CNN Silences War-Skeptical Soldier

Ray McGovern

Exclusive: By obsessing over Iran gaining a nuclear weapon “capability” – even with no actual bomb – while ignoring Israel’s undeclared nuclear arsenal, the U.S. news media proves the point of its own bias. There’s also the usual hostility toward dissenting voices, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes.

When CNN interviews a U.S. Army corporal preparing for his third deployment to Afghanistan, should TV viewers be permitted to hear him out on a front-burner issue like Iran’s alleged threat to Israel? For those who might think so, watch what happens when 28-year-old Cpl. Jesse Thorsen touches a neuralgic nerve by suggesting that Israel can take care of itself.

It’s impossible to say exactly what happened to the remote feed that suddenly got lost in transmission back to CNN Central, but the minute-long video is truly worth a thousand words.

The interview, which dates back to Jan. 3 when the Iowa caucuses were the evening’s big news, is at least symbolic of how our Fawning Corporate Media treats dissident voices that clash with the prevailing pro-war-on-Iran bias. I missed the segment when it aired, but I think it still merits comment today as war clouds thicken, again.

In the aborted one-minute segment, Cpl. Thorsen is interviewed by CNN’s Dana Bash, who presumably picked him out for the live interview because he had a large tattoo on his neck about never forgetting 9/11. The tattoo – plus two tours in Afghanistan behind him (and yet another in front of him) – may have suggested to Bash and her CNN producers that Thorsen was unlikely to say anything to muddle or muffle the new drumbeat for war.

Based on Thorsen’s military appearance alone, the typical CNN viewer could almost settle back in an easy chair and anticipate some stirring patriotic bathos about America standing tall – and the interview ending with the obligatory “thank you for your service,” which any right-thinking journalist utters to show that he or she is part of Team America.

But Bash got more than she bargained for when Thorsen turned out to be a well-informed and articulate young man who began endorsing Ron Paul’s non-interventionist views on U.S. foreign policy, i.e. that the United States should go to war only when absolutely necessary to defend its vital national interests and shouldn’t be picking a fight with Iran on behalf of Israel.

Washington pushes drug war in Mexico, Central America

Bill Van Auken

"The ultimate aim of the “drug war” is not to stop the entry of drugs into the US—a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that yields significant profits for US banks and which, over the course of more than half a century, has served as a funding source for US covert operations internationally, from Indochina to Central America and Afghanistan."

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano signaled this week that Washington is prepared to utilize the same bloody counterinsurgency methods in Mexico and Central America that it has employed in the so-called “war on terror”.

Napolitano is conducting a three-day, five-nation tour through Mexico and Central America with the key purpose of pushing for an escalation of the so-called “war on drugs”— through which Washington seeks to defend its hegemony in the region and tighten links between the Pentagon and local security forces.

At a press conference in Mexico City Monday, Napolitano and her Mexican counterpart, Interior Minister Alejandro Poire, announced the signing of a series of agreements on border security. Poire stressed that the two had discussed means of strengthening collaboration to keep “international terrorism” out of Mexico.

Planned Regime Change in Syria

Stephen Lendman

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria had peace and calm until Washington intervened belligerently.

Strategies and tactics vary. Objectives are consistent. They involve replacing independent regimes with pro-Western ones by any means, including war.

Three unwinnable ones rage. Nonetheless, Obama plans more. Syria's target one. For the past year, US-instigated violence ravaged parts of the country. Thousands have been killed, many others injured.

Syria's gripped by fear. Heavily armed killer gangs rage out of control, and direct foreign intervention looms. More on that below.

Assad's wrongly blamed. The blame game targets victims, not villains. As a result, ongoing conflict continues.

February 26 was potentially historic. Syrians overwhelmingly approved constitutional reform. Only the fullness of time will tell if promised change, in fact, happens. Western intervention may prevent it.

After 90% of Syrians supported draft constitutional changes, Assad issued decree No. 94 officially approving it, effective February 27.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said referendum results show Syrians support him. Moscow called on all sides to concur, stop violence, and engage in dialogue with no preconditions.

On February 27, in an article titled "Russia and the Changing World," Vladimir Putin noted similarities between Syria and Libya. He warned against foreign intervention.

He called Arab Spring changes replacement of one force for another. In other words, everything changed by stayed the same, and in countries like Egypt, got worse. He said "Moscow won't allow anyone to repeat the Libyan scenario in Syria."

Washington is hell bent on initiating it. Obama asked international leaders to protect Syrians from "abhorrent" (US instigated) violence. Calling for regime change, he said Assad('s rule) must come to an end."

10 Reasons Why the Israel Lobby AIPAC is So Dangerous

Medea Benjamin

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the country. On March 4-6, AIPAC will be holding its annual policy conference in Washington DC. The speakers include Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Republican candidate Newt Gingrich and a host of other powerful politicians.

AIPAC has tremendous clout but its influence has been disastrous for U.S. foreign policy and U.S. democracy. Here are ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous.

1. AIPAC is lobbying Congress to promote a military confrontation with Iran. AIPAC - like the Israeli government - is demanding that the U.S. attack Iran militarily to prevent Iran from having the technological capacity to produce nuclear weapons, even though U.S. officials say Iran isn't trying to build a weapon (and even though Israel has hundreds of undeclared nuclear weapons). AIPAC has successfully lobbied the U.S. government to adopt crippling economic sanctions on Iran, including trying to cut off Iran's oil exports, despite the fact that these sanctions raise the price of gas and threaten the U.S. economy.

2. AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to international law. These include the establishment of colonies (settlements) in the Occupied West Bank and the confiscation of Palestinian land in its construction of the 26-foot high concrete “separation barrier” running through the West Bank. The support of these illegal practices makes to impossible to achieve a solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

US, Britain gear up for war on Iran

Bill Van Auken

Washington’s aims in Syria have everything to do with weakening Iran in preparation for “regime change” there as well.

[B]ehind all of the hyped warnings about Iran’s imminent acquiring of nuclear weapons, the reality is that US imperialism and its allies are engaged in a campaign of economic, political and military aggression against Iran, whose aim is to prevent the country from emerging as a regional power capable of challenging Washington’s hegemony over the energy-rich regions of the Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

The military commands in both the US and Britain have sought increased funding and stepped up deployments of arms and personnel to the Persian Gulf in preparation for an anticipated war against Iran.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon, acting on the request of the Central Command, which oversees US military operations in the region, has requested the re-allocation of some $100 million in military spending to ratchet up war preparations.

The Journal cast these preparations as defensive measures aimed at countering an Iranian threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway through which some 20 percent of the world’s exported oil flows. Iran’s threat came in response to trade sanctions and embargoes imposed by the US and Western Europe that amount to a blockade, an act of war, as well as open Israeli threats to bomb the country.

Israel steps up repression in occupied Palestinian territories

Jean Shaoul

On Friday, Israeli forces fired on Palestinian protesters at a checkpoint near Ramallah in the West Bank, killing one young man and injuring four more. Further clashes broke out between Palestinians and the Israeli security forces at the funeral procession in north Jerusalem the following day that resulted in 12 injuries.

In Jerusalem, angry clashes broke out between Muslim worshippers and Israeli security forces outside the al-Aqsa mosque for the third time over the last week. Police fired tear gas on hundreds of Palestinians who were throwing rocks at Israeli security forces after Friday prayers. The clashes were reportedly sparked by fears that ultra-nationalist Israelis were intending to enter the Muslim-controlled areas at the site known to Muslims as the Haram al-Shareef and to Jews as Temple Mount.

Israeli armed forces fired tear gas, stink bombs and grenades to disperse a rally in Hebron, injuring more than 70 people. Thousands were demonstrating to mark the eighteenth anniversary of the deadly shooting of 29 Palestinians by arch-nationalist Baruch Goldstein on February 25, 1994, and to demand the reopening of Hebron’s main street, Shuhada Street, closed by the security forces after the massacre in 1994. Troops closed off the city centre on the pretext of protecting the 400 settlers residing there, throttling the commercial centre and affecting the livelihoods of thousands.

Palestinians face increasing Israeli encroachment on their land and resources, making economic life all but impossible without international aid, which has largely dried up.

Move Our Money: New State Bank Bills Address Credit and Housing Crises

Ellen Brown

Seventeen states have now introduced bills for state-owned banks, and others are in the works. Hawaii’s innovative state bank bill addresses the foreclosure mess. County-owned banks are being proposed that would tackle the housing crisis by exercising the right of eminent domain on abandoned and foreclosed properties. Arizona has a bill that would do this for homeowners who are current in their payments but underwater, allowing them to refinance at fair market value.

The long-awaited settlement between 49 state Attorneys General and the big five robo-signing banks is proving to be a major disappointment before it has even been signed, sealed and court approved.

Critics maintain that the bankers responsible for the housing crisis and the jobs crisis will again be buying their way out of jail, and the curtain will again drop on the scene of the crime.

We may not be able to beat the banks, but we don’t have to play their game. We can take our marbles and go home. The Move Your Money campaign has already prompted more than 600,000 consumers to move their funds out of Wall Street banks into local banks, and there are much larger pools that could be pulled out in the form of state revenues. States generally deposit their revenues and invest their capital with large Wall Street banks, which use those hefty sums to speculate, invest abroad, and buy up the local banks that service our communities and local economies. The states receive a modest interest, and Wall Street lends the money back at much higher interest.

Looting the Seas

Stephen Lendman

This article follows a previous one on the same topic. It covers work done by the Center for Public Integrity. It involves a multi-part series titled, "Looting the Seas." The initial article discussed the overall problem globally.

On November 7, 2010, Part I covers the "black market in bluefin." It's so highly prized, it's become an endangered species. Worth up to $100,000 each, no wonder overfishing depleted up to 90% of world stocks.

Among other uses, it's a sushi delicacy featured in prominent restaurants from New York to Tokyo. In fact, Japan accounts for about 80% of global bluefin consumption.

Rules restrict catch amounts but no one follows them. Many share blame globally. Fattening tuna in coastal ranches revolutionized the trade. Dragging them live to these operations for fattening precedes shooting them in the head for shipping to Japan and other markets.

To catch offenders, nearly 50 countries (involved in trading Eastern Atlantic bluefin) agreed to create an electronic tracking database to make it harder to smuggle plundered amounts to market. Its value approximates $400 million annually.

With or without rules and electronic checking, governments across the Mediterranean colluded to profiteer. Fattening ranches make bluefin availability year-round. A multi-million dollar enterprise developed with 67 operations across the Mediterranean.

"At the same time, (they became) the epicenter of an off-the-books trade that" decimated world stocks. A flawed system facilitates plundering. Months of work by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). uncovered "rampant (black market) rule-breaking."

From 1998 - 2007, it accounted for one-third of bluefin caught. Cheaters involve fishermen, ranchers, divers, traders, politicians, inspectors and scientists.

Spoiling for War on Syria

Stephen Lendman

Nearly a year ago, Western-backed insurgent violence erupted. Heavily armed foreign fighters supplemented internal ones. Al Qaeda's very much involved.

Russian and Chinese peace initiatives are spurned. Washington, rogue NATO partners, and pro-Western regional allies want conflict.

Reports suggest Jordan's hosting 40,000 heavily armed insurgents along Syria's southern border ready to intervene. Former Libyan Al Qaeda commander Abdelhakim Belhadj commands nearly half of them.

Iraqi fighters are massed to Syria's east, ready to join them. So are so-called Free Syrian Army insurgents north in Turkey. Perhaps escalated violence is planned for Sunday, February 26, when Syrians vote up or down on Assad's new draft constitution. A mass supportive turnout would embarrass Washington, its allies, and insurgent leaders. Preventing it violently may be planned.

Syrian National Council and Free Syrian Army dissidents reject it out of hand. So does Washington. White House spokesman Jay Carney called it "laughable. It makes a mockery of the Syrian revolution. Promises of reforms have usually been followed by an increase in brutality and have never been delivered by the regime" since protests began.

Other US officials made similar disparaging remarks. Washington want protracted conflict to replace Assad with a pro-Western regime.

They ignore his repeated good faith reform announcements and thousands of released prisoners. At the same time, insurgent violence continues. He's blamed for confronting it responsibly. So would other leaders to restore order.

The Hebron massacre: 18 years on

Khalid Amayreh in occupied Palestine

On the 25th of February, 1994, as hundreds of Muslim worshipers were performing the dawn prayer at the Ibrahimi Mosque in downtown Hebron, a Jewish-American terrorist by the name of Baruch Goldstein descended onto the mosque from the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arbaa, spraying the worshipers with machinegun bullets, killing at least 29 people and injuring many others.

The terrorist, who used his army-issued Galilion rifle, wanted to kill as many innocent people as possible in order to create mass terror throughout the city, the largest in the West Bank. His motive was to thoroughly terrorize the Arabs, who constitute 99.5% of the city's population.

The Israeli occupation authorities, who had to tackle a public relations disaster, denied any complicity or collusion with the perpetrator.

Israeli officials, including then Prime Minister Isaac Rabin claimed the massacre was thunder on a clear day. However, it was hard to believe that the terrorist could not have reached the heavily-protected premises of the huge compound without some connivance with the strong Israeli army garrison at the site.

Goldstein himself was eventually overpowered and killed by survivors, fearing he would still kill more worshipers. Many settler leaders had the audacity to demand the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for Goldstein's death.

Many Jewish religious leaders praised the mass murderer, calling him a great saint and hero. Eventually, a monument perpetuating his memory was erected in Kiryat Arbaa and Jewish pilgrims from as far as California came to pay their respects to and be blessed by the tomb.

Goldstein was also eulogized by many rabbis and Torah sages who heaped praise on him, arguing that a thousand Gentile or Goyem were not worth a Jew's fingernail.

One rabbi, when asked about the religious admissibility of murdering innocent non-Jewish people, said he was not only sorry about the death of innocent Arabs but that he was also sorry about the death of innocent flies!!!

Following the bloodbath, the Israeli government carried out a huge public relations campaign aimed at convincing western especially American public opinion that the Israeli government played no part in the carnage.

Israeli officials argued that Israel and most Jews were dismayed by the criminal act as much as anyone else.

However, polls in Israel and abroad showed that a majority of Jews, including Israeli high school students, enthusiastically supported the evil deed. Moreover, subsequent measures taken against the Palestinians as well as the excessive leniency toward settlers, who hailed the massacre, suggested the government was indifferent toward the massacre and behaved as if the lives of non-Jews were worthless.

How Greece Could Take Down Wall Street

Ellen Brown

In an article titled “Still No End to ‘Too Big to Fail,’” William Greider wrote in The Nation on February 15th:

Financial market cynics have assumed all along that Dodd-Frank did not end “too big to fail” but instead created a charmed circle of protected banks labeled “systemically important” that will not be allowed to fail, no matter how badly they behave.

That may be, but there is one bit of bad behavior that Uncle Sam himself does not have the funds to underwrite: the $32 trillion market in credit default swaps (CDS). Thirty-two trillion dollars is more than twice the U.S. GDP and more than twice the national debt.

CDS are a form of derivative taken out by investors as insurance against default. According to the Comptroller of the Currency, nearly 95% of the banking industry’s total exposure to derivatives contracts is held by the nation’s five largest banks: JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC, and Goldman Sachs. The CDS market is unregulated, and there is no requirement that the “insurer” actually have the funds to pay up. CDS are more like bets, and a massive loss at the casino could bring the house down.

It could, at least, unless the casino is rigged. Whether a “credit event” is a “default” triggering a payout is determined by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA), and it seems that the ISDA is owned by the world’s largest banks and hedge funds. That means the house determines whether the house has to pay.

The Houses of Morgan, Goldman and the other Big Five are justifiably worried right now, because an “event of default” declared on European sovereign debt could jeopardize their $32 trillion derivatives scheme. According to Rudy Avizius in an article on The Market Oracle (UK) on February 15th, that explains what happened at MF Global, and why the 50% Greek bond write-down was not declared an event of default.

If you paid only 50% of your mortgage every month, these same banks would quickly declare you in default. But the rules are quite different when the banks are the insurers underwriting the deal.

Remembering Garda Ghista

Stephen Lendman

On February 20, activist/scholar/author/humanitarian, and dear friend, Garda succumbed to breast cancer.

On February 22, her son Firdaus reported the sad news. Receiving hospice care, she died in southern Germany. She'd been surviving by what she called "a series of miracles." She'll be sorely missed.

Several years ago she moved to India to help feed starving people. Using her own resources and what she could raise, she asked nothing in return.

Months back, she discussed her work on the Progressive Radio News Hour. She asked listeners to help best they could. She explained how little it takes to feed starving people without resources. Without aid, they'll perish.

She advocated Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar's philosophy. His spiritual name was Shril Shrii Anandamurti. He was an Indian author, poet, composer, linguist, social revolutionary and philosopher.

He founded Ananda Marga [*], a spiritual/social organization providing instruction in meditation, yoga, and other self-development practices to anyone wishing to learn them. Affectionately called Baba, he offered various social programs for disadvantaged and other Indians. His writings stressed human welfare and neohumanism.

His work inspired Garda's socio-economic philosophy. She called it PROUT (PROgessive UTilization Theory). "It stands for the progressive utilization and rational distribution of all the earth's natural resources. PROUT advocates another type of revolution called 'nuclear revolution.' "

It reflects "every aspect of collective life - social, economic, political, cultural, psychic and spiritual." It's completely transformative. "New moral and spiritual values arise in society which provide the impetus for accelerated social progress."

A new era replaces an old one. "(O)ne collective psychology is replaced by another. This type of revolution results in an all-round development and social program."

Modern-day world systems destroy life, societies and ecologies. Sustainability's not their mandate. They feature exploitation and plunder. Another way is vital.

Jesus Christ, America: Get Control of Your Womenfolk Already, Would Ya?

David Michael Green

Regular readers of this column know how much I despise conservatives. But they may not know why.

It’s because they’re such pussies.

Stupid conservatives applauded when that pansy Bush merely invaded Iraq. I say we should’ve instead just gone ahead and incinerated all one billion Muslims on the planet (and then grabbed our oil from underneath their ashes, while we’re there). Why weenie-out and just wreck a single country when you can clobber them all? What’s the point of sitting on five or six thousand nukes if you’re never gonna use them? They’re all terrorists, anyhow.

Likewise, I’m sickened by the whole approach of so-called conservatives to economic issues in this country. Working class people in America make way too much money, and the rich aren’t nearly rich enough. Sure, conservatives have done some good work on this front, such as transferring taxes onto the poor, exporting jobs and crushing unions, but it’s not enough! And I’m sick of everyone talking about slavery like it was such a bad thing. I say let’s have the ninety-nine percent start earning their keep around here. From now on they should have to spend at least one weekend per month ‘volunteering’ on wealthy people’s estates and plantations.

And how about that whole women’s rights thing, eh? I’ll tell you what, for nearly a century now, this country has been drowning under the weight of obscenities like autonomy, equality and freedom for women. Have we absolutely lost our minds?!?! This is completely out of hand.

These women – these people with their va... va... vaginas – they’ve taken over our jobs, and now they want more! Nowadays women can work as much as they want to. Instead of being at home, where we can control them, we’ve let them invade the workplace and do anything they want. Now they’re all over the Supreme Court, the State Department, and a couple of years ago we almost sent one to the White House. She wasn’t even an idiot-babe like Sarah, either.

It’s gettin’ worse too. Far more college students are girls these days than men. In grandpa’s day, there was no reason for the little ladies to have a higher education. You don’t need to study macro economics to figure out home economics, my friend. You don’t need a masters degree in psychology to keep ten or twelve kids properly fed and disciplined. What kind of future are we creating for ourselves arming all these women with ideas, facts and theories? You know they’re only gonna use that knowledge to give us grief.

Irresponsible Anti-Iranian Fear-Mongering

Stephen Lendman

Irresponsible anti-Iranian political and pack journalism rhetoric sound ominously like spurious Iraqi WMD threats in the run-up to the 2003 war.

In his January State of the Union address, Obama said:

"Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal."

At the same time, Netanyahu told Israel's Knesset:

"Only a combination of crippling sanctions and putting all the options on the table can make Iran stop" its nuclear program.

Republican presidential aspirants also use the issue irresponsibly. Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all support bombing Iran's nuclear sites and assassinating its scientists. Only Ron Paul's strongly opposed but hawkish din drowns him out.

Daily reports heighten the alleged "Iranian threat." Multiple rounds of sanctions were imposed. In late January, Israel's Mossad connected DEBKAfile reported Obama ordering a "massive US military buildup around Iran: up to 100,000 troops by March."

America's heaviest concentration of regional might matches its strength before invading Iraq in 2003. DEBKA suggested "May as (a) tentative date for clash(ing) with Iran."

On February 22, DEBKA stoked more fear headlining,"Iran cuts down to six weeks timeline for weapons-grade uranium," saying:

"Tehran this week hardened its nuclear and military policies in defiance of tougher sanctions and ahead of international nuclear talks."

Washington, NATO allies, Israel, and IAEA inspectors know Iran poses no nuclear threat. Nonetheless, pro-Western IAEA head Yukiya Amano said Tuesday night:

"It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin during the first or second meetings. We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached."

DEBKA claims its where Tehran "conducts experiments in nuclear explosives and triggers."

In fact, no evidence suggests Parchin Military Complex conducts nuclear related activities. IAEA's been there before, took environmental samples, and found nothing. Parchin manufactures and tests conventional explosives.

Why I Broke Up with Bank of America

Rae Abileah

“Someday the workers will take possession of your city hall, and when we do, no child will be sacrificed on the altar of profit!” ~ Mary Harris “Mother” Jones

Last November, 2011, I finally made the move to ditch the corporate bank account I’ve had since I was eight years old and opened an account at a local, sustainable bank. So did thousands of Americans during Bank Transfer Day, resulting in over $4 billion dollarsmoved out of big banks and into credit unions.

Do you know where your money spends the night? Wall Street banks are trashing our economy and our environment in the name of their own profits—do you buy into their corruption and greed? 
 It’s time to Pink Slip Big Banks and invest in a more peaceful and just future by moving your money! How? I used the Move your Money tool to find a listing of local banks and credit unions in my area. I selected New Resources Bank in San Francisco, the same bank that Rainforest Action Network and CODEPINK use. After opening my new account, I used the 7 Simple Steps To Move Your Checking Account checklist to really move my money, and finally, I proudly visited a B of A branch and presented them with a Pink Slip – they were friendly enough about losing my business (I admit I’m no millionaire so it wasn’t a big loss, though it was the principle of the thing).

This year on International Women’s Day, March 8th, I plan to join the women of the 99% at Break Up Bank of America actions. The Women Occupy Call to Action is an inspiring statement of solidarity with the Occupy Movement and with the thousands of homeowners across the country who have been affected by home foreclosure. Women Occupy is supporting the women-led campaigns of Public Citizen and Rainforest Action Network, to hold Bank of America accountable for the predatory economic policies that are destroying our families and communities. On March 8th activists in dozens of cities from NYC to LA are planning to occupy Bank of America branches by staging Super(s)hero Showdowns against Bandit of America, holding Really REALLY free markets to show what a feminist gift economy can look like, creating Walk in Our Shoes displays with pairs of shoes to illustrate the real people impacted by home foreclosure, job loss, and environmental destruction, and other creative tactics. Plus Women Occupy is asking people to cancel their big bank accounts on March 8th and move their money to local banks or credit unions. Not that another reason is needed to move your money, but why not do it on a big day of action and in solidarity with the 51% of the 99%: women?!

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