South Africa to prosecute strikers targeted by police massacre at Marikana

Alex Lantier

In an act of naked class justice, the South African National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is laying bogus murder charges against 270 striking Marikana miners after police massacred 34 of their fellow strikers on August 16.

The African National Congress (ANC) government does not contest that it was police who murdered the 34 striking miners who died that day. However, none of the policemen who committed the murders, or the high-level government officials such as Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega under whose instructions they were acting, are in custody. Instead, prosecutors are charging and detaining the strikers who somehow survived the police’s murderous onslaught.

Indeed, 6 of the 270 miners charged could not attend the court hearing because they are still hospitalized with wounds from police fire. The 264 other strikers appeared at the Ga Rankunwa magistrates court, where their application for bail was rejected and their hearing was adjourned for seven days.

At least 150 of the detained strikers have already filed claims with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate complaining that they have been assaulted and tortured by police officers while in detention.

The 270 strikers charged with murder also face 78 charges of attempted murder, one for each one of their fellow strikers who was wounded but not killed by police fire.

Romney outlines right-wing agenda in acceptance speech

Joseph Kishore

Mitt Romney officially accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president on Thursday evening, in a speech before the national convention in Tampa, Florida. The speech concluded a three-day convention during which the Republicans put on display the right-wing program upon which they are campaigning.

The Republican platform is significant not simply for what it says about the party—a deeply reactionary organization—but the entire American political system. Amid the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the ruling class, represented by both big business parties, is moving to escalate attacks on the working class.

In terms of policy, the main focus of the Republican campaign is the “economy”—i.e., demands for further corporate deregulation, the elimination of all constraints on profit-making, and the dismantling of Medicare and other social programs to further enrich the financial aristocracy. The Obama administration has pursued these policies over the past four years, and the Republicans are working to shift the political debate even further to the right.

Romney, a former CEO of an asset-stripping firm with a personal fortune of some $200 million, cynically expressed his concern for high levels of unemployment, declining wages, and record poverty. This comes from a candidate who personifies Wall Street speculation and is on record declaring that he is not concerned about poor people!

Where Do We Go Next?

Philip Giraldi

Rep. Ron Paul did not get a speaking slot at the GOP convention.

It was perhaps inevitable that the GOP would turn on the Ron Paul supporters to eliminate them from their version of a body politic. I predicted it would take place and so did a number of others. But what has been surprising is the timing. It seemed reasonable to assume that the Republican gatekeepers would wait until after the convention or even the election to keep the Paulistas in harness and supportive, nurturing their faint hopes that their message would somehow have an impact, encouraging them to vote for Mitt Romney. But the Republican Party leadership decided instead to purge Paul supporters at both the state and local level and also on the convention floor. As Justin Raimondo has noted, a harrowing worthy of Josef Stalin took place in a number of states employing procedural ploys, stripping delegates of their accreditation, and even illegal closing of caucuses, which denied to Ron Paul’s supporters any ability to have significant impact at the convention. The deal was sealed when the GOP rules committee revised its convention guidelines, initially to make it impossible to cast dissident votes or to propose nominations from the floor, and subsequently to allow the national party to veto and replace state delegates. As one Associate Press report put it somewhat laconically in an early report on convention preparations “Republican officials have reduced the ranks of Paul delegates.” Jordan Bloom, who attended the Paul events in Tampa, reported that Paul’s supporters were angry and frustrated, many having experienced political corruption up close and personal for the first time. One friend of mine on Capitol Hill likened the caucus deals finally arrived at in various states to having a burglar steal everything you own and then return a couple of days later to give you half back if you do not complain. That’s what happened. The Paul supporters were outgunned and out-muscled and, led by a campaign team that wanted accommodation, wound up taking what they could get.

Judge blaming Rachel Corrie for her own death highlights Israel’s impunity, family says

Jillian Kestler-D'Amours

The Haifa District court ruled earlier today that the Israeli military is not responsible for killing American activist Rachel Corrie, and that Corrie was to blame for her own death.

“Even when she saw the mount of earth moving towards her, she did not move away. The accident was caused by the deceased,” said Israeli Judge Oded Gershon, as he read out a summary of the 62-page ruling in front of a packed courthouse and with Rachel’s mother Cindy, father Craig and sister Sarah sitting in the front row.

Rachel’s death, Gershon said, “was not due to negligence of the state or any of its actors. The state did not violate the right of the deceased [Rachel Corrie] to life.”

Twenty-three-year-old American activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli army bulldozer in March 2003. At the time of her death, she was trying to prevent Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes in the Gaza border town of Rafah.

“There is no basis for the claim that the bulldozer hit her intentionally. It was a very unfortunate accident. I am confident the operator wouldn’t have continued if he saw her. This was an accident,” Gershon said, adding “the state is not responsible for damages in actions [that occur] in combat operations.”

Rachel Corrie and the Kosher Legal Stamp

Gilad Atzmon

Judge Oded Gershon’s ruling earlier this week that the state of Israel is not to blame for the death of Rachel Corrie, came as no surprise. In fact it reaffirms everything we know about the Jewish state - its politics, legal system and spirit. Israel is surely a most peculiar state - it is impervious to ethical thinking and humanist thought. Accordingly, Judge Gershon gave this week a kosher stamp to a cold-blooded murder and by so doing, he proved, once again, that Israeli criminal actions are consistent with the most vile interpretations of Old Testament and Talmudic Goy-hating.

As one would predict, Judge Gershon, restricted himself to legalism and litigation as opposed to ethical thinking - he actually blamed Corrie for not ‘behaving reasonably’. Yet, one may wonder what is this ‘reason’ or more precisely, what does an Israeli mean when he or she refers to ‘reason’.

Rachel Corrie was bulldozed to death by an Israeli military D9 Caterpillar on 16 March 2003. She was part of ISM (International Solidarity Movement), a non-violent pro-Palestinian peace activist group. Being an American youngster, Corrie mistakenly believed that Israeli soldiers were humanely driven. Being a reasonable person she must have believed that an Israeli bulldozer driver would never drive over her body. She was wrong. Corrie clearly failed to grasp that Israeli ‘reasoning’ was lethally fuelled by psychosis and fantasies of destruction.

Iran NAM summit sends message of peace

Finian Cunnigham

General view of the opening of the15th Foreign Ministerial Con-
ference of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran.

’When the Cold War between the US and Soviet superpowers ended 20 years ago, some analysts believed that the Non-Aligned Movement would become redundant, an organization no longer with purpose. Two decades on, the NAM is rising to the occasion with more relevance than ever and is perhaps realising its true moment of merit for the cause of world peace and solidarity.’

When the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement convenes in the Iranian capital this weekend, it promises to be the greatest show on earth - a show of international solidarity and peaceful coexistence - in the face of imperialist aggression and threat of all-out world war.

The 16th summit of the NAM since the organization’s inception in 1961 could hardly come at a more crucial moment in world affairs.

Never before, it seems, have the words of Fidel Castro resonated with such urgency, when the Cuban leader declared at a previous summit in 1979 that the international movement stood for “national independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries” in their “struggle against imperialism and all forms of foreign aggression”.

Fifty-one years after the NAM’s foundation in Belgrade, the world may have survived the spectre of mutually assured destruction of the Cold War. But in the unipolar world that has since emerged - dominated by the United States and its elitist allies - we are witnessing a grotesque rebirth in wars, aggression and, ironically, a renewed threat of nuclear war - the very causes of malevolence that first motivated the formation of the NAM.

On Translating Securityspeak into English

Kevin Carson

One might wonder, reading the American “national security” community’s pronouncements, if they refer to the same world we live in. Things make a little more sense when you realize that the Security State has its own language: Securityspeak. Like Newspeak, the ideologically refashioned successor to English in Orwell’s “1984,” Securityspeak is designed to obscure meaning and conceal truth, rather than convey them. As an example, take these 2010 remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by Ambassador Jaime Daremblum, Senior Fellow and Director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Latin American Studies.

Daremblum, after praising Senators Lugar and Dodd for their promotion of “national security and democracy” in Latin America over the years, warned of the threat of “radical populism, which has taken root in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.” Perhaps most alarmingly, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez has formed an alliance with Iran, “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.” The Nicaraguan government, having “returned to its old ways,” occupies a Costa Rican river island in defiance of an OAS resolution.

Chavez’s alliance with Iran, in particular, is “the biggest threat to hemispheric stability since the Cold War.” The Chavez regime poses a “serious threat to U.S. security interests.”

Wow! Sounds like a lot of bizarro-world gibberish, right? But if we break it down and translate it a bit at a time, we can actually distill some sense from it.

First, we have to remember that in Securityspeak, “democracy” doesn’t mean what it does in English. You probably think of democracy as meaningful control by ordinary people of the decisions that affect their daily lives. The false cognate Securityspeak term “democracy” sounds the same, but can cause great confusion. It actually refers to a society in which the system of power is disguised by the existence of periodic electoral rituals in which the public chooses between a number of candidates, all selected from the same ruling class. These candidates may argue a lot, but it’s all about the 20% or so of secondary issues on which the different factions of the ruling class are divided among themselves. The 80% of primary issues, on which the ruling class agrees — issues that define the basic structure of power — never come up for debate.

US drone attacks escalate inside Pakistan

Peter Symonds

The US is intensifying its drone attacks in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, as the Pakistani army prepares a major military operation against Islamist militants in North Waziristan.

The latest attack on Friday involved missile strikes from CIA-controlled drones on three separate locations in North Waziristan. According to unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials, 18 “suspected militants” were killed. As in previous attacks, most casualties would undoubtedly have been civilians, including women and children.

The Associated Press reported that the strikes came just minutes apart on mud brick compounds located several kilometres from each other in the Shawal Valley. The area is mountainous and heavily forested, and serves as a crossing point into Afghanistan for insurgent groups opposed to the US-led occupation.

Citing local tribesmen, the Pakistani newspaper, The News, reported: “The people who helped retrieve the bodies from the debris of the collapsed buildings said all the bodies had been burnt and torn into pieces. They said the bodies were beyond recognition.” Some 14 injured people were taken to local health facilities, where doctors reported that most were in a critical condition.

The drone attacks, in blatant violation of Pakistani sovereignty, came less than 24 hours after Islamabad had issued a formal protest to an unnamed senior American diplomat over attacks earlier in the week. A Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman described the drone strikes as “illegal and unproductive” during a press briefing last Friday.

Washington simply ignored the protest—the eighth in the 12 months—as the Pakistani government and military give their tacit approval to the drone strikes. The formal protests are a threadbare attempt by the government to placate widespread public anger, especially in the FATA region, over the relentless US attacks.

Israeli Court Legitimizes Murder

Stephen Lendman

Rachel Corrie, 23, stands in front of a Palestinian's home to
prevent it from being demolished.
(Associated Press)

Cindy and Craig Corrie hoped for better. So did sister Sarah. The world knows Israel murdered their daughter, Rachel, in cold blood. On August 28, Israeli justice ruled otherwise.

It is unsurprising in a nation contemptuous of rule of law principles, democratic values, and life itself. Israel is a rogue terror state. It's an out-of-control blight on humanity. It's a regional menace. Racism and persecution are institutionalized. It's unfit to live in for most Jews. For Arabs and supporters of equal rights and justice, it's dangerous.

On March 16, 2003, an Israeli bulldozer soldier/driver murdered Rachel Corrie in cold blood. - Courageously she had tried to stop a lawless Rafah refugee camp home demolition. Eye witnesses said she climbed atop a giant militarized Caterpillar tractor, spoke to the driver, climbed down, knelt 10 - 20 meters in front in clear view, and blocked its path with her body.

Activists screamed for it to stop. The operator ignored them. He deliberately crushed Rachel to death. To be sure, he ran over her twice. He murdered her in cold blood. Israel's government and military supported him. They still do.

The Western Onslaught Against International Law

Paul Craig Roberts

A new film, “Compliance,” examines “the human desire to follow and obey authority.” Liberal institutions, such as the media, universities, federal courts, and human rights organizations, which have traditionally functioned as checks on the blind obedience to authority, have in our day gone over to power’s side. The subversion of these institutions has transformed them from checks on power into servants of power. The result is the transformation of culture from the rule of law to unaccountable authority resting on power maintained by propaganda.

Propaganda is important in the inculcation of trust in authority.The Pussy Riot case shows the power of Washington’s propaganda even inside Russia itself and reveals that Washington’s propaganda has suborned important human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Chatham House, and Amnesty International.

The UN General Assembly: now in the hip pocket of the United States

Wayne Madsen

U.S. and NATO ensure a pro-West UN General Assembly

The permanent members of the UN Security Council have, through the organization’s history, used the virtually powerless General Assembly to push through resolutions when one or more of the veto-wielding member states have blocked them in the Security Council.

In 1950, the United States and its Cold War allies used the passage of the Uniting for Peace resolution in the General Assembly to circumvent a Soviet veto in the Security Council that prevented UN action in Korea to repel the North Korean invasion of South Korea. The General Assembly, by a two-thirds majority, voted in November 1950 to authorize UN action in Korea and, thus supported, two previous UN Security Council resolutions adopted in June and July 1950, that mandated a UN force for Korea to repel the North’s invasion force. The Security Council was able to adopt the two resolutions because the USSR was boycotting the Council over its refusal to seat the People’s Republic of China as a member. In order to put an official UN imprimatur on the allied forces fighting in South Korea, the U.S. pushed through the General Assembly the Uniting for Peace resolution, which authorized military action under the earlier Security Council resolutions, even after the USSR had resumed its seat in the Security Council.

When the General Assembly took up the Korea military authorization, it was too late for the Soviets. The USSR, along with the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic and Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic – two Soviet republics that had their own UN membership -- as well as Czechoslovakia and Poland, voted against the Uniting for Peace resolution in the Assembly. India and Argentina abstained in the lopsided 52-5-2 vote.

Palestinians Living in Firing Zones

Stephen Lendman

Life in Occupied Palestine is hard enough. Imagine how much worse in firing zones. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA):

Palestinians inspect damage in a poultry farm after an Israeli air
strike in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip. Food was already
scarce because of the immoral & illegal blockade of Gaza.

(1) Israel designated about 18% of West Bank land closed military zones, aka firing zones. It's one among other ways Israel steals land.
(2) About 5,000 Palestinians in 38 communities are affected. Most are Bedouins. Land they've lived on for generations was theirs in peace until 1948. Everything changed when Israel began stealing it. It's now used for military and other purposes.
(3) Over 80% of affected communities are in the Jordan Valley and Dead Sea area. It's called South Hebron Hills.
(4) Over 90% of these communities are water scarce. Residents access less than 60 liters per capita daily. Over half of them get less than 30 liters per day. The World Health Organization's (WHO) minimum recommended amount is 100 liters.
(5) Oslo divided the West Bank into three parts. They include Areas A, B and C. A fourth for Greater Jerusalem.

Palestinians control Area A for internal security, public order, and civil affairs. The PA maintains civil control over Area B. It includes 450 towns and villages. Israel retains overriding authority for settler safety and its own interests throughout the Territories. It controls Area C entirely. It comprises over 60% of West Bank land. It includes its valuable water resources. Israel considers it sovereign territory.

Land theft is official policy. Israel's been stealing it for decades. It wants all valued Judea and Samaria areas. Palestinians are consigned for scrublands unfit to live on. Food insecurity in Area C is 24%. For Bedouins, it's 34%. Many live in firing zones. At issue is for how long. Stealing it destroys generations of normal life.

Wage cuts hit millions of US workers

Patrick Martin

Laid-Off Factory Workers Occupy Chicago
(Credit: Luis Moreno Photostream)

Once the election is safely over, the two parties can drop their populist phrases and their pretense of intransigent hostility and get down to business.

According to a report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, released Friday, millions of American workers who lost their jobs after the Wall Street crash of 2008 have failed to find work, while millions more have gone back to work only after taking substantial wage cuts.

According to the BLS, some 12.9 million workers were displaced from their jobs between January 2009 and December 2011. The BLS study focused on those who had lost jobs they had held for at least three years, who comprised just under half the total, some 6.1 million workers.

Of these 6.1 million workers, 27 percent were still unemployed but looking for work, while 17 percent have stopped looking for work, effectively dropping out of the labor force. Of the 56 percent who had found new jobs, slightly more than half took jobs that paid less than their old jobs. For those who took new jobs with pay cuts, the majority lost 20 percent or more compared to their previous wages, on top of the loss of earnings due to part-time work or reduced overtime.

All told, only 1.1 million out of the 6.1 million workers had been rehired at full-time jobs paying as much or more as they earned before the crash. In other words, of the workers hit hardest by the slump, barely 15 percent have been able to regain a position comparable to what they lost.

There is the starkest contrast between these figures, which give a glimpse of the mass suffering and hardship in the working class, and the conditions facing corporate America, where most large companies are enjoying bumper profits, stock prices are back to the levels before the crash, and CEO salaries and perks have broken all records.

By the rich, and for the rich: The Fifty Wealthiest Members of Congress

Eric London

The lives of these members of Congress compare starkly with the realities that their constituents face on a day-to-day basis.

Last week’s report by Washington, D.C. political blog The Hill details the vast wealth of the nation’s legislative representatives and serves as an indictment of the anti-democratic nature of the American political system. The “50 Wealthiest Lawmakers” list shows that dozens of congressional politicians have amassed huge fortunes while simultaneously slashing the wages, benefits and social services of the American people.

In other words, not only are these members of Congress overseeing a massive transfer of wealth from the working class to the ruling class; they are also profiting from this transfer.

The report reveals the bipartisan composition of the extremely wealthy in congress. Seven of the top 10 richest members of congress are Democrats; overall, Republicans make up 60 percent of the list.

According to The Hill, 17 members of Congress have amassed fortunes of over $20 million, and a total of 35 members of Congress have a net worth valued at over $10 million.

These numbers are slightly skewed compared with past surveys. Due to the passage of the STOCK Act, members of Congress now are legally required to report mortgages as liabilities. The STOCK Act was passed after revelations were made regarding banks giving members of Congress and their staffs “friendly” deals on their personal mortgages in return for favorable legislation.

The list also sheds light on the nature of wealth accumulation amongst the super-rich in America. Among the elite today, wealth accumulation has less to do with productive work than it does with parasitism, inheritance, and family ties.

The pursuit of Julian Assange is an assault on freedom and a mockery of journalism

John Pilger

Four years ago, a barely noticed Pentagon document, leaked by WikiLeaks, described how WikiLeaks and Assange would be destroyed with a smear campaign leading to "criminal prosecution".

The British government's threat to invade the Ecuadorean embassy in London and seize Julian Assange is of historic significance. David Cameron, the former PR man to a television industry huckster and arms salesman to sheikdoms, is well placed to dishonour international conventions that have protected Britons in places of upheaval. Just as Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq led directly to the acts of terrorismin London on 7 July 2005, so Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague have compromised the safety of British representatives across the world.

Threatening to abuse a law designed to expel murderers from foreign embassies, while defaming an innocent man as an "alleged criminal", Hague has made a laughing stock of Britain across the world, though this view is mostly suppressed in Britain. The same brave newspapers and broadcasters that have supported Britain's part in epic bloody crimes, from the genocide in Indonesia to the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, now attack the "human rights record" of Ecuador, whose real crime is to stand up to the bullies in London and Washington.

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