Content about Law

November 16, 2013

Germany authorities are ready to deport several US diplomats if the information that they wiretapped on phone calls is confirmed, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has claimed. “It’s quite clear that if US embassy or other agencies employees are involved in the case, they will be punished. Speaking of diplomats, they will be deported,” Friedrich said in an interview to the ARD,  Allgemeine Rundfunk Deutschland news network in Berlin, Germany. Voice of Russia also reported that Washington still didn’t have answers to many questions Germany had asked the US in relation to the scandal.

The Jurist website stated that  Germany and Brazil have proposed a draft resolution within the UN General Assembly calling for member states to take measures to put an end to "gross invasions of privacy" such as excessive electronic surveillance and data collection. Although the resolution does not specifically indicate any countries, recent events such as allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA)has spied on more than 60 million phone calls made in Spain indicate that the resolution is directed at the US and its various surveillance programs.

According to European media reports, the US NSA eavesdropped on phone calls of 28 EU countries representatives, including Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. American secret services also spied on these countries’ embassies in Washington, the UK Guardian newspaper says. Earlier this month, German Der Spiegel magazine reported that US intelligence had allegedly tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The complete outrage of the Germans has manifested in discussions about requesting Edward Snowden to verify the allegations of the German chancellor’s mobile phone surveillance in a Guardian UK news report:

“ The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "If the allegations build up and lead to an investigation, one could think about calling in Snowden as a witness."

Thomas Oppermann, of the Social Democrats, said: "Snowden's claims appear to be credible, while the US government has blatantly lied to us on this matter. That's why Snowden could be an important witness, also in clearing up the surveillance of the chancellor's mobile."

November 16, 2013

Germany authorities are ready to deport several US diplomats if the information that they wiretapped on phone calls is confirmed, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has claimed. “It’s quite clear that if US embassy or other agencies employees are involved in the case, they will be punished. Speaking of diplomats, they will be deported,” Friedrich said in an interview to the ARD,  Allgemeine Rundfunk Deutschland news network in Berlin, Germany. Voice of Russia also reported that Washington still didn’t have answers to many questions Germany had asked the US in relation to the scandal.

The Jurist website stated that  Germany and Brazil have proposed a draft resolution within the UN General Assembly calling for member states to take measures to put an end to "gross invasions of privacy" such as excessive electronic surveillance and data collection. Although the resolution does not specifically indicate any countries, recent events such as allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA)has spied on more than 60 million phone calls made in Spain indicate that the resolution is directed at the US and its various surveillance programs.

According to European media reports, the US NSA eavesdropped on phone calls of 28 EU countries representatives, including Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. American secret services also spied on these countries’ embassies in Washington, the UK Guardian newspaper says. Earlier this month, German Der Spiegel magazine reported that US intelligence had allegedly tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The complete outrage of the Germans has manifested in discussions about requesting Edward Snowden to verify the allegations of the German chancellor’s mobile phone surveillance in a Guardian UK news report:

“ The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "If the allegations build up and lead to an investigation, one could think about calling in Snowden as a witness."

Thomas Oppermann, of the Social Democrats, said: "Snowden's claims appear to be credible, while the US government has blatantly lied to us on this matter. That's why Snowden could be an important witness, also in clearing up the surveillance of the chancellor's mobile."

November 16, 2013

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

Straight away the Western media took up the issue. Western politicians spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted made me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala's case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations, the wars - all seem justified now, "See?  We told you. THIS is why we intervene to save the natives."

The truth is that there are hundreds and thousands of other Malalas. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world. Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt, also known as the white man's burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala, yet he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives. The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.

Malala's message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child, but Malala has been used as a tool by the West. It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq. It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorize men, women and children in Pakistan's border regions.

The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man. Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them. NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message here.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men. It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organizations. Amnesty International's poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to 'keep the progress going!' in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them. Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi - how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name? She was the 14-year-old girl violated by five US soldiers, then she and her family, including her six-year-old sister were murdered. There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don't see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused. Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala's message. The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have. The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets. The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of. So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

November 16, 2013

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

Straight away the Western media took up the issue. Western politicians spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted made me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala's case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalized. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armor to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations, the wars - all seem justified now, "See?  We told you. THIS is why we intervene to save the natives."

The truth is that there are hundreds and thousands of other Malalas. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world. Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt, also known as the white man's burden.

Gordon Brown stood at the UN and spoke words in support for Malala, yet he is the very same Gordon Brown that voted for the war in Iraq that not only robbed people of their education but of their lives. The same journalists that failed to question or report on the Western wars in an intelligible manner now sing the praises of the West as they back Malala and her campaign without putting it in context of the war in Afghanistan and the destabilization of the region thanks to the Western occupation of Afghanistan.

Malala's message is true, it is profound, it is something the world needs to take note of; education is a right of every child, but Malala has been used as a tool by the West. It allows countries like Britain to hide their sins in Afghanistan and Iraq. It allows journalists to report a feel good story whilst they neglect so many others, like the American drone strikes that terrorize men, women and children in Pakistan's border regions.

The current narrative continues the demonization of the non-white Muslim man. Painting him as a savage, someone beyond negotiating with, beyond engaging with, the only way to deal with this kind of savage is to wage war, occupy and use drones against them. NATO is bombing to save girls like Malala is the message here.

Historically the West has always used women to justify the actions of war mongering men. It is in the imagery, it is in art, in education, it is even prevalent in Western human rights organizations. Amnesty International's poster campaign coinciding with the NATO summit in New York encouraged NATO to 'keep the progress going!' in Afghanistan.

Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were also shot along with Malala, the media and politicians seem to have forgotten about them. Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi - how many of the Western politicians and journalists know about this name? She was the 14-year-old girl violated by five US soldiers, then she and her family, including her six-year-old sister were murdered. There are no days named after her, no mentions of her at the UN, and we don't see Gordon Brown pledging his name to her cause.

I support Malala, I support the right to education for all, I just cannot stand the hypocrisy of Western politicians and media as they pick and choose, congratulating themselves for something that they have caused. Malala is the good native, she does not criticize the West, she does not talk about the drone strikes, she is the perfect candidate for the white man to relieve his burden and save the native.

The Western savior complex has hijacked Malala's message. The West has killed more girls than the Taliban have. The West has denied more girls an education via their missiles than the Taliban has by their bullets. The West has done more against education around the world than extremists could ever dream of. So, please, spare us the self-righteous and self-congratulatory message that is nothing more than propaganda that tells us that the West drops bombs to save girls like Malala.

November 10, 2013

A judge in Mexico City, Mexico, has recently approved a temporary injunction against the approval of any new genetically modified or GM food permits for experimental or commercial corn plantings.The suspension is to remain in effect until pending lawsuits alleging environmental dangers are resolved. This is a victory for food sovereignty and agricultural integrity. The announcement was made at a press conference in Mexico City, where officials notified the public and press that all GM corn plantings including pilot commercial plantings were to be immediately suspended.

Though not necessarily permanent , the injunction came after years of protest against  transgenic crops, particularly those that threaten the continued cultivation of staple crops like corn.

For Mexico, corn, also known as maize, is a primary food crop for which there are hundreds, if not thousands of heirloom varieties currently being grown. If GM corn varieties are allowed to be cultivated along side them, at any considerable scale, Mexico's entire agricultural heritage could become extinct.

“The decision came after years of lobbying by activist who noted that Mexico, the birthplace of modern day maize and its cultivation in Mexico-knows a little bit about how to create various disease resistant strains of corn, given that Mexicans….have been doing it for millennia, ”writes Gustavo Arellano for the OC weekly.

Despite a moratorium on GM corn cultivation in Mexico that dates back to 1998, many native maize varieties have still tested positive for low levels of modified genes, which proves that Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs cannot be contained and have a tendency to contaminate other crops. Because of this, a coalition of 53 groups and individuals which includes scientist and human rights groups, filed a lawsuit last year to suspend all trials of GM corn and other experiments that could be causing contamination.

Agreeing with their argument, a Mexican judge ruled that all field trials of GM corn in Mexico must  end, citing specific imminent environmental risk.

A press release recently issued by the non-governmental organization, La Copenacha, affirms this decision, noting that Mexican law requires Justices to protect the interest of the people rather than the interest  of big business, which in this case means multinational chemical companies like Monsanto.

                Mexico will still import GMO corn, despite suspension

The  ruling is timely, as many areas of Mexico have been pressured in recent years to accept not only field trials of GM corn, but also commercial plantings, despite their risk to native corn varieties. Unfortunately, the ruling does not go far enough, say experts, as Mexico will continue to import GM corn from other countries like the U.S.- roughly one third of the corn Mexico consumes is imported.

“The ruling has understandably caused joy across Mexico and the entire anti - GMO world, but its also not as far reaching as you think,” added Arellano. “The judge in question didn't ban the import of GMO corn into Mexico and in this globalized society, Mexicans are just as likely to eat corn from Minnesota as they are [to eat the variety] elote from Puebla.”

Even so,the decision has earned considerable attention the world over, as Mexico is now the only country in North America to ban the cultivation of GMO crops. Neither the U.S. nor Canada has taken any action, thus far, against the growing onslaught of GMO pollution within their borders, despite the fact that most other developed countries in the world have either banned GMOs or require them to be at least properly labelled.

November 10, 2013

A judge in Mexico City, Mexico, has recently approved a temporary injunction against the approval of any new genetically modified or GM food permits for experimental or commercial corn plantings.The suspension is to remain in effect until pending lawsuits alleging environmental dangers are resolved. This is a victory for food sovereignty and agricultural integrity. The announcement was made at a press conference in Mexico City, where officials notified the public and press that all GM corn plantings including pilot commercial plantings were to be immediately suspended.

Though not necessarily permanent , the injunction came after years of protest against  transgenic crops, particularly those that threaten the continued cultivation of staple crops like corn.

For Mexico, corn, also known as maize, is a primary food crop for which there are hundreds, if not thousands of heirloom varieties currently being grown. If GM corn varieties are allowed to be cultivated along side them, at any considerable scale, Mexico's entire agricultural heritage could become extinct.

“The decision came after years of lobbying by activist who noted that Mexico, the birthplace of modern day maize and its cultivation in Mexico-knows a little bit about how to create various disease resistant strains of corn, given that Mexicans….have been doing it for millennia, ”writes Gustavo Arellano for the OC weekly.

Despite a moratorium on GM corn cultivation in Mexico that dates back to 1998, many native maize varieties have still tested positive for low levels of modified genes, which proves that Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs cannot be contained and have a tendency to contaminate other crops. Because of this, a coalition of 53 groups and individuals which includes scientist and human rights groups, filed a lawsuit last year to suspend all trials of GM corn and other experiments that could be causing contamination.

Agreeing with their argument, a Mexican judge ruled that all field trials of GM corn in Mexico must  end, citing specific imminent environmental risk.

A press release recently issued by the non-governmental organization, La Copenacha, affirms this decision, noting that Mexican law requires Justices to protect the interest of the people rather than the interest  of big business, which in this case means multinational chemical companies like Monsanto.

                Mexico will still import GMO corn, despite suspension

The  ruling is timely, as many areas of Mexico have been pressured in recent years to accept not only field trials of GM corn, but also commercial plantings, despite their risk to native corn varieties. Unfortunately, the ruling does not go far enough, say experts, as Mexico will continue to import GM corn from other countries like the U.S.- roughly one third of the corn Mexico consumes is imported.

“The ruling has understandably caused joy across Mexico and the entire anti - GMO world, but its also not as far reaching as you think,” added Arellano. “The judge in question didn't ban the import of GMO corn into Mexico and in this globalized society, Mexicans are just as likely to eat corn from Minnesota as they are [to eat the variety] elote from Puebla.”

Even so,the decision has earned considerable attention the world over, as Mexico is now the only country in North America to ban the cultivation of GMO crops. Neither the U.S. nor Canada has taken any action, thus far, against the growing onslaught of GMO pollution within their borders, despite the fact that most other developed countries in the world have either banned GMOs or require them to be at least properly labelled.

November 10, 2013

Poland asks court to hear CIA secret jails case in private  Poland's government has asked the European Court of Human Rights to exclude the media and the public from a court hearing next month on whether Poland hosted a secret CIA prison on its territory. The request for a private hearing was criticized by a Polish human rights group, which accuses the state of trying to conceal its involvement in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program behind a veil of secrecy. The Strasbourg-based court scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 3 to hear arguments in the cases of two men who say they were held in a CIA-operated jail in Poland.

November 5, 2013

  Muhammad Tanvir was asked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, to spy on his Pakistani community. He refused, and so he remains on the No-Fly List--and he can’t visit an ailing mother.
Tanvir is now taking action, along with other Muslims, against the FBI’s attempt to coerce them into spying on their own community in exchange for getting off the No-Fly List. Tanvir, a resident of the Bronx, recently testified in court against the FBI for its no-fly practices.
Tanvir’s lawsuit, which the Center for Constitutional Rights, also referred to as CCR, has taken on, is putting the FBI on the hotseat. “Mr. Tanvir has been prevented from flying despite the fact that he does not present any threat to aviation security,” the CCR suit reads, according to the Courthouse News Service. “Instead, defendants sought to exploit the draconian burden posed by the No Fly List, including the inability to travel for work, or to visit family overseas; in order to coerce him into serving the FBI as a spy within American Muslim communities and places of worship.”
The No-Fly List, instituted after September 11, arbitrarily puts thousands of people on a list that prevents them from traveling. Tanvir is not the only one to have been pressured by the FBI.
A separate American Civil Liberties Union suit filed in 2010 represents other Muslims trying to get their names off the No-Fly List. One of them is Nagib Ali Ghaleb, a Yemeni-American. In 2010, Ghaleb flew to Yemen to see his family and meet with U.S. consular officials about delayed visa applications for his wife and children. But on his way back, while awaiting to board a plane in Germany, an FBI agent questioned him. According to a recent ACLU report, Ghaleb “was directed to submit to an interview with FBI agents, who questioned him about his mosque and the San Francisco Yemeni community. The FBI agents asked him to become an informant for the FBI in California, but Mr. Ghaleb said he did not know any dangerous people and would not spy on innocent people in mosques.” Ghaleb remains on the No-Fly List.
The practice of pressuring Muslims to become informants in their own communities in exchange for law enforcement help is one clear example of an apparatus running roughshod over the rights of Muslims in the U.S. It’s also a practice familiar to Muslims in New York City, who have to deal with a police department that has implemented a surveillance dragnet with the help of Central Intelligence Agency officials.
After 9/11, CIA officials strategized with the New York Police Department on how best to collect intelligence to prevent the next terrorist attack. The NYPD’s Intelligence Division ended up creating an operation where informants and undercover agents infiltrate mosques and student groups. The NYPD has labeled at least a dozen mosques as “terrorism enterprises” in order to infiltrate them. And in order to employ informants able to infiltrate Muslim communities, they usually strike a deal with people in trouble with the law. In exchange for spying on their community, the informant gets help from the NYPD in avoiding punishment for crimes.

October 29, 2013

  So what was it all about?  The Senate deal ending the shutdown and deferring a default until the next time has solved nothing. It is as if we have been given a break for Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season until the partisan wars resume.  The fighting and arguing have only ceased.

 

It is unlikely that any of the instigators have learned anything other than how a handful of parliamentary savvy kamikazes can bring the government to its knees in the name of a righteous cause—not to bring about change, but to try to stop changes they don’t like.

 

When the Ted Cruz missile against Obamacare helped trigger the melee that closed national parks, limited government services and disrupted the livelihoods of 800,000 federal employees and the lives of millions, many wondered why, when it was clear the extreme right was pursuing an unachievable goal.

 

Senator John McCain warned them that they couldn’t stop the health care reform, as did others in their Party. The White House stood firm, as did most Democrats. The Tea Party offensive was widely seen as offensive, or as an extortion ploy, an attempt to nullify a law, but also a non-starter.

 

That didn’t stop the true believers.  Like the Light Brigade of old, they charged on. Clearly this was a case of ideology uber politics, but behind it was a strategy.

 

First, they wanted to weaken the Republican center and they did, making Speaker Boehner look powerless and out of control. The best media line about him was that he was “herding cats.”

 

Second, they wanted to prove that if they don’t get their way, no one else can or will.

 

They conceded a short term tactical set back, but lived to fight another day for longer-term goals.  In that way, they can be “responsible” and continue to enjoy business support.

 

As some Democrats celebrated, AP reported. “Hold the champagne. Even after lawmakers complete their pending deal to avert a federal default and fully reopen the government, they are likely to return to their grinding brand of brinkmanship – perhaps repeatedly.”

 

“Brinksmanship” is another word for ‘systematic political warfare’.  This spasm of rebellion emboldened the fundamentalists among them; it did not weaken them.

 

Sure, they overreached tactically—if you assume what they were saying was their real agenda.

 

As former federal regulator William Black explained in an article about their “tactical brilliance but strategic incompetence,” their demands could not be met, but that was never the point.

 

Black writes,

 

“the means by which the GOP sought to extort Obama to sacrifice Obamacare made it impossible for Obama to surrender to the Tea Party.  The Tea Party was openly threatening to use very short-term extensions of the debt ceiling to repeatedly extort Obama to make enormous, humiliating concessions.  This meant that if Obama gave in to their extortion he was dooming his presidency.”

 

If you assume they knew this, what was the real strategy?

 

They created a crisis to show that they could create a crisis and milk it as long as they could. It was a way that Junior members of Congress could get press attention.

 

It was also a way of energizing their base, not just politically, but financially.

 

The Daily Kos commented on Instigator in Chief Ted Cruz’s claim that two million people signed his petition noting that he now has a much larger list of potential donors. In this respect, he sees himself as a winner, not a loser.

 

He used the crisis to build a media profile with a self-promotional filibuster that excited supporters, whatever it lacked in clarity, logic and analysis.

 

Noted Felix Salmon, a financial blogger for Reuters:

 

“The Ted Cruz “filibuster” … served no actual legislative purpose, and at the end of his idiotically long speech, Cruz ended up voting yes on the very bill he was trying to kill. That’s zombie politics, and the problem with zombies is that — being dead already — they’re incredibly hard to kill.”

 

To him, the Tea Party is a  zombie army, a movement, not a person — and it’s an aggressively anti-logical movement, at that.  So he argues, “You can’t negotiate with a zombie.” (Many Americans identify with zombies these days because of their overexposure on TV and in the movies.)

 

So, we need to understand, this confrontation was never about logic or even a clear political agenda; it was about movement-building and dominating the discourse through hostage taking to bully and intimidate centrist Republicans and Democrats alike. Most of all, they wanted to snub the Nation’s father figure—President Obama.

 

Behind their slogans, they were saying  to the folks at home: ‘look at me!’

 

In that respect, the zealots were wildly successful in keeping their faux rebellion going, cheered on by Faux News and the underbelly their visibility attracts, including the guy grinning like an idiot and waving the Confederate flag in front of the White House.

 

The Atlantic, and many liberal media outlets, have convinced themselves that the “Republicans Shut Down the Government for Nothing” but it was always all about them, not specific goals.

 

This strategy is, at bottom, about interests, not issues, power, not political advantage.

 

Republican consultant and former Boehner aide Terry Holt admits:

 

“The differences are not about objectives, the differences are about tactics. This is the muddle through Congress. We are going to lurch from disaster to disaster until we have the prelude, which is 2014 and then the next presidential election. There is no incentive for either side to give in - period.”

 

So there you have it - a declaration of permanent war in which, like guerillas in combat, the point is not to hold ground, but to keep moving and harass the enemy, keeping them off guard whatever the costs to the economy or the morale of the country.

 

They expect many Americans will surrender just to have peace, and that’s how a relentless minority can impose its agenda.

 

The Vietnamese General Giap who died last week at age 102 used similar tactics that were grounded in the idea that war is politics by other means.

 

Bloomberg interviewed a moderate Republican, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who explained, “There are no winners in this process, everybody loses. The only question you guys are trying to figure out is who loses more? And how long-term the damage will be?”

 

Former veteran newspaperman Bernard Weiner, now the co-editor of The Crisis Papers, tried to explain all this to friends in France, writing:

 

“Even in the best of times, American politics rarely makes rational sense. But right now is almost the worst of times. From Europe it may appear that you are witnessing recess at a school for naughty, malicious children. While that’s true, we need to enlarge the frame of that portrait to get closer to the whole picture and to assign proper blame rather than just accept the mainstream media’s false meme that “both sides are equally responsible” for the governmental shutdown and debt crisis.”

Danny Schechter blogs daily at Newsdissector.net and edits Mediachannel.org

October 29, 2013

  So what was it all about?  The Senate deal ending the shutdown and deferring a default until the next time has solved nothing. It is as if we have been given a break for Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season until the partisan wars resume.  The fighting and arguing have only ceased.

 

It is unlikely that any of the instigators have learned anything other than how a handful of parliamentary savvy kamikazes can bring the government to its knees in the name of a righteous cause—not to bring about change, but to try to stop changes they don’t like.

 

When the Ted Cruz missile against Obamacare helped trigger the melee that closed national parks, limited government services and disrupted the livelihoods of 800,000 federal employees and the lives of millions, many wondered why, when it was clear the extreme right was pursuing an unachievable goal.

 

Senator John McCain warned them that they couldn’t stop the health care reform, as did others in their Party. The White House stood firm, as did most Democrats. The Tea Party offensive was widely seen as offensive, or as an extortion ploy, an attempt to nullify a law, but also a non-starter.

 

That didn’t stop the true believers.  Like the Light Brigade of old, they charged on. Clearly this was a case of ideology uber politics, but behind it was a strategy.

 

First, they wanted to weaken the Republican center and they did, making Speaker Boehner look powerless and out of control. The best media line about him was that he was “herding cats.”

 

Second, they wanted to prove that if they don’t get their way, no one else can or will.

 

They conceded a short term tactical set back, but lived to fight another day for longer-term goals.  In that way, they can be “responsible” and continue to enjoy business support.

 

As some Democrats celebrated, AP reported. “Hold the champagne. Even after lawmakers complete their pending deal to avert a federal default and fully reopen the government, they are likely to return to their grinding brand of brinkmanship – perhaps repeatedly.”

 

“Brinksmanship” is another word for ‘systematic political warfare’.  This spasm of rebellion emboldened the fundamentalists among them; it did not weaken them.

 

Sure, they overreached tactically—if you assume what they were saying was their real agenda.

 

As former federal regulator William Black explained in an article about their “tactical brilliance but strategic incompetence,” their demands could not be met, but that was never the point.

 

Black writes,

 

“the means by which the GOP sought to extort Obama to sacrifice Obamacare made it impossible for Obama to surrender to the Tea Party.  The Tea Party was openly threatening to use very short-term extensions of the debt ceiling to repeatedly extort Obama to make enormous, humiliating concessions.  This meant that if Obama gave in to their extortion he was dooming his presidency.”

 

If you assume they knew this, what was the real strategy?

 

They created a crisis to show that they could create a crisis and milk it as long as they could. It was a way that Junior members of Congress could get press attention.

 

It was also a way of energizing their base, not just politically, but financially.

 

The Daily Kos commented on Instigator in Chief Ted Cruz’s claim that two million people signed his petition noting that he now has a much larger list of potential donors. In this respect, he sees himself as a winner, not a loser.

 

He used the crisis to build a media profile with a self-promotional filibuster that excited supporters, whatever it lacked in clarity, logic and analysis.

 

Noted Felix Salmon, a financial blogger for Reuters:

 

“The Ted Cruz “filibuster” … served no actual legislative purpose, and at the end of his idiotically long speech, Cruz ended up voting yes on the very bill he was trying to kill. That’s zombie politics, and the problem with zombies is that — being dead already — they’re incredibly hard to kill.”

 

To him, the Tea Party is a  zombie army, a movement, not a person — and it’s an aggressively anti-logical movement, at that.  So he argues, “You can’t negotiate with a zombie.” (Many Americans identify with zombies these days because of their overexposure on TV and in the movies.)

 

So, we need to understand, this confrontation was never about logic or even a clear political agenda; it was about movement-building and dominating the discourse through hostage taking to bully and intimidate centrist Republicans and Democrats alike. Most of all, they wanted to snub the Nation’s father figure—President Obama.

 

Behind their slogans, they were saying  to the folks at home: ‘look at me!’

 

In that respect, the zealots were wildly successful in keeping their faux rebellion going, cheered on by Faux News and the underbelly their visibility attracts, including the guy grinning like an idiot and waving the Confederate flag in front of the White House.

 

The Atlantic, and many liberal media outlets, have convinced themselves that the “Republicans Shut Down the Government for Nothing” but it was always all about them, not specific goals.

 

This strategy is, at bottom, about interests, not issues, power, not political advantage.

 

Republican consultant and former Boehner aide Terry Holt admits:

 

“The differences are not about objectives, the differences are about tactics. This is the muddle through Congress. We are going to lurch from disaster to disaster until we have the prelude, which is 2014 and then the next presidential election. There is no incentive for either side to give in - period.”

 

So there you have it - a declaration of permanent war in which, like guerillas in combat, the point is not to hold ground, but to keep moving and harass the enemy, keeping them off guard whatever the costs to the economy or the morale of the country.

 

They expect many Americans will surrender just to have peace, and that’s how a relentless minority can impose its agenda.

 

The Vietnamese General Giap who died last week at age 102 used similar tactics that were grounded in the idea that war is politics by other means.

 

Bloomberg interviewed a moderate Republican, Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, who explained, “There are no winners in this process, everybody loses. The only question you guys are trying to figure out is who loses more? And how long-term the damage will be?”

 

Former veteran newspaperman Bernard Weiner, now the co-editor of The Crisis Papers, tried to explain all this to friends in France, writing:

 

“Even in the best of times, American politics rarely makes rational sense. But right now is almost the worst of times. From Europe it may appear that you are witnessing recess at a school for naughty, malicious children. While that’s true, we need to enlarge the frame of that portrait to get closer to the whole picture and to assign proper blame rather than just accept the mainstream media’s false meme that “both sides are equally responsible” for the governmental shutdown and debt crisis.”

Danny Schechter blogs daily at Newsdissector.net and edits Mediachannel.org

October 27, 2013

Protests in the Biryulyov neighborhood, on Moscow’s southern fringes, were apparently triggered by the fatal stabbing of a 25-year-old, Yegor Shcherbakov. Police have described the alleged attacker – captured on grainy CCTV footage – as "not a Russian citizen." Russian media, meanwhile, have described him as a migrant.

Labor migrants [who are predominantly Muslim] in Russia number in the millions, and have become a focus of public discontent and divisive political rhetoric.

RIA Novosti reported that  Russian police detained 1,200 people in Moscow at a vegetable warehouse targeted by anti-migrant rioters during violent clashes in the area the night before. During demonstrations in Biryulyov, protesters called on police to detain the suspect in Shcherbakov’s murder and tighten migration laws, according to local media reports.

By the next day, the crowd turned violent, when a group of young men began smashing windows in a shopping centre and briefly set it on fire. A video posted on Youtube showed them chanting "White Power!" as they forced their way in, attacking police and local businesses, including the vegetable warehouse. Helicopters and over a thousand police officers were dispatched to Biryulyov. Observers cite that the peaceful protest may have been targeted by political instigators who seized an opportunity to ignite an already volatile situation.

Police called the latest round of arrests “preventative,” saying they would check the thousand-plus people taken into custody “for involvement in criminal activity.”

Preliminary reports suggested that the initial detentions targeted people, mostly migrant Muslims,who worked at the vegetable warehouse which had come under attack the previous day, while the earlier detentions focused on those taking part in the weekend’s violence. Russia's top investigative agency said it was looking into the killing. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of President Putin, called for a thorough investigation and said those behind riots must also be held responsible for their actions.

 

The rioting in Biryulyov was the worst outbreak of unrest over a racially-charged incident in Moscow since December 2010, when several thousand youths rioted just outside the Kremlin.

While Russia's overall population is dropping, the number of Muslims in the country is on the rise. The population of indigenous Muslims, mainly hailing from the Russian Caucasus, in Russia has risen since the fall of the Soviet Union, including a 69 percent increase in Dagestanis, a 50 percent increase in Chechens and a 100 percent increase in Ingush. Similarly, the number of Muslim immigrants is also rising. According to official state data, some 240,000 immigrants enter Russia annually -- Russia's Center for Migration Studies puts this number at more than 400,000 after accounting for illegal immigration. Federal Migration Service head Konstantin Romodanovsky has said 3 million immigrants work illegally in Russia every year.

Increased anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment has accompanied these demographic changes. The opinion research center poll in January suggested that 55 percent of Russians reported feelings of enmity toward other ethnicities, and 63 percent believed that Russians should have more rights than other ethnicities.

The Russian government faces several problems with tensions stemming from these demographic trends. Early in his tenure, Russian President Vladimir Putin exploited ethnic Russian xenophobia of the Muslim populations. But now that the Muslim populations have become larger and have moved from the borderlands into Russia's interior, the Kremlin is having more difficulty balancing the interests of all its constituencies. In the lead-up to the 2011 elections, Russia saw protests of more than 100,000 in the streets of Moscow calling for immigration reform and a cessation of government subsidization for the Russian Muslim republics.

October 27, 2013

Protests in the Biryulyov neighborhood, on Moscow’s southern fringes, were apparently triggered by the fatal stabbing of a 25-year-old, Yegor Shcherbakov. Police have described the alleged attacker – captured on grainy CCTV footage – as "not a Russian citizen." Russian media, meanwhile, have described him as a migrant.

Labor migrants [who are predominantly Muslim] in Russia number in the millions, and have become a focus of public discontent and divisive political rhetoric.

RIA Novosti reported that  Russian police detained 1,200 people in Moscow at a vegetable warehouse targeted by anti-migrant rioters during violent clashes in the area the night before. During demonstrations in Biryulyov, protesters called on police to detain the suspect in Shcherbakov’s murder and tighten migration laws, according to local media reports.

By the next day, the crowd turned violent, when a group of young men began smashing windows in a shopping centre and briefly set it on fire. A video posted on Youtube showed them chanting "White Power!" as they forced their way in, attacking police and local businesses, including the vegetable warehouse. Helicopters and over a thousand police officers were dispatched to Biryulyov. Observers cite that the peaceful protest may have been targeted by political instigators who seized an opportunity to ignite an already volatile situation.

Police called the latest round of arrests “preventative,” saying they would check the thousand-plus people taken into custody “for involvement in criminal activity.”

Preliminary reports suggested that the initial detentions targeted people, mostly migrant Muslims,who worked at the vegetable warehouse which had come under attack the previous day, while the earlier detentions focused on those taking part in the weekend’s violence. Russia's top investigative agency said it was looking into the killing. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of President Putin, called for a thorough investigation and said those behind riots must also be held responsible for their actions.

 

The rioting in Biryulyov was the worst outbreak of unrest over a racially-charged incident in Moscow since December 2010, when several thousand youths rioted just outside the Kremlin.

While Russia's overall population is dropping, the number of Muslims in the country is on the rise. The population of indigenous Muslims, mainly hailing from the Russian Caucasus, in Russia has risen since the fall of the Soviet Union, including a 69 percent increase in Dagestanis, a 50 percent increase in Chechens and a 100 percent increase in Ingush. Similarly, the number of Muslim immigrants is also rising. According to official state data, some 240,000 immigrants enter Russia annually -- Russia's Center for Migration Studies puts this number at more than 400,000 after accounting for illegal immigration. Federal Migration Service head Konstantin Romodanovsky has said 3 million immigrants work illegally in Russia every year.

Increased anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment has accompanied these demographic changes. The opinion research center poll in January suggested that 55 percent of Russians reported feelings of enmity toward other ethnicities, and 63 percent believed that Russians should have more rights than other ethnicities.

The Russian government faces several problems with tensions stemming from these demographic trends. Early in his tenure, Russian President Vladimir Putin exploited ethnic Russian xenophobia of the Muslim populations. But now that the Muslim populations have become larger and have moved from the borderlands into Russia's interior, the Kremlin is having more difficulty balancing the interests of all its constituencies. In the lead-up to the 2011 elections, Russia saw protests of more than 100,000 in the streets of Moscow calling for immigration reform and a cessation of government subsidization for the Russian Muslim republics.

October 8, 2013

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies--a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics--has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology--the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957--that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed, in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week. But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation.

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in an attempt to address the growing achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. It was a controversial piece of legislation from the start, mainly because of its “one size fits all’” approach: It uses annual standardized tests to determine how well students are performing in reading and math and then uses those scores to determine the amounts of federal funding schools receive.

Besides the obvious criticism that low-performing schools--arguably the ones that need the most increase in funding--are disproportionately punished for their low scores, critics also believe that No Child Left Behind has narrowed the curriculum. Since the standardized tests focus exclusively on English and math, and those scores determine the bulk of a school’s federal funding, schools have been forced to increase time and resources in these subjects at the expense of all others, including social studies.

A 2007 study from the Center of Education Policy supports this allegation: 62 percent of elementary schools, and more than 20 percent of middle schools, increased time for English language arts and/or math since No Child Left Behind passed.  At the same time, 36 percent of schools decreased the time allocated to the social studies. According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, this adds up to a net loss of four weeks of social studies instruction per academic year.

This devaluation of social studies as a core subject in the K-12 curriculum has troubling economic, political, and social implications. For one, social studies at all grade levels encourages students to develop skills in critical thinking--one of the top traits employers look for in a candidate. It also requires students become strong written and oral communicators who know how to structure and articulate their opinions. Unfortunately, a survey of employers done by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that these are the exact skills today’s entry-level workers are lacking. Without the skills gained from social studies, students are less attractive to employers.

Perhaps even more troubling, however, is that reducing students’ exposure to a solid curriculum in social studies leads to what a growing number of experts are calling a “civic achievement gap”. Closely related to the general achievement gap between affluent, mostly white students and low-income minority students, the civic achievement gap has made it increasingly difficult for those who grow up in low-income households to participate in civic affairs. According to data from Associate Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000.

Many experts agree that a stronger curriculum in social studies could help close this gap.  A study from the Carnegie Corporation of New York found that students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives.

Fortunately, policymakers have begun to acknowledge the shortcomings of the recent decade of educational policy. “President Obama and I reject the notion that the social studies is a peripheral offering that can be cut from schools to meet [Adequate Yearly Progress] or to satisfy those wanting to save money during a fiscal crunch,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011 in Social Education, a journal published by the National Council for Social Studies. “Today more than ever, the social studies are not a luxury, but a necessity. We need to fix [No Child Left Behind] so that school leaders do not feel forced to ignore the vital components of a good education.”

While the Obama Administration has pledged to revisit certain components of No Child Left Behind, it has kept its fundamental model of high-stakes standardized testing with new programs such as Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standard Initiative. Like No Child Left Behind, both of these programs focus primarily on English and math.

It’s clear that something has to change when only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of government.

October 8, 2013

The most obvious and well-reported casualties of the last decade in program-slashing educational policy include traditional elective courses like art, music, and physical education. But these are not the only subjects being squeezed out or eliminated entirely from many public K-12 curriculums.

Social studies--a category that includes courses in history, geography, and civics--has also found itself on the chopping block. Whereas in the 1993-1994 school year students spent 9.5 percent of their time in social studies, by 2003-2004 that percentage had dropped to 7.6, despite an increase of total instructional time.

Why has a traditionally “core subject”, which was ranked in the same academic hierarchy as English, science, and math for decades, been sidelined in thousands of American classrooms?

The shift in curriculum began in the early years of the Cold War. While U.S. military and technological innovation brought World War II to a close, it was a later use of technology--the Soviet launching of Sputnik in 1957--that historian Thomas A. Bailey called the equivalent of a “psychological Pearl Harbor” for many Americans. It created deep feelings of inadequacy and a belief that the U.S. was falling behind in developing new technology and weapons, which led to the passage of the 1958 National Defense Education Act. This legislation pumped $1 billion over four years into math and science programs in both K-12 schools and universities.

Despite this extra focus on math and science, social studies managed to make it through the end of the Cold War relatively unscathed, in fact, the number of classroom hours dedicated to teaching social studies in grades 1-4 peaked in the 1993-1994 school year at 3 hours a week. But drastic change came a decade later with the passage of President George W. Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ legislation.

No Child Left Behind was signed into law in an attempt to address the growing achievement gap between affluent and low-income students. It was a controversial piece of legislation from the start, mainly because of its “one size fits all’” approach: It uses annual standardized tests to determine how well students are performing in reading and math and then uses those scores to determine the amounts of federal funding schools receive.

Besides the obvious criticism that low-performing schools--arguably the ones that need the most increase in funding--are disproportionately punished for their low scores, critics also believe that No Child Left Behind has narrowed the curriculum. Since the standardized tests focus exclusively on English and math, and those scores determine the bulk of a school’s federal funding, schools have been forced to increase time and resources in these subjects at the expense of all others, including social studies.

A 2007 study from the Center of Education Policy supports this allegation: 62 percent of elementary schools, and more than 20 percent of middle schools, increased time for English language arts and/or math since No Child Left Behind passed.  At the same time, 36 percent of schools decreased the time allocated to the social studies. According to a study from the National Center for Education Statistics, this adds up to a net loss of four weeks of social studies instruction per academic year.

This devaluation of social studies as a core subject in the K-12 curriculum has troubling economic, political, and social implications. For one, social studies at all grade levels encourages students to develop skills in critical thinking--one of the top traits employers look for in a candidate. It also requires students become strong written and oral communicators who know how to structure and articulate their opinions. Unfortunately, a survey of employers done by the Chronicle of Higher Education found that these are the exact skills today’s entry-level workers are lacking. Without the skills gained from social studies, students are less attractive to employers.

Perhaps even more troubling, however, is that reducing students’ exposure to a solid curriculum in social studies leads to what a growing number of experts are calling a “civic achievement gap”. Closely related to the general achievement gap between affluent, mostly white students and low-income minority students, the civic achievement gap has made it increasingly difficult for those who grow up in low-income households to participate in civic affairs. According to data from Associate Professor Meira Levinson of Harvard University, people living in families with incomes under $15,000 voted at just over half the rate of those living in families with incomes over $75,000.

Many experts agree that a stronger curriculum in social studies could help close this gap.  A study from the Carnegie Corporation of New York found that students who receive effective education in social studies are more likely to vote, four times more likely to volunteer and work on community issues, and are generally more confident in their ability to communicate ideas with their elected representatives.

Fortunately, policymakers have begun to acknowledge the shortcomings of the recent decade of educational policy. “President Obama and I reject the notion that the social studies is a peripheral offering that can be cut from schools to meet [Adequate Yearly Progress] or to satisfy those wanting to save money during a fiscal crunch,” wrote U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2011 in Social Education, a journal published by the National Council for Social Studies. “Today more than ever, the social studies are not a luxury, but a necessity. We need to fix [No Child Left Behind] so that school leaders do not feel forced to ignore the vital components of a good education.”

While the Obama Administration has pledged to revisit certain components of No Child Left Behind, it has kept its fundamental model of high-stakes standardized testing with new programs such as Race to the Top and the Common Core State Standard Initiative. Like No Child Left Behind, both of these programs focus primarily on English and math.

It’s clear that something has to change when only one-third of Americans can name all three branches of government.

October 6, 2013

The US government shutdown, the first in 18 years , the result of the failure of Congress to reach agreement on the Federal budget that funds all government services, functions, departments and branches (including the military) and funding of innumerable programs is gradually engaging. It means that national parks will close, most routine food inspections will be suspended, paperwork will slow at government offices and many federal employees will be furloughed.

Only emergency and essential items would be able to operate, as a result of which lakhs of government employees would not receive their salary for the duration of the government shutdown.

Senator Ben Cardin alleged that the Republicans have manufactured a crisis that will cost taxpayers even more money while inconveniencing, if not harming, individuals, families and businesses across the country.

The partial shutdown of the federal government has seen more than 800,000 federal workers  furloughed, and numerous governmental programs have been forced to stop running. For example, the government shutdown has already caused as many as 19,000 children to lose access to Head Start. Many recipients of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, will lose assistance as reported by Democracy Now.  The host Amy Goodman revealed that “the federal government shutdown began on Tuesday, October 1st, the same day a key facet of President Obama’s healthcare law went live nationwide. For the first time, Americans were able to begin purchasing health insurance from federal and state exchanges. Nearly three million people visited the federal website healthcare.gov, while New York’s state site claimed it had more than 10 million hits.”

“Meanwhile, The New York Times reported the new healthcare law will leave out two-thirds of the nation’s poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the nation’s low-wage workers who don’t have insurance because they they live in states largely controlled by Republicans who have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid.”

President Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to try to end the deadlock, but there was no breakthrough.

Republicans, led by the tea party wing, have tried to tie continued government funding to measures that would undercut the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to hold the president hostage over "Obamacare."

The more extreme elements in the Republican party on Capitol Hill are dead adamant regarding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and have resorted to a political checkmate.

The ramifications of the stoppage of government funds on businesses in the US and abroad remains to be seen, with the president suggesting a meeting with business leaders soon.  Democracy Now guest Imara Jones, an economist who worked for the Clinton White House added a grave but real scenario: “One of the other interesting parts of the story is that the federal government is the largest employer in the United States. And regardless of whether or not one is furloughed or at work, you’re not receiving a paycheck. That means that two million families are not receiving pay. Because of unionization and anti-discriminatory laws, people of color are overrepresented in government jobs. That’s true for the federal government. There are more people of color in the federal workforce as a whole than the broader workforce. And so, what this means is that the employment crisis in communities of color, the economic crisis in communities of color, is accentuated and exacerbated and extended by this shutdown.

October 6, 2013

The US government shutdown, the first in 18 years , the result of the failure of Congress to reach agreement on the Federal budget that funds all government services, functions, departments and branches (including the military) and funding of innumerable programs is gradually engaging. It means that national parks will close, most routine food inspections will be suspended, paperwork will slow at government offices and many federal employees will be furloughed.

Only emergency and essential items would be able to operate, as a result of which lakhs of government employees would not receive their salary for the duration of the government shutdown.

Senator Ben Cardin alleged that the Republicans have manufactured a crisis that will cost taxpayers even more money while inconveniencing, if not harming, individuals, families and businesses across the country.

The partial shutdown of the federal government has seen more than 800,000 federal workers  furloughed, and numerous governmental programs have been forced to stop running. For example, the government shutdown has already caused as many as 19,000 children to lose access to Head Start. Many recipients of Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, will lose assistance as reported by Democracy Now.  The host Amy Goodman revealed that “the federal government shutdown began on Tuesday, October 1st, the same day a key facet of President Obama’s healthcare law went live nationwide. For the first time, Americans were able to begin purchasing health insurance from federal and state exchanges. Nearly three million people visited the federal website healthcare.gov, while New York’s state site claimed it had more than 10 million hits.”

“Meanwhile, The New York Times reported the new healthcare law will leave out two-thirds of the nation’s poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the nation’s low-wage workers who don’t have insurance because they they live in states largely controlled by Republicans who have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid.”

President Obama met with Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to try to end the deadlock, but there was no breakthrough.

Republicans, led by the tea party wing, have tried to tie continued government funding to measures that would undercut the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accused Republicans of trying to hold the president hostage over "Obamacare."

The more extreme elements in the Republican party on Capitol Hill are dead adamant regarding the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and have resorted to a political checkmate.

The ramifications of the stoppage of government funds on businesses in the US and abroad remains to be seen, with the president suggesting a meeting with business leaders soon.  Democracy Now guest Imara Jones, an economist who worked for the Clinton White House added a grave but real scenario: “One of the other interesting parts of the story is that the federal government is the largest employer in the United States. And regardless of whether or not one is furloughed or at work, you’re not receiving a paycheck. That means that two million families are not receiving pay. Because of unionization and anti-discriminatory laws, people of color are overrepresented in government jobs. That’s true for the federal government. There are more people of color in the federal workforce as a whole than the broader workforce. And so, what this means is that the employment crisis in communities of color, the economic crisis in communities of color, is accentuated and exacerbated and extended by this shutdown.

October 4, 2013

Israel’s consistently rogue refusal to comply with any international  mandate ( in particular, signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty against producing nuclear weapons) that it has been issued since its inception has once again been broached on the international forum.  

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani requested that Israel be compelled to sign and become a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as he spoke for a second time at the United Nations General Assembly. “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists,” Rouhani said, citing the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Rouhani  called for a “nuclear-free zone” in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has not and will not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel would use nuclear weapons if it felt it was threatened by any nation in the Middle East.

The nuclear capability of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) defensive capabilities just reached another plateau this past April. It purchased its 5th nuclear submarine that can be deployed anywhere in the world with first strike capability. The Israel News Agency reported that Israel purchased a fifth Dolphin class submarine called the “INS Rahav” from Germany. In the article headlined “Israel Launches Ninth Submarine, Ready To Strike Iran Nuclear Weapons,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”

The submarines are equipped with Israeli-designed Popeye missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and it is no secret that Israel has nuclear weapons. Some estimates suggest that Israel has between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons.

Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli technician at the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert, exposed Israel’s nuclear program to the world in the 1986 Sunday Times (UK). The Times report cited that Vanunu was kidnapped in Italy by Mossad agents and brought to Israel to face an Israeli court. He was convicted and imprisoned for more than 18 years at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, Israel. Half of his prison term was in solitary confinement. He was eventually released in 2004. Since then, Vanunu has been arrested and even imprisoned for violating his parole. He was also arrested for trying to leave Israel at one time. Former Israeli Prime Minister and Noble Peace

Prize winner Shimon Peres said “he was a traitor to this country”.

Since Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Dimona Nuclear Research center is not subject to inspections from the international community such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the Federation of American Scientists in a 2007 report, Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, but some estimates have their  nuclear warheads at less than 200. It is also known that Israel has the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles, the Jericho III missile named after the biblical city of Jericho, various aircrafts and of course submarines.

The report stated the following:

“By the late 1990s, the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided”

Israel’s nuclear program began after World War II. David Ben-Gurion wanted to establish a Jewish State with a military force that would repel an attack by any of its adversaries, especially in the Arab world.

Ben-Gurion’s speech to the elected assembly of Palestine Jews on October 2nd, 1947 made it clear on the intentions of a new Jewish state:

“Political developments have swept us on to a momentous parting of the ways – from Mandate to independence. Today, beyond our ceaseless work in immigration, settlement and campaign, we are set three blazing tasks, whereof fulfillment will condition our perpetuity: defense, a Jewish State and Arab-Jewish Cupertino, in that order of importance and urgency. Security is our chief problem.

Between the years of 1955 and 2007 more than 130 United Nations Resolutions have been issued against Israel related to injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people which were all abjectly ignored by Israel.  Among these are Security Council Resolution 242, Nov. 22, 1967 , which declared the occupation of Palestine illegal, Security Council Resolution 446, March 22, 1979, which declared Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal. There has been no action on the part of the UN to bring Israel to book and conform to its mandates, including, as the Iranian president insisted, declaring its Nuclear arsenal. Iran has endured years of sanctions and has no nuclear weapons.

October 4, 2013

Israel’s consistently rogue refusal to comply with any international  mandate ( in particular, signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty against producing nuclear weapons) that it has been issued since its inception has once again been broached on the international forum.  

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani requested that Israel be compelled to sign and become a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as he spoke for a second time at the United Nations General Assembly. “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists,” Rouhani said, citing the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Rouhani  called for a “nuclear-free zone” in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has not and will not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel would use nuclear weapons if it felt it was threatened by any nation in the Middle East.

The nuclear capability of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) defensive capabilities just reached another plateau this past April. It purchased its 5th nuclear submarine that can be deployed anywhere in the world with first strike capability. The Israel News Agency reported that Israel purchased a fifth Dolphin class submarine called the “INS Rahav” from Germany. In the article headlined “Israel Launches Ninth Submarine, Ready To Strike Iran Nuclear Weapons,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”

The submarines are equipped with Israeli-designed Popeye missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and it is no secret that Israel has nuclear weapons. Some estimates suggest that Israel has between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons.

Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli technician at the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert, exposed Israel’s nuclear program to the world in the 1986 Sunday Times (UK). The Times report cited that Vanunu was kidnapped in Italy by Mossad agents and brought to Israel to face an Israeli court. He was convicted and imprisoned for more than 18 years at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, Israel. Half of his prison term was in solitary confinement. He was eventually released in 2004. Since then, Vanunu has been arrested and even imprisoned for violating his parole. He was also arrested for trying to leave Israel at one time. Former Israeli Prime Minister and Noble Peace

Prize winner Shimon Peres said “he was a traitor to this country”.

Since Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Dimona Nuclear Research center is not subject to inspections from the international community such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the Federation of American Scientists in a 2007 report, Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, but some estimates have their  nuclear warheads at less than 200. It is also known that Israel has the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles, the Jericho III missile named after the biblical city of Jericho, various aircrafts and of course submarines.

The report stated the following:

“By the late 1990s, the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided”

Israel’s nuclear program began after World War II. David Ben-Gurion wanted to establish a Jewish State with a military force that would repel an attack by any of its adversaries, especially in the Arab world.

Ben-Gurion’s speech to the elected assembly of Palestine Jews on October 2nd, 1947 made it clear on the intentions of a new Jewish state:

“Political developments have swept us on to a momentous parting of the ways – from Mandate to independence. Today, beyond our ceaseless work in immigration, settlement and campaign, we are set three blazing tasks, whereof fulfillment will condition our perpetuity: defense, a Jewish State and Arab-Jewish Cupertino, in that order of importance and urgency. Security is our chief problem.

Between the years of 1955 and 2007 more than 130 United Nations Resolutions have been issued against Israel related to injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people which were all abjectly ignored by Israel.  Among these are Security Council Resolution 242, Nov. 22, 1967 , which declared the occupation of Palestine illegal, Security Council Resolution 446, March 22, 1979, which declared Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal. There has been no action on the part of the UN to bring Israel to book and conform to its mandates, including, as the Iranian president insisted, declaring its Nuclear arsenal. Iran has endured years of sanctions and has no nuclear weapons.

October 4, 2013

The commander of one of El Salvador's notorious death squads, active during the 1979-92 civil war, could soon become the first top-ranking Salvadoran officer to face trial for murder. But if so, he will be tried in Spain, not his own country, where amnesty protects even those guilty of atrocities against civilians.

Inocente Orlando Montano was quietly working in a sweet factory in Massachusetts in May 2011, when he and 19 others were indicted by a Spanish court for their alleged role in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter.

Five of the priests - outspoken critics of El Salvador's military regime - were Spanish. Spain asked for Montano to be extradited - and soon afterwards he was indicted by the US for having lied about his entry date and military past to obtain papers giving him the right to work in the US.

He pleaded guilty in September last year to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury and will soon be sentenced.

As vice-minister of public security, Colonel Montano had been one of El Salvador's top three military leaders. He was also commander of the feared Belloso Battalion.

In an expert report prepared for Montano's prosecution, political science professor Terry Karl argues that at least 1,169 human rights abuses - including 65 extra-judicial killings of named individuals, 51 reported disappearances and 520 torture victims - were carried out by units under Montano's command.

"The Jesuit massacre was not an aberration," she writes.

"Throughout Col Montano's 30-year military career, he ordered, abetted and assisted, and/or commanded troops that participated in a strategy of disappearance and arbitrary detention, rural massacres of civilian non-combatants, the forced disappearance of children, and the toleration of military-led death squads operating inside units under his command."

The US federal judge has indicated that Montano's sentence will reflect the gravity of his alleged human rights record - detailed in Karl's report and in testimonies from priests and civilian survivors of torture.

The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), which helped trigger the indictment by filing a criminal complaint in Spain four years ago, expects the extradition process to begin while Montano is in US custody.

Up to now, no top-ranking Salvadoran commander has faced criminal prosecution for any civil war offence.

Two others who "retired" to Florida - Generals Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova - have been fighting deportation proceedings brought under a post-9/11 law intended to stop human rights violators residing in the country.

Both have also been sued in the civil courts. In 2002, a West Palm Beach jury found them guilty of torturing three civilians and awarded $55m, $300,000 of which has so far been paid.

But the immigration proceedings against Montano have already arguably done more to raise hopes among civilian victims that justice may one day be done, by legally dissecting several atrocities for the first time.

One is the El Calabozo massacre, in which 200 to 300 campesinos, or peasant farmers, were killed on 22 August 1982 by the Belloso Battalion under Montano's command, and the equally feared Atlactl Battalion.

El Calabozo was a scorched-earth operation carried out by the US-trained mobile death squads against alleged guerrilla supporters. The soldiers killed unarmed civilians, kidnapped children for illegal adoptions, bombed homes and destroyed crops.

The Salvadoran government has never officially recognized that the massacre took place.

Chunguita Realegeno, 58, who lost her whole family except one son in the massacre, says: "I hid with my baby for three days without food or water because we couldn't keep walking; I never saw my family again, I only found their bones. I suffer every day and night knowing those who killed my people are still free."

Prof Karl testified in court on August 22nd - the 31st anniversary of the massacre - as did General Mauricio Vargas, who Montano has called as an expert to challenge the allegations.

"A case like Montano's immigration prosecution provides a glimmer of hope that some truth and accountability will emerge from decades of lies, denial and impunity.," says Esther Major, Amnesty International's El Salvador researcher. "Evidence is being reviewed, massacres recognized as having happened, victims and survivors' words matter."

At one point, it seemed that El Salvador itself might repeal the amnesty law for former combatants, passed in 1993 in defiance of the terms of the peace agreement signed the previous year.

In 2000, the former rebels FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) won a legislative majority against the military-allied Arena party - the sort of political change which preceded the collapse of amnesties in Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and Honduras.

The successful prosecutions around this time of Gen Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Col Byron Disrael Lima Estada in Guatemala - both of which had once seemed impossible - caused reverberations in El Salvador.

Montano entered the US in 2001, just when it seemed the Jesuits massacre would be reinvestigated. But it was only in 2009 that an FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, became president, and he has not made repealing the amnesty law a legislative priority.

Not surprisingly, Montano has volunteered to return to El Salvador after serving his sentence in the US. The country's Supreme Court has already rejected Spain's request for the extradition of 17 of Montano's co-accused in the Jesuit massacre case, including former president Alfredo Cristiani.

Of the remaining two accused, one is dead and the whereabouts of Lt Hector Cuenta Ocampo, who occupied a prominent position in the National Intelligence Service, is unknown. His last known address was in San Francisco.

October 4, 2013

The commander of one of El Salvador's notorious death squads, active during the 1979-92 civil war, could soon become the first top-ranking Salvadoran officer to face trial for murder. But if so, he will be tried in Spain, not his own country, where amnesty protects even those guilty of atrocities against civilians.

Inocente Orlando Montano was quietly working in a sweet factory in Massachusetts in May 2011, when he and 19 others were indicted by a Spanish court for their alleged role in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter.

Five of the priests - outspoken critics of El Salvador's military regime - were Spanish. Spain asked for Montano to be extradited - and soon afterwards he was indicted by the US for having lied about his entry date and military past to obtain papers giving him the right to work in the US.

He pleaded guilty in September last year to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury and will soon be sentenced.

As vice-minister of public security, Colonel Montano had been one of El Salvador's top three military leaders. He was also commander of the feared Belloso Battalion.

In an expert report prepared for Montano's prosecution, political science professor Terry Karl argues that at least 1,169 human rights abuses - including 65 extra-judicial killings of named individuals, 51 reported disappearances and 520 torture victims - were carried out by units under Montano's command.

"The Jesuit massacre was not an aberration," she writes.

"Throughout Col Montano's 30-year military career, he ordered, abetted and assisted, and/or commanded troops that participated in a strategy of disappearance and arbitrary detention, rural massacres of civilian non-combatants, the forced disappearance of children, and the toleration of military-led death squads operating inside units under his command."

The US federal judge has indicated that Montano's sentence will reflect the gravity of his alleged human rights record - detailed in Karl's report and in testimonies from priests and civilian survivors of torture.

The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), which helped trigger the indictment by filing a criminal complaint in Spain four years ago, expects the extradition process to begin while Montano is in US custody.

Up to now, no top-ranking Salvadoran commander has faced criminal prosecution for any civil war offence.

Two others who "retired" to Florida - Generals Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova - have been fighting deportation proceedings brought under a post-9/11 law intended to stop human rights violators residing in the country.

Both have also been sued in the civil courts. In 2002, a West Palm Beach jury found them guilty of torturing three civilians and awarded $55m, $300,000 of which has so far been paid.

But the immigration proceedings against Montano have already arguably done more to raise hopes among civilian victims that justice may one day be done, by legally dissecting several atrocities for the first time.

One is the El Calabozo massacre, in which 200 to 300 campesinos, or peasant farmers, were killed on 22 August 1982 by the Belloso Battalion under Montano's command, and the equally feared Atlactl Battalion.

El Calabozo was a scorched-earth operation carried out by the US-trained mobile death squads against alleged guerrilla supporters. The soldiers killed unarmed civilians, kidnapped children for illegal adoptions, bombed homes and destroyed crops.

The Salvadoran government has never officially recognized that the massacre took place.

Chunguita Realegeno, 58, who lost her whole family except one son in the massacre, says: "I hid with my baby for three days without food or water because we couldn't keep walking; I never saw my family again, I only found their bones. I suffer every day and night knowing those who killed my people are still free."

Prof Karl testified in court on August 22nd - the 31st anniversary of the massacre - as did General Mauricio Vargas, who Montano has called as an expert to challenge the allegations.

"A case like Montano's immigration prosecution provides a glimmer of hope that some truth and accountability will emerge from decades of lies, denial and impunity.," says Esther Major, Amnesty International's El Salvador researcher. "Evidence is being reviewed, massacres recognized as having happened, victims and survivors' words matter."

At one point, it seemed that El Salvador itself might repeal the amnesty law for former combatants, passed in 1993 in defiance of the terms of the peace agreement signed the previous year.

In 2000, the former rebels FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) won a legislative majority against the military-allied Arena party - the sort of political change which preceded the collapse of amnesties in Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and Honduras.

The successful prosecutions around this time of Gen Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Col Byron Disrael Lima Estada in Guatemala - both of which had once seemed impossible - caused reverberations in El Salvador.

Montano entered the US in 2001, just when it seemed the Jesuits massacre would be reinvestigated. But it was only in 2009 that an FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, became president, and he has not made repealing the amnesty law a legislative priority.

Not surprisingly, Montano has volunteered to return to El Salvador after serving his sentence in the US. The country's Supreme Court has already rejected Spain's request for the extradition of 17 of Montano's co-accused in the Jesuit massacre case, including former president Alfredo Cristiani.

Of the remaining two accused, one is dead and the whereabouts of Lt Hector Cuenta Ocampo, who occupied a prominent position in the National Intelligence Service, is unknown. His last known address was in San Francisco.

September 27, 2013

BAMAKO - Newly elected president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, pledged to unite his strife-damaged nation  and end endemic corruption as he steps forward to  lead the deeply-divided west African country’s emergence from months of political crisis and conflict.

Keita, a former prime minister, began his five-year term in the presence of outgoing transitional leader Dioncounda Traore and more than 1,000 Malian politicians, diplomats and military personnel, as he took the presidential oath at the inaugural ceremony in Bamako, the Malian capital.

"I will not forget for a moment that you put me where I am to take care of all aspects of the life of our nation. National reconciliation remains the most urgent priority," he said after taking an oath to preserve the constitution, democracy and the law.

Mali's constitutional court confirmed Keita's landslide victory  in the August 11 presidential run-off against former minister Soumaila Cisse after an election campaign focused on law, order and ending the culture of impunity in public office.

"I want to reconcile hearts and minds, restore true brotherhood between us so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony," Keita said to huge applause.

The 68-year-old veteran of the political scene in Bamako is charged with leading the country out of a 17-month political crisis sparked by a military coup.

Army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in the north overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure in the spring of 2012.

In the chaos that followed, the Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by Al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

Their actions drew worldwide condemnation and prompted France to launch a military offensive at Mali's behest together with thrust from the UN’s official international input to oust the Islamists in January.

The country's return to democracy has allowed France to begin withdrawing some of the 4,500 troops it had sent in.  

"France welcomes the new president of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on the occasion of his swearing-in ceremony," said French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot in a statement.

"Granted a strong legitimacy with the outcome of the recent elections, the new authorities can now meet the needs of the people of Mali and the challenges facing Mali. France is ready to give its full support to President Keita."  Observers cite that French logistical assistance will continue, limiting the troop withdrawal initially planned by French President Hollande.

The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in 1945 in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland of cotton production in the country.

His election in the first presidential polls in Mali since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

His daunting workload over the coming months will include tackling an economy battered by political chaos and war, as well as healing ethnic divisions in the north and managing the return of 500,000 people who fled an Islamist insurgency.

Corruption has tainted government institutions and the military in Mali since it gained independence from France in 1960 and the country remains in the bottom third of Transparency International's ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’.  Some observers contend that the Malian government prior to the coup had been complicit with organized crime in the north, which would explain its complacency with the corruption known to exist there.

"I will put an end to impunity, to the special privileges that are at the heart of the perversion of our judicial and state institutions," Keita vowed.

"As president, I will ensure the proper management of public funds. I will put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure transparency and efficiency of public spending. No one will get rich illegally off the back of the Malian people."

Some material for this report was obtained

from Agence France Presse

 

 

DAKAR, SENEGAL — Mali's president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says he will reconcile, reunite and rebuild the country after 18 months of crisis and conflict. Keita doesn't take office for another two weeks, but his to-do list is already long and Malians are eager for results.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes office September 4th on a tidal wave of popularity.

The one-time prime minister and former president of the National Assembly won the August 11th run-off election with 77 percent of votes.

In his first public declaration as president-elect, Keita said he would be the "president of all Malians."

"I will be the president of national reconciliation.  This reconciliation is necessary to deal with the demands of our people: to rebuild the state and the rule of law, to fix the army and the education system, to fight corruption and to foster economic and social development.  I will be the president to rebuild the nation," said the president-elect.

Keita said recently that it would be a "new era."  Even so, he is inheriting some hefty problems.

A Tuareg rebellion that began in  2012 is still rumbling in the far north.  Mali is now host to a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the north after a nine-month occupation by armed extremist groups who tried to set up their version of an Islamic state.

The leaders of the recent military coup in Mali are still lurking around the foreground in Bamako.  One of the final acts of the interim government was to promote coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to the rank of general.

Keita won the presidency thanks to a large and complex web of support from Muslim religious leaders, the military and most of his first-round rivals.  His campaign always maintained that Keita was not cutting deals in exchange for votes.

But analysts said it could be difficult to manage all those alliances once in office.  Malians are watching closely to see who Keita names to his cabinet.

Keita said recently his government would be a ‘meritocracy’, not one guided by political or family alliances. "Let me be clear.  There is no question of sharing out the cake.  I have not promised that and it will not happen," he said.

But actions speak louder than words, even the tough talk that Keita is known for. When asked what the country needed, voters often used the French verb "assainir," which means to flush out, to decontaminate, to clean up.  They wanted to see Keita tackle the root causes of the crisis.

At the top of that list were the pervasive corruption and patronage that analysts said undermined development, crippled the army and ultimately handed the north over to criminal and terrorist groups.

Keita has pledged "zero tolerance" for corruption, but analysts say he must prove it, and fast, by doing what previous governments in Mali have not - by investigating and punishing those embezzling public resources.  Something analysts say could be a hard pill to swallow for some of his political allies.

Security is the other key challenge.

Keita will have 60 days to open up what promises to be difficult negotiations with the armed Tuareg separatist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and its allies in the far northern region of Kidal that launched an uprising in January of 2012 -  the fourth of its kind since Mali became a country in 1960.  Many say it is up to Keita to make it the last.

Political analyst Issa Ndiaye said, "it will be hard to get Malians to accept a special status for Kidal. The problems are not just in Kidal. We need to find a nationwide solution to implement an enhanced form of decentralization that allows local populations to make decisions about their lives, and in particular about the exploitation of natural resources."

Many Malians blame the MNLA for setting off the chain of events last year that saw the elected government toppled by unruly soldiers in the spring of this year and the north being taken over by Islamist militant groups just weeks later.

The nomadic Tuareg are a minority ethnic group in Mali's sparsely populated north.  Perceived privileges bestowed on ex-rebels under previous peace accords have bred resentment and perceptions of a kind of "positive discrimination" in favor of the Tuareg.

Those negotiations will be just one part of returning security and state authority to the formerly occupied north, where violence has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and decimated the economy.

September 27, 2013

BAMAKO - Newly elected president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, pledged to unite his strife-damaged nation  and end endemic corruption as he steps forward to  lead the deeply-divided west African country’s emergence from months of political crisis and conflict.

Keita, a former prime minister, began his five-year term in the presence of outgoing transitional leader Dioncounda Traore and more than 1,000 Malian politicians, diplomats and military personnel, as he took the presidential oath at the inaugural ceremony in Bamako, the Malian capital.

"I will not forget for a moment that you put me where I am to take care of all aspects of the life of our nation. National reconciliation remains the most urgent priority," he said after taking an oath to preserve the constitution, democracy and the law.

Mali's constitutional court confirmed Keita's landslide victory  in the August 11 presidential run-off against former minister Soumaila Cisse after an election campaign focused on law, order and ending the culture of impunity in public office.

"I want to reconcile hearts and minds, restore true brotherhood between us so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony," Keita said to huge applause.

The 68-year-old veteran of the political scene in Bamako is charged with leading the country out of a 17-month political crisis sparked by a military coup.

Army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in the north overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure in the spring of 2012.

In the chaos that followed, the Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by Al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

Their actions drew worldwide condemnation and prompted France to launch a military offensive at Mali's behest together with thrust from the UN’s official international input to oust the Islamists in January.

The country's return to democracy has allowed France to begin withdrawing some of the 4,500 troops it had sent in.  

"France welcomes the new president of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on the occasion of his swearing-in ceremony," said French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot in a statement.

"Granted a strong legitimacy with the outcome of the recent elections, the new authorities can now meet the needs of the people of Mali and the challenges facing Mali. France is ready to give its full support to President Keita."  Observers cite that French logistical assistance will continue, limiting the troop withdrawal initially planned by French President Hollande.

The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in 1945 in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland of cotton production in the country.

His election in the first presidential polls in Mali since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

His daunting workload over the coming months will include tackling an economy battered by political chaos and war, as well as healing ethnic divisions in the north and managing the return of 500,000 people who fled an Islamist insurgency.

Corruption has tainted government institutions and the military in Mali since it gained independence from France in 1960 and the country remains in the bottom third of Transparency International's ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’.  Some observers contend that the Malian government prior to the coup had been complicit with organized crime in the north, which would explain its complacency with the corruption known to exist there.

"I will put an end to impunity, to the special privileges that are at the heart of the perversion of our judicial and state institutions," Keita vowed.

"As president, I will ensure the proper management of public funds. I will put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure transparency and efficiency of public spending. No one will get rich illegally off the back of the Malian people."

Some material for this report was obtained

from Agence France Presse

 

 

DAKAR, SENEGAL — Mali's president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says he will reconcile, reunite and rebuild the country after 18 months of crisis and conflict. Keita doesn't take office for another two weeks, but his to-do list is already long and Malians are eager for results.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes office September 4th on a tidal wave of popularity.

The one-time prime minister and former president of the National Assembly won the August 11th run-off election with 77 percent of votes.

In his first public declaration as president-elect, Keita said he would be the "president of all Malians."

"I will be the president of national reconciliation.  This reconciliation is necessary to deal with the demands of our people: to rebuild the state and the rule of law, to fix the army and the education system, to fight corruption and to foster economic and social development.  I will be the president to rebuild the nation," said the president-elect.

Keita said recently that it would be a "new era."  Even so, he is inheriting some hefty problems.

A Tuareg rebellion that began in  2012 is still rumbling in the far north.  Mali is now host to a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the north after a nine-month occupation by armed extremist groups who tried to set up their version of an Islamic state.

The leaders of the recent military coup in Mali are still lurking around the foreground in Bamako.  One of the final acts of the interim government was to promote coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to the rank of general.

Keita won the presidency thanks to a large and complex web of support from Muslim religious leaders, the military and most of his first-round rivals.  His campaign always maintained that Keita was not cutting deals in exchange for votes.

But analysts said it could be difficult to manage all those alliances once in office.  Malians are watching closely to see who Keita names to his cabinet.

Keita said recently his government would be a ‘meritocracy’, not one guided by political or family alliances. "Let me be clear.  There is no question of sharing out the cake.  I have not promised that and it will not happen," he said.

But actions speak louder than words, even the tough talk that Keita is known for. When asked what the country needed, voters often used the French verb "assainir," which means to flush out, to decontaminate, to clean up.  They wanted to see Keita tackle the root causes of the crisis.

At the top of that list were the pervasive corruption and patronage that analysts said undermined development, crippled the army and ultimately handed the north over to criminal and terrorist groups.

Keita has pledged "zero tolerance" for corruption, but analysts say he must prove it, and fast, by doing what previous governments in Mali have not - by investigating and punishing those embezzling public resources.  Something analysts say could be a hard pill to swallow for some of his political allies.

Security is the other key challenge.

Keita will have 60 days to open up what promises to be difficult negotiations with the armed Tuareg separatist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and its allies in the far northern region of Kidal that launched an uprising in January of 2012 -  the fourth of its kind since Mali became a country in 1960.  Many say it is up to Keita to make it the last.

Political analyst Issa Ndiaye said, "it will be hard to get Malians to accept a special status for Kidal. The problems are not just in Kidal. We need to find a nationwide solution to implement an enhanced form of decentralization that allows local populations to make decisions about their lives, and in particular about the exploitation of natural resources."

Many Malians blame the MNLA for setting off the chain of events last year that saw the elected government toppled by unruly soldiers in the spring of this year and the north being taken over by Islamist militant groups just weeks later.

The nomadic Tuareg are a minority ethnic group in Mali's sparsely populated north.  Perceived privileges bestowed on ex-rebels under previous peace accords have bred resentment and perceptions of a kind of "positive discrimination" in favor of the Tuareg.

Those negotiations will be just one part of returning security and state authority to the formerly occupied north, where violence has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and decimated the economy.

September 19, 2013

Contact: Matthew Gardner

Phone: (434) 825-2283

Email: public.relations@iqou-moa.org

 

(Washington, DC) Muslims throughout the United States of America condemn the use of chemical warfare on the people of Syria as inhumane, emphasizing that no government should be allowed to use them. For this reason, we appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations to demonstrate equal concern about the weapons of mass destruction that have been manufactured in the U.S. for the purpose of killing American Muslims. In June 2013, two men, Glen Scott Crawford, a G.E. employee, and his only named accomplice Eric Feight were arrested in Albany, New York after being charged with “conspiracy to provide material support, or resources, intending that they be used in preparation for, or in carrying out… a weapon of mass destruction”, said the criminal complaint. The pair built a “radiation-emitting device that could be placed in the back of a van to covertly emit ionizing radiation…”. The device was designed to target and eliminate Muslims, in America and outside, with an X-ray gun intended to be worse than Hiroshima.

 

We demand the United Nations immediately send inspectors to the U.S. to examine the weapon, as the pair was already successful in testing the remote triggering device. How many weapons have been built? How many additional suspects need apprehending? An FBI affidavit identified as many as eight accomplices who have remained unnamed with no arrests.

 

Over three months ago, USA Today reported that the federal authorities uncovered the builders of the lethal X-ray device were “allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other "enemies of Israel". Three months after initial arrests, no further action been taken. Will American Muslims suffer the same fate as the people of Syria? Will Muslims be attacked in their own country? American Muslims fully endorse swift action against all forms of weapons of mass destruction and implore the international community to recognize this viable threat to the safety and peace of citizens of the United States of America.

 

The danger is apparently still great for all Muslims living in America under threat of use of this weapon of mass destruction for which the number of weapons manufactured is still unknown. The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA) have suffered escalating attacks against their residential properties and residents since the launching of a defamation lawsuit against the extremist group Christian Action Network (CAN) and its president Martin Mawyer related to release of an inflammatory book. Based in Hancock, New York, The Muslims of America have reported to law enforcement the appearance of intruders on several properties across the country including the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. In New York, days before the Crawford and Feight arrests, residents identified intruders with heavy Eastern European accents, possibly Russian Jews, who drove onto the property in a van with strange, partially hidden and mounted equipment. In Texas, a man drove past TMOA property for hours, harassed neighbors for information and then trespassed before being stopped by the Muslim residents. The Texas trespasser’s vehicle was registered to a man connected to the Himeni Ministries, a Christian Zionist Church and Act for America!, a known anti-Islam organization. In South Carolina, during a Ladies Summer Program, multiple incidents were reported of suspicious persons posing as salesman descending on the homes of Muslim residents’ homes. In addition, shots fired upon the property prompted a meeting with FBI and local law enforcement to warn about the growing danger as shown in the increased incidents of hate crimes against the TMOA community across the country. In Virginia, thirteen shots rang out in the dark of night endangering innocent men, women and children as the assailants fired into the TMOA sign on the property. Nevertheless, unchecked by law enforcement, dangerous front organizations continue to spread Islamophobic propaganda while publicly posturing as enemies of Islam, but who are in actuality, the real enemies of America. Unfortunately, as good citizens, when these incidents of violence are brought to the attention of the authorities, it is claimed there is no evidence to arrest the perpetrators.

 

We, American Muslims, demand justice and protection. We assert there is no blame on the American government nor the American people for these front organizations who are promoting fear and Islamophobia as a tool in their aim to destroy America by using the American people, American money, and the blood of innocent Americans to fight their wars -proxy wars. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, yet who were among the thousands killed - it was Americans’ citizens, Muslims and Christians alike, who lost their lives in the devastating proxy war in Iraq. Americans, be they Muslim or Christian, all are suffering due to them.
 

As America takes up the just cause of eliminating chemical warfare being used against the Syrian people, we beseech the international community to turn its attention to the weapons of mass destruction already manufactured to be used right here against innocent Americans.

 

 

 

 

Hon. K. Hussein Adams

President

 

Hon. Khadijah Smith

Vice President

 

Hon. Khadija A. Salaam

Treasurer

September 19, 2013

Contact: Matthew Gardner

Phone: (434) 825-2283

Email: public.relations@iqou-moa.org

 

(Washington, DC) Muslims throughout the United States of America condemn the use of chemical warfare on the people of Syria as inhumane, emphasizing that no government should be allowed to use them. For this reason, we appeal to the Secretary General of the United Nations to demonstrate equal concern about the weapons of mass destruction that have been manufactured in the U.S. for the purpose of killing American Muslims. In June 2013, two men, Glen Scott Crawford, a G.E. employee, and his only named accomplice Eric Feight were arrested in Albany, New York after being charged with “conspiracy to provide material support, or resources, intending that they be used in preparation for, or in carrying out… a weapon of mass destruction”, said the criminal complaint. The pair built a “radiation-emitting device that could be placed in the back of a van to covertly emit ionizing radiation…”. The device was designed to target and eliminate Muslims, in America and outside, with an X-ray gun intended to be worse than Hiroshima.

 

We demand the United Nations immediately send inspectors to the U.S. to examine the weapon, as the pair was already successful in testing the remote triggering device. How many weapons have been built? How many additional suspects need apprehending? An FBI affidavit identified as many as eight accomplices who have remained unnamed with no arrests.

 

Over three months ago, USA Today reported that the federal authorities uncovered the builders of the lethal X-ray device were “allegedly planning to build a mobile X-ray weapon to kill Muslims and other "enemies of Israel". Three months after initial arrests, no further action been taken. Will American Muslims suffer the same fate as the people of Syria? Will Muslims be attacked in their own country? American Muslims fully endorse swift action against all forms of weapons of mass destruction and implore the international community to recognize this viable threat to the safety and peace of citizens of the United States of America.

 

The danger is apparently still great for all Muslims living in America under threat of use of this weapon of mass destruction for which the number of weapons manufactured is still unknown. The Muslims of America, Inc. (TMOA) have suffered escalating attacks against their residential properties and residents since the launching of a defamation lawsuit against the extremist group Christian Action Network (CAN) and its president Martin Mawyer related to release of an inflammatory book. Based in Hancock, New York, The Muslims of America have reported to law enforcement the appearance of intruders on several properties across the country including the states of Virginia, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and Georgia. In New York, days before the Crawford and Feight arrests, residents identified intruders with heavy Eastern European accents, possibly Russian Jews, who drove onto the property in a van with strange, partially hidden and mounted equipment. In Texas, a man drove past TMOA property for hours, harassed neighbors for information and then trespassed before being stopped by the Muslim residents. The Texas trespasser’s vehicle was registered to a man connected to the Himeni Ministries, a Christian Zionist Church and Act for America!, a known anti-Islam organization. In South Carolina, during a Ladies Summer Program, multiple incidents were reported of suspicious persons posing as salesman descending on the homes of Muslim residents’ homes. In addition, shots fired upon the property prompted a meeting with FBI and local law enforcement to warn about the growing danger as shown in the increased incidents of hate crimes against the TMOA community across the country. In Virginia, thirteen shots rang out in the dark of night endangering innocent men, women and children as the assailants fired into the TMOA sign on the property. Nevertheless, unchecked by law enforcement, dangerous front organizations continue to spread Islamophobic propaganda while publicly posturing as enemies of Islam, but who are in actuality, the real enemies of America. Unfortunately, as good citizens, when these incidents of violence are brought to the attention of the authorities, it is claimed there is no evidence to arrest the perpetrators.

 

We, American Muslims, demand justice and protection. We assert there is no blame on the American government nor the American people for these front organizations who are promoting fear and Islamophobia as a tool in their aim to destroy America by using the American people, American money, and the blood of innocent Americans to fight their wars -proxy wars. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, yet who were among the thousands killed - it was Americans’ citizens, Muslims and Christians alike, who lost their lives in the devastating proxy war in Iraq. Americans, be they Muslim or Christian, all are suffering due to them.
 

As America takes up the just cause of eliminating chemical warfare being used against the Syrian people, we beseech the international community to turn its attention to the weapons of mass destruction already manufactured to be used right here against innocent Americans.

 

 

 

 

Hon. K. Hussein Adams

President

 

Hon. Khadijah Smith

Vice President

 

Hon. Khadija A. Salaam

Treasurer