Saturday, May 25, 2013
What Definition Of The Term Includes This Horrific Act Of Violence But Excludes The Acts Of The US, The UK and Its Allies?
Glenn Greenwald pens the following article:
Two men yesterday engaged in a horrific act of violence on the streets of London by using what appeared to be a meat cleaver to hack to death a British soldier. In the wake of claims that the assailants shouted "Allahu Akbar" during the killing, and a video showing one of the assailants citing Islam as well as a desire to avenge and stop continuous UK violence against Muslims, media outlets (including the Guardian) and British politicians instantly characterized the attack as "terrorism".
Courtesy Of Democracy Now
“Since 2009, the United States, in the conduct of US counterterrorism operations against al-Qaeda and its associated forces outside of areas of active hostilities, has specifically targeted and killed one US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki,” the letter reads in part. “The United States is further aware of three other US citizens who have been killed in such US counterterrorism operations over that same time period.”
“The administration is determined to continue these extensive outreach efforts to communicate with the American people,” continued Holder. “To this end, the president has directed me to disclose certain information that until now has been properly classified. You and other members of your committee have on numerous occasions expressed a particular interest in the administration’s use of lethal force against US citizens. In light of this face, I am writing to disclose to you certain information about the number of US citizens who have been killed by US counterterrorism operations outside of areas of active hostilities.”Drone strikes have become a signature counterterrorism tool used by the Obama administration and his predecessor, President George W. Bush, and have been attributed with killing roughly 5,000 persons abroad, according to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina). But under the covert and protective umbrella of the Central Intelligence Agency, little has been formally acknowledged from Washington as to the details of these strikes.
Earlier this year, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) led a marathon filibuster on the floor of Congress to oppose the CIA’s drone program and demand the administration explain to elected lawmakers why the use of unmanned aerial vehicles is warranted in executing suspects, often killing innocent civilians as a result.
Of particular concern, Paul said, was whether or not the Obama administration would use the 2011 Yemen strike as justification to kill American citizens within the US. For 13 hours, he demanded the White House respond.
“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA,” Sen. Paul said. “I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Friday, May 24, 2013
Courtesy Of Russia Today
May 16 marks a dark milestone in the history of the world's most maligned prison - 100 days of a mass hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. Out of 166 inmates - 130 are on strike according to prisoners, while the military only admits to 102. At least a third of them are being force fed - a procedure recognized by various medical organizations as painful enough to constitute torture. And by all accounts - there's no end in sight to the protest.
RT discusses the stand-off with former Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg, who's now the Director of the Cageprisoners activist group, Attorney Pardiss Kebriaei, the legal representative of 8 Guantanamo detainees, military attorney Lt. Col Barry Wingard on the line from the detention camp, and Col. Morris Davis, former Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay.
Woolwich: This Is Just The Beginning If We Don't Pull The Troops Out Of Afghanistan
Harry Paterson writes:
Yesterday's events were horrific, but don't be part of the problem with EDL and the right-wing loons, be part of the solution and convince the Government they have to step in...
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Introduction by Gilad Atzmon
TAKE IT FROM THE RABBI’S MOUTH
Every so often we come across a secular Jewish ‘anti’ Zionist’ who argues that Zionism is not Judaism and vice versa. Interestingly enough, I have just come across an invaluable text that illuminates this question from a rabbinical perspective. Apparently back in 1942, 757 American Rabbis added their names to a public pronouncement titled ‘Zionism an Affirmation of Judaism’. This Rabbinical rally for Zionism was declared at the time “the largest public pronouncement in all Jewish history.”
Today, we tend to believe that world Jewry’s transition towards support for Israel followed the 1967 war though some might argue that already in 1948, American Jews manifested a growing support for Zionism. However, this rabbinical pronouncement proves that as early as 1942, the American Jewish religious establishment was already deeply Zionist. And if this is not enough, the rabbis also regarded Zionism as the ‘implementation’ of Judaism. Seemingly, already then, the peak of World War two, the overwhelming majority of American Rabbis regarded Zionism, not only as fully consistent with Judaism, but as a “logical expression and implementation of it.”
In spite of the fact that early Zionist leaders were largely secular and the East European Jewish settler waves were driven by Jewish socialist ideology, the rabbis contend that “Zionism is not a secularist movement. It has its origins and roots in the authoritative religious texts of Judaism.
Those rabbis were not a bunch of ignoramuses. They were patriotic and nationalistic and they grasped that “universalism is not a contradiction of nationalism.” The rabbis tried to differentiate between contemporaneous German Nationalism and other national movements and they definitely wanted to believe that Zionism was categorically different to Nazism. “Nationalism as such, whether it be English, French, American or Jewish, is not in itself evil. It is only militaristic and chauvinistic nationalism, that nationalism which shamelessly flouts all mandates of international morality, which is evil.” But as we know, just three years after the liberation of Auschwitz the new Jewish State launched a devastating racially driven ethnic-cleansing campaign. Zionism has proven to be militaristic and chauvinistic.
Shockingly enough, back in 1942 as many as 757 American rabbis were able to predict the outcome of the war and they realised that the suffering of European Jewry would be translated into a Jewish State . “We are not so bold as to predict the nature of the international order which will emerge from the present war. It is altogether likely, and indeed it may be desirable, that all sovereign states shall under the coming peace surrender some of their sovereignty to achieve a just and peaceful world society (a Jewish State).”
Some American patriots today are concerned with Israeli-American dual nationality and the dual aspirations of American Jews. Apparently our rabbis addressed this topic too. According to them, there is no such conflict whatsoever. All American Jews are American patriots and all American decision makers are Zionists. “Every fair-minded American knows that American Jews have only one political allegiance--and that is to America. There is nothing in Zionism to impair this loyalty. Zionism has been endorsed in our generation by every President from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and has been approved by the Congress of the United States. The noblest spirits in American life, statesmen, scholars, writers, ministers and leaders of labor and industry, have lent their sympathy and encouragement to the movement.”
Back in 1942 our American rabbis were bold enough to state that defeating Hitler was far from sufficient. For them, a full solution of the Jewish question could only take place in Palestine. “Jews, and all non-Jews who are sympathetically interested in the plight of Jewry, should bear in mind that the defeat of Hitler will not of itself normalize Jewish life in Europe. “
But there was one thing the American rabbis failed to mention – the Palestinian people. For some reason, those rabbis who knew much about ‘universalism’ and in particular Jewish ‘universalism’ showed very little concern to the people of the land. I guess that after all, chosennss is a form of blindness and rabbis probably know more about this than anyone else.
ZIONISM AN AFFIRMATION OF JUDAISM A Reply by 757 Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Rabbis of America to a Statement Issued by Ninety Members of the Reform Rabbinate Charging That Zionism Is Incompatible with the Teachings of Judaism
THE SUBJOINED REPLY was prepared at the initiative of the following Rabbis who submitted it to their colleagues throughout the country for signature: Philip S. Bernstein, Barnett R. Brickner, Israel Goldstein, James G. Heller, Mordecai M. Kaplan, B. L. Levinthal, Israel H. Levinthal, Louis M. Levitsky, Joshua Loth Liebman, Joseph H. Lookstein, Jacob R. Marcus, Abraham A. Neuman, Louis I. Newman, David de Sola Pool, Abba Hillel Silver, Milton Steinberg, and Stephen S. Wise.
WE, THE UNDERSIGNED RABBIS of all elements in American Jewish religious life, have noted with concern a statement by ninety of our colleagues in which they repudiate Zionism on the ground that it is inconsistent with Jewish religious and moral doctrine. This statement misrepresents Zionism and misinterprets historic Jewish religious teaching, and we should be derelict in our duty if we did not correct the misapprehensions which it is likely to foster.
We call attention in the first place to the fact that the signatories to this statement, for whom as fellow-Rabbis we have a high regard, represent no more than a very small fraction of the American rabbinate. They constitute a minority even of the rabbinate of Reform Judaism with which they are associated. The overwhelming majority of American Rabbis regard Zionism not only as fully consistent with Judaism but as a logical expression and implementation of it.
Our colleagues concede the need for Jewish immigration into Palestine as contributing towards a solution of the vast tragedy of Jewish homelessness. They profess themselves ready to encourage such settlement. They are aware of the important achievements, social and spiritual, of the Palestinian Jewish community and they pledge to it their unstinted support. And yet, subscribing to every practical accomplishment of Zionism, they have embarked upon a public criticism of it. In explanation of their opposition they advance the consideration that Zionism is nationalistic and secularistic. On both scores they maintain it is incompatible with the Jewish religion and its universalistic outlook. They protest against the political emphasis which, they say, is now paramount in the Zionist program and which, according to them, tends to confuse both Jews and Christians as to the place and function of the Jewish group in American society. They appeal to the prophets of ancient Israel for substantiation of their views.
TREASURING the doctrines and moral principles of our faith no less than they, devoted equally to America and its democratic processes and spirit, we nonetheless find every one of their contentions totally without foundation.
Zionism is not a secularist movement. It has its origins and roots in the authoritative religious texts of Judaism.Scripture and rabbinical literature alike are replete with the promise of the restoration of Israel to its ancestral home. Anti-Zionism, not Zionism, is a departure from the Jewish religion. Nothing in the entire pronouncement of our colleagues is more painful than their appeal to the prophets of Israel—to those very prophets whose inspired and recorded words of national rebirth and restoration nurtured and sustained the hope of Israel throughout the ages.
Nor is Zionism a denial of the universalistic teachings of Judaism. Universalism is not a contradiction of nationalism. Nationalism as such, whether it be English, French, American or Jewish, is not in itself evil. It is only militaristic and chauvinistic nationalism, that nationalism which shamelessly flouts all mandates of international morality, which is evil. The prophets of Israel looked forward to the time not when all national entities would be obliterated, but when all nations would walk in the light of the Lord, live by His law and learn war no more.
Our colleagues find themselves unable to subscribe to the political emphasis "now paramount in the Zionist program." We fail to perceive what it is to which they object. Is it to the fact that there are a regularly constituted Zionist organization and a Jewish Agency which deal with the mandatory government, the Colonial office, the League of Nations and other recognized political bodies? But obviously, even immigration and colonization are practical matters which require political action. The settlement of a half million Jews in Palestine since the last war was made possible by political action which culminated in the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate. There can be little hope of opening the doors of Palestine for mass Jewish immigration after the war without effective political action. Or is it that they object to the ultimate achievement by the Jewish community of Palestine of some form of Jewish statehood? We are not so bold as to predict the nature of the international order which will emerge from the present war. It is altogether likely, and indeed it may be desirable, that all sovereign states shall under the coming peace surrender some of their sovereignty to achieve a just and peaceful world society.
Certainly our colleagues will allow to the Jews of Palestine the same rights that are allowed to all other peoples resident on their own land. If Jews should ultimately come to constitute a majority of the population of Palestine, would our colleagues suggest that all other peoples in the post-war world shall be entitled to political self-determination, whatever form that may take, but the Jewish people in Palestine shall not have such a right? Or do they mean to suggest that the Jews in Palestine shall forever remain a minority in order not to achieve such political self-determination?
PROTESTING their sympathy both for the homeless Jews of the world and for their brethren in Palestine, our colleagues have by their pronouncement done all these a grave disservice. It may well be that to the degree to which their efforts arc at all effective, Jews who might otherwise have found a haven in Palestine will be denied one. The enemies of the Jewish homeland will be strengthened in their propaganda as a result of the aid which these Rabbis have given them. To the Jews of Palestine, facing the gravest danger in their history and fighting hard to maintain morale and hope in the teeth of the totalitarian menace, this pronouncement comes as a cruel blow.
We do not mean to imply that our colleagues intended it as such.We have no doubt that they are earnest about their fine spun theoretical objections to Zionism. We hold, however, that these objections have no merit, and further that voicing them at this time has been unwise and unkind.
We have not the least fear that our fellow Americans will be led to misconstrue the attitudes of American Jews to America because of their interest in Zionism. Every fair-minded American knows that American Jews have only one political allegiance--and that is to America. There is nothing in Zionism to impair this loyalty. Zionism has been endorsed in our generation by every President from Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and has been approved by the Congress of the United States. The noblest spirits in American life, statesmen, scholars, writers, ministers and leaders of labor and industry, have lent their sympathy and encouragement to the movement.
Jews, and all non-Jews who are sympathetically interested in the plight of Jewry, should bear in mind that the defeat of Hitler will not of itself normalize Jewish life in Europe.
An Allied peace which will not frankly face the problem of the national homelessness of the Jewish people will leave the age-old tragic status of European Jewry unchanged. The Jewish people is in danger of emerging from this war not only more torn and broken than any other people, but also without any prospects of a better and more secure future and without the hope that such tragedies will not recur again, and again. Following an Allied victory, the Jews of Europe, we are confident, will be restored to their political rights and to equality of citizenship. But they possessed these rights after the last war and yet the past twenty-five years have witnessed a rapid and appalling deterioration in their position. In any case, even after peace is restored Europe will be so ravaged and war-torn that large masses of Jews will elect migration to Palestine as a solution of their personal problems.
Indeed, for most of these there may be no other substantial hope of economic, social and spiritual rehabilitation.
THE freedom which, we have faith, will come to all men and nations after this war, must come not only to Jews as individuals wherever they live, permitting them to share freedom on a plane of equality with all other men, but also to the Jewish people, as such, restored in its homeland, where at long last it will be a free people within a world federation of free peoples.
Of the 757 Rabbis listed below, 214 are members of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform); 247 are members of the Rabbinical Assembly of America (Conservative); and the rest are affiliated with the Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox) or the Union of Orthodox Rabbis. The total represents the largest number of rabbis whose signatures are attached to a public pronouncement in all Jewish history.
To see the scanned image in PDF format with the list of signers, click here
Note: A version of the above statement was released to the press on November 20, 1942. By that time 818 rabbis had signed on. It appears in Samuel Halperin's The Political World of American Zionism. (Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1961) 333.
Gitmo Guards Basic Orders
Courtesy Of Russia Today
One of the methods used to extract information from Muslim inmates in Guantanamo was to apply sexual interrogation techniques, Terry Holdbrooks, former guard at the camp has told RT.
Such a degradation methods, the former US soldier said, were used on innocent men. Holdbrooks, who wrote a book about GITMO prisoners, claims that it is the inmates’ religious perseverance in the face of pain and humiliation made him convinced that US was not fighting for the right cause.
RT: What did you experience at the detention camp that changed you?
Terry Holdbrooks: To be honest with you I would not even know where to begin with that. Initially seeing religion practiced the way that the detainees practice Islam is a really life changing experience in itself. I have not really seen any kind of any serious devotion, the faith like that growing up in the US.
The torture and information extraction methods that we used certainly created a great deal of doubt and questions in my mind to whether or not this was my America. But when I thought about what we were doing there and how we go about doing it, it did not seem like the America I signed up to defend. It did not seem like the America I grew up in, I grew to believe in. And that in itself was a very disillusioning experience. There was a great deal of personal growth that took there as well.
RT: Could you describe the relationship between the guards and detainees at Guantanamo back when you were serving (and how has it changed since then)?
TH: I suppose that if we’re going to take a stroll down the memory lane, Brandon Neely was there first. He was there when it was camp x-ray. It was essentially dog cages, nothing more. It was dog kennels, I suppose you can say. When I was there camp Delta was in full swing. Delta housed about 612 men that would be the general population of the camps.
RT: Were you given any orders as how to treat the inmates?
TH: Our interaction with the detainees was such that we were told not to talk to them, not to treat them as humans, to not engage in conversation with them whatsoever. And the army sort of made a mistake by allowing somebody who is inclined to sociology and to studying people by leaving me with individuals from all over the world unsupervised for eight hours. I was very low in rank so I was delegated all the work, while those who were higher in rank were sitting in the air-conditioned shacks, nurturing their hangovers. So the instructions I was given were simple – don’t interact, don’t talk, they are not humans.
RT: There have been reports of torture and other human rights violations happening at the prison camp. Could you tell us what you saw?
TH: We can begin with experiences I had the pleasure of having. Myself, Eric Sarr and another Guantanamo guard were involved in this. Eric was a linguist and he was working with an interrogator.
We took the detainee into interrogation and throughout the interrogation the interrogator took off her clothing. She essentially gave the detainee a lap dance, tried to arouse him and then let him believe that he had menstrual blood on him. We then took the detainee back to his cell and were told that he was not allowed to have shower privileges nor fresh water for days. The idea behind this being that if he could not clean himself he would not be able to pray, if he could not pray, he could not practice Islam. Essentially it was an idea to break him down spiritually.
Omar Khadr and a number of other detainees, I remember hearing just few moments ago Shaker Aamer, they were privileged to something we called the frequent flyer program, where we would essentially move them every two hours. Whether we were moving them from camp Delta to camp Echo or moving them from Bravo block to Charlie block, be it a little move or a big move, the idea is that every two hours they would be moved and they would not be able to sleep. This was essentially to wear down their psyche and make them more probable to give out their information during interrogation.
But what has questioned me ever since I first saw it, it seemed that most of these men were innocent and as numbers are starting to show, we’ve sent over 600 of them home, so they must have been innocent; if we knew that we were purchasing men that were innocent, why were we trying to interrogate innocent men? What were we hoping to get from them?
Some of the tactics I saw practiced in Guantanamo, I just want to never want to relive again and then a great deal of regret takes place and then I did not take the most productive use of some years after Guantanamo. I tried to drown away some of those memories and that is something you cannot do. You have to confront it.
Holdbrooks has written a book, entitled "Traitor?", to be published in the Summer of 2013
Michael White informs us of the following:
On April 15, in the case of The Association for Molecular Pathology vs. Myriad Genetics, Inc., the United States Supreme Court heard arguments questioning the legitimacy of patents on human genes. A genetic testing company, Myriad Genetics, has patent claims on two human genes that influence a person’s risk for breast cancer. Myriad is being sued by a conglomerate of physicians, scientists, and patients who argue that Myriad has illegitimately patented a product of nature. While the lawyers and Justices delved into the arcana of patent law and molecular biology, many of the rest of us were wondering: how the heck can you patent someone’s genes?
The idea of having your genome Balkanized into small fiefdoms of intellectual property may sound offensive, but do gene patents make any practical difference?
Well, genetic information, much like a text, is encoded as a sequence of chemical “letters.” The alphabet of DNA consists of four letters (whose chemical names are abbreviated as A, C, T, or G), and each gene is made up of a sequence of tens of thousands of these letters. Scientists read the text of a gene by “sequencing” it: determining its sequence of letters. Knowing the sequence of a gene is not just important to scientists who study how that gene works; the sequence is also important for patients who are worried about their genetic risk for certain diseases. Each of us has small misspellings, deletions, and insertions scattered all over our genetic text—it’s what makes us unique from one another—and while most of these mutations are harmless, some are dangerous. For example, the information in the sequence of your particular copy of the gene BRCA1 can tell you whether you are at high risk for breast cancer. By sequencing the BRCA1 gene, you (or your mother, wife, or daughter) can find out whether you have a high-risk version of BRCA1—as long as you pay Myriad Genetics to read your sequence, because Myriad owns a patent on the sequence of your BRCA1 gene.
How did Myriad Genetics get a patent on the naturally occurring DNA sequence of the BRCA1 gene of every man, woman, and child in America? (They also own a patent on the sequence of BRCA2, another breast cancer risk gene.) Here’s the trick: you can own the naturally occurring sequence of a gene by making a patent claim to all physical copies of that sequence that exist outside of human cells.
This trick works because, in the process of sequencing a gene, scientists create a synthetic copy. This synthetic copy is chemically the same as the original; it has the exact same sequence of chemical letters that was put together by nature inside your cells. Synthetic copies of genes are routinely created in the lab using very general methods widely used by molecular biologists for decades, methods that were not invented by Myriad Genetics. However, Myriad was first to sequence the BRCA1 gene, and they claimed physical copies of the BRCA1 sequence as their original invention. The result is that nobody can read the sequence of any BRCA1 gene of anyone in America without Myriad’s permission.
THE IDEA OF HAVING your genome Balkanized into small fiefdoms of intellectual property may sound offensive, but do gene patents make any practical difference? Yes and no. If you are worried about your genetic risk for breast cancer and Myriad doesn’t take your insurance, you’re out of luck. Want a second opinion on Myriad’s interpretation of your genetic risk? Nobody is legally allowed to offer one. Aggressively protected gene patents also interfere with basic research focused on studying how genes function and contribute to disease, because they prevent scientists from using basic research tools to study those genes.
(What’s the point of a gene patent, then? Money. Your BRCA1 sequence is important to you, and Myriad wants you to pay them, and only them, for it.)
On the other hand, the era of human gene patents appears to be ending, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides. Myriad Genetics obtained its gene patents at a time when sequencing one gene was a big job; with the same effort today, we can sequence thousands of genes at once. A company that offers to predict your genetic risk for disease by reading only a single gene is going to look shabby compared to competitors that offer to sequence a large fraction of your genome to give you a much more comprehensive estimate of your genetic risk. Gene patents may hold off the competition for a limited time (while also temporarily holding up some basic genetics research and causing anxiety and suffering among patients), but they won’t stop the arrival of a new standard of genetic testing based on low-cost readings of all your genes.