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Hail to the Thief: The New York Times Defends Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Hail to the Thief: The New York Times Defends Mikhail Khodorkovsky - by Stephen Lendman

On October 25, 2003, Khodorkovsky (below called MK) was arrested for tax evasion and corruption, dating from when the Soviet Union dissolved and state privatizations followed. "Behind every great fortune lies a great crime," explained Honore de Balzac. Billionaire Russian oligarchs, like MK, illegitimately amassed great fortunes, avoiding prosecution during Yeltsin's tenure (1991 - 1999).

Beginning in 1991, various socio-economic measures were implemented without public discussion or parliamentary approval. Most important were Yeltsin's personal directives, creating a billionaire aristocracy handed the economy's most important, profitable sectors, free of charge - literally a license to loot.

Haiti's Elections: Illegitimately Recounting Fraud

Haiti's Elections: Illegitimately Recounting Fraud - by Stephen Lendman

Haiti's November 28 elections were irremediably fraudulent, farcical and outrageous. The entire process was rigged. New elections, including all excluded parties, are essential, but not planned. Instead, so-called independent OAS experts began recounting verification to legitimize fraud. According to Albert Ramdin, Assistant OAS Secretary General:

Recounting will be secretive behind closed doors. No public statement will be made until final results are announced, likely early in January. Team members will "look at all systems and then....agree on how (to) proceed" instead of trashing junk tally sheets and starting over.

Originally scheduled for January 16, second electoral round voting will be delayed until initial totals are recounted and verified, no matter how fraudulent, ludicrous, and worthless.

The New York Times Endorses Fraud

Hail to the Chief: Spinning Obama's Presidency

Hail to the Chief: Spinning Obama's Presidency - by Stephen Lendman

As if on cue, major media reports hailed "the Comeback Kid." In Obama's December 22 press conference, Reuters' Caren Bohan asked:

"You racked up a lot of wins in the last few weeks that a lot of people thought would be difficult to come by. Are you ready to call yourself the 'comeback kid?' "

CBS News anchor Katie Couric gushed about how "the president isn't calling himself the 'comeback kid,' but some other folks are."

From ABC News came Jake Tapper offering "congratulations," and George Stephanopoulos saying:

"The president takes a victory lap. How the Christmas season became what he called a 'season of progress.' Will it continue in the new year?"

New York Times writer Michael Shear added:

America's Gulf: New Report Says It's Dying

America's Gulf: New Report Says It's Dying - by Stephen Lendman

Concerned Citizens of Florida.com (CCF) believe efforts must be made now "to address what may very well be the greatest environmental catastrophe of North America in modern history....government (and media) cannot be relied on" for truthful information. As a result, its site is a platform for truth and accuracy on a disaster of such magnitude.

On December 1, CCF published a special Dr. Tom Termotto Gulf disaster report, titled "The Gulf of Mexico is Dying." He's National Coordinator for the Tallahassee, FL-based Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference (International Citizens' Initiative). Its disturbing findings are discussed below. He published them so "the world community will come together to further contemplate this dire and demanding predicament." Future generations depend on it.

Termotto's entire report can be accessed through the following link:

http://phoenixrisingfromthegulf.wordpress.com/

Palestine Today: A Reality of Justice Denied

Palestine Today: A Reality of Justice Denied - by Stephen Lendman

On December 24, Mondoweiss co-editor Adam Horowitz wrote:

"Israeli military kills 20-year old Gazan for herding animals too close to buffer zone."

On December 23, Israeli forces shot and killed Salama Abu Harhish without warning while herding sheep and goats in Beit Lahya. Civilized nations don't murder nonviolent civilians in cold blood, this time leaving a widow and day-old unnamed baby.

What "democracy" thrives on violence, spurns peace, and wages preemptive wars like Cast Lead. Besides America, only Israel, a global menace like its Washington paymaster/partner, together with Britain the real axis of evil.

December 28 was Cast Lead's second anniversary, a three week continuing onslaught. Against Palestine, Israel's wars never end. The 2008-09 horror evoked memories of Franklin Roosevelt's December 8, 1941 moment, telling a joint session of Congress:

Israel Hardens Repression as Palestinian Recognition Increases

Israel Hardens Repression as Palestinian Recognition Increases - by Stephen Lendman

On December 24, Ecuador became the fifth Latin American country to recognize "the Palestine state as free and independent within its borders since 1967." An accompanying statement said:

"Sadly, the Middle East continues to face wars and violent events that have led to the death of many innocent people, a situation contrary to the humane and pacifist position established by the Ecuadorian Constitution. This recognition is meant to reinforce the valid and legitimate wish of the Palestin(ian) people to have their own free and independent state." Having it is "fundamental to achieve the peaceful co-existence of the nations in the region through dialogue and mediation."

On December 23, Uruguay said it planned to join Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia in granting recognition, though would formerly do so in January 2011.

America's Gulf Disaster: Accidental or Deliberate?

America's Gulf Disaster: Accidental or Deliberate? - by Stephen Lendman

On April 20, an initial explosion, then a larger one ignited BP's Deepwater Horizon platform. For over a day it burned before sinking, killing 11 crew members, releasing thousands of barrels of oil daily, and causing the greatest ever environmental disaster - criminal malfeasance by any standard.

Years from now, its full impact will be known, but already hundreds of thousands of people are harmed, local economies gravely impacted, and large parts of the Gulf contaminated by toxic hydrocarbons and dispersants, making seafood absolutely unsafe to eat.

Obama, administration officials, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and BP executives lied, claiming most oil disappeared, 96% of Gulf waters were safe and reopened, and seafood was safe to eat. False, according to mounting evidence confirming:

-- layers of oil residue contaminating several thousand square miles of seafloor;

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part II)

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part II) - by Stephen Lendman

Part II concludes an assessment of Obama's year two.

Lessons from the Gulf

The aftermath of last April's Deepwater Horizon disaster left Big Oil again triumphant, thanks to the Obama administration's close industry ties, conspiring with BP in the greatest ever environmental crime. At the time, Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum said BP has "the worst safety and environmental record of any oil company operating in America."

It's been cited numerous times for willful negligence, shoddy maintenance, environmental crimes, neglecting worker safety rules, manipulating energy markets, and making a mockery of good industry practice in a business devoid of standards and ethics.

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part I)

Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part I) - by Stephen Lendman

Last December, a two-part article discussed Obama's year one betrayal and failure, accessed through the following links:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/12/obama-year-one-betrayal-and-failur...

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/12/obama-year-one-betrayal-and-failur...

In year two, the pattern continued, revealing domestic and foreign policies that:

-- outdid George Bush by exceeding his harshness, lawlessness, belligerency, and public trust betrayal;

-- maintained a 30 year agenda of shifting public wealth to the rich, as well as supporting capital, not public welfare, including targeting middle class households for destruction;

-- looted the nation's wealth, wrecked the economy, and consigned growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;

-- let hunger, homelessness, poverty, and those uninsured grow to unacceptable levels;

Injustice for All: Obama's Immigration Agenda

Injustice for All: Obama's Immigration Agenda - by Stephen Lendman

Since taking office, Obama achieved the impossible - compiling a worse record than his fiercest critics feared, worse than George Bush across the board on domestic and foreign policies. He:

-- looted the nation's wealth for Wall Street;

-- wrecked the economy;

-- consigned millions to poverty, unemployment, and bleak futures;

-- expanded unbridled militarism and imperial wars;

-- spied more aggressively than ever on Americans;

-- destroyed decades of hard won labor rights;

-- targeted Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for erosion and elimination;

-- further institutionalized public wealth transfers to super-rich elites who already have too much;

-- commodified public education;

-- subverted Net Neutrality;

-- targeted whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, and environmental and animal rights activists as terrorists;

Rising Poverty in America and Israel

Rising Poverty in America and Israel - by Stephen Lendman

The Working Poor Families Project (WPFP) "is a national initiative focused on state workforce development policies involving: (1) education and skills training for adults; (2) economic development; and (3) income and work supports."

Its newest publication is titled, "Great Recession Hit Hard at America's Working Poor: Nearly 1 in 3 Working Families in United States are Low-Income." It explains distressing data on the state of America's poor and low income families, their condition getting worse, not better.

Citing new US Census data, it said nearly one-third of US families struggle to meet basic needs. Between 2007 and 2009, the percent of low-income families (earning less than 200% of the official threshold) rose from 28 - 30%. Their plight "challenges a fundamental assumption that in America, work pays." Clearly, not enough.

Supporters Demand Justice for Aafia Siddiqui

Supporters Demand Justice for Aafia Siddiqui - by Stephen Lendman

A full account of her case from March 2003 through December 2008 can be accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2008/12/abduction-secret-detention-torture...

Numerous follow-up articles discussed subsequent events to the present. All are posted chronologically on sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Wrongfully persecuted, she was sentenced to 86 years in prison on September 23, 2010, a gross miscarriage of justice since her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture and witch-hunt prosecution, providing no evidence whatever to convict.

Supporters want her freed. The web site freeaafia.org posts updates on her case and status. It has petitions to sign on her behalf as well as actions to take, including writing her as follows:

Aafia Siddiqui
# 90279-054
FMC Carswell
Federal Medical Center
PO Box 27137
Fort Worth, TX 76127

Resisting Tyranny: A Universal Right

Resisting Tyranny: A Universal Right - by Stephen Lendman

In America's Declaration of Independence, Jefferson declared:

"all men (are) created equal....with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (code for property). That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends. it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government," serving them "to effect their safety and happiness."

Long established governments shouldn't "be changed for light and transient causes....But when a long train of abuses and usurpations (establishes) absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government," replacing it with one serving everyone equitably.

Police State Injustice: Canada's Security Certificate Process

Police State Injustice: Canada's Security Certificate Process - by Stephen Lendman

In place since 1978, it lets authorities detain and/or deport foreign nationals and other non-citizens suspected of human rights violations, alleged threats to national security, or claimed affiliation with organized crime, using (usually bogus) secret evidence withheld from defense counsel.

Since 1991, 27 residents have been affected. In February 2007, Canada's Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in Charkaoui v. Canada. However, eight months later in October, the Canadian House of Commons passed Bill C-3 (a so-called anti-terror measure), amending the 2001 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act by introducing a special advocate into the certificate process on the pretext of protecting subjects during secret proceedings.

Start Treaty Hypocrisy

Start Treaty Hypocrisy - by Stephen Lendman

Hyped support reveals gross hypocrisy about a deeply flawed process and outrageous price for it. More on that below. Yet a September 14 New York Times editorial headlined, "Ratify the New Start Treaty," saying;

"Failure to ratify this treaty would be hugely costly for American credibility and security....The Senate needs to ratify New Start now." In fact, endorsing ratification undermines The Times credibility. More why below.

A more recent Washington Post November 19 editorial headlined, "The New START pact should be passed, not politicized," saying:

"....the treaty ought to be approved. But no calamity will befall the United States if the Senate does not act this year....In reality, Mr. Obama's urgency (has) less to do with national security than with the upcoming shift in Senate seats" next year.

Spoiling for a Fight?

Spoiling for a Fight? - by Stephen Lendman

Washington is a world class menace, waging imperial wars for global dominance called peace, stability and democracy. In the run-up to the 1950 Korean War, Truman used South Korea to goad Pyongyang into a conflict it didn't want. Nor does it now, but events may spiral out of control unless cooler heads prevail.

Last March, the latest confrontation began when North Korea was falsely blamed for sinking a South Korean ship. At the time, evidence suggested a false flag, manufactured to blame Pyongyang.

Then on November 23, US media reports said North Korea incited the gravest incident since the July 1953 armistice. Analysts called it a deliberate provocation, even though South Korean forces fired first, goaded by the Obama administration for what Pyongyang, with good reason, called a rehearsal for invasion.

More on Haiti's Raging Cholera, Electoral Fraud and Deportations

More on Haiti's Raging Cholera, Electoral Fraud and Deportations - by Stephen Lendman

Haitians remains plagued by a perfect storm combination of earthquake devastation, crushing poverty, raging cholera, electoral fraud, exploitation, persecution, Obama-ordered deportations, and world indifference to their plight, with few exceptions like Cuba and Venezuela.

Post-quake, their aid was some of the first to arrive. After cholera struck, Chavez sent a Ministry of Health team with medications, intravenous drips and rehydration tablets. He promised more as needed for "our Haitian brothers and sisters (exploited) by savage capitalism and imperialism."

Since 1998, Cuba's had hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other medical specialists in Haiti to help. Post-quake, it sent more, and after cholera struck, more still with supplies to set up new facilities and deliver heroic services under the most adverse conditions, including in hard to reach rural areas.

Social Inequality in Israel

Social Inequality in Israel - by Stephen Lendman

An earlier article explained neoliberalism's impact on Israeli Jews, beginning in the 1980s. In 1985, the Knesset amended the Bank of Israel Law, prohibiting it from printing money to finance industrialization, full employment, and immigrant absorption.

It was part of a neoliberal takeover, embracing a massive power shift from various government agencies to the Finance Ministry and central bank (the Bank of Israel), similar to American financialization that empowered Wall Street, the Federal Reserve it controls, and US FIRE sector overall (finance, insurance, and real estate).

In 1985, Israeli policy included:

-- efforts to reduce budget deficits to near balance; and

-- dampen inflationary pressures by cutting wages, prices, credit, the currency's value, public benefits, pensions, and union power to establish a secondary, exploitable, temporary worker market.

Chavez Given Enabling Law Power

Chavez Given Enabling Law Power - by Stephen Lendman

On December 17, parliament gave Chavez enabling law power in response to torrential rains and severe floods that ravaged Venezuelan communities, killed at least 35, destroyed over 5,000 homes, and displaced about 120,000 or more people in 11 of the country's 23 states. He asked for one year. Parliament gave him 18 months to deal with the crisis.

National Assembly President Cilia Flores said it was needed to help "people who are relying" on him to help. "So that they can have their street, their highways, public services, electricity, everything to live in dignity, we are going to hear (their) proposals and concerns," then respond accordingly.

More on how it works below. Despite opposition and media criticism (in Venezuela and America), it's not about seizing dictatorial powers, nor has Chavez done it since taking office in February 1999.

Lynne Stewart Transferred to Texas

Lynne Stewart Transferred to Texas - by Stephen Lendman

Seven previous articles discussed her case and status, explaining the gross injustice against a heroic human rights lawyer who devoted her career to defending society's poor, unwanted, and unfairly persecuted - defendants deprived of due process without an advocate like her.

She knew the risks, yet took them courageously, until prosecutorial injustice convicted and imprisoned her for doing her job - defending an unpopular client too vigorously.

Interned on November 19, 2009 at MCC-NY, she remained there until transferred. Her family and attorneys requested FCI Danbury, CT close to home, a facility for low security female prisoners with a satellite camp for minimum security ones. No matter. She was denied the logical choice for a more punitive one.

On December 18, her web site (www.lynnestewart.org) broke the news, saying supporters can reach her by mail at:

Lynne Stewart
53504-054
FMC Carswell

Israel's Sham Democracy

Israel's Sham Democracy - by Stephen Lendman

Numerous previous articles exposed it, highlighting policies affording rights solely to Jews, including a January 2010 Israeli Democracy or Hypocrisy one accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/01/israeli-democracy-or-hypocrisy.html

It cited a same titled October 2007 Haaretz editorial, calling for "debate about Israel's control over the lives of Palestinians deprived of civil rights," saying its democracy is flawed for denying Arab Israelis equality with Jews.

In his December 10 op-ed titled titled, "The farce of a secular and democratic Jewish state," Haaretz writer Gideon Levy was equally critical, saying:

America's War on Islam: New Republican Offensive Planned

America's War on Islam: New Republican Offensive Planned - by Stephen Lendman

Dozens of previous articles addressed America's war on Islam, discussing victims of America's war on terror for political advantage, not for threatening national security or public safety.

Repeatedly post-9/11, bogus threats were invented to imprison innocent men and women for their faith, ethnicity, activism, prominence or charity. Clearly, it's the wrong time to be Muslim in America, Washington's target of choice to hype fear and enlist public support for imperial lawlessness, no matter the cost in reckless spending and loss of personal freedoms. Increasingly, everyone is now vulnerable for speaking out, voicing dissent, and supporting equity and justify for unpopular victims.

Against that backdrop, Obama's 9/11 address at the Pentagon was an exercise in demagoguery and deceit, saying:

Net Neutrality Threatened (Part II)

Net Neutrality Threatened (Part II) - by Stephen Lendman

Three earlier articles addressed the issue, the most recent accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/08/net-neutrality-threatened.html

Net Neutrality is a defining issue of our time. It's essential to keep the Internet free and open, letting users access all content without restrictions, limitations, or discrimination, maintaining an online level playing field for everyone.

It's the essence of democratic free speech. Without it, the Internet will resemble cable TV, letting corporate predators game the system, deciding what web sites, content and applications are available at what price and speed.

Afghans: Victimized by Conflict, Occupation, Extreme Deprivation and Genocide

Afghans: Victimized by Conflict, Occupation, Extreme Deprivation and Genocide - by Stephen Lendman

In his book "Freedom Next Time," John Pilger used CIA Vietnam terminology calling Afghanistan "the grand illusion of the American cause," describing long-suffering Afghans victimized by conflict, violence, occupation, extreme deprivation and genocide.

A December 15 ICRC press release expressed deep concern about how dire conditions have gotten, their worst ever since America's illegal war of aggression began in October 2001.

Headlined, "Afghanistan: a people trapped between sides," it cited "civilian casualties, internal displacement, and insufficient access to medical care, all of which are occurring against the background of a proliferation of armed groups."

Its head of Afghanistan operations, Reto Stocker, said:

Israel's Jerusalem Master Plan 2020

Israel's Jerusalem Master Plan 2020 - by Stephen Lendman

A November 10 Qatar News Agency article headlined, "Israel Plans to Rebuild Old Jerusalem - Palestinian Official," saying:

Attorney Ahmed Al-Ruwaidi, "responsible for the Jerusalem unit in the Palestinian Authority (PA), said Israel plan(s) to build new settlement homes in old Jerusalem where the ancient walls of the city will be overshadowed by modern bridges, synagogues and gardens spreading from the Arab neighborhoods of Sheikh Jarrah to Wdi Al Joze and Suwaneh."

The scheme involves home demolitions, dispossessions, and new settlement construction to solidify "the capital and spiritual center of Israel and the Jewish people (by creating) a world city which attracts the souls of millions of believers across the globe."

Projects completed so far are part of the plan, to completely transform Jerusalem's Old City, Al-Ruwaidi adding:

America's Dirty Secret: ApPak War Not Winnable

America's Dirty Secret: AfPak War Not Winnable - by Stephen Lendman

Before dying, Richard Holbrooke admitted it, saying "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." The Washington Post reinterpreted it, saying:

"Holbrooke's death is the latest complication in an effort plagued by unreliable partners, reluctant allies and an increasingly skeptical American public."

They're not alone. Include noted analysts, administration officials, the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), and Pentagon top brass. An earlier article discussed it, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/imperial-americas-end-time.html

A recent article remembered Chalmers Johnson, best known for calling America's global wars and imperialism a "suicide option" unless reversed. Access it through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/11/remembering-chalmers-ashby-johnson...

The True Richard Holbrooke Legacy

The True Richard Holbrooke Legacy - by Stephen Lendman

Dead on December 13 at age 69 after two aorta tear surgeries failed to save him, Western media headlines hailed the man London Guardian writers Ed Pilkington and Adam Gabbat called a "giant of US foreign policy," saying his loss leaves "a substantial hole to fill."

On December 13, New York Times writer Robert McFadden headlined, "Strong American Voice in Diplomacy and Crisis," saying:

"Mr. Holbrooke was hospitalized on (December 10) after becoming ill. (After two major surgeries, he) remained in very critical condition until his death....A brilliant, sometimes abrasive infighter, he used a formidable arsenal of facts, bluffs, whispers, implied threats and, when necessary, pyrotechnic fits of anger to press his positions." For good reason, he was nicknamed "The Bulldozer."

Haiti's Electoral Council Tries Alternate Ways to Legitimize Fraud

Haiti's Electoral Council Tries Alternate Ways to Legitimize Fraud - by Stephen Lendman

It's almost surreal following Haiti's November 28 elections, a process elevating fraud to a new level. So bad, in fact, most candidates demanded voiding it and starting over, but no matter. On December 9, New York Times Deborah Sontag headlined, "Haitian Vote Results to Be Reviewed," saying:

"Seeking to defuse the violent protests that have shut down this country for two days, Haiti's electoral council (CEP) promised....to rapidly review the widely mistrusted preliminary results...."

Honest observers and most candidates condemned them, citing brazen fraud, widespread ballot box stuffing, polling stations opening late, closing early, or not opening at all, staffing them with functional illiterates, omitting voter names from rolls, others told their ID cards were invalid, and numerous other examples of electoral illegitimacy, mocking a free and open process.

Holder Defends Entrapment

Holder Defends Entrapment - by Stephen Lendman

A legal definition. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officials or agents induce, influence, or provoke crimes that otherwise wouldn't be committed. However, it doesn't apply in cases of willingness to act lawlessly, government merely aiding, abetting, or facilitating a good chance to do so.

Entrapment involves the following:

-- government officials or agents initiated the idea;

-- individuals were persuaded to act; and

-- they had no previous intent or willingness to do so.

Key is that prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that subjects weren't entrapped. Otherwise, due process convictions are prohibited, though judicial fairness seldom occurs in cases involving anyone for political reasons, especially Muslims. An earlier article explained.

On the Chopping Block: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

On the Chopping Block: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid - by Stephen Lendman

Planned is death by a thousand cuts - aka "creeping normalcy," defined as a way to make major changes seem normal if happen slowly, incrementally like boiling a frog unaware it's dinner until cooked.

Social Security and Medicare are dinner. Yet both are insurance, not welfare, programs funded by (worker-employer) payroll tax deductions. They're contractual federal obligations to eligible recipients who qualify. You'd never know it the way both programs are publicly discussed, explaining everything but the truth. More on that below.

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