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Homes Demolished in the South Hebron Hills

After a breakdown in mediation between the State of Israel and the Palestinian villages of Massafer Yatta, Israeli authorities destroyed 24 homes in the South Hebron Hills. The homes lie within an area which Israel claims as Firing Zone 918, in which approximately 1000 Palestinian civilians live in 8 villages.

Early on the morning of February 2, Israeli soldiers closed access to Firing Zone 918 and placed checkpoints near the Palestinian villages of Bir al Idd and Al Fakheit. In the village of Jinba, Israeli soldiers and border police demolished 15 houses. They also fired sound grenades and teargas. Several …

Law on the Margins

Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq

“Law on the margins is so joyful.  You are connecting with people!”

Chaumtoli Huq is Bangladeshi-American Muslim human rights lawyer.  She describes herself as a community centered, social movement lawyer.  Now teaching at Brooklyn Law, her social justice legal career has focused on civil and human rights, especially workplace justice issues assisting organizations for immigrants.  She served briefly as general counsel for the Public Advocate of New York until 2014 when she involuntarily became famous as a victim in a high profile police brutality case.  More about that later.

Today her passion is an innovative social media platform called Law@theMargins, …

The EU, Greece, and All That

Amidst a hand-wringing defence of the indefensible, The New Statesman propagated a common myth thus: “The European Union has indeed brought peace and prosperity to the people of Europe, . . .”

Indeed, it never did.  The institution that arguably brought peace and truly brought prosperity to Europe was the E.E.C.  Colloquially, ‘it was a different type of animal,’ say, the cow in the barn as opposed to the wolf at the door (now which institution might that symbolize?).

And talking about animals, we never had a single ‘PIGS’ during the E.E.C.’s years, did we? Neither were there so many ailing and …

Coalitions of Religious Organizations on War: Rationalized, Hypocrisized, and Compromised

National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.
National Council of Churches of Christ in the US
National Council of Synagogues
Unitarian Universalist
US Council of Muslims
World Council of Churches
World Council of Independent Christian Churches

Were it not for its record of either engaging in war, promoting it or acquiescing to it, one would think organized religion would be a natural ally of and prominent activist for peace. There are, to be sure, some exceptions among the various denominations or religious sects (e.g., the Quakers and the Mennonites), and small religious, antiwar groups can be found protesting now and then, here and there. Overall, though, and throughout history …

ABC’s of the US Empire

“A” Is for “Asininity”

That’s a particular kind of stupidity.

All of us can be stupid at times.  (Ever see that picture of Einstein with his tongue hanging out like an aardvark’s, clowning—one supposes—for the camera?)

It’s in our genes to be stupid at times.  Looking back on the Vietnam War—which ultimately took his own son’s life—Secretary of Defense McNamara attributed his own stupidity to the “fog of war.”

I would rather call it “asininity.”

Asininity is stupidity that is stubborn as a jackass; stupidity that insists on itself in spite of all contrary evidence.

The US has been guilty of asininity for a couple …

Israel’s Army and Government at Loggerheads Over Cause of Attacks

Israel’s frantic cocoon-weaving entered a new phase last week, as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government stepped up efforts to stifle the last vestiges of dissent.

The military censor’s office, a draconian 70-year-old hangover from British rule in Palestine, extended its powers over Israeli press and TV to prominent blogs and social media.

The government has also threatened to revoke the press cards of “journalists and editors who are negligent in their work” – aimed at those who depart too obviously from the official line.

These moves follow culture minister Miri Regev’s announcement of a “loyalty law” that will deny state funding to artists and cultural …

Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats

The Obama Administration is expanding its military power and threats against Russia and China as well as increasing its war efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria while preparing to restart Washington’s old war in Libya.

Most of this has been revealed in the first six weeks of the 2016 election year and President Barack Obama’s last full year in office without any significant new provocations against the United States. At least part of the White House motive must be to undercut right wing Republican campaign rhetoric alleging Obama and the Democrats are “soft on defense,” and creating a more robust martial …

Do We Need a Bigger War?

The Syrian Army and its allies have clearly turned the tide in the Syrian war.  The “facts on the ground” have changed dramatically for all the major players, and constitute a major reversal for all the forces that have tried to institute “regime change” in Syria, in violation of its sovereignty.  The Geneva “Peace Conference” opposition delegation, composed of marginal figures representing a tiny fraction of the armed anti-government factions but ostensibly speaking for all of them, is now largely irrelevant.  As the terrorists and foreign mercenaries and their families flee Aleppo, thousands or tens of thousands of Syrian civilians …

The Real News about Nobel’s Peace Prize is Here and it isn’t Trump

Thanks to tabloidization – a concept rapidly integrating into even quality mainstream media – you’ve probably heard that Donald Trump has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2016.

Well, that prize has been thrown out to so many who didn’t qualify according to Alfred Nobel’s will – not even with a very liberal interpretation.

But there are two things you may not have seen which have very far-reaching implications and are much more newsworthy.

Court case against the Nobel Foundation

One is that four individuals and an NGO filed a brief to open a court case against the Nobel Foundation – and thus implicitly …

Litvinenko and the Demise of British Justice

The publication on 21 January 2016 of the report by British Judge Sir Robert Owen on the death of Alexander Litvinenko was predictably seized upon by anti-Russian elements as confirmation of their conviction that Russia in general and President Putin in particular were the personification of modern day evil.

Almost completely absent amidst the anti-Russian hysteria was any perspective on the history of Mr Litvinenko; the …

Democratizing the EU

So, superstar Yanis Varoufakis is inaugurating his new outfit, DiEM25, the other day in Berlin, at the Volksbühne theatre, calling for the democratization of the European Union.  What?, you say.  Isn’t the EU already democratic?

It is if you think the United States is a democracy.  The US was one of the prime movers behind the creation of the EU.  And if you don’t believe me, read Circus Politicus (Deloire and Dubois, Albin Michel, 2012).

Post WW II, the US didn’t like the idea of all those foreigners experimenting with communism and socialism, getting the idea that unbridled …

Pharma Greed Run Amuk

Congress, especially its GOP members, created the Martin monster.

Martin Shkreli is only one of the monsters the GOP Congress has created. Probably our best hope is that one or many, like Shkreli, will overreach in an outrageous greed that our government has condoned for decades. Like errant spoiled children, pharmaceuticals (Pharma) have run roughshod over an obliging Congress and a consuming public since politicians – in effect – gave them license to steal.

George W. Bush’s GOP-controlled Congress actually passed a Medicare drug program that forbade Medicare officials to bargain with Pharma for reasonable drug prices paid by seniors, even though …

Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West

Last week, the United Nations Working Group (UNWG) on Arbitrary Detention ruled that journalist Julian Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention by the Swedish and British governments and that it must end. The Center for Constitutional Rights noted the significant precedent in the law of detention and the larger implications this has, not only for Assange’s case, but also for the protection of whistle-blowers and refugees around the world.

For the last five and half years, Assange has been detained without charge (first in solitary, then house arrest and now confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy). Over …

A Syrian Breakthrough

The Russians and their Syrian allies have cut the main supply line of the rebels to the north of Aleppo, the Azaz corridor. In our last report, we wrote about the Azaz corridor, “a narrow strip of land connecting Turkey to the rebel forces in Aleppo. Though it has been narrowed down to four miles in some places, the Syrian [government] Army can’t take it, despite the Russian aerial support. For the success of the whole operation, it is paramount to seize the corridor and cut the supply lines, but there is a heavy political flak and military difficulties. …

A Brutal Assessment of US Elections from Abroad

It’s come to my attention that André Vltchek, writing in Pravda, has demystified the entire US presidential election scam in a piece titled “Please do not poison my brain with the US elections.”  Americans should understand how our elections are seen by people abroad.

To my American friends I feel your pain, political phone calls will disrupt everything you do until the election in November, when you will be asked to step into a polling booth to vote for a lesser evil, which often seems like a choice between Hitler and Satan.  You will hold your nose and wretch, finally …

War and Other Acts of Terrorism

French President François Hollande lost no time declaring a state of emergency following the ISIS-inspired terrorist attack in Paris this past November, which killed 130 people. Within hours the ink was dry. Two days later, French pilots were bombing ISIS targets in Raqqa, Syria.

“We must face up to a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam,” declared Prime Minister Manuel Valls. This is the alleged rationale behind France’s moves.

Vote as the Class You Are, Not the Race You Aren’t

As the incumbent occupier of subsidized housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue works on his legacy by fending off mad dogs of the neo-zio-con right and still bringing us closer to provoking war with Russia, a seemingly eternal presidential race for the next tenant continues while the nation passes through a critical period of confusion, disinformation and social-economic disorder. All this is part of the divide and rule politics to reinforce the weakening foundation of a political economic structure that threatens a global as well as national population if it ever collapses.

Bernie Sanders’ candidacy offers some hope for reform that will …

Nazi Zombies Ate Gloria Steinem’s Brain!

or Why US Politics Turns Ordinary People into Drooling Morons

The problem, in a nutshell, is this: when people decide to support a prospective candidate in the US primary races they are putting themselves in the position of defending the indefensible. The very nature of this politico-Darwinist death match means that once you pick your chosen leader you must reject all criticism and suppress all doubt. You must become aggressively defensive and you must, above all, prevent your own wayward brain from thinking those bad thoughts that weaken the image of the immaculate leader. Any chink in their armour will be exploited by the enemies that surround them. Loyalty must …

Everywhere is War

Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories

I think it was Anthony Swofford, author of the memoir Jarhead, who said there is no such thing as an anti-war war movie. Any film that portrays combat, however horrifically, he averred, still inevitably whets the appetite for it of young men who have never experienced it.

Literary fiction is in a different category, particularly when you can probably just about guarantee that few budding recruits will read any more of it than the rest of the US population does – maybe one book a year. It’s unlikely that any literary portrayal of war (possibly excluding comics and graphic novels), positive …

Next Onslaught in Gaza

Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War

It is not true that only three wars have taken place since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Other wars that were deemed insignificant or ‘skirmishes’ also took place. Operation Returning Echo in March 2012, for example, killed and wounded over 100 people. But since the death toll, relative to the other major onslaughts seemed trivial, it was not cited as ‘war’, per se.

According to this logic, so-called operations Cast Lead (2008-9), Pillar of Defense (2012) and the deadliest of them all, Protective Edge (2014) were serious enough to be included in any relevant discussion, …