Jan 312013
 

Global Research
Vicky Pelaez

http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/ha_pia21816%20folsom%20state%20prison.JPG

Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, “no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens.” The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world’s prison population, but only 5% of the world’s people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.

What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people.

CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP

According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:

. Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years’ imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years’ imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.

. The passage in 13 states of the “three strikes” laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.

. Longer sentences.

. The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.

. A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.

. More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.

HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES

Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of “hiring out prisoners” was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else’s land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then “hired out” for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of “hired-out” miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972. Continue reading »

Jan 312013
 

Associated Press
Ben Hubbard

DAMASCUS AIRSTRIKE

Map locates Jamraya, Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — Israel conducted a rare airstrike on a military target inside Syria near the border with Lebanon, foreign officials and Syrian state TV said Wednesday, amid fears President Bashar Assad’s regime could provide powerful weapons to the Islamic militant group Hezbollah.

Regional security officials said Israel had been planning in the days leading up to the airstrike to hit a shipment of weapons bound for Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful military force and a sworn enemy of the Jewish state. Among Israeli officials’ chief fears is that Assad will pass chemical weapons or sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles to Hezbollah — something that could change the balance of power in the region and greatly hinder Israel’s ability to conduct air sorties in Lebanon.

The regional officials said the shipment Israel was planning to strike included Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which would be strategically “game-changing” in the hands of Hezbollah by enabling the group to carry out fiercer attacks on Israel and shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. A U.S. official said the strike hit a convoy of trucks but did not give an exact location.

The Syrian military confirmed the strike in a statement read aloud on state TV, but it said the jets bombed a military research center in the area of Jamraya, northwest of the capital, Damascus, and about 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the border with Lebanon.

The statement said the center was responsible for “raising the level of resistance and self-defense” of Syria’s military. It said the strike destroyed the center and a nearby building, killing two workers and wounding five others.

The Syrian army statement denied that the strike had targeted a convoy headed from Syria to Lebanon, instead portraying the strike as linked to the civil war pitting Assad’s forces against rebels seeking to push him from power.

“This proves that Israel is the instigator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts targeting Syria and its people,” the statement said.

The Israeli military declined to comment, and the location could not be independently confirmed because of reporting restrictions in Syria.

Hezbollah has committed to Israel’s destruction and has gone to war against the Jewish state in the past. Syria has long been among the militant group’s most significant backers and is suspected of supplying with funding and arms, as well as a land corridor to Iran.

This strike also comes as Syria is enmeshed in a civil war. The rebels have seized a large swath of territory in the country’s north and established footholds in a number of Damascus suburbs, though Assad’s forces still control the city and much of the rest of the country.

While Assad’s fall does not appear imminent, analysts worry he could grow desperate as his power wanes and seek to cause trouble elsewhere in the region through proxy groups like Hezbollah.

Syria’s government portrays the crisis, which started with political protest in 2011 and has since become a civil war, as a foreign-backed conspiracy meant to destroy the country.

Top Israeli officials have recently expressed worries that Assad’s regime could pass chemical weapons to Hezbollah or other militant groups.

President Barack Obama has called Syria’s use of chemical weapons a “red line” whose crossing could prompt a tougher U.S. response, but U.S. officials say they are tracking Syria’s chemical weapons and that they still appear to be under regime control.

The strike, carried out either late Tuesday or early Wednesday, appears to be the latest move in a long running race by Hezbollah to increase its military power while Israel seeks to limit it.

Continue reading »

Jan 302013
 

Business Insider
Brett LoGiurato

James Carville

CNN is losing managing editor Mark Whitaker and five significant political contributors to the network, FishbowlDC’s Betsy Rothstein reports.

Whitaker is resigning from the network, according to a report from Alex Weprin at MediaBistro. In his outgoing memo to staff, Whitaker said he would depart because he believes incoming president Jeff Zucker “deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff.”

Meanwhile, political pundit couple James Carville and Mary Matalin will not have their contracts continued, according to Rothstein’s report. And conservative contributor Erick Erickson will also leave the network for Fox News. Finally, the former Republican Secretary of Education Bill Bennett and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona are also not coming back. Cardona will remain a contributor with CNN Espanol.

The network has undergone a flurry of changes in the past month-plus. On Tuesday, the network also announced it was adding former ABC reporter and 20/20 co-anchor Chris Cuomo. In December, former ABC reporter and White House correspondent Jake Tapper joined the network.

In November, CNN announced that Zucker would replace Jim Walton as the network’s president.

UPDATE: CNN’s Erick Erickson confirmed he was leaving CNN in a post on RedState.com, for which he is managing editor.

“Yes, I can confirm I am leaving CNN. It was a very, very difficult decision,” Erickson wrote.

Check out the full post here.

Jan 302013
 

(L-R, wearing camouflage) Ramzi, Walid bin Attash and Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, three of the alleged conspirators in the 9-11 attacks, attend court dressed in camouflage during hearings in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba January 28, 2013 in this Pentagon-approved court sketch. Defense lawyer Cheryl Bormann, in hijab, stands at the podium before presiding judge Army Colonel James Pohl. REUTERS-Janet Hamlin

(Reuters) – The sound was abruptly cut in the Guantanamo war crimes court on Monday, prompting the angry judge to question whether someone outside the room was censoring pretrial hearings for five men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.

In all hearings for the alleged al Qaeda operatives who were previously held in secret CIA prisons, a court security officer seated near the judge controls a button that muffles the audio feed to spectators when secret information is disclosed. A red light flashes and observers hear nothing but static.

The feed was cut when David Nevin, a lawyer for the alleged mastermind of the hijacked plane plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, asked if the lawyers and judges needed to meet in closed session before considering a defense request.

When the feed was restored moments later, the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, indicated it wasn’t the court security officer who cut the sound in the proceedings formally known as military commissions.

“If some external body is turning things off, if someone is turning the commissions off under their own views of what things ought to be, with no reason or explanation, then we are going to have a little meeting about who turns that light on or off,” Pohl said tersely.

He seemed to be addressing the prosecution team and told them that Nevin had merely referred to the caption of an unclassified document – one asking the judge to order that the secret CIA prisons where the defendants say they were tortured be preserved as evidence.

A short time later, the judge said he would meet in closed session with the lawyers and reopen the public part of the hearing on Tuesday. The episode enlivened the first day of a weeklong pretrial hearing in the military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.

Mohammed and his four co-defendants are accused of training and aiding the hijackers who slammed commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on September 11, 2001. They could be executed if convicted of charges that include terrorism, attacking civilians and murdering 2,976 people.

Under a program during the presidency of George W. Bush, the defendants were among the suspected al Qaeda captives who were moved across borders without judicial review and held and interrogated in secret CIA prisons overseas.

The CIA has acknowledged that Mohammed was subjected to the simulated drowning technique known as waterboarding. The defendants said they also were subjected to sleep deprivation, threats, and being chained in painful positions.

The defense lawyers argue that constituted illegal pretrial punishment and “outrageous government misconduct” that could justify dismissal of the charges, or at least spare the defendants from execution if convicted.

‘CRIME SCENE’

Pohl ordered in 2004 that the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq be preserved as a “crime scene.” He was at the time presiding over the trial of U.S. military police officers accused of torturing and photographing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

It was unclear whether Pohl had authority to order the preservation of the CIA prisons, if they still exist. The government has kept secret their location, arguing that disclosure could threaten U.S. national security and put allies at risk.

Polish prosecutors are investigating allegations that one of the sites was in Poland, and there is evidence that the CIA set up others in Romania, Lithuania and Thailand, according to reports by the Council of Europe and the United Nations.

The chief prosecutor, Brigadier General Mark Martins, said he does not plan to introduce evidence obtained from the defendants or anyone else via torture, cruelty or inhuman treatment – which is prohibited by U.S. law and international treaty.

In a departure from the Bush administration, the Obama administration has made clear that any interrogation techniques must adhere to those long established in the Army Field Manual, which prohibits torture.

The defendants have been in U.S. custody for a decade, but there are still many legal and evidentiary issues that must be resolved before their trial begins.

Three of them wore camouflage jackets and accessories over their white tunics in court on Monday. As in earlier hearings, they alternated between refusing to answer the judge and critiquing the United States and the court. All five said they understood their legal rights could be compromised if the judge granted their request to skip some court sessions.

“We don’t have any motivating factors that would invite us to come to court,” said Yemeni defendant Walid bin Attash, who said restrictions at Guantanamo had thwarted efforts to build trust with defense lawyers.

(Editing by Tom Brown and Christopher Wilson)

Continue reading »

Jan 302013
 

PressTV

American taxpayers are expected to lose USD 27 billion from the 2008 financial bailout.
American taxpayers are expected to lose USD 27 billion from the 2008 financial bailout, as a report reveals further losses attributed to the US Treasury Department.

US taxpayers can expect to lose even more than the estimated USD 22 billion made in the fall last year, due to increased losses for the Treasury Department on sales of shares in bailed-out companies, according to a report released on Wednesday by the special inspector general for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

The report said taxpayers could lose USD 5.5 billion specifically on Ally Financial – formerly called GMAC under a partnership with General Motors – in losses based on unsafe mortgages given right before the financial crisis. Ally owes USD 14.6 billion of the USD 17.2 billion in assistance it received.

The US government would also need to sell all General Motors shares it holds at USD 71.86 per share, more than double the current price of USD 28. GM still owes USD 21.6 billion of the USD 49.5 billion bailout it received.

“Taxpayers saved GMAC, and they should not be put in the position of needing to save the company again,” said Special Inspector General Christy Romero, adding that both Ally and General Motors owe more than half of the USD 67.3 billion still owed to taxpayers by companies that were bailed out during the financial crisis.

The government watchdog went on to reveal fraud related to TARP during investigations that subsequently led to criminal charges against 119 people, including 82 senior company executives.

This comes as Romero accused the Treasury Department for providing “excessive” pay for executives tied to the bailed-out corporations rescued from the financial crisis including General Motors, Ally Financial and AIG – the largest bailout recipient at USD 182 billion.

After the 2008 financial crisis, Congress authorized USD 700 billion for the bailout of some of America’s largest companies. About USD 413 billion was eventually issued.

Continue reading »

Jan 302013
 

Editor’s Note: This was originally pointed out by Jim Treacher of the Daily Caller. My preference is to simply show without emotional commentary MSNBC’s edited version as it compares to the unedited version of the hearing.

Neil Heslin’s son was murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary. He is speaking at a public forum on gun control. MSNBC’s headline reads, “Emotional father of Sandy Hook victim heckled by gun nuts”.

Below is the version of the exchange edited and presented by MSNBC:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Unedited video with exchange occurring at around 15 minutes:

Bottom line: Mr. Heslin actually solicited an answer from “anybody in the room”, which is a key portion of video left out by MSNBC for the sole purpose of creating the false impression that pro 2nd Amendment supporters were heckling by speaking out of turn and intentionally interrupting Mr. Heslin.

Again, not a truthful narrative but a political narrative aimed at discrediting those resisting attempts at taking guns from lawful gun owners.
Continue reading »

Jan 302013
 

PressTV

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents conducted random checks at the Austin train station, showing that they are expanding their operations.

“These facilities are not necessarily protected as well,” said George Robinson with TSA about bus stations and train stations that typically do not have the same security measures as airports.

“We do impromptu visits at locations throughout the country.”

The country has more than 140,000 miles of active railways and nearly 30 million trips a year are made using bus or train.

Random security checks are voluntary, but a way to keep criminal activity from taking place on-board.

“The security at airports has increased so the bad guys are now traveling on the trains and buses,” said Robinson.

About thirty minutes before the train departed, all passengers were asked to leave their bags on the boarding platform while two different detection dogs, one for narcotics and the other for explosives, sniff the luggage. Once the train arrives, the dogs also sniff the cargo areas.

The random check takes about 10-15 minutes and happens hundreds of times a day at bus, train, and subway stations across the country. Thursday’s in Austin search went without incident. kxan.com

Continue reading »

Jan 302013
 

The Fed is privately owned. Its shareholders are private banks

Global Research
Ellen Brown

Who Owns The Federal Reserve?

“Some people think that the Federal Reserve Banks are United States Government institutions. They are private monopolies which prey upon the people of these United States for the benefit of themselves and their foreign customers; foreign and domestic speculators and swindlers; and rich and predatory money lenders.”

– The Honorable Louis McFadden, Chairman of the House Banking and Currency Committee in the 1930s

The Federal Reserve (or Fed) has assumed sweeping new powers in the last year. In an unprecedented move in March 2008, the New York Fed advanced the funds for JPMorgan Chase Bank to buy investment bank Bear Stearns for pennies on the dollar. The deal was particularly controversial because Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, sits on the board of the New York Fed and participated in the secret weekend negotiations.1 In September 2008, the Federal Reserve did something even more unprecedented, when it bought the world’s largest insurance company. The Fed announced on September 16 that it was giving an $85 billion loan to American International Group (AIG) for a nearly 80% stake in the mega-insurer. The Associated Press called it a “government takeover,” but this was no ordinary nationalization. Unlike the U.S. Treasury, which took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac the week before, the Fed is not a government-owned agency. Also unprecedented was the way the deal was funded. The Associated Press reported:

“The Treasury Department, for the first time in its history, said it would begin selling bonds for the Federal Reserve in an effort to help the central bank deal with its unprecedented borrowing needs.”2

This is extraordinary. Why is the Treasury issuing U.S. government bonds (or debt) to fund the Fed, which is itself supposedly “the lender of last resort” created to fund the banks and the federal government? Yahoo Finance reported on September 17:

“The Treasury is setting up a temporary financing program at the Fed’s request. The program will auction Treasury bills to raise cash for the Fed’s use. The initiative aims to help the Fed manage its balance sheet following its efforts to enhance its liquidity facilities over the previous few quarters.”

Normally, the Fed swaps green pieces of paper called Federal Reserve Notes for pink pieces of paper called U.S. bonds (the federal government’s I.O.U.s), in order to provide Congress with the dollars it cannot raise through taxes. Now, it seems, the government is issuing bonds, not for its own use, but for the use of the Fed! Perhaps the plan is to swap them with the banks’ dodgy derivatives collateral directly, without actually putting them up for sale to outside buyers. According to Wikipedia (which translates Fedspeak into somewhat clearer terms than the Fed’s own website):

“The Term Securities Lending Facility is a 28-day facility that will offer Treasury general collateral to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s primary dealers in exchange for other program-eligible collateral. It is intended to promote liquidity in the financing markets for Treasury and other collateral and thus to foster the functioning of financial markets more generally. . . . The resource allows dealers to switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable.”

“To switch debt that is less liquid for U.S. government securities that are easily tradable” means that the government gets the banks’ toxic derivative debt, and the banks get the government’s triple-A securities. Unlike the risky derivative debt, federal securities are considered “risk-free” for purposes of determining capital requirements, allowing the banks to improve their capital position so they can make new loans. (See E. Brown, “Bailout Bedlam,” webofdebt.com/articles, October 2, 2008.)

In its latest power play, on October 3, 2008, the Fed acquired the ability to pay interest to its member banks on the reserves the banks maintain at the Fed. Reuters reported on October 3:

“The U.S. Federal Reserve gained a key tactical tool from the $700 billion financial rescue package signed into law on Friday that will help it channel funds into parched credit markets. Tucked into the 451-page bill is a provision that lets the Fed pay interest on the reserves banks are required to hold at the central bank.”3

If the Fed’s money comes ultimately from the taxpayers, that means we the taxpayers are paying interest to the banks on the banks’ own reserves – reserves maintained for their own private profit. These increasingly controversial encroachments on the public purse warrant a closer look at the central banking scheme itself. Who owns the Federal Reserve, who actually controls it, where does it get its money, and whose interests is it serving?

Not Private and Not for Profit?

The Fed’s website insists that it is not a private corporation, is not operated for profit, and is not funded by Congress. But is that true? The Federal Reserve was set up in 1913 as a “lender of last resort” to backstop bank runs, following a particularly bad bank panic in 1907. The Fed’s mandate was then and continues to be to keep the private banking system intact; and that means keeping intact the system’s most valuable asset, a monopoly on creating the national money supply. Except for coins, every dollar in circulation is now created privately as a debt to the Federal Reserve or the banking system it heads.4 The Fed’s website attempts to gloss over its role as chief defender and protector of this private banking club, but let’s take a closer look. The website states:

* “The twelve regional Federal Reserve Banks, which were established by Congress as the operating arms of the nation’s central banking system, are organized much like private corporations – possibly leading to some confusion about “ownership.” For example, the Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to member banks. However, owning Reserve Bank stock is quite different from owning stock in a private company. The Reserve Banks are not operated for profit, and ownership of a certain amount of stock is, by law, a condition of membership in the System. The stock may not be sold, traded, or pledged as security for a loan; dividends are, by law, 6 percent per year.” Continue reading »

Jan 272013
 

Global Research
Francis A. Boyle

israelus

In direct reaction to Israel provoking the Al Aqsa Intifada, on October 19, 2000, the then United Nations Human Rights Commission (now Council) condemned Israel for inflicting “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people, some of whom are Christians, but most of whom are Muslims.[i]

This Special Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted the Resolution set forth in U.N. Document E/CN.4/S-5/L.2/Rev. 1, “Condemning the provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Shariff on 28 September 2000 by Ariel Sharon, the Likud party leader, which triggered the tragic events that followed in occupied East Jerusalem and the other occupied Palestinian territories, resulting in a high number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians.” The U.N. Human Rights Commission said it was “[g]ravely concerned” about several different types of atrocities inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinian people, which it denominated “war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.”

In operative paragraph 1 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission then:

“Strongly condemns the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in violation of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying Power against innocent and unarmed Palestinian civilians…including many children, in the occupied territories, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity;…”

And in paragraph 5 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission:

“Also affirms that the deliberate and systematic killing of civilians and children by the Israeli occupying authorities constitutes a flagrant and grave violation of the right to life and also constitutes a crime against humanity;…”

Article 68 of the United Nations Charter had expressly required the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council to “set up” this U.N. Commission (now Council) “for the promotion of human rights.” This was its U.N.-Charter-mandated job.

The reader has a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987, the world has seen those heinous war crimes inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian people living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and by Israel’s criminal paramilitary terrorist settlers. These Israeli “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for the perpetrators and their commanders, whether military or civilian, including and especially Israel’s political leaders.

Let us address for a moment Israel’s “crimes against humanity” against the Palestinian people—as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What are “crimes against humanity”? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals in Europe. In the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people:

Crimes against humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated.

The paradigmatic example of “crimes against humanity” is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people. This is where the concept of “crimes against humanity” originally came from. And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission (now Council) determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian people: crimes against humanity.

Expressed in legal terms, this is just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews. That is the significance of the formal determination by the U.N. Human Rights Commission that Israel has inflicted “crimes against humanity” upon the Palestinian people. The Commission chose this well-known and long-standing legal term of art quite carefully and deliberately based upon the evidence it had compiled.

Furthermore, the Nuremberg “crimes against humanity” are the historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention. The theory here was that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish people was so horrific that it required a special international treaty that would codify and universalize the Nuremberg concept of “crimes against humanity.” And that treaty ultimately became the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Article II of the Genocide Convention defines the international crime of genocide in relevant part as follows:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

As documented by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe in his seminal book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006), Israel’s genocidal policy against the Palestinians has been unremitting, extending from before the very foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and is ongoing and even intensifying against the 1.6 million Palestinians living in Gaza as this book goes to press. Continue reading »