TomClash's Journal - Archives
BY GLENN GREENWALD
The FBI yesterday announced it has secured an indictment against Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa, a 38-year-old citizen of Iraq currently in Canada, from which the U.S. is seeking his extradition. The headline on the FBI’s Press Release tells the basic story: “Alleged Terrorist Indicted in New York for the Murder of Five American Soldiers.” The criminal complaint previously filed under seal provides the details: ‘Isa is charged with “providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy” because he allegedly supported a 2008 attack on a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed 5 American soldiers. In other words, if the U.S. invades and occupies your country, and you respond by fighting back against the invading army — the ultimate definition of a “military, not civilian target” — then you are a . . . Terrorist.
Is that not exactly the mindset that more or less anyone in the world would have: if a foreign army invades your country and proceeds to brutally occupy it for the next eight years, then it’s your solemn duty to fight them? Indeed, isn’t that exactly the mentality that caused some young Americans to enlist after the 9/11 attack and be hailed as heroes: they attacked us on our soil, and so now I want to fight them?
Yet when it’s the U.S. that is doing the invading and attacking, then we’re all supposed to look upon this very common reaction with mockery, horror, and disgust– look at these primitive religious fanatic Terrorists who have no regard for human life — because the only healthy, normal, civilized reaction someone should have to the U.S. invading, occupying, and destroying their country is gratitude, or at least passive acquiescence. Anything else, by definition, makes you a Terrorist. That’s because it is an inherent American right to invade or occupy whomever it wants and only a Terrorist would resist (to see one vivid (and darkly humorous) expression of this pathological, imperial entitlement, see this casual speculation from a neocon law professor at Cornell that Iran may have committed an “act of war” if it brought down the American drone that entered its airspace and hovered over its soil without permission: “if it is true, as the Iranians claim, that the drone did not fall by accident but was brought down by Iranian electronic means, then isn’t that already an act of war?”).
It’s one thing to condemn ‘Isa’s actions on moral or ethical grounds: one could argue, I suppose, that the solemn duty of every Iraqi was to respectfully treat the American invaders as honored (albeit uninvited) guests, or at least to cede to invading American troops the monopoly on violence. But it’s another thing entirely to label someone who does choose to fight back as a “Terrorist” and prosecute them as such under charges that entail life in prison (by contrast: an Israeli soldier yesterday killed a Palestinian protester in a small West Bank village that has had much of its land appropriated by Israeli settlers, by shooting him in the face at relatively close range with a tear gas cannister, while an Israeli plane attacked a civilian home in Gaza and killed a father and his young son while injuring several other children; acts like that, or the countless acts of reckless or even deliberate slaughter of civilians by Americans, must never be deemed Terrorism).
more . . .
In an interview with The Jewish Channel released on Friday, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich called the Palestinians an “invented” people and suggested they have no right to a state of their own.
“I believe that the Jewish people have a right to a state,” Gingrich told the interviewer. “Remember, there was no Palestine existing as a state. Part of the Ottoman Empire. And I think that we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs … and they had a chance to go many places. And for a variety of political reasons, we have sustained this war against Israel now since the 1940s.”
Reuters points out that Gingrich’s remarks run counter to official United States policy, which does view the Palestinians as a people with the right to a state of their own.
Gingrich, who said his worldview was “pretty close” to that of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also described the Obama administration’s Middle East diplomacy as “out of touch with reality.” He inisted that Obama and his aides “lie to themselves” about the conflict, which he portrayed as one “between a civilian democracy that obeys the rule of law and a group of terrorists that are firing missiles every day.”
Britain. The Mandatory. Jewish immigration. Plan D. The Bunch Plan. The Israeli Declaration. These facts and many others never existed.
"We have sustained this war against Israel."
There’s some disturbing rhetoric flying around in the debate over the National Defense Authorization Act, which among other things contains passages that a) officially codify the already-accepted practice of indefinite detention of "terrorist" suspects, and b) transfer the responsibility for such detentions exclusively to the military.
The fact that there’s been only some muted public uproar about this provision (which, disturbingly enough, is the creature of Wall Street anti-corruption good guy Carl Levin, along with John McCain) is mildly surprising, given what’s been going on with the Occupy movement. Protesters in fact should be keenly interested in the potential applications of this provision, which essentially gives the executive branch unlimited powers to indefinitely detain terror suspects without trial.
The really galling thing is that this act specifically envisions American citizens falling under the authority of the bill. One of its supporters, the dependably-unlikeable Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, bragged that the law "basically says … for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield" and that people can be jailed without trial, be they "American citizen or not." New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte reiterated that "America is part of the battlefield."
. . .
Here’s another way to ask the question: On which side of the societal fence do you think the McCains and Grahams would put, say, an unemployed American plumber who refused an eviction order from Bank of America and holed up with his family in his Florida house, refusing to move? Would Graham/McCain consider that person to have the same rights as Lloyd Blankfein, or is that plumber closer, in their eyes, to being like the young Muslim who throws a rock at a U.S. embassy in Yemen?
A few years ago, that would have sounded like a hysterical question. But it just doesn’t seem that crazy anymore. We’re turning into a kind of sci-fi society in which making it and being a success not only means getting rich, but also means winning the full rights of citizenship. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see this ending well.
Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs...
Occupy and Class Struggle on the Waterfront
by MIKE KING
On December 12th, the entire Occupy movement on the West Coast will blockade their respective ports to shut down “Wall Street on the Waterfront.” This is both an effort to build a mass social struggle in the US against the 1% and a coordinated response to the coordinated attacks against our movement in the last few weeks. If the police repress any of our actions on the West Coast that day, the blockade will continue up and down the coast. This historic action is being taken on independent of existing authorities – from the mayor and police to the unions themselves, who are unable to legally support such actions even if they wanted to. The 1% has been pulling every lever at their command to delegitimate and criminalize the movement. On the 12th we will demonstrate our growing social power, attacking the 1% at their point of profit while expanding and deepening the movement in the workplace, communities, schools and the social imaginary.
The 1% is not simply an abstract slogan. They are the corporations that pay no taxes. They are the financial institutions that drove the economy into the ground. They are the bailed-out bank that won’t re-write your under-water mortgage with the taxpayer funds your grandkids will still be paying for decades from now. The 1% are embodied in the politicians that send your kids or spouses off to fight wars that defend nothing but the profits of the 1%, leaving hundreds of thousands dead all over the world, as veterans with PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome return home to shoddy services and no jobs. When these veterans have stood up for the people of this country on the streets of Oakland, they have been beaten and shot in the head with police projectiles, from a police force freshly trained by the Israeli and Bahrainian military to repress popular protest.
The same bosses that have paid you less in exchange for longer hours and higher productivity for decades; the same politicians who have made you pay more taxes in exchange for de-funded or closed public schools, rising state college tuitions and gutted social services; this political and economic coalition that has brought about the highest degrees of inequality in US history; these are the 1%, and all of them must go.
The Class Struggle Pendulum Swinging Back
The last two major pivot-points in US class struggle were the 30s and the 70s/80s. Workers gained the upper hand in the 30s, Capital gained it back completely in the 80s. Both of these pivots came out of upsurges that transcended existing class struggle in the workplace, that were rooted in historic economic, political and social crises. In the 30s, social unionism, community solidarity and agitation from the unemployed forced Capital’s hand into making concessions to stave off more radical potentials. In the 1970s and 80s foreign competition, technological change and the beginnings of globalization gave Capital the upper hand, leading to deindustrialization and steadily declining real wages and union density.
. . .
Occupy Strikes Back!
Oakland, and the entire West Coast Occupy movement from Alaska to San Diego, are taking the fight back to the 1% on December 12th with a coordinated West Coast Port Blockade, with solidarity actions taking place all over the country. This is a community action in solidarity with port truck drivers and Longshore workers who have been under direct attack by the 1%. The 1% have been steadily busting unions or preventing workers from joining one. For decades corporations have waged a one-sided class war against workers with assistance from politicians in both parties. The Occupy movement is attempting to make this not only a struggle that has two sides, but one that puts workers (and the unemployed) on the offensive.
. . .
Excitement over America’s use of drones in multiple Muslim countries is, predictably, causing those weapons to be imported onto U.S. soil. Federal law enforcement agencies and local police forces are buying more and more of them and putting them to increasingly diverse domestic uses, as well as patrolling the border, and even private corporations are now considering how to use them. One U.S. drone manufacturer advertises its product as ideal for “urban monitoring.” Orlando’s police department originally requested two drones to use for security at next year’s GOP convention, only to change their minds for budgetary reasons. One new type of drone already in use by the U.S. military in Afghanistan — the Gorgan Stare, named after the “mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them” — is “able to scan an area the size of a small town” and “the most sophisticated robotics use artificial intelligence that
. . .
Even leaving aside the issue of weaponization (police officials now openly talk about equipping drones with “nonlethal weapons such as Tasers or a bean-bag gun”), the use of drones for domestic surveillance raises all sorts of extremely serious privacy concerns and other issues of potential abuse. Their ability to hover in the air undetected for long periods of time along with their comparatively cheap cost enables a type of broad, sustained societal surveillance that is now impractical, while equipping them with infra-red or heat-seeking detectors and high-powered cameras can provide extremely invasive imagery. The holes eaten into the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure protections by the Drug War and the War on Terror means there are few Constitutional limits on how this technology can be used, and there are no real statutory or regulatory restrictions limiting their use. In sum, the potential for abuse is vast, the escalation in surveillance they ensure is substantial, and the effect they have on the culture of personal privacy — having the state employ hovering, high-tech, stealth video cameras that invade homes and other private spaces — is simply creepy.
But listeners of NPR would know about virtually none of that. On its All Things Considered program yesterday, NPR broadcast a five-minute report (audio below) from Brian Naylor that purported to be a news story on the domestic use of drones but was, in fact, much more akin to a commercial for the drone industry. Naylor began by describing a video on the website of a drone manufacturer, AeroVironment, which names its drone “the Qube”; the video, gushed Naylor, shows police officers chasing a criminal who hides, only for the police to pull a drone out of their trunk, launch it airborne, receive images of where the criminal is hiding on their iPad, and then find and arrest the suspect, who was armed and dangerous. NPR listeners then heard from that corporation’s Vice President touting how much the Qube will help “public safety professionals like law enforcement, search and rescue, and first responders.”
. . .
There is no question that domestic political unrest is a major concern of law enforcement officials at every level. A new report released today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development documents that “the gap between rich and poor in OECD countries has reached its highest level for over over 30 years,” and, as an OECD official said, “the social contract is starting to unravel in many countries. . . Without a comprehensive strategy for inclusive growth, inequality will continue to rise.” As The Wasington Post said today: the report “comes as rising dissatisfaction with economic inequality has spilled over into street protests in dozens of cities around the world.” Moreover, “the United States, Turkey and Israel have among the largest ratios between the incomes of those at the top and the bottom, roughly 14 to 1. ”
Why provide decent jobs, single payer health care, sustainable energy and a clean environment when you can control the population with drones and other forms of continuous surveillance to perpetuate the Empire for the Oligarchy?
Several weeks ago, I wrote about a truly twisted, deranged rant by neocon royal family member Rachel Abrams. Abrams — wife of Iran-contra convict and Bush 43 official Eliot Abrams, step-daughter of Norm Podhoretz, half-sister of John Podhoretz, and a Board Member of Bill Kristol’s Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI) — unleashed a torrent of anti-Palestinian hatred upon the release of Gilad Shalit that could be produced only by the most rotted of souls:
"Then round up
While Abrams’ post sparked widespread revulsion, it found one noted admirer: The Washington Post‘s Israel-obsessed blogger Jennifer Rubin, who re-tweeted Abrams’ promotion of her post with obvious (and admitted) agreement.
. . .
What’s particularly remarkable is that Pexton is admitting (albeit wanting it kept secret) what any honest observer knows to be true: that there is a very high likelihood — I’d say absolute certainty — that Rubin would have been fired had she promoted a post like this about Jews and Israelis rather than Arabs and Palestinians.
Live updates from the General Strike, day 2 – October 20
18.32 Confirmed report that a 53-year old builder has just died from police’s chemical warfare.
17.26 From Athens Indymedia: there are clashes between protesters and DIAS/DELTA in the narow side-streets below Syntagma (Ermou, Athinas, around Monastiraki etc). A few thousand demonstrators have gathered in Syntagma and more still try to come but are blocked by police at the side streets.
17.13 More than 40 injured people at Evangelismos hospital. Police launched a surgical attack on the street, making way for PAME to leave Syntagma from Panepistimiou Ave, to move toward Omonoia square. Other groups of demonstrators are now moving back into Syntagma where the police presence has increased.
All afternoon at the Dewey Square encampment occupiers would relay the latest gossip between camps like town criers warning of an impending attack. "Police are forming on High Street!" one would yell and then relay throughout the growing encampment. The tension was growing by the hour. They knew that even though their planned diversion that allowed them to expand the camp to another parcel worked the police weren't going to have it. No way. So what to do? Hold one of their town meeting style general assemblies and make a decision. The cops wanted them out by midnight or they were going to remove them, so the thinking went. Eventually they decided to stay and defend their new territory.
As darkness fell and tension rose the protesters made their defensive preparations. All the tents were moved into a tight circle while a ring of people locking arms lined it. Midnight came and went but there was a growing public safety presence in the area. Multiple ambulances were parked along with a triage setup off of Pearl Street, not exactly a sign of good things to come. Police blocked the on and off ramps to 93 near Seaport Ave and there were rumors flying about riot police here and uniformed police there.
Then at approximately 1:20 am a large column of riot police marched from outside South Station up Atlantic Ave. The crowd roared variations of "Who do you protect who do you serve!" and "This is what democracy looks like" as the cops marched up the street. They stopped directly across from the new encampment and waited for over 15 paddywagons to arrive. Shortly thereafter officers appeared at the top of the new camp and started issuing warnings to those in the camp. At 1:40 am the police barreled through the first line of defense the occupiers put up, an old veterans group carrying flags known as Veterans for Peace. While officers began arresting occupiers and tearing down tents they kept pushing others back, sometimes throwing them to the ground. People were screaming and yelling stupid nonsense at the police but most complied, albeit angrily.
Within twenty minutes the park was clear of protesters and DPW workers were throwing the remains of the camp into garbage trucks Reports are that they arrested over 100 people and there were no injuries. The whole operation was incredible in its brutal and quick efficiency; it was over so fast.
Freedom Plaza protest in DC.
It's noisy down here at OWS today and there are fewer workers and more protesters than usual.
Caddy-corner to Liberty Park is the WTC site. The protesters and the WTC site make for an odd juxtaposition. The symbolism is interesting.
There are rumors that the powers that be don't want this to go on much longer. Things may be coming to a head soon.
The whole world's watching.
One DU poster said he seems honest. Now that's funny. The Fat Man may have dished out too many fixins while US Attorney in Newark. Christie gave Ashcroft the fat contract referenced below. At the very least, there will be questions about these transactions and he will have to answer them.
John Ashcroft: Christie’s former U.S. Justice Department boss made $28 million to $52 million or more in 18 months for monitoring Zimmer Holdings, one of five medical device manufacturers accused of giving kickbacks to surgeons for using their replacement hips and knees.
David Kelley: A former U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Kelley investigated a stock fraud case involving Christie’s younger brother, Todd, but declined to prosecute him. Kelley was later picked to monitor Biomet Orthopedics Inc., another of the medical device makers. The contract Christie gave Kelly was worth $10-12 million.
Bristol-Myers Squibb: A $300 million fraud settlement Christie negotiated with the New York company included a provision that Bristol-Myers endow a professorship at Seton Hall Law School, his alma mater. The U.S. Justice Department subsequently issued guidelines barring such requirements as part of out-of-court corporate crime settlements.
David Samson. The former Republican attorney general and party fundraiser was a monitor of medical device maker Smith & Nephew Inc. His firm is now on Christie’s payroll for legal work: the candidate’s pre-election finance report last month listed expenditures of $9,439.40 in legal fees/rent and $18,439.40 still owed to Wolff & Samson of West Orange.
Herbert Stern: Christie mentor got $10 million contract to monitor University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, accused of double-billing for services covered by Medicare. Christie close friend and fundraiser John Inglesino, a partner in Stern’s law firm, was paid $325 per hour for his work as counsel on the monitorship. Stern, Inglesino, another partner and their wives later gave $23,800 in donations to Christie’s campaign for governor. The donations were matched, 2-1, under New Jersey’s campaign finance laws, bringing the total amount to $71,400.
Debra Wong Yang: Like Kelley, Yang, a former U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, is a former Christie colleague. The Republican-connected prosecutor and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner, who had ties to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, was chosen to monitor Deputy Orthopaedics Inc for millions of taxpayers dollars.
John Carley. A former Cendant Corp. vice president and Federal Trade Commission lawyer under President Reagan, Carley was on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 New York fundraising team. He oversaw a nonprosecution agreement involving Stryker Orthopedics.
. . .
So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup, will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.
But Schneiderman, who earlier this year launched an investigation into the securitization practices of Goldman, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and other companies, is screwing up this whole arrangement. Until he lies down, the banks don’t have a deal. They need the certainty of having all 50 states and the federal government on board, or else it’s not worth paying anybody off. To quote the immortal Tony Montana, “How do I know you’re the last cop I’m gonna have to grease?” They need all the dirty cops on board, or else the whole enterprise is FUBAR.
. . .
In Schneiderman we have at least one honest investigator who doesn’t agree, which is to his great credit. But everyone else is on Wylde’s side now. The Times story claims that HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and various Justice Department officials have been leaning on the New York AG to cave, which tells you that reining in this last rogue cop is now an urgent priority for Barack Obama.
Why? My theory is that the Obama administration is trying to secure its 2012 campaign war chest with this settlement deal. If Barry can make this foreclosure thing go away for the banks, you can bet he’ll win the contributions battle against the Republicans next summer.
Scene Last Night: Hedge-Funders Sail From Greenwich, Soccer Rooftop Revels
Yesterday afternoon a few dozen hedge-funders abandoned their desks to sail 12-Metre America’s Cup yachts on the Long Island Sound.
The majestic boats made their way out of Indian Harbor Yacht Club in Greenwich, Connecticut, past the waterfront homes of Edward Lampert and Paul Tudor Jones and a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge (which doubles as a dock) at an estate that recently sold for $39.5 million.
The weather cooperated beautifully, with bright sun and blue skies. A storm threatened but of course went somewhere else. A light rain finally came when the post-sail cocktail party was winding down.
The Connecticut Hedge Fund Association organized the event, which benefited the Young Mariners Foundation, a sailing program for underprivileged children in Stamford, Connecticut. Volunteers from the program provided spectator boats. Kent Holden, founder of Holden Capital Management LLC, found a place for a couple of reporters on his sailboat.
By Monday there will be a deal. Everyone needs to save face.
Unless, of course – and Mr Hill did not mention this – you happen to live in Bahrain. On this tiny island, a Sunni monarchy, the al-Khalifas, rule a majority Shia population and have responded to democratic protests with death sentences, mass arrests, the imprisonment of doctors for letting patients die after protests and an "invitation" to Saudi forces to enter the country. They have also destroyed dozens of Shia mosques with all the thoroughness of a 9/11 pilot. But then, let's remember that most of the 9/11 killers were indeed Saudis.
And what do we get for it? Silence. Silence in the US media, largely silence in the European press, silence from our own beloved CamerClegg and of course from the White House. And – shame of shame – silence from the Arabs who know where their bread is buttered. That means, of course, also silence from al-Jazeera. I often appear on their otherwise excellent Arabic and English editions, but their failure to mention Bahrain is shameful, a dollop of shit in the dignity that they have brought to reporting in the Middle East. The Emir of Qatar – I know him and like him very much – does not need to belittle his television empire in this way.
CamerClegg is silent, of course, because Bahrain is one of our "friends" in the Gulf, an eager arms buyer, home to thousands of Brit expatriates who – during the mini-revolution by Bahrain's Shia – spent their time writing vicious letters to the local pro-Khalifa press denouncing Western journalists. And as for the demonstrators, I recall a young Shia woman telling me that if only the Crown Prince would come to the Pearl Roundabout and talk with the protesters, they would carry him on their shoulders around the square. I believed her. But he didn't come. Instead, he destroyed their mosques and claimed the protests were an Iranian plot – which was never the case – and destroyed the statue of the pearl at the roundabout, thus deforming the very history of his own country.
Obama, needless to say, has his own reasons for silence. Bahrain hosts the US Fifth Fleet and the Americans don't want to be shoved out of their happy little port (albeit that they could up-sticks and move to the UAE or Qatar anytime they wish) and want to defend Bahrain from mythical Iranian aggression. So you won't find La Clinton, so keen to abuse the Assad family, saying anything bad about the al-Khalifas. Why on earth not? Are we all in debt to the Gulf Arabs? They are honourable people and understand when criticism is said with good faith. But no, we are silent. Even when Bahraini students in Britain are deprived of their grants because they protested outside their London embassy, we are silent. CamerClegg, shame on you.
What is this nonsense? Well, I will tell you. It has nothing to do with the Bahrainis or the al-Khalifas. It is all about our fear of Saudi Arabia. Which also means it is about oil. It is about our absolute refusal to remember that 9/11 was committed largely by Saudis. It is about our refusal to remember that Saudi Arabia supported the Taliban, that Bin Laden was a Saudi, that the most cruel version of Islam comes from Saudi Arabia, the land of head-choppers and hand-cutters. It is about a conversation I had with a Bahraini official – a good and decent and honest man – in which I asked him why the Bahraini prime minister could not be elected by a majority Shia population. "The Saudis would never permit it," he said. Yes, our other friends. The Saudis.
Israel and Hamas step back from major Gaza confrontation
Leaders from both sides appeal for restraint after escalation of violence to levels not seen since end of Gaza war in 2009
Conal Urquhart in Ashkelon
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 10 April 2011 15.46 BST
Israel and Hamas appeared to have stepped back from a major confrontation after a weekend of attacks which left 19 Palestinians dead and saw dozens of rockets fired at southern Israel.
The dead in Gaza included six civilians, with a further 65 injured.
The attacks increased after militants fired an anti-tank missile at an Israeli school bus from Gaza on Thursday, injuring a teenage boy.
Israel launched a series of air strikes and Gazan groups fired about 80 mortar shells and 20 longer-range rockets.
Leaders from both sides made radio appeals for calm and indicated that each side had no desire to escalate the conflict.
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Any fellow Texans still here?
Getting kinda lonely in these here parts.....
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