Witchhunt! The British Charities Commission and Viva Palestina

Why? Viva Palestina letter to Charities Commission from George Galloway
by George Galloway
To the Charity Commission; I have been travelling for many weeks in North Africa and the Middle East, Europe, and North America. I have returned to a London address I seldom visit to find a blizzard of correspondence from you. Your correspondence, when read together, as I have just done, seems to represent a wildly disproportionate and inappropriate reaction to our recent delivery of aid to the suffering Palestinians in Gaza, and must raise the question: Why?
 
The peremptory letters from you, and by you I mean the Charity Commission, are full of bluster and threat, issuing absurd deadlines to people it does not seem to occur to you are not even receiving your letters, either because they are working abroad (Ms Razuki and Mr Al-Mukhtar), travelling abroad on high profile political business (myself), or you are writing to them at the wrong address.

In my own case, Easter Saturday opened with your, latest, threat to go before a High Court judge in a bid to force me to appear before you. That will not be necessary. I look forward to telling you to your faces what I think of you. Which is this.
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Panetta's Tortured Defense of CIA Practices

Panetta's Defense of CIA Interrogators Undercut by New DoJ Disclosures
by Jason Leopold
CIA Director Leon Panetta has consistently stated over the past several months that agency interrogators who participated in the Bush administration's sadistic torture practices should not be subject to "any investigation, let alone prosecution," because they were following legal advice provided by the Justice Department.
 
In March, Panetta said he agreed to cooperate with a Senate Intelligence Committee "review" and "study" on CIA interrogation methods on the condition that he received assurances from committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Republican Co-Chair Kit Bond (R-Missouri) that they would not attempt to "punish those who followed guidance from the Department of Justice."

"That is only fair," Panetta said. "Their goal is to draw lessons for future policy decisions" and [they] won't seek to punish those who participated in the program.
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The Trillion Dollar War: Going Big with Obama

No Coincidences in Iraq
by Dahr Jamail | T r u t h o u t
Following George W. Bush's example of keeping war funding off the books, President Barack Obama is seeking $83.4 billion in additional "emergency" funding for the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which, if approved, would bring the 2009 funding to around $150 billion and the overall costs of the two wars to nearly $1 trillion.

Obama was a harsh critic of the Bush administration tactic of avoiding placing the costs of both occupations in the overall military budget, yet now he is doing the same. This latest request is in addition to a $534 billion military budget the administration unveiled earlier in the week.
 
That budget was for fiscal 2010, and was an increase over the last Bush administration military budget from 2009.
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Sling Shot Hip Hop in Vancouver

Special screening of the documentary film 'Slingshot Hip Hop'
by Slingshot Hip Hop
"Slingshot Hip Hop braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them."

 
 
Watch the trailer:
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Wiping Out the Grizzly for Fun and Profit

B.C.'s Bloody Grizzly Hunt
by Chris Genovali
I went "undercover" once with a European television producer to the workshop of a taxidermist-cum-trophy hunter on Vancouver Island. The producer and I had just spent a couple of days watching grizzly bears on British Columbia's central coast.
 
With my baseball cap pulled down low, I entered the taxidermy workshop. I was there to observe a somewhat arcane aspect of the trophy hunting world.
 
As the taxidermist opened the door, a chemical smell came wafting outside; it was reminiscent of the embalming fluids used by morticians. The first thing I saw looking past him was a black bear mounted on a platform of river rock.
 
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Roane Carey, Will Israel Attack Iran?

by Tom Engelhardt

Sometimes, reading about the Middle East, or at least about Israel, Iran, and nuclear weapons, feels like your most basic broken-record phenomenon. As New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen reminded readers recently, there's nothing new about Israeli predictions that Iranian "madmen" — or rather, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of a rather extreme new government, put it recently, "a messianic apocalyptic cult" — would soon have nuclear weapons in their hands. The charges and predictions of the imminent arrival of the Iranian bomb go back well into the 1990s and yet, despite Iran's growing nuclear enrichment program, we still don't know what the true predilections of its leaders are on the basic issue of weaponization. (They might, for instance, be planning to opt for the Japan "solution," not weaponizing, but simply being capable of doing so relatively quickly.)

The other part of that broken-record phenomenon concerns Israel's nuclear arsenal, which I wrote about at TomDispatch back in 2003, since which time remarkably little has changed. One of the genuinely strange aspects of just about anything you can read here in the U.S. on nuclear weapons and the Middle East is this: all fear and much print (and TV time) is focused on whether the Iranians may someday, in the near or far future, get a nuclear weapon; that is, we're focused on a weapon that doesn't yet exist and, for all we know, may never exist.

In the meantime, just about no mention is ever made of Israel's massive nuclear arsenal, which includes city-busting weapons, and leaves that tiny country as perhaps the fifth largest nuclear power on the planet. In addition, at least some of its nuclear weapons are on submarines in the Mediterranean, which means that the country is invulnerable to the madness of a take-out first strike by any other nation. This is simply reality.

The Israelis have long taken a position in which, as Jonathan Schell once put the matter, "They won't confirm or deny that they have [nuclear weapons], but they have this curious phrase: 'We will not introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.' Evidently, in some abstruse way, possessing them is not introducing them." Our media has, in essence, accepted the Israeli approach to its arsenal as if it were a reasonable reportorial stance on the subject. It's from within this distinctly unbalanced world of heightened fear and silence that we read of both the dangers of the Iranian bomb and responses to it, which is in itself, simply put, dangerous.

Recently, warnings from Israel about possible future attacks on Iran have multiplied. Roane Carey, managing editor of the Nation magazine and co-editor of The Other Israel, is in Israel at the moment on a journalism fellowship at the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy. As his first piece for this site, I asked him to offer an assessment from that country of just how dangerous the most recent warnings and threats actually are. Tom

Don't Flash the Yellow Light - Mixed Messages from Washington Could Lead to Catastrophe in Iran

by Roane Carey

JERUSALEM — Israel has been steadily ratcheting up pressure on the United States concerning the grave threat allegedly posed by Iran, which seems poised to master the nuclear fuel cycle, and thus the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. The new Israeli prime minister, Likud Party hawk Benjamin Netanyahu, has warned President Barack Obama that if Washington does not quickly find a way to shut down Iran's nuclear program, Israel will.

Some analysts argue that this is manufactured hysteria, not so much a reflection of genuine Israeli fears as a purposeful diversion from other looming difficulties. The Netanyahu government is filled with hardliners adamantly opposed to withdrawal from, or even a temporary freeze on, settlements in the occupied territories, not to mention to any acceptance of Palestinian statehood. On his first day as foreign minister, extremist demagogue Avigdor Lieberman, with characteristic bluster, announced that Israel was no longer bound by the 2007 Annapolis agreements brokered by Washington, which called for accelerated negotiations toward a two-state settlement.
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The Price of Silence is to be a Willing Accomplice

by Zahir Ebrahim

Response to 'The Price Someone Has to Pay'

All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets”.

-- Vanilla or Chocolate, icing on the Devil's CakeWe Think the Price Is Worth It”


LESLIE STAHL: We have heard that half a million children have died [in Iraq due to sanctions]. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.

Here is the contrite retraction:

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary Albright–the question I have always wanted to ask’ do you regret having said, when asked do you think the price was worth it-–

MADELINE ALBRIGHT: I have said 5,000 times that I regret it. It was a stupid statement. I never should have made it and if everybody else that has ever made a statement they regret, would stand up, there would be a lot of people standing. I have many, many times said it and I wish that people would report that I have said it. I wrote it in my book that it was a stupid statement.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think it laid the ground work for later being able to target Iraq and make it more acceptable on the part of the Bush administration?

MADELINE ALBRIGHT: What? You’ve got to be kidding.

Right! Again – it's not murder “to the sound of trumpets”. I think by these standards, Adolph Eichmann might have been let go – except that the victims had become the victors. The only standard of retribution that was actually established at Nuremberg!

Thank you dear DW editor for digging out the picture of the dead Afghan baby – I would also like a name to go with it:

Killing children of a lesser god by the surrogates of the god's chosen peoples

Afghan baby – name unknown
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ADBUSTERS Win Legal Victory Against Canada's Media Giants - Legal Action in the US Next

by Press Release

After 15 years of legal tussling to bring democracy to the public airwaves, Adbusters has finally scored a great victory. The Supreme Court of British Columbia has granted us an appeal in our landmark case against Canada's CBC and Canwest Global, giving us the go-ahead to set a precedent and establish some public rights over the airwaves (check out the judges’ ruling here).

People are spending an unparalleled 8.5 hours per day in front of screens and even with the influx of new screen formats – cell phones, computers, Kindle – TV is still dominant. It’s the most powerful social communications medium of our time. And yet it is a place where commercial imperatives rule and dissenting voices are routinely censored. Adbusters’ attempts to purchase airtime from major commercial broadcasters for its socially-minded public service spots have been repeatedly denied over the years.

The airwaves are public property – just like city sidewalks or parks. They are a public space where freedom of speech must prevail. This is an inspiring idea for media activists and could pave the way for further legal victories down the road not only on the TV airwaves, but in cyberspace as well.

Not surprisingly, none of Canwest’s 13 daily newspapers or 23 TV channels covered the appeal court ruling. The silence has been deafening. Canadians citizens should be aware that the largest media conglomerate in our country is censoring the news to suit its own interests.

Here’s who did cover the story:  CBC Radio, the Globe and Mail, the Georgia Straight and the Tyee.

CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, MTV and the Food Channel have also repeatedly refused to sell us airtime over the past 15 years and we would like to launch a freedom of speech legal action in the US. If you know an American lawyer who may be interested in being part of our legal team then let us know, email kono@adbusters.org.

The endgame will be a series of lawsuits around the world forcing the half a dozen media megacorporations controlling the bulk of news and entertainment flows around the planet to return some control back to the public.

Email kono@adbusters.org if you want to talk strategy or contribute to our legal war chest.
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Marching Lockstep to Israel’s Drummer

by William A. Cook

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s new Prime Minister, in an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg (Atlantic Monthly, March 2009), ordered the new President of the United States to complete two “great missions” on behalf of Israel: “fix the economy” lest Israel not be able to collect its annual alimony of 3 billion plus the 30 billion promised by the Bush administration, and “prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons” lest Israel’s monopoly on such weapons be challenged in the Mid-East.
 
The interview is a primer into the mentality of Israel’s new government. As always with any utterances from Israeli officials, one has to translate the assertions from the reality.
 
Let’s consider his pronouncements in their order of utterance.
 
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The Best Way To Get Rid Of Toxic Assets

by Tom Chartier

I woke up this morning and there was an unusual mystery stench emanating from the swamp. I know, I know, a strange aroma coming from a swamp does not seem unusual. I mean don’t us swamp rats live for the je’ne se quoi of putrefying organic matter? Well… yes… but this was worse, much worse.

I wisely hastened to put on one of my son’s gas masks… you can never be too safe… and headed out to investigate. What did I find? To my horror some scalawag had dumped a Bandini Mountain of toxic assets in my swamp!

Who could have been so low as to commit such a foul and dastardly deed and pollute my swamp with toxic assets? I have my suspicions but the mystery may never be solved.

Friends, has this happened to you? If not rest assured, it will. The foisting off of toxic assets shall come full circle back to us all… the victims of all the great Ponzi schemes and greedy skullduggery which started the train wreck in the first place.

None of us really know what a toxic asset is. But we do know this; “toxic” and “asset” are contradictory. Therefore toxic assets are bad right? We don’t want them. The banks don’t want them. The Treasury Dept. doesn’t want them. The Chinese don’t want them. They gotta go.

Unfortunately, toxic assets are like plastic bottles and Styrofoam. They are here to stay until the Mantis People and Roach Republic rule the Earth and discover how tasty they are. I’m not sure we can wait that long. Toxic assets have to be dumped toot sweet and please… not in my swamp!

We could jettison our toxic assets on the TV game show The Price Is Right. After all, TPIR is popular all over the world. Spread the “wealth” I say!

However, maybe there’s a more fiendish and devious method of disposal. Add a comment
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Israel Investigated, But Will It Repent?

by Ramzy Baroud

Any variation of the words “Palestine” and “massacre” are sure to yield millions of results on major search engines on the World Wide Web. These results are largely in reference to hundreds of different dates and events in which numerous Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army or settlers. But references to massacres of similar nature precede the state of Israel itself, whose establishment was secured through the ever-expanding agenda of ethnically cleansing Palestinians. Throughout its history, this bloodletting project has been carried out for once specific purpose, that being the illegal acquirement of land and the suppression or extermination of those who dare to resist.

Israel has denied almost every massacre it has committed. Those too obvious to deny, were “investigated” by Israel itself, which predictably, mostly found its soldiers “not guilty” or culpable of minor misconduct. Israeli “investigations” served the dual purpose of helping Israelis retain their sense of moral superiority, and sending a highly touted message to international media of Israeli democracy at work and the independence of the country’s judiciary.

With the Gaza tragedy of December 2008-January 2009 being the latest in the ever growing list of Palestinian massacres, little seems to have changed the way Israel views its action, with the full approval of the US and the half hearted position of much of the international community.

Nonetheless, on April 3, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Richard Goldstone, a South-African Jewish judge to further investigate what the council had already resolved, in a vote on January 12, as “grave” violations of human rights by the Israeli army, in reference to the 22-day Israeli onslaught in Gaza, where over 1,400 Palestinians – mostly civilians – were killed and over 5,500 wounded.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told AFP, in response to the UNHRC decision that the investigation was “not an attempt to find the truth but to tarnish Israel's reputation and to join efforts led by some countries to demonize Israel.” He added, “The investigation has no moral ground since it decided even before it started who is guilty and of what.” Palmor went on to exploit Israel’s ever winning card: democracy, claiming that democratic nations didn’t support the call to investigate the Gaza murders.

But the truth is, the UNHRC didn’t jump to conclusions, but was following up on massive evidence, all pointing to the same inference: that Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza.
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Paramilitary Pretense, Who Controls the Predators?

by Peter Chamberlin

In a world where all the Western media and most of the foreign press has proven that it cannot be trusted to tell the truth we cannot possibly know who our soldiers are fighting in Pakistan or why. Every news source gives another version of the “official truth” as determined by the powers that be. We know that we are witnessing at least one strategic “great game” unfolding in the region, more likely, there are multiple psychological warfare operations playing-out in Pakistan’s western region.

When both American and Pakistani governments regularly lie about the Taliban that they fight and others that they want to fight, then it makes as much sense to find reports by someone who has interviewed the accused militants theselves. The following quotes [in yellow] are from Pakistani Taliban TTP leader Maulvi Nazir, taken from an interview with him on the Islamic site As-Sahab.

Should we ever believe the word of a “terrorist/freedom fighter,” for that matter, should we ever believe words crafted by psy-operators? Whatever the truth about this man’s words, the As-Sahab interview is a rare opportunity to peer into the mind of a TTP leader.

At 34, Mulla Nazeer Ahmad is representative of the new Taliban, just like his teammates Nek Mohammad, Baitullah Mehsud, Maulana Fazlullah and the Dadullah brothers.

http://images.huffingtonpost.com/gen/69701/thumbs/s-MULLAH-NAZIR-large.jpgThis is the new Taliban, most of them bearing the honorary title of “Mullah, Maulvi or Maulana,” because they are graduates of the radical Saudi/US Sunni madrassas where, from an early age, they were brainwashed, by studying radicalized texts, such as the disinformative “jihadi textbooks” which were produced for the CIA by the University of Nebraska’s Afghanistan Department. Tutored in the guerilla sciences in the CIA/ISI training camps which were built for “jihad” against the Soviet occupation forces, too young to participate themselves, these “extremist” radicalized boys were ticking time bombs, awaiting the next jihad. Here in the tribal areas, The Mujahideen are content with war. When there is no war, they start depressing. We are not afraid of war. War has raised the spirits of the Mujahideen.

This second-generation militant army was set into play as part of the long-range plans of the first extremist American president and vice president, Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., by the same two out-of-control spy agencies who had trained and armed their brothers and fathers in the eighties. The continuity of their plan determined US foreign policy for the next thirty years. In 1996 a second extremist American president set these mujahedeen veterans and trainees loose upon the people of the former Yugoslavia. Again, in 2001, a third extremist American administration called forth the militant militia, this time to play act the part of a mythic Islamic army of superpower stature. From the remnants of the final battle of the Cold War arose “al Qaida,” the threatening slayer of superpowers.

This interview with Pakistani Taliban leader Nazir/”Nazeer” offers a unique glimpse into this “enemy” conjured-up by the CIA and the Pakistani secret service ISI, to represent all of the Islamic world in this apocalyptic Republican production of a “clash of civilizations.” In contradiction to every story on the unfolding war against Pakistan that is carried by the subservient American, Pakistani, Indian and British presses, Nazir tries to set the record straight on who he is and who his men are fighting, before the Obama escalation gets underway and every unofficial news story gets swept away by the Western news filters. Add a comment
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