2 "School of Americas" Generals Charged In Crimes In Colombia

by Sherwood Ross

Two Colombian generals, both of whom received training at the U.S. Army's "School of The Americas"(SOA) at Ft. Benning, Ga., have been accused by authorities there of crimes involving narcotics and collaborating with criminal paramilitary groups, according to a report in the June 15th issue of The Nation magazine.

Brig. Gen. Pauxelino Latorre has been charged "with laundering millions of dollars for a paramilitary drug ring, and prosecutors say they are looking into his activities as head of the Seventeenth Brigade," investigative journalist Teo Ballve reports. He notes that criminal probes repeatedly linked his unit "to illegal paramilitary groups that had brutally killed thousands" of Colombian farmers in an effort to seize their land for palm oil production.

Another general, Rito Alejo Del Rio, former Seventeenth Brigade leader, is in jail on charges of collaborating with paramilitaries, gangs that have been responsible for widespread atrocities. He also received training at SOA.

Various firms currently engaged in palm oil development since 2002 apparently have received $75 million in U.S. Agency for International Development money under "Plan Comombia," Ballve writes. And some of the firms appear to be tied to narco-traffickers, "in possible violation of federal law." The writer notes Colombia's paramilitaries are on the State Department's list of foreign "terrorist" organizations.

"Plan Colombia is fighting against drugs militarily at the same time it gives money to support palm, which is used by paramilitary mafias to launder money," The Nation quotes Colombian Senator Gustavo Petro, as saying. "The United States is implicitly subsidizing drug traffickers."
President Alvaro Uribe has urged Colombians to increase palm production from 750,000 to 15 million acres to cash in on the expected boom in biofuels. "Oil palm, or African palm, is one of the few aid-funded crops whose profits can match coca profits," Ballve notes. But human rights groups have long accused palm companies, notably Urapalma, of cultivating stolen lands, he adds.
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Obama's Outreach to Muslims: Empty Rhetoric, Same Old Policies

by Stephen Lendman

As well as anyone, Edward Said understood the West's long-standing antipathy to Islam - reflected in Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations" article in the summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs and later a 1996 book.

He wrote that future conflicts won't be "primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural....the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future" - demagogically suggesting a benevolent, superior West confronting a belligerent, hostile, inferior Muslim world. In other words, good v. evil.

Said called him and others like him, "ignorant," a "clumsy writer," and an "inelegant thinker" using a "gimmick" to suggest a "war of the worlds" pitting good guys against bad ones.

Post-9/11, it was easier than ever for America to declare war on Islam, abroad and at home - a policy no different under Obama than for eight years under George Bush. Empty rhetoric changes nothing, in Cairo or elsewhere. Facts on the ground are clear, unequivocal, and hostile - in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Occupied Palestine. Also toward Iran, Syria, elected Hezbollah Lebanese officials, the legitimate Palestinian Hamas government, and targeted Muslim Americans at home - for their activism, prominence, charity, religion and ethnicity. It's the wrong time to be Muslim in America and most anywhere else in the world.

Around 1.5 billion Muslims want change and the basic respect they deserve. In the spirit of noted US civil rights  activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, they're "sick and tired of being sick and tired," colonized and exploited, targeted and slaughtered, vilified as terrorists, occupied and oppressed, falsely charged, convicted, and sentenced in kangaroo-court proceedings, imprisoned and tortured, or viewed the way Edward Said explained in his noted book, "Culture and Imperialism" - as "the strange (inferior, Orient, East, them)" v. "the familiar (superior, Europe, West, us)." They deserve much better, yet remain a political target of choice. Add a comment
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Severing the Bonds that Shackle: Stealth Strategy in Cairo

by William A. Cook

Consider the potential consequences of Obama’s speech in Cairo last week. Set aside the complaint that he offered no actions to correct the crisis; ignore the fact that he did not repudiate the absolute bond that tethers United States policy to that of Israel; avoid his silence regarding the racist urgings of Lieberman and the arrogance of Netanyahu as they dictated foreign policy for the U.S.; and forego any latent desires to have heard criticism of U.S. complicity in the 60 years of occupation as the people of Palestine lost all but 22% of their homeland to the Zionist forces controlling Israel. Consider instead the possibility that Obama, without fanfare or hint of change, struck out on a new stealth strategy toward reconciling the crisis in Palestine.

What if Obama’s intentions have been carefully thought out over a prolonged period of time, before he won the Presidency, before he decided on his Cabinet, before a continuation of the plans was forced on him that merely extended the failures of the past to bring resolution to the conflict but furthered the interests in Israel as it continued to take absolute control of all of Palestine by occupation, coercion, and land theft, with the intent of forcing no other resolution than “conditions on the ground” dictated, leaving only three bantustans and the Gaza strip. What if he understood that no man can win the Presidency without the support of AIPAC and the Jewish lobbies it supports and had, therefore, to devise a means to resolution that could enunciate absolute support for Israel’s security yet find a way to bring an end to the occupation letting the Palestinian people establish their own state.

What if he knew that the only means to that end was to sever the bonds that shackle the United States to Israel by forcing deliberations out of the back rooms of the White House and the Knesset into the open air of world scrutiny. What if he sensed that the only way to bring the reality of the situation to the American people would be to force the controlled main stream media to cover the crisis realistically. Considered in this light, Obama’s commitment to a resolution of the Israeli/Palestine conflict at the beginning of his Presidency -- including his first act as President, a call to Mahmoud Abbas, followed by an anonymous White House item that included Israel as a state with nuclear weapons, followed by his policy of two states living side by side in peace before Netanyahu became Prime Minister, followed by a speech to the Arab world from Cairo, a speech anticipated by the entire world – suggests that he intended to thrust this issue before the American people, before the EU, before the Arab world so that Israel could not maneuver developments to its own ends as it did most recently with the Annapolis Peace initiative. In short, the plight of the Palestinians under the 60 year occupation, as asserted in his speech, now must be resolved, and he outlined how that could be done in this speech.

The speech achieved six primary goals: first, it altered dramatically the relationship between the United States and the Arab world by recognizing the need for the United States to change its stance from one of confrontation and antagonism to one of mutual respect and dignity based on tolerance and partnership; second, it established a new political dynamic by forcing Israel to deal with its neighbors beyond Jordan and Egypt; third, it engaged many states in the Arab world by using the Arab Leagues’ 2002 Peace initiative as a base, forcing the EU as well as Israel to recognize the pre-1967 borders as a viable means to create a Palestinian state; fourth, it removes Netanyahu and his coalition from dictating terms for resolution, indeed, it forces Israel to accept the existence of a Palestinian state and in the process forces the hand of AIPAC to comply as borders are at last established for the state of Israel; five, it forced open the need for U.S. mass media to address the “plight” of the Palestinian people at a time when the visual slaughter inflicted on them in January is still present in the press and on You Tube; and sixth, by referencing the need to control all nuclear weapons, it brought attention once again to the reality that Israel alone in the mid-east possesses them. Add a comment
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Jewish town in Galilee demands ‘loyalty oath’ - New bylaw designed to bar Arab couple

by Jonathan Cook in Misgav

A community in northern Israel has changed its bylaws to demand that new residents pledge support for “Zionism, Jewish heritage and settlement of the land” in a thinly veiled attempt to block Arab applicants from gaining admission.

Critics are calling the bylaw, adopted by Manof, home to 170 Jewish families in Galilee, a local “loyalty oath” similar to a national scheme recently proposed by the far-Right party of the government minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Other Jewish communities in the central Galilee -- falling under the umbrella of a regional council known as Misgav -- are preparing similar bylaws in response to a court petition filed by an Arab couple hoping to build a home in Misgav.

“It looks very much like this is being co-ordinated by the Misgav council in an attempt to pre-empt the court ruling,” said Ronin Ben Ari, resident of another Misgav community, Mikhmanim, and an opponent of the bylaw change.

Manof’s move comes in the wake of efforts by Ahmed and Fatina Zbeidat, who live in the neighbouring Arab town of Sakhnin, to win admission to the Misgav community of Rakafet.

Traditionally some 700 rural communities in Israel, including 30 in Misgav, have weeded out Arab applicants by issuing automatic rejections through special vetting committees. Arab citizens make up one-fifth of the country’s population.

According to a legal rights group, rural communities, which are home to only five per cent of the population but have control over four-fifths of the countryside, are seen by the state as a bulwark against Arabs gaining access to what are called “national lands”.

However, the vetting system has been under threat since a court ruling in 2000 that required the committees to consider Arab applicants and justify their decisions. Add a comment
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Words and War

by Norman Solomon

It takes at least tacit faith in massive violence to believe that after three decades of horrendous violence in Afghanistan, upping the violence there will improve the situation.

Despite the pronouncements from high Washington places that the problems of Afghanistan can’t be solved by military means, 90 percent of the spending for Afghanistan in the Obama administration’s current supplemental bill is military.

Often it seems that lofty words about war hopes are boilerplate efforts to make us feel better about an endless warfare state. Oratory and punditry laud the Pentagon’s fallen as noble victims of war, while enveloping its other victims in a haze of ambiguity or virtual nonexistence.

When last Sunday’s edition of the Washington Post printed the routine headline “Iraq War Deaths,” the newspaper meant American deaths -- to Washington’s ultra-savvy, the deaths that really count. The only numbers and names under the headline were American.

Ask for whom the bell tolls. That’s the implicit message -- from top journalists and politicians alike.

A few weeks ago, some prominent U.S. news stories did emerge about Pentagon air strikes that killed perhaps a hundred Afghan civilians. But much of the emphasis was that such deaths could undermine the U.S. war effort. The most powerful media lenses do not correct the myopia when Uncle Sam’s vision is impaired by solipsism and narcissism.

Words focus our attention. The official words and the media words -- routinely, more or less the same words -- are ostensibly about war, but they convey little about actual war at the same time that they boost it. Words are one thing, and war is another.

Yet words have potential to impede the wheels of war machinery. “And henceforth,” Albert Camus wrote, “the only honorable course will be to stake everything on a formidable gamble: that words are more powerful than munitions.” Add a comment
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Lingering white supremacy in South Africa sounds much like United States

by Robert Jensen

Apartheid is dead in South Africa, but a new version of white supremacy lives on.

“During apartheid the racism of white people was up front, and we knew what we were dealing with. Now white people smile at us, but for most black people the unemployment and grinding poverty and dehumanizing conditions of everyday life haven’t changed,” a black South African told me. “So, what kind of commitment to justice is under that smile?”

This community activist in Cape Town said that, ironically, the end of South’s Africa’s apartheid system of harsh racist segregation and exploitation has in some ways made it more difficult to agitate for social justice today. As he offered me his views on the complex politics of his country, Nkwame Cedile, a field worker for People’s Health Movement, expressed a frustration that I heard often in my two weeks in the country: Yes, the brutality of apartheid ended in 1994 with free elections, but the white-supremacist ideas that had animated apartheid and the racialized distribution of wealth it was designed to justify didn’t magically evaporate.

That shouldn’t be surprising -- how could centuries of white supremacy simply disappear in 15 years? What did surprise me during my lecture tour was not the racial tension but how much discussions about race in South Africa sounded just like conversations in the United States. There was something eerily familiar to me, a lifelong white U.S. citizen, about those discussions. I have heard comments from black people in the United States like Cedile’s, but I’ve also heard white Americans articulate views on race that were sometimes exactly like white South Africans’. I learned that even with all the differences in the two countries there are equally important similarities, and as a result the sense of entitlement that so many white people hold onto produces similar dodges and denials.
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Pacific Freedom

Pacific Freedom
by C. L. Cook
Pacific Free Press will be in the able hands of sister site founder, Rich Kastelein (think of him as the Dr. Frankenstein of this gnarled monster). I'll be headed north into the edges of the Great Bear Rainforest. It's an area so interesting, and so controversial, and so very fragile. I urge you check out some of the folks I'll be visiting there at www.PacificWild.org
 
One of the worthy projects being undertaken there is an extensive study of the Sandhill Cranes. New chicks are just hatched, their beginnings recorded by remote cameras below. 
 

 
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Yes, Iroquois Diplomacy. No, Colonial Gun Boys

YES, IROQUOIS DIPLOMACY
by MNN
Canada has always known that we were against putting guns in the hands of the border guards in the middle of our community.  The US and Canada have abandoned their border checkpoints at Cornwall Island in the St. Lawrence River.  The New York State Police and Cornwall City Police have closed down the bridges.  We can't easily get on or off the island or go about our normal lives.  In fact we are imprisoned.  

Canada created propaganda against us to provoke a confrontation and then an assault.  Then the guns were to be put into the middle of our community.  We think  other indigenous communities might be next.  Prime Minister Harper just announced a policy that he was going to generously fund those Indigenous who cooperate with resource development and extraction.  The rest  of us will just have to sink or swim.    

We are being isolated on the island.  Our trade and commerce with each other is being deliberately crushed.  This is having a dire impact on our ability to feed our families.     
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Obama and the "Muslim World"

Peace be upon Barack
by TRNN

Pepe Escobar: Commentary on Obama's speech to the Muslim World.
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Doug Christie Allowed Intervenor Status in B'nai Brith v. Radical Press Speech Case

Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Rules in Favor of Intervenor Status in RADICALPRESS.COM Sec. 13(1) Complaint Case Granted Doug Christie & Canadian Free Speech League 
by Radical Press
RadicalPress.com Publisher/Editor Arthur Topham says he received written confirmation June 2, 2009 that Canadian Human Rights Tribunal member Karen Jensen has handed down her ruling in the ongoing dispute over free speech lawyer Doug Christie’s application to intervene on behalf of the Canadian Free Speech League (CFSL) in the Abrams v. RadicalPress.com “hate crimes” complaint case now before the Tribunal.

The case (T1360/9008) is the latest in a series of similar charges laid under the Canadian Human Rights Act’s controversial Sec. 13(1) “hate crimes” legislation against other notable Canadian writers and publishers such as Mark Steyn of Maclean’s magazine and Ezra Levant, former publisher of the now defunct Western Standard and was brought against Topham and his website RadicalPress.com by Harry Abrams, BC representative of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada along with co-complainant Anita Bromberg, legal representative of said Jewish advocacy group back in November of 2007.
 
The Complainants  are contending that Topham is publishing articles on his website which promote “ongoing hatred toward Jews and/or citizens of Israel.”
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As Goes General Motors...

We Don't Need the General Motors Corp.
by Mike Ferner
Times are anxious indeed, but simultaneously we are face-to-face with an extremely rare chance to replace our transportation system with something we can literally live with.

To take advantage of this uncommon opportunity we will have to do something far more profound, yet less costly, than a government bailout or an act of Congress. We will have to, as Paul Newman said in Cool Hand Luke, “get our minds right” on one simple fact: what we need is reliable, sustainable transportation. That does not mean we need General Motors Corporation or even cars. Contemplate the freedom implied in that statement for just a moment: we do not need General Motors Corporation.


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Obama's Gaza Speech

Abridged Remarks of President Obama at Gaza
by President Barack Obama*
President Obama delivered a powerful speech today when he visited Gaza. He spoke on genocide, hatred, and the ability of people to commit acts of bravery and kindness even in times of horror.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: More than half a century later, our grief and our outrage over what happened have not diminished. I will not forget what I've seen here today. We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished. To this day, there are those who insist that the Nakba never happened -- a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts; a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.

Also to this day, there are those who perpetuate every form of intolerance -- racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more -- hatred that degrades its victims and diminishes us all. In this century, we've seen genocide. We've seen mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground; children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war.
 
This places teaches us that we must be ever vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others' suffering is not our problem and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.

But as we reflect today on the human capacity for evil and our shared obligation to defy it, we're also reminded of the human capacity for good. For amidst the countless acts of cruelty that took place here, we know that there were many acts of courage and kindness, as well. They could not have known these things. But still surrounded by death they willed themselves to hold fast to life. In their hearts they still had faith that evil would not triumph in the end, that while history is unknowable it arches towards progress, and that the world would one day remember them. And it is now up to us, the living, in our work, wherever we are, to resist injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take, and ensure that those who were lost here did not go in vain. It is up to us to redeem that faith. It is up to us to bear witness; to ensure that the world continues to note what happened here; to remember all those who survived and all those who perished, and to remember them not just as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed just like us.

And just as we identify with the victims, it's also important for us I think to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human, as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves.
 
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* Of course, President Obama did not venture into Gaza, world's largest open air prison, to bear witness to the Holocaust, known to the those suffering its cruelty as the Nakba (www.alnakba.org/) currently being undertaken by Israel, the nation enjoying an "unbreakable bond" with America.
 
Israel, against the president's pleas above, and against the censure of the rest of the world, continues to dispossess those non-Jews living within remnant Palestine, burning their crops, destroying their orchards, poisoning and burying their wells, killing their livestock, and girding their villages, towns, camps, and cities with walls and guns.
 
As Mr. Obama delivered his speech today, so-called "settlers," aided by the Israel Defense Force, set alight fields ready for harvest and terrorized farmers; even as the Israeli government refused tonnes of food, medical supplies, and other necessities of life entering the besieged and embattled territories.

Below is a video of Obama's actual speech, given at the gates of Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. As ever, he spoke eloquently and without irony, reiterating the message of the memorial built to honour the victims of fascism: Jews; Gentiles; and others killed and tormented at Buchenwald and other places, "Never Again."
 
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