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White House and State Department are in No Position to Issue Credible Denials Regarding Spying Charges
By Dave Lindorff
I wouldn’t want to be Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the 28-year-old former US Marine just recently sentenced to death by a court in Iran after being convicted of being an American spy.
Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian exile parents, and who grew up in Michigan, is being defended by President Obama, whose White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, declared, “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false.” The White House, not content with that denial, went on to trash the Iranian government and legal system, with Vietor adding, “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”
Israel Plans More Walls - by Stephen Lendman
Instead of peace, reconciliation, equity and justice, Israel plans settlement expansions and more Walls. More on them below.
At the same time, Abbas broke his pledge about no peace talks unless settlement expansions stop. Chief negotiators Saeb Erekat and Yitzhak Molcho are meeting in Amman, Jordan. They're joined by Quartet representatives.
Racist Discrimination Against Israeli Arabs - by Stephen Lendman
According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Arab citizens (below called Israeli Arabs) "are discriminated (against) in almost every aspect of their lives," including:
Breaking the major broadcast news media's blackout on the most radical elimination of American rights in U.S. history, Professor of Law Jonathan Turley speaks to BBC on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011 (NDAA), which allows for the indefinite military detention of US citizens without charge or trial in violation of the right to a jury trial guaranteed by the Constitution.
I hope to see many of you reading this message on Wednesday in Washington, DC, as we dramatically represent the 2,771 men still held indefinitely (89 of whom have even been cleared for release by the U.S. government, yet remain held - no end in sight).
Many others of you will be protesting in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or other places.
Andy Worthington will also be speaking in DC, Chicago, and San Francisco. If you haven't done so already, see the schedule.
Andy Worthington, who is now in the U.S., traveling and speaking about the cases of the men held at the world's most notorious symbol of unjust imprisonment and torture, wrote several days ago:
Bad idea #1: listen to Jack Abramoff.
Bad idea #2: this one I heard from Jack Abramoff who was holding forth on ethical and unethical bribery the other day on National Plutocracy Radio: If you give a candidate money because you love your country that's good. If you give a candidate money because you want a particular favor, that's bad (or, one might add, Abramoffian). The problem of course is that most people can't afford to give money, so your well-intentioned money perverts the government no matter how well-intentioned. It also opens a loophole for all the people who just want those particular favors.
Bad idea #3: leave a loophole for labor unions. This one you can hear from labor unions, which is why all the bills to amend the constitution and undo corporate rights introduced in Congress thus far abide by it. But labor unions are vastly overspent and would still be vastly overspent in a world with a tiny loophole just for unions because the mega corporations would create things that looked like unions to exploit the loophole, on top of which none of the bills will get anywhere unless they remove the loophole.
Bad idea #4: put energy into requiring disclosure of legal bribery rather than prevention of legal bribery. Most of what has already been disclosed about our government is widely unknown. Most of what is known is not acted on. Most of what is acted on is continued just the same. What's needed is an end to corporate personhood and financial speech.
By Charles Davis and Medea Benjamin
In an age when U.S. power can be projected through private mercenary armies and unmanned Predator drones, the U.S. military need no longer rely on massive, conventional ground forces to pursue its imperial agenda, a fact President Barack Obama is now acknowledging. But make no mistake: while the tactics may be changing, the U.S. taxpayer – and poor foreigners abroad – will still be saddled with overblown military budgets and militaristic policies.
Speaking January 5 alongside his Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the president announced a shift in strategy for the American military, one that emphasizes aerial campaigns and proxy wars as opposed to “long-term nation-building with large military footprints.” This, to some pundits and politicians, is considered a tectonic shift.
Freedom: An Endangered Species in America - by Stephen Lendman
Last September, marking the 9/11 tenth anniversary, the ACLU published a report titled, A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11."
Who then could have imagined America engaged in:
Targeting Journalists in Iraq - by Stephen Lendman
March 19 marks Operation Iraqi Freedom's 9th anniversary. Brutal occupation continues. Thousands of US forces remain.
Obama's alleged pullout repositioned troops nearby and left many there. Moreover, an army of paramilitary killers infest the country.
Don't take it from me. Take it from the book being published today that will mainstream the movement to end corporate personhood: "Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do, And What You Can Do About It," by Jeff Clements with foreword by Bill Moyers.
Clements traces the development of the legal doctrine of corporate personhood back long before the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision two years ago this month, in particular to President Richard Nixon's appointment of Lewis Powell to the Supreme Court in 1972. Led by Powell's radical new conception of corporate rights, Clements shows, the court began striking down laws that protected living breathing persons' rights in areas including the environment, tobacco, public health, food, drugs, financial regulation, and elections.
Targeting Journalists Covering OWS Protests - by Stephen Lendman
On September, 17, 2011, US Day of Rage.org organized protests in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, OR, and Austin, TX.
They hoped many more would follow, grow, and spread nationwide. Indeed they have to over 1,000 large and small cities, towns, and communities.
Marwan Barghouti: Prisoner of Conscience - by Stephen Lendman
From March 29 - May 3, 2002, during the second Intifada, Israel conducted Operation Defensive Shield. Before Cast Lead, it was its largest military operation since June 1967 when Israel occupied Palestine.
Merry Julian Calendar Christmas!
Christmas isn't always what it seems. But let's forget the War on Christmas and remember the unreason for the season. Here's a selection of merry japes on the unreality of things christmasy.
A demonstration was held in Baltimore, on Saturday, January 7, 2012, in support of the "Maryland Dream Act." This law was passed by the General Assembly in 2011. It permits in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Then, the law was challenged by opponents. It will now appear on the ballot in November, 2012, via a referendum, for the voters to decide on whether or note it will be enforced. Today's demonstration was sponsored by the ANSWER Coalition, a national organization working for Peace & Justice. Its local organizer, Andrew Castro, shared his views on the event with me.
Killer Cops Aren't Heroes: We Need Police Who Think Like Firefighters, Not Like Soldiers in a War Zone
By Dave Lindorff
The sad slaying of troubled eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez in Brownsville by trigger-happy local police illustrates the sad an dangerous state we have arrived at as we turn our local police forces into SWAT team soldiers up-armed with assault rifles, black facemasks and stun grenades.
The reason Gonzalez, who had no hostages and was just armed with a pellet gun, was killed by police bullets was because the primary concern of the officers confronting him was to eliminate the threat to themselves, not to rescue a troubled kid.
Obama's New Military Strategy - by Stephen Lendman
Obama's January 5 Pentagon news conference reeked of duplicity like all his pronouncements. Surrounded by Joint Chiefs of Staff, hawkishness took center stage.
Stressing a leaner, more agile/flexible military, he said counterterrorism, intelligence and cyberwarfare will be emphasized without sacrificing America's superiority against global enemies.
Libyan Violence and Instability - by Stephen Lendman
NATO's killing machine ravaged a nonbelligerent country posing no threat. Tyranny replaced Jamahiriya government. Violence followed stability.
On January 3, Middle East Online contributor Jay Deshnukh headlined, "Ex-rebels' war for money, power: Fierce clashes erupt in Tripoli," saying:
Much to Forgive: The Story of Bibi Sadia.
By Kathy Kelly
In yesterday's speech, President Obama publicly unveiled elements of the strategy that his administration has quietly been pursuing for some time:
- Shifting its #1 priority to threatening China, including a major naval build-up (the Navy got the lion's share of extra procurement funds in recent years) and new bases;
- JSOC's global "targeted killing" program (under JSOC command in Afghanistan and Somalia, and CIA command in at least 13 more countries);
At what point does "support and defend" become enforceable law? The Oath of Office of congressmen, military officers, and the president, required by Article 6 of the Constitution and, in the case of military officers, by an Act of Congress 13 May 1884, says in substance:
This is where I can't go because I spoke.
And three of my friends got the same deal.
And in the next courtroom over our other friends were convicted by a jury of opposing torture.
And right across the hall our other friend completed her probation for having interrupted Netanyahu even though he thanked her and bragged about how she'd be treated worse in Iran, even though the assault she suffered in the US Capitol put her in a neck brace.
It was a great day for the First Amendment in Washington today.
Now, we're only banned for 6 months, and we can get invitations in writing from Congress or the Supreme Court to come and protest them as a way around the ban (I wonder how that's going to work).
We did happen to be in a Senate committee hearing when we spoke, but they were speaking quite endlessly about corporate trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Korea. They said they'd try to help some of the people they threw out of work. I asked why they didn't just leave them their jobs. I was arrested. Then they spoke a lot about Korean tariffs vs US tariffs on beef, and one of us criminals asked why we really needed to ship beef back and forth across the Pacific. Handcuffs on her. This was in October. Here we are in January finding out what is to be done to us to protect the Homeland.
It turns out we're not a threat to the Homeland at all, just to one little hill.
by WALTER BRASCH
One of the fun things sports writers do is try to predict the winners and scores of upcoming games, from high school through the pros. For special “look-at-us-we’re important” bonus points, they create lists of “Top” teams and rank them, both pre-season and weekly.
Sports writers have some kind of genetic mutation that leads them to believe they know more about sports than the average schlump who spends almost $200 a year for a newspaper subscription and as much as $500 a year for all-access all-games everywhere cable coverage. However, the reality is that even the best prognosticators—sports writers love big words when they can pronounce them—have a record about as accurate as the horoscope on the comics page.
Promoting War on Iran - by Stephen Lendman
In June 2009, a Brookings Institution report titled, "Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran" was a regime change policy paper. Pro-Israeli right-wing ideologues prepared it, including:
Obama Plans More War - by Stephen Lendman
On January 5, Obama held a first ever administration Pentagon news conference. Its thinly veiled hawkishness explained his 2012 military agenda.
The push to attack Iran has been on for so long that entire categories of arguments for it (such as that the Iranians are fueling the Iraqi resistance) have come and gone. At DontAttackIran.org we've been collecting the arguments for and against attacking Iran for years. We've campaigned against an attack, but never been able to claim a success, because decisions not to launch wars are never announced, because those pushing for wars never give up, and because those believing what their government tells them think the Pentagon never campaigns for wars but is forced into them defensively on short notice by attacks from evildoers.
By Dave Lindorff
According to news reports, 15-year-old eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez, who was shot and killed yesterday by police in his middle school in Brownsville, TX, was hit three times: twice in the chest and once “from the back of the head.”
Police say they were called by school authorities because Gonzalez was carrying a gun, which turned out to be a realistic-looking pellet gun, a weapon that uses compressed air to fire a metal pellet which, while perhaps a threat to the eye, does not pose a serious threat to life.