Jun 302012
 
Global Research
Julie Lévesque

As some 500 000 Haitians still live in displaced camps, five star hotels are being built amid shanty towns. 
 
As part of the country’s “Reconstruction”, The Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund recently invested $2 million in the Royal Oasis Hotel, a deluxe structure to be built in a poverty-stricken metropolitan area ”filled with displaced-persons camps housing hundreds of thousands”. Royal Oasis belongs to a Haitian investment group (SCIOP SA) and will be managed by the Spanish chain Occidental Hotels & Resorts.

AP reported in April that funds raised by the former US Presidents to help the neediest Haitians are now being used to build a hotel for  “rich foreigners” including tourists as well many foreign NGO “aid workers” currently in Haiti. (Daniel Trenton, AP: New hotels arise amid ruins in Haitian capital, Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, April 29, 2012)

It is worth noting that Western governments have insisted that aid money for Haiti be given to NGOs and foundations rather than to the Haitian government, which they consider  to be “corrupt”.

In the aftermath of the January 2010 earthquake, people in the US, Canada and the EU, who made donations to those humanitarian organisations and NGOs did not realize that their contribution to Haiti’s reconstruction would be channeled towards the building of five star hotels to house foreign businessmen. Their expectation was that the money would be used to provide food and housing for the Haitian people.


Royal Oasis hotel. More pictures at http://www.oasishaiti.com/


The Royal Oasis as well as other hotel projects totalling over $100 million are, according to AP, “raising hopes that thousands of [foreign] investors will soon fill their air-conditioned rooms looking to build factories and tourist infrastructure” (emphasis added)

The “10-story building […] will include an art gallery, three restaurants, a commercial bank and high-end shops. Construction on the Royal Oasis began before the earthquake and is expected to finish by the end of the year.” The earthquake was therefore a blessing for the hotel promoter and contractors, bringing $2 million dollars originally raised to “go directly to supplying these material needs [food, water, shelter, first-aid supplies]” (see add below). Among the companies involved in the construction of the Royal Oasis two are Haitian, one is Canadian (Montreal) and the other American (Miami).

Foreign Aid: Who Benefits?
Foreign “aid” often benefits NGOs of the donor country as well as the local business elites in the recipient country.  The Council on Hemispheric Affairs has blamed both Bill Clinton as well previous
U.S. presidents for having maintained  Haiti in conditions of “endemic poverty through a self-serving U.S. rice export policy […] By 2003, approximately 80% of all rice consumed in Haiti was imported from the United States.” (Leah Chavla, Bill Clinton’s Heavy Hand on Haiti’s Vulnerable Agricultural Economy: The American Rice Scandal, Council on Hemispheric Affairs, April 13, 2010.)

Last January iWatch News reported:

According to [U.S] government figures, 1,537 contracts had been awarded [to U.S. Companies] for a total of $204,604,670, as of last fall. Only 23 of the contracts went to Haitian companies, totaling $4,841,426. (Marjorie Valbrun, Haitian firms few and far between on reconstruction rosters, iWatch News, January 11, 2012.)

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a division of the World Bank, has also invested $7.5 million in the project, claiming it will “create employment, generate business opportunities for small businesses and promote sustainable development.” Since 2006, $68.6 millions have been invested by IFC in the Haitian private sector. Despite those investments, the per capita GDP in Haiti has seen very little improvement during that period. There is a fine line between slavery and an average $2 a day salary, which ousted president Jean Bertrand Aristide wanted to abolish prior to his overthrow in a US-French-Canadian sponsored Coup d’Etat. (La Société Financière Internationale (IFC) investit dans un projet hôtelier en Haiti pour supporter les efforts de reconstruction, IFC, June 30, 2010.)

“The good news” is that the project will create jobs for Haitians. The Oasis foundation has also created a program to train workers for the tourism industry. The project promoter, Jerry Tardieu told AP “the new hotels will help more people get out of the camps by giving them jobs to pay for rent on homes being rehabilitated by government and non-profit organizations.” He says 600 people have been employed for the hotel’s construction and once open and running, 250 to 300 new jobs will be created. On top of the $2 million invested in the hotel, a modest grant of $264,000 goes to the “Oasis Hotel’s nonprofit arm, the Oasis Foundation [...] bolstering the hospitality sector by reopening l’École Hôtelière Haitienne (the Haiti Hotel School) [...] (Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, Programs: Oasis). Basically those funds are used to make comfortable hotel rooms, lounges and cafes for foreigners and “train Haitians to serve them ” in a congenial five star environment.
While, Haiti was lacking in hotel rooms in the wake of the earthquake and job creation is a key to poverty reduction, a majority of the population still live in makeshift shelters of cardboard, scrap metal and old bed sheets. People struggle to have water to drink and food on their table — and in many cases they do not have a table. Meanwhile, the construction of luxury hotels for foreigners is a number one priority, in comparison to “housing for the locals”.  
Tourism Minister Stephanie B. Villedrouin “said all of those [850] hotel rooms [destroyed in the earthquake] will have been replaced by the end of the year [...] Villedrouin said Port-au-Prince officially has a 60 percent occupancy rate but many of the hotels are too rustic for international travelers [including the NGO, World Bank and USAID staff on mission to Haiti].”(AP, op cit, emphasis added)

The “international travelers” are the unspoken victims of rudimentary and rustic hotel accomodation when on mission to Haiti, according to Mariott’s executive Alejandro Acevedo. ”Marriott International, …is building a $45 million, 174-room hotel [in Haiti] in partnership with mobile phone company Digicel Group.” Marriott’s Acevedo complained that  “even he had to share a room with his boss on a recent visit because of the dearth of hotel space.”

Meanwhile, most Haitians live in overcrowded camps such as Champ de Mars camp in Port-au-Prince, “densely packed with shacks made from bed sheets, tarpaulin and scrap metal, which provide flimsy shelter for some 17,000 people.” Forced evictions also take place regularly, according to AlertNet. (

Anastasia Moloney, Haiti‘s homeless face housing lottery, AlertNet, February 23, 2012.)  


Champ de Mars camp. Photo: Haiti Press Network

The Role of the Red Cross
The AP report confirms that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) bought land for $10.5 million and are also thinking of building a hotel: “The money came from donations raised by national Red Cross agencies for quake recovery, causing some to wonder if the money would be better used to house displaced people rather than aid workers.” (AP, op. cit, emphasis added).

Where did the money come from? Where did that money go?

Millions of people in the US, Canada and Western Europe donated part of their savings to their local Red Cross, which was then channeled to the IFRC, the world’s largest humanitarian umbrella organization. The IFRC claims to be “providing assistance without discrimination as to nationality, race, religious beliefs, class or political opinions.” (See IFRC website, emphasis added)

This land purchase by IFRC not only violates its humantiarian mandate but also the trust of its constituent Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations worldwide. Red Cross donations should have gone supporting IFRC’s mandate with regard to “shelter recovery and settlement planning”, in a post-disaster environment as clearly stated on the IFC website:

“Most people who have lost their homes through a disaster want to repair or rebuilt their homes as soon as possible. Many start the reconstruction process immediately after a disaster, whenever circumstances and resources permit. Shelter assistance provided by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) recognises this, and where appropriate prioritises the provision of materials, tools, cash and technical assistance to support the process.” (emphasis added)


Haiti’s Comeback
According to the AP report:  ”Signs of
Haiti‘s comeback can also be seen in the 105-room Best Western hotel being built within blocks of shanty-covered hillsides.”  The five star Best Western project is worth $15.7 million and is located in the plush city of Petionville. The “first US hotel in Haiti” is funded by local investors but will be managed by a Dallas firm and is expected to create 150 jobs. (Ibid.)
While several hotels are being built to provide “room and board” for potential foreign investors, very few homes are being built for locals and “the vast majority of construction has been temporary shelters with a life span between two, maximum five years”, according to Gerardo Ducos from Amnesty International. (AlertNet, op. cit.)
In order to shut down the Champ de Mars camp, which would be tantamount to the expulsion of more than 17,000 people, a controversial Haitian government program funded by Canada has been offering 500$ to dwellers who leave and find a home elsewhere. In practice this project leads to the de facto expropriation of slum dwellers in high value central downtown area of Port-au-Prince. While the amount is enough to pay the rent for a year, Ducos wonders: “What happens to the people when their rent money runs out in a year?” (Ibid.). 
Will there be enough jobs for them in the hotel industry?

Will the salaries be high enough to pay the rent?

A lot of unanswered questions remain.
Julie Lévesque is a journalist and researcher with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal. She was among the first independent journalists to visit Haiti in the immediate wake of the earthquake.


 Global Research Articles by Julie Lévesque

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Jun 302012
 
Presented with chat discussion on 12160

Cliff Notes.
SilenceDewgooder
Was on the phone for the duration .. quick summary… based on my memory..
LFRP-PRCallJune-27-2012.mp3
the lawyers stated they have been in the contact with the highest echelon of Dr. Paul’s campaign. They are wanting to talk to delegates that wish to be unbound even if the delegates choice is to vote for Romney.. Mr. Gilbert blasted some of the staff at Daily Paul… Mr. Gilbert also challenged those who spoke against the lawsuit to propose a plan.. 80%-ish of the states have been served… Mr. Gilbert’s argument for the lawsuit is basically that if the Judge does not rule in favor of the delegates, then nothing has changed, but if the Judge does rule in favor of the delegates, then Tampa basically becomes a brokered convention.

The oddest part of the call is when someone, I think from this forum, asked Mr. Gilbert in a round-about way about very the odd tweeter account and messages about working in intel and so forth… Mr. Gilbert confirmed it, but in a slightly defensive and dismissive approach.

Dave Calihan (Op Manager) said they could use people with organizational and administrative skills; if interested http://electionfraudremedy.com/. Mr. Gilbert made reference to Dr. Paul’s “secret” convention weapon being Rule 40, which he does not have much faith in it since it is listed under the RNC’s temporary rules, but insisted that it still could used as a last resort, regardless of the lawsuit. Mr. Gilbert said this lawsuit is essentially Dr. Paul’s last legitimate attempt at winning the nomination. Oh yeah, Mr. Gilbert also spoke confidently of Judge Carter to rule based upon the law and not influence.

Basically, what they are looking for now are more plaintiffs and evidence.
-
Does anyone have contact info for Carlos Beltran? I wanna compare some notes.
-
Lawyers For Ron Paul
http://www.toolsforjustice.com/

56:00 where they talk about money.
lawsuit,Case,”Lawyers For Ron Paul”,LFRP

Lawyers for Ron Paul facing some tough questions and criticism as the grassroots try to get to the bottom of things. Tracy Diaz interviews guests Porter Davis & Pat Jack of Lawyers for Ron Paul, Tracy is also joined by grassroots activists Carlos Beltran and Steve Parent. Recorded 6-28-12

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Jun 302012
 
PressTV

An analyst says the trafficking of guns by the US to violent cartels in Mexico in a secret operation has resulted in some of those guns entering into Arizona.

Press TV has interviewed Wayne Madsen, investigative journalist from Washington, about the ramifications of the US running guns across the Mexican border and being caught doing it; and also about the possibility that US Attorney General Eric Holder, voted by Congress as being in contempt of Congress, will be pursued through independent prosecution.

What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: It’s been said that the Holder case is meant to distract Americans from bigger issues at hand such as the economy and never ending wars etc. Do you agree or is this a lot more significant?

Madsen: Well, I think one of the interests in this case may be misplaced somewhat. Of course, the Obama White House says this was a political move, but… and we have to understand it is the Justice Department, which would have to bring charges for this contempt of Congress vote against the attorney general.

Well, the attorney general is the head of the Justice Department so it’s rather doubtful that he is going to appoint a prosecutor to have himself prosecuted.

So, this is actually more of a symbolic vote by the House. They knew this wasn’t going to go anywhere, but there’s another issue.

The issue is that anytime the National Rifle Association thinks that guns are an issue and it could be restricted, they have their people in Congress vote for their legislation. So we saw some 17 Democrats vote with Republicans to cite Holder for contempt of Congress – I think only two Republicans joined the Democrats in opposition.

But we also know that there are a lot of strange things going on in Mexico with the two major drug cartels, Las Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel and the fact is that guns from the US wound up in the hands of these cartels.

There’s a conspiracy theory amongst the NRA that this is a means by the Obama administration to try to restrict guns, but there’s also another thought that this is an attempt to destabilize Mexico.

There’s a big presidential election in Mexico on Sunday and the mere fact that we could see a return of the PRI Party candidates, which ruled Mexico for decades, there could be much more to what’s going on with the running of guns from the US into Mexico.

And I’m told from sources in Arizona that guns are coming back across the border from Mexico into states like Arizona that share a border with Mexico… So I’m wondering whether there’s an intelligence operation going on and that is why Mr. Holder decided to stonewall because his record shows that he will protect the interests of all US intelligence operations and this may be an attempt by the US to destabilize Mexico.

Press TV: I want to pick up on your point about the Justice Department. Doesn’t the fact that Holder’s case will be referred to prosecutors under him unearth a vital flaw, maybe, in the judicial system? It seems the US attorney general is in a sense above the law as no prosecutor would want to jeopardize his or her own position.

Madsen: Absolutely. And this is why many times we saw independent special councils or independent prosecutors named, to get that individual out from any kind of coercion from the attorney general.

We saw during Watergate with the independent Watergate prosecutor; we saw it again in the move against President Clinton that ended up in his impeachment – of course, he was found not guilty by the Senate. But we have seen these special prosecutors appointed because of this very issue.

It’s always stated that the attorney general is not a political position. It’s somehow different from the other members of the Cabinet, but we’ve seen from past history with the Attorney General John Mitchell under Richard Nixon and Edwin Meese under Reagan that these attorneys general have been highly political and in fact Attorney General Mitchell went to prison because of his activity during the Watergate scandal.

So, yes it does point out a flaw in the Independent Counsel Statute, which is now not in force. It was always used as a means to prevent the politicization of the Justice Department in these types of matters.

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Jun 292012
 

Researched, Produced and Directed by Abir Alsayed

A part of Asdekaa Al Arab series
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Asdekaa-Al-Arab-%D8%A3%D8%B5%D8%AF%D9%82%D8%A7%…



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Jun 292012
 
Occupy Corporatism
Susanne Posel

Valdimir Zhirinovsky, Russian Liberal Party leader wants US President Barack Obama stripped of his Nobel Peace Prize (NPP). In 2009, Obama was given the prestigious award because of his work on nuclear non-proliferation. Zhirinovsky, in a statement , says that because of “these developments in Libya are another outrageous act of aggression by NATO forces and, in particular, the United States.” He also pointed out that Obama’s strike was a “colonial policy” that intended to usurp control over Libyan oil.

Bolivian President Evo Morales agrees with Zhirinovsky, as he commented : “How is it possible that a Nobel Peace Prize winner leads a gang to attack and invade? This is not a defense of human rights or self-determination.”

Other commentators were more frank: “Obama gives speeches trashing his own country and for that gets a prize, which is now worth as much as whatever prizes they are putting in Cracker Jacks these days.”

Guenther Oettinger, leader of the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, told Bloomberg that the NPP is given “at the end” of a persons’ achievements, not the beginning.

Since Obama’s election in 2008, he has turned from the commander-in-chief to the “ drone warrior-in-chief ” as the shredding of the US Constitution by his administration paved the way for draconian legislation, use of torture and murdering of Americans without due process.

Obama has created a kill list in which he made himself judge, jury and executioner with unmanned drones to carry out his tyrannical orders. John Brennan was promoted from counter-terrorism advisor to “assassination Czar” last month. Between the two of them, they decide who lives and dies by simply placing a name on a target list for the US military and CIA that defines who are terrorists and who are not.

The use of drones within American skies has also increased as Obama incrementally turns our Free Republic into a Police State that were conceived of by Orwell in 1984.

Global leaders have denounced the award of the NPP to Obama; regarding the summation that he has worked toward efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples” was a premature assumption of the first few months of his presidency. Since then, Obama’s actions do not reflect that of a peacemaker, but rather a self-proclaimed dictator within the US domestic boarders and violent usurper abroad.

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Jun 292012
 
The Economist

Despite several years of peace and a rise in prosperity, frustration is bubbling up

FIVE years after Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, dismissed an elected government run by the Islamists of Hamas and decided to rule instead by decree, the Palestinian Authority (PA) that oversees the West Bank is being dangerously challenged from within. In Nablus, the first city where Mr Abbas chose to fill the security vacuum with his American-trained national-security battalions, turf wars have recently erupted between rival commanders, puncturing four years of calm. The walls of Jacob’s Well, a local church, a theatre and the UN office all bear the scars of recent shooting sprees. “It’s hell,” says a social worker in Balata, the city’s largest refugee camp, which suffered grievously during two previous intifadas (uprisings), in 1987-93 and 2000-05. Now people are beginning gloomily to wonder whether there will be a third intifada, this time aimed at the PA as much as at the Israelis occupying the West Bank.

For the moment Mr Abbas has the upper hand. Dispatched from Ramallah, the PA’s seat of government, his presidential guards have detained dozens of rogue security officers, some of them very senior, in Nablus and in Jenin, a smaller Palestinian city half an hour’s drive to the north, where the governor recently died of a heart attack after machinegun fire raked his house. In Jenin triumphant officers loyal to Mr Abbas patrol the streets with M-16 rifles captured from their rivals.

The PA’s Western donors praise Mr Abbas for his readiness to rein in his own rogues. Israel’s generals, who give him a security umbrella, welcome the belated prevention of anarchy. And for the first time in months camp residents are enjoying their first nights of sleep unbroken by gunfire.

Moreover, Nablus people still appreciate the relative prosperity that has revived the city since the second intifada ended in around 2005. Hundreds of businessmen have returned since Israel pulled back from the roadblocks at the city gates. Some 700,000 Arab citizens of Israel came shopping last year in the elegant medieval quarter. The governor hopes foreign tourists will follow, with plans for a “nativity trail” from Nazareth to Bethlehem to make a detour via Nablus. A new hotel and museum are due to open this summer on the ruins of a medieval khan, al-Wikala, which Israeli tanks pummelled during the second intifada. Unemployment has halved, say PA officials. In more affluent districts, young women are discarding veils.

But the camp’s residents are deeply divided. Though many are grateful for the calm that Mr Abbas and his appointed prime minister, Salam Fayyad, have brought in the past few years, others resent the heavy-handed security of the PA regime. Imposing muqatas (fortresses) are rising in all the West Bank’s main cities. Many Palestinians find the PA’s co-operation with Israel galling. “We give them the names and they arrest them,” says an Israeli officer. Many Palestinians fear they are being condemned to indefinite occupation. At a recent funeral for three local fighters whose bodies Israel recently returned to their families, mourners chanted “Down with the PA! Down with Abbas!”

Most worrying for Mr Abbas was the fact that the ringleaders of the recent trouble hailed from his own Fatah party, which provides the bedrock of the PA’s security forces. PA officials fear that certain senior Fatah commanders who have fallen foul of Mr Abbas—in particular a former intelligence chief, Tawfiq Tirawi, and a prominent strongman, Muhammad Dahlan—are stoking the unrest in the hope of creating a security vacuum they could later fill. Hamas, which still controls the Gaza Strip but is heavily suppressed in the West Bank by both Israel and the PA, awaits the tardy coming of the Arab spring to Palestine. The Israelis may be content to see Mr Abbas tied up with recalcitrant Palestinians rather than tackling Israel on the world stage.

Nablus’s commercial regeneration cannot cure a gnawing national malaise. “There is no political horizon,” say disgruntled Palestinians. They increasingly question the point of the PA. It has failed to usher in a Palestinian state, and appears powerless to prevent Israeli military incursions or the relentless expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank. “All the windows are closed, and the political elite has no keys to open them,” says Raid Nairat, an academic. The West Bank’s 30,000 security forces seem unkeen on a recent quest for reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas that would force them to share power. Their recent round-up of 150 Hamas men helped dampen hopes of a deal.

A fiscal crisis is compounding the political one. On paper the PA expects a budget deficit of $1 billion, equivalent to 10% of GDP. But this may well double when arrears owed to private businesses are added. Unpaid for years, suppliers refuse government orders on credit, and are having to cut production and their workforces. Palestinian builders complain that ministries pay them only when they give bribes. “We won’t let our financial system go down with the PA,” says a Palestinian banker.
Donors, too, are tired. Cash from the Gulf has dwindled, partly because the United Arab Emirates, which used to send $200m a year, seems to have sided with Mr Dahlan. “The crash is coming,” says an official in Mr Fayyad’s office. “If we can’t pay salaries over Ramadan [the Muslim month of fasting which starts on July 20th], there will be a revolt.”

Few Palestinians call for a renewal of violence. But such talk is again in the air. In some West Bank towns Hizb ut-Tahrir, an extreme Islamist group, has been making headway. “A Muslim army should defend Muslims, not Jews,” says an angry Islamist, denouncing the PA’s security co-ordination with Jewish kuffar (unbelievers).

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Jun 292012
 
Global Research
Finian Cunningham

UN’s Ban pushes Annan Syria plan at Arab summit

The NATO-backed covert aggression against Syria could be reaching a tipping point for all-out war involving state forces. That should be no surprise. For the past 16 months, NATO and its regional proxies have been steadily increasing the violence and turmoil inside and outside Syria, while the Western corporate-controlled media maintain the ridiculous fiction that the bloody chaos is largely due to the government forces of President Bashar Al Assad cracking down on “peaceful protesters”.

Ironically, the crisis is culminating at the same time that the United Nations convenes an emergency summit on Syria in Geneva this weekend. The meeting, which is ostensibly aimed at “reviving the Kofi Annan peace plan”, will be attended by the five permanent members of the UN security council and other “invited” regional states. The irony is that leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies who will also be attending the crisis conference, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East.

As dignitaries fly into Geneva to “salvage peace in Syria”, there is a lockstep military build-up on the northern and southern flanks of Syria underway, with news that Turkey has dispatched battlefield tanks, missile batteries and heavy artillery to its Syrian border, while to the south Saudi Arabia has announced that its military forces have been put on a “state of high alert”.

Ankara’s military mobilization along its 800km land border with Syria came within hours of the declaration by Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slating Syria as “a hostile state”. The immediate cause of the deterioration in relations between the neighbouring countries is the downing of a Turkish fighter jet last week in Syrian territorial waters. Syria claims it was acting in self-defence after the Phantom RF-4E warplane entered its airspace on Friday. Ankara has so far failed to give an explanation for why one of its warplanes was making such a provocative low-flying manoeuvre into Syrian airspace. But the Turkish government has announced that any move by Syrian armed forces towards its border will be viewed as another “hostile act” that it will respond to. How’s that for a provocative tether? Especially towards a country that is being attacked by armed groups crossing over its border with Turkey.

Meanwhile, on the same day that Turkey is militarizing along its border with Syria, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah makes an unprecedented announcement putting his armed forces on high alert “due to the tense situation in the Middle East”. Using vague and contrived language, the Saudi ruler warned against “foreign or terrorist attacks” to justify the mobilization of the kingdom’s armed forces.

The military pincer movement against Syria tends to support the analysis that the downing of the Turkish fighter jet was a deliberate set-piece scenario designed to furnish a cause for war, or at least a stepping up of the international psy-ops campaign of intimidation against Syria.

It is notable that the circumstances surrounding the shooting down of the warplane have yet to be clarified. The Syrians seem to have firm grounds for acting in the way they did given the provocative conduct of the Turkish fighter jet. And there is an onus on the Ankara government to give some explanation for the unusual military manoeuvre, especially in the light of claims that the aircraft was on a reconnaissance mission on behalf of anti-Assad forces on the ground in Syria. Yet almost reflexively, before details have been established about the incident, Turkey has moved on to a war footing. Equally telling is that Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Ankara in opposition to Syria, has simultaneously moved also on to a war footing – without any substantive grounds for such a mobilization.

Some informed analysts have said that the Turkish-Saudi pincer on Syria is more aimed at intensifying the psy-ops pressure on Bashar Al Assad to cave in and relinquish power. Hisham Jaber, director of the Beirut-based Center for Middle East Studies, told Press TV that Ankara and Riyadh will balk at an all-out war with Syria because both are well aware that any such conflict will bring in Iran, Russia and China in support of their ally in Damascus.

Nonetheless, there is an ineluctable logic towards all-out war. Ever since the armed insurrection by foreign mercenaries was instigated in Syria’s southern town of Deraa in mid-March 2011, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have played key roles in fomenting the covert campaign of aggression to overthrow the Assad government – a campaign that is authored by leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France. The division of labour is such that Turkey has supplied land bases to organize the mercenaries from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq; while Saudi Arabia provides the money – up to $100 million – to buy weapons and pay wages for the soldiers of fortune; and ultimately it is Washington, London and Paris that are calling the tactical shots in the NATO war plan on Syria.

As several other commentators have pointed out, this war plan is aimed at asserting Western capitalist hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia regions. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria are part of an overarching bid for “full-spectrum dominance” that will eventually target, overtly, Iran, Russia and China.

It is this crucial wider context of war-making by the waning capitalist powers that underscores the gravity of the military build-up inside and outside Syria. The dynamic for war has a compelling, nefarious logic – as the history of world wars testifies.

Which makes the Geneva “crisis conference” this weekend appear all the more ludicrous. In attendance are the US, Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Arab monarchical states of Kuwait and Qatar. All are professing to support a peaceful solution in Syria even though all the above are funnelling weapons, logistics and personnel to wage a brutal, terrorist assault on that country – an assault that has now led to the precipice of all-out regional war.

Also attending the UN conference are secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the UN/Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan. The UN and the Arab League and these two figureheads in particular have shown themselves to be willing dupes to NATO’s war of aggression on Syria, and beyond, by indulging in the charade that the Western powers are “supporting peace” instead of denouncing them as “supporting war”. Significantly, the UN and Annan have not invited Iran to attend the conference as a result of US pressure. How provocative is that? Iran clearly has vital interests at stake given its proximity and geopolitical threats from the encroaching war on its Syrian ally.

The other ghost missing from the feast in Geneva this weekend is Saudi Arabia. The omission of Saudi Arabia should not be seen as some kind of consolation to Syrian and Iranian sensibilities, but rather as a way of shielding the House of Saud from embarrassment. Considering the incendiary role of Saudi Arabia in Syria, and possibly the region’s conflagration, the Saudi rulers should be summoned to a top seat at the “peace summit” – to face the most withering questions about their warmongering, criminal interference in a neighbouring state.

Then, using Nuremburg principles, prosecutors should proceed to arraign the rulers in Riyadh along with their accomplices in Washington, London, Paris and Ankara.

Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent

cunninghamfinian@gmail.com

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Jun 292012
 
Jerusalem Post
Yaakov Lappin



Tariq Rauf says threats, use of force would not guarantee success, could become driver for proliferation.

BERLIN – A senior International Atomic Energy Agency official warned against a unilateral military strike on Iranian nuclear sites on Monday at a global security conference in Berlin.

Tariq Rauf, head of verification and security policy coordination at the IAEA, told the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe that “the use or threat of force unilaterally to deal with proliferation challenges does not guarantee success. At best, [the result] could be incomplete, and at worst, it could be a driver to proliferation.”

The comments come as speculation continues over potential Israeli or American military action against Iranian nuclear sites, against the backdrop of diplomatic negotiations, economic sanctions and mysterious computer viruses afflicting Iran.

Rauf spent much of his talk discussing his vision of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. A November meeting on prospects for regional nuclear disarmament provided “a faint glimmer of hope… to at least engage in preliminary explorative discussion on a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region,” he said.

Rauf added that all Middle Eastern IAEA members attended, including Israel, which he described as “one key state in the region not party to NPT [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty].”
The November conference “saw constructive dialogue… despite the complexity of issues and differences of views,” he said.

Further spelling out his vision, Rauf said goals included ending the stockpiling of nuclear weapons, halting the development and stationing of weapons, and dismantling any nuclear weapons programs.
The IAEA’s talks with Israel and its Arab neighbors “show that there still continues to be a longstanding and fundamental difference of views between Israel on the one hand and the other states of the Middle East region on other hand, with regards to the application of.

IAEA safeguards to all nuclear activities in region,” he continued.

Arab states have long attempted to exploit their IAEA membership to place diplomatic pressure on Jerusalem over the nuclear issue.

Summarizing his understanding of Israel’s stance, Rauf said, “Israel takes the view that IAEA safeguards, as well as other regional security issues, cannot be addressed in isolation from the creation of stable regional security conditions – and that these issues should be addressed in the framework of a regional security and arms control dialogue.”

The Israeli stance at last year’s meeting won backing from the US, UK and Russia.
Rauf added that the nuclear dialogue “could be resumed in the framework of a multilateral peace process.”

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Jun 282012
 
Observation from Liberty Fight
by Martin Hill

President Obama appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos in September, insisting that the penalty for those who don’t buy health insurance is not a tax. However, with the passage of  H.R. 3962, otherwise known as the “Affordable Health Care for America Act”, the exact opposite has proven to be true.

A letter from Thomas A Barthold, Chief of Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, specifies clearly and repeatedly that the penalty for the non-insured is indeed a tax, with potential prosecution and jail time for those who do not comply.The 4 page letter, sent to Rep. Dave Camp on Guy Fawkes day, was in response to the Michigan Republican’s questions Barthold explained that the bill contains a “tax on individuals without acceptable health care coverage” and added that the goal of the IRS “is consistency, fairness and predicttabilty in administration of penalties”, also pointing out that the total number of convictions the government won in tax evasion cases was 666.

“if the government determined that the taxpayer’s unpaid tax liability results from willful behavior, the following penalties could apply” Barthold explained, adding that there is a religious conscience exemption in the bill as well.

Several media outlets reported on the exchange between Obama and Stephanopoulos in September, with many covering potential jail time for non compliance. The left gatekeepers made a partisan issue out of it, but few addressed the fundamental question of  the constitutionality of universally mandated healthcare.

Following is an excerpt of the exchange between Obama and  the ABC host on THIS WEEK. Now that the facts have come out, will Obama respond?

——————————————
STEPHANOPOULOS: You were against the individual mandate…

OBAMA: Yes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: …during the campaign. Under this mandate, the government is forcing people to spend money, fining you if you don’t .. How is that not a tax?

OBAMA: Well, hold on a second, George. Here — here’s what’s happening. You and I are both paying $900, on average — our families — in higher premiums because of uncompensated care. Now what I’ve said is that if you can’t afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn’t be punished for that. That’s just piling on.  If, on the other hand, we’re giving tax credits, we’ve set up an exchange, you are now part of a big pool, we’ve driven down the costs, we’ve done everything we can and you actually can afford health insurance, but you’ve just decided, you know what, I want to take my chances. And then you get hit by a bus and you and I have to pay for the emergency room care, that’s…

STEPHANOPOULOS: That may be, but it’s still a tax increase.

OBAMA: No. That’s not true, George. The — for us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is, is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore than the fact that right now everybody in America, just about, has to 446 get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase.

People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But it may be fair, it may be good public policy…

OBAMA: No, but — but, George, you — you can’t just make up that language and decide that that’s called a tax increase. Any…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Here’s the…

OBAMA: What — what — if I — if I say that right now your premiums are going to be going up by 5 or 8 or 10 percent next year and you say well, that’s not a tax increase; but, on the other hand, if I say that I don’t want to have to pay for you not carrying coverage even after I give you tax credits that make it affordable, then…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I — I don’t think I’m making it up. Merriam Webster’s Dictionary: Tax — “a charge, usually of money, imposed by authority on persons or property for public purposes.”

OBAMA: George, the fact that you looked up Merriam’s Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition. I mean what…

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, no, but…

OBAMA: …what you’re saying is…

STEPHANOPOULOS: I wanted to check for myself. But your critics say it is a tax increase.
OBAMA: My critics say everything is a tax increase. My critics say that I’m taking over every sector of the economy. You know that.  Look, we can have a legitimate debate about whether or not we’re going to have an individual mandate or not, but…

STEPHANOPOULOS: But you reject that it’s a tax increase?
OBAMA: I absolutely reject that notion. 
 
Martin Hill is a Catholic paleoconservative and civil rights advocate. His work has been featured on LewRockwell.com, WhatReallyHappened, Infowars, PrisonPlanet, National Motorists Association, WorldNetDaily, The Orange County Register, KNBC4 Los Angeles, Los Angeles Catholic Lay Mission Newspaper, KFI 640, The Press Enterprise, Antiwar.com, IamtheWitness.com, FreedomsPhoenix, Rense, BlackBoxVoting, and many others. Archives can be found at LibertyFight.com



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Jun 282012
 
USAToday
David Jackson

The Supreme Court upheld the health care law today in a splintered, complex opinion that appears to give President Obama a major victory.

Basically. the justices said that the individual mandate — the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine — is constitutional as a tax.

Chief Justice John Roberts — a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush — provided the key vote to preserve the landmark health care law, which figures to be a major issue in Obama’s re-election bid against Republican opponent Mitt Romney.

The announcement will have a major impact on the nation’s health care system, the actions of both federal and state governments, and the course of the November presidential and congressional elections.

A key question for the high court: The law’s individual mandate, the requirement that nearly all Americans buy health insurance, or pay a penalty.

Critics call the requirement an unconstitutional overreach by Congress and the Obama administration; supporters say it is necessary to finance the health care plan, and well within the government’s powers under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

While the individual mandate remained 18 months away from implementation, many other provisions already have gone into effect, such as free wellness exams for seniors and allowing children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health insurance policies. Some of those provisions are likely to be retained by some insurance companies.


Other impacts will sort themselves out, once the court rules:

– Health care millions of Americans will be affected – coverage for some, premiums for others. Doctors, hospitals, drug makers, insurers, and employers large and small all will feel the impact.

– States — some of which have moved ahead with the health care overhaul while others have held back

– now have decisions to make. A deeply divided Congress could decide to re-enter the debate with legislation.

– The presidential race between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is sure to feel the repercussions. Obama’s health care law has proven to be slightly more unpopular than popular among Americans.

Not since the court confirmed George W. Bush’s election in December 2000 — before 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq, Wall Street’s dive and Obama’s rise — has one case carried such sweeping implications for nearly every American.

Passed by Democrats along strictly partisan lines and still 18 months short of full implementation, the law is designed to extend health coverage to some 32 million uninsured people, ban insurers from discriminating against those with expensive ailments, and require nearly all Americans to buy insurance or pay penalties.

Its passage on March 23, 2010, marked the culmination of an effort by Democrats to overhaul the nation’s health care system that dates back to Harry Truman’s presidency. The most recent effort by President Bill Clinton in 1994 fell victim to Republican opposition. Since then, lesser changes have been enacted, including creation of a separate Children’s Health Insurance Program in the states.


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