Jews Speak out for the Methodist Churches to Divest From Israel

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Jewish Voice for Peace

April 22, 2008

Dear Lo,

This week, Methodists have a chance to make history, but they need your support. They are gathering at their General Conference, a meeting that takes place once every four years, to make policy decisions for their 11.5 million member denomination.

They have already felt the sting of charges of anti-semitism for taking principled stands on the Israeli occupation, as well as considering selective divestment.

They need to hear from Jews and allies who are willing to stand up, tell the truth, and act for justice.

We’ve created a website for Methodist delegates (and Presbyterian delegates who are meeting in June) called “Invest in Peace.

Please send a photo and a short, positive message of support for our blog You can do this easily by sending an e-mail to with a photograph attached and your personalized message in the body.

Feel free to use this sample message for suggestions:

Please vote for selective divestment from companies that benefit from the occupation. It is the most powerful, nonviolent way we, as Americans, have to pressure the Israeli government to end its occupation. Only through ending the occupation will we have a chance for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

We will make sure that the delegates get your message.


Jewish Voice for Peace

Please invest in peace and divest from occupation

Please vote for selective divestment from companies that benefit from the occupation. It is the most powerful, nonviolent way we, as Americans, have to pressure the Israeli government to end its occupation. Only through ending the occupation will we have a chance for a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


Pennsylvania Primary 04.22.08 Results

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Pennsylvania Democratic Primary Results
Candidate Votes %
Hillary Clinton 1,239,548 55%
Barack Obama 1,023,516 45%
Key: Red Checkmark Winner


Pennsylvania GOP Primary Results
Candidate Votes %
John McCain 574,451 73%
Ron Paul 125,871 16%
Mike Huckabee 89,982 11%
Key: Red Checkmark Winner
Precincts: 99% | Updated: 12:57 AM ET | Source: AP

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Democrat and Republican Delegates


Kucinich Passes Amendment to Protect Ohio’s Beaches

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by Dennis Kucinich

Washington, Apr 17

Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) passed an amendment to the Beaches Protection Act last night that will make Ohio’s shores cleaner and safer, while protecting the local economy. The amendment would let the public know when a state or local government is able to identify the source of pathogenic contamination of water bodies like Lake Erie.

HR 2537, the Beaches Protection Act, would allow state and local governments that get grants to monitor beach water quality to use their funds to identify the source of the contamination. The Kucinich amendment requires that the public is notified when the polluter is identified.

Kucinich said, “Communities deserve to know about the health threats that exist in their own backyard. When people are given information about pollution sources in their neighborhood, they become stewards of the environment.”

Community Right-to-Know approaches to environmental protection have been held up as an example of effectiveness, empowerment, and low cost in environmental protection strategies. The Toxics Release Inventory, which discloses pollution information from the largest facilities, is a well-known example.

Kucinich said, “Citizens should know where and when the contamination occurs so they can avoid exposure to it. But they should also know where it is coming from so they can work to prevent it.”

Beach waters contaminated by raw sewage, one of the primary causes of substandard water quality, pose threats to health and to the economy. The short term health risks of swimming in water contaminated with biological pathogens are known to include gastroenteritis, respiratory infection, ear infection, skin rashes, and pinkeye. Lake Erie provides drinking water for approximately 11 million people. The risks are also economic. Many coastal communities, including Northeast Ohio, depend on tourism for their local economies.

Lake Erie alone generates $2.5 billion dollars annually in tourism revenue. Kucinich said, “Northern Ohio relies heavily on the integrity of Lake Erie water. We have to be vigilant in protecting it. My amendment allows Ohoians to do just that.”

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


Contribute to Kucinich for Congress


Mosaic News – 4/21/08: World News from the Middle East

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This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.


“Muqtada Sadr Threatens Open War,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Maliki Urges Neighboring Countries to Help Iraq,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“More Qassam Rockets Launched onto Israel,” IBA TV, Israel
“Carter Says Hamas Willing to Accept 1967 Borders,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Children in Gaza Suffer Malnutrition,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Secret Talks Between Israel & Syria,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Jenin’s Economy Devastated,” Palestine TV, Ramallah
“Afghanistan’s Children Live on the Streets,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

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Bush has a sneering contempt for the law (video)

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run time: 1:05:28

He says that on his say so alone he can identify anyone in the United States as creating a “significant risk of undermining reconstruction program in Iraq, or political reform by creating a risk that an act of violence might be committed.” And when he identifies you, he doesn’t inform you. But you are instantly subjected to a financial death penalty. All your assets are frozen; no one then can do any business with you.

A Must Watch – Video Discussion

Chairman of the American freedom agenda Bruce Fein and former United States Congressman Bob Barr

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Message To Fed Chief Bernanke: Enough With The Cuts, Already

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
04/22/08 “ICH”

Last week’s stock market blowout added more than 4 per cent to the Dow Jones Industrials, but it had no affect on Libor rates. The so-called “Libor rate” rose steadily from Tuesday through Friday signaling more troubles in the banking system. Libor, which means London Interbank-Offered Rate, is the rate that banks charge each other for loans. It has a dramatic effect on nearly every area of investment. When the rate soars, as it did last week, it means that the banks are either too weak financially to lend to each other or too worried about the ability of the other bank to repay them back. Either way, it puts a crimp in lending. Banks serve as the transmission point for credit to the broader economy via business and consumer loans. When they’re bogged down by their own bad investments or when risks increase, rates go up and the whole process slows to a crawl. When banks are unable to extend credit freely, business activity decreases and GDP shrinks.

The sudden surge in stocks is not a sign that things are back to normal; far from it. If anything, things are worse than ever. Credit remains unusually tight despite Bernanke’s cuts to the Fed Funds rate or the creation of various “auction facilities” that remove mortgage-backed securities (MBS) from banks balance sheets. Businesses and consumers are still having a hard time getting funding, which means that the velocity of money in the financial system is decelerating rapidly and this increases the likelihood of a system-wide freeze-up. Libor is just the flashing red light.

A rise in Libor adds billions in additional interest payments for homeowners, businesses and other borrowers. According to the Wall Street Journal:

“Libor is one of the world’s most important financial indicators. It serves as a benchmark for $900 billion in subprime mortgage loans that adjust — typically every six months — according to its movements. Companies globally have nearly $9 trillion in debt with interest payments pegged to Libor, according to data provider Dealogic.”

Commercial real estate deals are mostly pegged to Libor as are adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). In fact, most of the mortgages that were written up during the boom-years were tied to Libor. That’s why Peter Fitzgerald, chief financial officer at Radco Cos., said, “If Libor were at 4 per cent instead of under 3 per cent , there would be a disaster that would take years to unwind.” (WSJ)

A rising Libor puts the Fed and the Bank of England in a tough spot. They’re trying to keep rates artificially low so the banks can increase their lending and recoup their losses, but the market is not cooperating. The market is driving Libor upward, which means the Fed is losing control. The real cost of money is going up.

The Bank of England was forced to intervene on Monday. Mervyn King, the UK’s central bank governor, launched a “Special Liquidity Scheme” to “improve the liquidity of the banking system and raise confidence in financial markets while ensuring that the risk of losses on the loans they have made remains with the banks.” The plan will provide $100 billion for “illiquid assets of sufficiently high quality” (Mortgage-backed securities) to “unfreeze” bank lending. The plan is similar to the Fed’s auction facilities which have provided over $200 billion in exchange for dodgy MBS, collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) and commercial paper (ABCP) According to Bloomberg:

“The Central Bank’s move allows financial institutions to add government bonds to their inventory of liquid assets and make it easier for them to raise cash and lend, especially to consumers seeking home loans. In return the government will hold the riskier mortgage-backed securities.” The Bank of England said the swaps would be for a period of one year and could be renewed for up to three years, although the banks would be on the hook for losses on their loans. It’s a sweet deal for the investment banks and a total loser for the British taxpayer who could get stuck with hundreds of billions of worthless MBS.

The $100 billion liquidity-injection is the biggest bailout in the Bank’s history, and it was granted without public input or Parliamentary authorization, just like the Bear Sterns transaction. The bankers call the shots while the public picks up the tab. The Bank’s action puts to rest the idea that “the worst is behind us”. It isn’t; in fact, recent estimates suggest that the losses to the banking system could exceed $1 trillion. There’s still a lot of carnage ahead.

The $100 billion will help to stabilize the money markets and put the banks on sounder footing, but it does nothing to help the housing market. The British real estate market is on life support because most of the mortgage financing was coming from investors who bought MBS. Mortgage securities are currently down 92 percent from the same period last year, which leaves potential buyers without a funding source. The BOE is considering creating a British-style Fannie Mae to kick-start the stalled housing industry by providing government-backed loans. The private sector will not be a big player in the housing market for the foreseeable future.

The same is true in the US. If the Fed can’t bring Libor down with interest rate cuts, then it will have to develop a back-up plan. The next step would be “quantitative easing”; a monetary policy that was implemented by the Bank of Japan in 2001 “to revive that country’s economy that was stagnant for a decade. Quantitative easing entails flooding the banking system with excess reserves, resulting in pushing the benchmark overnight bank lending to zero.” (Reuters) There are indications that Bernanke is already preparing for this radical option, but there’s little chance that it will succeed. Whether the banks are able to lend or not is irrelevant. Public attitudes towards indebtedness have changed dramatically in the past few months. Overextended consumers are looking for ways to pay off their debts. This will make it more difficult for Bernanke to reflate the equity bubble through credit expansion. When people are frightened or pessimistic about the future, they naturally curtail their spending. A recent poll conducted by the Washington Post/ABC illustrates how the public’s attitude towards the economy has darkened in a matter of months. According to the survey:

“Nine out of ten Americans now give the economy a negative rating, with a majority saying it is in ‘poor’ shape, the most to say so in more than 15 years. And the sense that things are bad has spread swiftly. The percentage who hold a negative view of the economy is up 33 points over the last year, and the percentage who rate the economy ‘poor’ has increased 13 points in the last two months. That is the quickest 60-day decline since the Post and ABC started asking the question in 1985” (Washington Post)

The average American is showing a better grasp of the deteriorating economic conditions than the stock market. Housing sales continue to tumble, manufacturing is off, unemployment is steadily increasing, retail sales are flat, and inflation is soaring. Consumers are feeling the pinch of rising food and energy costs, loss of home equity and a general downturn in the credit markets. Money is tight and jobs are scarce.


When George W. Bush took office in 2000, oil was $28 per barrel, the euro was $.87 on the dollar, gold was $274 per ounce, and the national debt was $5.9 trillion. Today, oil is a record $114 per barrel, the euro is nudging $1.60 on the dollar, gold is $945 per ounce, and the National Debt is $9 trillion. The country is presently engaged in a $2 trillion war in Iraq with no end in sight. The federal government has expanded over 30% under Bush. Wages for working people have stagnated, unemployment has risen, 47 million Americans are without health care, and the economy is slipping into recession. By every objective standard, the country is worse off today than when Bush first took office.

The Federal Reserve has played a major role in America’s economic decline. Greenspan’s “weak dollar” policy pushed trillions of dollars of credit into the hands of people who had no realistic prospect of paying it back. Now the banks are buried beneath a mountain of bad investments and foreclosures are at record highs. (In California 65,000 homes are now in some stage of foreclosure while the total number of homes sold in February—new and used—was a mere 20,513) Michael S. Rozeff explains the current downturn in his article “The Subprime Crisis and Government Failure”:

“How are we to explain and understand the details of the subprime crisis? Is it a sudden outcropping of market madness? Is this an instance of a free market gone haywire? Is it a case of mass lender stupidity? Is it a case of greed and corruption? Is it a case of inefficient regulation by the states?

The subprime crisis is none of these. Its origin lies in a housing price bubble brought about by excessive central bank money creation and the subsequent puncturing of this bubble…

Fiat money inflations often bring on real estate booms followed by busts. These inflations are the common element in real estate cycles that span many countries and many centuries, and they put the lie to the hypothesis that bad lending practices are the culprit. Fraudulent money creation is the culprit, not faulty evaluation of the credit risks of borrowers.” (Michael S. Rozeff, “The Subprime Crisis and Government Failure”,

The knock-on effects of the housing bust are just now rippling through the broader economy. Consumer spending is sluggish, growth is weak, and the stock market is more volatile than anytime since the 1930s. The Fed has usurped congressional powers to deal with insolvency problems at the banks. Public money is now being provided for the purchase of dubious assets held by unregulated investment banks owned by private speculators. The Fed is simply making up the rules as it goes along. Bernanke’s actions have not yet been challenged by any congressman or senator.

The Fed’s monetary policies have triggered a run-up in commodities prices which is driving up the cost of everything from corn to copper. Food riots have broken out in capitals around the world and leaders are worried about growing political instability. The media is blaming drought, high energy prices, and biofuels for the sudden rise in prices, but these are only secondary factors. Currency devaluation has played a bigger role than shortages or blight. The world is awash in dollars which are steadily losing value. Pension funds and foreign central banks are diverting dollars into commodities rather than keeping them in corporate bonds or the sagging stock market. Here’s an excerpt from the Wall Street Journal that sums it up:

“Inflation is rising throughout the world due to dollar weakness, and the prices of such commodities as oil and corn have soared. …As former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker noted last week, we are already in a “dollar crisis”. Even the IMF—typically the temple of devaluationists—is alarmed by the dollar’s fall. Dollar weakness has already contributed to soaring commodity prices that have walloped US consumers just when their spending is most needed to offset the housing slump. …The commodity boom is result in large part of the Fed’s weak dollar policy, and it may have tipped the US into recession that could have been avoided.” (Wall Street Journal)

Economics editor for the UK Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, draws the same conclusion in his recent article, “Oil, Surges as Investors hunt for Anti-dollar”:

“Société Générale said the near $30 spike in prices since early February is largely due to money pouring into commodity index funds, now worth some $200bn. Crude has taken on a “safe-haven” role for investors fleeing the dollar, or those betting that central banks will let rip with excess liquidity.

“This is now entirely investor driven,” said Dr Frederic Lasserre, Société Générale’s head of commodities research. He added that most of the money is coming from pension funds, insurers and other long-term investors. They view the US recession as a mere hiccup in a powerful upward cycle, convinced that Chinese and Mid-East demand will hold up long enough for America to recover. “They are all convinced by the fundamental tightness of the market,” he said.” (UK Telegraph)

Commodities prices are now being driven by an ever-weakening dollar. As Pritchard notes, oil futures have become a sort of “anti-dollar”; a more reliable store of value than the anemic greenback.

The Fed’s loose money policies have put the dollar at risk of losing its role as the world’s reserve currency. If the dollar falls from its perch, the empire will soon follow. The macroeconomic impact of Greenspan’s low interest rates will be seismic. Foreign banks and investors currently hold $6 trillion in dollar-based assets and currency. When the dollar falls; speculation will increase and prices will rise. Currently, the US is exporting its inflation and fueling political unrest in the process. If Bernanke continues to slash interest rates, the problems will only get worse. The Fed could raise rates by 50 basis points tomorrow and the commodities bubble would explode overnight, but that doesn’t look likely.

The idea that soaring commodity prices are the result of speculation is controversial. (I could be wrong!) Economist Paul Krugman does not think that “low interest rates and irrational exuberance” are responsible for the high prices. Rather, he thinks they are the result of “rapidly growing demand and constrained supply”. This is certainly possible. Perhaps, there is no bubble at all.

Currency Intervention to Save the Dollar

The G-7 finance ministers met in Washington last week and announced their “resolve” to minimize the volatility in the currency markets. Many people took this to mean that foreign central banks would take a more active role in shoring up the dollar. So far, there’s been no indication of support. The dollar has stayed within the $1.58-1.59 per euro range for more than a week. Help could be on the way but, then, maybe not. The only one who can really save the dollar now, is Bernanke. All he needs to do is indicate that the rate cuts are over and the bleeding will stop. But that might be too much to hope for. Bernanke has already cut the Fed Funds rate from 5.25 percent to 2.25 percent since September. (way below the 4.1 percent rate of inflation) Its clear that he sees a deflationary tidal wave about to hit sometime in the next few quarters. Why else would he slash rates so aggressively while stretching the Fed’s mandate (“make sure the markets function properly”) to the limit?

Last week, former Fed chairman Paul Volcker took the unusual step of publicly chastising Bernanke in a speech he gave to the Economic Club of New York. Volcker’s comments indicate the level of frustration with the Fed’s dollar-savaging rate cuts which have caused problems around the world. Volcker said, “The recession is not the Fed’s problem. It’s the government’s. The Fed’s job is to defend the currency and fight inflation—exactly the opposite of what this Fed is doing.” The former Fed chief thinks Bernanke should raise rates now, because if he doesn’t, he’ll have to raise them even more later, “with even more awful consequences.”

Martin Feldstein, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Ronald Reagan, joined Volcker in blasting the Fed and calling for an end to the rate cuts. In a Wall Street Journal editorial on April 15 Feldstein said:

“It’s time for the Federal Reserve to stop reducing the federal funds rate, because the likely benefit is small compared to the potential damage….Lower interest rates could raise the already high prices of energy and food, which are already triggering riots in developing countries. In order to offset the inflationary impact of higher imported commodity prices, central banks in those countries may raise interest rates. Such contractionary policies would reduce real incomes and exacerbate political instability….lowering interest rates stimulates economic activity to a point at which labor and product markets cause wages and prices to rise. That is unlikely to happen in the U.S. in the coming year. The general weakness of the economy will keep most wages and prices from rising more rapidly…..But high unemployment and low capacity utilization would not prevent lower interest rates from driving up commodity prices.

Lower interest rates induce investors to add commodities to their portfolios. When rates are low, portfolio investors will bid up the prices of oil and other commodities to levels at which the expected future returns are in line with the lower rates.”

Feldstein is right. Additional cuts will probably have negligible effect on housing and consumer spending, but they could be a death-blow to the dollar. It’s not worth it. Lower rates will be devastating for people living in poorer countries. In the US, middle class families spend only 15 percent of net earnings on food. In poorer countries people spend upwards of 75 percent of their income just trying to feed themselves. That’s why riots are breaking out everywhere; the Fed’s monetary policy is a catalyst for political instability.

Besides, lower interest rates don’t necessarily increase demand or make credit more easily available. The only way to spark demand is to make sure that wages keep pace with production so that workers can buy the things they produce. That’s the only way to create a prosperous economy, too; build a strong and well-educated work-force.

“Economic recovery will require resolving the difficult problems of the credit markets, dealing with the millions of homeowners who may now be tempted to default on mortgages that exceed the value of their homes, and reducing the risk that the ongoing decline in house prices will push millions of additional homeowners into a vulnerable, negative equity condition,” says Feldstein. “A lower fed funds rate will not solve any of those problems.”

Right again. The problems we face can’t be resolved with rate cuts and auction facilities. They require new thinking, fiscal solutions and public engagement. There’s no quick fix and no perfect solution; not everyone will get a fair deal. But its pointless to wreck the currency when nothing is gained by it.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at:

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

US man held on Israel spy charge + video

Dandelion Salad

Tuesday, 22 April 2008 19:44 UK

US authorities have arrested a military engineer on suspicion of giving secrets involving nuclear weapons, fighter jets and missiles to Israel in the 1980s.

Ben-Ami Kadish was detained for participating in a conspiracy to disclose documents related to national defence, the justice department said.

Mr Kadish worked at the army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Centre in New Jersey from 1979 to 1985.

He is accused of giving material to an Israeli consular official while there.


h/t: CLG




April 22, 2008
CNN Wolf Blitzer

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Bush Secrecy Policies have Transformed U.S. Government from “Open” to “Closed”

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by Jeff Demers and Sherwood Ross
Global Research, April 22, 2008
Massachusetts School of Law

President George W. Bush has transformed an open federal government in Washington into one of “pervasive secrecy,” a distinguished authority on communications and First Amendment rights says.

Since his inauguration, Bush has overseen changes that suggest “a dramatic growth of government secrecy, far beyond the secrecy occurring during the Clinton Administration,” writes Susan Dente Ross, an Associate Professor in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University at Pullman.

“Through executive agency opinions, executive orders, statutory changes, and aggressive litigation, the Bush Administration has effectively limited the power of FOIA(Freedom of Information Act) and reversed the presumption that government records should be available to the public absent demonstrable proof showing that secrecy is needed,” Ross writes in The Long Term View, a journal of opinion published by the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.

“The administration’s sweeping expansion of the power of federal government to classify records, and so hide them from public view, increases the range of information that may be classified and extends the lifetime of such secrecy,” Ross says. She noted that:

# Mr. Bush has increased the number of federal agencies authorized to designate information as secret and exempt them from public disclosure.

# The Department of Homeland Security removed the agency’s entire classification of information process from public scrutiny. The secretaries’ of Health and Human Services and Agriculture and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, have been granted the right to classify information “for purposes of national security and national defense.”

# The Defense Department has adopted a new policy that imposes strict limits on discussion of all its “critical research” from the “idea phase” onward.

# Mr. Bush has placed his own papers, and those of his father, the former president, “outside the public eye and empowered himself to keep Congress in the dark about intelligence matters.”

# Mr. Bush has increased the authority of the Central Intelligence Agency to empower its director to block declassification of CIA information unless disclosure is authorized by the president.

# Mr. Bush has extended time that information can be kept classified from 10 to 25 years and this period may be extended even longer.

“Blanket closures of INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) proceedings and absolute gags on disclosure of related information eviscerate the time-honored constitutional protection of open public trials,” Ross writes. She noted the federal government “arrested and refused to identify hundreds of aliens who either may be connected to terrorism as material witnesses or who may have visa or other INS infractions.”

An INS directive issued promptly after September 11, 2001, mandated absolute closure of all deportation hearings in cases the agency determined to be of “special interest” to the war on terrorism, Ross said. The INS judges could gag aliens from disclosing anything learned in closed proceedings and an INS regulation requires states and localities housing federal detainees to withhold all information about them.

Ross noted, though, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge struck down the INS closures and a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington ordered the Justice Department to disclose the names of more than 1,100 non-U.S. citizens detained at some point in connection with terrorism.

Ross asserts, “Legislation championed as essential to protect the nation against terrorist threats allows the federal government to spy on its citizens, to detain them in secret without charges, to prosecute them based on secret evidence, and to prohibit parties to the trial from discussing related information.”

Ross writes the merest perusal of some Bush initiatives shows it has reversed the presumption of open government: “Although the now prevailing presumption of closed government is masked in subtle nuances of language and interpretive guidelines, we may liken the shift to the sea change that would occur in our criminal justice system if we moved from a presumption of innocent until proven guilty to an assumption of guilty until proven innocent.”

Granting the Bush administration has imposed its sweeping secrecy policies in the name of national security, Ross contends this exchange is “unacceptable.” “The trade-off, secrecy for security, is a sham,” she writes. “The citizenry gives up its vital check on abuse of government power and gains little in return.”

“A shadow government that operates in secrecy,” Ross continues, “does not advance the security of its citizens. Ignorance is not security. Safety is not increased when citizens are blinded by government deception and distortion. Government does not better serve its electorate when it operates with impunity.”

The Massachusetts School of Law, publishers of the Long Term View, is purposefully dedicated to the education of minorities, immigrants, and students from low- and middle-income backgrounds that would otherwise be unable to attend law school and enter the legal profession. Views expressed in the publication are not necessarily those of the law school.

Further Information: Jeff Demers at MSL or Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL, at

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries:
© Copyright Jeff Demers, Massachusetts School of Law, 2008
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Amnesty unveils shock ‘waterboarding’ film (video; over 18 only)

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By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday, 22 April 2008

An American expert in torture techniques has denounced his government for allowing “waterboarding” to be practised against terror suspects, just as a graphic advertisement showing the brutal reality of the technique is unveiled to British cinema-goers.

Malcolm Nance, who trained hundreds of US servicemen and women to resist interrogation by putting them through “waterboarding” exercises, demanded an immediate end to the practice by all US personnel.

He said: “They seem to think it is worth throwing the honour of 220 years of American decency in war out of the window. Waterboarding is out-and-out torture, and I’m deeply ashamed President Bush has authorised its use and dragged the US’s reputation into the mud.”

Mr Bush faced criticism recently when he vetoed a Bill that would have outlawed such methods of “enhanced interrogation” – the White House refuses to describe it as torture.

Read the rest of the article: from

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h/t: CLG

Turkey as a US Security Partner: RAND Corporation report

Dandelion Salad

Thanks to Cem for sending this to me. ~ Lo

by Cem Ertür
CASMII Columns

by RAND Corporation (source: RAND Corporation)
Thursday, April 10, 2008

Editor’s note: According to the Financial Times, US President George Bush and Russia’s President Putin decided at the NATO Summit in Bucharest that the alliance should welcome a missile defence system in Europe and extend it to Turkey and areas in the Balkans that would not be covered by current US plans. We publish below the relevant excerpts of a report by the RAND Corporation on US Foreign Policy towards Turkey. This report was released in the wake of the 27th Annual Conference on U.S.-Turkish Relations in Washington DC, where Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a keynote speaker. A recent article on Turkey may help to contextualise the arguments put forward in the RAND report.


In the future, … Turkey is likely to be drawn more heavily into the Middle East by the Kurdish issue, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the fallout from the crisis in Lebanon. Given its growing equities in the Middle East, as well as the current strains in U.S.–Turkish relations, Turkey will be even more reluctant to allow the United States to use its bases in the future, particularly the air base at Incirlik, to undertake combat operations in the Middle East.

Moreover, given the importance of the Kurdish issue for Turkish security, Turkey has strong reasons to pursue good ties with Iran and Syria, both of which share Turkey’s desire to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdish state. Turkey’s growing energy ties with Iran have reinforced interest in that particular relationship.

Thus, Turkey is unlikely to support U.S. policies aimed at isolating Iran and Syria or overthrowing the regimes in either country

While it does not perceive an existential threat from a nuclear-armed Iran, Ankara fears that Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons could destabilize the Gulf region… However, … Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government is strongly opposed to a military strike against Tehran, which it believes could further destabilize the region. Thus, the United States could not count on the use of Turkish bases in any military operation against Iran. Indeed, such a strike could provoke a serious crisis in U.S.–Turkish relations and significantly exacerbate current strains with Ankara.

In the near term, however, the most important source of potential discord between the United States and Turkey is likely to be over how to deal with the terrorist attacks the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) conducts from sanctuaries in northern Iraq.

Ankara does not want to see a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq because that could lead to greater sectarian violence and draw in other outside powers—especially Iran and Syria, but possibly also Saudi Arabia. However, Turkey is adamantly opposed to increased deployment of U.S. troops in northern Iraq.

Turkey has essentially three options for countering the Iranian nuclear challenge:

• expand cooperation on missile defense with the United States and Israel
• beef up its conventional capabilities, especially medium-range missiles
• develop its own nuclear capability.

The third of these would clearly be a last resort. It would only be undertaken if there were a serious deterioration of Turkey’s security situation, i.e., if relations with the United States seriously deteriorated and if NATO’s security guarantees no longer appeared credible. But given Turkey’s current difficulties with Washington and Brussels—as well as the growing strength of nationalism in Turkey of late—the nuclear option cannot be entirely excluded.

The prospect that Iran may develop nuclear weapons is likely to heighten Turkish interest in missile defense. However, current U.S. plans to deploy elements of a missile-defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic are designed to provide protection against long-range missile threats from Iran and North Korea. They exclude Turkey and parts of southern Europe. Therefore, as it shapes its approach to missile defense in the coming decade, the United States also needs to consider how this deployment will affect Turkish security. Otherwise, current plans—which leave Turkey exposed—could exacerbate Turkish security concerns and generate new strains in U.S.–Turkish relations.


Will Turkey be complicit in another war against another neighbour? by Cem Ertür

The Woes Of Gordon Brown: Can Labour Win The Next Election?

Dandelion Salad

by Michael Faulkner
April 20, 2008

It is difficult to believe that less than ten months ago Gordon Brown, then newly arrived in Downing Street, enjoyed a ten point lead over the Tories in the polls and was widely praised for his decisiveness and firm grip on the reins of government. As I wrote in these columns at the time, the popularity he enjoyed had a lot to do with the fact that he was not Blair. But his management of the two dramatic events that broke during the early days of his premiership – widespread flooding and two attempted terrorist attacks – contributed to the impression of a man who kept a cool head and quietly got on with the job in hand. That has all changed.

One of the most recent opinion polls records the biggest drop in a prime minister’s ratings since 1940, when, in May of that year, after the fall of Norway to the Nazis, the country and parliament turned decisively against Neville Chamberlain. He was compelled to resign, and as everyone knows, was replaced as prime minister by Churchill. While the historical parallel is rather flimsy, I am nevertheless reminded of the famous limerick that did the rounds in Whitehall during that grim spring of 1940:

An elderly statesman with gout,
When asked what the war was about,
In a Written Reply
Said, ‘My colleagues and I
Are doing our best to find out’.

Britain today is not in the dire straits it was in 1940, but with the threat of full-blown recession looming, the government’s reputation for competent management of the economy lies in tatters. Brown’s popularity has nosedived. An atmosphere of resignation and despair pervades the Labour back benches and there are no signs of the gloom lifting. During the final years of the last Tory government led by John Major in the 1990s, the Labour opposition consistently polled above 40 per cent, which, in Britain’s electoral system is what is needed to win an overall majority in a general election. Now the Tories are polling above 40 per cent. Labour is on its lowest poll ratings since the early 1980s, when, following its defeat in the 1983 election, the party was widely written off as unelectable. It is too early to say what may happen in a general election which could still be two years away, but the signs are not hopeful. In the local government elections due next month the Labour Party is certain to do very badly. What is less certain is how Brown’s unpopularity is likely to affect the election for London’s mayor, which will take place on May 1st. More on this later.

As I have argued consistently in these columns, the New Labour project, launched by Blair and Brown in the mid nineties, was intended to dismantle the Labour Party as a party of social democracy. In this they have succeeded. Under Blair’s leadership the onslaught on the public sector of the economy, involving the extension of privatization beyond anything attempted by the Tories, was presented as ‘modernisation’ and ‘reform’. This neo-liberal agenda was accompanied by propaganda against its critics on the left, damning them as ‘conservatives’ and ‘antediluvians’. Many hoped that Brown would make a clean break with his predecessor, work to restore the Labour Party as a party of social democratic reform and breathe new life into a government that had so badly disappointed those who had voted for it. To those less familiar with the peculiarities of British party politics, it needs to be stressed that the majority of New Labour’s critics in recent years are not particularly left wing. Many of the critics might be described as Fabians – believers in gradual reform, healthy municipal government and a more equitable distribution of wealth through a progressive taxation system. It is such people, inside and outside the Labour Party, who have been so dismayed and angered by Gordon Brown’s failure to take even the smallest step on this road.

One of the most principled and articulate of the social democratic critics is Polly Toynbee. She has an unequalled record as a champion of women’s rights and as a campaigner on behalf of the low paid. In a recent article (The Guardian. April 18.), she writes that ‘If a Martian taxman landed now, he’d never guess Labour was in power.’ The government recently abolished the 10p starting rate for income tax, leaving the poorest sections of society worse off. This has outraged not only those directly affected but many Labour MPs, 70 of whom have signed House of Commons motions protesting the abolition. At a recent meeting with the parliamentary party, Brown was apparently torn apart by outraged back benchers. Toynbee also pinpoints the moment last year when Brown surrendered the last of Labour’s progressive taxation principles to the Tories. When the Tories announced their intention of raising the threshold for inheritance tax on domestic properties to £1m, Brown panicked and promised to raise the threshold to £700,000. Toynbee comments pointedly: ’The pieties of equal opportunities for all children were forgotten in a moment of panic: birth has become destiny more certainly than ever, and Labour has helped strangle a mechanism that spread wealth more fairly…..The young have never heard any politician explain what progressive tax is for – the word redistribution being unheard in the lexicon of modern politicians.’ This was the point at which the expected election was also cancelled. It marked the end of Brown’s honeymoon with the electorate.

Brown’s reaction when in a hole seems to be to dig deeper. He is apparently determined to face down his Labour critics. In this display of stubbornness he seems to wish to emulate Blair. A parliamentary private secretary at the Treasury, Angela Smith, announced a few days ago her intention to resign over the abolition of the 10p tax rate. Brown apparently called her from the US to warn her off. She immediately withdrew her threatened resignation, commenting: ‘I am assured that my concerns are understood.’ Such episodes were not uncommon during Blair’s premiership. The threat that rebellion will play into the hands of the Tories usually does the trick in persuading those concerned for their jobs to think again.

In case TPJ readers failed to notice it, I should mention that our prime minister has recently been in the United States. In arranging his visit, Downing Street apparently failed to notice that Pope Benedict would be in Washington at the same time. Needless to say, the 21 gun salute on the White House Lawn was not for Gordon Brown. Nevertheless, everyone – Brown, Bush, Clinton, McCain and Obama extolled the value of the ‘special relationship’ – although apparently, when asked recently about its value, Bush failed to mention Gordon Brown, referring only to Churchill and Blair. Perhaps these are the only two British politicians whose names he can recall without prompting. Whatever may be the present or future nature of the ‘special relationship’ Brown’s visit to Washington, New York and Boston will do nothing to help his standing with the electorate here. A fairly reliable indicator of the likely outcome of the next general election will be seen in the forthcoming local government and London mayoral elections due in May.

The London Mayoral Campaign Re-visited.

Brown recently endorsed the incumbent, Ken Livingstone, as Labour’s official candidate in the mayoral election. In my last column I expressed the view that there had been a malicious campaign, amounting to a witch hunt, orchestrated by sections of the right wing press, against Livingstone in support of the right wing Tory candidate, Boris Johnson. This has intensified in the past two weeks. I was mistaken in assuming that there would be no interest in the United States in this election. Last week a well informed article appeared in the New Yorker, which mentioned an aspect of the campaign I had intended to touch on in my column.

Behind Johnson’s campaign is a shadowy Australian, Lynton Crosby. Crosby masterminded three consecutive election victories for John Howard’s Conservatives. He has been called Australia’s Karl Rove. His strategy seems to involve keeping the gaffe-prone Johnson away from any potentially embarrassing situations, such as debates with Livingstone and other candidates, and concentrating instead on arranged set pieces in front of hand-picked sympathetic audiences. It has been suggested that Crosby virtually holds a gun to Johnson’s head to prevent him from making a fool of himself – something he is prone to do. The latest in the line of dirty tricks against Livingstone is a press claim that his election campaign team is run by an Islamist who may be soft on terror. This gives a flavour of what to expect in the lead up to May 1st. In my last column I wrote that, in my view Livingstone made a mistake in 2004 when he re-joined the Labour Party. He would, I thought, have won by a bigger margin if he had stood again as an independent. Now, as Labour’s official candidate, he has been photographed with Gordon Brown. Interestingly though, his campaign publicity studiously avoids the term ‘Labour’. Brown knows that if Johnson wins the London mayoralty for the Tories, it will give them a springboard for the general election. I would only add that it could also be the green light for Cameron to abandon any pretence of ‘compassionate Conservatism’. Johnson is an unreconstructed right-winger and a racist to boot. Such an outcome would be little short of catastrophic for a great, cosmopolitan metropolis like London.

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