Commemorating Palestinian Land Day in Jordan

Tighe Barry

On March 30, 2012, hundreds of demonstrations took place across the globe in commemoration of Palestinian Land Day. This important day in the history of the Palestinian people is a sorrowful reminder of the six Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces in 1976 while protesting the continued confiscation of their land.

Generation after generation, Palestinians continue to call for an end to the brutal Israeli military occupation and the right to return to their lands. The continued ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Jerusalem has resulted in a massive outcry and demonstrations worldwide.

Today people from around the world came together in a massive orchestrated effort known as the Global March to Jerusalem (GM2J), timed to coincide with Land Day. Marches took place in Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Korea, all over the United States, and in many more locations. A peaceful movement, the Global March to Jerusalem is a people-powered action designed to assert the importance of Jerusalem politically, culturally, and religiously to the Palestinian people and humanity as a whole.

I had the privilege of participating in one of those protests in Amman, Jordan.This issue is of particular concern in Jordan because it has the world's largest concentration of Palestinian refugees. Nearly 65 percent of the country's population are of Palestinian origin.

Throughout the day, throngs of Jordanian Palestinians were joined by tens of thousands of Jordanian supporters, as well as those from around the world. Many came from as far away as Malaysia, Indonesia, Canada, Europe and the United States. We all came together, tens of thousands, on a dusty plain on the furthest end of the Jordan Valley overlooking occupied Palestine. We were a sea of peaceful protesters calling for a free Jerusalem for all and for a return of stolen Palestinian land.

Imagining the Unthinkable

Stephen Lendman

The combination of America's rage for war, its nuclear arsenal, and global delivery systems makes the unthinkable possible - nuclear war.

On March 27, David Krieger and Daniel Ellsberg raised the possibility in their Christian Science Monitor article headlined, "For nuclear security beyond Seoul, eradicate land-based 'doomsday' missiles," saying:

"America's 450 launch-ready land-based nuclear-armed ballistic missiles are the opposite of a deterrent to attack. In fact, their very deployment has the potential to launch World War III and precipitate human extinction – as a result of a false alarm. We’re not exaggerating."

Indeed not. For decades, the threat's been real. Post-9/11, it's more than ever possible. Hundreds of ICBMs target Russia, China, and likely other countries like Iran. Launching them threatens humanity.

Leaders considering the possibility are deranged. Once heading for targets, it's too late. Presidents often rehearsed it.

In 1962, the Cuban missile crisis nearly brought nuclear war. An October 2002 Havana US/Russia/Cuba summit disclosed the close call for the first time.

Devastation was avoided because Soviet submarine captain Vasily Arkhipov countermanded an order to fire nuclear torpedos when US destroyers attacked Russian submarines near Kennedy's "quarantine" line. Had he obeyed, vast destruction or possible nuclear winter might have resulted.

Nuclear expert Graham Allison sees parallels between Iran today and Cuba then. Despite no threats then and now, heightened tensions risk potentially devastating conflict. When politics and heated rhetoric spin out of control, anything's possible, including nuclear war.

In 1995, Boris Yeltsin nearly launched missiles. He thought a US one targeted Russia. His fear turned out to be a Norwegian weather sounding rocket. Disaster was narrowly averted.


Ghada Karmi

On March 30th a ground-breaking event will take place. I had not expected it would ever happen when I first heard about it. While teaching at the Summer University of Palestine last July in Beirut, I met a group of Indian Muslims taking the course. They told me they were organising a people’s march to Jerusalem to bring to the world’s attention to Israel’s assault on the city’s history and culture, and its impending loss as a centre for Islam and Christianity. They explained how they and their friends would set out from India, drawing in others to join them as they passed through the various countries on their way overland to Israel’s borders.

They seemed fired up and determined, and I could not but admire their zeal and dedication to try and rescue this orphan city which has been abandoned by all who should have defended her. But I thought their ambitions would be thwarted by the harsh reality of trying to implement their dreams. It would never succeed, I thought, but I was quite wrong. The movement they and their fellow activists spearheaded, called the Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ), is now in its final stages. A distinguished group of 400 advisers, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nobel Laureate, Mairead Maguire, are promoting the GMJ. The marchers will head for Jerusalem or the nearest point possible on March 30th.

This date also commemorates Land Day, a significant anniversary for Palestinians. On that day in 1976 six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces. They had participated in a peaceable general strike to protest against Israeli confiscations of privately owned Palestinian land, and paid with their lives for this act of non-violent resistance. Since then this tragic event has been commemorated annually by Palestinians everywhere. Today, it is a fitting reminder of Israel’s other confiscation of Jerusalem’s land, ongoing since 1967.

Israel’s By-Pass US Foreign Policy

Wayne Madsen

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu with Sen. Brown, Ohio.

The right-wing government of Israel has embarked on a novel foreign policy, one that seeks to develop close relations with sub-national state and provincial governments, thus by-passing national governments and avoiding the increasing hostility of national foreign ministries and local grass roots movements to Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

The establishment of state-to-state relations between Israel and such sub-national governments as American states, Canadian provinces, and even Native American tribal nations has increased under the ultra-nationalist Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The new aggressive policy by Israel to seek allies at sub-national levels results in internal pressure on national governments to take a less critical approach to Israeli policies on the West Bank and Gaza.

Israel has developed a number of “formal partnership agreements” with American states. These agreements cover a number of areas, including economic and business relations, cultural ties, exchange trips by American state and Israeli government officials, technology exchange and research, and education. With some local jurisdictions and university and college campuses advancing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) initiatives against Israel, the Israeli government is confident that any attempts to take such proposals to the state level will be stopped dead in their tracks.

Virginia is one example of a state that has established a number of formal agreements with Israel. A number of joint operations have been created, including the Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB), the Virginia Israel Partnership – created by Governor George Allen in 1995, and the Virginia Israel Technology Alliance. In September 2008, Virginia and Israel established a formal government-to-government partnership agreement when Governor Tim Kaine and Israeli ambassador Sallai Meridor signed a formal research and development agreement between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Israel. The agreement, like many between Israel and the states, includes military and security technology exchange. The important factor is that the agreement was signed between Richmond and Jerusalem, by-passing the U.S. Department of State, the federal department that has overall authority over the foreign relations of the United States and other nations.

US House of Representatives approves plan to destroy Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps

Patrick Martin

This will be presented to the American people, either by President Obama or his Republican successor, as a measure providing “equal sacrifice” or “shared responsibility” for the fiscal crisis of the federal government.

The US House of Representatives has adopted a budget resolution that calls for privatization of Medicare and the elimination of Medicaid, food stamps and many other federal entitlement benefits. The resolution is part of a bipartisan campaign to slash spending on social programs.

All but ten of the Republican majority in the House backed the resolution—and those ten wanted even bigger cuts. All Democrats voted against the resolution, while offering their own proposals that called for somewhat less drastic cuts in spending and token tax increases on the wealthy.

Not a single resolution was offered that called for increasing spending to meet social needs as the American economy staggers through a fifth year of economic slump and mass unemployment.

The budget was drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who last year offered the first-ever proposal for the complete abolition of Medicare. It passed the House but not the Senate.

This year’s resolution was even more sweeping and reactionary. It calls for $5.3 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Part of the savings would be used to reduce the federal deficit, but the bulk of them would go to reward the wealthy with new tax breaks, including abolition of the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax, making the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, and lowering the top income tax rate from the present 35 percent to 25 percent.

The major spending cuts in the budget resolution are focused on programs for the poor and the lower-paid sections of the working class. According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 62 percent of the $5.3 trillion in spending cuts come from “programs that serve people of limited means.” If implemented, the cuts would drastically increase income inequality and poverty.

Good Night, America, and Good-Bye

Philip Giraldi

It is interesting to note just how well this imperialism thing has worked for the American people. At the end of last year the U.S. was kicked out of Iraq after spending some trillions of dollars and producing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans. Al-Qaeda, which was not present in Iraq when the U.S. arrived, has lately been responsible for bomb attacks that have killed hundreds of Iraqis, mostly civilians. As a result of the ham-handed American intervention, Iraq’s closest friend now is not the U.S. It is Iran.

Appalled by the excesses of the U.S. military, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has followed suit, initially demanding that the U.S. restrict its soldiers to their bases, a move that would mean that the American presence in Afghanistan could well end in short order after the loss of another trillion dollars and the deaths of some tens of thousands of coalition soldiers and Afghan civilians. Even if Karzai accepts a continued U.S. presence that is more managed by his own “sovereign” government, the writing is on the wall, and all that is needed is a firm departure date. Oh, and the Taliban will definitely be coming back in one form or another.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Pakistan, the parliament is debating ending all cooperation with the United States because of the continuing drone campaign, which, true to pattern, kills mostly civilians. Pakistan is nuclear-armed and actually has real terrorists roaming its tribal regions. The departure of Pakistan from the game enables the manifest waste of the past 11 years to become completely clear, with Washington leaving Central Asia in far worse shape than it was when the U.S. Army and the CIA arrived.

How can a great nation with vast intelligence and diplomatic resources be so tone deaf and absolutely clueless?

Legislating Greater Wall Street Theft

Stephen Lendman

Political Washington is Wall Street's best friend. Whatever crooked bankers want they get. Their business model features grand theft. Wealth’s amassed through fraudulent double-dealing.

Lawmakers facilitate their racketeering. They're rewarded in kind. Only fleeced households, investors, communities and nations lose out.

Their dirty game continues unobstructed. New legislation enhances what's on the books. Another bill will become law when Obama signs it. Wall Street's again celebrating, and why not. Business is better than ever, courtesy of complicit lawmakers.

At issue is the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (the JOBS Act). On March 8, the House passed it overwhelmingly 390 - 23. On March 22, Senate followed 73 - 26. Doing what he does best, Obama will sign it into law. He'll again betray America's 99% in the process.

When everything comes up roses for Wall Street, ordinary people get scammed. It's the same every time like loaded dice let the house win.

Former bank regulator/financial fraud expert Bill Black explained what's at stake in his article headlined, " ‘The only winning move is not to play’ - the insanity of the regulatory race to the bottom.”

He called the imminent JOBS Act passage reminiscent of the "worst anti-regulatory travesties in the financial sphere (that) had broad, bipartisan support." Don't they all, especially in recent decades.

Obama administration expands illegal surveillance of Americans

Tom Carter

NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland (Wikipedia)

These unprecedented attacks on democratic rights, in which the entire political establishment and both Democrats and Republicans are participating, must be understood as preemptive preparations by the political establishment to meet the coming social upheavals with police state measures.

Last Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder enacted guidelines that further expand the US government’s asserted powers to collect and store private information, without a warrant, concerning individuals who are not suspected of any crime.

The guidelines constitute a further step by the Obama administration to expand and entrench unconstitutional spying operations on the American people by all levels of government that were spearheaded by the Bush administration.

In the period since September 11, 2001, the US government has secretly compiled vast databases containing private information on the American public. These databases include telephone conversations, the contents of personal emails, visited web sites, Google searches, text messages, credit card transactions, mobile phone GPS location data, travel itineraries, Facebook activity, medical records, traffic tickets, surveillance camera footage and online purchases. The vast quantities of information that are being collected and stored by the US government far exceed what was gathered by the most infamous police states of the last century.

Holder’s guidelines permit intelligence officials to secretly use these databases to profile and track Americans who have no connection to terrorism—alleged or otherwise—for up to five years. The previous guidelines, issued in 2008 by Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey, were understood to limit the retention of such information to 180 days.

According to an article Friday in the New York Times, the new guidelines are expected to result in increased collection and “data mining” of information on ordinary Americans by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).

The Electronic Privacy Information Center issued a brief statement denouncing the guidelines: “The change represents a dramatic expansion of government surveillance and appears to violate the Privacy Act of 1974, which limits data exchanges across federal agencies and establishes legal rights for US citizens.”

The No-Fault March to War

Philip Giraldi

Think about it for a minute. People who passionately want the United States to go to war should have to accept that there will be consequences for themselves personally. This is why the U.S. Constitution mandated that only Congress could vote to go to war, denying the authority to do so to the office of the president.

That was because Congress was considered to be the house of the people, while the country’s chief executive was more analogous to a monarch. Only the people could make the decision to go to war, and the entire nation would henceforth bear the consequences of that action, both in terms of providing the soldiers and sailors to do the fighting and paying the costs of the conflict.

Today’s American elite apparently sees things very differently. Mitt Romney wants to go to war to disarm Iran and even favors increasing the size of the Army and Navy to face the many threats that he perceives lurking to bring our republic down. Rick Santorum also wants war against the mullahs, as does Newt Gingrich, who is being bankrolled by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a man who openly puts Israel’s interests ahead of those of his own country. It does not matter whether these candidates for president are being honest in their opinions or are complete hypocrites. Whether they are arguing for conflict because they want to be on the good side of Israel or for no good reason at all, the bottom line is that they have absolutely nothing at stake if they should become president and start a war. None of the three has personally served in the U.S. military, and, even though they have 14 children among them, not one of their offspring has ever entered the armed forces. All three men are also multi-millionaires, Romney many times over, but all are on record as being against new taxes, even to pay for the wars that they are advocating.

Fragging in Afghanistan?

Stephen Lendman

If it's happening, it's not reported. Washington wants no mention or suggestion of what plagued Vietnam. More on that below.

Writing about the Russian Revolution, Leon Trotsky said:

"The moral condition of the army was hopeless. You might describe it by saying the army as an army no longer existed. Defeats, retreats, and the rottenness of the ruling class had utterly undermined the troops."

War in Vietnam affected US soldiers that way. Until 1967, order was well maintained. After Tet in late January/February 1968, things changed. Mutinies forced the Pentagon to disguise them with language like "combat refusal."

Soldiers disobeyed orders. Most were search and destroy missions. They were put in harms way against formidable enemies. At times, entire companies defied commanders. As fear of punishment faded, incidents mushroomed. So did fragging.

Wikipedia calls "attacking a superior officer in one's chain of command" with intent to kill. Fragmentation grenades were usually used. Hence, the term fragging. No fingerprints were left behind.

As frustration and anger grew, so did fragging incidents. They became the price extracted for being ordered in harm's way against enemies refusing to quit.

After Tet, they became widespread. At least 800 incidents occurred, perhaps 1,000 or more. Precise numbers are unknown because army officials stopped counting. Judge Advocate General Corp officers believe only 10% of attempts were reported. Other estimates suggested they occurred at five times official figures. Officers shot by their men were excluded. They were listed as wounded or killed in action.

Army officials admitted they couldn't account for over 1,400 officer and noncom deaths. Perhaps as many as one-fourth occurred at the hands of subordinates. The Army was at war with itself. It was unprecedented, but didn't reflect revenge. It was about opposing search and destroy missions. Soldiers wanted them ended. Refusal had its price.

Record opposition to Afghanistan war as killings mount

Bill Van Auken

An opinion poll released Monday shows nearly seven out of 10 Americans opposing the war in Afghanistan, a record level of antiwar sentiment since the US invaded the country over a decade ago.

This new indication of rising hostility to the war came as the US-led occupation forces faced a new string of attacks by Afghan government security forces that have called into serious question Washington’s strategy for a sustained military presence in the country.

Conducted by the New York Times and CBS News, the poll reflected the growth in popular revulsion toward the war in the wake of the horrific March 11 massacre of 17 Afghan civilians, most of them women and children, in Kandahar province. The Pentagon has claimed that this slaughter was the work of one “rogue” soldier, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Afghan villagers, however, have insisted that a number of US troops were involved in what they saw as a particularly brutal special forces “night raid” of the kind carried out across Afghanistan.

Sixty-nine percent of those responding to the poll said that US troops should not be in Afghanistan, with only 23 percent agreeing that the US government is doing the right thing by continuing the fighting there. That is the lowest level of support for the war ever recorded and is down from 36 percent last November.

These numbers indicate that public opposition to the war in Afghanistan is now higher than opposition to the Iraq war at the height of hostility to the Bush administration’s policies there.

The Criminal Class in Washington is Bipartisan

Stephen Lendman

If wanting better futures and imperial wars stopped aren't worth fighting for, what is? If not now, when? If not us, who? If that's not important enough, what is?

Inside the Beltway, it's evident daily. The political news website Capitol Hill Blue says "Nobody's life, liberty or property is safe while Congress is in session or the White House is occupied."

Electoral politics also highlights its clear and present danger. It involves rogue politicians competing to be part of Washington's corrupted duopoly run system - especially the top job as president.

Both sides support corporate interests, imperial wars, and the divine right of capital to exploit workers, plunder resources, control markets, and rule unchallenged. Beneficial social change, independent voices, and electoral democracy lose out under a rigged system against them.

Democracy in America's sheer fantasy. Money power controls everything. Candidates are pre-selected. Privatized elections assure corporate favorites win. Democrats are interchangeable with Republicans. Differences between them are minor, and none whatever on what matters most.

Washington Admits Aiding Syrian Opposition

Stephen Lendman

"Nonlethal" Aid? How do we know Ms. Hillary Clinton
is lying? - Her lips are moving, that's how.

On March 25, The New York Times headlined, "US and Turkey to Step Up 'Nonlethal' Aid to Rebels in Turkey," saying:

Other US allies were urged to do the same. Insisting no weapons will be sent belies heavy Western and Israeli ones delivered through porous borders for months.

They include powerful explosives, small arms, submachine guns, machine guns, sniper rifles, rocket and anti-tank grenade launchers, among others. They've been used to kill civilians and security forces, as well as destroy government facilities.

Russia repeatedly denounces Washington's one-sided support while claiming peaceful resolution intentions. Obama says aiding Assad's opposition furthers transitioning to a "legitimate government."

In other words, he wants independent Syria replaced by a client state America controls. Then on to the next target for the same purpose - Iran.

Reports indicate Toulouse gunman was French intelligence asset

Alex Lantier

Press reports and comments by top intelligence officials suggest that Mohamed Merah, the alleged gunman who killed seven people including three Jewish schoolchildren in a nine-day shooting spree in Toulouse, was a French intelligence asset.

These revelations raise questions about French intelligence’s failure to stop Merah, and whether this failure was dictated by political considerations. The investigation of Merah was led by the Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI), run by Bernard Squarcini—a close associate of incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, previously running far behind Socialist Party (PS) candidate François Hollande in next month’s presidential elections, has benefited from massive media coverage after the attacks and now is catching up to Hollande in polls.

In a March 23 Le Monde interview, Squarcini had confirmed that Merah had traveled extensively in the Middle East, even though his legal earnings were roughly at the minimum wage: “He spent time with his brother in Cairo after having traveled in the Near East: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and even Israel. … Then he went to Afghanistan via Tajikistan. He took unusual routes and did not appear on our radars, nor those of French, American, or local foreign intelligence services.”

Squarcini apparently aimed to bolster the official explanation for Merah’s ability to escape police: he was an undetectable “self-radicalized lone wolf.” This story is being shattered by revelations that French intelligence agencies were apparently in close contact with Merah, trying to develop him as an informant inside Islamist networks.

Empires Then and Now

Paul Craig Roberts

Great empires, such as the Roman and British, were extractive. The empires succeeded, because the value of the resources and wealth extracted from conquered lands exceeded the value of conquest and governance. The reason Rome did not extend its empire east into Germany was not the military prowess of Germanic tribes but Rome’s calculation that the cost of conquest exceeded the value of extractable resources.

The Roman empire failed, because Romans exhausted manpower and resources in civil wars fighting amongst themselves for power. The British empire failed, because the British exhausted themselves fighting Germany in two world wars.

In his book, The Rule of Empires (2010), Timothy H. Parsons replaces the myth of the civilizing empire with the truth of the extractive empire. He describes the successes of the Romans, the Umayyad Caliphate, the Spanish in Peru, Napoleon in Italy, and the British in India and Kenya in extracting resources. To lower the cost of governing Kenya, the British instigated tribal consciousness and invented tribal customs that worked to British advantage.

Parsons does not examine the American empire, but in his introduction to the book he wonders whether America’s empire is really an empire as the Americans don’t seem to get any extractive benefits from it. After eight years of war and attempted occupation of Iraq, all Washington has for its efforts is several trillion dollars of additional debt and no Iraqi oil. After ten years of trillion dollar struggle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Washington has nothing to show for it except possibly some part of the drug trade that can be used to fund covert CIA operations.

America’s wars are very expensive. Bush and Obama have doubled the national debt, and the American people have no benefits from it. No riches, no bread and circuses flow to Americans from Washington’s wars. So what is it all about?

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