Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Israel Breaches Gaza Ceasefire Agreement

Israel Breaches Gaza Ceasefire Agreement

by Stephen Lendman

Israeli agreements aren't worth the paper they're written on. Straightaway Gaza ceasefire agreed on terms were violated.

Twelve Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) activists were arrested. Their whereabouts remains unknown.

Days earlier, Israeli soldiers targeted Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member Khalida Jarrar in Ramallah.

She's ordered deported to Jericho for six months. She got 24 hours to leave. 

Israel wrongfully accused her of "pos(ing) a threat to the security of the region, so she must be put under special monitoring." More on Jarrar below.

On September 2, Israeli warships used live fire against Palestinian fishermen off Gaza's coast. They did so in flagrant violation of Operation Protective Edge ceasefire terms.

It permits fishing within a six nautical mile limit. They were well inside it. They escaped injury. 

An IDF spokeswoman lied claiming they "deviated from the designated fishing zone."

Israel breached its pledge to ease Gaza's blockade. Palestinians report business as usual.

According to OCHA's Occupied Palestinian Territory deputy head of office Maria Jose Torres:

"(T)here hasn't been any change in the regime of allowing passage for people or goods."

"We were expecting that the agreement of the ceasefire would have some kind of timeline for easing and lifting the blockade but so far" there's nothing.

Hamas spokesman Wael Abu Omar said Gazan authorities expected an immediate easing of restrictions following both sides agreeing to ceasefire terms.

Truck traffic entering Gaza hasn't increased. "We are waiting for what (was) promised, but until now nothing has changed," he said.

Fikr Shaltoot heads the UK-based Medical Aid for the Palestinians. She's disappointed by no change.

"We were hoping to see immediate change on all the crossings. So far I don't see any kind of improvement on this," she said. The need for medical care alone in Gaza is acute, she stressed. 

"Even before the aggression, there were severe shortages of drugs - 28 percent of essential goods were at zero stock," she said. "Now the situation is critical."

Egyptian restrictions remain stringent. Cairo and Tel Aviv conspire against Palestinians. This agreement like earlier ones may collapse.

According to Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson, ceasefire terms have virtually no enforcement mechanisms.

Expect promises Israel made to be broken.  Expect business as usual to continue.

Big Lies accompany all Israeli crimes. Doing so justifies the unjustifiable.

On the same day ceasefire terms were agreed on, Israel demolished the Hebron Islamic Charitable Society's (HICS) dairy factory, as well as five East Jerusalem Bedouin homes, four steel structures, and a barn belonging to the affected families.

According to HICS's chairman Hatim al-Bakri, Israel was responsible for "about 2 million US dollars" in damages.

"Services (HICS) offers to orphans in the Nebron district will be badly affected." During Ramadan, Israel confiscated HICS belongings.

On September 2, Israeli forces opened fire on a vehicle carrying Palestinian workers. They did so at a checkpoint near Qalqiliya.

The driver was critically injured. He lost control of the vehicle. It crashed into the side of the road. A passenger with him was shot.

These type incidents occur with disturbing regularity. They reflect police state lawlessness. They generate fear. 

Many Palestinians aren't sure each day at sunrise if they'll see it set. They live in a virtual war zone.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces raided Anzah village near Jenin. They ransacked dozens of homes. 

They arrested 17 men. They committed no crimes. They kidnapped a Husan village resident near Bethlehem. 

They invade Beta village near Nablus. They prevented area residents and trucks from entering or leaving. 

They set up a roadblock at Beta's entrance. They searched cars. They interrogated residents. They closed Beta's flea market. They did so because stones were thrown at a settler's car.

State terror is official Israeli policy. These type incidents happen multiple times daily. 

Amnesty International calls Israel "trigger happy." Excess force is standard practice. Dozens of Palestinians are murdered annually. 

Thousands are wounded. Thousands more lawlessly arrested and detained. Many get long prison terms. Children are treated like adults.

Persecution, deaths, injuries and imprisonment are part of daily Palestinian life. So is war without mercy whenever Israel chooses for any reason or none at all.

Jarrar is one of many Palestinian victims. She remains in Ramallah. 

“It is my right, as an elected parliamentarian, to stay with my people and to serve them from here," she said.

So I announce that I will not go to Jericho, and I will not implement the military order. I’m staying here serving my people and working from here."

“Transferring me from my house to another city is illegal and is against the international humanitarian law."

"There is now (a supportive) international campaign (on her behalf). I hope this will succeed, but I will not leave the Legislative Council." She remains inside for her safety.

On August 25, 12 Palestinian human rights organizations and three other Palestinian groups addressed UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on behalf of Jarrar. 

In part they said:

"We, the undersigned Palestinian coalitions and associations, request your immediate intervention on behalf of Palestinian Legislative Council Member Khalida Jarrar who has recently been issued with an Israeli military order detailing her forcible transfer."

"At approximately 1.30AM on 20 August 2014 Israeli forces surrounded Jarrar's home in Ramallah and delivered to her the military order which she refused to sign." 

"The order states that Jarrar is 'dangerous to the general security of the area'. Since then she has taken refuge at the PLC building in Ramallah where she remains."

"The current order is clearly a continuation of the Israeli policy of targeting elected representatives of the Palestinian people. There are currently 36 PLC members being held in Israeli prisons, 28 of these are being held in administration, which is a form of detention without charge of trial."

"For too long there has been an unwillingness by yourself as Secretary-General and the United Nations as a whole to pressure Israel to end its occupation policies, whether these be (waging) war on Gaza, the treatment of political prisoners or the targeting of Palestinian elected representatives." 

"It is this unwillingness that has led Israel to believe that it can continue to act free in the knowledge that it will not be held accountable." 

"It is clear that unless enough pressure is brought on Israel, particularly by the United Nations, Israel will not change its policies."

"Jarrar was elected to the PLC in 2006…" She's been "active within Palestinian society for many years."

She notably advocates on behalf of thousands of Palestinian political prisoners.

She heads the PLC Prisoners Committee. She represents the PLC in the Council of Europe.

Israel's military order violates Fourth Geneva articles 42 and 49. They prohibit assigned residency of protected persons as well as forced collective or individual transfers.

The undersigned called on Ban to intervene immediately. To "ensure that (Israel):

  • Immediately revokes the military order related to Jarrar's forcible transfer.

  • Immediately release all imprisoned PLC members, including all those held under administrative detention, and cease its policy of targeting PLC members."

Signed by:

Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Organization


Aldameer Association for Human Rights

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

Defense for Children International Palestine Section

Ensan Center for Human Rights and Democracy

Hurryyat - Centre for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights

Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights

Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling

Palestine Bar Association

Palestinian Journalist Syndicate

PNGO - Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network

On September 2, Haaretz editors headlined "Netanyahu's government is not serious about peace," saying:

His "conduct during most of his time in office makes a mockery of his various slogans and declarations concerning new diplomatic opportunities."

Straightaway after to agreeing to Gaza ceasefire terms, declaring a "diplomatic vision" and "new opportunities in the Middle East," business as usual continued.

He prioritizes violence and instability. He "continues to prove right the Palestinians' claims that Israel has no interest in peace talks." 

His Civil Administration confiscated nearly 1,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land. He breached core international law doing so.

On the one hand, he promises peace. On the other, he goes out of his way to prevent it.

He "turn(ed) Israel into an internationally boycotted pariah state that sacrifices the possibility of peace on the altar of its imperialist and messianic aspirations…"

He "perpetuates…bloody conflict." Operation Protective Edge was the latest example. It followed others. It assures more to come.

Rogue terror states operate this way. Israel and America are the world's worst. They commit virtually every crime imaginable and then some.

They violate core international laws in the process. What can't go on forever, won't. 

Nations that live by the sword, die by it. Humanity hopes it can't happen a moment too soon.

A Final Comment

On September 2, Israeli media said Netanyahu told a closed cabinet session he won't send a delegation to Cairo for further discussions.

Operation Protective Edge ceasefire terms require both sides to do so. Major issues remain unresolved. So does addressing Israeli violations.

According to Palestinian Cairo delegation member Qais Abd al-Karim, Israeli ceasefire term breaches render the agreement null and void. 

Things appear heading this way now. Broken promises follow virtually all Israeli agreements. 

It systematically breaches what it pledges. Expect nothing different this time.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


Castro Compares NATO to Nazis

Castro Compares NATO to Nazis

by Stephen Lendman

In a Monday Cuba state media article, Castro accused Washington and EU allies of warmongering. 

He compared NATO to Hitler's SS. More on what he said below.

At age 88, Castro is outspoken on geopolitical issues mattering most. His intellect remains keen. 

His honesty and integrity are impeccable. His forthrightness is noteworthy. His knowledge of vital issues is impressive. 

He survived hundreds of US attempts to kill him, a punishing embargo and countless other hostile acts.

In 2006, illness forced him to step down. Reports at the time erroneously pronounced him dead or dying.

He recovered and remains active. Hopefully he has many more productive years left.

On the occasion of his 88th birthday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro called him the "central figure of the new independence of Latin America and the Caribbean."

“Fidel Castro is the refounding of the ideas of José Martí and the Bolivarian project in the twentieth century, which led him to victory on an island that was in the plans of colonization of America." 

"Even his bitterest opponents will have to recognize that Fidel managed to bring out the Cuban sentiment, independence and took the island from the colonial clutches of the United States forever, but never in history will be settled."

"Fidel is a giant," said Maduro. He's a role model for right over wrong. He's a legend in his own time. He's polar opposite rogue Western leaders.

US-led NATO is a global killing machine. It threatens humanity's survival. 

It prioritizes war. It deplores peace. It ravages and destroys one country after another. 

Humanity's survival depends on eliminating this cancer once and for all. The alternative is too grim to tolerate.

Castro accused Western politicians of hypocrisy and aggression. The West is "a symbol of imperialist policy," he said. 

Instead of waging war, "governments should produce food and industrial products, build hospitals and schools for the billions of human beings who desperately need them; promote art and culture, struggle against epidemics which (kill) half of the sick (and) finally eliminate…cancer" and many other life-threatening diseases.

"Many people are astonished when they hear the statements made by some European spokesmen for NATO when they speak with the style and face of the Nazi SS." 

"Adolf Hitler's greed-based empire went down in history with no more glory than the encouragement provided to NATO's aggressive and bourgeois governments, which makes them the laughing stock of Europe and the world."

"The world has seen no respite in recent years, particularly since the European Economic Community, under the strict and unconditional leadership of the United States, decided the time had come to settle scores with what was left of two great nations (Russia and China) that…had carried out the heroic deed of putting an end to the imperialist colonial order imposed on the world by Europe and the United States."

Cuba will keep resisting, he stressed. "(T)here is no worse price than capitulating before an enemy who attacks you without any right to do so."

"When the USSR disintegrated and disappeared from the socialist landscape, we continued resisting and together, the state and the revolutionary people, we're continuing our independent march."

Castro praised the former Soviet Union for "gathering its resources and sharing its technology with a large number of weak and less developed nations, the inevitable victims of colonial exploitation." 

He accused Senator John McCain of supporting Israel's Mossad. Washington and Israel created the Islamic State, he said.

Today it "controls a considerable and vital portion of Iraq and reportedly one-third of Syria as well."

"Global society has known no peace in recent years, particularly since the European Economic Community, under the absolute, inflexible direction of the United States, decided that the time had come to settle accounts with what remained of two great nations which, inspired by the ideas of Marx, had achieved the great feat of ending the imperialist colonial order imposed on the world by Europe and the United States."

"Would a true society of nations be convenient or not, in the current world, one in which respect is shown for rights, beliefs, culture, technologies and resources in accessible places around the world…"

"And wouldn't the world be much more just today…if people saw in others a friend or brother, and not an enemy disposed to kill, with weapons which human knowledge has been capable of creating?"

"Believing that human beings could be capable of having such objectives, I think that absolutely no one has the right to destroy cities; murder children; pulverize homes; sow terror, hunger and death anywhere." 

"In what corner of the world can such acts be justified?"

"A colossal fraud is what is seen today, as problems emerge which suggest the possible eruption of a war, with the use of weapons which could mean the end of human existence."

"There are unscrupulous actors, apparently more than a few, which consider meritorious their willingness to die, but above all to kill in defense of their indecent privileges."

"Cynicism is something which has become symbolic of imperial policy."

Castro remains outspoken on major issues. He worries most about possible nuclear war. In March 2012, his article headlined "The roads leading to disaster."

"As far as I am concerned," he said, "I do not harbor the slightest doubt that the United States is about to commit, and lead the world toward, the greatest error in its history."

"Does anyone think that the United States will be capable of acting with the independence that could preserve it from the inevitable disaster awaiting it?"

"It is really extraordinary to observe a nation so powerful technologically and a government so bereft of both ideas and moral values."

"The Israeli government has openly declared its intention to attack the enriched uranium production plant in Iran, and the government of the United States has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in manufacturing a bomb for that purpose."

"Imagine United States (and/or Israeli) forces dropping monstrous bombs, capable of penetrating 60 meters of cement, on industrial facilities. Never before has such an adventure been conceived."

In a July 2010 videotaped interview, he expected Washington and Israel to target Iran, saying:

"When they launch war, they’re going to launch it there. It cannot help but be nuclear. I believe the danger of war is growing a lot. They are playing with fire."

At stake is humanity's survival, Castro explained. It's being "led inexorably toward disaster," he believes. He hasn't "the slightest doubt," he said.

In August 2010, his article headlined "Nuclear Winter," saying:

"(W)e do not need a nuclear world war for our species to perish. A nuclear conflict between any two nations can do it."

"A nuclear war is inevitable," he added. It could happen any time for any reason.

On July 18, his article titled "Astonishing Provocation" blamed Kiev for downing MH17. At the same time, he denounced Israel's Operation Protective Edge.

He called it "a heinous crime." Washington fully backed it. "Obama did not support David against Goliath, but Goliath against David," he said.

"I only wish to express my solidarity with this heroic people defending the last inch of what was their homeland for thousands of years," he added.

In his Monday Cuba state media article, Castro said "(j)ust ideas will triumph, or disaster will triumph."

Given Washington's imperial agenda, he very much fears the latter.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


Monday, September 01, 2014

Elizabeth Warren: Hold the Cheers

Elizabeth Warren: Hold the Cheers

by Stephen Lendman

Populism isn't a Beltway attribute. Or good faith. Or supporting government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly. 

Monied interests run America. Republicans and Democrats serve at their discretion. They constitute duopoly power. 

They're two sides of the same coin. On major issues mattering most, not a dime's worth of difference separates them.

In September 2010, Obama appointed then Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren as interim Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP) head until a permanent director was named.

Appointing her let the agency begin operating without going through a potentially contentious Senate confirmation battle.

She became an assistant to the president and advisor to then Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner.

In July 2011, former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray replaced her. It didn't matter. BCFP is largely toothless.

It's nominally charged with overseeing banking practices with regard to credit cards, mortgages, payday loans, student loans, and other consumer financial products.

It provides consumer-friendly cover for ineffective Dodd-Frank legislation. Enactment did nothing to curtail practices responsible for 2008 financial crisis conditions.

Warren is no consumer rights champion. She did nothing to urge prosecution of Wall Street crooks. She's part of the problem, not the solution. 

She's no threat to business as usual. Her so-called progressive credentials are fake. 

They're based on occasional weak-kneed banking industry criticisms. They're too tepid to matter. Toothless best describes them.

She avoids criticizing appalling administration policies. Its war on humanity doesn't bother her. 

Nor protracted Main Street Depression conditions. Nor Obama's homeland police state apparatus. 

Nor Israel's genocidal Operation Protective Edge. More on this below.

She "came up the hard way," she says. She claims her life's work is fighting for middle class families. Her position on key issues belies her high-minded rhetoric.

At age 16, she was an Oklahoma state champion debater. She's a University of Houston and Rutgers Law School graduate. She was editor of its Law Review.

She taught law at Rutgers, the University of Michigan, the University of Houston Law Center, the University of Texas School of Law, and University of Pennsylvania's School of Law.

In 1992, she became Harvard Law School's Gottlieb Professor of Law.

She's a former FDIC Committee on Economic Inclusion and Executive Council of the National Bankruptcy Conference member.

She served as an American Law Institute vice-president. She was chief advisor to the National Bankruptcy Review Commission.

She chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel created to oversee the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

Her writings include dozens of articles, six academic books and several best-selling ones.

In September 2011, she announced her senatorial candidacy. She challenged Republican incumbent Scott Brown.

On November 6, 2012, she became Massachusetts' first female senator. She holds Ted Kennedy's former seat. 

She serves on the Committee on Aging, the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

She's touted as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. She says she has no plan to run.

During a late August town hall meeting, she defended the indefensible. She supports Israel's right bomb and shell hospitals, schools, mosques and residential neighborhoods.

She did so based on its spurious claim about targeting Hamas rockets inside or nearby.

"(W)hen Hamas puts its rocket launchers next to hospitals, next to schools, they're using their civilian population to protect their military assets," she claimed.

"And I believe Israel has a right, at that point, to defend itself," she added.

She's mindless of well-planned preemptive Israeli aggression. She ludicrously claimed the "last thing Israel wants" is civilian casualties.

Targeting them is official Israeli policy. It's called Dahiya or the Dahiya Doctrine.

It's named after a Beirut suburb. Israeli forces attacked and destroyed it during their 2006 Lebanon war of aggression.

General Gadi Eizenkot is the most prominent Dahiya exponent. He explained it as follows, saying:

"We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy's weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction."

"From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities), they are military bases."

"This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved."

War without mercy is official Israeli policy. Civilians are targeted like combatants. Children are treated like adults. Women like men.

All Israeli wars are dirty ones. Rules of war don't matter. Or core international laws, norms and standards.

Warren defended the indefensible. Over 2,100 dead Palestinians don't matter. 

The vast majority were civilians. They included over 550 children and hundreds of women.

Israel murdered 89 entire families in cold blood. Warren irresponsibly blames Hamas for Israeli crimes.

She justified premeditated aggression based on America's "very special relationship with Israel." It supports its killing machine.

Both nations partner in high crimes against peace. According to Warren:

"Israel lives in a very dangerous part of the world, and a part of the world where there aren't many liberal democracies and democracies that are controlled by the rule of law."

"And we very much need an ally in that part of the world."

Israel is no democracy. It never was. For sure not now under Netanyahu-led extremists. 

Fascists best describes them. Palestinian lives don't matter. Or rule of law inviolability.

Or Israel murdering Palestinian journalists and medical workers. And killing children while they sleep.

And displacing almost one-third of Gaza's 1.7 million people. And leaving thousands of Palestinians homeless.

And hundreds of Gazan children orphaned. Who'll care for them  with parents and for many extended families gone?

Who'll provide love and nurturing? Who'll comfort them in times of need?

Eleven-year-old Amir Hamad perhaps spoke for others saying he'd "rather be dead than without my mother and father."

They were home drinking coffee after breaking their Ramadan fast. An Israeli missile struck their house in northern Gaza.

"I saw them lying on the ground and knew immediately they were dead," said Amir.

He's the oldest of five children. "I'll look after my brothers and sisters," he said.

"But I'm scared because my parents are no longer here." Surviving family members include their grandmother and grandfather.

They'll cope best they can, they said. Eight-year-old Bisan Daher lost both parents and several brothers.

"We were all at home," she said. "We don't have anything to hide. No rockets. But they hit our house while we were all inside."

Bandaged from injuries she sustained, she said "(n)ow mum and dad and my brothers are in heaven."

"I really want to see (them) again." She's lucky to be alive. She was trapped under rubble for six hours.

Paramedics found her in time. She's traumatized by what happened. She can't sleep. She cries for what she misses most.

Gaza has only one orphanage. War left it overwhelmed. It hasn't the capacity or resources to cope.

Over 200 schools Israel damaged or destroyed can't open. Eight hospitals it targeted operate at below normal capacity.

Warren is like virtually all other Democrats and Republicans. Her Senate campaign web site called it "a moral duty imperative to support and defend Israel."

"(A)s a United States Senator, I will work to ensure Israel's security and success," she added. Washington's special relationship alone matters.

Both countries threaten world peace. Together they menace humanity.

James Petras once said "(t)he US-Israeli relationship is the first in modern history in which the imperial country covers up a deliberate major military assault by a supposed ally."

He referred to the 1967 USS Liberty attack. Israel bombed and strafed it. Dozens of US seamen were killed. 

Around 170 were wounded. The vessel was heavily damaged. Israel got away with murder. It wasn't the first time or last.

Washington supports its worst crimes. Operation Protective Edge is the latest example. Bernie Sanders is another faux liberal.

He supports Israel's killing machine. He defends funding and arming it. On the one hand, he deplores targeting civilians.

On the other, It's OK "in a situation where Hamas is sending missiles into Israel (from) populated areas."

Except for farmland, Gaza is practically bereft of open spaces. It's heavily congested.

Hamas rockets are pinpricks compared to Israeli firepower. They respond to Israeli aggression. They're not launched preemptively.

Sanders claims he has no magic solution to end decades of conflict. He ignores the obvious.

Isolate Israel. Impose stiff sanctions. End America's special relationship once and for all. 

End all US funding. arming and other support. Boycott all Israeli products. Cut off all Western investments.

What better way to target its killing machine. It's guilty of every high crime imaginable and then some. 

It's high time that changed. It's time its culpable officials were held accountable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


Organized Labor in America Today

Organized Labor in America Today

by Stephen Lendman

Labor Day once had meaning. Workers had reason to celebrate hard won rights. No longer. More on this below. 

The day is commemorated on the first Monday of September. It's been so since 1882.

In June 1894, it became a federal holiday. It was when workers had few rights. Management controlled things. Labor was systematically exploited.

It took many years of organizing, taking to the streets, going on strike, boycotting management, battling police and National Guard forces, and paying with blood and lives to win rights.

They included an eight-hour day, a living wage, employer-paid benefits, and passage of the 1935 landmark Wagner Act.

It established the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It guaranteed labor the right to bargain collectively on equal terms with management. It did so for the first time.

Erosion followed. War on working Americans decimated organized labor. Hard won rights were lost.

Membership has been in steady decline from its 1950s 34.7% post-war high. It remained constant through most of the 1970s.

In 1979, it was 24%. In the late 1980s, it was 16.8%. It's currently around 11%. It's the lowest rate since 1916.

Private sector unionization stands at 6.5%. It's the lowest rate in over a century. 

The business of America is business. America is corporate occupied territory.

Political Action Committees, lobbyists, well-connected consultants, and business-friendly think tanks exert enormous influence.

In 1938, Franklin Roosevelt said:

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself." 

"That, in its essence, is fascism - ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power."

Today it's worse than ever. Monied interests run things. Democracy in America is fantasy. Its criminal class is bipartisan. 

Politicians are bought like toothpaste. Worker rights are systematically smashed. They're heading toward disappearing altogether.

Public sector unionization stands at 35%. Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of government jobs were lost. States and municipalities slashed services and payrolls.

Last year, it largely affected public assistance programs, administrative and support services, public schools and state universities.

Unions did little to fight back. They're corporate occupied territory. Corrupted union bosses and politicians sold out to management for personal gain.

Bargaining collectively with bosses on equal terms no longer exists. Battle lines are drawn. Public and private sector worker rights are threatened unless mobilized resistance saves them.

According to economist Jack Rasmus, trade unionism in America today "is on the road to nowhere." Decades of decline now accelerate.

Since the late 1970s, "union labor in the USA has been steadily in retreat…industrially and politically," says Rasmus.

If current trends continue, trade unionism may disappear entirely in another decade. "Union labor is at a strategic impasse," Rasmus believes.

He's unaware of any "broad-based, grass roots discussion and debate within (its) ranks (to stem) its precipitous decline."

It represents failed organization strategy. Traditional collective bargaining lost clout in terms of generating living wage jobs, healthcare, other important benefits, hours worked, and retirement benefits.

Inflation adjusted wages for full-time workers have been stagnant since the late 1970s. Wages for all union worker categories today are lower. According to Rasmus:

"…When union unemployed, involuntarily part time employed, millions of union workers who have left the labor force, those who prematurely took disability to avoid layoff, those pressured to take early retirement packages that prevent them from working and pay less, etc., are all factored in - union wages may actually be lower in adjusted real terms than they were even three decades ago."

At the same time, offshoring, technological change, so-called free trade agreements, and other anti-labor initiatives lost up to 10 million union jobs.

Vital benefits eroded or disappeared entirely with them. Pensions were destroyed. 

Increasing amounts of healthcare costs shifted from employers to workers. Obamacare provisions assure union negotiated employer healthcare coverage will end entirely within a few years.

Workers will be on their own for what's become increasingly unaffordable. 

"Both pension and healthcare bargaining are destined to fade from the workplace in the not too distant future." says Rasmus.

Labor's ability to influence enactment of worker-friendly legislation has been declining for decades.

Democrats are as anti-labor as Republicans. Workers are increasingly on their own. Welcome to low-wage America.

High-pay/good benefit jobs are offshored and lost. Low-pay/part-time/temp/low of no-benefit ones replace them.

Millions live from paycheck to paycheck. Most have little or no savings.

They're one missed payday from possible destitution, homelessness, hunger and despair.

Most jobs pay poverty or sub-poverty wages. Households need two or more to survive.

Real unemployment exceeds 23%. It makes finding one hard. For millions, finding living wage ones with good benefits is impossible.

Obama's job creation claims are more fantasy than real. He's more jobs destroyer than creator.

He's beholden to monied interests. He prioritizes cutting corporate taxes. It does nothing to create jobs.

Real unemployment persists at Depression era levels. Nothing is done to change things.

Workers deserve social justice. Bipartisan complicity denies them.

Class warfare rages. Neoliberal harshness is official policy. Inequality grows exponentially.

So-called economic recovery is fake. It's absent on Main Street. It's only in corporate profits, financial gains and greater than ever super-wealth.

Most US households struggle. From 2007 to 2012, real median household income declined from $55,600 to $51,017.

The entire fabric of America changed. It did so for the worst. Three decades ago, an auto assembly worker earned $30 an hour or more plus good benefits.

Today it's $15 an hour for new workers with greatly eroded benefits heading toward elimination altogether.

Industrial America like it once was is gone. Workers today face conditions replicating 19th century harshness.

Democrats like Republicans make low-wage labor a centerpiece of their economic policy.

Industrial hubs are shells of their former selves. Detroit symbolizes America's decline. It lost a fourth of its population.

Once mighty Motown resembles a ghost town. It's dying. It's bankrupt. 

Over half its working age residents have no jobs. Most others have rotten ones. They don't pay enough to live on.

"Gary Indiana lost 22% of its population." St. Louis 20%. Flint Michigan 18%. Cleveland 17%. 

Industrialized countries alone enjoy developed economic status. Offshoring manufacturing reverses the development process.

Doing so shows a nation in decline. High-paying/good benefits/full-time jobs are disappearing in plain sight. 

Rotten ones replaced them. America is being thirdworldized. 

It's increasingly a nation of low-paid/unskilled clerks, food preparers, waitresses, bartenders, dishwashers, maids, cashiers, cab drivers, hosts and hostesses, amusement park attendants, movie theater ushers and ticket takers, farm workers, home care providers, and non-professional medical ones.

Economic development depends on "capital, technology, business knowledge, and trained" skilled workers, Paul Craig Roberts explains.

"US capital and technology are being located abroad..." Skilled US workers are disappearing. De-industrialization is the new normal. 

America is a shell of its former self. So is trade unionism compared to its heyday. It's fast-tracking toward vanishing altogether.

Labor Day commemorates US worker struggles. Trade unionism's main one is survival in a nation beholden to capital.

Corporate giants control things. Workers get the best democracy money can buy. The state of today's America is deplorable.

It's being systematically thirdworldized. Unemployment, underemployment, poverty and despair are today's growth industries. A race to the bottom defines things.

Israel's Latest Land Grab

Israel's Latest Land Grab

by Stephen Lendman

On Sunday, Israel's Civil Administration announced confiscation of around 1,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land. 

It lawlessly declared it State Land. It's to establish a Gva'ot settlement. It's located south of Bethlehem. It's in the Southern West Bank.

Peace Now calls itself "the leading voice of Israeli public pressure for peace." It called Israel's action "unprecedented."

In 1984, Gva'ot was established as a military base. Earlier, Israel's Housing Ministry planned to build 15,000 units. The idea was to establish a city in Gva'ot.

Smaller plans substituted. The new announcement expands Gva'ot. It'll become a new settlement. It may connect to the Green Line.

Peace Now called Sunday's announcement "proof (that) Netanyahu does not (want) a new 'Diplomatic Horizon' but" intends blocking Palestinian self-determination.

He and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon bear full responsibility for Sunday's declaration. It "cannot pass without their approval," said Peace Now.

By confiscating another 1,000 acres of privately owned Palestinian land, they "prove(d) again that violence delivers Israeli concessions while nonviolence results in settlement expansion(s)."

Peace Now official Hagit Ofran believes "Netanyahu will carry out a lot of expansion(s) because of the pressure he feels from his right wing and the feeling that the (Gaza) war did not end up with many successes."

Confiscated land belongs to five Palestinian villages. They include Jaba, Surif, Wadi Fukin, Husan and Nahalin. They lie between the Etzion settlement bloc and Jerusalem.

At issue is connecting Etzion to Jerusalem and its surrounding area. Last year, Israel sought bids for 1,000 housing units on the site.

Over 500 are being built. Ten families reside on the site. Many more will follow.

Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh urged Israel to cancel the takeover. "This decision will only inflame the situation after the war in Gaza," he said.

Senior PLO official Hanan Ashrawi called Sunday's announcement a "deliberate intent to wipe out any Palestinian presence on the land and to willfully impose a de facto one-state solution."

Since mid-June, Israel announced nearly 1,500 new settlement units. They're intended for about 6,000 West Bank settlers.

They're generally built on hills. They're located in and around Palestinian towns and villages.

They encircle them. They isolate them. They make a viable Palestinian state impossible. 

Official Israeli policy goes all-out to prevent it. It intends confiscating all valued parts of Judea and Samaria.

It wants maximum Jews and minimum Arabs. It ignores international law in the process.

Fourth Geneva's Article 49 prohibits occupying powers from transferring its citizens from its own territory to land it occupies.

Hague Regulations ban occupying powers from making permanent changes in occupied areas they control unless what's done benefits the entire local population. 

An exception is made in cases of verifiable military necessity. None exists in this case.

Establishing settlements violate fundamental Palestinian rights. They're enshrined in international human rights law.

Settlements prevent self-determination. They deny equality. They block free movement. They benefit the occupying power at the expense of the local population.

By legal, military and administrative means, Israel prohibits Palestinian construction and development on about 40% of West Bank land.

It includes about 70% of Area C where Israel maintains full control. 

Off-limit areas include:

  • settlements and regional councils;

  • state land;

  • closed military zones; 

  • nature reserves;

  • national parks; 

  • area for Israel's Separation Wall;

  • free-firing zones;

  • commercial locations; 

  • no-go areas;

  • Jews-only roads;

  • checkpoints;

  • other barriers; and other exclusively Jewish areas.

Since 1967, Israel established 125 West Bank settlements, 100 outposts, and 12 neighborhoods.

Settler enclaves were built in East Jerusalem areas. They include the Old City's Muslim Quarter, Silwan, Sheikh Jarrach, Mount of Olives, Ras al-Amud, Abu Dis, and Jabal al-Mukabber.

In 2005, 16 Gaza settlements were dismantled as part of Israel's disengagement plan. Residents were shifted to other settlement locations.

Occupied Palestine reflects militarized colonization and discriminatory apartheid. It's worse than what South Africa experienced. Separate and unequal is official Israeli policy. 

Civil law governs settlers. Military orders deprive Palestinians of all fundamental rights. They have no control over their daily lives. Their land is systematically stolen. 

Since Oslo, settler population tripled from around 200,000 in 1993 to about 600,000 today. 

It's growing exponentially. It's on stolen Palestinian land. It doesn't matter. Israel operates unaccountably.

Palestinian rights don't matter. They're denied free expression and movement. Their homes are bulldozed and destroyed. They're uprooted and displaced.

They're forbidden from returning to land once theirs. They're denied redress. 

West Bank reconfiguration plans intend to isolate them in ghettoized bantustans. Sovereign viability is impossible.

Two states once were possible. No longer. Israel controls around 60% of the West Bank. 

It has much of East Jerusalem. More is added daily. When completed, Israel's Annexation Wall will control over 10% of Palestine.

One state comprised of Israel and Occupied Palestine alone works now. Nothing else is viable. 

Conditions for Palestinians are intolerable. Occupation, land theft, dispossessions, inequality, a permanent non-Jewish underclass, instability, and conflict reflect daily life.

Peace, equity and justice remain pure fantasy. Permanent militarized occupation is official Israeli policy.

From 1967 to 1977, around 30 settlements were established. They were mainly in Jordan Valley locations. Population numbered about 5,000.

Under Prime Minister Menachem Begin (1977 - 1983), things changed dramatically. A new pattern emerged.

Heartland/central ridge West Bank settlements were established. Construction tempo increased.

Dozens of new settlements were added. Increasing amounts of Palestinian land were stolen. 

Construction today continues unabated. Palestinians are driven from their own land. 

What they most value is being systematically confiscated. Self-determination remains a distant dream.

Separately, Netanyahu appeared on three Israeli television networks over the weekend. He defended the indefensible.

He called Operation Protective Edge successful. Palestinians must choose between "Hamas or peace." Toppling Hamas remains an option, he said.

"I never removed the goal of toppling Hamas, and I am not doing that now," he stressed.

"When I look around and see al-Qaida on the (Israeli/Syrian border), ISIS moving toward Jordan and already in Lebanon, with Hezbollah there already, supported by Iran, I defined the goal in the cabinet of delivering a hard blow to Hamas, and we did that."

"I can not rule out the occupation of Gaza,” he added. “I don't know if we will get to that." 

"I thought the best thing is to crush (Hamas). It might be that they are still there, but they are crushed, isolated and unable to smuggle in arms." 

"I think that creates a chance for prolonged quiet, but if not, I won't bear a drizzle of rockets."

Netanyahu left unexplained they're virtually never preemptive. They follow Israeli aggression in self-defense. 

It doesn't matter. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli crimes. They repeat multiple times daily. 

Western media ignore them. israel operates extrajudicially with impunity. 

During the late stages of Operation Protective Edge alone, Israel conducted dozens of military incursions into Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem communities.

Civilian homes were raided pre-dawn. They were ransacked. Families were terrorized.

Dozens of Palestinians were arrested despite having committed no crimes.

In August, nearly 600 West Bank and East Jerusalem Palestinians were arrested. The Palestinian News & Information Agency (WAFA) called what happened "the cruelest arrest operations launched since mid-June."

Since July 12, Israel kidnapped more than 2,000 Palestinians. They followed the killing of three settlers. 

Despite no corroborating evidence, Israel automatically blamed Hamas. Mass West Bank and East Jerusalem arrests followed. So did Operation Protective Edge.

Collective punishment is official Israeli policy. The Hague Regulations, Geneva III, Geneva IV, Additional Protocols I and II as well as other international laws strictly prohibit it.

It doesn't matter. Israeli accountability never follows.

Around 7,000 Palestinians languish in Israel's gulag. It's one of the world's worst. The vast majority are political prisoners.

They include around 250 children and 19 women. Nearly 500 are serving life terms for wanting to live free on their own land in their own country.

Around 500 others are administratively detained without charges or trial. Six former Palestinian ministers are imprisoned. So are 36 legislators for belonging to the wrong political parties.

Healthcare provided Palestinian prisoners is deplorable. Around 1,500 suffer from serious illnesses and diseases.

They include cancer, heart disease, liver ailments and paralysis. Since 1967, 205 Palestinian prisoners died from torture, medical neglect, or cold-blooded murder.

Dozens more more died shortly after release. They did so from illnesses contracted in prison.

It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Israel is a lawless rogue terror state. Decades of Palestinian suffering attest to its brutality.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Ukraine

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Ukraine

by Stephen Lendman

Russia's efforts to end Ukrainian crisis conditions are heroic. Washington obstructionism prevents it. 

Complicit EU states share blame. So does Kiev's illegitimate putschist government.

Daily Western propaganda rages out-of-control. It represents upside reality. Truth is repeatedly suppressed. Big Lies substitute.

Russian Federation Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov is a world class diplomat. He deplores war. He champions peace.

He tirelessly pursues it. His heroic efforts to end Syrian and Ukrainian conflicts stand out.

He's done it despite ruthless US-led Western opposition. He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition.

War criminals most often get it. Obama is Exhibit A. Nobel committee members believe war is peace. They disgrace themselves in the process.

On August 29, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) addressed ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

It debunked spurious claims about Russian aggression. About so-called cross-border incursions of its troops and armored vehicles.

"(S)erious questions" are raised, it said.

"Why do those clamouring for an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council consistently block our proposals for a comprehensive discussion of the origins of the Ukrainian tragedy and for collective action on a solution that serves the interests of all Ukrainian people, and instead treat Ukraine like a bargaining chip in unilateral geopolitical schemes?"

"Why do our partners in the UN Security Council, the OSCE and other international organisations consistently refuse to discuss the aerial bombardment and shelling of Ukrainian cities and towns, where entire neighbourhoods, schools, kindergartens, hospitals and Orthodox churches are destroyed and civilians continue to be killed?"

"Why do the Western capitals continue only to urge the Kiev government to use 'proportionate' force instead of denouncing these crimes?"

Why does Western rhetoric belie its policies? Why do its leaders block efforts to end actions harming civilians?

Why do they choose war over peace? Why do they consistently, violate core international laws? Why repeatedly? Why flagrantly?

Western nations "surely understand that the military objective of the self-defence forces in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions is to push back Ukrainian forces to a distance where they are unable to use heavy weaponry, including multiple-launch rocket systems and ballistic missiles, against cities, killing innocent civilians and destroying critical infrastructure," said Russia's MFA.

When Kiev demands "capitulation" as a precondition for negotiations, self-defense forces have "no choice but to keep fighting to defend their homes and families."

Parts of the Russian/Ukrainian border aren't clearly demarcated. Nationals and military personnel on both sides often cross over unwittingly.

Russian authorities avoid incidents. They "expect Ukraine to act in a reciprocal way and without delay," said Russia's MFA.

Ten Russian detained paratroopers were finally returned home. It was days after very difficult negotiations. 

Airborne Forces deputy commander Major-General Aleksey Ragozin said "we never abandon our own."

At the same time, he "consider(s) it unacceptable that for so many days our soldiers were held by the Ukrainian side and, moreover, were transferred to Kiev."

"(H)undreds of Ukrainian soldiers who found themselves on the territory of Russia, after the provision of comprehensive care by the relevant authorities were immediately transferred back to Ukraine."

Most recently, 63 Kiev troops crossed into Russia this week. They were transported to the Ukrainian side without incident.

Russia's MFA "call(ed) on Kiev to end provocations against Russian diplomatic missions and staff in Ukraine." 

The latest outrage occurred on 28 August in Kiev. Russian Embassy security staff were involved, "including the bodyguard of the Russian Ambassador." 

"They were detained while exiting a cafe under the patently fabricated charge of carrying grenades, even though they showed their diplomatic passports." 

"We insist on the immediate release of all Russian Embassy staff and urge Kiev to refrain from further violations of international conventions on diplomatic immunity."

Regarding combatants in Southeastern Ukraine, foreign volunteers fight for both sides.

Those supporting self-defense forces are wrongfully called Russian troops. Kiev volunteers and mercenaries go unmentioned.

Russia's MFA "repeatedly inquired about specific media reports on this matter with our partners, including the 'work' of retired US Special Forces soldiers in Ukraine and the role of US advisers and instructors in planning the operations of Ukrainian forces."

The international community's "selective outrage" over this issue won't help end crisis conditions.

Key is what's most important, said Russia's MFA: "the need for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire followed quickly by an inclusive national dialogue in Ukraine."

All sides agreed on this earlier. Russia honored its agreement. Kiev violated it straightaway. Washington and key EU partners "torpedo(ed)" implementation.

Ukraine's multiethnic population "depends on national reconciliation."

Russia is committed to keep "work(ing) persistently to create conditions for negotiations by fostering trust between the opposing sides and taking practical measures to de-escalate the situation and help people who are suffering from the humanitarian crisis." 

"This is the message expressed by President Vladimir Putin in his address on 29 August." 

"We are urging all sides in Ukraine and all Western partners to show the good will to find a purely peaceful solution to the problems we face."

Good will isn't a Washington attribute. Or EU one. Or what characterizes Kiev fascists.

War without mercy takes precedence. So does advancing America's imperium. 

It includes making the world safe for Western monied interests. It lets popular needs go begging. It's raping and pillaging nations for profit.

It's stealing their resources. It's exploiting their people. It's risking humanity ending nuclear war to achieve imperial objectives. 

It's madness. It's official US policy. It's longstanding. It risks the unthinkable if not stopped.

Separately, Russia's MFA addressed a new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights report on Ukraine.

Despite "hundreds of thousands" of Southeastern Ukrainians fleeing cross border to Russia for safety, Moscow's efforts to help them are ignored.

So is blocking an investigation to learn Kiev's responsibility for downing MH17. "(S)elf-defense fighters (were) falsely accused of barring the access of experts to the crash site."

"…Ukrainian security forces…directed tank fire at roads leading to (it) to keep the experts out."

UN report authors regurgitated "propaganda of Kiev and the West," said Russia's MFA.

They "spread false allegations about the self-defence forces of Donetsk and Lugansk and heap praise on the efforts of the Kiev authorities in 'liberated' areas."

At the same time, the human death, injury, displacement and destruction tolls are so "horrifying," it's impossible to let it go unmentioned.

The report partially addresses Kiev's high crimes against peace. 

They include air, artillery, ground forces and mercenary battalion attacks, as well as "mass abduction(s), detention(s), torture and murder of people and in cleansing operations targeting dissenters."

The report notes "the absence of any progress in" investigating the Odessa and Mariupol massacres.

Since May, Russia called for genuine independent investigations to no avail. Or to who bears responsibility for Maidan violence.

Culpable neo-Nazi thugs are called heroes. They "enjoy complete immunity."

"Kiev continues its witch hunt," said Russia's MFA. It includes "harsh media censorship, a ban on Russian TV channels, the suppression of any dissent, and growing hate speech."

Kiev has done nothing to ease tensions. "It has not carried out promised constitutional reforms, nor has it passed a law protecting minority rights…"

Socio-economic conditions are deplorable. They keep deteriorating.

Calls by human rights observers on Kiev to end hostilities comes too late. It's "after thousands of civilian deaths."

Casualties mount daily. Moscow demands accountability. Kiev's war without mercy continues. Washington supports and encourages it. 

Russia bashing persists. Putin is public enemy No. 1. Conflict resolution hopes look grim. 

Expect worse ahead, not better. EU leaders and Ukraine's Poroshenko call things heading for a "point of no return."

They omit acknowledging complete responsibility complicit with Washington.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.