Ross Douthat wrote a column last Sunday on the recent decline in US birthrates, that started out by observing that pro family policies in places like Sweden and France lead to more births, a point that earned numerous cross aisle plaudits from lefties. He then finished by arguing that lower birthrates are also in part a symptom of late modern exhaustion, a decadence that first arose in the West, but now haunts rich societies around the globe. That last point has earned him a week's worth of guff. Demographers explained that Mr Douthat's premise is misleading, and that total fertility rates may not have fallen. The decline in "birthrates" is in large part due to the fact that women in their late 20's are having fewer babies, while women in their late 30's are having more than ever before, and that there happens to be a demographic trough of women in their 30s right now, so we're seeing fewer births. Feminists argued that calling for women to have more children, over and against their expressed preferences for fewer children, means treating them not entirely as fully responsible agents, and at least in part as brood sows. More or less everyone has pointed out that lower birthrates are the inevitable and universal outcome in societies where women achieve education, prosperity and control over their own lives. As a grace note, Matthew Yglesias writes that based on recent indie rock lyrics, what hip young women seem to want isn't to live the life of a carefree, bohemian wastrel, It's to have a well paid and respected job, which doesn't seem very decadent. I subscribe to all of these critiques. Moreover, I'm not sure I understand what "decadence" is, which means that even though I've discharged my personal responsibility to achieve replacement level fertility, I'm probably one of those decadent people whom Mr Douthat makes fun of in his follow up post. It's in the nature of decadent societies to deny that the category decadent exists. And yet, I'm going to go out on a limb, and admit that while I mostly disagree with Mr Douthat, I sort of partially agree with him.
The Western media suggests, in chorus and without evidence, that a frustrated and desperate president Bashar al Assad is planning to use deadly chemical weapons against his own people. Last week, US officials revealed to NBC News that "Syria's military has loaded nerve gas chemicals into bombs and are awaiting final orders from al Assad". Western governments are now accusing Syria of planning a diabolical scheme on the orders of the Syrian head of State. Meanwhile, the media hype has gone into full gear. Fake reports on Syria's WMD are funneled into the news chain, reminiscent of the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The evolving media consensus is that "the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al Assad appears to be entering its twilight" and that the "international community" has a responsibility to come to the rescue of the Syrian people to prevent the occurrence of a humanitarian disaster. "Fears are growing in the West, that Syria will unleash chemical weapons in a last ditch act of desperation". Recent reports that the embattled government of Syria has begun preparations for the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people. After two years of civil war, and more than 40,000 deaths, events in Syria may be heading to a bloody crescendo. The antiwar critics have largely underscored the similarities with the Iraq WMD ploy, which consisted in accusing the government of Saddam Hussein of possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction. The alleged WMD threat was then used as a justification to invade Iraq in March 2003. The WMD Iraq ploy was subsequently acknowledged in the wake of the invasion as an outright fabrication, with president George W Bush, and Prime Minister Tony Blair actually recognizing that it was a big mistake. In a recent statement, Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu called for "lying" Blair and Bush to face trial in the Hague's International Criminal Court. The Syria WMD saga is in marked contrast to that of Iraq. The objective is not to justify an all out humanitarian war on Syria, using chemical weapons as a pretext. An examination of allied planning, as well as the nature of US NATO support to the opposition forces, suggests a different course of action to that adopted in relation to Iraq and Libya. The purpose is indeed to demonize Bashar Al Assad, but the objective at this stage is not the conduct of an all out "shock and awe" war on Syria, involving a full fledged air campaign. Such an action would, under present conditions, be a highly risky undertaking. Syria has advanced air defense capabilities, equipped with Russian Iskander missiles, as well as significant ground forces. A Western military operation could also lead to a response from Russia, which has a naval base at the port city of Tartus in Southern Syria. Moreover, Iranian forces from its revolutionary guards corps are present on the ground in Syria. Russian military advisers are involved in the training of the Syrian military!
Noam Chomsky and Eric Bailey of Torture Magazine discuss America's human rights record under President Obama, and the military intervention policies that have seen increased use during the Arab Spring. Eric Bailey: The last four years have seen significant changes in American federal policy in regards to human rights. One of the few examples of cooperation between the Democratic and Republican parties over the last four years has been the passing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012. This bill has given the United States military the power to arrest American citizens indefinitely, without charge, trial, or any other form of due process of law, and the Obama administration has, and continues to fight a legal battle in federal court, to prevent that law from being declared unconstitutional. Obama authorized the assassination of three American citizens, including Anwar al Awlaki and his 16 year old son, admittedly all members of Al Qaeda, all without judicial review. Additionally, the Guantanamo Bay prison remains open, the Patriot Act has been extended and the TSA has expanded at breakneck speeds. What is your take on America's human rights record over the past four years, and can you contrast Obama's policies with those of his predecessor, George W Bush? Noam Chomsky: Obama's policies have been approximately the same as Bush's, though there have been some slight differences, but that's not a great surprise. The Democrats supported Bush's policies. There were some objections on mostly partisan grounds, but for the most part, they supported his policies, and it's not surprising that they have continued to do so. In some respects, Obama has gone even beyond Bush. The NDAA, which you mentioned, was not initiated by Obama. When it passed Congress, he said he didn't approve of it, and wouldn't implement it, but he nevertheless did sign it into law, and did not veto it. It was pushed through by hawks, including Joe Lieberman and others. In fact, there hasn't been that much of a change. The worst part of the NDAA is that it codified, or put into law, what had already been a regular practice. The practices hadn't been significantly different. The one part that received public attention is what you mentioned, the part that permits the indefinite detention of American citizens, but why permit the indefinite detention of anyone? It's a gross violation of fundamental human rights and civil law, going all the way back to the Magna Carta in the 13th century, so it's a very severe attack on elementary civil rights, both under Bush and under Obama. It's bipartisan! As for the killings, Obama has sharply increased the global assassination campaign. While it was initiated by Bush, it has expanded under Obama and it has included American citizens, again with bipartisan support, and very little criticism other than some minor criticism because it was an American. But then again, why should you have the right to assassinate anybody? For example, suppose Iran was assassinating members of Congress, who were calling for an attack on Iran. Would we think that's fine? That would be much more justified, but of course we'd see that as an act of war.
Hamilton was only the first in a series of Eight Families cronies to hold the key position of Treasury Secretary. In recent times Kennedy Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon came from Dillon Read, now part of UBS Warburg. Nixon Treasury Secretaries David Kennedy and William Simon came from Continental Illinois Bank, now part of Bank of America, and Salomon Brothers, now part of Citigroup, respectively. Carter Treasury Secretary Michael Blumenthal came from Goldman Sachs, Reagan Treasury Secretary Donald Regan came from Merrill Lynch, now part of Bank of America, Bush Sr. Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady came from Dillon Read, UBS Warburg, and both Clinton Secretary Robert Rubin
Are we living in a post familial age? According to a new report, The Rise of Post Familialism: Humanity's Future? The answer is YES. The traditional family unit is slowly dying out, as more people choose to forgo children and even marriage. As a result, society is economically imperilled, lacking the necessary workforce to support older generations. We're also "values challenged", entering a brave new world of materialistic indulgence, selfishness and protracted adolescence. Sounds awful, doesn't it? Luckily, almost none of it is true. People around the world are indeed delaying childbearing and marriage, and larger numbers of people never marry or reproduce at all, but that is not synonymous with a moral decline, or selfish decadence. It represents an uptick in women's rights, a commitment to creating the family one wants, and wider choices for everyone. It's no shock that the drop in the number of children a woman has, came along with the advent of the birth control pill. The countries with the highest birth rates aren't just highly religious, they're poor, have abominable human rights records and lack access to reliable birth control. Contrary to New York Times columnist Ross Douthat's position, it is not in fact the country with the most babies that wins. If that were the case, Nigeria would be running the show.
and walk away Scot Free. The New York Times reports this week that mega-bank HSBC has escaped criminal prosecution for money laundering that probably funded terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Why? Because regulators and prosecutors were petrified that an indictment would undermine the entire financial system. The Times quotes anonymous government sources who confessed fears about bringing formal charges, because doing so would be a death sentence for the bank, so they let it off the hook. That's right, HSBC is officially above the law. Too big to fail has become too big to prosecute. A year long investigation found that the British banking giant had blown right past federal laws by laundering billions of dollars from Mexican drug trafficking and processing banned transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. A Wednesday Times article serves up vivid passages about the shady goings on, including HSBC officials working closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations. According to the report, the four count criminal information filed in the court charged HSBC with failure to maintain an effective anti money laundering program, to conduct due diligence on its foreign correspondent affiliates, and for violating sanctions and the Trading With the Enemy Act." In a statement, the bank said it "will acknowledge that, in the past, we have sometimes failed to meet the standards that regulators and customers expect." HSBC apologized and promised never, ever to do it again, scout's honor.
The New York Times reports this week that mega-bank HSBC has escaped criminal prosecution for money laundering that probably funded terrorists and narcotics traffickers. Why? Because regulators and prosecutors were petrified that an indictment would undermine the entire financial system. The Times quotes anonymous government sources who confessed fears about bringing formal charges, because doing so would be a "death sentence" for the bank, so they let it off the hook. That's right, HSBC is officially above the law. Too big to fail has become too big to prosecute. A year long investigation found that the British banking giant had blown right past federal laws by laundering billions of dollars from Mexican drug trafficking and processing banned transactions on behalf of Iran, Libya, Sudan and Burma. A Wednesday Times article serves up vivid passages about the shady goings on, including HSBC officials working closely with Saudi Arabian banks linked to terrorist organizations. According to the report, "the four count criminal information filed in the court, charged HSBC with failure to maintain an effective anti money laundering program, to conduct due diligence on its foreign correspondent affiliates, and for violating sanctions and the Trading With the Enemy Act." In a statement, the bank said it "will acknowledge that, in the past, we have sometimes failed to meet the standards that regulators and customers expect." HSBC apologized and promised never, ever to do it again, scout's honor. I'm pretty sure I know what would happen to me if I stole a loaf of bread from the corner store. But a big bank can act as financier to freaking terrorists, and never worry about things like jail. Funny how a corporation is a person, until it breaks the law. Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a congressional watchdog panel, observed that "the culture at HSBC was pervasively polluted for a long time."
Israeli Covert Operation inside Syria to Track Chemical Arsenal. Israel is conducting a covert cross border operation directed against Syria in liaison with NATO and the Pentagon. After looking for a smoking gun in Iran earlier this year, Israeli special forces are now tracking Syria's stocks of chemical and biological weapons, according to The Sunday Times. "The cross border operation is part of a secret war to trail Syria's non conventional armaments and sabotage their development. For years we have known the exact location of Syria's chemical and biological munitions, an Israeli source said, referring to the country's spy satellites and drones, but in the past week we've got signs that munitions have been moved to new locations. Uzi Mahnaimi and Lucy Fisher Israel tracks Syria's chemical arsenal, The Sunday Times 9 December 2012. Everyone recalls the WMD hype prior to launching the war on Iraq. It turned out that the Iraqi WMD threat was an outright fabrication. Those involved in the Iraq WMD propaganda ploy are now applying their skills with a view to fabricating a WMD pretext to intervene in Syria. According to a report from the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, Israeli's misread the Iraqi threat. In 2003, the BBC wrote on the reports findings: Israeli intelligence miscalculated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. This contributed to the "false" picture painted by US and British services. "Israeli intelligence was a full partner with the US and Britain in developing a false picture of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction capability," said the author of the report, retired Brigadier General Shlomo Brom. "It badly overestimated the Iraqi threat to Israel and reinforced the American and British belief that the weapons existed." "From now on, when we present serious data on other countries, like Iran for example, who will treat us seriously?" Israel Radio quoted Israeli left wing parliamentarian Yossi Sarid as saying. Israelis misread Iraqi threat, BBC, December 5, 2003. In late March 2012 The Sunday Times reported that Israel is using a permanent base in Iraqi Kurdistan to launch cross border intelligence missions in an attempt to find smoking gun evidence that Iran is building a nuclear warhead.
The First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia in 1774 under the Presidency of Peyton Randolf, who succeeded Washington as Grand Master of the Virginia Lodge. The Second Continental Congress convened in 1775 under the Presidency of Freemason John Hancock. Peyton's brother William succeeded him as Virginia Lodge Grand Master, and became the leading proponent of centralization and federalism at the First Constitutional Convention in 1787. The federalism at the heart of the US Constitution is identical to the federalism laid out in the Freemason's Anderson's Constitutions of 1723. William Randolph became the nation's first Attorney General and Secretary of State under George Washington. His family returned to England, loyal to the Crown. John Marshall, the nation's first Supreme Court Justice, was also a Mason. All US Masonic lodges are to this date warranted by the British Crown, whom they serve as a global intelligence and counterrevolutionary subversion network. When Benjamin Franklin journeyed to France to seek financial help for American revolutionaries, his meetings took place at Rothschild banks. He brokered arms sales via German Mason Baron von Steuben. His Committees of Correspondence operated through Freemason channels and paralleled a British spy network. In 1776 Franklin became de facto Ambassador to France. In 1779, he became Grand Master of the French "Neuf Soeurs" (Nine Sisters) Lodge, to which John Paul Jones and Voltaire belonged. Franklin was also a member of the more secretive Royal Lodge of Commanders of the Temple West of Carcasonne, whose members included Frederick Prince of Wales. While Franklin preached temperance in the US, he cavorted wildly with his Lodge brothers in Europe. Franklin served as Postmaster General from the 1750's to 1775, a role traditionally relegated to British spies. With Rothschild financing Alexander, Hamilton founded two New York banks, including Bank of New York. He died in a gun battle with Aaron Burr, who founded Bank of Manhattan with Kuhn Loeb financing. Hamilton exemplified the contempt which the Eight Families hold towards common people, once stating," All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and the well born, the others the mass of the people. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge and determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share of government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second."
The First Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia in 1774 under the Presidency of Peyton Randolph, who succeeded Washington as Grand Master of the Virginia Lodge. The Second Continental Congress convened in 1775 under the Presidency of Freemason John Hancock. Peyton's brother William succeeded him as Virginia Lodge Grand Master, and became the leading proponent of centralization and federalism at the First Constitutional Convention in 1787. The federalism at the heart of the US Constitution is identical to the federalism laid out in the Freemason's Anderson's Constitutions of 1723. William Randolph became the nation's first Attorney General and Secretary of State under George Washington. His family returned to England loyal to the Crown. John Marshall, the nation's first Supreme Court Justice, was also a Mason. All US Masonic lodges are to this day warranted by the British Crown, whom they serve as a global intelligence and counterrevolutionary subversion network. When Benjamin Franklin journeyed to France to seek financial help for American revolutionaries, his meetings took place at Rothschild banks. He brokered arms sales via German Mason Baron von Steuben. His Committees of Correspondence operated through Freemason channels and paralleled a British spy network. In 1776 Franklin became "de-facto" Ambassador to France. In 1779 he became Grand Master of the French Neuf Soeurs (Nine Sisters) Lodge, to which John Paul Jones and Voltaire belonged. Franklin was also a member of the more secretive Royal Lodge of Commanders of the Temple West of Carcasonne, whose members included Frederick Prince of Wales. While Franklin preached temperance in the US, he cavorted wildly with his Lodge brothers in Europe. Franklin served as Postmaster General from the 1750's to 1775, a role traditionally relegated to British spies. With Rothschild financing Alexander, Hamilton founded two New York banks, including Bank of New York. He died in a gun battle with Aaron Burr, who founded Bank of Manhattan with Kuhn Loeb financing. Hamilton exemplified the contempt which the Eight Families hold toward common people, once stating, "All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and the well born, the others the mass of the people. The people are turbulent and changing, they seldom judge and determine right. Give therefore to the first class a distinct, permanent share of government. They will check the unsteadiness of the second."
Western powers have bestowed full political recognition to the Syrian opposition, reflecting a hardening consensus the 20 month old uprising might be nearing a tipping point. Meeting in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh as rebels battled Bashar al Assad's troops on the outskirts of his Damascus power base, the "Friends of Syria" group called on the president to step aside, and warned him against using chemical weapons. Hours earlier, President Barack Obama announced that Washington would now recognize the newly formed coalition of opposition groups as Syria's legitimate representative, joining France, Britain, Turkey and Gulf states. "Participants acknowledge the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, and the umbrella organization under which the Syrian opposition are gathering," said the draft declaration obtained by Reuters. The gathering brings together many Western and Arab nations opposed to Mr Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for 42 years, but it excludes Russia, China and Iran, which have backed Assad or blocked efforts to tighten international pressure on him. "Bashar al Assad has lost legitimacy, and should stand aside to allow a sustainable political transition," said the text. Referring to Western intelligence reports suggesting Assad might use chemical and biological weapons, they said "any use of chemical weapons in Syria would be abhorrent, and that this would draw a serious response from the international community". They announced the creation of a relief fund "to support the Syrian people", calling on states and organizations to make contributions to the fund. Participants also called on the UN Security Council, which has been paralyzed by the major powers' disagreements over Syria, to come up with "a meaningful and robust response" to the crisis, and urged countries that support Assad to "reconsider their positions". Although the text made no explicit commitment to arm the rebels, a diplomat following the talks said participants agreed on "the legitimate need of the Syrian people to defend itself against the violent and brutal regime of Bashar al Assad".
Authorization. Somewhere between being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the consolidating farce of the presentation in Oslo yesterday, recipients were plotting another freedom and democracy, bringing humanitarian intervention, illegal regime change and the destruction of a country in order to save it. Remember Libya was not going to be another Iraq disaster, lessons have been learned? Libya's ruined towns and social structure of course, chillingly resemble Iraq. Now, it is Syria's turn, but Syria will not be another Libya, yes mistakes have been made, but lessons have yet again been earned. Today's London Independent cover story reports the plan for the international coalition to provide air and naval support, plus military training for the opposition, commenting that Western intervention is now deemed necessary, as civil war has reached a tipping point, and of course Britain, France and US agree no boots on the ground. This is the outcome of a secret meeting in London recently, hosted by Sir David Richards, who heads Britain's armed forces. Participants in the scheming were the military chiefs of France, Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, the UAE and (surprise) a three star American General. The paper records, Strategy was discussed at great length, with other UK government Ministries and their counterparts in allied states also holding meetings. read plotting another overthrow of massive illegality of a sovereign leader and government. Langleterre, ah, la perfide Angleterre, is an expression regarding Britain, believed to go back as far as the 13th century relating to acts of duplicity, treachery and infidelity in relations with other nation states, states Wiki neatly. Prime Minister Cameron is determined to involve Britain in more bloodshed, having learned nothing from his disastrous involvement in Libya. Sorry, he is determined that more should be done by Britain to bring an end to the strife. That would be a first, and of course Foreign Secretary Hague I have been a Conservative Friend of Israel since I was sixteen, has long been stating that Britain must arm the insurgents and pledging considerable sums to do so.
And stop running head on into a brick wall? Some commentators have been saying that Israel's latest land grab has effectively killed off the two state solution, if such a thing was ever truly feasible. And this has led to questions like, what should the Palestinians do next? Palestinians must have been asking themselves the same thing for the last 64 years. They themselves are well acquainted with their rights and the crimes committed against them. They know what they must defend to the last. They also know, and if they don't, they must figure it out quickly, what to do next in order to secure those rights. More than 4 years ago, I came across a report titled 'Regaining the Initiative - Palestinian Strategic Options to End Israeli Occupation' by the Palestine Strategy Group, which shows that at least some of them had the answer. The document "reflects an alternative to an official but impotent Palestinian discourse that will very shortly, in the judgment of most Palestinians, run head on into a brick wall." That was the view expressed by Sam Behour, a Palestinian entrepreneur and one of 45 politicians, academics, business people and others who participated in the study. They set out a number of tasks for the Palestinians, if they were to bring the sterile 'peace' negotiations of that time to an end, and re focus efforts towards achieving the Palestinian dream. The study was funded by the EU, but never given much publicity. I wonder how many EU ministers read it, and how many activists, sympathizers and supporters around the world even knew of its existence? The report's main message urged Palestinians "to seize their destiny in their own hands" by refusing to enter into peace negotiations, unless the international community first dealt with issues relating to national self determination, liberation from occupation, individual and collective rights, and enforced international law. Only when these priorities were recognized and actioned, could peacemaking and state building rise to the top of the agenda.
New aid for Syrian rebels? The newly elected head of Syria's opposition briefed European foreign ministers Monday on the crisis there, European Union foreign affairs representative Catherine Ashton said. Ashton met Monday with Ahmed Moaz al Khatib, and pledged European support ahead of the monthly meeting of European foreign ministers. "We want to help, but it's their country," she said. Al Khatib was to discuss his proposal for a political transition to end the hostilities that have left thousands of people dead during nearly 21 months of violence that Syrian President Bashar al Assad has characterized as a fight against terrorism. Ashton said the world must take a stand against al Assad's actions. "It is important that we recognize the terrible things that have been happening in Syria, and the responsibility that Assad has," Ashton said. "We said from the very beginning, that it is no place to be in a position of power in your country, if you respond to peaceful demonstrations with the murder of your citizens." After hearing from al Khatib, the foreign ministers released a statement saying, "The EU is seriously concerned about the potential use and transfer of chemical weapons in Syria, and reminds the Syrian regime and other parties that, in case of their use, those responsible will be held accountable." Syria has accused the United States of working to falsely accuse the country of using chemical weapons, Syrian state run media said Monday. "The US administration has consistently worked over the past year to launch a campaign of allegations on the possibility that Syria could use chemical weapons during the current crisis," the Foreign Ministry wrote in letters to UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon, the state run Syrian Arab News Agency reported. "What raises concerns about this news circulated by the media is our serious fear, that some of the countries backing terrorism and terrorists might provide the armed terrorist groups with chemical weapons, and claim that it was the Syrian government that used the weapons," SANA quoted the letters as saying.
French Special Forces Team up with Foreign Backed Terrorists. As part of the sinister plan for Syria at work, French military agents have recently held face to face meetings with the foreign backed militants inside the country in a bid to assess the situation on the ground. A report carried by French paper Le Figaro on Friday indicates that their main task was to know who controls the battlegrounds around Damascus. It seems that a West orchestrated plan to invade the country is under way, and that they are teaming up, and gearing up for united military action against the country. The report adds that the meetings were held last month, with the full knowledge of the French government, and that the French government wants to know the operational capacity of each group and their political colors. To make matters worse, NATO has agreed to deploy Patriot missiles on the Syria Turkey border under the pretense of defending Turkey as Britain has warned Syria of serious consequences if the regime used chemical weapons. All the pieces of the puzzle are being meticulously put together by the forces of Syria to lend a cloak of legitimacy to an imminent invasion of the country. Syria mulls using chemical weapons against its own people, and the militants, that the war may spill over into Turkey, and that Turkey should be able to defend itself against any potential attacks. While in Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers' meeting, William Hague, British foreign secretary, said that Britain had delivered a stark message to President Bashar al Assad, echoing the words of the Obama administration on Monday. "We are worried about chemical weapons," said Mr Hague. "We have become more concerned about them in recent days for the same reasons the US has. We have already sent our own, clear, private message directly to the Syrians about the serious consequences that would follow from the use of those weapons." Syria has blasted NATO's decision to deploy Patriot missiles as psychological warfare, saying the new deployment would not deter it from seeking victory over the militants it views as terrorists.
and Militarism. The campaign in Japan for the December 16 election has marked a sharp turn to nationalism and militarism across the political establishment, directed especially against China. The rightward shift in Japanese politics is a warning of the dangers facing the working class as a consequence of the worsening breakdown of global capitalism. Two issues signal the turn: The dispute with China over the Senkaku Diaoyo islands, and calls for constitutional change to remove or modify Japan's so called pacifist clause. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) deliberately inflamed tensions with China by "nationalizing" the disputed islands in September. The result has been a dangerous stand off between Japanese and Chinese maritime vessels, which the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LPD) and the right wing Japan Restoration Party (JRP) propose to exacerbate by building permanent structures on the islands. LDP leader Shinzo Abe, known for his right wing nationalist views, has focused on the defense of all of Japan's claimed territories as the means of pressing for constitutional change to transform the "Self Defense Forces" into a regular military force, able to participate in "collective self defense". The "pacifist" clause has acted as an impediment to participation in the US led wars of aggression in the Middle East, and thus to the interests of Japanese imperialism. JRP leader Shintaro Ishihara calls for complete scrapping of the "occupation" constitution, drawn up by the US following the end of World War II, and has suggested that Japan consider building its own nuclear weapons. While warning of the dangers of "anti foreignism and adventurism" and advocating "responsible defense". Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has previously argued for amendments, to ensure the constitutionality of the military.
Hey readers, Ive got a scoop. It's the text of a letter, don't ask me how I got it, from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to Hamas leader Meshal. It was hand delivered in Gaza by one of Israel's many Palestinian collaborators who lives there. Like most, if not all others of this kind, the poor man didn't volunteer to spy for Israel. He was "recruited" after being told that his wife would be raped if he didn't provide information for Israel. Many years ago, as I noted in my book Arafat, Terrorist or Peacemaker? Abu Iyad, Fatah's intelligence chief, told me that most Palestinians who became Israeli assets did so because they were told that their mothers, or their wives, or their daughters or their sisters would be raped if they didn't do what Israel's security agencies wanted. "It's Israel's standard procedure," Abu Iyad said. During Israel's ground and air assault on Beirut in 1982, a Palestinian woman came to Abu Iyad and confessed that she was an Israeli agent, one of 30 who were reporting on Arafat's movements to enable Israeli jets to zero in and bomb him to pieces. Abu Iyad had the other 29 rounded up and shot. He didn't tell Arafat until they were dead, because he knew the chairman would have insisted on mercy and forgiven them. The envelope containing Netanyahu's letter was addressed to "His Excellency, Khaled Meshal." The letter itself was to "The Palestinian Terrorist Leader."The text was as follows: "I thank you with all my heart for your speech in Gaza confirming that Hamas wants to compromise with the Jewish state which, you said, must be liberated, destroyed, "inch by inch." Why am I moved to thank you? I'll tell you frankly. You have solved what was threatening to become a serious problem for me. The problem? For some months past, European leaders and even people with an inside track to my very, very dear friend Barak Obama have been telling me that I do not understand Hamas's real position.
Direct from the Mouths of the Mayan Priests. While educated adults obviously don't believe the 2012 prophesy, many children are terrified, and NASA reports that some are contemplating suicide. So please spread this as a Public Service Announcement. Many people are talking about the Mayan 2012 prophecy, but few know what the Mayan priests actually "said" about 2012. In reality, Mayan elders say something very different from what you might have heard: For example, Wakatel Utiw, leader of the National Council of Elders Mayas, Xinca and Garifuna (the Xinca and Garifuna are non Mayan tribes in Central America) Day Keeper of the Mayan Calendar, and 13th generation Quiche Mayan Spiritual Leader, says that the end of the Maya calendar has nothing to do with the end of the world. He also explains that December 21, 2012 might not even be the end of this cycle of the calendar: Contrary to popular belief, the living elders of the Maya do not agree that December 21, 2012 is the end of their calendar. A new Sun represents the beginning of a new Long Count cycle in the calendar system of approximately 5,200 years, which they say may not happen for many years: A brand new film called Shift of the Ages, tells the Mayans beliefs in detail, and gives their true warnings. Similarly, Tzutujil Mayan elder Tata Pedro Cruz says the world will NOT end in 2012. Mayan elder and priest Carlos Barrios, who has extensively studied the Mayan calendars says: Anthropologists visit the temple sites, and read the inscriptions and make up stories about the Maya, but they do not read the signs correctly. Its just their imagination. Other people write about prophecy in the name of the Maya. They say the world will end in December 2012. The Mayan elders are angry with this. The world will not end. It will be transformed. Leonzo Barreno, a Guatemalan native who was trained by Mayan elders to read the ancient calendars, says that the apocalypse concept is a false interpretation of the Long Count calendar, that the Mayan elders taught him that December 21 this year simply marks the start of a new calendar.
Or its Future Wars? Following NYT 13 October editorial urging immediate "Pack Up" from Afghanistan, quite a few news reports have appeared related to the US' long held positions toward "War on Terror" and Iran's nuclear issue, that on the surface seem to suggest the US administration possibly redefining America from a warmongering nation to one at peace with itself and the world, but that could be mere illusion, because NOT being in war goes against the very American history and grain. In fact, that would be asking Americans for "character suicide." Anyhow, we begin with NYT itself, that is, the 180 degree shift in its policy from being top drum-beater for Pentagon's wars. The crux of the editorial is that America can't wait for 2012, the deadline set by Obama for the military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Instead, it argues "two more years of combat, two more years of sending Americans to die and be wounded, is too long." To emphasize need for accelerated withdrawal within less than a year to avoid further combat casualties, it goes on to the extent of proposing blowing up military hardware like "Stinger missiles" and "drones" if arranging their speedy safe return could delay withdrawal! That is something unbelievable indeed. By the way, Stinger missiles against Taliban fertilizer based landmines? Doesn't that speak a lot about the US military war planning and strategy? Remembering that NYT has all along cheer led America's wars, and stood stoutly behind the US policy of "open end" to "war on terror", without bothering about national or international legal and moral issues, or how negatively they impact "America's global interests" or the military budget, it would seem a bit too simplistic to believe such a turnabout in thinking or belief could come about merely out of concern for potential casualties, or the sudden recollection of such recent historical facts, as how Eisenhower or Nixon ended their wars to the benefit of America: That would be degrading the intelligence of the whole NYT flock, in particular of those who write its influential editorial pieces!
Marking abandonment of the last shred of pretense of observing the rule of law, the Nobel Peace Prize winning European Union Ministers are to meet with the leaders of the Syrian insurgency in Brussels on Monday 10th December, according to Lebanon's Daily Star. Mouas al Khatib, now heading the self styled Syrian National Coalition will attend at least part of the meeting, a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign affairs chief, confirmed today. The Minister's strategy to end the tragedy in Syria is to arm the insurgents, and to look at ways of loosening an arms embargo in order to help rebel forces, EU diplomats said. Al Khatib, the paper points out, has already visited London and Paris, where the coalition has been recognized as the sole representative of the Syrian people. EU Foreign Ministers did not endorse full recognition at a meeting on 19th November, though considered the coalition to be the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people. The sole representative is clearly hoping for the jackpot at this gathering. Later in the week, the EU, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other allies are meeting factions of the insurgency in Marrakesh, Morocco. In the week the EU, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and other allies are meeting factions of the insurgency in Marrakesh, Morocco. In the week, the US has designated one of the Syrian groups, the Nusra Front, to its list of terrorist organizations, alleging its links to al Qaeda, the decision would seem to have been made for Clinton also to announce in Morocco, recognition of the al Khatib collection as fully the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, an endorsement Washington hopes will help the group mature into a transitional government. Last week EU Member States decided to review the embargo on Syria, designed to cut off supplies to the government, quarterly instead of annually, to facilitate the supplies of non lethal equipment to the rebels, if necessary. So loosening the arms embargo and assistance in illegality in every way, bestowed by the collective Nobel Laureates.
Extremists have taken over, and they're the ones who run the foreign policy and have convinced us to go along with all these wars. Congressman Ron Paul. The alleged bogey of extremism has become a prominent element of public discourse, particularly since the mid 1990's. The assumed terrorist tendencies of ordinary Americans is a preoccupation of many mainstream and liberal intellectuals apparently more concerned with moral guardianship than the growing police state and continued wartime economy. These conditions underline a campaign to promote paranoia that only intensified following September 11, 2001. As the specter of deviant commoners helps validate accelerated repressive measures, the states genuine extremism of illegal wars and evisceration of most civil liberties, falls from public purview. The 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building set the stage for the creation of an imaginary extremist other bitter clingers in today's parlance, purportedly emerging from a noxious combination of Bible study, country music, and gun collecting. Against this and similar extreme archetypes, a normality is defined where the broader population is encouraged to confirm a tentative political identity and rationalize the support of intensified social control measures. The often strange and misunderstood instances of probable state sponsored terror, of which the Oklahoma City incident is the most well known and incontestable alongside the prominence of well funded establishment oriented quasi intelligence and disinformation outlets, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti Defamation League misleading conflate political thought, extremism and terror together in the public mind, with dangerous implications for meaningful open debate and the preservation of important civil liberties. In the months leading up to the Oklahoma City bombing, Senator Joe Biden, and subsequently the Clinton Administration laid the legislative groundwork for the 2001 PATRIOT Act, that criminalized political thought and undermined the Posse Comitatus Act. September 11, 2001 merely provided the pretext for the laws ratification.
Bashar's father Hafez al Assad was brutal, but never used chemical weapons. Do you know which was the first army to use gas in the Middle East? The bigger the lie, the more people will believe it. We all know who said that, but it still works. Bashar al Assad has chemical weapons. He may use them against his own Syrian people. If he does, the West will respond. We heard all this stuff last year, and Assad's regime repeatedly said that if, if it had chemical weapons, it would never use them against Syrians, but now Washington is playing the same gas chanty all over again. Bashar has chemical weapons. He may use them against his own people. And if he does, well if he does, Obama and Madame Clinton and NATO will be very, very angry, but over the past week, all the usual pseudo experts who couldn't find Syria on a map, having been warning us again of the mustard gas, chemical agents, biological agents that Syria might possess, and might use. And the sources? The same fantasy specialists who didn't warn us about 9/11, but insisted that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in 2003: "unnamed military intelligence sources". Henceforth to be acronymed as UMIS. And now, the coup de theatre. Someone from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation called me up this week to talk about the use of chemical weapons by Hafez al Assad in Hama during the Sunni Muslim uprising in the city in 1982. Their sources were the same old UMIS, but it happened to have got into Hama in February 1982, which is why the Canadian was calling me, and while Hafez's Syrian army was very definitely slaughtering its own people, who were, by the way, slaughtering regime officials and their families. No one ever used chemical weapons. Not a single soldier I saw in Hama carried a gas mask. No civilians carried gas masks. The dangerously perfumed air which I and my colleagues smelled after chemicals were used by our ally Saddam against Iranian soldiers in the 1980's was not present.
He has made Israel more unfit to live in than any of his predecessors. Palestinians have no rights whatever. Israeli Arabs have few. Most Jews are losing theirs incrementally. Neoliberal harshness plans destroying Israel's safety net entirely. Budget cuts target housing, healthcare, education, employment and welfare. Labor rights are eroding. So is public education. Disabled Israelis find it harder than ever to find jobs. Regressive taxes benefit business and wealthy elites. Others least able to afford it face growing burdens. Poor Israelis are blamed for their own condition. Increasingly they're left on their own sink, or swim. Judicial help is absent. Courts reject petitions against cutbacks in income insurance and benefits for the elderly. Others affecting education and healthcare were denied. Even Israel's High Court is unsympathetic. Former civil service officials complain. Diminishing social services harm growing numbers of Israelis. Netanyahu prioritizes eliminating them altogether. The problem borders on grave. It gets little attention. Waging war on Palestine and threatening Iran matter more. Israel's most disadvantaged face growing poverty, homelessness, and hunger. Yad Eliezer addresses these problems. It says over 700,000 Israeli children are impoverished. It's many thousands more than that. The gap between rich and poor increases annually. Deprivation accompanies it. Netanyahu cut welfare instead of increasing it to help those most in need. Ezrat Avot helps poor families. It says growing numbers "are simply not making it. There is a large proportion of society here who are working and don't have enough money for food." Some are low income workers. Others work part time or are partially disabled. Israeli government data says one fourth of Israelis are impoverished. It's double the OECD average. It's the second highest among OECD countries. Food insecurity is a major problem. Families worry about getting enough to eat. Others face homelessness. Conditions are getting progressively worse.
Never before has it been so important to have independent, honest voices and sources of information. We are, as a society inundated and overwhelmed with a flood of information from a wide array of sources, but these sources of information, by and large, serve the powerful interests and individuals that own them. The main sources of information, for both public and official consumption, include the mainstream media, alternative media, academia and think tanks. The mainstream media is the most obvious in its inherent bias and manipulation. The mainstream media is owned directly by large multinational corporations, and through their boards of directors are connected with a plethora of other major global corporations and elite interests. An example of these connections can be seen through the board of Time Warner. Time Warner owns Time Magazine, HBO, Warner Bros, and CNN, among many others. The board of directors includes individuals past or presently affiliated with: the Council on Foreign Relations, the IMF, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Warburg Pincus, Phillip Morris, and AMR Corporation, among many others. Two of the most esteemed sources of news in the US are the New York Times, referred to as the paper of record, and the Washington Post. The New York Times has on its board people who are past or presently affiliated with Schering Plough International (pharmaceuticals), the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation, Chevron Corporation, Wesco Financial Corporation, Kohlberg & Company, The Charles Schwab Corporation, eBay Inc., Xerox, IBM, Ford Motor Company, Eli Lilly & Company, among others. Hardly a bastion of impartiality, and the same could be said for the Washington Post, which has on its board Lee Bollinger, the President of Columbia University and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Warren Buffett, billionaire financial investor, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, and individuals associated with the Coca Cola Company, New York University, Conservation International, the Council on Foreign Relations, Xerox, Catalyst, Johnson & Johnson, Target Corporation, RAND Corporation, General Motors, and the Business Council, among others.