November 28, 2009

Climate change: the worst scientific scandal of our generation

Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash

By Christopher Booker
The Telegraph
November 28, 2009

A week after my colleague James Delingpole, on his Telegraph blog, coined the term "Climategate" to describe the scandal revealed by the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, Google was showing that the word now appears across the internet more than nine million times. But in all these acres of electronic coverage, one hugely relevant point about these thousands of documents has largely been missed.

The reason why even the Guardian's George Monbiot has expressed total shock and dismay at the picture revealed by the documents is that their authors are not just any old bunch of academics. Their importance cannot be overestimated, What we are looking at here is the small group of scientists who have for years been more influential in driving the worldwide alarm over global warming than any others, not least through the role they play at the heart of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Professor Philip Jones, the CRU's director, is in charge of the two key sets of data used by the IPCC to draw up its reports. Through its link to the Hadley Centre, part of the UK Met Office, which selects most of the IPCC's key scientific contributors, his global temperature record is the most important of the four sets of temperature data on which the IPCC and governments rely – not least for their predictions that the world will warm to catastrophic levels unless trillions of dollars are spent to avert it.

Dr Jones is also a key part of the closely knit group of American and British scientists responsible for promoting that picture of world temperatures conveyed by Michael Mann's "hockey stick" graph which 10 years ago turned climate history on its head by showing that, after 1,000 years of decline, global temperatures have recently shot up to their highest level in recorded history.

Given star billing by the IPCC, not least for the way it appeared to eliminate the long-accepted Mediaeval Warm Period when temperatures were higher they are today, the graph became the central icon of the entire man-made global warming movement.

Since 2003, however, when the statistical methods used to create the "hockey stick" were first exposed as fundamentally flawed by an expert Canadian statistician Steve McIntyre, an increasingly heated battle has been raging between Mann's supporters, calling themselves "the Hockey Team", and McIntyre and his own allies, as they have ever more devastatingly called into question the entire statistical basis on which the IPCC and CRU construct their case.

The senders and recipients of the leaked CRU emails constitute a cast list of the IPCC's scientific elite, including not just the "Hockey Team", such as Dr Mann himself, Dr Jones and his CRU colleague Keith Briffa, but Ben Santer, responsible for a highly controversial rewriting of key passages in the IPCC's 1995 report; Kevin Trenberth, who similarly controversially pushed the IPCC into scaremongering over hurricane activity; and Gavin Schmidt, right-hand man to Al Gore's ally Dr James Hansen, whose own GISS record of surface temperature data is second in importance only to that of the CRU itself.

There are three threads in particular in the leaked documents which have sent a shock wave through informed observers across the world. Perhaps the most obvious, as lucidly put together by Willis Eschenbach (see McIntyre's blog Climate Audit and Anthony Watt's blog Watts Up With That), is the highly disturbing series of emails which show how Dr Jones and his colleagues have for years been discussing the devious tactics whereby they could avoid releasing their data to outsiders under freedom of information laws.

They have come up with every possible excuse for concealing the background data on which their findings and temperature records were based.

This in itself has become a major scandal, not least Dr Jones's refusal to release the basic data from which the CRU derives its hugely influential temperature record, which culminated last summer in his startling claim that much of the data from all over the world had simply got "lost". Most incriminating of all are the emails in which scientists are advised to delete large chunks of data, which, when this is done after receipt of a freedom of information request, is a criminal offence.

But the question which inevitably arises from this systematic refusal to release their data is – what is it that these scientists seem so anxious to hide? The second and most shocking revelation of the leaked documents is how they show the scientists trying to manipulate data through their tortuous computer programmes, always to point in only the one desired direction – to lower past temperatures and to "adjust" recent temperatures upwards, in order to convey the impression of an accelerated warming. This comes up so often (not least in the documents relating to computer data in the Harry Read Me file) that it becomes the most disturbing single element of the entire story. This is what Mr McIntyre caught Dr Hansen doing with his GISS temperature record last year (after which Hansen was forced to revise his record), and two further shocking examples have now come to light from Australia and New Zealand.

In each of these countries it has been possible for local scientists to compare the official temperature record with the original data on which it was supposedly based. In each case it is clear that the same trick has been played – to turn an essentially flat temperature chart into a graph which shows temperatures steadily rising. And in each case this manipulation was carried out under the influence of the CRU.

What is tragically evident from the Harry Read Me file is the picture it gives of the CRU scientists hopelessly at sea with the complex computer programmes they had devised to contort their data in the approved direction, more than once expressing their own desperation at how difficult it was to get the desired results.

The third shocking revelation of these documents is the ruthless way in which these academics have been determined to silence any expert questioning of the findings they have arrived at by such dubious methods – not just by refusing to disclose their basic data but by discrediting and freezing out any scientific journal which dares to publish their critics' work. It seems they are prepared to stop at nothing to stifle scientific debate in this way, not least by ensuring that no dissenting research should find its way into the pages of IPCC reports.

Back in 2006, when the eminent US statistician Professor Edward Wegman produced an expert report for the US Congress vindicating Steve McIntyre's demolition of the "hockey stick", he excoriated the way in which this same "tightly knit group" of academics seemed only too keen to collaborate with each other and to "peer review" each other's papers in order to dominate the findings of those IPCC reports on which much of the future of the US and world economy may hang. In light of the latest revelations, it now seems even more evident that these men have been failing to uphold those principles which lie at the heart of genuine scientific enquiry and debate. Already one respected US climate scientist, Dr Eduardo Zorita, has called for Dr Mann and Dr Jones to be barred from any further participation in the IPCC. Even our own George Monbiot, horrified at finding how he has been betrayed by the supposed experts he has been revering and citing for so long, has called for Dr Jones to step down as head of the CRU.

The former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, last week launching his new think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, rightly called for a proper independent inquiry into the maze of skulduggery revealed by the CRU leaks. But the inquiry mooted on Friday, possibly to be chaired by Lord Rees, President of the Royal Society – itself long a shameless propagandist for the warmist cause – is far from being what Lord Lawson had in mind. Our hopelessly compromised scientific establishment cannot be allowed to get away with a whitewash of what has become the greatest scientific scandal of our age.

IAEA Adopts Anti-Iran Resolution

P5+1 Resolution Demands Iran Halt Construction of Qom Facility

by Jason Ditz, November 27, 2009

In a 25-3 vote, the P5+1 (the permanent five members of the UN Security Council plus Germany) succeeded in getting their draft resolution condemning Iran’s civilian nuclear program passed through the IAEA. Every major nation supported the resolution, with Venezuela, Malaysia and Cuba voting against it.

The resolution is a blanket condemnation of the Iranian nuclear program and demands the immediate halt of construction at the Qom enrichment facility. The vote is seen as a first step toward more sanctions against Iran.

The legal basis for the demands are unclear, at best. Iran revealed the Qom facility in September, seemingly in keeping with its requirement to report such sites at least six months before completion. IAEA inspectors visited the site in October and officials say it is nothing to be worried about.

Iran has been enriching uranium for civilian use at its Natanz facility for quite some time, and the smaller, underground site at Qom is according to officials an attempt to safeguard some enrichment capability in the event of international attacks against Natanz, something long threatened by the US and Israel.

The IAEA has repeatedly certified that none of Iran’s uranium is being enriched above the low levels needed for energy production and none of it is being diverted to non-civilian purposes. In spite of this, Western nations have vowed to continue to press for more sanctions against Iran if it does not abandon its program.


A key British official reminds us of the forgotten anthrax attack

November 27, 2009

Britain is currently engulfed by a probing, controversial investigation into how their Government came to support the invasion of Iraq, replete with evidence that much of what was said at the time by both British and American officials was knowingly false, particularly regarding the unequivocal intention of the Bush administration to attack Iraq for months when they were pretending otherwise. Yesterday, the British Ambassador to the U.S. in 2002 and 2003, Sir Christopher Meyer (who favored the war), testified before the investigative tribunal and said this:

Meyer said attitudes towards Iraq were influenced to an extent not appreciated by him at the time by the anthrax scare in the US soon after 9/11. US senators and others were sent anthrax spores in the post, a crime that led to the death of five people, prompting policymakers to claim links to Saddam Hussein. . . .

On 9/11 Condoleezza Rice, then the US national security adviser, told Meyer she was in "no doubt: it was an al-Qaida operation" . . . It seemed that Paul Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld's deputy, argued for retaliation to include Iraq, Meyer said. . . .

But the anthrax scare had "steamed up" policy makers in Bush's administration and helped swing attitudes against Saddam, who the administration believed had been the last person to use anthrax.

I've written many times before about how the anthrax attack played at least as large of a role as the 9/11 attack itself, if not larger, in creating the general climate of fear that prevailed for years in the U.S. and specifically how the anthrax episode was exploited by leading media and political figures to gin up intense hostility towards Iraq (a few others have argued the same). That's why it's so striking how we've collectively flushed this terrorist attack down the memory hole as though it doesn't exist. When Dana Perino boasted this week on Fox News that "we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term," most of the resulting derision focused on the 9/11 attack while ignoring -- as always -- the anthrax attack.

What makes this particularly significant is that the anthrax attack is unresolved and uninvestigated. The FBI claimed last year that it had identified the sole perpetrator, Bruce Ivins, but because Ivins is dead, they never had the opportunity -- or the obligation -- to prove their accusations in any meaningful tribunal. The case against Ivins is so riddled with logical and evidentiary holes that it has generated extreme doubts not merely from typical government skeptics but from the most mainstream, establishment-revering, and ideologically disparate sources. Just consider some of the outlets and individuals who have stated unequivocally that the FBI's case against Ivinis is unpersausive and requires a meaningful investigation: The Washington Post Editorial Page; The New York Times Editorial Page; The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page; the science journal Nature; Senators Pat Leahy, Arlen Specter and Charles Grassley; physicist and Congressman Rush Holt, whose New Jersey district was where the anthrax letters were sent; Dr. Alan Pearson, Director of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Control Program at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; and a vast array of scientific and legal experts in the field.

Here we have one of the most consequential political events of the last decade at least -- a lethal biological terrorist attack aimed at key U.S. Senators and media figures, which even the FBI claims originated from a U.S. military lab. The then-British Ambassador to the U.S. is now testifying what has long been clear: that this episode played a huge role in enabling the attack on Iraq. Even our leading mainstream, establishment-serving media outlets -- and countless bio-weapons experts -- believe that we do not have real answers about who perpetrated this attack and how. And there is little apparent interest in investigating in order to find out. Evidently, this is just another one of those things that we'll relegate to "the irrelevant past," and therefore deem it unworthy of attention from our future-gazing, always-distracted minds.

UPDATE: Marcy Wheeler notes that the FBI has become increasingly defiant towards requests that its claims be reviewed by an independent panel; of course, that couldn't happen unless the White House and Congress permitted it to.

Germany: Afghan Air Strike Brings Down Army Chief & Govt. Minister

Red Bed Head - November 27, 2009 - Toronto, Canada


Canada's role in facilitating the torture of suspects - many of them likely innocent - has become a central public issue here. In Britain the revelation that MI6 supported torture against British citizens in Pakistan has become a major issue. And, now in Germany, where anti-war sentiment is very high, the prosecution of the war is causing deep political damage.

Today the Labour Minister, formerly Defense Minister, Franz Josef Jung was forced to sign his own walking papers after it was revealed by the tabloid Bild that he knew about the killing of numerous civilians resulting from a Kunduz airstrike in September. The German army called in NATO fighters to bomb two fuel tankers that had been seized by the Taliban, even though there were numerous civilians taking advantage of the free fuel being provided to them. Jung had originally stated that he didn't know there were civilians killed but it has since been discovered that he was told on the day that the bombing took place and that he received a top secret video showing that the carnage included children. The German military's chief of staff in Afghanistan has also been a casualty of this cover-up, resigning earlier this week.

Germany, which has 4,250 troops in Afghanistan has faced significant opposition at home to the deployment. This will, hopefully, further weaken the hand of the government to keep its troops there. All of these scandals are simply proof that the occupation of Afghanistan is a criminal operation that involves dehumanizing the locals to the point that bombing civilians, including children, is seen as nothing more than potential bad press that needs to be covered up. Same for torture, as we're seeing so vividly here in Canada. It's time to stop the killing by bringing the troops home.

Afghan teenagers claim abuse at a US prison

Press TV - November 28, 2009 09:09:15 GMT

While US President Barack Obama had promised to put an end to the harsh interrogation methods authorized before by the Bush administration, it is claimed that the practices are continuing at certain US-run prisons.
Two Afghan teenagers held in a prison in northern Kabul say they have been abused by US forces in Afghanistan, The Washington Post has reported.

In an article published on Friday, the newspaper said the Afghan teens had been held in solitary confinement in concrete cells for at least two weeks while undergoing daily interrogation about their alleged links to the Taliban.

The two Afghans said they were beaten by American guards, photographed naked and deprived of sleep during their detention at Bagram airbase.

According to the article, the two teenagers, Issa Mohammad, 17, and Abdul Rashid, (who claimed to be under the age of 16), said they were punched and slapped in the face by American guards during their incarceration.

Obama had promised to put an end to the harsh interrogation methods previously authorized by the Bush administration.

The facility described by the two Afghans appears to be a holding center run by US Special Operations forces on a different part of the Bagram base, the main American-run prison, the paper noted.

Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mark Wright said all prisoners in Afghanistan are treated "humanely" and in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and US law.

"Department of Defense policy is and always has been to treat detainees humanely. There have been well-documented instances in which that policy was not followed, and service members have been held accountable for their actions in those cases," he said.

Jonathan Horowitz, who works on detention issues in Afghanistan for the Open Society Institute, said: "These allegations of physical and mental abuse at a secretive facility are, if true, patently unacceptable and must be investigated."

The Washington Post says there have been different reports about the existence of an interrogation facility at Bagram run by Special Operations forces, but little has been revealed about living conditions or interrogation methods there. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been demanding access to the facility and to the detainees there but thus far, its requests have not been granted.

Settlers storm Palestinian village, attempt to set fire to home

Settlers in the West Bank [MaanImages]
28/11/2009 17:38

Nablus – Ma’an – Fifteen Israeli settlers from the Yitzhar colony near Nablus attempted to set fire to a home in the village of Burin, Palestinian sources said Saturday.

Wearing white prayer shirts marking the Jewish Sabbath the group stormed the home of Ayman Attalla Safwan carrying flame excellents but were confronted by several villagers who tried to prevent their entry into the home, eyewitnesses described.

Palestinians told Ma'an that Israeli officials from the Civil Liaison Office arrived in the area shortly after the confrontation.

Get Ready for the Obama / GOP Alliance

November 26, 2009

With Obama pushing a huge troop escalation in Afghanistan, history may well repeat itself with a vengeance. And it’s not just the apt comparison to LBJ, who destroyed his presidency on the battlefields of Vietnam with an escalation that delivered power to Nixon and the GOP.

There’s another frightening parallel: Obama seems to be following in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, who accomplished perhaps his single biggest legislative “triumph” – NAFTA – thanks to an alliance with Republicans that overcame strong Democratic and grassroots opposition.

It was 16 years ago this month when Clinton assembled his coalition with the GOP to bulldoze public skepticism about the trade treaty and overpower a stop-NAFTA movement led by unions, environmentalists and consumer rights groups. How did Clinton win his majority in Congress? With the votes of almost 80 percent of GOP senators and nearly 70 percent of House Republicans. Democrats in the House voted against NAFTA by more than 3 to 2, with fierce opponents including the Democratic majority leader and majority whip.

To get a majority today in Congress on Afghanistan, the Obama White House is apparently bent on a strategy replicating the tragic farce that Clinton pulled off: Ignore the informed doubts of your own party while making common cause with extremist Republicans who never accepted your presidency in the first place.

“Deather” conspiracists are not new to the Grand Old Party. Clinton engendered a similar loathing on the right despite his centrist, corporate-friendly policies. When conservative Republican leaders like Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey delivered to Clinton (and corporate elites) the NAFTA victory, it didn’t slow down rightwing operatives who circulated wacky videos accusing Clinton death squads of murdering reporters and others.

For those who elected Obama, it’s important to remember the downward spiral that was accelerated by Clinton’s GOP alliance to pass NAFTA. It should set off alarm bells for us today on Afghanistan.

NAFTA was quickly followed by the debacle of Clinton healthcare “reform” largely drafted by giant insurance companies, which was followed by a stunning election defeat for Congressional Democrats in November 1994, as progressive and labor activists were lethargic while rightwing activists in overdrive put Gingrich into the Speaker’s chair.

A year later, advised by his chief political strategist Dick Morris (yes, the Obama-basher now at Fox), Clinton declared: “The era of big government is over.” In the coming years, Clinton proved that the era of big business was far from over – working with Republican leaders to grant corporate welfare to media conglomerates (1996 Telecom Act) and investment banks (1999 abolition of the Glass-Steagall Act).

Today, it’s crucial to ask where Obama is heading. From the stimulus to healthcare, he’s shown a Clinton-like willingness to roll over progressives in Congress on his way to corrupt legislation and frantic efforts to compromise for the votes of corporate Democrats or “moderate” Republicans. Meanwhile, the incredible shrinking “public option” has become a sick joke.

As he glides from retreats on civil liberties to health reform that appeases corporate interests to his Bush-like pledge this week to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, an Obama reliance on Congressional Republicans to fund his troop escalation could be the final straw in disorienting and demobilizing the progressive activists who elected him a year ago.

Throughout the centuries, no foreign power has been able to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, but President Obama thinks he’s a tough enough Commander-in-Chief to do it. Too bad he hasn’t demonstrated such toughness in the face of obstructionist Republicans and corporate lobbyists. For them, it’s been more like “compromiser-in-chief.”

When you start in the center (on, say, healthcare or Afghanistan) and readily move rightward several steps to appease rightwing politicians or lobbyists or Generals, by definition you are governing as a conservative.

It’s been a gradual descent from the elation and hope for real change many Americans felt on election night, November 2008. For some of us who’d scrutinized the Clinton White House in the early 1990s, the buzz was killed days after Obama’s election when he chose his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, a top Clinton strategist and architect of the alliance that pushed NAFTA through Congress.

If Obama stands tough on more troops to Afghanistan (as Clinton fought ferociously for NAFTA), only an unprecedented mobilization of progressives – including many who worked tirelessly to elect Obama – will be able to stop him. Trust me: The Republicans who yell and scream about Obama budget deficits when they’re obstructing public healthcare will become deficit doves in spending the estimated $1 million per year per new soldier (not to mention private contractors) headed off to Asia.

The only good news I can see: Maybe it will take a White House/GOP alliance over Afghanistan to wake up the base of liberal groups (like MoveOn) to take a closer and more critical look at President Obama’s policies.

Jeff Cohen is an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College and former board member of Progressive Democrats of America. He can be reached through his website.

Israel’s Illegal Settlements in America

By Grant Smith, November 28, 2009

US Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell was highly enthusiastic about Israel’s partial, temporary illegal settlement freeze stating "it is more than any Israeli government has done before and can help move toward agreement between the parties." In fact, Israel has done more. In 2005 Israel reversed settlement construction and its overt occupation of Gaza. Palestinians situation worsened under a strangulating economic blockade and total Israeli control of borders, airspace and maritime access. Ironically, those Americans seeking a permanent end to Israeli settlement activities face a predicament similar to the Palestinians. Peace in the Middle East depends on reversing a peculiar manifestation of illegal Israeli settlements right here at home. These US settlements were built not on stolen land, but the strategic territory of US governance through violations of the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

Among Israel’s first international efforts as a state was establishing an "Israel Office of Information" (IOI) in the United States in the fall of 1948. The IOI registered as a foreign agent with the US Department of Justice which required it not only to file activity reports about its efforts on behalf of Israel every six months, but also place a stamp on pamphlets and other materials circulating in the US that their true origin was the Israeli government.

The IOI quickly ran into trouble. It was cited by the FARA section for failing to disclose the existence of a California office. The FBI noticed it wasn’t affixing disclosure stamps to the material it circulated. Isaiah Kenen, registered as a foreign agent of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, soon tired of such regulatory oversight and disclosures. He coordinated his IOI departure with the Israeli government from the IOI to lobby from a domestically chartered lobbying organization, the American Zionist Council (AZC). The DOJ ordered him to reregister, but he never did.

During a 1952 summit meeting, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proposed that leaders of major organizations centralize US lobbying and fundraising coordination under the American Zionist Council (AZC) rather than the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency. The AZC was a small umbrella organization that united the leadership of top organizations such as Hadassah and the Zionist Organization of America. But the AZC continued to rely heavily upon financial support from the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency in Jerusalem for public relations and lobbying until the 1960s. Between 1962-1963 a Senate and Justice Department investigation found the AZC and Kenen had received direction and the equivalent of $35 million from the Jewish Agency via its American Section in New York to lobby for US taxpayer-funded aid and arms. The Justice Department ordered the AZC to register as an Israeli foreign agent on November 21, 1962. This initiated a fierce DOJ/AZC battle that lasted until 1965, when the DOJ allowed the AZC to file a secret FARA declaration expecting it to shut down operations. The Jewish Agency was also forced shut down its American Section in New York after a rabbi and George Washington University legal scholar forced it to file its secret 1953 "covenant agreement" with the Israeli government which conferred governmental powers to the Jewish Agency.

The AZC quietly and quickly reorganized lobbying operations within its former division, internally referred to as the "Kenen Committee" (today called the American Israel Public Affairs Committee or AIPAC) which Isaiah Kenen led until 1975. The Jewish Agency also executed a shell company paper reshuffle, reemerging as the World Zionist Organization-American Section within the same building, with the same staff, management and publications.

Today, the most important nucleus of the Israeli government’s power in America lies far outside its Washington DC embassy, official consulates, or properly registered FARA entities. The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations consists of only two key paid employees according to its 2008 charitable tax return (PDF). Like the AZC under Ben-Gurion’s mandate, the Conference of Presidents has only one true role: corralling American organizations into a US power base for the Israeli government. The Conference of President’s roster now includes such curiously named organizations as the American Friends of Likud and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs alongside old AZC mainstays such as the ZOA and Hadassah. As mandated by AIPAC’s bylaws (PDF), all Conference of Presidents member organizations are part of AIPAC’s executive committee, forming a combined grassroots lobbying might far more intimidating to the Justice Department than the old AZC.

Yet in reality, the Israeli government’s newest lobbying venture is nothing more than a rebranded AZC — the stealth foreign agency relationships remain, some hidden, others not. One visible geographic linkage to the Israeli government is the Conference of Presidents offices which are located at the same 633 Third Avenue New York address as the World Zionist Organization’s American Section.

The World Zionist Organization-American Section, as the paper reincarnation of the Jewish Agency, is still compelled to register (PDF) as an Israeli foreign agent. In 2008 it spent $8,102,752, by far the largest expenditure of any registered foreign agent for Israel. Like its predecessor foreign agent, the Jewish Agency, the WZO American Section claims these large disbursements across America are mainly for "education" rather than political activity. Such claims are easily debunked.

The WZO was more accurately revealed by Israeli prosecutor Thalia Sasson in 2005 as being at the very center of illegal Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank. Shimon Peres estimated that up to $50 billion was laundered into illegal settlement construction. Today WZO/Conference of Presidents "education" initiatives include organizing rabbis to effectively campaign for war on Iran, activities that are not accurately disclosed on the WZO’s disclosures to the Department of Justice.

The question of whether such Israeli-conceived plans are worth American blood and treasure are vitally important, as is rule of law. Under FARA, Americans have a clear right to full disclosure about AIPAC and the Conference of President’s political activities, public relations and transfer of things of value on behalf of their foreign principal(s). As foreign lobbying organizations emerging directly from the American Zionist Council, these leaders of the Israel lobby carry an expanding information debt to American taxpayers expected to fund their many initiatives. Yet in spite of the 1961 order by the attorney general, since March of 1965, neither has filed a single public declaration at the FARA office. This means that AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents now owe Americans 88 semiannual FARA declaration filings. For its part, the WZO must begin to accurately disclose its heavy involvement in illegal West Bank settlements, which are opposed by the Obama administration.

Given the Israel lobby’s past penchant for nondisclosure, such filings will no doubt garner a great deal of public scrutiny. Explanations for why so much classified US government information is passing between AIPAC it and its foreign principals in 1984 and 2005 have been a long time coming. These will be particularly timely and enlightening as Israel’s drumbeat for US attacks on Iran grows louder. Until they again begin to register under FARA, Israel’s principal colonization entities, the World Zionist Organization, political muscle (Conference of Presidents), and enforcer in Congress (AIPAC) are themselves illegal Israeli settlers in America.

Read more by Grant Smith


November 27, 2009

"Settled"? It's not even "Science"

Wendy McElroy - November 26, 2009

Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) proponent Kevin Trenberth says "It is incontrovertible" that the world is warming as a result of human actions.

Those are not the words of a scientist. By definition, the conclusions of science are always controvertible, and open to refutation or revision. That's how science works.

Scientific method demands three things of a theory: that it be verifiable, falsifiable, and predictive.

Verifiable: others must be able to duplicate your work and get the same results.
Falsifiable: there must be some way to prove your theory wrong.
Predictive: it must explain something that competing theories do not. Ideally, it should predict something new which can then be tested and confirmed. (The latter is not always possible in some sciences, e.g., paleontology.)

These are why, for example, Creationism can never be considered "scientific" -- it predicts nothing, really explains nothing ("God made it that way"), and can't be falsified.

Now let's compare AGW with another scientific media storm, cold fusion:

Cold fusion was a scientific theory. Its progenitors were zealous about sending details of their experiment world-wide. (There was some speculation that they spread this far and wide for fear of their research being classified by the U.S. government.) Other interested researchers could duplicate their work. It made a prediction (neutron emission) that could not otherwise be explained. And it was falsifiable -- other researchers duplicated their work, did not get the same results, and most importantly did not see any neutrons. Even though their theory was wrong, it was scientific.

The work of the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU), however, is not. First, their work is not verifiable, for the simple reason that they have refused to make available either their raw data or their computer models. Since their work is entirely based on computer modeling of data, you need both in order to verify it. For the same reason -- concealment -- their work can't be directly falsified. Their theory significantly fails to explain historically-known phenomena, and while it does offer a testable prediction (global warming), to the extent that that has been tested, it has fallen flat.

(One might argue that their work can be falsified, when their predictions fail. Unfortunately, when the temperature record doesn't match their model, they just revise the model to substitute the new temperature data as required. This is how Creationists respond to surprising new discoveries: "God made that, too.")

Can AGW be scientific? Sure. It begins with full publication of all data and computer models. (In fairness, some AGW researchers may do this; I'm speaking of the CRU.) Then it requires explaining something that competing theories cannot -- while leaving nothing inconvenient unexplained -- and making a prediction that can be tested. Finally, it requires a clear statement of what would prove AGW wrong -- something possible to test, not something which requires a time machine or interstellar travel -- and a willingness to accept the verdict.

The cold-fusion guys admitted that if there were no neutrons, there was no fusion. I've yet to hear an AGW proponent say that anything could disprove AGW. To them, it's "incontrovertible."

Get Ready for Another Whitewash

November 26, 2009 - By Gilad Atzmon

The Jerusalem Post reported today that Sir Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya criticized the appointment of two leading Jewish academics to the UK's Iraq Inquiry panel, stating it may upset the balance of the inquiry.

Miles said the two academics were Jewish and that Gilbert was an active Zionist. He also said they were both strong supporters of former prime minister Tony Blair and the Iraq war.

"It is a pity that, if and when the inquiry is accused of a whitewash, such handy ammunition will be available," he added. "Membership should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced."

The former ambassador also said that having two historians in a panel of five "seems a lot" and also questioned the Jewish academics' credentials.

"In December 2004 Sir Martin, while pointing out that the 'war on terror' was not a third world war, wrote that Bush and Blair 'may well, with the passage of time and the opening of the archives, join the ranks of Roosevelt and Churchill' - an eccentric opinion that would seem to rule him out as a member of the committee. Sir Lawrence is the reputed architect of the 'Blair doctrine' of humanitarian intervention, which was invoked in Kosovo and Afghanistan as well as Iraq,"

To read the full article:

Gaza: One year later, young fisherman still trying to heal

By Eva Bartlett - November 26, 2009

Just as his leg was healing from a gaping bullet wound in his calf, Mohammed Musleh broke it, setting his healing back. Although the re-break happened in April, now in November his leg is still in metal braces.

Musleh was initially wounded early in the morning of 5 October 2008 when Israeli soldiers shot at him from a distance of 100 metres.

“Doctors told me there was an entry wound of two square centimetres and an exit wound of 10-15 square centimetres. They said the shot fractured my shinbone and severed arteries in my leg,” Musleh testified to B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights group.

At the time of his shooting, Musleh and Ahmad al-Bardawil were fishing 2 km off the coast of Rafah, 3 km from the Egyptian border, according to their GPS device.

Musleh testified to B’Tselem that after dropping their fishing hooks, he and Bardawil “saw an Israeli battleship approach us. When the ship was about 300 meters from us, the soldiers fired into the air and into the water near our boat. Ahmad and I pulled in the line and rowed north, toward the coast, to get away from the Israeli ship and go to another place to continue fishing. Next to us was another rowboat, with two fisherman, one of them Ahmad’s cousin, Ali al-Bardawil, 20.

Our boat and the other boat rowed about 500 meters north, the Israeli ship continued to close in on us, to a distance of about 100 meters from us. It was frightening: the ship was huge and very tall, and the crew was firing in the air all the time.

I sat in the middle of the boat, rowing north. The soldiers fired into the water around the boat. Suddenly I felt pain in my left leg. I looked at my leg and saw I had been hit in the left shin. There was a hole and my leg was bleeding badly.

I stopped rowing, told Ahmad I had been wounded, and lay down on my back. Ahmad rowed to get us out of there. The firing at us continued. The soldiers didn’t say anything at all to us, at any stage.”

It took thirty minutes to row ashore, with Musleh heavily bleeding all the while.

Before his re-injury in April 2009, Musleh had hoped to return to the sea, despite the still present dangers from Israeli gunboats patrolling close to Gaza’s shore.

“I learned fishing from my father, back in 2006,” he said. “Nowadays, because of the siege, we can’t earn very much. Some days we bring home 100 shekels. Some days nothing.”

“We fish regularly in this area, and this is the first time we had any problems,” he told B’Tselem.

While Musleh may not have been targeted by Israeli soldiers before his injury, on a nearly daily basis fishermen from Rafah to Gaza’s northern waters are shot at, abducted, and have their fishing boats and equipment taken by Israeli soldiers enforcing the sea blockade, completing the full siege of the Strip. The fishing industry is a frail shadow of its former self, accompanying the reported 95% of industry in Gaza which has shut down due to the combination of siege and the Israeli massacre of Gaza.


Lebanon 'Accepts' Hezbollah's Weapons; Congress Prepares Reply

By Franklin Lamb – Beirut

"It is the right of the Lebanese people, Army and the (Hezbollah led-) resistance to liberate the Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shuba Hills and the northern part of the village of Ghajar as well as to defend Lebanon and its territorial waters in the face of any enemy by all available and legal means."

So reads the Policy Declaration of the new Government of the Republic of Lebanon, issued on 11/26/09, four days after the celebration of Lebanon’s 66 years of independence from the French colonial power, achieved in 1943.

Legally, constitutionally, and politically, Lebanon’s new National Unity Government policy legitimizes, embraces, and incorporates by reference, according to some Pentagon and State Department analysts, the National Lebanese Resistance.

For the US-Israel axis, the 52 words signal that Hezbollah- which since 2006 has enjoyed majority popular support- and the State of Lebanon are inseparable and indivisible with respect to defending this country from foreign interference and occupation. It affixes the Governmental imprimatur for liberating Lebanese lands still occupied by Israeli forces.

According to some international lawyers, it also fulfills UN Security Council Resolution 1559 regarding disarming militias because Lebanon has in effect declared that the arms of the Hezbollah led Resistance are part of the defense of Lebanon itself and not a particular movement or political party. This Policy statement satisfies UNSCR 1701 for the same reason.

Apart from the Phalange (Kataeb) Party and the Lebanese forces, and their spokesmen Samir Geagea and Amin Gemeyal, who will continue to condemn the policy declaration, the issue of Hezbollah’s arms has been essentially settled.

Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri stressed that “Hezbollah’s arms belong to all Lebanese and their existence is linked to Israel’s withdrawal from all Lebanese territory.”

Tawhid (Unifying) Party and Druze leader Wiam Wahhab went further and advised the media following the Policy Statement approval, the same wording as was reached at the 2008 Doha conference:

“Hezbollah’s arms will remain as long as there is conflict between the Arabs and Israel. When the world tells us how the naturalization of Palestinians issue will be resolved, then we will give details on how to deal with the arms of our national resistance. They now belong to all of Lebanon.”

The message from Lebanon’s new government to the US administration is clear according to Lebanese Human Rights Ambassador Ali Khalil:

“You can have very friendly relations with Lebanon but that means dealing with Lebanon and our new government as a whole, not cherry picking certain ministries or parties in Parliament. Aid, defensive arms and equipment, economy, trade, should be negotiated with equality- not the US Embassy’s color coded push pin political affiliation map used previously. Hezbollah is Lebanon and Lebanon is Hezbollah. Try to understand and get used to it. You might be pleased if both the US and Lebanon work for our own interests but dialogue with mutual respect.”

Many people in Lebanon and the region who support Hezbollah do so not because they know all about or even very much care about the pillars of Shia Islam or the role of the Wali al Faque but because they have experienced six decades of Israeli aggression and six wars funded and armed by a US Congress that puts Israel before its own country and way before any Arab country including Lebanon. They realize that 18 years of a fake ‘peace process’ has brought nothing but misery to the Palestinians and Lebanon whereas 18 years of Resistance has freed most of Israel occupied Lebanese territory. And they realize that there is more yet to be done.

UNIFIL sources reported this week that they expected Israel to withdraw from the Lebanese village of Ghajar before the 12 member Cabinet committee voted to legitimize Hezbollah’s arms, in order to upstage the Lebanese government decision. The Israeli government, under US and EU pressure agreed, knowing that its army could not hold the village during its next attack on Lebanon and realizing that holding Ghajar meanwhile is not worth the political and military price.

Actual Israeli troop withdrawal is expected at any moment against the backdrop of more “cry wolf” threats such as yesterday's from Israeli defense minister Ehud Barack that “all of Lebanon will pay the huge price for giving Hezbollah its Government.” More than ever Lebanon’s population believes that Israel will also pay a huge price if it launches a 7th war against Lebanon or attacks Iran or Syria.

A Conference Call

In Washington and Beirut the response to Lebanon's legitimization of Hezbollah's arms was publicly subdued. The US Embassy, for the second year in a row mistakenly sent Eid al Fitr greetings to Lebanon’s President Michel Suleiman, whereas this week’s holiday, which commemorates the annual Hajj Pilgrimage and the 1,400 year old Muslim tradition of giving of meat to the poor, is called Eid al Adha. Eid al Fitr actually follows Ramadan which ended this year on September 19th. Anyhow, for sure it’s the thought that counts and the White House did promptly correct the Beirut’s Embassy error and sent President Obama’s and the American peoples Eid al Adha greetings yesterday at 2:15 p.m. Beirut time.

Privately, the reaction to legitimizing Hezbollah’s deterrence to Israeli aggressions is causing a strong reaction on Capitol Hill. AIPAC has another Congressional Resolution ready to condemn Lebanon for capitulating to ‘terrorism’. Hard to believe as it is, some members of Congress are actually tiring of all the Israel Lobby’s resolutions and the pressure tactics AIPAC uses to get them passed irrespective of what they say or whether they are read.

Before the Thanksgiving break, AIPAC organized an urgent conference call among 11 Chairman, all Jewish or ardent Zionist, of key US Congressional committees, including Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Appropriations, Banking, Homeland Security, Environment, and Aging, and Rules.

Together, the group forms what AIPAC calls “Israel’s Firewall” which it and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations conceived of and formalized in late September 2001 “to assure consultation and dialogue with respect to how best to launch Congressional initiatives that will preserve the special and unbreakable US-Israel relationship.”

In addition to the above members, others who have been approached to form the ‘firewall’ in the 111th Congress include all 13 Jewish members of the US Senate and the 28 Jewish House Members as well as a couple of dozen trusted evangelical Christian Zionist members.

According to a Zionist Organizations of America (ZOA) source, the group has not been very active until recently. Decisions, if any that were taken the past eight years by what is referred to by some on Capitol Hill as the “Israel Synod” is not currently known.

One recent decision that has been taken was revealed by ZOA. The ‘fire wall’ project is to ‘fast track’ a dramatic increase in US military aid to Israel to deal with perceived Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria, and Iranian threats to Israel. “These people see an urgent need to clean house and restore Israel’s military dominance and credibility”, claimed the ZOA source.

According to a staff member of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, the ‘ fire wall’ group plans to expedite US Congressional approval for more subsidies for all or part of the funds needed by Israel to purchase U.S. weapons. This will be in addition to Israel receiving over the past 24 months $ 2,070.1 billion from US taxpayers earmarked for this purpose.

AIPAC’s new ‘fire wall’ group will work for the 2010 deployment of the so called “Iron Dome” that can unleash a metallic cloud to bring down incoming rockets in the skies over Gaza or Lebanon as well as funding for a new generation of Israel’s Arrow defense system designed to shoot down Iran's long-range missiles at high altitudes.

In addition, Israel will receive US funding for more German-made Dolphin submarines that can be equipped with nuclear-tipped missiles for positioning off the coast of Iran.

AIPAC’s problem is to get Congress to overrule Pentagon skepticism of much of Israel’s ‘new weapons’ projects which some view as more psychological warfare than reliable or usable effectively in future conflicts. AIPAC appears confident and with good reason.

The Congressional Israel lobby has already achieved a commitment from the Obama administration to add Israeli systems and munitions to a new U.S.-built F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and deliver 25 to Israel by 2015 with another 50 delivered by 2018. The Obama administration will also integrate bombs that use an Israeli precision guidance kit called Spice along with Python 5 air-to-air missiles made by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. The ‘fire wall’ group is to assure that Israel will also get a relatively inexpensive path for hardware and software upgrades to add future weapons.

'Mother of All Bombs'

Another major Congressional weapons project for Israel is the Boeing Corporations new 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bomb.

The MOP carries more than 5,300 pounds of explosives and delivers more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the 2,000-pound BLU-109, according to the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which has funded and managed the seed program. It is also about one-third heavier than the 21,000-pound GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb – last season’s "mother of all bombs" -- that was dropped twice in tests at a Florida range in 2003.

The 20-foot-long (6-metre) MOP is built to be dropped from either the B-52 or the B-2 "stealth" bomber and is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding, according to the U.S. Air Force. The Pentagons Central Command, which is preparing for war with Iran- just in case- is backing a acceleration request according to Kenneth Katzman, an expert on Iran at the Congressional Research Service, the research arm of Congress. Israel wants them to attack Hezbollah’s deep bunkers in South Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley.

If AIPAC can get Congress to shift enough funds to the program, Northrop Grumman Corp (NOC.N)’s radar-evading B-2 bomber "would be capable of carrying the bomb by July 2010. This claim has been verified by Andy Bourland, an Air Force spokesman, who added, “There have been discussions with the four congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. Officially no final decision has been made."

In fact the decision has been made according to AIPAC and Congressional sources and its “all systems go”.

- Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. Contact him at: reached at


The Gasification of Indiana

Socializing the Risk, Privatizing the Profits - The Steep Price of "Energy Independence"

November 26, 2009

When the Indiana Gasification plant was first proposed for Rockport by the Daniels administration in November 2006, the price of natural gas was on the rise at around $9/mmbtu. Suddenly taking coal's hydrocarbons and converting them to usable "syngas" seemed to make sense, at least until you got to the details.

That is presumably why the legislature passed a law telling the state's gas utilities that they had to negotiate thirty year contracts with Indiana Gasification on a "take or pay" basis that forced Indiana ratepayers to use syngas no matter what the cost.

Then, Indiana Gasification trotted before the Indiana utility Regulatory Commission with their proposal while negotiations were taking place. Sadly for them, the utilities soon discovered that even with prices for natural gas on the rise, that the required price for syngas was just too high to be competitive with even volatile natural gas, which by early 2008 had risen to $13.

The something big happened. New drilling technology, called hydro fracturing quickly developed for securing natural gas. The result was huge "discoveries" of natural gas in both the west and the eastern regions of the US.

Gas producers found they could produce nearly unlimited supplies of natural gas if the price remained somewhere between $4 and $5/mmbtu.

Indiana Gasification had a problem. The cost just to produce their inferior "syngas" which ultimately emits far more CO2 than natural gas when consumed was at least 50% higher than natural gas and that price did not include capturing and sequestering the enormous carbon emissions the use of coal as feedstock cause or retiring any of the massive multi billion dollar debt to build such a facility.

Indiana gas utilities ultimately walked away from the venture and soon thereafter, Indiana Gasification withdrew their IURC petition knowing they had another plan.

In short order, IG had secured support from State Rep, Russ Stilwell and Senator, Brandt Hershman for a bill that more resembled the business model of communist China than the US.

Since they could not gain utility approval for their project, they decided that legislative fiat forcing the State to purchase their more expensive syngas was in order. Our pro coal legislature readily agreed with a measure that puts the state in the business of buying all the syngas output of the plant and forces gas utilities to pass it along to Hoosier gas customers, who would then pay a hefty premium for the privilege of using coal derived gas instead of natural gas.

But IG was not done with the financial screw they were inserting into the public trough. They also sought to incur nearly zero risk in their project by securing a “loan guarantee” from the federal government so that they were protected both from the risk of building an ill fated venture as well as forcing Indiana customers to buy their product at a premium.

On December 3, the US Department of Energy is holding a hearing in Rockport (pop. 2068), a community that already emits more toxic pollution that New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego, (pop.34 million) combined. The purpose of the hearing is to take public comment on what should be included in the Environmental Impact Statement required before the Federal Government issues the dubious loan guarantee.

So here we have a company that wishes to take zero risk to develop a technology that has never been competitive since its first use in the 19th Century. They want to do it in one of the most polluted small towns in America and of course they hope to make millions for themselves on the backs of Hoosier gas customers who will pay considerably more for their product than the “free market” would allow.

The sad thing is that this is being done with the blessings of state politicians like Mitch Daniels who like to call themselves conservatives and oppose any sort of effort to help clean, renewable energy by saying those sources should make it in the private sector instead of relying on what they call “socialized” energy.

There is obviously something terribly wrong with this picture.

Unfortunately, citizens remain n the dark as to what exactly is being proposed. IG has yet to file a construction permit application with IDEM and a Freedom of Information Act request that Valley Watch and Sierra Club filed with DOE in back in June regarding IG’s loan guarantee application has gone unanswered although DOE is required by Federal Law to respond within ten working days.

We suspect the secrecy is due to the fact that both DOE and IG know that this project is not viable economically unless they can find a “patsy” like the state of Indiana to take their risk for them.

However, several groups are determined to keep this atrocity from happening. Valley Watch, Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition and a newly formed Spencer County Citizens for Quality of Life are and will continue to stand in their way, in an effort to bring both environmental and health justice to the region as well continually seeking to hold a line on rates Hoosiers must pay for their electricity and gas.

Please join us by contacting us at:

John Blair is a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer who serves as president of the environmental health advocacy group Valley Watch in Evansville, IN. He is a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland, edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank. (AK Press) His email address is

Deception Has Always Been the Name of Zionism’s Game

By Alan Hart - November 27th, 2009

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu described his offer to temporarily restrict construction of all-new Jewish settlements on the West Bank excluding Arab East Jerusalem as a “far-reaching and painful step”, which was part of a policy he hoped would give a new impetus to peace talks.

Netanyahu is not stupid. He knows that some of us know he is not remotely interested in peace on terms the Palestinians could accept. So what then is his real game plan of the moment? Simple. He is seeking to make peace with the Obama administration. And its response suggests that with the help of the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress he’s got that matter firmly under control.

On 18 November President Obama himself expressed his dismay at Israel’s decision to approve 900 more housing units in East Jerusalem. He said it could lead to a “dangerous situation” because it made it harder for Israel to make peace in the region and “embitters the Palestinians.”

Eight days later the Obama administration says Netanyahu’s new offer, which stresses that there will be no restrictions, not even temporary ones, on new settlement development in East Jerusalem, will help “move forward” peace efforts.

What nonsense. It seems to me that the Obama administration doesn’t know whether it’s coming or going on the matter of how to deal with Netanyahu.

The response of senior Palestinian legislator Mustafa Barghouti was much more in tune with reality. “What Netanyahu announced today is one of his biggest attempts at deception in his history.”

It is, of course, a deception but nobody should be surprised. Not only has deception always been the name of Zionism’s game, it knows no other.

Its very first mission statement way back in 1897 was a deception. The previous year Zionism’s founding father, Theodore Herzl, had written and published Der Judenstaat, The Jewish State. It opened with these words: “The Jews who will it shall have a state of their own.” But as all of Zionism’s founding fathers gathered for their first Congress at Basel in Switzerland, Herzl was among the first to appreciate the need to drop the word state from all public policy pronouncements.

Thus it was that the first Congress of the World Zionist Organisation ended with a public statement that declared Zionism’s mission to be the striving “to create for the Jewish people a home in Palestine secured by public law.”

The difference between “home” and “state” was great.

State would have signaled that what Zionism wanted (and was ruthlessly determined to get) was a sovereign entity, by definition one with full state powers backed by its own military. In other words, a sovereign, fully independent Jewish state would be one that could pose a threat to the rights and possibly even the existence of the Arabs of Palestine. At the time Zionism didn’t want the world, including most Jews of the world, to know that.

Home was a much softer, less disturbing term. It implied, and for propaganda purposes could be asserted to mean, that Zionism would be prepared to settle for an entity without sovereign powers and which therefore would not and could [not] pose any kind of threat to the Arabs.

The proof that Zionism’s founding father knew the substitution of “home” for “state” in the first mission statement was a deception is in his diary, which was not published (was kept secret) for 63 years. Herzl’s entry for 3 September 1897, as published in 1960, included this:

Were I to sum up the Basel Congress in a word – which I shall guard against pronouncing publicly – it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish state… Perhaps in five years, and certainly 50, everyone will know it… At Basel then, I created this abstraction which, as such, is invisible to the vast majority of people.

It wasn’t only the Arabs and the major powers Zionism didn’t want to scare by using the term state. All of its founding fathers were fully aware that most informed and thoughtful Jews everywhere were opposed to the idea of creating a sovereign Jewish state in the Arab heartland. They believed it to be morally wrong. They feared it would lead to unending conflict. And most of all they feared that if Zionism was allowed by the major powers to have its way, it would one day provoke anti-Semitism.

As it happened, that Jewish concern and those Jewish fears were washed away by the obscenity of the Nazi holocaust, without which Zionism almost certainly would not have triumphed.

After its unilateral declaration of independence, the Zionist (not Jewish) state’s policy was to advance by creating facts on the ground. In effect its message to the world was, as it still is: “We know we should not have done this, but we’ve done it. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and globally as a researcher, author, and a correspondent for ITN and the BBC. Visit Alan's website.


Internet Shut Down


To whom it may concern,

As a user of the Internet, I am very concerned about the very secretive proposed trade agreement, ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). This is an international treaty, the draft of which has been recently leaked, that proposes some radical and potentially disastrous changes to international copyright law, and the way Internet service providers do business.

  • Currently, Internet service providers are not held liable for the actions of their customers. ACTA will make ISPs responsible for enforcement of the new legal framework put forth. They will have to police copyright on user-contributed material. This could potentially put an end to sites that depend on such content (Youtube, Flickr, Blogger) due to the impossibility of monitoring the amount of data involved for infringing materials. The only practical option for the ISP would be to block access entirely.
  • ISPs will be asked to take a ‘three strikes’ approach, and will have to disconnect users that have been accused of copyright infringements three times, as will be required by law. The user will be disconnected without trial, an opportunity to defend themselves, or even any hard evidence.
  • The whole world must adopt US-style "notice-and-takedown" rules that require ISPs to remove any material that is claimed to be infringing, without evidence or trial. This has proved a disaster in the US and other countries, where it provides an easy method of censoring certain people and their websites – just by claiming a copyright violation.
  • Stronger laws about breaking DRM measures will be brought into effect, even if you have a legitimate reason to be doing so.

This treaty isn’t just about ‘preventing piracy and stopping hackers’. The large content distributors have become greedy, and wish to nullify the prominent role the Internet has on entertainment as a whole in the modern world. They can smell their precious money slipping through of their fingers and aren’t afraid to manipulate the democratic process to avoid that. Hopefully you can see how their greed will affect you, me, and anyone else that uses the internet. They know that if this treaty becomes common knowledge before being passed, there will be an outcry – that’s why it has been kept secret so long. The passing of this treaty will be disastrous to the Internet as it exists today. It would end the free reign we have had to speak our minds without fear of censorship. Do we really want to follow China’s example with Internet policies?

This entire debacle is just another demonstration of how little democracy exists in today’s corporate controlled world, so let’s try take a little bit of it back. Fight ACTA.

-A concerned citizen of the Internet.

Dear Friends,

I have just read and signed the online petition:

"Stop ACTA Now!"

hosted on the web by, the free online petition service, at:

I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider signing yourself.

Best wishes,

Your name here


U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)
Rep. Mary Bono (R-CA)
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA)
Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Time Warner
News Corp
Sony Corp of America
Walt Disney Co

Dreaming of Freedom and Peace

Notsylvia Night
Aletho News
November 27, 2009

In 1971, at the height of the brutal mass-murder of over 3 million people in south-east Asia which was called the Vietnam War, John Lennon wrote the song "Imagine" about a dream he had of a world without separate nations or separate religions or cultures.
Lennon´s wife, Yoko Ono told, the Rolling Stone magazine in an interview :

"Imagine" was "just what John believed -- that we are all one country, one world, one people. He wanted to get that idea out."

John Lennon was both right and wrong on this, I think.

Yes we are one world and one species, humanity. No national, ethnic or religious distinction gives one person´s life more value than another person´s life.

Lennon imagined, that ending all cultural differences and abolishing all borders would also end all war and violence among the people. What John Lennon didn´t know, was that his dream of an end to all national borders and all religious or cultural differences was shared by the very same war-mongering fascist elites which Lennon fought against with his songs and his political activism.

These elites also dreamed of creating a single culture and a single nation on earth. This "one global country" would then be under one global rule...theirs. They dreamed of "Full Spectrum Dominance", and what they "imagine" could become a nightmare for all other people on earth.

Lennon thought that it was the differences which divide us and move us to hatred and subsequently violence, and the borders which make us choose war.

In reality, the differences between us don't lead us to hatred, but our refusal to accept differences in others, tolerate them and learn to live with them.

Borders, national or otherwise, are actually great tools in setting limits to power.

It´s the aspiration for unlimited power in those who want to rule all nations and eliminate everything that would limit their rule, which drives us to war. Their striving for power and domination has driven the war-agendas time and again, as far back as rulers and empires existed.

Your differences from me enrich me. If I look at them, I get a new point of view, wider and less restricted. And mine can enrich you, if you allow me to have them. Both or ours will always enrich humanity. Humanity is growing, changing and evolving because of those differences.

While I accept the fact of your views being different from mine on so many levels, I do not want you to push them on me by the force of the power you might have over me. I do not want you to rule over me by either force or tricks and deception, and you don´t want me to rule over you in this way, either.

Of course, I know, that you and I, both members of the human race, often need to cooperate, and sometimes have conflicts of interest. Nobody can live on his or her own in this world and survive for long, or raise his or her children fully self-sufficient and independent from the rest of the world.

Cooperation, which is necessary, and most often a long-term deal, will eventually always lead to structures built around it and rules expected to be followed, written or unwritten ones. Social structures, which originally are built to serve everyone and make cooperation go more smoothly, always entail the danger, that in the long run they will become tools of power for the few over everybody else.

When I start to "imagine" a world of peace and a world where people are truly free, my dream is different from John Lennon´s. I dream of political power being limited by borders and concentrated in the smallest possible political units, in the communities.

In my dream, the United Nations is nothing more than a negotiation table, where nations send their representatives to negotiate with other nations on possible trade agreements or on conflicts of interest until a just solution is found for both sides. But the UN in my dream will never have an army nor any other enforcement power, nor will it be allowed to call any nation´s army to it´s service.

If a just agreement is made between two or more parties, why should it need enforcement? And if those who are involved cannot come to a common understanding of what is just, who can? Is the sense of justice of the would-be "enforcers" higher than of those who are involved? Or is, what is actually higher, only the "enforcers´" sense of self-importance and even supremacy? In my dream, when an agreement is reached, there will be a shared trust, that those who have agreed upon it, will honor their agreement.

In the same dream I see national-, and in large nations additionally state-, parliaments also as negotiation tables, where communities send their representatives to negotiate conflicts of interest between them or common goals among them while working together on temporary or permanent projects.

Participation of communities on common national or state- projects would be voluntary. But most communities who see a rational sense and a common need and shared interests or values would naturally do so.

Striving for cooperation to better accomplish common goals is an integral part of human nature.
It just happens, it doesn´t have to be enforced.

Communities would send their representatives to state and national parliaments on a mandate, voting according to the majority decisions made by either communities´general assemblies or by community councils concerned with the matter.

In this way national or state tax-funds, for whatever common projects are deemed to be worthwhile, will be under the control of the communities, who contribute the funding. In the same way will the decision of how and how much taxes are being collected for state or national purposes under the control of communities.

In my dream multi-national corporations will have ceased to exist. They will have been cut into ordinary companies, put under the rule of law of those countries in which they do their production.

The taxes being taken from the profits of very large companies, with profits above a certain limit, would be decided by the national parliaments. And those tax-revenues would be redistributed to the communities on a per capita bases. In this way the big companies could no longer blackmail the communities to lower their environmental standards and allow them to pollute water and air, just because they are large "tax-payers".

When political representatives in state or national parliaments will be bound in their voting by the decisions taken back home in their communities, they can no longer be bribed by lobbyists or blackmailed by special interest groups. Their only function would be to gather as much information as possible and send it back home, so that the people of their communities can make informed decisions. Representatives will be chosen for their efficiency in getting good and objective information across, not for their charisma in speeches they didn´t even write themselves, or for their good looks on TV. Campaign funds for them or any parties who´d put them in office, would no longer be needed.

There would not be any need for national or state governments in my dream, only parliaments with members representing their communities. In my dream there´d neither be any national or state law-enforcement. There would only be community police forces, which could cooperate with other community police forces, if need be.

And in my dream the laws to be enforced by courts or by the police would be laws the communities would give unto themselves.

Communities would be villages, or smaller or larger towns, or small city-districts. Populations in a community could range from a few thousands to maybe some tens of thousands of people in large cities, but not more. When communities become too large, the opportunity that most individuals have, to take part in the political and law-making process would shrink due to the size of the community.

In large nations or in supra-national organizations the chance of participation in the law-making process that ordinary citizens have nowadays becomes nearly zero. And the power of those who are in the position to make decisions concerning the many, has grown accordingly, and so has the ruthless abuse of this power, to the detriment of everyone else. A cross on a ballot paper or a touch on a monitor of a computer, with soft-ware which might or might not be rigged, is not, what real democracy is all about; not in my dream anyway.

Democracy for me means participation in the decision making process, at least in all those decisions which concern me and I feel concerned about. If things seem unimportant to me one way or the other, I don´t need to put my five cents in. I´d let others decide, who are more concerned and therefor have educated themselves more on the issue. These would be the decision making processes in the communities of my dreams. People would show up for the political assemblies when they are concerned about a certain subject and stay home when they are not. Those who are concerned would also be motivated to educate themselves on the subject. In this way those who would take part in decision making process would be those among the people who are indeed competent to do so.

Supremacists with a disdain for ordinary people have often called democracy a "mob-rule" of the stupid and un-informed, the easily deluded and manipulated. They used this as an excuse to prevent any form of direct democracy. Their distrust of humanity has led the western world to the verge of full-fledged fascism, to be ruled by elites who do not only want full control over us, but actually hate us to the extent of wanting to have a lot fewer of us around on this planet.

In my dream, it is in the communities where all laws are made in which the members of the communities will live. These laws might be made by elected representatives or by general assemblies, whatever the majority will decide to fit better to their needs.

The law-books would be slim, since there would be far fewer lawyers around to complicate them. There will not be a whole rat-tail of precedence-case, or of exceptions of law, or exceptions of exceptions, or of exceptions of exceptions of exceptions. There would just be laws. And, if there are mitigating circumstances to be argued in court, a jury of ordinary citizens would decide, if the points made are valid or not, using their own conscience, their traditional values and a bit of common sense.

In my dream most laws would be similar from one community to the next in a single nation, since the population in most nations share similar traditions and value systems. But still there would be differences among the communities. Some might be more conservative and others more liberal on certain issues (ln the western world those issues might be pornography, for instance, or prostitution or the use of certain recreational drugs). Some might be more ecological minded than others. Some might be more concerned about public health and the safety of food and medical drugs. Some might be strictly secular and others not. Some communities might have a tax-financed education- and public health- system or social system. Some would try a different form of financing for those purposes (for instance a system based on voluntary contributions to social or charitable organizations or a system based on voluntary insurance payments.)

All this would be decided in political processes, where every citizen of the community would have a chance of participation, having his or her opinion heard. Of course, how a community organizes it´s necessary work in the up-keep of social and physical infrastructure, would then automatically determine how high the tax-burden on everyone would have to be.

To be sure, not even in my dream, will all communities be the perfect place to live for all people.
In the past local majorities have often discriminated against minorities. But then, whenever those minorities were persistent, when they stood their ground in a just cause, demanding equality from their neighbors, then in time they gained this equality.

Majorities aren´t written in stone. When a just cause is promoted long enough in a community by honest and decent people who live there, they will be joined by others and then the majorities will change. That is, if a community actually is ruled by its own members and not by outside forces. However, in a society, where the real powers are far away rulers, all movements for equality and justice can easily be corrupted and infiltrated by agents who are on the payroll of the far away power-center. Of course, other forms of corruption have in the past troubled many local communities as well. Local corruption seemed no different from the corruptions seen in national governments or international bodies.

But still, there is a difference:

In a community corruption cannot stay hidden for a very long time. If a community actually would have the power of self-rule, then those citizens hurt by corruption, would soon put a stop to it. But once again, if the center of power is far removed from the community, this power-center always supports those corrupt local leaderships, who enforce the foreign rule on the population.

What if a community administration was really, really bad, with a philosophy straight from the dark ages? Shouldn´t there be some outside force to stop them?

Well, I don´t think so.

Even in a worst case scenario, the harm such a leadership could do, would be rather limited to the community they rule over, and maybe in a lesser way to neighboring communities, while the harm those "enforcers" have done in the past, has always been much greater. (Just think about all the children killed at Waco by those law-enforcement agencies who wanted to "save the children" there)

Something else would limit the harm a "dark age" community leadership could do to their population:

It´s the chance people have, to just... leave. Even a child-bride in a polygamist compound-community eventually has that chance. With all those other non-polygamist communities around, she easily could make a run for it.

"But she is under some form of mind-control", you say.

True, but no mind-control works forever. If the pain of living under oppression becomes too great, the girl will eventually be able to shake off this manipulative control over her mind and then she´ll only need a little bit of courage.

In this day and age, no community can isolate itself totally and live without trade with others.
Trade-contacts also mean exchange of ideas and chances to leave.

While leaders of large nations or those with global aspirations might dream of a smaller population, for local leaders their people are assets, they can´t afford to lose too many of them.
(Unless the community is actually one of those very rare suicide cult, the leaders wouldn´t harm their people intentionally, they would want to keep them save and sound)

The need to keep their citizens reasonably happy, so they won´t constantly be tempted to leave, will limit the amount of harm even bad community leaders can do to the people they rule.

If the bad and oppressive community leaders would ever want to try to spread their bad rule over their neighbors, who don´t want to join their cult, they could easily be kept in check by a defense coalition of the neighbors against them. But for those who choose to stay put under the rule of what most everybody else around them would see as a really bad leadership... well, it would be their choice.

Freedom means having a choices.

And if nothing else would be left of your freedom, then still, in a world where power is concentrated in communities, the freedom to leave and live some place else would still be a choice you have.

In a world like ours not everyone has this choice. Even those who seek asylum to escape the oppression and the danger to their life back home will often be sent back, if they can´t make a good case before an immigration court. Most of those who seek to get away from economic oppression and hopelessness have no legal chance at all to escape.

Absolute freedom, the thought you could ever do, whatever you want and whenever you want to do it, is an illusion. Not even the laws of nature allow this.

Whenever you have to live with others, your actions will be restricted by some rules.

Freedom means you can take part in shaping those rules. Freedom also means having a choice between different sets of rules. It means that there are choices people can make because there are differences.

Peace means, when people in one community learn to accept the collective choices of people in other communities, even if they don´t like their respective choices.

This is the freedom and peace I´m dreaming of when I "imagine" a better world. I ask you, is this an unrealistic dream?

The author is a frequent contributor to Aletho News and a human rights activist based in Iceland. An archive of previous articles is available at her blog. She deals with subjects like Zionism and the war against the Palestinian people, Western Islamophobia and the myths used to justify wars in the Middle East, imperialism in general, pseudo-scientific myths, falsification of history, the influence of religion on political philosophies, the human mind and how it is influenced by organized propaganda.