomic consequences.

“Farming, shipping, seafood, food supplies and petroleum refining will be among the foreseeable casualties, accompanied by massive population displacement. But the ensuing chain reaction (inflation, shortages, unemployment, etc.) will claim many other victims,” so far unquantifiable.

Middle East and European protests “signaled a major turning point, (an unstoppable) “Off With Their Heads” mega-trend, America’s media don’t notice or explain.

Celente calls the European bailouts failures, creating higher unemployment, more debt, draconian austerity, and “a wholesale sell-off of valuable public resources,” asset-stripping national wealth to enrich bankers, producing painful consequences.

As a result, “(e)conomic conditions will continue to deteriorate for most European nations. The worse they get, the louder and more heated the protests….” Repressive crackdowns will follow, producing greater protests this summer into 2012 and beyond as conditions worsen.

However, a potential wild card deserves watching – one or more terror strikes likely derailing angry protesters temporarily, uniting them behind national security issues, the way 9/11 worked.

More worrisome is a possible major false flag, even a nuclear one targeting a US and/or Western European city. If so, all bets are off short term, but sooner or later unmet needs will take precedence, perhaps when hungry people blame Washington for their misery and react angrily for help. It bears watching and may happen sooner than expected.

[source]

Netanyahu’s War on Gaza – Freedom Flotilla

Gaza flotilla

Governing lawlessly by any standard, Netanyahu waged war on Gaza since becoming Israel’s prime minister for the second time on March 31, 2009.

Under his leadership, May 31 marked the anniversary of Israel’s barbaric slaughter of nine Freedom Flotilla activists in international waters, injuring dozens more trying to deliver thousands of tons of vital aid to besieged Gazans, suffocating illegally since June 2007.

At the time, Defense Minister Ehud Barak blamed Flotilla organizers for inciting the attack, while his deputy, Danny Alalon, said they were connected to international terrorist organizations, trying to smuggle in arms. In fact, none were on board nor on other aid ships trying to breach Israel’s lawless blockade.

Caught red-handed in a bald-faced lie, Haaretz writer Gideon Levy said:

“The Israeli propaganda machine has reached new highs (distributing) false information. It embarrassed itself by entering a futile public relations battle….There is nothing to explain, certainly not to a world that will never buy (its) web of explanations, lies and tactics.”

Video footage on board the Mavi Marmara mother ship showed Israeli commandos opened fire during the assault, activists saying it began when they stormed on board.

Al Zazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, aboard the ship, said “a white surrender flag was raised (and) there was no live fire coming from the passengers.”

What happened was clear. IDF commandos planned and executed a premeditated attack against unarmed, nonviolent activists, trying to break Israel’s illegal blockade to deliver essential aid. Cold-blooded murder resulted.

An independent UN Human Rights Council (HRC) fact-finding mission held Israel entirely culpable, calling its assault brutal and disproportionate. Based on eye witness testimonies, forensic evidence, video footage, and other photographic material, it:

“concluded that a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation….The preponderance of evidence from impeccable sources is far too overwhelming to come to a contrary opinion.”

Israel’s justification on “security grounds” was called entirely baseless. Moreover, prosecuting Israeli criminals is warranted and essential under Fourth Geneva’s Article 147, covering:

— willful killing;

— torture or inhuman treatment; and

— deliberately causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health.

In emergency session ahead of its investigation, the HRC criticized Israel’s “outrageous attack on aid ships attempting to breach a blockade on the Gaza Strip,” calling it “piracy, (an) act of aggression, (a) brutal massacre, (an) act of terrorism, (a) war crime, (a) crime against humanity – unprovoked, unwarranted, atrocious, (and) brutal.”

It described activists onboard as “peaceful, innocent, noble, unarmed, (and) defenseless,” setting the record straight on what happened.

Following its own investigation, Turkey also held Israel responsible, accurately explaining the facts, not Israel’s web of lies and coverup, its speciality.

High Seas Barbarism and Piracy

Israel violated the 1958 Geneva Convention on the High Seas and 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Under UNCLOS’ Article 101, maritime piracy includes “any illegal acts of violence or detention, or any act of depredation….against a ship, aircraft, persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any State (and) any act of inciting or of intentionally facilitating (such) an act.”

Usually it refers to robbery or criminal violence committed by private parties. Broadly interpreted, it can apply to states committing lawless acts. UNCLOS lets them interdict at sea to prevent illegal arms and drug smuggling, the slave trade or terrorist activities – not applicable to Flotilla activists despite Israel’s accusations.

Its mission was humanitarian. Inspected before departure, its cargo included food, medicines, educational, construction, and other materials, not weapons, munitions or anything threatening Israel. Under UNCLOS, its commandos had no right to interdict or attack activists on board, especially in international waters.

Under customary maritime law, ships have “innocent passage” rights through all international and coastal area waters, subject to certain restrictions.

UNCLOS defines “innocent passage” as expeditious, continuous passage through waters in ways not “prejudicial to the peace, good order or the security” of a coastal state.

America’s Defense Department defines it as:

“The right of all ships to engage in continuous and expeditious surface passage through the territorial sea and archipelagic water of foreign coastal states in a manner not prejudicial to its peace, good order, or security. Passage includes stopping and anchoring, but only if incidental to ordinary navigation or necessary for force majeure (a natural or unavoidable catastrophe) or distress, or for the purpose of rendering assistance to persons, ships, or aircraft in danger of distress.”

Israel’s brazen slaughter was lawless, punishable under international law. Claiming it was self-defense was spurious, reprehensible and laughable on its face.

Law Professor and international law expert Francis Boyle said Israel also “violated the SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts) Convention, to which Israel, Turkey and the USA are all parties.” SUA followed “in reaction to the (1985) Achille Lauro Hijacking and the murder of Leon Klinghoffer.”

It’s “one of the Conventions adopted by the UN and its affiliated organizations to deal with the phenomenon of international terrorism,” what Israel stands guilty of repeatedly, yet remains free from accountability, ready to do it again.

It’s Coming: Freedom Flotilla Two (FF 2)

On May 31, 2011, Haaretz writer Amos Harel headlined, “Israel prepping to block next Gaza flotilla,” saying:

On the massacre anniversary date, “Netanyahu said Israel prefers (diplomacy, but will) exercise force against anyone (trying) to disobey the navy’s orders….” to thwart an expected late June arrival.

Called “Freedom Flotilla Two (FF 2),” 15 ships with over 1,500 activists from about 100 countries are sailing on June 20 from various Mediterranean ports, calling on UN member states to support their humanitarian mission to deliver medical equipment, educational supplies, construction materials, (including 700 tons of cement), and other vital aid to besieged Gazans awaiting them.

In readiness, Israel held drills, involving ships and mobilized reserve combatants, including surveillance, “based mainly on open communications and Internet sites.” Focusing on riot-control measures, brute force will be used “as a last resort.”

In fact, it’s Israel’s method of choice, showing contempt for rule of law standards. Former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, in fact, admitted that activists resisting interdiction will be shot, knowing after action whitewashes will absolve Israel’s worst crimes, calling them self-defense, the last refuge of lawless scoundrels.

Knowing the risks, 1,500 courageous activists are still coming, determined to breach Gaza’s blockade no matter what Israel intends. From what’s known, expect force, including “surprises” from the same commando unit that murdered activists last May.

They’re preparing, undergoing “extensive training in hand-to-hand combat taught by experts from Israel’s Shin Bet security service.” More still involving “mock raids aboard a vessel that simulates events aboard the Mavi Marmara.”

Israel calls cold-blooded murder self-defense and international water interdiction “legal.” Others call them barbarism and piracy.

[source]