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Tuesday, 12 May 2015

New plane-ly bizarre behavior? China counts 12 cases so far this year of people trying to open airplane doors


© Reuters/Xavier Larossa

BEIJING — Chinese air travelers have tried opening emergency doors without authorization 12 times in barely four months on planes that were taxiing or at a standstill, and one man was put on trial in the country's first such legal case, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said Monday.

There is no immediate explanation for the apparent spike in the behavior this year, although Chinese are traveling in record numbers, many of them flying for the first time and lacking basic aviation safety knowledge.

The man, identified only by his family name of Piao, stood trial Monday on the charge of endangering public safety in the northeastern city of Yanji, the administration said in a statement.

Piao opened an emergency door on an Asiana Airlines flight on Feb. 12 when the plane was taxiing, causing the emergency slide to eject and prompting the flight crew to take emergency measures to halt the aircraft, the administration said.

His act caused the flight to be delayed for four hours and severely disrupted the airport operations, the administration said. Earlier media reports said Piao mistakenly raised the handle of the emergency door and was administratively detained for 10 days.

Passengers have opened emergency doors without authorization 11 other times in 2015 at airports throughout the country, the administration said.

The acts "have severely hurt aviation safety, disrupted flight operations and caused ill social impact," the statement said.

There is no data available for previous years, but the attention paid in China to the current incidents suggest such acts were rare or non-existent in the past. Authorities appear to be publicizing recent cases as a way to educate the public and stop such acts.

Last week, tourism authorities publicly shamed Beijing resident Zhou Yue by putting him on a national blacklist for rude behaviors. Upset with flight delay, Zhou forcibly opened two emergency doors on a domestic flight in January, and he was late administratively detained for 15 days.

In one case last year, a man pulled the handle to open an emergency door to let in fresh air while passengers were boarding the plane in the eastern city of Hangzhou, according to media reports.

Piao is the first person in China to face a criminal charge for the wanton act, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said. No verdict was announced on Monday.

By Didi Tang, Associated Press

Canada's Harper Government pathocrates cites hate crime laws when asked about its 'zero tolerance' for Israel boycotters

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson appear together at a House of Commons committee last week. Has the minister directed the RCMP to pursue hate crimes against BDS advocates? (The Canadian Press)

The Harper government is signalling its intention to use hate crime laws against Canadian advocacy groups that encourage boycotts of Israel.

Such a move could target a range of civil society organizations, from the United Church of Canada and the Canadian Quakers to campus protest groups and labour unions.

If carried out, it would be a remarkably aggressive tactic, and another measure of the Conservative government's lockstep support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

While the federal government certainly has the authority to assign priorities, such as pursuing certain types of hate speech, to the RCMP, any resulting prosecution would require an assent from a provincial attorney general.

And it would almost certainly be challenged under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, civil liberties groups say.

The government's intention was made clear in a response to inquiries from CBC News about statements by federal ministers of a "zero tolerance" approach to groups participating in a loose coalition called Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS), which was begun in 2006 at the request of Palestinian non-governmental organizations.

Asked to explain what zero tolerance means, and what is being done to enforce it, a spokesperson for Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney replied, four days later, with a detailed list of Canada's updated hate laws, noting that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of such laws "anywhere in the world."

Successful tactic

The BDS tactic has been far more successful for the Palestinians than armed struggle. And it has caught on internationally, angering Israel, which reckons boycotts could cost its economy hundreds of millions of dollars.

Just last month, 16 European foreign ministers denounced the "expansion of Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories," demanding that any imported goods originating in the settlements be distinctly labeled.

Hala Gores and Joe Finkbonner hold "Boycott Israel" signs from their courtside seats during an NBA pre-season game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Maccabi Haifa in in Portland, Ore., in October. (The Associated Press)

But Canada, a country where the federal Liberal and NDP leaders also oppose BDS, appears to have lined up more strongly behind Israel than any other nation.

In January, Canada's then foreign affairs minister, John Baird, signed a "memorandum of understanding" with Israeli authorities in Jerusalem, pledging to combat BDS.

It described the movement as "the new face of anti-Semitism."

A few days later, at the UN, Canadian Public Security Minister Steven Blaney went much further.

He conflated boycotts of Israel with anti-Semitic hate speech and violence, including the deadly attacks that had just taken place in Paris on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a kosher supermarket.

Blaney then said the government is taking a "zero tolerance" approach to BDS.

Coming as it did from the minister responsible for federal law enforcement, the speech alarmed groups that have, to varying degrees, supported boycotts, believing them an effective tool to bring about an end to Israel's occupation and colonization of the West Bank, and its tight grip on Gaza.

Some of these groups had noted that the government changed the Criminal Code definition of hate speech last year, adding the criterion of "national origin" to race and religion.

This change could, they feared, effectively lump people who speak against Israel in with those who speak against Jews.

Micheal Vonn, a lawyer for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, says the expanded definition is clearly "a tool to go after critics of Israel."

Constitutionally protected

Canadian civil liberties groups maintain that boycotts are a long-recognized form of political expression, and therefore constitutionally protected.

In March, the Canadian Quakers wrote a letter to Foreign Affairs Minister Rob Nicholson, expressing concern about Blaney's speech and protesting the label of anti-Semitism.

Nicholson's response merely repeated the talking points first used by Blaney at the UN, and the government's vow not to tolerate boycotts.

But in response to specific questions about what "zero tolerance" of BDS means, and how it will be enforced, Blaney aide Josee Sirois gave CBC News a much clearer picture of the government's intent.

"I can tell you that Canada has one of the most comprehensive sets of laws against hate crime anywhere in the world," wrote Sirois.

She highlighted what she termed "hate propaganda" provisions in the Criminal Code criminalizing the promotion of hatred against an identifiable group, and further noted that "identifiable group" now includes any section of the public distinguished by "among other characteristics, religion or national or ethnic origin."

She also referred to Criminal Code provisions requiring that a judge consider hate, bias or prejudice when sentencing an offender.

"We will not allow hate crimes to undermine our way of life, which is based on diversity and inclusion," she concluded.

'Trying to scare people'

Tyler Levitan, a spokesman for Independent Jewish Voices, the principal organizing vehicle for BDS in Canada, said he believes he and his fellow organizers are already under surveillance: "This is about trying to scare people."

He said BDS is an "entirely passive movement. It is a decision not to take part in something. Not to be implicated, not to be complicit. It's entirely non-violent."

That's not always been the case elsewhere in the world, particularly France, where BDS rallies have resulted in confrontations with police.

But it is the non-violence of the boycott approach that attracted groups like the United Church of Canada.

Like the Canadian Quakers, the UCC restricts its boycott advocacy to products from Israel's settlements.


By some accounts, the BDS movement has divided Jewish organizations in the U.S., some of which, mostly on the left, support it. (The Associated Press)

The Ontario chapter of CUPE, on the other hand, supports BDS fully, shunning any contact or commerce with Israel. So do a range of other Canadian groups, and student organizations at various universities.

"It is the right and duty of citizens in any free state to engage in constructive non-violent peaceful criticism of state actions and behaviours," says Patti Talbot, a senior staff member at the UCC.

The church sees itself as anti-racist and progressive, which is why it was horrified by the government's description of its advocacy as anti-Semitism, and worried by the declaration of zero tolerance.

"How is [zero tolerance] going to manifest itself?" asks Talbot. "It could be directed against the United Church, it could be directed at a gamut of individuals in Canadian civil society. People of goodwill."

Talbot said it is all the more troubling given the recent passage of Bill C-51, the government's new anti-terrorism measures, which would further empower the police and intelligence agencies that report to Blaney.

"It's not unrelated," she says, "to the clamping down on dissent."

'Political terror'

Long before signing the joint pledge with Canada, Israel passed a law making it an offence to participate in or encourage BDS.

And the Israeli high court recently upheld most of it, with one of the justices writing that boycotts can be considered "political terror."

At the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Vonn says she is certain a prosecution of boycott advocates for hate speech would not survive a charter challenge.

But, she says, the government is certainly sowing "dread and chill," and that that appears to be its main intention in pronouncing zero tolerance.

"We've asked our lawyers. What does that mean?" says CUPE president Paul Moist. "Is it now a criminal offence to walk around with a sign saying close all the settlements, Israel out of occupied territories?"

An Egyptian activist shouts anti-Israeli slogans during the launch of a BDS campaign in Cairo last month. The movement is popular in the Arab world and parts of Europe. (The Associated Press)

In France, the law has for years criminalized hate speech based on national origin, and authorities there have in recent years been using it to prosecute BDS advocates. To date, more than 20 have been convicted.
According to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, pro-Israel activists in Belgium are pushing for a similar law there.
The Obama administration officially opposes boycotts of Israel, and a measure now before Congress would direct American trade negotiators to discourage boycotts of Israeli goods.

But America has no hate speech laws. The U.S. constitution guarantees free speech. So a zero tolerance policy, or the type of prosecutions Canada is considering, would be impossible.

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Great game update: What's Washington doin' in Central Asia now?

Since the time the CIA financed and trained more than one hundred thousand Mujahideen Islamic Jihadists, including a fanatical Saudi named Osama bin Laden, to wage a decade-long proxy war against forces of the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, Washington has been obsessed with the idea of penetrating deep into Central Asia in order to drive a wedge between China and Russia.

Early attempts in the wake of the post-2001 US forces' presence in Afghanistan met with mixed success. Now it appears that Washington is frantically trying a repeat, even calling the ageing US Ambassador Richard M. Miles out of retirement to head a new try at a Color Revolution.

There seems to be a sense of urgency to Washington's new focus on Central Asia. Russia is hardly buckling under from US and EU financial sanctions; rather she is looking more vibrant than ever, making strategic economic and military deals seemingly everywhere. And Russia's Eurasian neighbor, The Peoples' Republic of China, is laying plans to build energy pipelines and high speed rail links with Russia across Eurasia.

Washington appears now to be responding.

The problem with the Washington neoconservatives is that they aren't very creative, in fact, in terms of understanding the larger consequences of their specific actions, they are rather stupid. And their shenanigens have become very well-known, not only in Moscow, but also in Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and other Central Asian republics formerly part of the Soviet Union.

The Coming Eurasia Economic Boom

Central Asian republics, most especially Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, are strategically located between China, Kazakhstan and Russia. They are also in the midst of the developing economic boom region that will follow China's New Silk Road high-speed railway networks. Those rail networks will create a highly efficient land route, independent of possible US sea lane interference, to facilitate the rapidly-growing trade across Eurasia and potentially, if the hapless EU ever gets the courage to buck Washington, to Europe as well.

China recently made headlines with the establishment of its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a clear rival to the IMF and the US-controlled Asian Development Bank, when the UK, Germany, France and most every major nation—with exception of the USA, Canada, Mexico and Japan—rushed to be founding members and to get in on what promises to be the global economic locomotive for at least the next half century or more, if done right. The AIIB was founded by Beijing with its initial contribution of $50 billion, to partly finance the New Silk Road.

© Reuters
AIIB founding member countries

Recently Beijing also revived an earlier plan to build a rail link from China's Xinjiang Province in far western to Uzbekistan across the territory of northern Kyrgyzstan. Their initial plans were derailed in 2005 when an earlier US-instigated Color Revolution made Kyrgyzstan too unstable.

On January 21, 2015 Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev announced that his government was sending a delegation to Beijing to finalize details of the project launch.It will be a $2 billion 270 km-long rail link from Kashgar in the Xinjiang region of western China to Andijan in eastern Uzbekistan via Kyrgyzstan's Naryn and Osh oblasts.

In a recent memo on the development, the UK Foreign Office notes that the rail project would have significant benefits for especially Uzbekistan and for China as well as advancing the overall Eurasian New Silk Road rail projects. They note that for China, it would create an additional land-based route through Central Asia for its exports to European markets, assuming it would connect into the existing Uzbek and Turkmen rail network running to the Caspian Sea. It would also improve Chinese access to gold, coal and other mineral deposits within Kyrgyzstan, a largely economically forgotten state since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Kyrgyzstan's declaration of an independent republic.

The newly opened railway route, is the longest in the world, longer still than Russia's famous Transsiberian railway, linking Moscow to Vladivostok, near Russia's border with China.

For Uzbekistan, the Foreign Office memo notes that it would offer a new rail route for trade with Asia-Pacific markets. This would be especially important for the GM-UzDaewoo car assembly plant located in the Andijan region, which relies on regular imports of parts and components from South Korea. For Kyrgyzstan, it would offer the potential to earn transit fees of up to $200 million per year, by some estimates, in addition to creating up to 20,000 construction jobs during the implementation phase. As well there are the potential gains for opening Kyrgyzstan to significant Chinese mining investment, something the Kyrgyz economy sorely needs.

And in another geopolitical Eurasian economic advance, on April 9, Pakistan announced that, once US Iran sanctions are lifted, it will proceed with long-stalled construction of a $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan natural gas pipeline that would pass through Pakistan's port of Gwadar to the city of Nawabshah in southeastern Pakistan providing a desperately needed equivalent of 4500 Megawatts of electricity.

In 2014 Washington sabotaged the project by essentially bribing the financially-strapped Pakistan government with $1.5 billion in Saudi money if she were to abandon the project. Washington threatened Pakistan with penalties were they to violate US economic sanctions on Iran. Washington, like Wall Street, prefers to use other peoples' money to advance their agenda. A year later, the Saudi money spent, Pakistan has announced the pipeline project will now go ahead. Pakistan has quietly secured a $2 billion loan from... China. The Pakistan segment of the pipeline will be 485 miles, funded by a Chinese loan and construction would be undertaken by China's CNPC state energy company. Iran has already completed its 560-mile segment of the pipeline.

Washington Scrambles to Sabotage

With the explosion of trans-national Eurasian economic linkages, rail and pipeline, Washington has realized it must react if they are not to be outflanked by the states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization—Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan.

Not only that, also in January 2015 Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia launched their Eurasian Economic Union with Kyrgyzstan planning to join. That's the same economic union which Ukraine's democratically-elected President Viktor Yanukovich opted to join rather than accept the paltry proposal of an EU Associate Membership status. Washington's Assistant Secretary of State Viktoria Nuland and the usual gaggle of neoconservative warhawks launched the Maidan Square Twitter protests and the February 2014 coup d'etat partly to block that Ukraine move.

So it's worth noting that in late March 2015, the Kyrgyz newspaper Delo No, reported that a mysterious Ukrainian aircraft delivered 150 tons of cargo with the status of "diplomatic mail" to the US Embassy in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek late last month. The status diplomatic mail meant it could not be inspected by Kyrgyz customs police. Apparently the US Embassy staff in Bishkek are furious letter writers.

The paper reported that the cargo was delivered during two separate flights by an AN-124 transport jet of the Ukrainian air carrier Antonov Avialinii between March 28 and March 30, and each time the plane was en route from the UAE capital Abu Dhabi to the Manas international airport. Hmmm.

It's worth noting that in November 2013, the US Embassy in Kiev also received "diplomatic cargos" that were delivered by US Air Force transport aircraft. Former Ukrainian Security Service chief Alexander Yakimenko was quoted by Russia's Vesti.ru news network as saying that the Kiev cargos included boxes with 60 million dollars in small bills that were distributed to protesters at Kiev's Maidan Square during anti-government riots in late 2013—Victoria Nuland's idea of democracy. Until April 2014 the US Government had maintained a strategic airbase at Manas in Kyrgyzstan totally immune from Kyrgyz inspection. Reports were rampant at the time that US military cargo laden with Afghan heroin landed there en route to Russia and the EU.

In November, 2014 Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) head, Nikolay Bordyuzha, accused the West of attempting to destabilize CSTO countries. The Collective Security Treaty Organization is a security alliance of former Soviet states, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan to cooperate in strategic issues amongst the member states.

Bordyuzha charged that activities of "NGO's financed by Western Agents" have increased in the region. Bordyuzha accused the West of destabilizing the situation in the CSTO countries. As proof he cited a "disproportionate increase in the number of officials in Western embassies, especially those of the US as well as the activation of the work of the many NGOs financed by Western grants." He noted that just before the launch of Washington's Kiev coup d'etat, the number of US Embassy personnel in Kiev exploded to a staggering 1,500, that for a country whose only interest to Washington is to drive a wedge between Russia, China and the EU.

Then on February 5 this year, the US State Department announced that it had hauled out 78-year-old retired Color Revolution maker, Richard M. Miles, as "Charge d'Affaires ad Interim" at the US Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Miles was the point person behind the CIA "Rose Revolution" that fraudulently installed Washington's hand-picked Mikhail Saakashvili as President of the Republic of Georgia as well as similar dirty operations in the 1990's in Azerbaijan where BP and the US oil companies wanted to build an oil pipeline from Baku to Ceyhan via Georgia to avoid the existing Russian oil line running through Chechnya.

The appointment of Miles came at the same time US State Department Assistant Secretary, Victoria Nuland, the neoconservative former Dick Cheney assistant and ex NATO Ambassador who was key point person for the Kiev coup of 2014, travelled to the Southern Caucasus to visit the governments of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Washington clearly aims to wreak havoc in the form of Color Revolutions across Central Asia, in order to sabotage the rapidly-developing Eurasian economic developments. Kyrgyzstan is especially strategic to that aim as chaos there immediately threatens China, Russia and Kazakhstan economic cooperation.

We can expect a new wave of Washington-orchestrated Color Revolutions across Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. It will likely also include Baluchistan in Pakistan where radical Jihadists, backed by the CIA, are being prepared to sabotage the Iran-Pakistan-China gas pipeline that passes through Baluchistan as well. It's all a bit tiresome, but a Superpower in decay is not generally the most creative.

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine "New Eastern Outlook".

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Story unravels: NBC News confirms Obama lied about Bin Laden raid

Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Samuel Hersh claimed yesterday that the Obama administration lied to the American people about certain aspects aspects of the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. According to Hersh, the United States did not act alone when Navy SEALs were sent to capture or kill the world's most wanted terrorist.

The real story, according to the report, is that members of Pakistani intelligence services were privy to the raid months before it happened and that it was a "walk-in" Pakistani intelligence officer who gave up the location of Bin Laden rather than a CIA operation that tracked him down by following various couriers. Further, it has been claimed that Bin Laden was not buried at sea the way the Obama administration said, but rather, his limbs were simply thrown from the helicopter after the mission (suggesting that some portion of his body, perhaps his head, were retained for posterity's sake).

It's a markedly different story than the one President Obama told on the night he announced Bin Laden's death. In that nationally televised speech the President took credit for ordering the raid and made it clear it was a unilateral action involving only American assets.

The Obama administration has spent the last 24 hours working to discredit the story. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the report from Hersh was "largely a fabrication" with "too many inaccuracies." The White House says the Hersh's investigation is riddled with inaccuracies.

But according to , which has reportedly been conducting their own investigation for the last several years, Hersh's claims aren't that inaccurate after all.

Two intelligence sources tell NBC News that the year before the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden, a "walk in" asset from Pakistani intelligence told the CIA where the most wanted man in the world was hiding - and these two sources plus a third say that the Pakistani government knew where bin Laden was hiding all along.

The U.S. government has always characterized the heroic raid by Seal Team Six that killed bin Laden as a unilateral U.S. operation, and has maintained that the CIA found him by tracking couriers to his walled complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The new revelations do not necessarily cast doubt on the overall narrative that the White House began circulating within hours of the May 2011 operation. The official story about how bin Laden was found was constructed in a way that protected the identity and existence of the asset, who also knew who inside the Pakistani government was aware of the Pakistani intelligence agency's operation to hide bin Laden, according to a special operations officer with prior knowledge of the bin Laden mission. The official story focused on a long hunt for bin Laden's presumed courier, Ahmed al-Kuwaiti.


The NBC News sources who confirm that a Pakistani intelligence official became a "walk in" asset include the special operations officer and a CIA officer who had served in Pakistan. These two sources and a third source, a very senior former U.S. intelligence official, also say that elements of the ISI were aware of bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad. The former official was emphatic about the ISI's awareness, saying twice, "They knew."

NBC News

Video report:

[embedded content]

The one thing that President Obama could hail as a success during his tenure as President has now been exposed as an outright lie.

It looks like all those 'conspiracy nuts' who took issue with the "official" story following the President's original announcement of bin Laden's death were not so crazy after all. There's a reason millions of Americans have lost trust in their government, and especially with the sitting President of the United States. It's because we have been consistently lied to about anything and everything of any significance.

What else are they lying about?

Fast and Furious gun running? Economic recovery? Official unemployment numbers? Jade Helm military exercises? The Ukraine conflict? Or, what about the deaths of SEAL team members that were supposedly involved with Bin Laden raid?

Flashback: Representative Joe Wilson breaks State of the Union Decorum when he shouts "You Lie" during President Obama's speech.

How right he was...

[embedded content]

At this point, nothing they say can be trusted.

Mysterious stone circle discovered on Dartmoor could be older than Stonehenge

© www.mirror.co.uk
Bronze Age Britain: Dartmoor was home to an astonishing ancient community.

Archaeologists have discovered a massive ancient stone circle on Dartmoor which could be older than Stonehenge.

The mysterious ruined structure is the first circle to be found on the moor for more than a century and is evidence the area was home to an advanced ancient civilisation.

Although the 30 stones fell down an estimated 4,000 years ago, they would once formed a forbidding circle standing 34 metres wide.

The newly-discovered henge is thought to have formed part of a "sacred arc" of stone circles around Dartmoor's north-eastern edge and is the highest rock ring in southern England.

There is evidence fires were lit inside these stones, suggesting our ancient ancestors used them for religious rites or feasting.

Mike Nendick, an archeology expert and spokesperson for Dartmoor National Parks, painted an evocative picture of what this arc may have looked like.

© www.mirror.co.uk
Sittaford stone circle.

"It's speculation, but it might be that you had ceremonies on dark, clear nights, with flames visible from one circle to the other," he told Mirror Online.

"These stone enclosures stood on remote moorland and looked across the hills.

"It's incredible to imagine this civilisation, who would have spoken an alien language and behaved totally differently to modern-day British people."

Archaeologists used carbon testing to reveal the age of the stones. By testing the peat underneath the fallen rocks, they found the huge slabs fell over roughly 4,000 years ago and may have first been erected as far back into history as 3,000 BC.

Stonehenge is thought to have been built between 3,000 and 2,000 BC.

© www.mirror.co.uk
Human Rites: Tourism has replaced religion as the main reason to visit Stonehenge.

It is known that a large and thriving civilisation lived on Dartmoor. Previous discoveries show they buried kings with great pomp and ceremony - and at massive expense.

Our ancestors are also thought to have mined tin to make bronze, traded with partners as far away as the Baltic and created weapons or trinkets of astonishing beauty.

In a nod to modern life, Nendick added, they also wore jewelry which will be familiar to anyone who's lived in the trendier parts of modern Britain: ear stretchers.

The grave of a girl aged between 14 and 24 showed she wore devices to make huge holes in her ears and lips.

"There's nothing new in the world," Nendick joked.

America's Achilles' Heel and Russia's indomitable spirit


Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the victory Day Parade.

Last Saturday, a massive Victory Parade was held in Moscow commemorating the 70-year anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany to the Red Army and the erection of the Soviet flag atop the Reichstag in Berlin. There were a few unusual aspects to this parade, which I would like to point out, because they conflict with the western official propaganda narrative. First, it wasn't just Russian troops that marched in the parade: the troops of 10 other nations took part in it, including the Chinese honor guard and a contingent of Grenadiers from India. Dignitaries from these nations were present in the stands, and the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife were seated next to President Vladimir Putin, who, in his speech at the start of the parade, warned against attempts to create a unipolar world—sharp words aimed squarely at the United States and its western allies. Second, a look at the military hardware that rolled through Red Square or flew over it would indicate that, short of an outright nuclear mutual self-annihilation, there isn't much that the US military could throw at Russia that Russia couldn't neutralize.

[embedded content]

It would appear that American attempts to isolate Russia have resulted in the exact opposite: if 10 nations, among them the world's largest economy, comprising some 3 billion people, are willing to set aside their differences and stand shoulder to shoulder with the Russians to counter American attempts at global dominance, then clearly the American plan isn't going to work at all. Western media focused on the fact that western leaders declined to attend the celebration, either in a fit of pique or because so ordered by the Obama administration, but this only highlights their combined irrelevance, be it in defeating Hitler, or in commemorating his defeat 70 years later. Nevertheless, in his speech Putin specifically thanked the French, the British and the Americans for their contribution to the war effort. I am sorry that he left out the Belgians, who had been so helpful at Dunkirk.

One small detail about the parade is nevertheless stunning: Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, a Tuvan Buddhist and one of the most respected Russian leaders, who presided over the Emergencies Ministry prior to becoming the Defense Minister, did something none of his predecessors ever did: at the beginning of the ceremony, he made the sign of the cross, in the Russian Orthodox manner. This simple gesture transformed the parade from a display of military pomp to a sacred ritual. Then followed the slow march with two flags side by side: the Russian flag, and the Soviet flag that flew on top of the Reichstag in Berlin on Victory Day 70 years ago. The march was accompanied by a popular World War II song? Its title? "The Sacred War." The message is clear: the Russian military, and the Russian people, have put themselves in God's hands, to do God's work, to once again sacrifice themselves to save the world from the ravages of an evil empire.

[embedded content]

If you try to dismiss any of this as Russian state propaganda, then here is something else you should be aware of. Did you hear of the spontaneously organized procession in which, after the official parade, half a million people marched through Moscow with portraits of their relatives who died in World War II? The event was called "The Eternal Regiment" (Бессмертный полк). Similar processions took place in many cities throughout Russia, and the total number of participants is estimated at around 4 million. Western press either panned it or billed it as an attempt by Putin to whip up anti-western sentiment. Now that sort of "press coverage," my fellow space travelers, is pure propaganda! No, it was an enthusiastic, spontaneous outpouring of genuine public sentiment. If you think about it just a tiny bit, nothing on this scale could be contrived artificially, and the thought that millions of people would prostitute their dead for propaganda purposes is, frankly, both cynical and insulting.

[embedded content]

Instead of collapsing quietly, the US has decided to pick a fight with Russia. It appears to have already lost the fight, but a question remains: How many more countries will the US manage to destroy before the reality of its inevitable defeat and disintegration finally catches up with it?

As Putin said last summer when speaking at the Seliger youth forum, "I get the feeling that no matter what the Americans touch, they end up with Libya or Iraq." Indeed, the Americans have been on a tear, destroying one country after another. Iraq has been dismembered, Libya is a no-go zone, Syria is a humanitarian disaster, Egypt is a military dictatorship executing a program of mass imprisonment. The latest fiasco is Yemen, where the pro-American government was recently overthrown, and the American nationals who found themselves trapped there had to wait for the Russians and the Chinese to extract them and send them home. But it was the previous American foreign policy fiasco, in the Ukraine, which prompted the Russians, along with the Chinese, to signal that the US has taken a step too far, and that all further steps will result in automatic escalation.

The Russian plan, along with China, India, and much of the rest of the world, is to prepare for war with the US, but to do everything possible to avoid it. Time is on their side, because with each passing day they become stronger while America grows weaker. But while this process runs its course, America might "touch" a few more countries, turning them into a Libya or an Iraq. Is Greece next on the list? What about throwing under the bus the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), which are now NATO members (i.e., sacrificial lambs)? Estonia is a short drive from Russia's second-largest city, St. Petersburg, it has a large Russian population, it has a majority-Russian capital city, and it has a rabidly anti-Russian government. Of those four facts, just one is incongruous. Is it being set up to self-destruct? Some Central Asian republics, in Russia's ticklish underbelly, might be ripe for being "touched" too.

There is no question that the Americans will continue to try to create mischief around the world, "touching" vulnerable, exploitable countries, for as long as they can. But there is another question that deserves to be asked: Do the Americans "touch" themselves? Because if they do, then the next candidate for extreme makeover into a bombed-out wasteland might be the United States itself. Let's consider this option.

As the events in Ferguson, and more recently in Baltimore, have indicated, the tensions between African-Americans and the police have escalated to a point where explosions become likely. The American "war on drugs" has been essentially a war on young black (and Latino) men; about a third of young blacks are behind bars. They also run a high risk of being shot by the police. To be fair, the police also run a high risk of getting shot by young black males, causing them to be jumpy and to overreact. Given the gradually collapsing economy—close to 100 million working-age Americans are unemployed ("outside the labor force," if you wish to split hairs)—it would seem that for an ever-increasing chunk of the population cooperating with the authorities is no longer a useful strategy: you get locked up or killed anyway, but you get none of the temporary benefits that come from ignoring the law.

There is an interesting asymmetry in the American media's ability to block out information about civil unrest and insurgency: if it is happening overseas, then news of it can be carefully calibrated or suppressed outright. (Did American television tell you about the recent resumption of shelling of civilian districts by the Ukrainian military? Of course not!) This is possible because Americans are notoriously narcissistic and largely indifferent to the rest of the world, of which most of them know little, and what they think they know is often wrong. But if the unrest is within the US itself, then the various media outlets find themselves competing against each other in who can sensationalize it better, in order to get more viewership, and more advertising revenue. The mainstream media in the US is tightly controlled by a handful of large conglomerates, making it one big monopoly on information, but at the level of selling advertising market principles still prevail.

Thus there is the potential for a positive feedback loop: more civil unrest generates more sensationalized news coverage, which in turn amplifies the civil unrest, which further sensationalizes the news coverage. And there is a second positive feedback loop as well: the more civil unrest there is, the more the police overreact in trying to control the situation, thereby generating more rage, amplifying the civil unrest. These two positive feedback loops can continue to run out of control for a while, but the end result, in all such recent incidents, is the same: the introduction of National Guard troops and the imposition of curfew and martial law.

The swift introduction of the military might seem a bit odd, considering that most police departments, even small-town ones, have been heavily militarized in recent years, and even the security people at some school districts now have military vehicles and machine guns. But the progression is a natural one. On the one hand, when people who habitually resort to brute force find that it isn't working, they naturally assume that this is because they aren't using enough of it. On the other hand, if the criminal justice system is already a travesty and a shambles, then why not just cut through the red tape and impose martial law?

There is an awful lot of weapons of all sorts in the US already, and more will come in all the time as the US is forced to close overseas military bases due to lack of funds. And they will probably get used, for the same reason and in the same fashion that red bricks came to be used in Boston. You see, plenty of red bricks kept coming into Boston aboard British ships, where they were used as ballast for the return trip. This created the impetus to do something with them. But putting up brick buildings is a difficult, demanding process, especially if laborers are always drunk. And so the solution was to use the bricks to pave sidewalks—something one can do on one's hands and knees. Similarly with the military hardware sloshing back into the US from abroad. It will be used, because it's there; and it will be used in the stupidest way possible: shooting at one's own people.

But bad things happen to militaries when they are ordered to shoot at their own people. It is one thing to shoot at "towel-heads" in a far-away land; it is quite another to be ordered shoot at somebody who could be your own brother down the street from where you grew up. Such orders result in fragging (shooting your own officers), in refusal to follow orders, and in attempts to stand up for the other side.

And that's where things get interesting. Because, you see, if you shoot at, imprison, and otherwise abuse a defenseless civilian population long enough, what you get in response is an armed insurgency. The place insurgencies are easiest to organize is in prison. For instance, ISIS, or the Islamic Caliphate, was masterminded by people who had previously worked for Saddam Hussein, while they were imprisoned by the Americans. They took this opportunity to work out an efficient organizational structure and, upon release, found each other and got down to work. Having a third of young American blacks locked up gives them all the opportunity they need to organize an effective insurgency.

To be effective, an insurgency needs lots of weapons. Here, again, there is a procedure for acquiring military technology that has become almost routine. What weapons are being used by ISIS? Why, of course, American ones, which the Americans provided to the regime in Baghdad, and which ISIS took as trophies when the Iraqi army refused to fight and ran away. And what weapons are being used by the Houthi rebels in Yemen? Why, of course, the American ones, which the Americans provided to the now overthrown pro-American regime there. And what are some of the weapons being used by the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad? Why, of course, American ones, sold to them by the Ukrainian government, which got them from the Americans. There is a pattern here: it seems that whenever Americans arm, train and equip an army, that army stands a really big chance of simply melting away, with the weapons falling into the hands of those who want to use them against American interests. It is hard to see why this same pattern wouldn't hold once the US places much of itself under military occupation.

And that's where things get really interesting: a well-armed, well-organized insurgency composed of thoroughly radicalized, outraged people who have absolutely nothing to lose and are fighting for their home turf and their families squaring off against a demoralized, defeated US military that has just failed spectacularly in every country it "touched."

They say that "You can't fight city hall." But what if you have a tank battalion that can control four intersections all around city hall, turrets pointed in all directions, firing at anything that moves? And what if you have enough infantry to go around and ring the doorbells of all the key city hall bureaucrats? Wouldn't that change one's odds of victory in fighting city hall?

The US might get to "touch" a few more countries before this scenario unfolds, but it seems likely that (excepting the possibility of all-out war) eventually America will "touch" itself, and then all those countries whose troops marched through Red Square last Saturday won't have America to kick around any more.

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Scientists image gravity waves through atmosphere

© Hanli Liu, NCAR
A model simulation illustrates how gravity waves kicked off by a cyclone east of Australia build as they travel toward space.

Whether it's a drunk camper diving carelessly into a river, or a mass of air rising over a mountain, the rule is the same: What goes up must come down.

With respect to the latter, the rising and falling of air also generates gravity waves. While such atmospheric changes usually only have a regional impact on the lower atmosphere, these ripples can stretch all across the globe in the upper atmosphere and their impact is far more dramatic.

For the first time, researchers have found a way to observe what happens when gravity waves rise towards into the upper atmosphere. A team of researchers at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research led by Senior Scientist Hanli Liu improved upon the Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model, pushing it to a resolution fine enough to pick up small gravity waves at their source.

Previously able to clearly view only phenomena that were 2,000 kilometers across, they are now able to view gravity waves when they are still relatively small—only 200 kilometers across—and accurately model how this activity appears later in the upper atmosphere.

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I sense a disturbance in the force

And since disturbances in the upper atmosphere (usually attributed to solar activity) are what can damage satellites, shut down radio transmissions, skew GPS signals, and in this high-tech day and age basically just , modeling like this is exactly what we need to understand the Earth's role in these disturbances.

"When gravity waves propagate to the bottom side of the ionosphere, they can kick off instabilities," Liu said. "If you want to have a better understanding of space weather—the ionosphere—you need this kind of modeling capability."

'We the people' need to circle the wagons: The government is on the warpath

"The government is merely a servant―merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them." ― Mark Twain

© www.softpedia.com/

How many Americans have actually bothered to read the Constitution, let alone the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights (a quick read at 462 words)?

Take a few minutes and read those words for yourself—rather than having some court or politician translate them for you—and you will be under no illusion about where to draw the line when it comes to speaking your mind, criticizing your government, defending what is yours, doing whatever you want on your own property, and keeping the government's nose out of your private affairs.

In an age of overcriminalization, where the average citizen unknowingly commits three crimes a day, and even the most mundane activities such as fishing and gardening are regulated, government officials are constantly telling Americans what not to do. Yet it was not always this way. It used to be "we the people" telling the government what it could and could not do. Indeed, the three words used most frequently throughout the Bill of Rights in regards to the government are "no," "not" and "nor."

Compare the following list of "don'ts" the government is prohibited from doing with the growing list of abuses to which "we the people" are subjected on a daily basis, and you will find that we have reached a state of crisis wherein the government is routinely breaking the law and violating its contractual obligations.

For instance, the government is NOT allowed to restrict free speech, press, assembly or the citizenry's ability to protest and correct government wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the government continues to prosecute whistleblowers, persecute journalists, cage protesters, criminalize expressive activities, crack down on large gatherings of citizens mobilizing to voice their discontent with government policies, and insulate itself and its agents from any charges of wrongdoing (or what the courts refer to as "qualified immunity").

The government may NOT infringe on a citizen's right to defend himself. Nevertheless, in many states, it's against the law to carry a concealed weapon (gun, knife or even pepper spray), and the average citizen is permitted little self-defense against militarized police officers who shoot first and ask questions later.

The government may NOT enter or occupy a citizen's house without his consent (the quartering of soldiers). Nevertheless, government soldiers (i.e., militarized police) carry out more than 80,000 no-knock raids on private homes every year, while maiming children, killing dogs and shooting citizens.

The government may NOT carry out unreasonable searches and seizures on the citizenry or their possessions. NOR can government officials issue warrants without some evidence of wrongdoing (probable cause). Unfortunately, what is unreasonable to the average American is completely reasonable to a government agent, for whom the ends justify the means. In such a climate, we have no protection against roadside strip searches, blood draws, DNA collection, SWAT team raids, surveillance or any other privacy-stripping indignity to which the government chooses to subject us.

The government is NOT to deprive anyone of life, liberty or property without due process. Nevertheless, the government continues to incarcerate tens of thousands of Americans whose greatest crime is being poor and brown-skinned. The same goes for those who are put to death, some erroneously, by a system weighted in favor of class and wealth.

The government may NOT take private property for public use without just compensation. Nevertheless, under the guise of the "greater public interest," the government often hides behind eminent domain laws in order to allow megacorporations to tear down homes occupied by less prosperous citizens in order to build high-priced resorts and shopping malls.

Government agents may NOT force a citizen to testify against himself. Yet what is the government's extensive surveillance network that spies on all of our communications but a thinly veiled attempt at using our own words against us?

The government is NOT allowed to impose excessive fines on the citizenry or inflict cruel and unusual punishments upon them. Nevertheless Americans are subjected to egregious fines and outrageous punishments for minor traffic violations, student tardiness and absence from school, and generally having the misfortune of being warm bodies capable of filling privatized, profit-driven jails.

The government is NOT permitted to claim any powers that are not expressly granted to them by the Constitution. This prohibition has become downright laughable as the government continues to claim for itself every authority that serves to swell its coffers, cement its dominion, and expand its reach.

Despite what some special interest groups have suggested to the contrary, the problems we're experiencing today did not arise because the Constitution has outlived its usefulness or become irrelevant, nor will they be solved by a convention of states or a ratification of the Constitution.

No, as I document in my new book , the problem goes far deeper. It can be traced back to the point at which "we the people" were overthrown as the center of the government. As a result, our supremacy has been undone, our authority undermined, and our experiment in democratic self-governance left in ruins. No longer are we the rulers of this land. We have long since been deposed and dethroned, replaced by corporate figureheads with no regard for our sovereignty, no thought for our happiness, and no respect for our rights.

In other words, without our say-so and lacking any mandate, the point of view of the Constitution has been shifted from "we the people" to "we the government." Our taxpayer-funded employees—our appointed servants—have stopped looking upon us as their superiors and started viewing as their inferiors. Unfortunately, we've gotten so used to being dictated to by government agents, bureaucrats and militarized police alike that we've forgotten that WE are supposed to be the ones calling the shots and determining what is just, reasonable and necessary.

Then again, we're not the only ones guilty of forgetting that the government was established to serve us as well as obey us. Every branch of government, from the Executive to the Judicial and Legislative, seems to be suffering this same form of amnesia. Certainly, when government programs are interpreted from the government's point of view (i.e., the courts and legislatures), there is little the government CANNOT do in its quest for power and control.

We've been so brainwashed and indoctrinated into believing that the government is actually looking out for our best interests, when in fact the only compelling interesting driving government programs is maintain power and control by taking away money and control. This vital truth, that the government exists for our benefit and operates at our behest, seems to have been lost in translation over two centuries dominated by government expansion, endless wars and centralized federal power.

Have you ever wondered why the Constitution begins with those three words "we the people"? It was intended to be a powerful reminder that everything flows from the citizenry. We the people are the center of the government and the source of its power. That "we" is crucial because it reminds us that there is power and safety in numbers, provided we stand united. We can accomplish nothing alone.

This is the underlying lesson of the Constitution, which outlines the duties and responsibilities of government. It was a mutual agreement formed by early Americans in order to ensure that when problems arose, they could address them together.

It's like the wagon trains of the Old West, comprised of individual groups of pioneers. They rarely ventured out alone but instead traveled as convoys. And when faced with a threat, these early Americans formed their wagons into a tight circle in order to defend against invaders. In doing so, they presented a unified front and provided protection against an outside attack. In much the same way, the Constitution was intended to work as an institutionalized version of the wagon circle, serving as a communal shield against those who would harm us.

Unfortunately, we have been ousted from that protected circle, left to fend for ourselves in the wilderness that is the American frontier today. Those who did the ousting—the courts, the politicians, and the corporations—have since replaced us with yes-men, shills who dance to the tune of an elite ruling class. In doing so, they have set themselves as the central source of power and the arbiters of what is just and reasonable.

Once again we're forced to navigate hostile terrain, unsure of how to protect ourselves and our loved ones from militarized police, weaponized drones, fusion centers, Stingray devices, SWAT team raids, the ongoing military drills on American soil, the government stockpiling of ammunition, the erection of mass detention centers across the country, and all other manner of abuses.

Read the smoke signals, and the warning is clear: It's time to circle the wagons, folks. The government is on the warpath, and if we are to have any hope of surviving whatever is coming at us, we'll need to keep our wits about us and present a unified front. Most of all, we need to restore "we the people" to our rightful place at the center of government. How we do that depends largely on each community's willingness to get past their partisan politics and blind allegiance to uniformed government officials and find common ground.

To put it a little more bluntly, stop thinking like mindless government robots and start acting like a powerhouse of citizens vested with the power to say "enough is enough." We have the numbers to stand our ground. Now we just need the will.

Immune system genes may change with the season

© photoclicks/iStockphoto
Genes suppressing inflammation are more active in the Australian summer, while those promoting inflammation are more active in winter.

Our mood, metabolism and sex lives are dependent on the seasons, and now it seems, so is our immune system.

In a study published today, British and German researchers find almost a quarter of human genes are more or less active depending on the season.

The researchers say the discovery could help explain why people tend to be healthier in summer and diseases known to be seasonal such as cardiovascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis are more evident in winter.

"It helps explain why so many diseases, from heart disease to mental illness, are much worse in the winter months, but no one had appreciated the extent to which this actually occurred," says senior author Professor John Todd of the University of Cambridge.

The international team of researchers analysed blood and fat tissue samples from more than 16,000 people living in the northern and southern hemispheres including in the UK, the US, Iceland, Australia and the Republic of the Gambia.

The study, published in Nature Communications , found 23 per cent of human genes -- 5136 out of 22,822 genes tested -- change their expression levels depending on the season.

Genes that promoted inflammation were more active in the European winter months of December, January and February were less active in the same months in Australia, but more highly expressed in the southern hemisphere winter months of June, July and August. Meanwhile, genes that suppressed inflammation were more active in the summer months of each hemisphere.

Seasonality also affects the make-up of blood and fat tissue.

One particular gene known as ARNTL, which in mice suppresses inflammation, peaked in the summer months, as did the vitamin D receptor, VDR.

If the ARNTL gene has the same function in humans as in mice then levels of inflammation would be higher during winter, say the researchers.

They suggest their findings could inform treatment such as using drugs in winter months that target inflammation.

Some vaccination programs might be more effective if carried out during winter months when the immune system is already 'primed' to respond, they suggest.

Seasonality also was seen in the immune cells of people from The Gambian, but in this case immunity appeared to peak during the rainy season from June through October.

This could be because the immune system faces an increased infectious disease threat in the wet season, such as a higher risk of malaria infection, the researchers say.

Raises questions

Professor Stephen Nutt, at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, says it is interesting that Australia and the northern hemisphere are inverse in the data.

However, he says the unknown question is why this seasonal phenomenon exists.

Nutt says the authors propose it might have evolved to ensure the immune system was heightened in winter when more diseases were about.

"But it is also feasible that the reverse is true and more bugs in the environment and greater time indoors may lead to more exposure to microbes and thus prime the immune system.

"It is a classic chicken-and-egg scenario when one thinks about causality for the phenomenon."

Professor Merlin Thomas, Diabetic Complications head at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, says seasonal variations in immunity are very common in nature.

"We might have air-conditioning in summer and central heating in winter, but it appears we still change with the seasons like most other animals on the planet," he says.

However, he points out seasonality is not unique to immune response.

"It is also clear that our mood, our physical activity, our metabolism, our appetite and even our sex lives are seasonal," he says.

"Whether these variations can explain why some illnesses are more common at some times of the year than others is unclear. All illnesses are multifactorial. The time of the year may be one small component in the puzzle."

Professor Stuart Tangye, Immunology Division head at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, agrees and says there are many factors that can impact on the immune system such as latitude.

He points out that in Australia the risk factor for developing multiple sclerosis is 10 times greater in Tasmania than in Far North Queensland and this is related to sun exposure.

Ilan Pappe on western 'awakening' and what it means for Palestine and Israel


© Palestinechronicle.com

Ilan Pappe has lately published a new book of dialogues with Noam Chomsky, and edited by Frank Barat, called On Palestine. Pappe is the director of the European Centre for Palestine Studies and the author of many books, notably The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Born in Israel 60 years ago, he left the University of Haifa in 2007 to take up a position at the University of Exeter in England after he called for boycott of Israel and the school president pressed him to resign, while others threatened him personally. I interviewed Pappe by phone in April. The last four questions I sent to him by email, and he responded in kind.

Q. One of the paradoxes you cite at the beginning of the book is the gap between world opinion of the situation in Israel/Palestine, which is with it, and elite opinion, which doesn't budge. Explain this.

I think I became aware of this paradox once I was aware of how significant the shift in civil society or in public opinion was. In other words, the moment you understand that the new attitude toward Israel is not marginal or esoteric you suddenly encounter it everywhere - among people who are in the know, among people who have only partial information, and - it sounds simplistic - but almost any decent person you meet in the west has a clear view of Israel/Palestine with varying degrees of knowledge or commitment. There is a sense of a significant shift, and you would expect that this shift would manifest itself in mainstream media or politics, if not for genuine reasons, then for political reasons, because it is an important issue for your voters.

To my great surprise, and even after the three horrific attacks on Gaza, 2008-2009, 2012, and culminating with the attack in the summer, the cumulative effect has still left the mainstream politics in the same place they were in 20 years ago. I find that bewildering to say the least.

Q. How long has this process taken in public opinion?

I've observed public opinion shift more or less since the second Lebanon war, in 2006. I'm a historian, so I am aware that these processes take time to mature. And really it's not so important to find out when they germinate, it's more important to find out when they become significant.

It has been maturing a long time. Surely after the first intifada in '87, some of the demonization of the Palestinians was removed. Also the true nature of the Israeli criminality was revealed as we entered the age of internet, and therefore after 2006 the shift was obvious and visible though still not affecting the mainstream elites.

Q. How subjective are you?

Well I can be subjective, but I'm not just leaving it to my intuition. I have really tried to include it as part of my research, I'm really using my [European] Centre for Palestine Studies, established in 2007, to follow these things with the help of my students. So I don't think I'm falling into the trap of wishful thinking.... It's very very clear, especially if you decide to live within a western community.

Q. Public opinion in Europe is ahead of the U.S., though, right?

With a modicum of caution here—because both are continents, and generalizations overlook nuance—generally speaking we are talking about one public opinion which is better informed, the European one, and feels much more engaged with events not only in Palestine but in the Middle East as part of their immediate environment. And certainly senses something absent from the American public opinion, and this is guilt. The American public opinion is not as informed, even among those Americans who have shifted; the sense of urgency is not as great as in Europe; there is not the geographic proximity; and there is less of a guilt complex.

And in the end you have to break down both communities on vertical or horizontal lines. The pace of change in Europe is faster, the pace in the US is more important.

Q. How has the elite edifice been maintained?

One of the major means is all sorts of lobbying. I use the term lobby in the most general definition possible and not in the more familiar and narrow American reference to lobbying and therefore it can take a different form in Europe and for that matter in places such as Africa, China and India. A good example is Australia where the Jewish community is only 1 percent of the population and it lobbies relentlessly for Israel. It is a rich community and hence it used financial contribution, in equal measure, to each of the two big parties. The dividend is clear. When the previous Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was elected I was not surprised to hear that in her inaugural speech, she included Australian support for Israel as one of the four pillars of Australia's foreign and security policies. So for the government in Canberra - miles away from Israel, of all the places the Jewish state is prime security concern. This shows the solidity of the edifice. It is an edifice built on financial investment, bribes, threats and disinformation.

I think another factor is Islamophobia, of the kind that is now raging in certain quarters in the west. Islamophobia does not seem to affect greatly, or trouble, the Western civil society, but is preoccupying, genuinely or cynically, the political elites. One good example of this is the military arms industry, which of course needs the war of terror to reinvigorate its line of production, invention, sales, and its place in the world. Islamophobia counterbalances any inhibitions or restraints the more sensible, and who knows less cynical, captains of this industry may respond to - surely in the case of Gaza some of them would have had second thoughts but were convincing themselves that they provided arms to defeat the worst kind of fanatic Islamism, and not, as was the case, for a genocide.

Finally, in the context of atrocities that are enveloping us, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt - the nature of Israeli atrocity, the Palestinian suffering can be dwarfed, in the minds of people involved in policy making and informing public opinion. They say, no one can get a handle on everything, they have to have priorities. And I can appreciate why an editor of a leading Western newspaper or news bulletin would ignore the killing of two Palestinian kids and prefer to pay attention to far worse atrocities in Iraq or Syria. Nonetheless I would have like to convince this editor that the one does not exclude the other. Both should be reported and connected.

Q. Well what do you say to them?

I will try and convince them for two main reasons why they should give events in Palestine a central role. There is a direct link between the century of Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians and the eruption of violence in the Middle East. Even the worst of the violence is rooted in the Western colonial past of which the foundation of a Jewish state instead of Palestine was the worst crime in the eyes of generations to come. What is challenged violently today is the post-world-war-one colonialist structure build by European powers. A central pillar of this building was the Judaziation of Palestine. You cannot argue easily for human rights without being blamed for being too westernized and you can not recruit people to sport purist Islamist notions without stressing their anti-Western essence. Even the Shite-Sunni divisions, or the attacks of Christian and minorities are associated with the edifice built by the West, based on divide and rule, and incorporating the minorities in the colonialist, and post-colonialist, political structure. The epitome of this attitude was the unconditional support to Zionism at the expense of the Palestinians. So Palestinian suffering is the outcome of the original sin of the West after the first world war as are the other horrific scenes elsewhere in the Middle East.

There is a need to understand that if you want to engage, and at least on the face of it as an editor, cover things not just because they are interesting to people, but because of people's suffering, in order to end that suffering, or so as to add your voice against it—and more generally if the west through its media, politicians, and human rights NGOs, if it wants to be engaged in the conversation at the heart of these atrocities - it cannot be admitted as a genuine partner in that conversation unless it seizes on the exceptional status it granted Israel in this conversation.

Q. You're talking about root causes. Media don't often address them. You want them to speak of Zionism as a root cause of this conflict. Why?

Two issues are very important. The easier one is to treat Zionism as we treated the apartheid ideology in South Africa, and to ask oneself, would we engage with apartheid in South Africa without engaging the ideology of the regime. Could we have focused on only the policies of the government and ignored the source of the policies? If you go back and look at when South Africa became a pariah state, if you look at the media, they were isolating South Africa by attacking the ideology of supremacy, exclusion, and apartheid.

What is very clear in this case is that the western media does not allow itself, maybe because of self-censorship, maybe because of pressure—it does not allow itself to do the same for Israel. Even the worst atrocity is taken out of its ideological context. When the journalist spans a narrative of why that atrocity happened, they describe it as an Israeli retaliation against Palestinian violence. You would have liked journalists to understand by now that Israel does not retaliate against Palestinians and create unbearable situations for them in anticipation of some reaction to the oppression - be it a house demolition, arrest without trial, confiscation of land and more often than not, assassination. Violence for Israel is not a retaliatory means of responding to Palestinian resistance, no, it is the principal means by which the Zionist vision of having as much of Palestine as possible, with as few Palestinians in it as possible, has been implemented over the years.

Perceptive journalists should detect the difference between destroying houses because they endanger the security of the soldiers, and destroying the houses as a way of reducing the number of Palestinians as part of a mega plan for the region. If you are dealing with an ideology, you have an obligation to see through the pretext and not copy the causal narrative that Israel provides.

So that is one issue.

The second reason why Zionism has to be at the center of the media coverage, and that core historical issues have to be discussed is that we are still in that history - it is not a closed chapter that should only interest historians. We are in this paradoxical situation where Israel is both a colonialist and post colonialist state. Recently academics defined Israel as a settler colonial state - which explains why it was a colonialist project in the past, but one that still continues today as the project is incomplete. So as a journalist you are watching the same historical chapter that began in the late 19th century and continues today. There is no closure yet in this colonialist history. More classical colonialist chapters, such as the British Raj in India, should be discussed in the cultural annexes of the papers or in special historical programs on TV and one would understand journalists covering India today focusing on the here and now. These are closed chapters of history. The Zionist Raj is still there and unlike the British Raj, it does not intend to dismantle the colony and go back home, it wants the colony to be cleansed of its native people.

Finally, dealing with the core issue, especially in the case of European Media, forces us to understand the more hidden layers of the Zionist project and its immunity in the West. When I say we are still in the same chapter of colonialism in Palestine that began in the late 19th century, I do not only mean that the colonization and dispossession of the native people continues with the same vigor and intent as in the past. I also mean by this that the presence of Jews in Palestine, was and still is, the European solution for its Jewish Question. The Jews were nearly destroyed in Europe during the second world war and instead of openly re-integrating them into Europe, the idea of sending them of Palestine, with the Zionist blessing, absolved Europe from dealing with what had been done not only to Jews but to other minorities as well in the second world war. When you have no closure on the place of Jews in Europe, you have no idea how to deal with the place of Muslims in Europe. Will they be looking now for a Muslim state somewhere away from Europe instead of accepting multiculturalism and diversity as a way of life?

The other side of this coin is that Israel and Palestine is a place where Jewish settlers rule over native Palestinians instead of living alongside them. So when Israel still propagates the notion that it is the homeland of all the Jews, it responds both to the anti-Semitic wish to purify Christian societies from Jewish presence and at the same time denies the rights of the Palestinians to Palestine or the rights of anyone who came or is in Palestine and is not Jewish. In the day of Independence, in the main ceremony, the diplomatic corps honors this idea in public and for the whole world to see - more out of ignorance than menace, one would think.

Finally, Zionism creates new problems for Jewish communities today, because the present Israeli regime declares clearly, something the Labor Zionist were careful not to do, that it represents the Jews wherever they are. So when this regime commits atrocities against the Palestinians, and Jews around the world do not challenge its claim to represent them, they are seen as supporting these atrocities. This line of thinking is totally absent from the Western media.

Q. I relate to that as an American interest type, and a Jew. The Iraq war and the neoconservatives were a big problem for me personally after my brother told me his Jewish newspaper said this war would be good for Israel.

Well this may be changing. Recently I met a group of liberal Zionists in the UK who were very concerned about this dilemma.

Q. When?

Two or 3 months ago. They'd never invited me before. I wondered why they were seeking a contact now. What I understand is that they were less worried about the Palestinians and far more about the possibility that their alliance, connection and commitment to their home country, which they genuinely feel, will be doubted and challenged. They used to regard themselves as an organic and integral part of the society and the new form of Zionism preached by Israel casts doubts on this role. I was impressed it bothers them more than Islamic radicalism which Israel claims is their main concern. They understand that if Netanyahu calls upon them to come to Israel because a synagogue in London was assaulted, even it was by angry Muslims, and they say nothing in response, they can been as accepting this logic, and if they oppose it, they will be regarded as anti Zionists.

Q. You think that some of these people will become active anti-Zionists?

Absolutely. As long as you had the more clever political elite in Israel, the labor Zionists, they were far more sophisticated and clever, and they would never have called on Jews to leave and come to Israel.

Q. Yes Ben-Gurion reached that understanding back in 1950 or so.

I think that the decision of the center and the right in Israel to focus on neo-Zionism, reinvigorating what they see as the Zionist ideology and value system, and putting into focus not just the fate of Jews in Israel, but of all the Jews in the world, created a monster. They manufactured a non-existent threat for Jewish life in Europe, which does not exist, and now they believe it themselves. Part of the story they concocted is that a desperate attack by a North African immigrant in France on a religious Jew and the Hamas war for survival are part of a new global anti Semitic campaign to destroy Jews (with support by the Left).

Last week on Shoah day, you saw some of the most important scholars in the country bringing to television and radio a kind of structural explanation for what they call the 'new anti-Semitism': fusing together classical European anti-Semitism, centered on the Church, Nazism, Islamic terrorism and the BDS movement. They are not only working together, they are all part of the same historical chapter that probably dates back to Christ himself. Waves after waves all directed against Jews, and this just another wave.

Q. Scholars really say that?

Yes. So these Jews will have to say something. They will have to get out of the box and say - Are you really saying there's going to be a second holocaust in London that will be brought about by Omar Barghouti, Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), David Irving, neo-Nazis in Germany and the Amir of the Islamic State? It will not be easy for these Jews to challenge this fabricated war mongering - it is produced by an ideological state, which is a nuclear power, a high tech empire and one that possesses the strongest army in the Middle East. This is a dangerous situation when such a powerful state makes such accusations. If this hysteria is produced by a nutty professor in an Ivy league university this is one thing, but if it's spread by people with access to a red button that can launch another bombardment of Gaza or even against Teheran, then we should be terrified by this scenario, much more than any scenario we have predicted for the future plans of Iran or North Korea.

Q. You're saying they went along with a lot of liberal Zionism in the past, and stood up for Israel, but this has changed things.

Yes they're understanding what a terrifying a place Israel became. For many many years, they really were able to shut their eyes and close their ears, like the famous three monkeys, and say to themselves, this is something that we Jews deserve, we deserve not just our place here but also a Jewish homeland. Maybe they bought into the insurance model - if something bad happens, there's a place we can go to. However, when they are now being told by the insurance company your house is already burned, while they still peacefully live in it - they realize their future and fate is in the had of nutty and fanatic insurers.

Q. And the stakes are too large.


Q. You say in your book that this moment is a liberal Zionist wake up call. Why are they important?

They are a very important part of the elite edifice. They are the ones who have provided the moral justification for the victimization of the Palestinians and their suffering. They are the ones who branded the Israeli atrocities as acts of self defense, forced upon the reluctant Israelis (as Golda Meir said, we will never forgive the Palestinians for what they forced us to do to them). They are the 'civilized' 'enlightened' shield for the barbarism on the ground. And now there are cracks in the shield, and we need cracks in the shield, that's very important. We are beginning to see the cracks, because this is the age of information and you can see through the cracks the true reality, and that reality is that Israel can not be both a Jewish and a democratic state, you cannot be both an enlightened occupier and and occupier at same time. Maybe they realize what they were helping to hide and are facing a moment of truth.

Q. Where do you see a crack?

Something interesting that happened in the last attack on Gaza was that liberal Zionists were willing to say, whatever Hamas is doing, what Israel is doing is not justified. I am using Haaretz as the main venue for these relatively new doubts because it was adopted by the editorial board as well as the main conversation in the summer (not just by the usual suspects such as Gideon Levy or Amira Hass). This was an agenda also adopted by the few thousands who demonstrated during the assault in the last summer in the name of the suffering of both sides. It was a far cry from what I would have liked them to demonstrate against, but it was very different from their previous support to the atrocious policies against Gaza. As if they lost the verbal elasticity and juggling that enabled them to be both humanly concerned and Zionist patriots. Their verbal ability failed them. They could not produce, as in the past, a text that explains how Israel is still a democracy given what it's doing not only in Gaza, but given the way it treats the asylum seekers, given the racist legislation since 2000 and the brutality not only against the Palestinians, but against them themselves, the liberals.

Moreover, it seems that the political forces in power, the nationalists and religious forces, have no need for them any more. Their previous leaders such as Begin and Sharon both thought they needed them, and Netanyahu did once, he wanted Shimon Peres to represent the more sane face of Israel, while doing what he wished to do on the ground. Some of them may not even want to be used as a shield anymore as they were in the past. This is certainly true about liberal Zionist outside of Israel (see J-Street) and will be true about them inside Israel. I want to add in Israel there are not many of them so their importance in widening the cracks is less locally and far more significant outside of Israel.

Q. In terms of building a movement, do you favor outreach and diplomacy with these turning Zionists, to allow them to save face?

Let me explain. I have a litmus paper, I have a yardstick, with which I judge my willingness at all to engage. I don't mind if they tell me, for instance, that they object to an idea of boycott of Israel, and I say to them, That's OK, I do support the boycott of Israel. In the past this position has stopped the dialogue on the spot. This was the main reason for my expulsion from the University of Haifa, and the end of discussion with many liberal Zionists including my father in law, because boycott is a red line they won't cross. But this is no longer the red line. So it's very interesting. As if they brush the shoulders of those who will be proved right in the end of the day (like all the Whites today in South Africa who claims they were always closet ANC supporters). In the West, they are seeking now a dialogue with the pro-Palestinian activists (as can be seen from the creation of a new offshoot of the Hillel organization and the changing nature of some of the Jewish societies in the British campuses).

Q. They need the Palestinian-solidarity community? Why?

They do because they know very well however much they bought into the antisemitic line about criticism of Israel, one thing about the Palestinian solidarity community is, it's not anti-Semitic, it's not anti-Jewish. One, because many of the activists are Jews and were always expunging anti-semitic elements from their ranks, and two, they are universally opposed to racism wherever it appears.

Q. But I don't think they are comfortable with us.

I think we're seeing a Kosherizing of the BDS movement. That in fact the world sees the mushrooming of crazy people and crazy ideologies. This is happening, no doubt: the people being burned alive, and beheaded. In this world, the BDS pro Palestinian solidarity movement is a group of civilized people, simple people who believe in humanity, decent people who believe in the rights of human beings.

You could not wish for better partners with whom to build a better world.

Q. Why was a dialogue with Noam Chomsky important? A lot of folks in the Palestinian solidarity community are likely to regard him as somewhat irrelevant to the question given his dismissal of the one state idea and his piece in the Nation that was critical of BDS.

I feel Noam is still a compass for many activists and committed academics in the West, and probably beyond. The tension between his universal radical views on world order, the USA and power and knowledge in general on the one hand, and his more guarded position on Palestine, always intrigued me, and not only me. I even know of people who are writing a whole book on his position on Palestine. Clarifying these positions was first important for me because he has been such an influence on my work and thinking. But I also thought the differences of opinions we have reflect a more general debate within the solidarity movement with the Palestinians, and from what I can tell, this debate is also now taking place in the Palestinian society itself.

Q. You say in the book that coming to your understanding has been a long journey, one that opposes you to your society and your family at times. Can you elaborate on this personally? Are there people in your family who don't speak to you anymore? How long did you censor yourself? And don't these social bonds act as mental fetters for many many Jews, and by what process can they be loosened?

Yes, of course. I see it as a journey with no return ticket - a trip across the Rubicon, if you want. And I do not recall exactly when, but there was a point in the early 1990s where I felt suddenly liberated from Zionism as an ideology that governed every deed, or writing or articulation I had about Israel and Palestine. And when it became bitterly clear to me that I do not want any share in it, and later on, when I felt committed to struggle against it, I have become a pariah in distant and close circles of colleagues, friend and family.

To appreciate it you have to understand that back in the 1990s, the regime was not worried about anti-Zionist Jews (as it was for instance in the days of Mazpen in the early 1970s). It relied on the society to persecute and punish. In my case it took two forms: death threats on me and my family intensively and viciously and an expulsion from my university by my peers (encouraged by the minister of education at the time). So part of my colleagues and family do not speak to me today.


© Anja Meulenbelt
Ilan Pappe

As for your more direct question: the distance between realising what was going on and articulating it - namely a process you call self-censorship, continued for almost a decade (in the case of most liberal Zionists they can do it for a lifetime which must cause them enormous medical problems). The only way of trying to convince them is first by not underestimating the difficulty of giving up a prestigious position and secondly repeatedly tell them about the sense of liberation and relief one has, when you are out of the frame of mind. You need to believe of course that despite years of dehumanising the Palestinians, there is still left in them a modicum of decency - I do believe this.

Q. You say in the book that partition is "immoral." And that we must tell our Palestinian friends who support two states why they are wrong to do so. What about the bloody rollercoaster/Algeria argument against one state as a goal? Aren't Palestinians allowed to fear the problems of Syria and Egypt? And, if Palestinians want a Palestinian state — and even Haneen Zoabi can imagine there being two democratic states — why not let em?

I think actually Algeria is a historical case study that shows that no native people would have agreed to partition their country with settlers and this was the right position for the FLN to take and the Palestinians. But I understand what you mean, there are plenty of examples also outside the Middle East that on the face of it would support partition, such as ex-Yugoslavia.

But I think people confuse nationalism with ethnicity. The Arab nation states collapse because the political structure built by the colonialist powers for them - and which their political elites after the second world war did not challenge - all they want is to be the rulers themselves of these political structures — were based on two flimsy foundations. First, lack of any respect to human and civil rights and indifference to the power of regional and ethnic affiliations. So either a dynasty or an oppressive secular regime was imposed, disregarding both sensitivities.

In Palestine, the structure that was suggested by the colonial power was very different. It allowed Zionism to colonise and dispossess Palestine. Now what is the solution, to allow colonisation and dispossession in only eighty percent of the land? It will never end the conflict. Once it is decolonised both sensitivities would have to be respected within the political structure (and possibly the Jewish settlers, as Azmi Bishara says, became an ethnic group themselves).

Q. What is the meaning of the statement I often hear: Jewish Israelis will not accept the dissolution of the Jewish state, they are committed to it; and one must address these Israelis if you are to find a solution to the conflict? I think Chomsky believes this to some degree. Certainly Norman Finkelstein does. Does this concern ever restrain you? So how do you change Israeli minds? Would a shift in opinion on the part of diaspora Jews play a role in unconvincing the Israelis?

What it means is that the Jewish society will not easily give up the privileged position it has - concealing the real motive for their stubbornness with national rhetoric of survival. So our problem, to add to what I said just now, is to find a way of creating a new political structure that only redistributes the land, resources and powers in a new state. They do not have be convinced that they will disappear - this is a discourse of doomsday Zionist leaders use easily for anything that they want to keep in their hands - but that only that keeping the privileges will leave them in a perpetual state of conflict which they will not always win. Even with their military successes so far - young people, with resources, see no reason to stay in this modern day Prussia or Sparta.

So there are two approaches here. We need to save the Palestinian from further destruction and for that we do not have the luxury to wait until we transform the Israeli Jewish mindset. This can only be achieved thorough means of the BDS and resistance, hopefully popular and non-violent, on the ground. And we need a longer process of deprogramming a third generation of settlers who see themselves that they are not leading an ideal life, even if all the power is in their hands. The Jewish community abroad's role is to help divorce Zionism from Judaism so that a spade - colonialism- can be called a spade.

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