Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Boston marches into week four

for a fairer distribution of our world's wealth.
Against Tax havens and corruption. For education and public good.

John Stephen Dwyer  Oct. 28

Demonstrators hang their banner off a footbridge over Storrow Drive (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

Demonstrators hang their banner off a footbridge over Storrow Drive

This week, the fourth since setting up camp on September 30, Occupy Boston has increased its visibility through a series of marches including a trip to Harvard Square (by way of the Head of the Charles Regatta), several hostile visits to FOX News and the home of a Bank of America president, angry protests against the police response to Occupy Oakland, and a somber, rainy morning walk to the trial of Tarek Mehanna, 28, a Sudbury man accused of being a propagandist for Al-Queda.

March to Cambridge 

On October 23, about 50 protestors from Occupy Boston took a meandering route from their tent city in front of South Station to "the Pit," an area in Harvard Square associated with various countercultures over the decades.  En route they temporarily hung a "We are the 99%" banner from a footbridge over Storrow Drive and blocked traffic one-way on the Mass Ave bridge.  They also paraded through the Head of the Charles Regatta chanting slogans such as "we got sold out, banks got bailed out" and "this is what democracy looks like" as a few people gave them thumbs up.

While certain previous marches – boosted by the support of labor unions and student groups from local colleges – have swelled into the thousands, this smaller protest was notable as Occupy Boston's first excursion outside the city.  Dozens of people along the route showed their approval of the demonstrators; no detractors were obvious.  The protest, though small by Occupy Boston standards, had style.  Marching to a drum beat, they followed three masked flagbearers with the America flag flanked by a "don't tread on me" flag on each side.  The demonstrators stopped along the route as often as necessary to regroup behind their banner or, even, sit down and decide where to go next.

These protestors, some active within the Direct Action working group, wear masks and hold a sign. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

These protestors, some active within the Direct Action working group, wear masks and hold a sign. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

Despite many of the participants being masked or otherwise dressed in a way that might intimidate, the flag-waving march was oddly reminiscent of a patriotic scene from Boston's historic  past.  A few onlookers seem frightened by this loud group of people unaccompanied by uniformed police.  Some clutched their children or scurried to give the marchers a wide birth.  Most merely gaped.  Plenty took pictures or video.  A few punched their fists in the air to the beat of the protestors' drum.

Among Sunday's masked marchers, several are associated with Direct Action, a close-knit cadre of young people within Occupy Boston that plans protest marches and, more rarely, bolder acts of civil disobedience.  But the demonstration also parents, children and at least one grandmother, Mary Andriotakis, 53, who came in from Sudbury with her husband, Chuck Andriotakis, 62, and grandsons Levi, Sam and Joe (ages 5, 6 and 11). 

"I come into Occupy Boston whenever I can, and I bring whoever I can," Mary Andriotakis said. "I thought I wouldn't be able to go today because I have my grandchildren.  But it's a beautiful day and I brought them.  It's great for them to be able to be a part of this."

John Murphy, 24, of Falmouth, speaks to people in Harvard Square while wearing a shirt he made back at the Sign Tent at the Occupy Boston campground. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

John Murphy, 24, of Falmouth, speaks to people in Harvard Square while wearing a shirt he made back at the Sign Tent at the Occupy Boston campground. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

Her grandsons held signs and obviously enjoyed chanting "We are the 99 percent" along with demonstrators drawn from local colleges, towns, and the streets.  At one point, the boys shyly tried out the people's mic, a movement phenomenon through which a crowd repeats and amplifies a speaker's words.  Andriotakis, having two children who volunteer at the Medic Tent in the campground, later said "I asked [my grandsons] which they like better, Occupy Boston or the Children's Museum and they said 'Occupy Boston, Occupy Boston!'"

After going through Downtown Crossing and cutting through Boston Common, the march turned left at the State House and headed down Beacon Street. They stopped to jeer and flip the bird at what may be the Beacon Hill townhouse of Robert E. Gallery, a local Bank of America president.  Reaching a footbridge to the Charles River, the protestors ran onto it quickly and suspended a banner over Storrow Drive for several minutes on each side.  The banner, the same one they march behind, reads "we are the 99%" and is decorated with white hands on a pink background. Less legibly, "" is printed above the motto and "and so are you and you and you and you and me" is written in cursive writing below.

When they finally arrived in Harvard Square, protestors held a rally where they used the people's mic to explain the purposes of their protest.  They also answered questions and talked to people one-on-one.  At the end of the day, the demonstration left the marchers in high spirits.  One elated woman said, "We've had marches much bigger than this, but I don't think we've ever seen so much positive attention.  The movement is definitely growing.  People are becoming more aware."

The group took the Red Line from Harvard Square back to South Station, each person paying their fare.  They re-entered the tent city just as a group of smiling Sikhs was serving hot tea and warm food they had prepared off-site.  By this hour, Occupy Boston was teeming with people who jostled shoulder-to-shoulder to pass along the narrow paths.

Chomsky and an almost-confrontation 

Protestors young and older are visible as Occupy Boston parades through the 47th edition of the Head of the Charles Regatta. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

Protestors young and older are visible as Occupy Boston parades through the 47th edition of the Head of the Charles Regatta. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)  "It's awful how they hate America"

Last weekend, Occupy Boston showed signs of losing momentum as the majority settled into activities that didn't bring them into contact with those outside the camp.  A march was planned for 6 pm on Saturday night, but when Noam Chomsky was rained out on Wednesday he moved his lecture to that time instead.

An estimated 1,000 people were present but Chomsky, 82, spoke at conversational volume and didn't use the people's mic.  Despite him holding two microphones, at least half those assembled couldn't hear him.  Many occupiers and visitors, happily anticipating Chomsky's visit for days, had their spirits dashed.

An impromptu march took place when Chomsky finished and culminated in about 100 protestors assembled on the same spot of Rose Kennedy Greenway where 141 people were arrested on October 11.  A tight cluster of Boston Police stood by, frowning and talking into radios.  Using the method of direct democracy popular across the Occupation Movement, the protestors held a General Assembly.  People spoke from atop the gray pumpkin statue that makes a good soapbox.

Occupy Boston free t-shirt

Despite tough talk about taking that park again, it didn't happen.  Some didn't like the idea of doing something so important without the consensus of the whole Occupy Boston community.  Some argued the park should be seized during the day so people working in the surrounding office buildings could see whatever ensued.  Some, it was clear, simply didn't have the nerve.

Out of the park and into the streets 

With the Boston skyline visible beyond crew teams on the Charles River, demonstrators use a hand signal to indicate approval during discussion. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

With the Boston skyline visible beyond crew teams on the Charles River, demonstrators use a hand signal to indicate approval during discussion. (Blast Staff photo/John Stephen Dwyer)

The next day, Sunday, the Occupy Boston encampment seemed to be under a lull.  Certain tents designed for communal functions had lost their identifying signs days before or otherwise appeared closed for business.  A few busy volunteers complained too many people were holed up in their tents avoiding the gritty realities of life in Dewey Square [link to crime & addiction article].  Positive energy at the campsite seemed in short supply; even the mellow people at the Sacred Space were getting cranky from the struggle to prevent it from becoming another messy public dormitory.

At 1 p.m., only a dozen people assembled for a march planned by Direct Action ("DA").  Members of DA, who tend to be younger than the camp as a whole, were livid at the low turn out.  Young men and women clenched their fists and snarled in frustration, "people need to get the fuck out of their tents!" Rather than cancel the march, DA members led their small contingent four times around and through the Occupy Boston camp chanting "out of the park and into the streets" and, specially for this occasion, "out of your tents and into the streets."

Some habitués of the drum circle agreed to go to the march when confronted by DA members but soon sneaked back into camp.  In the end, about 50 people accompanied Occupy Boston all the way to Cambridge.

Free School University Classes (10/28 – 10/30)

Class descriptions at: Classes meet at the bright, orange Soap Box, at the  north end of Dewey Square.

FRIDAY, October 28
3:00pm – 4:30pm
Challenging Basic Assumptions: Personal & Political with Dennis Fox

4:00pm – 5:00pm
Crafting Your Story: A Fiction Workshop with Askold Melnyczuk

6:00pm – 7:00pm
The Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series: Chand Montrie (UMass Lowell), author of "A People's History of Environmentalism in the United States"

SATURDAY, October 29
4:00pm – 5:00pm
Glenn Greenwald: With Liberty and Justice for Some

5:00pm – 6:00pm
The Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series: Fred Magdoff

SUNDAY, October 30
1:00pm – 3:00pm
How To Run For Office

1:30pm – 3:00pm
Occupy Boston Writing Workshop: The Other 99%

4:00pm – 5:00pm
The Decline of Middle Class Incomes and Political Inequality with Dr. Ben Tafoya

5:00pm – 6:00pm
The Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series: Anthony Arnove, who co-authored "Voices of a People's History of the United States" with Howard Zinn

Friday 10/28 at 4:30pm is the 1st FSU Volunteers Meeting:
Meet at the library 4pm to set agenda

FSU is looking for:
Drupal Developer – Open Scholar version, needed for a few things:
Context, Internationalization, Media, VOIP, Advanced Calendar, SMS.

A canopy, bull horn, sheet protectors, paper, pens and clip boards as well as bright orange fabric  to designate the FSU space.

Here in Logistics,

we've been overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the wonderful donations we've received. From blankets to flashlights to an awesome Logistics sign, the community is really turning out to support us.

That being said, with winter quickly approaching, Winterization has become our primary concern for folks in camp as well as logistically (in terms of supplies and donations). A few of our team now sit on the Winterization Committee and are in the process of brainstorming ideas, going over blueprints of possible solutions, and working late to try and solve some of the coming obstacles.

We are in desperate need of certain supplies in order to winterize Boston's Tent City. And we need these quickly! Our current list of most pressing needs:

  • 0 degree sleeping bags
  • Military style/surplus tents
  • Hot Food
  • Socks and Footware
  • Cots
  • Greenhouse Materials: PVC, EMT, PPL
  • EPS, extruded polystyrene
  • Shovels

We are also actively looking for ideas on where to procure outside heat and searching for a large public assemble space outside of Dewey Square, preferably indoors!

In an effort to make donations more accessible to the wider community as well assist in the online ordering process for folks from far away, we now have a mailing address! We would greatly appreciate your continued support, and we would love to see some packages come our way.

Occupy Boston

PO Box 51162

Boston, MA 02205

In addition, in order to prepare for the coming cold, we are beginning an Adopt-A-Camper Program. We are asking folks who live in the community to step up and offer hot showers or even a warm place to sleep if possible on the very cold nights if needed. We'll put you in contact with this camper, or two, or three or how ever many folks you're willing to adopt! This way we can help make sure that all of the Occupiers are safe, warm, and have a respite from the cold this winter. In get involved in this program, or if you have any questions, please email
great, the best occupy wall streeet cartoon so far!!
Likens Chinese Tiananmen Square Pro Democracy movement against undemocratic Totalitarian Tanks to 99% people protestor vs undemocratic totalitarian investor class.banking finance elites.

Friday, October 28

 Open Group Meditation
 Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting
 Nurses Rally at Dewey
 Concert: Zanna
 FSU Teach-In: Challenging Basic Assumptions, Personal & Political
 Flu clinic: shots and spray
 FSU Call for Collaboration and Participation | Keep the Free School University Healthy!
 FSU: Crafting Your Story, A Fiction Workshop
 Suffering and Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism: Meditation and Discussion with Joe Hodgkin
 FSU: The Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series, Chand Montrie
 Riki Ott
  Outreach Meeting
 Transparency Working Group
 OB Ideas Public discussion: How does OB preserve it's momentum?
 Open Group Meditation

Saturday, October 29

 Open Group Meditation
 FSU Workshop: The Practice of Non-Violence and Civil Disobedience
 Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting
 Non-Violence Working Group
 Solidarity March
 Winterizing meeting
 Women's Caucus
 **Concert:The Doctors Fox**
 FSU: Glenn Greenwald, With Liberty and Justice for Some
 **FSU: The Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series, Fred Magdoff
 General Assembly
 Open Group Meditation

Sunday, October 30

 Open Group Meditation
 (POSTPONED) FSU: Fair Trade Coffee Hour and Discussion
 Children's Program
 Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting
 FSU: How To Run For Office
 FSU Writing Workshop: The Other 99%
 ** Concert: TBA **
 Art Committee Meeting
 Sacred Circle Dancing in the Streets with Ellen Kennedy
 **FSU: The Decline of Middle Class Incomes and Political Inequality
 Lutheran Reformation Sunday
 **FSU: The Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series, Anthony Arnove
 **FSU Book Reading with Aidan Parkinson
 General Assembly
 Open Group Meditation
 Ideas working group meeting

Monday, October 31

 Open Group Meditation
 Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting
 Student Zombie Walkout
 **FSU: Consensus: So That All Voices May Be Heard, a Workshop with C.T. Butler
 ** Concert**- for the 99%: Education is a Right.
 **Comedian:Sandra Bernhard will be appearing/giving away tickets to her sold out shows!
 Info Tent Volunteer Training
 Open Group Meditation

Tuesday, November 1

 Open Group Meditation
 Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting
 **FSU: Consensus, So That All Voices May Be Heard, a Workshop with C.T. Butler
 **Facilitation Workshop by C.T. Butler
 FSU: Money, Banking, and Democracy
 Anarchist Potluck / Caucus
 Women's Caucus
  Concert: Zumix Drumline
 General Assembly
 Open Group Meditation

Wednesday, November 2

 Open Group Meditation
 Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting
 Non-Violence Working Group
 **Holding for Rebooking Concert
 Ideas Working group meeting
 **FSU: Big Pharma, Another Big Player on Wall Street
 OB Ideas Public discussion: Topic TBD
 Open Group Meditation

Thursday, November 3

 Open Group Meditation
 **FSU Workshop: My Red Carpet Moment, How Do I Best Express What I Do?
 Faith and Spirituality Group Meeting
 Historical March Campaign
 **FSU: The Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series, The Perils of American Democracy
 **FSU: The Housing Crisis, Where Did it Come From, Where are we Going?
 General Assembly
 Open Group Meditation
 Winterizing meeting

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posted by u2r2h at 8:23 PM 0 comments

Assassinating Children - YEMEN DRONE MASSACRES

Abdulrahman al-Awlakiby Jacob G. Hornberger

The extraordinary power of the U.S. government to assassinate people has, once again, been manifested in the assassination of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki. No, that's not Anwar al-Awlaki, the American Muslim cleric whom U.S. officials recently assassinated in Yemen. That's Abdulrahm al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of Anwar al-Awlaki.

There are several things that are especially fascinating about the U.S. government's assassination of this American teenager, who apparently traveled to Yemen looking for his father before his father was assassinated:

First, the U.S. government has assassinated a minor.

Second, no one except the assassins knows why they assassinated the boy.

Third, the people who planned and carried out the assassination — from President Obama, to the Pentagon, to the CIA — aren't talking.

Fourth, nobody can force them to explain why they killed the boy.

The assassination of Abdulrahman al-Awlaki reveals in stark clarity where the U.S. government's imperialist foreign policy and resulting war on terrorism have brought us as nation and as a people. We now live in a country in which the president and his military and paramilitary forces now wield the omnipotent authority to assassinate anyone they want, anywhere in the world, with impunity and without having to provide an explanation to anyone.

In a news story on the assassination of the boy, Time magazine cites a young friend of Abdulrahman asking, "Who can't America kill?"

Indeed! The fact, as discomforting as it might be, is that the president, the military, and the CIA can now kill anyone they want for whatever reason they want, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The assassination of 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki confirms the extent of this extraordinary post-9/11 power now wielded by the U.S. national-security state.

It's never been made clear the precise reasons for the assassination of the boy's father, Anwar al-Awlaki. Some people speculate that it's because he was exhorting Muslims to resist U.S. imperialist policies with violence. Others speculate that it was because he was actually conspiring to commit terrorist attacks against the United States. Others suggest that it was because he was purportedly a member of al-Qaeda. Others say it was because he was committing treason.

Neither President Obama, nor the Pentagon, nor the CIA have ever provided an explanation for the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, confirming, once again, that we now live in a country where government officials can assassinate anyone they want, foreigners and Americans alike, with impunity.

Why assassinate the 16-year old boy?

Was he supposedly doing what his father was doing? Was he allegedly exhorting Muslims to resist U.S. imperialism with force? Was he allegedly conspiring to commit terrorist attacks himself? Was he supposed to be a member of al-Qaeda?

We don't know. The only people who know are President Obama, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the CIA and, again, they're not talking and, under the war on terrorism, are apparently not required to talk.

According to that Time magazine article, some unidentified U.S. official is quoted as saying that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was "in the wrong place at the wrong time" — collateral damage in the assassination of an al-Qaeda terrorist who was killed as part of the same strike.

One problem, of course, is that that information might well be false, especially since it's not under oath and comes from an unidentified official. Thus, the information is worthless insofar as understanding why the assassins ended the child's life. Another problem is that even if the claim was true, an obvious question arises: Did the assassins know that 16-year-old Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was present and, therefore, would likely be killed in the attack?

Perhaps I should mention that Abdulrahman al-Awlaki wasn't the only teenager assassinated in the attack. Also assassinated were his teenage cousin and six other people with whom he was having dinner. Were they also alleged to have been terrorists? Again, we just don't know. The president, the Pentagon, and the CIA just aren't talking and apparently don't have to.

Did the U.S government assassinate Abdulrahman al-Awlaki because he was the son of an alleged terrorist? Did they assassinate him to send a message to other would-be terrorists — that this is what will happen to your children (or other relatives) if you oppose the U.S. Empire? Did they assassinate him to preclude the possibility of his growing up with a thirst for vengeance and retaliation arising out of the assassination of his father?

We just don't know. I think the idea is that while the government is disappearing people from life through assassination, we, the citizenry, are expected to not dwell on such things and instead to simply continue going about our daily lives with the understanding that the government is doing what is necessary to keep us safe.

But one thing is for sure: The assassination of 16-year-old American Abdulrahman al-Awlaki confirms, once again, that we now live in a country whose government has the unfettered authority to assassinate anyone it wants, adult or minor, foreigner or American, and remain mute about it.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

At the same time, people are murdered by the US supported Yemeni Government.
Photo like of Pieta Maria and Jesus Child 2011

His father Anwar al-Awlaki was ACCUSED (not convicted by law) of being a "terrorist"

Wikipedia: Al-Awlaki's 17 year old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was reportedly killed 2 weeks later on October 14, 2011, by an American drone strike in Yemen

The embedded Government Mouthpiece New York Times writes:

The American drone strike last month that killed the Qaeda official, Anwar al-Awlaki, has been particularly controversial in the United States. Despite being an American citizen, Mr. Awlaki, a Qaeda propagandist, was killed without a trial.

The killing of his son in a drone attack on Friday night, if confirmed, would be the fourth time an American was killed by such a United States attack in Yemen, although it was not clear if the son was an intended target. A second American, Samir Khan, the editor of Al Qaeda's online magazine, was killed in the attack on Mr. Awlaki, which was launched from a new secret C.I.A. base on the Arabian Peninsula.

Local reports citing witnesses said the strikes were carried out by American drones, and that they had killed nine people.

American drone strikes have increased in Yemen this year

Abdelrahman al-Awlaki, 17, who lived in the capital and was visiting the family home in the Assan District of Shabwa Province after his father's death.

Two other relatives of the Awlaki family were also killed, the family said.

The American, Abdelrahman al-Awlaki, was at least the fourth American killed in such a strike

Fascism version 2.0

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posted by u2r2h at 8:17 AM 0 comments

Saturday, October 22, 2011

USA kill 15 civilians per militant

Assassination Rights

Assassination is as American as apple pie. The record-breaking case of assassination-targeting is Fidel Castro. The 1976 Church Committee report on "Alleged Assassination Plots on Foreign Leaders" listed "at least" seven attempts to kill Castro, but the book by Fabian Escalante, the Cuban former official in charge of protecting Castro, claimed that the number of tries ran into the hundreds. Duncan Campbell pointed out that Luis Posada Carriles was still living in Florida after his failed effort to murder Castro (among his other terrorist actions) and Campbell noted sardonically that Florida is "a place where many of the unsuccessful would-be assassins have made their home" (see "638 tries to kill Castro," Guardian, August 3, 2006). It would be a mistake, however, to think that Florida is the terror center of the world—that honor falls to Washington, DC and its environs. Florida is just one branch of the center, just as Guantanamo is one branch of a DC-centered torture network.


Aggression Rights


It is, of course, well established that the United States has aggression rights and that international law applies only to others, although clients like Israel also have such exemptions by virtue of the power of their protector (see Herman, "Aggression Rights," Z Magazine, February, 2004). U.S. aggression rights were made perfectly clear with the U.S. attack, invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, which was as clear a violation of the UN Charter as Saddam's 1990 invasion/occupation of Kuwait. In the latter instance, the UN rushed to condemn Saddam on the same day his tanks and troops rolled into Kuwait, and that great law-enforcer, the United States, rushed to oust him by massive force.


On the other hand, when Israel invaded Lebanon in 2006, this was seen as merely a case of tolerable "birth-pangs of a new Middle East" (Condo- leezza Rice). When the UN came into the picture, it was more to protect poor little Israel from future pea-shoots from Lebanon than to protect Lebanon from current and future attacks and invasions by a state that had already aggressed against it twice.


Even more interesting was the invasion of Rwanda by elements of the Uganda army in October 1990, two months after Saddam's invasion of Kuwait. Here, as in Lebanon, the invading forces were supported by the U.S., so the UN imposed no impediment or penalty and, in various other ways, aided the invading party and facilitated a genocidal process in the 1990s (which extended into the Democratic Republic of the Congo).


Assassination Rights


Assassination rights follow in the same manner, flowing from military and economic power, arrogance, self-righteousness, and client status. As of early September 2011, it is not clear whether Moammar Kadaffi is dead or alive—or, if alive, will long survive—but it has been openly acknowledged that the United States and its NATO allies have more than once bombed Kadaffi's compound in Tripoli in an effort to kill him, the first incident occurring as early as March 20, the second day of the war. This is by no means the first time that the West has tried to assassinate Kadaffi. The British and French both tried and the United States made an earlier effort in 1986 when it bombed Kadaffi's residence in Tripoli, missing him but killing his baby daughter and many nearby civilians.


Assassination of civilians violates numerous international prohibitions of such killing beyond military "necessity" and it violates a stream of U.S. executive orders that declare, for example, that, "No person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination." This is regularly ignored by U.S. leaders, hence by the media and by any potential theoretical national or international law enforcement bodies.


The rationales for ignoring law and executive orders can be funny. We can go after Kadaffi because he is "commander-in-chief" of the Libyan armed forces, hence a military target. One exposition of assassination law notes that "it seems fairly obvious that eliminating Qadaffi will go far toward bringing attacks on civilians to an end" ("Assassination under International & Domestic Law," on the IntLawGrrls website, May 2, 2011). This might be especially true if his elimination would have ended NATO attacks on Libyan civilians, which, along with those of the NATO-supported insurgents, seem to have far exceeded those of Kadaffi and his forces.


Bringing a war to a quicker end has long been a rationalization for attacking civilians. During the bombing war against Yugoslavia in 1999, the stepped up attacks on Serbian civilian structures and civilian occupants was explicitly designed to force a quicker surrender and the bombing of the Belgrade state broadcasting station (16 killed) was explained on grounds that the station served up state propaganda and was, therefore, a quasi-military target whose destruction would hasten an end to the war. Then, of course, U.S. wars are always framed as a matter of self-defense against the threat of weapons of mass destruction or some other threat to the pitiful giant.


Israel's Assassination Rights


Or for our pitiful little client in the Middle East, which is a kind of pioneer in "targeted assassinations" and "preventive strikes." Israel has been killing Palestinians in extra-judicial actions for many years, both in the occupied territories and in Israel itself. The Palestine Centre for Human Rights estimates 604 targeted killings of Palestinians between September 2000 and March 2011, plus another 256 "collateral damage" bystanders killed. B'Tselem estimates 228 executions carried out by the Israel Defense Force (IDF) between September 2000 and October 2006, plus 154 non-targeted civilians. This just scratches the surface of the forms of violence carried out by the Israeli state and its settlers against those who stand in the way. The IDF uses only rubber bullets in Israeli protests, but live ammunition in dealing with the Palestinians. The assassination programs are built on the foundation that Israel is confronted with "terrorists" who can be dealt with summarily. That the IDF is the operative body of a system of wholesale terrorism that daily violates international law is unrecognized, not only in Israel, but throughout the world. Similarly, the Israeli wars of aggression in Lebanon and the genocidal war on Gaza in 2009 do not elicit sanctions or war crimes tribunals or discredit the Israeli state or leadership. Its right to aggress and assassinate remains intact.


In 2006, the Israeli assassination program received the imprimatur of the Israeli Supreme Court, which found that the assassinations of "terrorists," who had not been tried in any court of law, were legal. "We cannot determine in advance that all targeted killings are contrary to international law," the court ruled. "At the same time, it is not possible that all such liquidations are in line with international law." But the Court did make it illegal to carry out an assassination attack where more than one victim was unidentified and was possibly an innocent ("Israeli court backs targeted killings," BBC News, December 14, 2006). Of course, the non-innocence of the properly liquidated targets had not been determined in a court of law, but this extra-judicial decision-making, which flies in the face of international law, was acceptable to the court.


The court also required that, if feasible, the terrorists should be arrested rather than simply assassinated. If the target resisted arrest, killing them would be acceptable and assassinating them where an arrest was not practicle was also acceptable.


This was a de facto "license to kill," that would only put the killing establishment to some minor pains to keep the record clean and lawful. "Targeted Assassinations—a License to kill" was, in fact, the title of an article published in Haaretz on November 27, 2008 by Uri Blau, using some IDF internal documents that described how the Israeli Supreme Court's assassination-approving decision would only slightly inconvenience the IDF's assassination program. Blau shows that the Israeli military regularly carried out assassination operations, planned in advance as targeted killings, under the guise of planned arrests.


Blau cites evidence that top Israeli officers approved in advance the killing of Palestinians defined as "wanted." This has been a scandal in Israel, with the alleged leaker of documents (Anat Kam, then a 23-year-old former IDF soldier) under arrest and Blau, a refugee in England, fearful of returning to Israel. Needless to say Blau's "License to kill" and its findings have not been widely disseminated in the press, nor has the freedom of speech scandal gotten much attention.


The U.S.: From Assassination to Global Free-Fire-Zone Rights


With its greater capacity to kill on a global scale, the U.S. "license" far surpasses Israel's. Despite its serious domestic problems and resource scarcity for its civil society needs, the U.S. permanent war establishment is upping-the-ante in pursuing its villain choices across the globe. The Nation's Jeremy Scahill testified before the House Judiciary Committee in December 2010 that the U.S. Special Operations Forces and CIA have steadily expanded their ongoing "shadow wars" around the world, con- ducting missions in 60 countries during the Bush administration and as many as 75 under Obama's. As Scahill added, the Obama "administration has taken the Bush era doctrine that the 'world is a battlefield' and run with it."


Based on press reports dating back to June 17, 2004, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (UK) estimated that by the end of August 2011, between 2,309 and 2,880 persons had been killed in the U.S.'s "Covert Drone War" in Pakistan, with airstrikes by remote-controlled aerial killers under Obama outnumbering Bush's by 243 to 52. These researchers found the reported civilian death-toll to be between 392 and 783—though the actual civilian toll is likely far greater.


The press reports which form the basis of this research tend to repeat the U.S. and Pakistani government line that every strike kills "militants" and only in exceptional cases are civilian fatalities acknowledged in the reports (see Chris Woods, "Drone War Exposed," and David Pegg, "Drone Statistics Visualized," Bureau of Investigative Journalism, August 10, 2011).


A photographic exhibit in London last summer by the Pakistani Noor Behram, titled Gaming in Waziristan, detailed the wreckage caused by the U.S. drone war. Behram's theme, in his own words, was that "far more civilians are being injured and killed than the Americans and Pakistanis admit." As he told the Guardian's Peter Beaumont: "For every 10 to 15 people killed, maybe they get one militant. I don't go to count how many Taliban are killed. I go to count how many children, women, innocent people are killed" ("US drone strikes in Pakistan claiming many civilian victims, says campaigner," July 17, 2011).


A lawsuit filed in Islamabad against the retired CIA lawyer John A. Rizzo on behalf of two surviving family members of drone attacks accuses him of having played a role in determining targets for the attacks and thus deciding who should die. This and similar evidence in other U.S. free-fire zones—Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya (until the overthrow of Kadaffi in August), and elsewhere—stands in dramatic contrast with the reassuring words of White House's Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser John Brennan, who said, in answer to a question on June 29, that in the "types of operations the U.S. has been involved in in the counterterrorism realm...there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop."


During the same speech, Brennan previewed the U.S. strategy in its Global War On Terror for the years ahead. Unsurprisingly, remote-controlled drones and U.S. Special Forces Operations in different countries where no official U.S. declaration of war has ever been made were featured prominently ("U.S. Counterterrorism Strategy; Ensuring Al-Qaida's Demise," Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC, June 29, 2011).


Brennan was lying about the sure-sightedness of this method of kill. Six weeks later the New York Times helped him get-off-the-hook when he "adjusted the wording of his earlier comment on civilian casualties," no longer saying that "there hasn't been a single collateral death" in the past year, but that "American officials could not confirm any such deaths." In an amazing gloss on the argument, Georgetown University Pakistan expert C. Christine Fair also told the Times: "This is the least indiscriminate, least inhumane tool we have" (Scott Shane, "C.I.A. Is Disputed On Civilian Toll In Drone Strikes," August 12, 2011).


Given the monumental scale of the violence and of the death and destruction caused by U.S. military attacks against multiple countries around the world (formally or informally; in uniform or by hired-hands), the reported deaths in Pakistan to date are relatively small when compared to the deaths of one to two million Iraqis caused by the United States and its allies from August 1990 to the present. But perhaps the most important point to note is the institutionalization, growth, and normalization of the work of the U.S. military machine. The CIA has grown in size, especially in its killing activities, featuring its drone war management, which Gareth Porter contends is unstoppable because of bureaucratic imperatives and power ("CIA's Push for Drone War Driven by Internal Needs," IPSnews, September 5, 2011). It is, in the words of one CIA official, "one hell of a killing machine." However, it is probably exceeded in its death-dealing by the semi-secret Joint Special Operations Command, which "has killed even more of America's enemies in the decade since the 9/11 attacks" (Dana Priest and William Arkin, "'Top Secret America': A look at the military's Joint Special Operations Command," Washington Post, September 2, 2011).


These, along with the Pentagon, have made the entire globe a free-fire- zone in which people are assassinated without trial at U.S. discretion. NATO has been integrated into this process, expanded greatly since the break-up of the Soviet Union, whose alleged threat was the rationale for building NATO. NATO is now stressing "out of area" operations that gear well with the U.S. "projection of power." It was noted recently in a reflection on 9/11 that America's wars have greatly increased rather than decreased since the demise of the Soviet Union and the ending of their supposed threat to international peace and security (see Greg Jaffe, "On a war footing, set in concrete," Washington Post, September 5, 2011).


But that seeming paradox rested on the belief that it was the Soviets who needed to be contained, rather than the United States and its allies. The latter still do. And, as during the Vietnam war where U.S. policy—free-fire zones, chemical warfare, massive killings of civilians in napalm and bombing raids—created a steady stream of recruits to keep fighting the aggressor, so today the U.S. (and Israeli) killing machine continues to produce recruits and resistance to its "out of area" advances. As this is a permanent self-fulfilling enemy- and war-generating process, it is ominous and may be an Armageddon March. 


Edward S. Herman is an economist, media critic, and author of numerous articles and books. His latest is The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson).

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Chomsky never tried Marijuana!!!

The High Times Interview with Noam Chomsky July 29, 2011

Q: You've spoken out against the War on Drugs, explaining that it's
essentially a means to lock up poor people, that it actually increases
drug use, and that it serves as an excuse to control foreign nations.
Would you briefly elaborate on these points?

A: Let's grant that there's a drug problem, for the sake of argument
-- drugs meaning, you know, cocaine, marijuana and so on. Suppose you
accept that. How do you deal with it? There are studies -- government
studies and others -- that say that the most cost-effective way is
prevention and treatment. More expensive and less effective is
policing; still less effective and more expensive is border
interdiction. And the most expensive and the least effective is
out-of-country operations, like what they call "fumigation" -- which
is, in fact, chemical warfare -- in Colombia and so forth. I've seen
it firsthand; it really is chemical warfare. So those are the basic
facts, and I don't think anyone questions them very much.

Now take a look at the way the Drug War is conducted over the past 40
years. It goes back farther, but start from 40 years ago: There's very
little spent on prevention and treatment. There's a lot on policing, a
ton of stuff on border control and a lot on out-of-country operations.
And the effect on the availability of drugs is almost undetectable;
drug prices don't change on measures of availability. So there are two
possibilities: Either those conducting the Drug War are lunatics, or
they have another purpose.

Well, in the law, there's a standard way of trying to determine
intention, and that's by looking at predictable consequences. You have
40 years of experience with almost no effect on what they claim
they're trying to do, and you have very predictable consequences -- in
fact, several. At home, you lock up the people who are essentially
superfluous. The economy shifted dramatically in the '70s away from
domestic production and towards financialization and the export of
production. That leaves a class problem: What do you do with
unemployed workers? We happen to have a very close class/race
correlation in America, so that means, overwhelmingly, black males and
Hispanic males. Well, you know, we're a civilized country, so you
don't assassinate them -- you stick them in jail. And, in fact, the
incarceration rate has been shooting up, especially since the early
'80s; it's now way out of line with any other comparable country.
Meanwhile, overseas, the War on Drugs contributes to counterinsurgency
operations. So a rational conclusion is that those are the purposes.
The only alternative I can think of is sheer lunacy.

Furthermore, it's known, just from experience, that prevention works.
Here we get to the question of what's the drug problem. Well, in fact,
by far the worst problem is tobacco: Tobacco kills way more people
than hard drugs, 20 times as many or some huge number. So that's a
really dangerous substance. The second most dangerous is alcohol,
because of its direct consequence to the user, but also because it
harms others. Marijuana doesn't make you violent; alcohol does. So it
contributes to abuse, violence -- drunk driving kills people. It's a

Anyway, what happened is that, without any criminalization, the usage
of these substances has declined pretty significantly among more
educated people. And it's the same with say, red meat. It was a
lifestyle change, and it became a healthier lifestyle with no
criminalization. That's just education -- basically, prevention. So I
think there's almost no other rational conclusion other than the one I
mentioned: that the Drug War is not intended to deal with the use of
drugs. It's intended for other purposes, namely those that are the
actual and predictable consequences of it.

Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, made a pertinent comment a
couple years ago. He said, "If you want to destroy coca here, then let
us destroy the tobacco in North Carolina and Kentucky. It's a far more
dangerous substance. It kills way more people than coca does." That's
a joke, obviously -- the United States isn't going to let him do that.
Then again, it just shows up the cynicism of the whole program.

Q: You mentioned that money from drugs is used to support American
covert operations or counterinsurgency operations. Can you explain how
that got started and how it still works today?

A: The best source on this is Alfred McCoy's The Politics of Heroin.
He traces it back to early postwar Europe, post--World War II, where a
prime concern of Washington was to undermine the antifascist
resistance and the labor movements in Italy, France and Germany in
order to restore traditional social structures, including fascist
collaborators. It actually started earlier, before the war was over,
as US and British troops moved up the Italian peninsula with help from
the Mafia. In France, to break the powerful labor movement, the US
occupying forces needed strikebreakers and, more generally, goons.
They reconstituted the Corsican Mafia for that purpose and, in
payment, allowed them to restore the old heroin connection based in
Marseilles, which the fascists had crushed.

After that, the center of the drug trade quite consistently followed
the path of US intervention and subversion. The heroin trade moved
from the French Connection to Southeast Asia, where the so-called
"Golden Triangle" -- the area around Burma, Thailand and Laos --
became a major drug-producing area with the help of the US as it waged
secret wars against the populations of those countries. It then
shifted to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the '80s as the US supported
the Afghan resistance -- including warlords -- against the Soviet
occupation. Obviously, the terrorist operations carried out in Central
America under the Reagan administration were funded through the
cocaine trade, which was partly exposed in the Iran-contra hearings,
though mostly suppressed. It's quite natural: These operations need
thugs and black money, which commonly translates as illegal drugs.

On how it works today, you should check with people who follow these
matters more closely than I do, like Alfred W. McCoy or Peter Dale

Q: Could you tell us about the connection between the drug cartels and
the large institutional banks?

A: Money laundering commonly goes through banks, which pretend not to
know about it. The scale is estimated to be huge. An interesting
illustration of how it works is Operation Greenback, launched on a
Treasury Department initiative in 1979, when investigators discovered
a sharp increase in cash deposits in South Florida banks as well as
cocaine imports. The investigation was aborted by the Reagan
administration, which evidently did not regard banks as an appropriate
target -- except for bailouts when they get into trouble.

Q: You subscribe to the theory of anarchism or anarcho-syndicalism.
Could you point out how your views on drugs and the Drug War tie into

A: The Drug War, in my opinion, is a very highly illegitimate use of
state power. We can ask the question what should be done, but I think,
for the reasons I mentioned, what's actually being done is completely
illegitimate. Anarcho-syndicalism is a commitment to overcome the
illegitimate use of power, including state power, but also any other
kind of power, like corporate power or patriarchal families or
whatever it may be. There's a connection in that sense. This is simply
an instance of the illegitimate use of power by concentrations of
power that shouldn't exist in the first place.

Q: At times, you've been outspoken against the Libertarian Party and
its ideals. Recently, libertarians such as Ron Paul have courted
marijuana users on the basis that they oppose the Drug War. Why do you
oppose them?

A: What's called libertarianism in the United States is a significant
deviation from traditional libertarian thought. Traditionally, say in
Europe, "libertarian" meant the anti-state wing of the socialist
party. In the United States, "libertarian" means ultra-capitalist; it
means permitting capitalist institutions to function essentially
without constraint, or virtually with no constraint. That's a recipe
for one of the worst kinds of tyranny that exists: unaccountable
corporate tyranny.

Take a look at individual libertarians -- say Ron Paul. He may be
perfectly sincere, but as I read his programs and other programs of
the Libertarian Party or the Cato Institute and so on, they
essentially would give free rein to unaccountable concentrations of
private power. And that's about the worst kind of tyranny you can
imagine. Whatever government is -- say our government -- it's to some
extent accountable to the public, and the public can compel it to be
fairly accountable, at least in principle. That's why we have things
like New Deal reforms and so on: It's public pressure. On the other
hand, you and I can say nothing about the policies of Goldman Sachs or
General Electric. In principle, our only relationship to those
institutions is to consume what they produce or to serve them as an
obedient work force. We can maybe own some shares, but that's
meaningless given the concentration of shareholding. So they're
essentially unaccountable to the public except through a regulatory
apparatus that can be developed through the state in our society,
which can somewhat tame the excesses and destructive capacities of
these institutions.

Q: You and your friend and former colleague, the late Howard Zinn,
have promoted the idea of change coming from the bottom up, from
people organizing, rather than through elected leaders. You saw this
in the civil-rights and antiwar movements, and it's evident in the
marijuana movement today. Does recent progress in the campaign for the
legalization of marijuana give you hope for other causes?

A: First of all, I wouldn't go quite so far as what you said before --
there's an interaction between elected officials and popular activism.
So, for example, let's go back to the New Deal legislation or the
other liberal welfare-state measures that went on from the New Deal
right up through the Nixon administration. Nixon was basically the
last liberal president, and those liberal measures were in substantial
part the result of popular activism, from CIO organizing in the 1930s
up to the activism in the '60s and on to their impact in the early
'70s. They had an impact on legislation and on public officials. So
it's not one or the other; you can do both and recognize what the
interaction is like.

Marijuana legalization is a cause that's moving forward, and I think
it makes sense. It could be a dent in state controls that should be
relaxed or eliminated. Just how to proceed raises interesting
questions. I don't think, exactly, let's legalize everything -- you
have to consider the circumstances that exist, the culture that
exists, the society that exists, how people will react to the
legislation and other choices. It's not such a simple matter. I think
we can move in the direction of treating hard drugs the way we treat
tobacco, but you'll probably have to move in stages.

Q: Nixon was a liberal? HighTimes readers more likely see him as the
man who started the modern War on Drugs. Could you explain?

A: Nixon did a lot of rotten things much worse than starting the
modern War on Drugs, but the same is true of other liberal presidents.
His liberal initiatives included the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and much else. No president since
Nixon has passed such liberal initiatives. His perceived "class
treachery" appears to have been a factor in the substantial
business-led backlash against democracy and rights that took off in
the mid-'70s.

Q: Lastly, HighTimes readers may be curious if you've ever tried marijuana?

A: No, never even … I'm very conventional.

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Chomsky at Columbia - Israel Zionism Facism

Noam Chomsky on Israel-Palestine Prisoner Exchange, U.S. Assassination Campaign in Yemen

MIT Professor Emeritus Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist and political dissident, spoke Monday night at Barnard College in New York City about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just hours before Israel and Hamas completed a historic prisoner exchange. "I think [Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit] should have been released a long time ago. But there's something missing from this whole story. There's no pictures of Palestinian women, and no discussion, in fact, in the story of—what about the Palestinian prisoners being released? Where do they come from?" Chomsky says. "There's a lot to say about that. So, for example, we don't know—at least I don't read it in the Times—whether the release includes the elected Palestinian officials who were kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel in 2007 when the United States, the European Union and Israel decided to dissolve the only freely elected legislature in the Arab world." Chomsky also discusses the recent U.S. assassination of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. "Almost all of the critics, of whom there weren't many, criticized the action or qualified it because of the fact that Awlaki was an American citizen," Chomksy says. "That is, he was a person, unlike suspects who are intentionally murdered or collateral damage, meaning we treat them kind of like the ants we step on when we walk down the street. They're not American citizens, so they're unpeople, and therefore they can be freely murdered." [includes rush transcript]

AMY GOODMAN: Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit returned home today after five years in captivity in Gaza in exchange for 477 Palestinian prisoners. Another 550 are slated to be released in two months. Forty of the Palestinian prisoners will be deported to Syria, Qatar, Turkey and Jordan. In his first interview, Gilad Shalit expressed support for the freeing of all Palestinian prisoners. While Palestinians are holding a massive celebration in Gaza today, Palestinian prison support groups note over 4,000 Palestinians remain locked up in Israel.

We turn now to MIT Professor Noam Chomsky, the world-renowned linguist and political dissident. He spoke Monday night here in New York at Barnard College about the Israel-Palestine conflict, the prisoner exchange, and the Middle East, overall.

    NOAM CHOMSKY: About a week ago, the New York Times had a headline saying "the West Celebrates a Cleric's Death." The cleric was Awlaki, killed by a drone. It wasn't just death; it was assassination—and another step forward in Obama's global assassination campaign, which actually breaks some new records in international terrorism. Well, it's not true that everyone in the West celebrated. There were some critics. Almost all of the critics, of whom there weren't many, criticized the action or qualified it because of the fact that Awlaki was an American citizen. That is, he was a person, unlike suspects who are intentionally murdered or collateral damage, meaning we treat them kind of like the ants we step on when we walk down the street. They're not American citizens, so they're unpeople, and therefore they can be freely murdered.

    Some may remember, if you have good memories, that there used to be a concept in Anglo-American law called a presumption of innocence, innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Now that's so deep in history that there's no point even bringing it up, but it did once exist. Some of the critics have brought up the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which says that no person — "person," notice — shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Well, of course, that was never intended to apply to persons, so it wasn't intended to apply to unpeople.

    And unpeople fall into several categories. There's, first of all, the indigenous population, either in the territories already held or those that were expected to be conquered soon. It didn't apply to them. And, of course, it didn't apply to those who the Constitution declared to be three-fifths human, so therefore unpeople. That latter category was transferred into—theoretically, into the category of people by the 14th Amendment, that—essentially the same wording as the Fifth Amendment in this respect, but now a person was intended to hold of freed slaves. Now that was in theory. In practice, it barely happened. After about 10 years, the category of three-fifths human were returned to the category of unpeople by the divisive criminalization of black life, which essentially restored slavery, maybe something even worse than slavery, actually went on 'til the Second World War. And it's being reinstituted now, past 30 years of severe moral and social regression in the United States.

    Well, the 14th Amendment was recognized right away to be problematic. The concept of person was both too narrow and too broad, and the courts went to work to overcome both of those flaws. The concept of person was expanded to include legal fictions, sustained—created and sustained by the state, what's called corporations, and was also narrowed over the years to exclude undocumented aliens. That goes right up to the present, to recent Supreme Court cases, which make it clear that corporations not only are persons, but they're persons with rights far beyond those of persons of flesh and blood, so kind of super persons. The mislabeled free trade agreements give them astonishing rights. And, of course, the court just added more.

    But the crucial need to make sure that the category of unpeople includes those who escaped from the horrors we've created in Central America and Mexico, try to get here—those are not persons, they are unpeople. And, of course, it includes any foreigners, especially those accused of terror, which is a concept that has taken a quite an interesting conceptual change, an interesting one, since 1981, when Ronald Reagan came into office and declared the global war on terror, what's called GWOT in current fancy terminology. I won't go into that here, except with a comment, a note, on how the term is now used, without any—raising even any notice.

    So take, for example, Omar Khadr. He's a 15-year-old child, a Canadian. Now, he was accused of a very severe crime, namely, trying to defend his village in Afghanistan from U.S. invaders. Obviously, that's severe crime, a serious terrorist, so he was sent first to secret prison in Bagram, then off to Guantánamo for eight years. After eight years, he pleaded guilty to some charges. We all know what that means. If you want, you could pick up a few of the details even in Wikipedia, more in other sources. So he pleaded guilty and was given eight more years' sentence. Could have—would have gotten 30 more years if he hadn't pleaded guilty. After all, it is a severe crime, defending your village from American aggressors. He's Canadian, so Canada could have him extradited. But with typical courage, they refused. They don't want to offend the master, understandably. Well, the crime of resisting aggression, it's not a new category of terrorism. There may be some of you old enough to remember the slogan "a terror against terror," which was used by the Gestapo—and which we've taken over. None of this arouses any interest, because all of these victims belong to the category of unpeople.

    Well, that—coming back to our topic now, the concept of unpeople is central to tonight's topic. Israeli Jews are people. Palestinians are unpeople. And a lot follows from that as clear illustrations constantly. So, here's a clipping, if I remembered to bring it, from the New York Times. Front-page story, Wednesday, October 12th, the lead story is "Deal with Hamas Will Free Israeli Held Since 2006." That's Gilad Shalit. And right next to it is a—running right across the top of the front page is a picture of four women kind of agonized over the fate of Gilad Shalit. "Friends and supporters of the family of Staff Sgt. Gilad Shalit received word of the deal at the family's protest tent in Jerusalem." Well, that's understandable, actually. I think he should have been released a long time ago. But there's something missing from this whole story. So, like, there's no pictures of Palestinian women, and no discussion, in fact, in the story of—what about the Palestinian prisoners being released? Where do they come from?

    And there's a lot to say about that. So, for example, we don't know — at least I don't read it in the Times — whether the release includes the Palestinian—the elected Palestinian officials who were kidnapped and imprisoned by Israel in 2007 when the United States, the European Union and Israel decided to dissolve the only freely elected legislature in the Arab world. That's called "democracy promotion," technically, in case you're not familiar with the term. So I don't know what happened to them. There are also other people who have been in prison exactly as long as Gilad Shalit—in fact, one day longer. The day before Gilad Shalit was captured at the border, Israeli troops entered Gaza, kidnapped two brothers, the Muamar brothers, spirited them across the border, in violation of the Geneva Conventions, of course. And they've disappeared into Israel's prison system. I haven't a clue what happened to them; I've never seen a word about it. And as far as I know, nobody cares, which makes sense. After all, unpeople. Whatever you think about capturing the soldier, a soldier from an attacking army, plainly kidnapping civilians is a far more severe crime. But that's only if they're people. This case really doesn't matter. It's not that it's unknown, so if you look back at the press the day after the Muamar brothers were captured, there's a couple lines here and there. But it's just insignificant, of course—which makes some sense, because there are lots of others in prison, thousands of them, many without charges.

    There's also, in addition to this, the secret prison system, like Facility 1391, if you want to look it up on the internet, a secret prison, which means, of course, a torture chamber, in Israel, which actually was reported pretty well in Israel when it was discovered, also reported in England and in Europe, but I haven't seen a word about it here, in at least anywhere that anybody's likely to look. I've written about it, and a couple of others. All of this is—these are all unpeople, so, naturally, nobody cares. In fact, the racism is so profound that it's kind of like the air we breathe: we're unaware of it, you know, just pervades everything.

    Coming to the title of this talk, it could mislead, and it could be interpreted—misinterpreted—as supporting a kind of conventional picture of the negotiations, such as they are: United States on—over here and then these two recalcitrant forces over there; the United States is an honest broker trying to bring together the two militant, difficult groups that don't seem to be able to get along with one another. Now that's—it is the standard version, but it's totally false. I mean, if they were serious negotiations, they would be organized by some neutral party, maybe Brazil, and on one side you'd have the U.S. and Israel, on the other side you'd have the world. That's literally true. But that's one of those things that's unspeakable.

AMY GOODMAN: MIT Professor Noam Chomsky speaking Monday night at Barnard College.

LectureHop: Chomsky on Israel-Palestine

He's less iconic in person.

Last night, famous linguist and leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky spoke on "America and Israel-Palestine: Peace and War" at Barnard's LeFrak Gymnasium. The line to get in was long, but Bwog's radical correspondent Peter Sterne made it inside.

A full hour before Noam Chomsky was scheduled to begin speaking, the auditorium was already beginning to fill up, and by 5:40 pm, virtually every seat was taken. Attendees continued to stream in, but they were forced to stand on the sides or sit on the floor.

Professor Chomsky began by noting the distinction between "people" and "unpeople." People, he said, were entitled to human dignity and human rights, while unpeople "look human but are considered unworthy of human rights." Historically, unpeople have included indigenous peoples and "those the Constitution considered only 3/5ths of a person." In the War on Terror, he proposes, "unpeople" now include non-Americans. He noted that even though many were critical of Obama's decision to assassinate Anwar al-Awalki, an American citizen and alleged terrorist in Yemen, they didn't mind when the United States killed non-Americans. Chomsky used this example to illustrate how Americans are considered people with certain rights that should be respected, while non-Americans are not.

The same, he argued, is true of Israelis (people) and Palestinians (unpeople) in both the U.S. and Israel. He pointed to an October 12th front-page New York Times article, "Deal With Hamas Will Free Israeli Held Since 2006" (the online version's title is different), that was illustrated with a picture of Israeli women celebrating Gilad Shalit's release. In Chomsky's view, the article focused on the impact of Shalit's release on Israelis, while largely ignoring the individual Palestinian prisoners involved in the prisoner swap, because the Palestinians are considered "unpeople."

Chomsky's criticisms were harsh, and they could easily upset Israelis, for whom Gilad Shalit's release has been a national fixation. But it didn't seem like they were designed to inflame. Chomsky didn't have the angry or self-righteous attitude of a demagogue, but rather the tired and exasperated tone of a professor struggling to explain something simple to his students. It was obvious that he was extremely knowledgeable about the subject of Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Arab relations, and he proceeded to detail a brief history of diplomacy between Israel, Egypt, the U.S., Palestine, and other Arab states. He made a strong case that the United States has generally acted not to advance peace, but to advance its own interests, and that these are often tied to Israel's. Serious and fair peace negotiations, he argued, would have to be mediated by a neutral third party—not the U.S.—and be based on the internationally-recognized 1967 borders.

One example of the U.S. and Israel choosing their own interests above peace, according to Chomsky, occurred in 1971, when President Anwar Sadat of Egypt offered the Israelis full diplomatic relations in exchange for the return of the Sinai Peninsula (which Israel had occupied since the 1967 war). Israel rejected the agreement, preferring to move settlers into the Sinai, and the United States, under Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, supported the Israeli rejection. According to Chomsky, this was partly for racist reasons: a memo circulated in the State Department arguing that Egypt posed no threat to Israel because "Arabs don't know which end of the gun to hold!" With both Israel and the U.S. refusing to negotiate, Egypt launched an attack to reclaim the Sinai in 1973, which resulted in a war that killed 20,000 people and nearly caused nuclear war between the Americans and Russians. After the war, Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin met at Camp David to negotiate the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, which was almost identical to Sadat's original proposal eight years earlier. Though these negotiations are often seen as a diplomatic triumph, Chomsky argued that the Camp David negotiations and 1979 treaty should instead be considered a diplomatic failure. After all, he explained, if the U.S. and Israel had simply accepted Sadat's offer in 1971, they could have avoided a disastrous war.

The audience seemed supportive of Chomsky during his lecture. He received a standing ovation at the end of his talk, and the crowd spontaneously broke into applause and laughter at particularly interesting moments in his lecture. The line "[Palestinian prisoners] are all unpeople, so nobody cares. The racism is so profound that it's like the air we breathe" was particularly well-received. The explanation that "the United States and Israel punished Palestinians with sanctions for voting the wrong way [i.e. for Hamas] in free elections. That's called 'promoting democracy,'" also caused a great deal of laughter.

The way questioners addressed Chomsky soon revealed that the audience were not uniformly fans. Two clear trends were discernible from the lines of questioning, which contributed to the divided atmosphere. Those who addressed their questions to "Dr. Chomsky" or "Professor Chomsky" asked why the United States tolerates Israel's behavior and what Israel should do about illegal settlements to achieve a two-state solution, while those addressing "Mr. Chomsky" asked about Ehud Barak's proposal to Arafat during the 2000 Camp David Accords (a central point in Dershowitz's celebrated "In Defense of Israel") and Binyamin Netanyahu's proposal for ostensible "negotiations without preconditions" at the U.N. a few weeks ago. In sum, around half the participants in the Q&A asked challenging questions, just as Alan Dershowitz had called for.


By Katie Bentivoglio

Spectator Senior Staff Writer  .. Published October 19, 2011

Painting the world in stark dichotomies, famed linguist Noam Chomsky explained the Israel-Palestine conflict in simple terms to a crowded audience in LeFrak Gym: "Israeli Jews are people and Palestinians are 'unpeople.'"

Sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University, Chomsky's speech "America and Israel-Palestine: War and Peace" was a harsh critique of American foreign policy in Israel. Professor of Linguistics Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Chomsky is one of the foremost American intellectuals to speak against American foreign policy concerning Israel and Palestine.

In a speech that read like a laundry list of Israeli-Palestinian history, he returned to the people/unpeople theme many times to explain Israel's treatment of Palestinians and America's acquiescence.

"Remember, these are all 'unpeople,'" he said. "So naturally, no one cares."

In addition to his psychological analysis, Chomsky focused on what he considers to be the greatest obstacle to moving forward in the peace process: the United States. The United States is one of Israel's last allies, offering political and financial support to the country despite decades of criticism from the international community.

"Israel offers a lot to the United States," Chomsky said, referring to American investments in Israel—especially in military capital and military technology—and its role as a strategic American ally in the Middle East. He also referred to "cultural" similarities, saying that both the United States and Israel share a history of removing indigenous peoples from their lands. "We did it, so it's got to be right. Jews are doing it, so it's got to be right," he said.

In the end, Chomsky said there are two simple options: that things continue the way they are or Israel and the United States allow for a two-state solution.

"If you're opposed to a two-state settlement at this point, you're telling the Palestinians to get lost," he said. "Of all the problems in the world, this has to be the easiest to solve," he said.

Following his speech, questions ranged from aggressive attacks on his political positions to practical inquiries about the details of his proposal for peace.

One student challenged Chomsky's claim that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak walked away from a peace settlement during the 2000 Camp David Accords, saying it was Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat who refused Barak's offer to give Palestinians all of Gaza and most of the West Bank. But Chomsky said that the terms of the agreement were unworkable from the beginning. "Clinton recognized that no Palestinian, no Arab, would ever accept the terms that they proposed," he said. "There's no need to discuss it."

He also questioned the veracity of many students' facts. "There is an official story, which is true, but like most official stories, it falls apart quickly if you look at the facts," he added.
Despite enthusiastic applause through much of his talk, Chomsky's wording attracted a crowd of mixed opinions.

"When he says 'unpeople,' what he means the audience to understand is racism," said Ryan Arant, SIPA. "But what I think he's describing are traditional power dynamics between the powerful and the powerless."

"There are real things to talk about," Arant added. "But calling Israel and the West racist is not one of them."

But others considered the event a valuable learning experience.

"It was a good way to get a view of it from a well-informed source," said Yaas Bigdeli, SEAS '14. "I was impressed," she said, adding that she was drawn to Chomsky by his fame and a desire to learn about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

But as Bigdeli noted, the notably dry Chomsky did end on a positive note.

"I think it's kind of optimistic," he said. "Because it means that the future is in our hands."

Internationally-recognized author, linguist, and activist Noam Chomsky will be speaking at Occupy Boston in Dewey Square tomorrow, October 19 at 6:15 pm as part of the Howard Zinn Memorial Lecture Series. Chomsky has already released statements of support for both Occupy Boston and Occupy Wall Street, and we are honored to be hosting him.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu's appeal rejected

Israeli whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu's appeal rejected

by: Cory Collins October 17 2011

Mordechai Vanunu, the former Israeli nuclear technician and whistleblower, learned his appeal was rejected by Israel's Supreme Court last Thursday, continuing a range of restrictions on his rights re-imposed since his last release from prison in August 2010. Vanunu is also waiting for the Israeli government to respond to his request for revocation of his citizenship filed in July. On Sunday, he wrote that the court has allowed the government to delay their response.

Vanunu, who worked at the Negev Nuclear Research Center for nine years, leaked details of Israel's nuclear weapons program to two British newspapers in 1986, citing his opposition to weapons of mass destruction amidst Israel's policy of deliberate ambiguity - the country has never confirmed or denied maintaining a nuclear weapons program but Your Linkcredible estimates of its size were made based on the disclosure, many times greater than what independent analysts thought at the time.

Shortly afterwards, he was lured to Italy by a Mossad agent where he was abducted, drugged, transported to Israel and tried in secret, famously revealing the hearing's details by pressing his note-scrawled hand against the window of the car transporting him. He served a sentence of 18 years for charges of treason and espionage, including 11 years in solitary confinement.

Though he was released in 2004, he has since been subject to a range of prohibitions that were re-introduced again after further detentions in 2007 and 2010, each for violations of the rules regarding his communication and movement. Israeli authorities have justified the restrictions on security grounds, citing fears that Vanunu may disclose other state secrets, despite expert opinion that the full extent his classified knowledge is now publicly available.

The former technician's imprisonment and treatment have received condemnation from Amnesty International, the International League for Human Rights, and multiple laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize. Vanunu himself was nominated for a number of years, and received the Right Livelihood Award in 1987, among other honors. Nevertheless, his case remains little known, with individual developments gathering infrequent coverage.

"You can't take a poll on Vanunu," American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky remarked on the case in 2005. "...[I]n the United States at least, I don't think one out of a million people have ever heard of him. ...But among people that have ever heard of it there's just total outrage."

Commenting in an email over the weekend, Chomsky called Israel's actions towards Vanunu "a scandal from the first moment" and said that the "continuing moves to punish him for revealing what we all should know are just another black mark added to an ugly record of vengeace." Israel is one of four non-parties to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty known or believed to have nuclear weapons, but the only one not to have formally acknowledged possession - though Israeli politicians and others have referenced them by implication or accident, an official admission would expose violation of United States laws against aide to WMD-producing states.

Vanunu has been variously forbidden from contacting non-Israelis and journalists; owning a cellphone or using a landline or the Internet; approaching embassies, bordering crossings and airports; and from leaving the state of Israel itself. Vanunu is also required to keep authorities informed of his residency information and whereabouts, though he has previously given foreign press interviews and maintains an active YouTube channel.

While in prison, Vanunu engaged in numerous symbolic acts of disobedience, such as refusing to exercise his limited rights to psychiatric treatment and social contact. In 1998, he appealed to Israel's interior ministry to revoke his citizenship, with hopes that it would increase his chances for gaining permanent residency in Europe.

Previously rejected on grounds that it would leave him a stateless citizen, Vanunu appealed again in 2010 but reported a week ago that "the [government] did not answer the [C]ourt yet" regarding his request. In his update on Sunday Vanunu said the court might allow the delay up until November 13, despite the protest of his attorney Avigdor Feldman.

Again citing a potential threat to national security, the decision means Vanunu will not be able to emigrate from Israel, the judges opining that he "has proved several times that he cannot be trusted and does not respect the letter of the law."

Though unclassified documents reveal the potential role that politics played in the rejection of his application to Norway, two other countries, Sweden and Ireland, also rejected his appeal on the grounds that absentee applications are not accepted. Therefore, his requests for asylum may continue to be denied.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Chomsky -- sit-down strike is just one step before taking over the factory

Noam Chomsky spoke at the RMC (Rebellious Media Conference) opening session about the #Occupy Wall Street events taking place in the last few weeks and his views on how this movement could become more efficient, more radical, more permanent and more focused on obtainable goals. He left no doubt of his support to this "end of apathy" as the most important thing happening today.


Image by: Wikimedia Commons
Noam Chomsky (Wikimedia Commons)

Pressenza london, 10/11/11 Noam Chomsky was the keynote speaker at the conference organized by Peace News in London with the sponsorship of the Joseph Rowntree foundation and Quaker Peace and Social Witness. The central theme was how to progress the radical agenda through an equally radical Media.

Instead, Chomsky decided to focus his opening presentation on the #Occupy Wall Street movement and its offshoots in the US and other parts of the world, acknowledging but not giving much weight to the roots of this movement in the Arab spring and others. He celebrated these important events as the end of apathy, stressing that the inadequacies of the system are to be filled by those who have radical priorities. However he found some unusual mainstream support for this movement rather curious. The head of the Federal Reserve has declared the mobilisations "understandable". The Financial Times carried a front page story: "thousands rally against US inequalities". The Unions have joined in and again he stressed this is very rare as they tend to always support the government, e.g. with "the New Deal" of the 70s in which radical labour activity aimed at achieving more control over their workplace and dignity. He also mentioned the feminist labour movement. However in his view it all came to an end very quickly by the end of the 70s. For the last 35 years the Reagan/Thatcher ideology has been undermining workers rights and increasing inequalities.

He gave some insight into US peculiarities about class consciousness. The term "working-class" seems to be unmentionable in polite company. "My father is in jail" means underclass, "my father is a janitor" means middle-class.

In terms of the demands being made by the Occupy Wall Street movement Chomsky stressed that it is necessary to separate the obtainable from the unobtainable in the near future. He strongly supported the demand for regulation and taxation of the hedge funds, stressing that it had been the Clinton Administration that had broken the law that separated investment from speculation. However the more radical demand to end the two party Plutocracy, dismantle the Federal Reserve and the banking system he found that it would destroy the country and that such thing is not possible. In his view what appears to be deterioration during the last few years with corporations buying elections and the manifest corruption of the economic system has in fact been happening for more than 100 years. So if reasonable and doable demands are too far away from the more radical ones, if there is no awareness that only a long-term effort can achieve things, then his fear is that people will get discouraged and "give up to become a stock broker", as happened with the anti-war effort.

Perhaps this was his central concern, having seen so many radical movements rise and fall, like in the 30's with the New Deal (when management really feared that the workers would be taking over the factories). The same happened with the civil rights movement and its long hard struggle, with Martin Luther King's popularity starting to wane when he moved from race to class issues. He stressed that in relation to the Arab Spring things happened in an interesting way where there had been previously a militant labour movement.

He highlighted the need to instil consciousness and understanding on the general population. For instance, more could have been done when local factories were closed by the multinationals that owned them. Although those small industries were in fact profitable, they were not profitable enough for the multinationals' standards. The workforce could have bought them with public support. Similarly, the bailed out US auto industry could have seen the government, now its owner, handing it over to the workforce. They could have converted the technology to build much needed trains.

In response to the question: how to separate the "predators from the producers", he stated that banks in fact have a function, if they did what they are supposed to do, e.g., taking unused savings and putting them into production as it had happened during the 50s and 60s, then things could have been okay. In the 70s everything changed.

In relation to health care he said that the US system is an international scandal, private, unregulated, cruel and savage, with 50 million people who have no cover of any kind. "If the US had a system like the one the UK is destroying there would be no deficit. 85% of the population supports the change but Obama gave it away".

With respect to the nuclear issue he acknowledged that some of his friends see it as a moral issue but he regards it as a technical one, where it is necessary to evaluate the choices available. However in terms of nuclear waste he views the problem of Somali pirates, for example, as a consequence of the destruction of fishing in the area by the dumping of nuclear and other toxic waste.

He criticised the "intelligent minorities" for keeping the "ignorant masses" out of the decision-making. The Media pick on this and replicate it. He suggested that blaming the Media for undermining the left was like blaming the banks for making money.

When asked for his advice to the Assembly that was taking place on Westminster Bridge (by the Houses of Parliament) in support of the NHS and preparation for the October 15th mobilisation he suggested not to get trapped in a litany of complaints but to focus on feasible objectives. Leave the unobtainable goals out for now, the demonstration can spark efforts to gain understanding and organisation that end up making unattainable goals feasible. "Let us set up the structures, it is not a matter of instant gratification".

As for the market system, its inherent nature is to ignore externalities, "Even if that means the destruction of a species."

chomsky keynote talk @ rebellious media conference

October 08, 2011 23:00

noam chomsky gave the keynote speech today at the weekend-long rebellious media conference in london

packed hall

chomsky speaks

milan rai and michael albert listening

chomsky and rai

michael albert looks through written questions

q & a session

conference stage

heated discussions

Introductions came from conference organiser, milan rai, and znet founder, michael albert, who was noam's student and became a life-long friend. then noam chomsky stood at the lectern in front of a packed hall at the institute of education, while the speech was also beamed to a further overflow audience by video.

unsurprisingly he chose the wall street occupation as his main subject throughout the hour-long lecture, but while saying he didn't want to seem negative, he criticised the demands being made by the demonstrators, and characterised their fledgling movement as naive and ill-thought out.

i suppose having lived through, taken part in, and commented on the peace and revolutionary movements of the sixties, he may well have a realistic view of what is possible and what is not, but i couldn't help feeling that he might be ignoring or unaware of a new paradigm, an emerging global consciousness.

however, he was on good form with some ascerbic and witty comments, pointing out that demands for corporations to put people before profits would be asking them to behave illegally, since their whole purpose is to make profit, and any other interests would fall foul of company law.

he also answered a question about the role of the left-wing press and their failure to get behind protest movements with the quick-witted soundbite that "blaming the media for trying to keep people passive doesn't make any sense - it's like blaming banks for making money".

as well as questions from the hall, some written questions were chosen by michael albert that had been brought over from the overflow room.

chomsky was due to make an appearance later at the trafalgar square rally against ten years of war in afghanistan, and the conference continued with a multitude of smaller lectures and workshops during the afternoon. it is fully subscribed and there are no tickets available for tomorrow, where john pilger and noam chomsky will join others in a final plenary.

the conference is packed with great speakers, workshops and networking opportunities, and has been put together by a small group of organisations, instigated by 'peace news' magazine which is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

in a spirit of transparency and openness, they have published the accounts, and it shows they will be relying on such things as dvd sales to help fund the weekend. the dvd will contain highlights from many of the workshops as well as the key sessions, but they are looking for advance orders this weekend in order to make the editing and manufacture sustainable, so i'd urge people to take a look at the website and consider purchasing the dvd now.

Noam Chomsky: 'involvement of workers is key'

posted: 6.47pm Tue 11 Oct 2011

Writer and campaigner Noam Chomsky told an audience of over 1,000 that the new occupation movement has a "rare" level of mainstream support. He called the protests "mass popular demonstrations against capitalism".

"These are extremely important events, not least because of the initiative and participation of a lot of young people," he said.

"They're really the force that organised this. It's spread all over the country and it's growing every day."

Chomsky was speaking at the Rebellious Media Conference held in London last weekend. He commented on the occupiers' tactics.

The Wall Street protesters say they are inspired by the Arab Spring and the US

sit-down strikes of the 1930s.

Chomsky compared the movement to those. "Take the sit-down strikes," he said.

"They had a huge effect. They terrified owners and management, and there's a very good reason for that.

"A sit-down strike is just one step before taking over the factory, kicking out the bosses and the managers and saying, 'We'll run it ourselves'."

Chomsky went on to talk about the uprisings and revolutions that have swept across the Arab world.

"A critical fact about them is that they are taking place successfully where there is and has been for years a militant, active labour movement," he noted.


"The main successes are Tunisia and Egypt, where there have been major labour struggles for years which have finally broken through.

"It's when the labour movement began to seriously participate that the gains of these movements really became noticeable.

"That ought to be known if the occupy movements, spectacular as they are, are going to have real success."

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posted by u2r2h at 12:07 AM 0 comments