Articles and Interviews by John Robles From July 01, 2010 to December 29, 2011
On this page you will find interviews with, and articles by: The Occupy Movement, Michael John Smith, Giovanni Di Stefano, Captain John Cox, Polish Air Crash, NATO First Strike, Douglas Moss, Professor Thomas Johnson, Dr. Alon Ben Meir, J.M. Berger, Rick Rozoff, Professor Anita Dancs, Ivan Eland, Irene Steffas, John Robles, Michal Olszacki, Suzette Bronkhorst, Professor Marjorie Cohn, Omar Turbi, Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia, Professor Gary G. Sick, Professor Kevin Barrett, Bill Csapo, Nabil Rajab President Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Marisa Holmes, Sarah Page, Palestinian Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Deacon Youssef Hanna, Jordan LeDoux, Noah Rothman, Tim Summers, Artyom Raskin, Professor David Post, Kelly Meers, Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Konuzin, Sarah Page, Calvin Tucker, Noah Rothman
Michael John Smith
John Robles links up with Michael John Smith, who was convicted of being a soviet spy in England, on a recent arrest of 11 individuals in the USA on supposed spying charges.
John Robles links up with Michael John Smith, who was convicted of being a soviet spy in England, on a recent arrest of 11 individuals in the USA on supposed spying charges.
5 August 2010, 13:28
Giovanni Di Stefano
Giovanni Di Stefano
Moved to DiStefano Page
John Robles interview with the international lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano on the Yevgeny Chichvarkin extradition. John Robles : “Voice of Russia” world service. This is John Robles. I’m speaking with the international lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano on the Yevgeny Chichvarkin extradition.
Praise for Russian Professionalism in the Smolensk Crash Investigation
Interview with Captain John Cox, the chief executive officer of Safety Operating Systems in Washington DC and a world renowned aviation expert, on the Katyn air disaster draft report and the reaction by Polish authorities.
Blame for Polish Crash Lies in the Cockpit
Interview with Douglas Moss, President of AeroPacific Consulting in Torrance, Callifornia on Smolensk air disaster which led to the death of Polish President
US Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan
Prof. Thomas Johnson , the Director of the Program for Culture and Conflict Studies at the Naval Postgraduate Institute in Monterey, California, and the topic is the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan that was announced last week by President Obama.
Our today’s guest is Prof. Thomas Johnson, the Director of the Program for Culture and Conflict Studies at the Naval Postgraduate Institute in Monterey, California, and the topic is the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan that was announced last week by President Obama.
Middle East perspectives
Our guest is Dr. Alon Ben Meir , a Middle East Expert and Professor from the Center for Global Affairs at the New York University. We’re discussing the situation in the entire Middle East and particularly in Afghanistan.
Our guest is Dr. Alon Ben Meir, a Middle East Expert and Professor from the Center for Global Affairs at the New York University. We’re discussing the situation in the entire Middle East and particularly in Afghanistan.
Interview with J.M. Berger, the editor of INTELWIRE.COM and the author of the book Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam . My first question for you is regarding the new counter-terrorism strategy of the US. What does the new strategy entail for the Middle East and the US overall?Interview with J.M. Berger, the editor of INTELWIRE.COM and the author of the book Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam . My first question for you is regarding the new counter-terrorism strategy of the US. What does the new strategy entail for the Middle East and the US overall?
Interview with J.M. Berger, the editor of INTELWIRE.COM and the author of the book Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam.
My first question for you is regarding the new counter-terrorism strategy of the US. What does the new strategy entail for the Middle East and the US overall?
The new strategy is in some way more of the same. But in other way there are some interesting shifts. The new focus of our counter-terrorism strategy is now on the homeland as opposed to the war on more broad war on terrorism terminology that has been used before. And specifically it is targeting al-Qaeda, as it was said at the conference, at which it was announced that this is the war on al-Qaeda, it’s not a war on terrorism. That said, the strategy is unveiled as some very broad definitions of what is al-Qaeda, and its affiliates, and its adherents. So, there is a lot of latitude for the US government, and they are going to go after that under this policy.
What condition is al-Qaeda currently in?
Al-Qaeda is somewhat weakened at the moment, relatively for the last couple of years, since the death of bin Laden. Exactly how much is not clear, and it will not be clear for some time. For some time, obviously, since September 11, al-Qaeda is fractured into a number of organizations that have presence in countries that it did not have strong presence in previously, though there is no one-to-one comparison. The Core al-Qaeda, the actual al-Qaeda that carried out September 11 attack is certainly under a heavy pressure right now. But it’s definitely unraveling in a lot of places, including in Yemen, where the civil War is providing them a lot of room to operate and to increase their support.
There were reports that, for example, in Libya there were al-Qaeda affiliated mercenaries that were actually being supported by the US government and, I believe, NATO. Can you say anything about that?
There are elements within the Libyan opposition that have historical links to al-Qaeda. The question is what happening there now. The Libyan Islamic fighting group has largely been defunct prior to the revolution, and some of the people involved with that group, which is closely linked to al-Qaeda, now have a role in what’s going on. We are also hearing reports – and it’s very hard to verify these – that al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb, in North Africa is taking advantage of the chaos to arm itself and siphon off weapons and supplies from the legitimate opposition in Libya itself.
What changes can we expect for example in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East overall with the new changes in strategy? Is there anything we are going to see in the near future because of that?
The new strategy does have a very wide definition of groups that are affiliated with al-Qaeda and that the state is reserving the right to strike against, and that probably had the most bearing on pact stand. There are a lot of Jihadist groups in Pakistan – some of which are very loosely connected to al-Qaeda – that could be considered part of al-Qaeda under this strategy. And it’s not clear in terms of where we are going to be headed in terms of dealing with these groups or taking action in Pakistan and in the border region along Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Are there going to be internal changes in the country?
Nothing visible. There is certainly an increase focused on homegrown extremism. We’ve had a lot of cases very recently, in which American citizens have taken up arms and are carrying out terrorist attacks with little links to al-Qaeda overseas. That’s the big concern right now, and there’s a big focus on that. However, so far, US law enforcement has been very effective against these guys. The FBI have been very aggressive in moving on them. They have very good relationships in the community and people come forward and report when they hear someone is planning violence. And basically, if you have four guys in the room talking about Jihad, one of them is an FBI informant.
I’ve read the term “the lone wolf terrorist” on the net – someone who is being indoctrinated or driven by somebody online, al-Qaeda or something. Is that a real threat for America?
It’s a concern. This hasn’t occurred so far, but, I tell you, there is a movement towards “lone wolf terrorist”, which something called individual Jihad or vigorous Jihad. Al-Qaeda has been pushing for some time. It’s been trying to get people step up and take action with no contact to al-Qaeda at all. This hasn’t been dramatically successful. This principle is based on something that happened in White Supremacy’s communities in this country some years back. It offered rigorous resistance in the 1980s and was a real failure.
Is there anything you’d like to add?
I think this policy is pretty broad, and I think we need to start nailing down what the parameters of a war on terrorism are, because it’s not clear to me where we draw the line, how far we are willing not to go in fighting al-Qaeda.
I think it’s been brought from the very beginning that technically terrorism is a method – it’s not a group or an individual.
The difference now is that it’s officially very broad. The definition for al-Qaeda affiliates in this strategy is really extraordinarily broad. At the same time we are refocusing on homeland. We are also widening the arch of targeting people we consider to be terrorists. I’d like to see more precision in how we talk about this issue, and I don’t think the new strategy does that.
Why do you think it’s so broad? Could it be that they don’t know who they are fighting against?
You have to give some credit to the nature of terrorist network. Terrorist networks are by design shadowy and difficult to evaluate. So, I think they are ok with dealing the death mission abroad. But it’s really not just a government problem. The trick of working on a project about this right now is that there are really no two people talking about al-Qaeda necessarily mean the same thing when they say al-Qaeda. And I think that it’s something that we – the media, academics, journalists, scholars and government –need to come together and really agree on what we are talking about.
What would cause an American to go on a Jihad against America?
There are a lot of reasons. They are a very diverse group. There is no single profile for them, but the one thing that almost everybody who takes part in it shares – is the belief that Islam is under attack. People, doing the attack, change over the years. It was the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the Serbs in 1990s, and today it’s perceived to be the US. Rightly or wrongly, these guys believe that Islam and Muslims are under deliberate attack. And they are responding to that.
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to the web site Global Research.ca. My first question regards Russia, and NATO, and the integrated ABM shield that Russia has been, for want of a better word, pushing for. Implementing a sectoral defence architecture is what Russia was looking for.
Professor Anita Dancs
I’m speaking with Prof. Anita Dancs , a Professor of Economics at Western New England University and contributed to the Costs of War study, recently released by Brown University. In your study you went into the costs of war.
I’m speaking with Prof. Anita Dancs, a Professor of Economics at Western New England University and contributed to the Costs of War study, recently released by Brown University.
In your study you went into the costs of war. Are there any economic benefits from the war that might offset, in the long run or in the short term, the outlays for the wars, such as reconstruction contracts, cheaper oil, etc?
Certainly, every time the government spends money, it contributes to what economists call aggregate demand and increases GDP. The problem with looking at that rather simple economic analysis is that there are opportunity costs of that money. All of the money being spent to wage war in Afghanistan, Iraq or whatever could have been spent on other types of economic activities, for example education or renewable energy to replace the oil, which we increasingly import. One of the contributors did a study showing that when you spend on these other types of economic activities, such as education or renewable energy, you actually can create more jobs than you can through military spending. So, in reality, economic benefit from waging war is what economists call a “broken window policy”. Yes, if you break the window it increases GDP, but really wouldn’t it be better to spend that money on other things that have more substantial long-run benefits to our economy?
$4 trillion. That’s a lot of money. Most of us can’t imagine that much. Can you give our listeners a bit of an idea of, if that was spent on creating jobs, hiring teachers or something, how much could $4 trillion buy to help the American public?
Certainly, if we just look at what was spent on military prosecution in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see that millions more jobs could have been created, if we had spent the money on something else, on education, on health care, on the smart grid, on mass transit, what have you. You can see those figures for yourself if you come to the website CostsOf War.org.
As an economist, have you seen any change in Obama’s policies as opposed to those of former president George Bush?
I don’t see a great change. But I think there is some prospect for a change. But, certainly, the Obama Administration began certain policies and reversed certain policies with respect to the war on terror. So, I think the future is still open-ended. I think we, as Americans, still have a chance to change our future and change our destiny as far as the so-called war on terror. But I have to say that the Obama Administration hasn’t changed the policies that much from the Bush Administration.
I’ve recently spoken with counterterrorism experts and some other experts. And they all said about the same thing – they don’t know why the US is in the Afghanistan, for example. Economically, do you see any reason why the US is in Afghanistan?
Well, no. Certainly, the economic benefit of the US waging the war in Afghanistan is really nothing, because, again, if we could spend these amounts of money in other ways that would be more beneficial to our economy. Certainly, from an economic perspective there is no gain to the war in Afghanistan.
No reconstruction contracts, or cheaper oil? Nothing like that?
The war in Afghanistan isn’t going to lead to cheaper oil. It’s not clear if any war is going to lead to cheaper oil. I think the long-run prospect is to reduce the oil dependency through changing our policy, not through waging war. And I think from a moral standpoint, not even from an economic standpoint, but both from an economic and moral standpoint, it’s ridiculous to think that we should wage war in order to secure cheaper oil. But certainly, the economics don’t really make sense. We could build up an infrastructure in the US that’s better for our economy, that reduces our dependency on oil. So, no, I don’t think there are real economic benefits to be had.
The reason of your study was to get the government to be a little bit more open on the actual costs being spent. Do you think many of the war on terror costs have been hidden under the blanket of security? And who is taking advantage of this – if anyone?
Yes, I think there’s been an amazing amount of propaganda around security, and the war of terror, if anything, has undermined our security and created more hostility towards the US around the world. It’s widely perceived by Muslims as a crusade. So, I think, clearly, it hasn’t added to American security. And at the same time it has undermined, I would argue, our economy.
Did you have any obstacles in doing your study? Did you run up into any brick walls of areas, where you couldn’t get information?
I think the biggest issue with doing a study like this is that it’ an ongoing project, a project that many more researchers need to work on. We’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg, as far as showing what these costs are and measuring them in quantitative ways. I think there’s just a lot more of work to be done to come up with quality estimates around what the real costs are, whether they are human costs, social costs, economic costs. I just think there’s more work to be done.
Again, who is profiting from these wars – if anyone?
I think one of the side effects of the war on terror has been to create a new industry. We’ve always had defence contractors. But I think we’ve created this whole new industry around war profiteering. And I think that’s a problem. I think they are politically powerful, they are going to be part of our economic infrastructure in the future and they are going to weigh in on policy in ways that are really detrimental to the average American. So, yes, there is this whole new set of businesses all set up around the war on terror. That’s really problematic, and we are going to have to take that on and deal with that.
Interview with Rick Rozoff , the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca Canada has announced that they will be conducting large-scale exercises in the Arctic. NATO also announced claims on the Arctic. What can you say about the militarization of the Arctic?
Dr. Alon Ben Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben Meir, a Middle East expert and a professor from the Centre for Global Affairs at New York University. I have some questions today regarding the situation in Egypt. Why have tensions escalated again? There is general dissatisfaction with the way things have been developing since Mubarak’s departure.
14 July 2011, 13:02
Dr. Alon Ben Meir
Dr. Alon Ben Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben Meir, a Middle East expert and a professor from the Centre for Global Affairs at New York University. There is no shortage of goods in Gaza, right? Absolutely not. And I want to emphasize that even Hamas will tell you that there are no shortages of medicine or food in Gaza.
20 July 2011, 17:45
Interview with Ivan Eland, the Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty. I’d like to ask you a few questions today regarding the transfer of power to the Afghani forces in Afghanistan. The Bamyan Province has been handed over to Afghan control.
Interview with Ivan Eland, the Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty.
I’d like to ask you a few questions today regarding the transfer of power to the Afghani forces in Afghanistan. The Bamyan Province has been handed over to Afghan control. Some of the experts are saying that they might as well have just handed the territory to the Taliban, since, in many experts’ opinion, the Afghan security forces are not ready to provide full security in the country. What’s your opinion on the readiness of the Afghan troops?
Of course, the Afghan forces after almost ten years of training still have a problem with corruption, education, lack of training, discipline and that sort of thing. So they are not very effective fighting force. And I think this is not their choice. I mean this is the best case scenario, so I am not surprised they are turning over the provinces. But I think it’s going to get worse as we go on.
Do you think the Taliban will take over, gain more power, as NATO and US forces withdraw from the country?
Definitely, I think the Afghan security forces are not ready to be on their own and that’s after almost ten years of training by the US, there are problems with corruption, discipline and education. And, of course, they have been infiltrated to some extent by the Taliban themselves. I think the key question is not whether the U.S. can clear provinces, even having problems such as Khandahar and the Helmand Province in the south – because, yes, the US has simply outgunned the Talban with the best military in the world – the problem is who we will turn it over to. And that is the problem, and it is going to be a problem until the US withdraws and even after the US withdraws it’s going to be a problem even worse. So, I think that the real problem in Afghanistan, is that after ten years we don’t have anybody to turn it over to.
Do you think that Obama’s plan to withdraw forces was premature?
You know, we had ten years or thereabouts and they are not winning it, and the military never said they could win it. They were just trying to change the battelfield equation, so that the Taliban would negotiate. Of course, that hasn’t worked. It didn’t work in Vietnam. And the problem is that the Taliban, like the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong, were fighting for their own country and in their own country. And so is the Taliban, therefore the time horizon that they have, they are willing to wait a lot longer to get rid of the United States. And of course, the Afghans could then go on fighting for decades, such as the Vietnamese were fighting for decades. So I think the strategy, if you are a guerilla is to just out-wait the opponent, and if you are not losing or winning, because eventually your opponent is going to go away, and I think announcing it is probably foolish. But, nevertheless, I think Obama’s policy of getting out is the right one, because I don’t think they’re going to win that if they announce it or not. it’s time to leave.
Commanders there, on the ground, are saying it’s too early, and any advances that were made are just going to, basically, go out of the window. Would you agree with that statement?
I think, well, I don’t think it’s too early, because military people will always tell you, “Oh, we’ve got to stay, because we have all this invested.” But of course if its perishable, as it is, because the Afghan security forces are not very good, despite, one: more Americans got killed, more Afghans get killed, and we reach the same result, which is what happened in Vietnam, and I think what you need to do is cut your losses and get out of there. And, you know, “They lose credibility arguments” and that sort of thing just as they did in Vietnam – but US credibility would have been higher if they had gotten out earlier in Vietnam than staying around. And I think the US, if they ride the sinking ship down, it’s going to experience the same thing that happened in Vietnam. So, I think we have to concentrate on what’s important – and that’s fighting terrorism, not doing nation building in Afghanistan.
I was going to ask you if you thought that, in your opinion: Has the US won in any way in Afghanistan? You keep mentioning Vietnam. I think that kind of answers that question. In your opinion, what advances have been made in Afghanistan, if any?
There have been advances, I think, in rural education and some infrastructure. But the problem is that it’s very perishable and I think that’s always been a problem, you can pour racks of money into a country but if it’s not sustainable after you leave. Then worse. It’s a waste of time, at best it’s a waste of time, worse you’ve created a lot of infrastructure to help the future Taliban government, which is probably not going to be that kind to the United States. I doubt that it’s going to come out very well for the US.
I ask most of the experts I speak with this question, if we are talking about Afghanistan, and nobody has been able to give me a definitive answer: Why is the US in Afghanistan?
That’s probably because there is not a big definitive answer to give. Originally of course they had wanted to overthrow the Taliban government, because they had harbored al-Qaeda. But of course, once doing that, you know, the United States probably should have left. And just said, “Listen, we don’t care who rules Afghanistan, but if anybody harbors al-Qaeda and attacks the US we’re going to be back with a vengeance.” But the US chose to try a new model, rebuild the Afghan nation, and build a democracy, which the country is culturally contrary to. And also they are trying to build a centralized government when in recent history Afghanistan is very decentralized. So, we undertook this nation-building program and we are not really fighting al-Qaeda, which is what we were supposed to be doing. Al-Qaeda is in Pakistan and we are doing drone attacks. But that has nothing to do with Afghanistan.
You mentioned Vietnam several times. Would you characterize Afghanistan as being the US’s second Vietnam?
Yes, it could certainly be, because, I think, the fact is we are moving that way, the Taliban is not negotiating, we also said we are going to pull out. And therefore, it’s down to; either the Taliban will have a voice in post-US government or the Taliban will take over. And I think that’s what people on the ground, like human rights workers etc, are expecting. Contrary to the optimistic and praising, I should say cautiously optimistic, things we are hearing from the military. The military has to be “cautiously optimistic” because, if they don’t, morale of the soldiers goes down and also I think the public opinion will sink even further in the US about this war – and it’s pretty low already. So, they have no choice but to keep up an optimistic view. But I think people on the ground, international observers and even American aid workers and human rights workers are sort of expecting the Taliban to increase its influence as the US withdraws.
21 July 2011, 17:57
Interview with with Irene Steffas, an attorney accredited under The Hague International Convention on incoming and outgoing adoptions. I’d like to ask you some questions about the recent agreement on adoptions signed between the United States and Russia. Why was the US federal government reluctant to sign the agreement at the beginning?
Interview with with Irene Steffas, an attorney accredited under The Hague International Convention on incoming and outgoing adoptions.
I’d like to ask you some questions about the recent agreement on adoptions signed between the United States and Russia. Why was the US federal government reluctant to sign the agreement at the beginning?
Initially, all efforts are being made to everyone to follow the procedure under the Hague convention. And the US has not been very flexible and not willing to enter into any memorandums, as we understand it, or bilateral agreements. However, in this instance we made an exception and the exception is really one of nomenclature, just a name, because if you look at the essence of the agreement, many of the safeguards that are built into the new agreement are the same safeguards we have under The Hague convention.
I heard, one of the parts of the agreement calls for no more independent adoptions.
Only agencies authorized by the Russian government will be allowed to participate in the adoption process. Where could the parents that want to adopt a Russian child find such a list of agencies?
They are on the website of www.adoption.state.gov.
Are these accredited by the Russian government or by the US government or both?
These are the ones that have been accredited by the US authorities and then you have to actually inquire and ask: are you authorized to work in Russia? And agencies are going to tell you the truth on this because they are not actually going to be able to move a case forward if they are not certified to work in Russia.
What is entailed by part of the agreement? What’s that more complete information that will be given to the adopting parents on the adoptee? What is entailed by more complete information?
There is more emphasis in knowing who the adoptive parents are and training that they are going to receive that was not there in the past and also in having more certain understanding about the child. We now have a more formal child study, which will be one at the orphanage where the child has resided. It will require medical, family, social history. You know, getting good medical background makes the match more secure. We don’t want a family to adopt a child, who is uncomfortable dealing with the prosthesis.
Who is going to be overseeing this process? Is that both sides that are going to be responsible for that or is it the responsibility of the Russian side?
Let me walk you through the process. The US government, through the Department of Homeland Security, is going to certify the adoptive family.
This is a new procedure? Is this something new?
This is a little bit more involved than what we had in the past. Then the Russian authorities will say: we want this child to go to this specific adoptive family in the US. So the matching is not going to be done by an orphanage, it is not going to be done by an individual. The actual matching is done by the Russian authorities, which is your Department of Education.
Russia will now be able to receive reports on the children, on their well-being. How often will these reports be given and how reliable will they be and who will be administering them?
Let me dissect your question. The person who is responsible for getting those reports back to Russia is a US accredited agency. What was happening in the past – and I’ve seen it with my own eyes – is that sometimes agencies had these reports but they never made it to the right place in Russia. So one of the things that this agreement has done is identify exactly where these reports are going with some sort of a receipt system, so that we know, this agency sent a report and it was in fact received. And there will be no ifs and buts about that. We will have evidence that the report was sent and received. The frequency of the reports and for how many years these reports go on – that is a determination made by Russia. We have different requirements for different countries and what I can tell you is that the US adoption agencies and the US government work very hard to make sure there is compliance with getting those reports and getting them to the correct authority.
Who is going to oversee all this? Because normally this was the domain of state governments, and now the federal government is involved. So who exactly will be administering reports, doing checks and so on?
Let’s say we have ABC agency. And ABC agency is accredited in the US and also certified to work in Russia. However, the family lives in a different state, let’s say in Hawaii. And this agency does not have a branch office in Hawaii. The ABC agency will supervise an agency in Hawaii for the family’s home study and will also supervise that agency to make sure that those post-placement reports are done. Post-placement reports are always going to be sent to the accredited agency and then the accredited agency, also certified in Russia, is going to make sure that they get to the right place.
In summery, is this a positive thing?
Absolutely. This is a very good thing. Our two governments worked very hard together to keep inter-country adoptions open and also to improve the system that’s in place.
22 July 2011, 15:04
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca in Canada. I want to ask you some questions about the transfer of command in Afghanistan from General Petraeusto General Allen. Do you see any definitive change in the situation in the country in the near future?
27 July 2011, 16:47
The portrait that has come out about the Norwegian terrorist is that of a nationalistic hate-filled individual created in part and fed by xenophobia, Islamophobia and hate. He is a result of the war on terror and a testament to the fact that hate breeds hate and violence breeds more violence. The architects of 9-11 must be laughing.
The portrait that has come out about the Norwegian terrorist is that of a nationalistic hate-filled individual created in part and fed by xenophobia, Islamophobia and hate. He is a result of the war on terror and a testament to the fact that hate breeds hate and violence breeds more violence.
The architects of 9-11 must be laughing. They have changed the entire thinking of the world. Osama Bin Laden, whom the West created to fight the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, wanted to destroy Western civilization and has succeeded for a certain part. Now the hate and fear of Islam has caused a deranged individual to strike at his own people out of fear that they might be allowing Islam to attack his culture.
Yes, the post 9-11 world has changed. The U.S. has changed the most, and violence has led to more violence, and hate to more hate, with Americans becoming so calloused that they danced in the streets and in front of the White House when the U.S. committed the extra-judicial execution of Osama Bin Laden. Yes he was a bad man, a monster to everyone who believes he was solely responsible for 9-11, another event whose origin was hate, hate of Islam and disrespect for those who are different. But he was a human, and should have been tried in a court and given due process, not because he deserved it, but because the world deserved it. The West had the chance to prove that it has not sunk to the depths of barbarism, that it is morally superior, but once again it chose to go down the all-too-used road of violence.
All of this has led to the obvious outcome, of which we are likely to see more of the same. A lone killer driven to commit the worst act of violence Norway has seen since World War II and one of the most, if not the single most, horrific act of mass murder in modern history, has the world struggling to come to terms with the aftermath of what he has done. Close to 100 dead and hundreds of peaceful lives shattered. Anders Brehing Breivik has given the world a shock and what some say, should be a wakeup call.
What are the roots of the seething evil hate that must permeate what passes for a mind in this individual?
In his own words the 32-year-old monster says the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999, as he put it; "tipped the scales" for him. As a hater of Muslims he supported what the West saw as Serbia's crackdown on Albanian Muslims. A year later he said he realized that what he saw as the "Islamisation of Europe" could not be stopped without violence. He also believed Muslims were trying to destroy Western culture.
In his much talked about “manifesto” he writes in detail about the reasons for his hate of Muslims and Marxists. He wrote they are the reason Europe is multicultural. A strange philosophy since he killed ethnic Norwegians on his rampage of terror.
Further pointing to neo-Nazi ideology is another organization with whom Breivik had ties and about which he talked about on his internet postings, the far right English Defense League. According to media reports he also had ties with other anti-Islamic European hate groups. Further underlining his far right racist thinking are articles and comments he published on sympathetic Scandinavian websites, including Nordisk, a site used by neo-Nazis, far right radicals and Islamophobes.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a U.S. based organization that tracks hate groups of every kind worldwide, connections between U.S. and European neo-Nazi group are strong and growing stronger. U.S. based neo-Nazi groups are protected by the First Amendment which guarantees freedom of speech and they publish material and set up Internet sites aimed at Europeans which publish material that is illegal under European anti-racism laws. Many European groups also use American servers for hosting, to avoid prosecution in their native countries.
Lastly, pointing to Breivik’s connection to American neo-Nazi, racist, anti-government thinking is part of his manifesto, which was taken almost verbatim from the manifesto of another infamous American terrorist, the "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski.
So what has the world come to? Some say the US lost its innocence after the Oklahoma City bombing, some say the world lost its own after 9-11. What is clear is that the world has gone astray. What kind of a world are we passing on to future generations when powerful states bomb weaker states to destroy terrorists and at the same time unintentionally kill innocent people and even children as it happens in Afghanistan or Iraq? A world, in many parts of which torture, war crimes, aggressive wars, terror and fear are the rule of the day and where force and hate are very often the only way people communicate? Where has the world gone wrong?
Are we now all to live in fear that one of these hate-filled individuals is going to kill our children? How many will it be next time?
Friedrich Nietzsche said: “Be careful what you hate, lest you become that which you hate”. Is that what has happened?
This home grown terrorist, another Osama Bin Laden, who hated Muslims, did exactly what those he was afraid of might have done, in his mind. So twisted in his hate was he, that he never once stopped to think as he was meticulously planning to kill his own people, whether there was something wrong with his own thinking.
Will we now drag this pathetic nobody, Breivik, into the street and torture him? God knows many would do that and even more to this sick nothing, and they would not be wrong in doing so, except for one thing and I think Martin Luther King Jr. said it best, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
1 August 2011, 19:54
When we talk about al-Qaeda, we are talking about, excuse me, Islamic terrorists and high-light religion in this aspect. But when it comes to someone who is of the Christian faith that’s downplayed. I think it’s a sort of double standard that we focus on religion in the case of al-Qaeda but not in the case of somebody like Breivik in Norway. — Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in the US.
Interview with Ivan Eland, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute in the US.
Recently you wrote an article on double standards in the West towards terrorism cases. Can you fill our listeners in on exactly what you mean?
Think of the Norway case, the way western media was talking about it. First it was the New York Times – I think it’s the leader in the western media – that called him a Christian extremist. Then they started calling him an anti-immigrant or anti-Islamic extremist, dropping the ‘Christian’ part out of it. This was a change but most of the media have called him an anti-immigrant terrorist. And, of course, when we talk about al-Qaeda, we are talking about, excuse me, Islamic terrorists and high-lighten religion in one aspect. But when it comes to someone who is of the Christian faith that’s downplayed. I really think that we should downplay religion in both Islamic and Christian cases, because a vast majority of people from these religions are not radical and do not commit terrorist acts. But I think it’s a sort of double standard that we focus on religion in the case of al-Qaeda but not in the case of somebody like Breivik in Norway.
Why can’t the world community agree on a concrete definition of a terrorist and terrorism?
A lot of this has problems in the western community. Surprisingly, it would seem that a simple definition would be ‘killing civilians to instill fear in civilians to get them to change the policy of their government’. And that’s a very simple, straightforward-working definition that many in the west, in the academic circles, can’t adopt because the fire bombings of Japan and Germany and atomic bombings of Japan and Germany would then be called terror bombings. But, of course, they are not regarded as terrorist acts. Government actions, not only of the US, but many other governments over the centuries have committed much more crimes against innocent civilians than smaller groups. It’s not an excuse to smaller groups like al-Qaeda or other Islamic or non-Islamic terrorist groups but it’s certainly adds perspective. And I think one of the reasons why western governments can’t agree on a definition is that it might implicate their own government for having used terrorist acts before.
You liken Hiroshima and Nagasaki to terrorist acts?
I think they were terrorist acts. But the problem is that we don’t consider that governments do terrorist. We only consider what little groups do nowadays. And certainly little groups can commit big crimes on occasion but usually they don’t. We see hundreds of thousands of people killed in fire bombings, in atomic bombings during World War II. Other governments have done the same to other people. So, governments kill on a mass scale – and this, not to mention the US government, but there have been many other instances of government killing on a mass scale. And government can kill on a mass scale – they have more resources than little groups. But, of course, the origin of the terms “terrorism” comes from governmental terrorism, but it’s now only used to describe ragtag groups, which actually don’t kill that many people. I mean since 9/11 17 Americans have been killed in terrorism and 13 of those were killed in one incident, in the massacre by a Killeen psychiatrist. And they certainly mentioned the fact that he was Islamic at the time, whether it had anything to do with it or not. I guess it did, to some extent, because he was tracked to other groups. As we see in the Oslo case, it’s not confined to people of Islamic faith.
Back to the Oslo case, Breivik was driven by Islamophobia. What’s your take on 9/11, on the western media promoting this point of view?
I think they have and I think the mainstream media does it indirectly by focusing on terminology like, as I’ve mentioned, al-Qaeda as an Islamic group. But if somebody else does that in something like abortion clinics or in this massacre in Oslo, they tend to focus on medicine or anti-immigrant terrorism, not Christian terrorism. They don’t call it Christian terrorism. We have a double standard there and I think we focus on that despite that mainstream media does it indirectly. But, of course, some commentators put more blame when they say Islam is a violent religion. Islam is not more a violent religion than any other religion. There are some violent passages in the Quran and there are some violent passages in the Old Testimony as well as in the New Testimony. Think religion has evolved over the centuries – both mainstream Christianity and mainstream Islam are very benign religions as far as terrorism or extremism goes. I think there are a number of people around this guy thinking that he’s a Christian crusader going back to the crusade. And al-Qaeda, they are the reverse – they were crusading on the Muslim side. I think that the conflict between Christianity and Islam is probably a clash of civilizations. But I think it’s really been prompted because it is a clash of civilizations that we can get along, but the extremists tend to focus on that. Breivik’s manifesto seems to be mirroring some of the al-Qaeda message in reverse – a reverse crusading or whatever. So, I think extremists have more in common with each other than they do differences in religion.
Some of the tactics of right-wing groups and some of the right-wing media is trying to provoke reactions from Muslims and from the Islamic community. Do you agree with that?
Yes, I think it’s definitely true. I suppose that’s what the Soviet Union wanted, some sort of an enemy. So, they need Islam, they’ve converted Islam into a new threat. And, of course, the reason that al-Qaeda the US has very little to do with religion, the religious side of the problem, rather it is mainly a revenge or a protest against US occupation of Muslim lands. I have no doubt about that. And these phenomena have hit other countries that occupy Islamic land as well, like for instance Israel in Palestine. I think it’s really more of an anti-meddling or anti-occupation rather than a religious theme.
So, you say that for some people its profitable or they need an enemy, and if they can provoke a reaction then they have what they want?
Yes, and I think there is a lot of racism involved in it as well. They don’t like immigrants, particularly Islamic immigrants who come from North Africa. They have a darker skin color than a normal European, or at least a Western European. And so there has been a lot of racism. I think it’s associated with anti-immigration and right-wing parties in Europe play on that.
2 August 2011, 19:25
Dr. Alon Ben Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East Expert and Professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. I want to ask you some questions regarding the situation in Norway, in particular about islamophobia and the rise of anti-Islamic sentiments in Europe. Can you give us your insights into that?
Interview with Michal Olszacki, a Polish Political Analyst with the University of Reading . You did your dissertation in politics after the Smolensk air crash which killed the Polish President and more than 95 of the top government officials at the time. What was going on in Poland right after that? And why did they decide to politicize this disaster?
Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, Secretary General of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH). As an expert, can you give our listeners a quick overview of the situation in Europe with hate groups? How many are there? What types are there? There are hundreds of hate groups all over Europe, on the internet, of course, also.
Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, Secretary General of the International Network Against Cyber Hate (INACH).
As an expert, can you give our listeners a quick overview of the situation in Europe with hate groups? How many are there? What types are there?
There are hundreds of hate groups all over Europe, on the internet, of course, also. Some of them host their material outside of Europe to circumvent European legislation. But these groups are nothing new. They’ve been around forever and, actually, especially on the internet. A German hate group was the first one in 1986 to discover the internet with its tremendous possibilities.
Has the terrorist act in Norway put a focus on these hate groups?
The problem is that these hate groups have been doing it all the time. It’s just because of the terrorist attack that the attention gets back to them. But the worrisome developments in Europe are that if you go to a so-called regular web-forum and populous websites you’ll see that the response there is much more far-reaching than on, for instance, a site like Stormfront, which is like a racist hub for hate groups, mostly from the US. In comparison, the response there is mild.
You’ve mentioned several times that these sites have been hosted in the US. What are the rules in Europe regarding these hate groups and them having websites?
It differentiates from country to country – that’s one of the reasons why it’s difficult to work out a Europe-broad way of combating these groups. But, in general, a lot of European countries have hate-speech legislation. But everyone has that. Even the US has it. But there it gets restricted by the Freedom of Speech Amendment.
How do US hate groups assist or work with European hate groups?
The thing with the internet is that you have hate groups all over and they just look at each other’s sites and, therefore can learn things from each other. In Europe, you see, there are a lot of Eastern European hate groups, who are much more violent in general, teach violence to other groups, while the other groups are more technically advanced and give technical support to Eastern European groups. And it’s also, of course, that there can be one or two people and they can look like a real movement.
Are you saying that some of these groups are not as big as they appear to be?
Yes. Not only that but also they are virtual. They don’t actually sit together as a group.
Do these groups exist?
Of course, they exist. There is Blood and Honour group in several countries. And they also form groups in real life, like the English Defense League.
That’s interesting. I’d like to talk about the English Defense League and about any insights you have on the connections between them and the Norwegian Breivik.
The English Defense League started about 1.5 years ago. It was a hardcore group of football hooligans in England. Then they organized through Facebook and did all these anti-Islamic demonstrations. Then, you also have the Norwegian Defense League, which Breivik was a part of. The English Defense League actually hosts the Norwegian Defense League.
So, there is the Norwegian Defense League? I also heard there was an Irish Defense League.
Yes, that’s true. There is the Belgian Defense League. But still the English Defense League is the strongest. In the Netherlands, they came in support of the Dutch Defense League to demonstrate for freedom of speech for Geert Wilders and then it came out that the Dutch Defense League was actually two people.
Can you remind the listeners who that was?
Geert Wilders has a Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands and he is now the supporter of the minority governement in the Netherlands. He and his party helped the minority government to push things through. He’s a virulent anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim person. He talks about war against Islam, that the Quran is a fascist book compared with Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
He has obviously not read either book. But let me ask you a question about these Defense League groups. Would you characterize them as being anti-Islam or near-Nazi?
All of the above.
So they are against Islam, against Jews, against immigrants.
Against everything not nationalistic or English, whatever that is.
How do these groups interact with each other? How do they communicate? Does the internet help them a lot?
Of course, it helps a lot. The English Defense League is a perfect example of that. It was started by a small group of football hooligans, they got onto Facebook and now their membership grows and grows and grows. They have demonstrations all over England, often with a lot of violence involved. And the National Front Party, the fascist party, did too badly in England. And its former members went into it. They got support from the British National Party, which actually always participates in elections.
Captain John Cox
Interview with Captain John Cox, Chief Executive Officer of Safety Operating Systems in Washington D.C. and a world renowned aviation expert. My first question was regarding the Polish report.
16 August 2011, 13:18
Professor Marjorie Cohn
Interview with Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School in San Diego and the editor of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse . Can you give us a quick definition of what exactly constitutes an extrajudicial execution? It’s a targeted assassination.
Interview with Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School in San Diego and the editor of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse.
Can you give us a quick definition of what exactly constitutes an extrajudicial execution?
It’s a targeted assassination. Sometimes it’s called a political assassination, and it’s an unlawful and deliberate killing carried out by order of or with the acquiescence of a government, and it’s outside of any judicial framework. In other words, there is no court that is deciding that it is lawful or not.
Where would cases such as this be prosecuted or can they be prosecuted?
There are national laws. Assassinating is not allowed under international law, and that’s very clear. In a 1998 report, United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions said that extrajudicial executions can never be justified under any circumstances, not even in time of war. In the US, assassinations were considered to be unlawful, especially explicitly since President Gerald Ford issued an executive order banning assassinations. And every president since Gerald Ford has renewed that ban on assassinations until George W. Bush, who signed an executive order basically authorizing assassinations in the US. Even though Bill Clinton, when he was president, signed that ban on assassinations, he actually tried to kill Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan but narrowly missed him. And, of course, we know that Barack Obama did give the order to assassinate Osama bin Laden, and that order was carried out. Obama signed the order authorizing the assassination of Osama bin Laden.
Did the so-called war on terror release the US from the law in this regard?
No, not at all. The US is still bound by international law. Much of the international law is also incorporated in the US Constitution. Yet, under the so-called war on terror, there have been many illegal things that have been done by the US government – first, by the George W. Bush Administration and then by the Obama Administration. And I say the “so-called war on terror” because terrorism is a tactic, it is not an enemy. You don’t declare war on a tactic. And yet, under the guise of the so-called law on terror, many laws have been violated by both of these administrations.
I hate to do this, but, to compare the George Bush Administration and Obama’s presidency, how far away from Bush, do you think, Obama has gone? Or has he pretty much continued the same policies?
I think that, unfortunately, Obama has continued a lot of the illegal policies of the Bush Administration and, in some instances, has taken them even further. For example, even George W. Bush didn’t explicitly authorize indefinite detention – holding someone for ever with no charges. And yet Obama signed an order authorizing indefinite detention. Both administrations used what we call the “state’s secret privilege”, and the Obama Administration has continued to use it to try to prevent people who have been tortured from litigating their cases in court, from trying to get relief in court for the torture.
Are executions only ordered against foreign nationals?
Obama tried to carry out the assassination of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, who has not been charged with any crime in the US, and there was an unmanned drone attack in Yemen, aimed at al-Awlaki, missed him but killed two people “believed to be al-Qaeda militants.” Here you have another thing that the Obama Administration has done, which goes far beyond what even Bush did, that is stepping up the use of these unmanned drone attacks in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Somalia. And there was a report that has just come out from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism that states that 168 children have been killed in the seven years of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan. That accounts for 44% of the minimum figure of 385 civilians, who are reported to have been killed by these drone attacks. I have seen higher numbers as well. And this is something that continues. There are also illegal assassinations in sovereign countries that many times ended up killing civilians. And, even if they were to kill so-called al-Qaeda militants, this would also violate the law, just like the targeted assassination of Osama bin laden violated the law, because, unless you are in the middle of a pitched battle, where the laws of war apply, you have to arrest people and bring them to trial. Even the Nazi leaders were brought to trial, and, of course, they committed some of the most notorious crimes ever known to man. After the Holocaust, Winston Churchill wanted to just execute the Nazi leaders without trial, but the US government opposed the extrajudicial executions of Nazi officials, who had committed genocide against millions of people, and Justice Robert Jackson, a Supreme Court Justice who took a leave from the Supreme Court to service Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, told President Harry Truman “We could execute or otherwise punish the Nazi leaders without a hearing. But undiscriminating executions or punishments without definite findings of guilt, fairly arrived at, would not set easily on the American conscience or be remembered by children with pride.” But, eventually, I think these people will be brought to justice by other countries. Universal jurisdiction is a well-used, well-settled doctrine. In fact, the US has used it. So, I think, that eventually, these people will be brought to justice. But not likely in the US.
19 August 2011, 16:28
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, Middle East expert and professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. You’ve heard about the events in Israel. Do you think these terrorist acts were organized by Hamas and what’s the possible Egyptian connection here?
23 August 2011, 17:31
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East expert and a professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Please, update the listeners on the situation in Israel and the truce with Hamas. Will the truce hold, in your opinion?
Interview with Omar Turbi, a Libyan expert and an advisor to the National Transitional Council in Libya. My first question – and I’m sure this is a question everyone wants to know as the eyes of the world are right now on Libya – what exactly is going on in Libya at the present time?
Interview with Omar Turbi, a Libyan expert and an advisor to the National Transitional Council in Libya.
My first question – and I’m sure this is a question everyone wants to know as the eyes of the world are right now on Libya – what exactly is going on in Libya at the present time?
As you know, today marks about 187-189 days since the birth of the Libyan revolution and, six months in the making, Tripoli has fallen in the hands of freedom fighters, so-called ‘rebels’ by many people. In my opinion, that’s not the right designation.
Is this actually a revolution or is this some sort of western-backed insurgency?
Definitely not western-backed insurgency. It’s a mistake to call them ‘rebels’: ‘rebels’ is usually a designation for ‘rebellion’ – people that have rebelled and took up arms or have had arms and rebelled against the authority. The Libyan history and the Libyan revolution took a completely different beginning, emerged and unfolded in different ways.
You are an advisor to the National Transitional Council. What I’ve seen is that they are extremely disorganized right now. What do you see as their future now that it’s pretty clear Gaddafi is out? What do you see happening in Libya in the next six months, in the near future?
Let me make something clear. First of all, I’m an unofficial advisor to the Council. But I can be very objective and I can tell you the truth: it’s extremely difficult to manage the warfront, to manage foreign affairs, to have lack of resources and continue to do what they’ve done, and reach the point of success that has been reached. But I must tell you that the impression that you might have or some people around the world have about the Transitional National Council as being in disarray or disorganized is not the case. Most people don’t think of the details of what they deal with. They dealt with and managed bureaucratic requirements within the eastern part of the country, which represents more than a half of the country, not only the execution of the war or procuring weapons and supplies, and fuel. They had to deal with a large number of Libyan refugees that left Ajdabiya or were coming from the neighbouring towns because of the Gaddafi war machine.
What do you think is going to happen to Gaddafi if he falls into their hands?
There was a rumour just a few minutes ago that he is in some armored vehicle crossing the border. Nobody can confirm that but that might be the case.
He was crossing the border into where?
Possibly Algeria, in the western part of Libya.
Can I ask you one question about oil and oil production in Libya? A lot of people have said this was all someway for the West to get their hands on Libyan oil? What would you say to that?
If you want the truth, the world community has become smaller and smaller over the past nine years that I have frequented Libya. I’m originally from Libya, I grew up in Benghazi, I was absent from Libya for over 25 years, because I was outside as a human rights activist, fighting for Libyan people’s rights, when I was able to get in and work from the inside. The last nine years that I spent as a student and a scholar in Libya I resisted temptations to make money there. I was offered positions within the Libyan government – I declined them. But it was very, very exciting for me to spend time on the inside and learn everything that was going on. And to answer your question with respect to oil, the Libyan people and the Libyan government needed oil companies substantially more than oil companies needed to be in Libya. It’s a mistake and it’s really wrong to think that these oil companies, oil giants – and I don’t care if they are French, or American oil giants, or any of the oil companies around the world – are clamoring to get into Libya.
What’s your opinion about NATO bases being installed in Libya after this all is over? Will the Libyan people welcome them?
That’s not going to happen. It’s never been part of the agreement.
You say your interests are only in the liberation of the Libyan people?
My interest– and it’s something that’s known about me – I’ve spent a large portion of my life advocating human rights and democracy in Libya. I engaged the Libyan regime in 2000 against the wishes of many of my Libyan friends that were members of the opposition outside. I negotiated with the Libyan regime the release of 413 political prisoners. One of them – my own brother, Dr. Turbi, – was in Gaddafi’s jail for 18 years. When I met with Gaddafi – I met with numbers of the Libyan regime – my mission was to ask for allowing Libyans from outside into the country and work in their own country. In my opinion they worked very well.
You met Gaddafi personally?
What kind of a person was he? What was your impression?
Very tall. Most people didn’t’ know he was a smoker. And the most interesting part about meeting him was that I had a feeling I was talking to someone who was not from this age, not from this era. He seemed to me to be from the era of 800-900 years ago. I mean in the course of the meeting I had with him there was a focus on what it is that can be done for him: can you take my kids and introduce them to members of Congress in the United States?
There was a point where the relations between the West and Gaddafi softened for a while.
Sometimes governments like the US pursue engagement for what they classify as ‘national interest’. As long as a regime like the dictatorial regime of Gaddafi provided it with intelligence on terrorist activities. And if there were people like at Guantanamo – people that the US didn’t want to deal with – they sent them off to Egypt, and to Syria, and to Libya for an execution – they didn’t even want to deal with that. So, that was a period where the West felt a sense of coziness with the Libyan regime.
Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia
Interview with Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia, Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Texas in St. Antonio in the United States . My first question is regarding Libya: what do you see as the outcome of the situation in Libya? Where do you see Libya in the next month, two months, half a year?
Interview with Dr. Mansour El-Kikhia, Chair of the Political Science Department at the University of Texas in St. Antonio in the United States.
My first question is regarding Libya: what do you see as the outcome of the situation in Libya? Where do you see Libya in the next month, two months, half a year?
In the next year, maybe two years, Libya will be so struggling with the post-Gaddafi system. We know that Gaddafi left a system, which has no institutions to depend on. They have to reconstruct everything from scratch and that’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be very, very difficult indeed, with issues like that of legitimacy of the Council, which has promised to hold elections in nine months, although I don’t think it’s going to happen in nine months. But there are going to be many problems ahead.
How do you see the situation in Libya? Some have said it was a US-backed insurgency, others said it was a true revolution. In your opinion, what was the real situation there?
The truth is that it was really a popular insurgency against the regime that has denied Libyans their freedom for many years. I assure you the US could do without the Libyan revolution and it was getting along splendidly with Gaddafi. But Libyans were not. And it was about time that they had done it.
Yes, that was a curious thing, because even a year ago it seemed like relations had normalized, the US, I think, removed Libya from the terrorist list. I thought everything was going well. And then all of this happened. What information do you have on the current situation?
Just this morning I talked to some people in Libya and they tried to claim that Gaddafi’s forces are still down, that there is still some fighting going on. His forces still hold up in the city ofSchertz and they think that Gaddafi might even be there too.
So you have no problems with the bombings, with the air strikes, with support for the insurgency in Libya. I mean that was not really part of the resolution. The resolution was to enforce a no-fly zone.
The resolution was on protection of civilians.
Backing up a little bit. At the beginning of the interview you said – I think everybody would agree with this – that the US had very good relations with Gaddafi until the insurgency. Why wasn’t the West interested in a regime change before that?
This is the same question I asked them. I don’t particularly have much faith and trust in Berlusconi. The only person perhaps who was a little bit more sincere about this whole issue is Sarkozy and, to some extent, even more perhaps Obama. But Obama’s hands are tied by Congress. Sarkozy is less tied by the Parliament in France. But the Europeans look for the interest, and Gaddafi was part of their interest. Now they saw the regime toppling and they were smart enough to jump on the wagon. Ultimately, you and I know – and de Gaulle said it very clearly – that there are no friends in international systems, there are only interests.
That’s kind of cynical. But what about the protection of civilians, the will of the Libyan people and all that? That’s not important when there is interest involved?
In this case you need to be Machiavellian. In this case, as long as it protects the lives of civilians, it doesn’t matter what you call it.
On Syria – in a repeat of the Libyan situation – and also on the subject of interests, what are the interests of the West in Syria?
Quite honestly, Russia and the Soviet Union in the past were a very good friend of Syria’s. They have in fact helped Syria a great deal, they helped Arabs a great deal. And I think the time for this type of regime is over. Ultimately, we know that Israel plays a very important role in all of this. They much prefer to have the 40-year peace that they had with Assad than to have a new regime that perhaps might emerge as an anti-Israeli regime. So, the regime might emerge as anti-Israeli. There is no doubt about that. And so the US is basically trying as much as it can to influence events within Syria itself to ensure that the new regime that emerges will not be anti-Israeli. I don’t know how successful they will be.
So you are saying that a very important part of the US foreign policy on Syria is the interests of Israel?
I’ve always said that when we look at foreign policy in the Middle East, the North Africa – Egypt, Libya, or Syria – it’s really not determined by the US. It has never been. It’s determined in Jerusalem, not in Washington. And I don’t think the regime change in Syria will be any different.
So all of the policies in the Middle East are dictated by Israel? Very interesting. My last question is regarding the resolution to the situation in Syria. Should there be more pressure put on Assad or should there be more pressure put on both sides to enter a substantial dialogue?
I think in this case Russia should in fact play a leading role and it should do it with the US, and they should all actually tell Assad it was about time he either got out or changed the system fundamentally to allow for greater participation. And that’s where you can assure at least that a democratic system might emerge in Syria, which would be beneficial not only for Syria, but also for the US and Russia as well.
So you are basically saying more pressure for dialogue and for the opposing sides to be able to participate in the process?
No, I mean more pressure for opening up the system, I’m talking about pressure to allow for a greater transparency, for a greater participation, to end oppression – all this Russia can do and play an important role in all this. It’s what the world is saying – disintegrate power, because a huge power is still a hegemon in its own right.
I know that. What I am saying is that not just a dialogue but a meaningful dialogue and changes that are actually going to happen. You think that’s more important than just putting pressure on Assad?
I think so, as long as he is amenable to that. Gaddafi was not. Gaddafi was not willing to do anything. You know, he thought he could just stay in power. Assad seems to be more amenable to dialogue and constructive changes.
31 August 2011, 18:23
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca.
Professor Marjorie Cohn
Interview with Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School in San Diego and the editor of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse . I’d like to ask you a few questions about the situation in Libya. What are your views on the future of Gaddafi? What do you think will happen with him?
Interview with Marjorie Cohn, a professor of law at Thomas Jefferson School in San Diego and the editor of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse.
I’d like to ask you a few questions about the situation in Libya. What are your views on the future of Gaddafi? What do you think will happen with him? And what is NATO’s role in the region legally? Do you think they’ve overstepped their mandate?
Yes, the Security Council Resolution 1973 does not authorize regime change. And yet everything that NATO and certainly the US have done is moving in that direction. In fact, some months ago, shortly after the invasion of Libya by NATO, President Obama, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron – all wrote an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune that said that NATO force would fight in Libya until Gaddafi is gone, even though this resolution does not sanction regime change. And now the rebels are saying that allowing Gaddafi’s family to stay in Algeria is, what they call, an ’act of aggression’. So, they are clearly out to get Gaddafi and his family.
The rebels made a statement today that they want to capture Gaddafi, try him and execute him.
Yes, when you put somebody on trial you don’t pronounce the sentence until the trial is over. Their saying they want to try and execute him sounds like a kangaroo court to me. Gaddafi, if at all, should be tried by an international tribunal that is objective and is not going to engage in reprisals. Certainly, Gaddafi is not a great guy but there are massacres of civilians documented by NATO, in other words, NATO has conducted massacres, including one earlier this month in Majer, Libya, where family members, eye-witnesses and Libyan government officials said that NATO’s air strikes at Majer killed 85 people, including 33 children, 32 women and 20 men. Reporters and visitors saw 30 of the bodies at a local morgue, including a mother and two children. We don’t know how many civilians have been killed by the NATO bombs, even though the stated purpose of the NATO intervention was to protect civilians.
What can the international community or people in general do to see that justice is done?
I think that publicizing what is really happening is the most important thing – and that’s what you and I are doing right now. The Daily Beast publication in the US came out with a piece today by John Barry, saying that the US military is conducting a secret war in Libya and has helped NATO with everything from munitions to surveillance aircraft, that the US military has spent $1 billion and played a far larger role in Libya than it has acknowledged and that there is an emerging covert intervention strategy, deploying far more forces than the Obama Administration wants to advertize. I think it’s important to get at why the US and its NATO allies are so intent on getting rid of Gaddafi. Libya played an important role in financing the African Bank, which allowed African nations to avoid dealing with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Libya also financed an African Telecommunications System that saved African countries hundreds of millions of dollars, allowing them to bypass western-controlled networks. He also raised the standard of living. I’m not saying he is a great guy, but Libya is the largest oil producer in Africa, the twelfth largest in the world, and its oil resources are very important for NATO’s European allies. The manager of the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company, Libya’s largest oil producer, said: “We don’t have a problem with western countries. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil, because those last three countries are not involved in the NATO mission in Libya.” And a British official told The Economist that NATO’s involvement in Libya means that: "Now we own it." So, there is going to be a lot of instability because of this organization that NATO has recognized, the National Transitional Council, which evidently doesn’t necessarily support the rebels in Libya. I think you are going to see a lot of chaos with a lot of covert, behind-the-scenes choreographing of what’s going to happen in Libya. And, quite frankly, I’d be surprised if they do actually find Gaddafi, if not just to kill him the way they killed Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. If you look at the events leading up to the NATO invasion, they talked about relying on this responsibility to protect doctrine. It’s not enshrined in any international treaty, it’s not part of customary international law. But it says that the international community through the United Nations has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means in accordance with Chapters 6 and 8 of the UN Charter to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. Chapter 6 of the UN Charter requires parties to seek a solution peacefully by negotiation. And yet they did not do that. Instead of pursuing an immediate ceasefire, immediate military action was taken. And the military force being used by NATO exceeds the bounds of “all necessary measures”, authorization and this resolution 1973. After the passage of the resolution Libya immediately offered to accept international monitors and Gaddafi offered to step down and leave Libya, but those offers were immediately rejected. And another thing that is very interesting is the double standard in the use of military force to protect civilians in Bahrain, where NATO force was being used to quell anti-government protest because that’s where the US Fifth Fleet is stationed. And The Asia Times reported that before the invasion of Libya the US made a deal with Saudi Arabia where the Saudis would invade Bahrain to help put down the anti-democracy protesters and Saudi Arabia would enlist the support of the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya. The Arab League support for a no-fly zone effectively neutralized opposition from China and Russia to Security Council Resolution 1973. But, as I said, NATO has gone far beyond a no-fly zone.
2 September 2011, 14:07
Professor Gary G. Sick
Tehran has recently announced they can enrich uranium to up to 20% and that their production exceeds the country’s demand. Iran’s atomic chief also stated Iran will no longer negotiate a nuclear fuel swap with some of the world powers.
Tehran has recently announced they can enrich uranium to up to 20% and that their production exceeds the country’s demand. Iran’s atomic chief also stated Iran will no longer negotiate a nuclear fuel swap with some of the world powers. Gary G. Sick, Senior Research Scholar and Adjunct Professor of International Affairs at Columbia University, who also served on the US National Security Council under presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, believes that Iran wants to have the capacity to build nuclear weapon – that is they want to be able within a certain amount of time to actually produce nuclear weapon if they need too and Iran has already done a number of table-top experiments in this field that would permit them to do that. The West, in particular the US, has insisted that Iran return to a position of zero enrichment. However, the reality is that, after 10 years of enriching uranium and paying a very high political price for it, Iran is not prepared to go back to zero, which makes it a hopeless cause. Thus, Iran’s secrecy about their nuclear program on one side and the West’s insisting on zero enrichment on the other has postponed any chance of a realistic outcome.
I’d like to ask you a few questions about the situation in Iran. My first question is what condition Iran’s nuclear program is currently in, in your opinion, and how realistic do you think is the possibility that they are developing nuclear weapons?
I think there is no absolute answer. I think you have to start with the fact that every senior Iranian, from the supreme leader down to the lowest level official, says that Iran has no intention or even desire to build nuclear weapons. For a theocratic government to say that it’s contrary to Islam to build nuclear weapons is actually putting a huge obstacle in their own path for no particular reason. It doesn’t serve any useful purpose for them. Let me just give you my own, personal estimation of what I think Iran is doing. My own view is Tehran wants to have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. Back when the shah was in power he made it clear that that was his policy. As far as I’m concerned, Iran has done a certain amount of research that would permit them to build a nuclear weapon, even if they don’t intend to do it now.
Iran has recently announced their production exceeds their demand and that they will no longer discuss any nuclear fuel swap deals. What does this tell you about the current situation there on the ground?
I think both sides share a lot of blame. I think Iran has been unduly secretive. The US in particular and the West in general has insisted that Iran return to a position of zero enrichment. Iran is entitled to enrich uranium, if it wants to.
You said they have been overly secretive. Why are they doing that? It seems like it’s damaging any chance they have of coming to a peaceful resolution.
They have made, I think, very serious mistakes. And a lot of the problems that they have are their own doing. Let’s assume that I’m correct and that Iran really intends to develop a capacity to build a nuclear weapon, let’s say, six months, that it would aim to have the ability to build a nuclear weapon that quickly. The chances are they are not going to want to publicize that. To me the big question is: are they actually building a weapon? Everything that we’ve seen in the last 30 years actually has said no, they are not. If you look at it, the country like Pakistan, which has almost no industrial capability, created a bomb in about 12 years. Iran has had a nuclear program since at least 1985 and they still don’t have a bomb. Is it because Iran is stupid? No. It’s because they are not trying to produce a nuclear weapon as fast as possible.
You’ve said everything you’ve seen in the last 30 years says they are not producing a nuclear bomb.
If they really were determined to have a nuclear device, they would have one by now.
Where do you see Iranian-Russian relations headed?
I don’t think that Iran ever really trusted Russia very much. It’s very pragmatic. It needs certain things and I think Russia has been able to provide those things. That included some defense equipment. It certainly included building the nuclear plant at Bushehr and so on. I don’t think they are going to turn around and walk away from Russia. But I think, whatever want there was in that relationship, it’s really gone, at least for the moment. And that’s just a fact of life.
How does China fit into all this?
China is also a very pragmatic power. They need a lot of oil: energy demands are going up dramatically. And Iran is one possible source of that oil. They are looking wherever they can. I don’t think that means they will do everything Iran wants them to do. I think it’s going to be again a relationship in which each side has to give something to get something. It depends a lot on Iran and whether they are really willing to cooperate with China over the long term. The US is going to be bringing pressure all the time on China to be hard on Iran and I think the Chinese are in a very difficult spot. And I think Iran is going to have to be willing to give China something in order to keep China on its side. This is a revolutionary society and it’s quite dogmatic, and whether they will in fact cooperate with China in a way that will work to their benefit – I don’t know.
Do you see a win-win solution for Iran? They seem to be shooting themselves in the foot.
I can outline a program that would put Iran into a really strong position. It would take me about two minutes to come up with a solution. Bu the reality is that Iran won’t do that. They are extremely proud. They have a strong internal dispute about where their policy should go, they can’t agree on anything, any gesture that they make towards the international community is viewed as a gesture of weakness and whoever did it is going to be punished for it. It’s very, very hard. And, to talk about shooting themselves in the foot, there is no question that, on the sanctions for instance, there were many oil companies that were prepared to break the sanctions, western oil companies – Shell, BP and others – and Iran was unwilling to even go halfway with these companies to make sure that if they are going to break the sanctions you should at least, if you are an Iranian, offer them a profit. And the Iranians, instead, tried to bargain them down to the point where there was no profit. It just wasn’t worth it to them. So, if you want to look at who is responsible for making these sanctions work, you have to start out by saying that Iran played a role. That’s a pretty good indicator of the fact that Iran has a very, very difficult time making policies that have anything to do with the western world, because it’s all seen as a weakness and contrary to their own revolution. And that dominates their thinking to a degree that I think is self-defeating.
5 September 2011, 16:51
Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, General Manager of the Internet Center for Anti-Racism in Europe (I-CARE at www.icare.to ) Last time we talked we discussed the tactics used by neo-Nazi groups. One of them was provocation. Can you tell our listeners about the choice of the location for the demonstration by the English Defense League (EDL) in Britain?
Interview with Suzette Bronkhorst, General Manager of the Internet Center for Anti-Racism in Europe (I-CARE at www.icare.to )
Last time we talked we discussed the tactics used by neo-Nazi groups. One of them was provocation. Can you tell our listeners about the choice of the location for the demonstration by the English Defense League (EDL) in Britain?
They went to Tower Hamlets. There is a big mosque there. Actually, the Ministry for the Interior forbade marches for 30 days, so they organized what is called a “static” demonstration – they were standing still. It couldn’t be forbidden. But a thousand people turned up and 3,000 policemen at the other side, opposing demonstrations, that stood near the mosque to protect it. They were with 1,500 people. And a riot broke out between the police and EDL. The funny thing that happened in England is that Scotland Yard have been accused of underestimating the threat from EDL, because the head of the unit monitoring hate groups declared it’s not an extremist organization, because he looked at their website and said it was not extreme. But they did after all deem it necessary to invite 3,000 policemen to keep a group of a thousand people down. That’s strange. But Breivik shouldn’t work in favour of EDL.
I think after the Breivik tragedy they got a lot of press attention. They wouldn’t have got otherwise.
Yes, but if you get attention like being involved into a huge terrorist attack, that wouldn’t be in your favor, would it?
No, it wouldn’t. And I think maybe their activities had quieted down a little bit. So, I was surprised to hear that they were still holding big demonstration.
I’m sorry to say but this is a kind of vermin and they never quiet down.
Was there a special reason why they chose this day, in particular? Neo-Nazi groups love to play with numbers, dates and stuff.
No, not that I can see. They just want to keep their momentum of demonstrations going, I guess. In Britain, they have a lot of opposition from the state that tries to stop demonstrations because of public order, or to be precise disorder. Then, of course, they started to talk about freedom of speech.
Was there any connection between the last time we talked and now when there were huge riots in Great Britain? Was EDL involved in those extensively, with football fans etc?
As far as I can see, the rioting that went on was a strange mix of things because there were a lot of just ordinary looters. But it started, of course, at a black man getting shot by the police. So, there were a lot of things at the same time. And it’s not in particular EDL. What they did do is they started these neighborhood watch patrols.
The EDL did?
Yes, although they didn’t announce it like that. If you would see those neighborhood watch groups walking through the streets and what they were saying – they were definitely part of it.
They tried to pretend to be like Citizens Vigilante group or something?
Yes, to protect the streets.
Not so strange. It’s actually quite smart, if you can control the people that are in these Vigilante groups.
It’s just strange that this group would be allowed to do that.
Well, they are not allowed – they do it, so what are you going to do.
Do the events in London have any relationship to the events that happened a few hours ago in Dortmund, Germany?
No, the rioting in Dortmund has no connection to the demonstration in London. The problem was that Dortmund police tried to keep the opposing demonstration, the counter-demonstration and the neo-Nazi apart, and that didn’t work out.
How accurate do you think are reports that anti-Nazi demonstrators attacked the police?
The anti-Nazi? They didn’t. Actually, the neo-Nazi did. As it’s called in the media, the left-wing protesters. I don’t know why anti-racism or anti-fascism has to be left-wing.
They broke through the barriers?
That was separating the two groups. Then a scuffle broke out, in which a police officer was seriously injured, because they stood in between the two groups.
I was alarmed to see that the two events happened so closely together in two different European cities. Have you picked up anything on your radar about any further activities or protests like this in Europe in the near future?
No. EDL is planning more marching in Great Britain. But there is a lot of going on in Europe, which is very concerning, I think.
Could you give us some examples?
With the whole atmosphere of groups standing opposite each other, the extreme right wing that moves up in politics, the intolerance – it’s very extreme, very worrisome.
Oh, yes. And they are getting into political power now more and more in several countries.
Is there anything people can do to prevent it?
These groups and political parties just come out with what is wrong with the country but they never come with solutions. And therefore it’s like “it’s a war against Islam!” or “a war against the Roma,” war guns writing non-democratic measures.
But they have no intelligent solution to anything, right?
They have no solution. Period.
So, you don’t see anything happening in Europe in the near future. What about the upcoming anniversary of September 11 events in the US? Are neo-Nazi groups in Europe or anywhere that you know planning events for that date?
Yes, in the US, a lot. Probably, in Europe, you will have some activity, because it’s always a good opportunity to bash some more Muslims.
9 September 2011, 13:28
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca. They tried to shut you down over the weekend. Can you tell us what happened? Yes, thank you for asking.
14 September 2011, 21:32
Professor Kevin Barrett
Interview with Dr. Kevin Barrett, Doctor in Arabic and Islamic Studies, and a Co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish Christian Alliance for Truth, he is also the owner of Truthjihad.com. Today I would like to ask you some questions on 9/11. My first question is - who benefited from the tragic events of September 11 2001?
Interview with Dr. Kevin Barrett, Doctor in Arabic and Islamic Studies, and a Co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish Christian Alliance for Truth, he is also the owner of Truthjihad.com.
Today I would like to ask you some questions on 9/11. My first question is - who benefited from the tragic events of September 11 2001?
Well, it is very clear that the Muslims didn’t benefit. Why would any Arab Muslim extremist want to do something like 9/11, which tripled the American military budget and launched American wars of aggression against the Islamic countries. So the answer of course is that it was the exact enemies of the people who were blamed for 9/11, who benefited from 9/11, and that would be the neo-conservative authors of Rebuilding America’s Defenses, a documents put out by The Project for the New American Century just one year before the 9/11, calling for a massive increase in the US military budget, the launching of pre-emptive wars of aggression, especially in the Middle East, and in particular an effort to make the world safe for Israel in the Middle East. The two parties who benefited the most from 9/11 were the US military industrial complex and the hardliners in Israel.
There is a statement in the document you mentioned – that the US needed a new Pearl Harbour.
They said that to get the changes that they wanted - it wouldn’t happen without a quote: “Catalyzing event such as a new Pearl Harbor.” In the 1990s the US military did extensive psychological studies, they hired the world’s leading focus group expert to try to look at why Americans still hated the Japanese, and they found that Pearl Harbour had shattered American’s sense of invulnerability and that this had led to a sort of undying hatred, and that is what they wanted to replicate, to allow for an endless war of aggression against the Arab and Muslim peoples.
What are the key discrepancies in the official version?
Probably the most obvious one is the destruction of building 7, it came down into it’s own footprint at about 5.23 or so in the afternoon, for no discernable reason, there were only a couple of small fires in this building. There is no reason for that building to come down the way it did. There is absolutely no question that building 7 was a controlled demolition, and yet our government and its NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, released a long-overdue report on building 7 a couple of years ago that claimed that the reason was ordinary office fires. It’s one of the most egregious cases of scientific fraud ever perpetrated. I mean anybody who takes a hard work at what happened to building 7 will have to admit that there is a huge problem in the official version of 9/11, and then they will look at the towers and discover that those too were controlled demolitions. We are talking about the most complex and sophisticated controlled demolitions that have ever been, even attempted, on this planet. So real experts did this, after a tremendous amount of planning and calculation and thought.
The plane that was supposed to have crashed in Pennsylvania, there was a television broadcast in Ohio that the plane had landed, had taxied to a NASA hangar and the people on board had been evacuated and no one has ever ever seen them again. Do you know anything about that?
There is a new member of Architects and Engineers for 9-11 Truth who is also an experienced pilot of these large airliners, and he is currently hiding in fear for his life in Pakistan, and in his statement, he states, flat out that the passengers on these planes were unloaded at Cleveland airport and killed, that is one very plausible hypothesis.
All right…the Pentagon…
Thierry Meyssan got it right in his book; L'Effroyable Imposture (9/11: The Big Lie) which came out in early 2002, and then he put “Hunt the Boeing” on his website, looking at these pictures of the Pentagon immediately after impact and you don’t see any evidence whatsoever of any plane crash there, and there is a little tiny hole in the first floor of the building…
And there is a broken window on the first floor, and that’s it.
But around the hole, the windows are actually unbroken, and then the lawn is unscratched. Now how can a plane go into that 20 foot hole and not break all the windows around it, not even any dents where the engines would have hit the building and not leave a scratch on the lawn? This plane is 40 some feet high, and it is just ridiculous to imagine that it could have gotten into that hole and not impacted the lawn and not left any marks where the engines were. There was very likely a bomb at the Pentagon, that went off at 9.31. Other witnesses agree that what happened was probably a bombing, April Gallop, who was injured, along with her baby, while working in the Pentagon, walked out of the hole and saw no evidence whatsoever of any plane crash and was taken to the hospital, and then surrounded by military guys, brow-beating her and telling her that there had been a plane crash. She is suing the Bush administration today for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks. If you look at the actual facts, they don’t add up, they don’t make sense, it was an insane idea to do this, they don’t care about any of this, because it was so shocking and terrifying that they were able to get the American people to swallow this insane story without even any evidence to back it up. We have strong evidence against them, and all we need is a subpoena-power-possessed investigation and this set of dominos will come down very, very quickly.
How has the world changed since 9/11?
It has changed for the worse, in so many ways. As I said the US military budget tripled, and that means that the amount of money that human beings are wasting on building technologies to kill each other is completely out of control and these bureaucracies of mass murder and lies have grown cancerously. So today the US economy is dead-in-the-water and it has been dead-in-the-water since September 2001, and that is the reason for the world economic crisis, the great exaggeration in military spending right here in the USA, what is changed is that we have gone from living in a reality-based world to living in an Orwellian nightmare world, of a boot-stomping-on-a-human-face-for-all-eternity, which is what we have been given post 9/11, and the only way to get back to some semblance of reality is to get to the truth of 9/11 and to establish the truth in court and for the history books.
Afghanistan, Iraq.. Would that have that all been possible without 9/11?
Absolutely not. You may recall that when Bill Clinton bombed the factory in Sudan, in retaliation for the Cole bombing he bombed the Taliban or supposedly al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, he was met with tremendous resistance, people said: Why are you killing all these innocent people in this nebulous retaliation for these nebulous events…so at that time the hands of American executive power were relatively tied. Today the President of the United States is just slaughtering people all over the world, he claims the right to murder, disappear and torture anybody including American citizens without any due process of law. So that has been the real change, I think, that they wanted to institute since 9/11.
15 September 2011, 18:02
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East expert and a professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Unfortunately, we have some more distressing matters to discuss. Can you fill us in on the situation between Turkey and Israel? In particular statements regarding supporting the Kurds by certain elements in Israel?
19 September 2011, 20:04
US Needs “Democracy and not Corporatocracy”
Bill Csapo One of Occupy Founders
Interview with Bill Csapo, an activist with OccupyWallstreet.org, one of the organizations responsible for organizing the protests, taking place in New York.
A lot of things are going on in New York. Can you give the listeners a few details? What exactly are you protesting?
Once again. I’ve answered this question before by saying that it would probably be easiest for people to just pick up any major newspaper and read the headlines. We are dealing with a pretty much broken system that is untenable, even patches are not going to hold it together for much longer. There is too much flow of wealth going in one direction and not enought flowing into the economy. And it is falling apart. The main theme, I would say, would be “Democracy and not Corporatocracy”.
Some are likening this to the Egyptian Spring. How many people are expected to take part in these protests? Is this going to grow into something huge?
We had reports of numbers in the triple digits in New York. That gathering was scattered by some actions, by the NYPD. And the crowd was dispersed into various other areas already. This was an anticipated action by the NYPD, so people had other places that they were gathering at. At 7 o’clock this evening, which is was several hours after the crowd was driven out by the NYPD action, we had a general assembly meeting. There were 1,500 at that meeting there. And there were other various meetings and gatherings going on in the neighborhood of Wall Street and Bowling Green. All they did was scatter the main gathering but those people were not going anywhere. When you come from Iowa to go to a protest, you don’t go for three hours.
How bad are things in the US?
The average wage of working folks in America hasn’t gone up since 1972. It has flat lined. In that time, production has doubled. OK, that’s alright we worked our wealth, that’sa lot of wealth being extracted. The way the American worker was made to accept this is that they were given easy credit. When that all blew up, of course, it is the workers fault for taking the credit. It doesn’t matter that they only had half the wages that they should have had. And what we are seeing now and those are pretty much, I believe, flaws that are built into a Capitalist system, where you have to keep extracting more and more wealth to make the profits go up, to stay up and the stocks markets to go up. Anyway, people are seeing this now and they are seeing that not only millions and millions of people laid off, with no hope of getting jobs. Their houses are being foreclosed, people are going homeless and empty houses are being bulldozed. And during this time more and more wealth is being extracted to the profits of financial institutions at great levels. The people are suffering. And if those who are running the show think that this is a situation that can hold, they are a little crazy.
Can you tell us what is going on there on the ground right now, from your view point?
As far as I know, as I said earlier, the main gathering was broken up but certain groups went to certain areas. The tactic by NYPD was foreseen. We have quite a few people there and we have quite a few people, who are committed to staying in the Occupation. They didn’t show up for a three-hour show. Some of these people came from a long distance and they came committed.
What are the protesters hoping to gain by this? Is there a concrete goal or do they just want to show they are dissatisfied with the way the system is working?
The main thing would be, of course, the social-economic issues I mentioned before. And this is not just something that is going on in the US. This involves the economic situation of the entire globe. As I said, the main theme would be “Corporate-ocracy, not Democracy.” Probably, what everybody is trying to do, and it’s because they are tired of being ignored for so long, is people are showing up to say “Hey, we are right here in the room, we are in the dialogue. We are not going to be ignored – not only in the political dialogue, but in economic and social dialogue also. We are not just here to produce, the 99% are not here to produce profits for the 1%.”
This is for everybody across the board, all, races, all nationalities, right? Anyone can take part in this?
We’ve had groups, a lot of your listeners may not understand it, but we’ve had groups more or less an analogy of Aunt Dee’s sewing circle, getting mad and showing up at Wall Street, from Mayberry. We also have some young activists. We have the whole spectrum.
Is this the beginning of protests or do you think things will calm down soon?
This is probably the beginning of a reasonably long process.
How do you think Americans feel right now about trillions of dollars being spent on empty adventures like Afghanistan?
People are, of course, sick of it. They’re sick to death of it, I also know treatment of the vets that are coming home. Vets shouldn’t have to come home after serving their country, for numerous tours of duty in some cases, and end up homeless.
Are the protests that are taking place right now expected to last several days? You said there were people coming from other states. You mentioned Iowa and other places.
Oh, yes, we have people who have come from other countries. The core group of this and everybody who is supporting it is pretty well aware, because, as I said, they got the messages on the forums, in the internet. This is a long-term operation. The people committed to this understand that this may last several months.
My last question is: how many people do you think are involved?
We’ve learnt from sources that an official police estimate put it in the triple digits at one point.
You are pretty much interested in occupying Wall Street and basically shutting it down?
It will be disrupted to the point that they will notice that something needs to be done.
Thank you very much, Sir. It was very nice speaking with you.
Very nice speaking with you too. You have a good one. Thank you very much. You don’t know how important this is to us. But maybe you do. It’s very important to get the word out. We are a little frustrated with media blackout here.
Well, you are not going to have a media blackout here in Russia.
20 September 2011, 14:39
US Weapons Used Against Protesters in Bahrain
Nabil Rajab President Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Interview with Nabil Rajab, President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and Deputy Secretary General for the International Federation of Human Rights.
Can you detail some of the human rights violations of the Bahrain government for our listeners?
We have a culture of human rights violation and of crime, committed against humanity in Bahrain, especially in the past 6-7 months, since the Arab uprising – and, as you know, we started our uprising on January 11. Since then, there was a bloody crackdown, where thousands of people were detained and tortures. At least two people for every thousand citizens were in detention, thousands of people sacked from their jobs, expelled from their schools, their universities. There were systematic tortures, hospitals were taken by the military and patients were abused and tortured in the hospitals. Many people fled the country as people died or were tortured to death. We have a bad human rights record, especially the one we have since last March.
There have been a lot of reports about US weapons being used to suppress democracy demonstrations in Bahrain. Can you give us some details on that?
First of all, the American political position on Bahrain was totally different from their foreign policy towards other revolutions and other uprisings that were calling for democracy and human rights. The Americans and some other western countries were very silent on Bahrain. And not only that. Their weapons were used against protesters and human rights defenders in Bahrain, especially tear gas. At least ten people died in the past ten days because of the tear gas that was used by the special forces and riot police. And this tear gas is made in Pennsylvania, in the US. Unfortunately, human rights record is not a standard to the Americans when they sell weapons to Bahrain. Bahrain has a very bad human rights record, and it was very disappointing for the people of Bahrain, for human rights activists and for democracy fighters that the US did not only take their side in the uprising but was supplying the repressive regime with weapons in the region. That has a very poor human rights record. The people of Bahrain look at the US very differently than they did before February 13, especially when they saw our revolution, our uprising, which was calling for democracy and human rights, being banned, punished – and they still gave them aid and they still supplied them with weapons and tear gas that was used against the protesters and democracy activists.
The US base in Bahrain, does that have any relationship for the US supporting government?
I think the US base is the policy-maker in Bahrain, rather than the Embassy and the State Department of the US in Bahrain. The US naval base has more power than the Embassy, and I think that was the main reason why the American government has taken the side of the Bahraini regime – because they see that their benefits and interests lie with the dictators and the repressive regime, not with any future democracy. People thought that the presidents of America and Bahrain would help them struggle for democracy and human rights. That’s what they thought in the past. But now it’s very clear: their president was very negative and helped the regime and the repressive ruler more than the people of the country.
So we see a complete double standard?
We are a victim of the American double-standard foreign policy, we are a victim of the American interests, we are a victim of the American military presence in Bahrain. For that reason, as well as due to the complication of US’s foreign relations with Iran and other countries, we have to pay the price, because the US government’ still sees its interests lie with the dictators in the Gulf Region. That’s why they have reacted very negatively in the Gulf region, totally different to how they had reacted in Syria, Libya, Iran and Egypt. You could see that when the US president in his speech, where Saudi Arabia wasn’t mentioned at all, although Saudi Arabia is known to have the most oppressive regime in the region, spoke about most of the Arab countries but not those countries, because I think the flow of the oil has more importance than human rights of the people here.
How many people have been killed, in your estimation, by the government of Bahrain?
At least 40 people were killed in the past months. Thousands of people detained and systematically tortured. Those numbers are very high percentage wise, if you take into consideration the population of Bahrain, which is around half a million people only. It is more than in Tunisia, it is more than in Egypt. But, unfortunately, we have seen complete silence from the US, because of their interests, because of their military presence, because of the arms sales, because of the oil sales. I think the US is creating people who don’t support it in the region. They have lost the hearts and minds of the people in that part of the region. Since my country gained independence, the army has been used only once – against peaceful protesters that were calling for democracy and human rights. It’s the only time that the Bahraini army has been deployed. Not only that, the Bahraini government did worse than any other country, because they killed their own people with their own army, but they invited other troops, from Saudi Arabia, from UAE, to take part in the bloody crackdown against the people of Bahrain.
You say, people are arrested, tortured and disappear, they lose jobs, they are kicked out of universities. On what basis could this happen?
Unfortunately, the crackdown has targeted people mostly in the sectarian basis, because the majority of protesters were calling for equality – they come from the indigenous Shiite population. The government targets them, targets their businesses, targets them at schools, at universities. Many people lost their sight because they were shot in the eyes.
Would you characterize human rights violations in Bahrain as crimes against humanity?
What happened in Bahrain is a crime against humanity.
22 September 2011, 17:04
"Palestine and Israel should choose quality of coexistence"
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East expert, talks about possible scenarios and impact of the Palestinian bid for statehood.
22 September 2011, 21:44
Occupy Wall Street
Protests Will Hit Wall Street Hard
Interview with Marisa Holmes, a member of the New York General Assembly and a participant in the occupation of Wall Street.
How are things holding up there?
There are about 300 people or so. We are going to stay the night and we are expecting more tomorrow. We have marches planned every day this week. Every morning, when the bell rings, we will be on Wall Street. When they close, we will be on Wall Street. And when we are not on Wall Street, we will be here, in Liberty Plaza.
How many people are you expecting in total?
On Saturday, we had about 2,000 people come down and not all of the people stayed. Right now, we have about 300 people, who are staying the night. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be more during the day. In the evening we usually get between 500 and a thousand people who come to participate in the assemblies. But not all of them will stay because people have families, there are things they need to do. We are keeping a consistent presence of about 300 or so and we are willing to stay and occupy the square as long as needed. And we are building permanent infrastructure, we’ve got an Indy Media Center with a Wi-Fi hotspot and like ten computers going. We are Tweating about this on Occupy Wall Street, we’re live streaming this to all of the other solidarity protests in Greece, in Spain, in Israel, in Egypt – all over. It’s amazing. We’re getting about 5,000 or so hits on the live-stream, consistently, like, even through the night, so that’s amazing. And we’ve got blankets, we’ve got tents, about 50 of them and we are prepared for the rain. Let’s see. We’ve got real team, a medic team, a food committee. We’ve gotten over $10,000 in donations.
So spirits are pretty high?
Yes, we are here for the long haul. We are going to stay.
Have you had any problems with police so far?
Yes, actually seven people have been arrested thus far, mainly on minor charges or no charges whatsoever. I mean it seems like they are picking people up, holding them and then releasing them a few hours later without even charging them, just in order to scare people basically. People are not getting scared. They are not submitting to fear.
The poliсe, they weren’t heavy-handed?
No, they’ve been pretty even-handed so far …... It’s politically advantageous for them to allow us to be here because we are non-violent and we are engaging in democracy. It would look really bad for them to crack down on a democratic protest. They have made illegal arrests they picked two people up today for drawing with chalk on the sidewalk at the front of the Plaza.
What are your long-term and short-term goals right now?
The short-term goal is, of course, to maintain the square, to stay here, in Liberty Plaza, as long as possible. Basically, we are creating a village. This is a village, a model for a new society that we want to build, one that is democratic, and just, and reflects the best of human capacities. What people are interested in is building new forms of religions, new forms of cooperation and economy and basically doing things ourselves, because established political institutions have failed us and it’s time that we take things into our own hands.
Can you tell us about some of the problems Americans are having right now?
I’m 25. I’m one of those over-educated, under-employed youths that you often hear about. I work under a precarious position as a freelancer – I’m a freelance filmmaker – and I’m representative of a lot of people here in a way, because it is a predominantly young crowd, a crowd that sees their future as being sold out and the United States is definitely not the land of the free, not the land of opportunity. We have incredible stratification of wealth here. Actually, if you look at the Gini coefficient wealth we have a greater stratification of wealth than Egypt did under Mubarak. The class struggle here is the class struggle everywhere.
Do Americans right now feel let down by the Barack Obama administration?
Yes. Obama gave a lot of false promises. He appealed to a progressive base, an anti-war base and a lot of these people are very disheartened, and disillusioned, and angry, because it’s important to them, and they placed their faith in him, and he’s let them down. And I think a lot of people are realizing now that change doesn’t come from a politician, change isn’t something given to you, it’s something that you have to make yourself. And we are seeing it here.
New York has become something like a Disneyland. It has become completely sanitized. As far as I know, there is police everywhere. Apparently, you guys are able to express yourselves freely, right?
Really, since Giuliani the city has become incredibly militarized, I mean we have over 30,000 cops in this city and the financial district in particular is very high-priority for the city and also high-priority for Homeland Security, and New York Stock Exchange is No.3 on the Homeland Security list. Yes, it’s a militarized zone that we have entered into and turned into something completely the opposite of that, which is kind of incredible. But the city has become privatized, the city has become uninhabitable, the city has become a place from which life cannot thrive. And we are trying to bring life back into the city, create a social center again. That’s really what the square is supposed to be about – creating that space from which something new can emerge, something that’s more humane, more just.
What do you think about this going nationwide?
There are solidarity protests, let’s see, in: Chicago, Wisconsin, San Francisco, Los Angeles, heard about something happening in Boston. Next month, in D.C., there is going to be another occupation, in front of the White House lawn, and a lot of people here are also going there. It’s becoming this “culture of the square” and people are really living in the square. It’s time that we stand up to the economic forces that enslave us and take back what is ours, which is the common – the common access to resources, to water, to land, to culture, to our ability to live as human beings on this planet. It’s time that we stand up to these masters that control us. That’s all I have to say.
29 September 2011, 17:00
"We Want True Democracy" Say SF Protesters
Interview with Sarah Page, one of the organizers of the Occupy San Francisco movement.
Interview with Sarah Page, one of the organizers of the Occupy San Francisco movement.
3 October 2011, 10:29
Israel Wants Negotiation for the Sake of Negotiation
Palestinian Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour
Interview with Palestinian Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour from the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations.
I’d like to ask you some questions regarding the historic bid of Palestine before the United Nations. Experts are predicting that Palestine may receive observer status, largely due to the US’ threat to veto. In what ways would this affect Palestine both positively and negatively?
Well first of all, you know, as a result of the historic day last Friday when president Mahmoud Abbass in fact did submit our application for full membership to the United Nations, he did that to the Secretary General, and we are grateful for the Secretary General for passing our application, within the span of one hour, to the president of the Security Council for consideration. Our application is in the Security Council and an appropriate committee, especially the committee of experts is handling our application and we hope that the Security Council to finish this exercise as quickly as possible, and to adopt a recommendation of approving our application so that the General Assembly can act on that recommendation and grant us what we deserve on the basis of our natural, historic and legal rights to become full members of the United Nations. However we also know that there is a powerful country with a veto power in the Security Council that is declaring that they will obstruct our efforts in the Security Council and will not allow us to have a recommendation from the Security Council to become a member. We will just have to give the Security Council some time, we hope, only a few weeks maximum, to act on our application before we consider other options, including the option in the General Assembly, where it will resolve the issue of the fact that Palestine is a state but it is not a full member of the United Nations, it is an observer non-member state and that would allow us to do many things. Especially joining all of the agencies of the United Nations because these agencies require from us to be a state, not a member-state of the United Nations. And if we become a member in these agencies, a full-member as the State of Palestine, then we will have rights and privileges as the rest of the members and that is a big step in the direction of ending the occupation, and independence of the State of Palestine, therefore full membership of the State of Palestine at the United Nations.
Are the expectations of the Palestinian people high?
Well the expectation of our people is high, because they participated in that historic day, Friday. It was not the decision of only our president and the leadership it was obvious that it is the decision of hundreds of thousands and millions of Palestinians. Those who went to the streets of the cities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and in the diaspora, rallying around the application of the president for membership, and rallying around his historic speech that he gave the General Assembly. In this connection I must add that almost the entire international community stood and clapped for President Abbass when he entered the General Assembly Hall. Even before he said a single word, and he received many times, a standing ovation and clapping for a few minutes when he specially raised in his hand a copy of the application of membership that delivered, that he had delivered to the Secretary General just a few minutes before he started his speech in the chamber of the General Assembly, and that is a testimony to the international support for the right of Palestine to become a full member at the United Nations.
Has the United States stated any conditions under which they would not veto the application?
The United States is opposing our effort in the Security Council and its opposing our effort to go to the General Assembly. They don’t want us to come to the United Nations period. What they want us to do is to go back to negotiations and they cannot even bring Israel into compliance with their obligation under international law and under the provisions of the Road Map which states clearly that Israel has to stop its illegal behavior of building illegal settlements in all of the occupied territory including East Jerusalem. They cannot stop Israel from doing so, they cannot bring Israel into compliance but yet they want us to go back to negotiations, and that is not possible, to negotiate with Israel while they are creating, unilaterally, illegal facilities on the ground. So how could we negotiate while they are continuing to build settlements?
If Israel, for example: stops settlement building would Palestine be willing to make concessions as well?
President Abbass said that he is willing to negotiate with the Israelis if they meet two obligations. One: There is global consensus at the UN that the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem are occupied territories that Israel occupied in 1967. When we negotiate borders we have to negotiate on the basis of the borders of 1967, accepting the principle of minor adjustments to the border mutually agreed upon by the two parties, and secondly: since there is global consensus on the fact that settlements are illegal obstacles to peace. Then there is a call by the international community to stop all settlement activities in the occupied territories including East Jerusalem while we negotiate. If they meet these two obligations then President Abbass said he is willing to negotiate with them. They gave their answer to the quartet statement two days ago when they announced the approval of the construction of 1,100 units in occupied East Jerusalem. These illegal activities is their practical answer of saying NO to the statement of the quartet inviting the two parties to go back into negotiations and to abide by international law, and to meet their obligations under the Road Map. Therefore you have it, Israel does not, in reality, want to negotiate on any basis. They want negotiation for the sake of negotiation.
What are your next steps towards receiving full status in the UN?
If we do not prevail in the Security Council, which most likely we will not, because of the position of one powerful country. Then the General Assembly could do many things, including not only upgrading our status to an observer state but also it could pressure the Security Council for reconsidering our application and approving our application for membership at the United Nations and it could also recognize the state of Palestine on the borders of 1967. The General Assembly could do a host of things, that will maximize the pressure on those who are obstructing our effort in the Security Council.
10 October 2011, 13:10
Israeli Agression: A War That Makes No Sense
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East Expert and Professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.
Recently you wrote a piece called The Inevitability of Coexistence, in which you detailed some of the things that could or should take place for the Israelis and the Palestinians to understand each other better. What can Palestinians and Israelis do to foster better understanding between their peoples?
18 October 2011, 16:46
Occupy Wall Street
Wall Street Occupation Continues
Interview with Marisa Holmes, a member of the New York General Assembly and an organizer in the occupation of Wall Street.
Could you give the listeners an update as to what is going on on Wall Street?
Mayor Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, came down few days ago and gave an announcement that the park is not clean and they need to clean the park. People of Occupy Wall Street realized that this is just to try to keep people from this park, so we decided to stay and we got a lot of supporters – thousands of people came to the park to rally round and to prevent the sanitation crews from coming in. Right at that moment we actually got a letter from Brookfield saying that we could stay and they were not going to have forces to have sanitation, that we could bear on sanitation. So, this is a big victory that we are allowed to stay in the park.
It’s fantastic, people are excited about victory and they are moving forward and continuing occupation.
Did you hear Mr. Ivan Markovich yesterday, did he speak there? He was a part of the Serbian resistance back in the 1990s, did you know that?
I wasn’t aware; I don’t think I saw him.
You didn’t listen to what he had to say?
I was there for the whole thing, but I don’t remember him. I remember two city councilmen coming in to make speeches, but there were other speakers, our speakers from Occupy Wall Street.
These councilmen were supporting you?
They were but in a very superficial way – they see that something is happening and they want to capitalize on that politically.
How many days have you been over there?
Are you ready for another six months or two years?
Yes, I am ready for a lifetime.
I hope that doesn’t happen. What’s going on tomorrow? There were supposed to be some international movements to support you.
Yes, there is an international call for the day of action against banks and primarily that was led by Spain, we actually came in later. Now they support us and we support them and we are definitely participating here, we have largely worked with SCRU, local networks, city workers, they are all coming out and then also Occupy Wall Street and Trinity organizations are going to converge on Time Square 5 p.m., basically just to show our discontent.
That's 5 o’clock on Saturday?
5 o’clock on the 15th everybody should go to Times Square, right?
Have you got any feedback with Michael Moore? He’s been out. Has he tried to contact you?
Yes, he contacted with the media and he actually donated some money to Occupy Wall Street Journal, he’s been very supportive. He’s also filming his own project, but he’s been very supportive to the media team.
Are you filming there?
Well, I’m participating in it and we are also documenting it.
What’s going on with the politics out there? Are you getting a lot of heat?
No, everyone is very supportive; they basically use momentum to push their own demands and policy agendas, not what we are seeing now, that is dangerous collocation.
So, are they trying to exploit you? Can you give us an example?
Some of them are very supportive and some of them have their own agenda. For instance, the Democratic Party is coming out to support us ‑ city councilmen, but also President Obama are making statements about Occupy Wall Street– that is favorable, just acknowledging that there is anger and frustration and something has to be done about it, but I think they don’t want to go beyond a certain sort of political institutions and limitations.
Have you had any more problems of the police? I saw some videos of some people being manhandled; I believe there were charges against a couple of officers that pepper sprayed some people in a face for no reason. Anything like that?
This morning six people were arrested in the march on Wall Street. I didn’t see any pepper spray, but the police used the clubs to keep people away.
They were actually beating people?
There have been no incidents like that, nothing like the Brooklyn Bridge or earlier on occupation.
What happened on the Brooklyn Bridge? You were there, right?
I was there on the bridge. Luckily, I was not arrested, it was a monstrous situation and you probably have read in The New York Times that there were 700 arrests. All these are pretty small scale, people were released quickly after because they did not have the capacity and they didn't want to take the time to do that.
Is it true that they actually have blocked the pedestrian areas and the only place you could actually walk was on the road and then they arrested everybody for that?
No, it wasn’t the only place to us, but there was definitively police presence at the beginning of the bridge and they allowed us to go and to some accounts the police actually told people that it’s ok to go.
That’s what I heard that they were like caught into a trap?
Yes, it was definitely a trap and it was anticipated that we would be going into the street and they huddled us as a result and threw a net around us.
What do you mean by “threw net around you”?
They had this orange net, so they just throw it around the crowd.
You are kidding, really? Like cattle or fish?
Did they use tear gas or anything?
No, they used pepper spray, but no tear gas so far.
Are you expecting things to get more difficult?
I’m expecting people to stay and to use non-violent means and direct actions.
19 October 2011, 15:58
Are US Accusations Against Iran Reasonable?
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Download audio file
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East expert and a professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.
19 October 2011, 16:02
NATO Planning First-Strike Again
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca.
19 October 2011, 16:49
Justice Will Prevail
Deacon Youssef Hanna
Interview with Youssef Hanna, a Deacon with the Coptic Church of Florida.
Can you give our listeners a quick overview of the Coptic-Christian faith?
Well, the Coptic-Christian faith dates back to the first century.
And the Coptic-Orthodox Church was established in Alexandria by Saint Mark the Evangelist, precisely in 45 AD and it has been surviving until this date.
Now, for hundreds of years Coptic Christians have lived in Egypt rather peacefully, I believe. What can you tell us about the recent violence? There is a report, says it's been sanctioned by the Government. Have you heard anything about that?
I don't know about the report by the Government but all what I know is that our Church or the Coptic Church or Christianity in general - it's a church of persecution. So, we know all this is expected. And, as we know, it is expected, and even the Coptic year it is, I've been about the Coptic calendar, I'm sorry, it's the calendar of the barters.
When you say that the year we revive here in 1728, you see, is after martyrdom, you know. So, that's the Coptic calendar. So, martyrdom has been known since the beginning of Christianity. And about the above situation in Egypt, actually the Copts, basically everyone who lives in Egypt of any religion or any sect should be called Coptic because the word "Coptic" itself is a nationality. Coptic means Egyptian, you could call the Christian Coptic as well, the Muslim could also be called Coptic, but to differentiate here I have to say Christian or Muslim, that's the difference. But all of them are Coptic and they mingled they mixed, so many, many Copts or Muslims are of Coptic origin or many Christians are from Muslim origin. So, it had been going on for the past centuries and everything was fine and actually the Muslims with the Christians, they've been living in peace but sometimes you get those people who are fanatic or who is serving certain objective and would like to stir a kind of, you know, misunderstanding or a storm, you know, between parties. So what do they say? They come and they play on both sides, you know, just to let the Muslim conflict with the Christian, but all this God is watching over us all whether we are Muslim or whether we are Christian. And you will never allow, you know, evil to get its way. So, at the end the truth will be known and I hope and I believe that in appearing year everything would be settled in Egypt.
What connections or what is your Church doing or are you doing anything to support the Christians in Egypt?
Well, we do of course. We send a lot of monetary help whenever we can. I mean supporting with subs the Church as the Church, we do a lot, it's up like cheer supporting. This is individual effort. Are we paying our ties? So everyone is free to pay whoever you want, sometimes I can put my ties for the construction of new church or sometimes I can write my check and say this is for the poor in Egypt, so it's oft like an organized thing, you know. Everyone, every member of the congregation is free to direct his finances to whatever you want. So, more than that, I can assure you this is exactly what's happening and this is what I know. But of course the best help that you are doing is that you are praying for them and we are quite sure God will listen to our prayers and will restore the peace in Egypt and I'm saying peace between everyone, I'm sure and very optimistic because there're so many of the good, moderate Muslims who would like to live in peace. Actually they are backing the Christians and even we will stand, all the Christians will also stand by the Muslims if they have to face any kind of trouble. Between these people there are some fanatics, as I said earlier, and those people, they would like to create some conflicts and it's happening in all the world.
Can you say anything about the churches now, apparently two churches were destroyed. What can you tell us about the churches?
I haven't heard about this news. I only heard that there was a church in Southern Asia that was burnt or destroyed. It was done illegally.
And the only problem there is why would people themselves, they would do that with their own hands and why they would not let proper authorities to intervene, that's the whole issue.
Oh, there are a lot of issues here because I have, apparently, the reports of a scene, that the churches there were actually two and they had been there for a very long time and this was apparently...
Yeah, I heard that the church had been there for a long time, but I don't know exactly about the sanctions, I don't know about the Government's decision about that, because you asked me and I never heard of that.
What connections are between the Orthodox Church, for example of Russia, and the Coptic Church?
It's exactly the same, the same rights, the same rituals and whether it's Russian, Ukrainian, Armenian Orthodox, we call all of them "brothers of faith". And all the people of Egypt including the Muslims, the good people, the good Muslims they want to live in peace. And, let me tell you, many of them are there. And justice will prevail. No one will intervene except God in this kind of conflict.
22 October 2011, 11:42
Gaddafi Assassination: A Brutal Gratuitous Slaying
Gaddafi Assassination: A Brutal Gratuitous Slaying
23 October 2011, 10:32
Gaddafi: The End of the Era
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Alon Ben-Meir, US expert on the Middle East and the professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.
27 October 2011, 19:05
"Gaddafi was fighting till his last minute."
Interview with Omar Turbi, a Libyan expert and an advisor to the National Transitional Council of Libya.
What do you see as the future holding for Libya now that Gaddafi is gone? Do you see this as the end to an era or the beginning of a new era?
It’s a transition. Definitely, we’ve gone through many-many different transitions in the last 8-9 months. This particular one is very important because it closes a chapter on Gaddafi’s regime. And I may add that it didn’t end in a way that conveys to the world the level of civility as far as capturing and dealing with Gaddafi. I’m one of those people who really wanted to try him and give him a fair trial. And the Council in particular called for catching him alive and trying him. But the world doesn’t recognize that the Council can only do so much in making different councils around the country do what they want them to do, because there is no elected body yet. And the country is moving forward as best as it can. When you have lived over 40 years with a regime that was so brutal to people and deep in crime and corruption to an unbelievable level, you can help to say that when you live by the sword like Gaddafi had you die by the sword. In other words, right till the last second of his life, he was fighting. He has a gun on him, he had people around him that fought for him. He had many opportunities to escape the country or go to some places in Africa, but he chose to stay.
You don’t agree with the way he was killed?
Not at all. I don’t think a good number of people in Libya, at least civilized ones, in the NTC or in the interim government that didn’t like the way he was finally captured and killed.
So that was not ordered by the Council? The Council had nothing to do with it? It’s terrible to think that a fair and just democracy could be started with such an act of barbarism, in my opinion.
You know you are right. I think the world is looking at Libya and says: what are you guys doing? You are trying to take a dictator from brutal dictatorship and replace him with another one that imprisons people and kills people. But I mean you can for a moment excuse the accident that has taken place because you can consider them acts of war, because when you have two warring parties. Even under the Geneva Convention, you can detain people, you can treat them right. Nobody stops you from killing your enemy that holds a high level of animosity against you and wants to kill you. That’s where I’m getting at. But if you are civilized and you are trying people, I think, because we don’t live alone – you know, we have neighbors around us, we have the world community, we want the world to trust us and trust our judgment, trust our character – the thing that was out of character is to hold Gaddafi in the freezer for several days and let people look and look at him, because in the Arabic tradition you bury the body as quickly as possible. Those are mistakes and those are things that I do strongly believe were beyond the control of the NTC. They didn’t really announce that and didn’t talk about that simply because they were in a really precarious situation. They can’t tell the public: hey, you know, you shouldn’t have done that, because everybody is happy, because they finally got the man that was after them and killing them for the last several months.
Have you talked to the council recently?
Yes, I talk to them on a regular basis.
This has frightened many people – the statement that Sharia law will be implemented in the country and not only Sharia law but a very strict form of Sharia law. What can you say about that?
First of all, Libya is a Muslim country – Sunni, Maliki. So the religious aspect of Libya cannot be taken away from Libyan. But I think that Libyan people are very progressive. They are not isolated from the world around them. There is a constitution that has been largely adopted, except for a couple of articles in it, that dictates rule of law, that dictates judicial system, that dictates that elections must be implemented. Although Islam is a very important component of Libya and the Libyan people, most definitely Sharia law is not going to be applied in its strictest fashion.
You say it’s not going to be?
No, I can’t say yes or no, because it remains to be seen who are the members of the parliament, who is going to be the prime minister. All I can establish is – and that is very important – they usually apply their way of thinking in the process. I can’t say it’s not going to, but, from understanding the psyche of the Libyan society, I don’t believe that this will be the case. So, taking a word out of the context of Abdul-Jalilm would not be a good thing.
So what he said is not the council’s official stand?
No, definitely not the council’s, as not of many people. if this guy remains in power and remains someone who hands down decisions, then we are in big trouble.
Who are we talking again? What’s his first name?
You are saying he won’t be in power. So, those are his own, personal statements. That’s not the position of the council.
Let’s hope. We’ve had enough – I mean we’ve had a share of people handing down decisions without the consensus of the people, without due democratic process. God, we’ve had a lot of that in the Middle East.
That’s why I used the world “dictatorship.” Do you see a position for yourself in the new Libya? Would you like to return when things stabilize in the country?
I don’t know, to be honest with you, because when you’ve lived in the West, lived in the US for a long time, based on studies and statistics and experiences, these people say that people who have lived outside the country are not proper rulers. People who are inside should. I mean we will be allowed to stay around to help them out. If they ask me to take a role or provide a public service I’ll have to do that and I will do that. But you know, there is a definite misunderstanding with the definition of “public service” in the Middle East and North Africa, even in Libya, for sure. A public service is an opportunity to bring in your relatives, friends and everybody you know and an opportunity for you to make money. You are really hired to service people in the proper way, you can’t view a public service as an opportunity to make money. Right now there are just people who are clamoring to take the position within the new regime. But they may see that as being an opportunity to personally and financially grow.
I don’t think you would do that, would you?
Of course, not.
Gaddafi was Main Target of US Libyan Operation
Interview with J.M. Berger of INTELWIRE.com and the author of the book Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam.
The Libyan situation has changed drastically in the last few weeks. Where do you think the country is headed?
It’s very difficult to say right now. From a western perspective. We really don’t know a lot about the rebels. We don’t know what kind of plans they have for a political transition. This is all being decided now. We did have the announcement this week that the new government will be based on Sharia law and whether that means it is going to be a full-fledged Islamist government or something more in the model of Iraq, where the constitution is based on Sharia but there is still a strong democratic elements. So we are in a waiting mode to see what happens with this. Depending on if they are going to take a parliamentary route or not. But clearly it’s going to be more Islamist than it currently is.
How do you think it’s going to play out with the US in the region?
What we lack right now is a really clear political consensus in this country on what our position is regarding Islamist states and whether they are conducive to our national security and our foreign relations. We are seeing the emergence of a lot of different kinds of Islamist movements, which are more moderate than some of the Islamic governments we’ve seen in the past. But there is really no consensus in our political process about what kind of end states we’d like to see for these Arab spring countries, other than very idealistic, pie-in-the-sky dream of democracy everywhere. No one is really prepared to have that kind of conversation here and I think it’s going to be a while before anybody can really approach the subject this way in the country. One of the problems with our foreign policy is that we don’t have clear reasons why we intervene in one place and we don’t in another. The situation in Syria is certainly very bad for the people of Syria. I don’t want to hazard a guess as to whether Assad can survive this.
It seems to me and to a lot of people around the world that the whole operation was just to get and kill Gaddafi. What do you think about that?
I think that was clearly the goal of the operation. I mean Gaddafi’s presence in the country as a threat to his population was the stated reason for this. So, with Gaddafi gone and no visible loyalists stepping up to take his place, it is appropriate, within the context of the rationale that was given, that we are leaving.
What do you think about the way he was killed?
I think it was pretty unfortunate. I think a trial would have been better. It was pretty ugly thing. But that’s not something we could control and the leadership of the rebels couldn’t stop that either – there was a lot of pent-up emotion that came out. But it was certainly not in keeping with the international standards and really not an ideal resolution for this. A trial would have been better.
I don’t know if you can counteract or speak to the statements made by John McCain – I’m sure you’ve heard of them – threatening other world leaders.
John McCain is not in the position to make decisions about the foreign policy in this country, nor is he going to be.
I hope not either.
Sure not. He is not a player in the current presidential election, you know. He is expressing his view but he is not going to decide anything.
You don’t think he’ll end up in the White House next time?
He is not even running. It’s too late in the process for him to jump in.
The thing I found strange was: Obama comes out – he makes statements about victory, McCain comes out – he makes threats, and the White House says nothing. They didn’t say anything about it. So, basically, in the minds of many, they are supporting what he said. How could they claim the death of Gaddafi as their own victory if apparently it was carried out by independent rebels in the street?
I think it is important actually to the US that this not be seen as the US having taken out Gaddafi. We provided support to the population and they did the work. We just provided air cover. And even the United States relative to Europe, had a relatively lower role in this. So, I think it was important in the minds of the people crafting this policy that, whatever change happened in Libya, it would be owned and operated by the Libyan people.
It just seemed to be: we took him out, we’re going to take you out if you don’t follow our line. And that’s what it came across as with McCain and all his statements about victory and “We did it!” and everything else.
I don’t think that reflects the Obama administration’s view on foreign policy. Based on what the Republicans are saying, I don’t think that there is any thirst for that kind of foreign policy either. I think that America has certainly learnt from what’s happened in Iraq and what happened in Afghanistan and I don’t think we are looking to pick fights. But certainly the Obama administration has outlined what it has called its responsibility to protect the policy and it’s going to lead to more interventions. I think the idea is that it’s going to be more limited and they are going to be focussed on taking out specific bad actors.
Again, taking out actors. You don’t have a problem with that?
I wouldn’t say that I endorse that policy. I’m just saying what this policy looks like. But what I think is that I would like to see a public dialogue in this country that better defines how and where we use legal force in the world. I am open to different approaches to using our military strength. But I don’t think that we’ve seen a clear statement of principles that would guide how that strength is used. And I think that’s a real problem for us. And I think that’s not just a foreign policy problem. I think, generally speaking, US policy in the recent years has been very ad hoc. It’s just pretty much opportunistic taking action for the sake of taking action. I am not seeing a scheme of thoughts that goes behind this and allows us as Americans and the rest of the world to understand how the US is going to act in any given situation.
Like a bunch of builders, building a building, without an architect.
Right. Something like that. Since September 11 we’ve had a very reactionary set of policies and we’ve seen this within our country in terms of how we handled the banking crisis, for instance. And we’ve seen it in our foreign policy. What I think we would benefit from is for the president to come out and outline in very clear terms what we feel our scope of authority to act outside of the country is.
31 October 2011, 16:01
"The American system is broken"
Interview with Occupy Portland media liaison Jordan LeDoux.
Can you fill our listeners in on what is going on there, in Portland? Apparently, there were several arrests made today.
Yes, earlier today 25 people were arrested in a park here, in Portland, called Jamison Square. The protesters were sitting peacefully. There were no clashes with the police, no violence or anything like that. It was more to make a point that our First Amendment rights don’t end at midnight. They exist everywhere all the time. In the end, we felt it was more important to hold on to our rights of free speech and free assembly than it was to try and find the solution that was acceptable to the Mayor’s office.
How many people are there, in Portland?
We have about 500-800 full-time campers and about 2,000 people that come to the camp daily.
Have you had any of your grievances addressed by anybody? Have any politicians or any officials come out to your meetings and try to interface with your people?
We’ve had the Mayor come out. We’ve had several of the City Council members come out. We’ve had some of our state representatives come and speak. The things that we’ve specifically brought up with the city so far have related to “instant runoff voting” (IRV), which is a specific format of voting that removes parties from the process. Basically, you rank your candidates according to how much you would like to see them elected. If no one gets a clear majority, the ranking is used to determine who the winner is.
That doesn’t really sound like democracy to me.
Yes, we are interested in returning the voice of our government back to our people. That is something that has been missing for far too long. The people here in the US have just been controlled by our two-party system. And there is nothing wrong with that if our representatives actually represent the people. But they haven’t been. And we’ve been trying to voice that as a society for 30 years, and nothing has changed. So we’ve stood up and said: no, we’ve had enough; we are not going to be quiet anymore; we want something that works.
Are you saying that corporations are running the country?
Yes, in a large sense, they are. People can’t get elected here without some huge corporate support. That is not what government looks like. That is not democracy looks like.
I mean, how can you have a public servant who needs a billion dollars to run for office? Is that really a public servant?
Yes, it simply shouldn’t cost a public servant a billion dollars to go to people and say I think you should vote for me.
Can you give us a good example of this huge difference in wealth between the rich and the poor?
As for the wealth disparity in the US, the US is the wealthiest country in the world. That wealth doesn’t extent to a lot of people here. I think it is ridiculous that, with all the hard work that we put in as a society, America as a country, the people in America work more hours per person, per employee than almost anywhere else in the world, but we have almost nothing to show for it, because our system is designed to take the work of everybody and just funnel it to these people who have 3-4 houses, 2-3-million dollar houses. And the disparity can be seen here, in Portland, in places like Lake Oswego, which is a little neighbourhood here, in Portland. It’s a very-very white neighbourhood. There are no minorities there. And that doesn’t represent what America is. We have a huge wealth disparity between minorities and whites in this country. And not just that. We have a huge wealth disparity between rich whites and poor whites in this country. It’s a class issue. It’s a racial issue. And it’s just a societal issue. We have people that can barely provide food for themselves. And then we have others, who have hundred-million-dollar boats. I can assert that we are past that, as a society. These are problems that we can solve and we just haven’t.
Would you say that that is an institutionalized problem throughout the entire system?
A lot of people say that the American system is broken. I think that’s kind of a misnomer. The American system is doing exactly what it is supposed to do right now. This is what is supposed to happen in the system that we have. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that we shouldn’t have corporations, that we shouldn’t have capitalism itself or anything like that. I don’t know the answers to that. But I do know the specific system we are using right now. We have very few people that make decisions that affect every person not just in this country but on this planet. Decisions that are made by these people here, in the US, don’t just affect American citizens – they affect people all over the world. I think that what we are doing right now is having such a huge negative impact on the people of this planet that we just can’t continue doing that.
One of the definitions in the dictionary of “fascism” is “a government that is controlled by corporations.” Would you characterize that as being the current US government? Is it being controlled by corporations?
That’s true in some senses. I don’t think that’s true in an absolute sense. We, thankfully, still don’t have corporations that actually write laws. But they get as close as they can to that. I think we are getting there. I think that’s the direction this country is going. and I think a lot of the people here and across the rest of the country that are standing up in this Occupy movement are saying no, we are not going to let it get there. We are not going to sit still and let you, guys, completely control everything that we have.
How long are you, guys, ready to keep on protesting until something is done?
Right now, everybody I’ve talked to is ready to stay here as long as we have to. I’ve heard people talk about staying here for the next six months or until the elections. I think these people are committed. You know, no matter what this movement looks like for anyone out there, as disorganized as it looks, there is no demand or things like that – this is not a movement targeting at politicians, at least not entirely. One of the things we’re targeting is you, the people. We’ve let this happen. And we can’t keep letting it happen.
3 November 2011, 18:53
Protests in Oakland: are they revolutionary?
Interview with Noah Rothman, a politics news editor at Ology.com.
Can you give us your view point and let us know what is going on with US protests?
The movement has had a significant impact on media coverage and how politics is discussed in the US. We’ve actually seen a fair amount of rather disturbing video in places like Oakland in California, where the protesters were tried to be evicted. A variety of things came out: flash hand grenades were used and riot techniques, where mounted police tried to move people. Some rather disturbing imagery. But it’s been a fascinating movement that had grown rapidly in only 6-7 weeks.
Flash grenades were used?
That is unconfirmed. But that is certainly what it looks like. I believe the official police story at that time was that there were fireworks or something on those lines. But, from the videos that are available on YouTube that I’ve seen, there is definitely some ordinance that was used to remove those protesters.
I’ve been following this pretty much from Day 1. I talked to some of the New York people the first night out. At the beginning they seemed to be pretty loosely organized, to put it lightly. Do you see any tightening of the organization or is it pretty much just people doing what they want when they want?
I think you are right. What you’ve seen, as much as you can speak for them as a group, they are not fond of centralization and they don’t like to speak with authority, which is why, as a movement, they had a significant impact on the dialogue. But what you are unlikely to see is an impact on elections directly. They do not seem particularly fond of voting and I don’t know if you can really blame them. But they believe that participation in the political process is really not worth the time you would spend on it. So I don’t think you are going to see a Tea Party-like movement worried about the primaries of those Democratic candidates that the movement doesn’t agree with, for example, which is something the Tea Party does actively. I don’t think you’ll see a wave of elections necessarily on the backs of Occupy Wall Street movements. But the Democratic Party absolutely needs that energy and they are trying very hard to harness this movement and move it in a more organized political direction. So far, they haven’t had much luck.
How are they expecting to affect change and stay away from politics?
What you are seeing, at least from the perspective of the Oakland branch, is that they are trying to harness the techniques of Labour’s days of old by organizing them into a general strike and forcing change from below through a radical social organization. It’s, in my opinion, a little romantic, a sort of not really understanding the impacts of what that can have. And, frankly, the days when organized Labour was such a dramatically large force that it could move politics by getting out in the streets are long gone. What we are seeing in the US is a fundamental battle setup of the country vis-à-vis organized Labour in red states, purple states, like Ohio, Wisconsin, New Jersey and New York, where they were curtailing collective bargain rights. And it really backfired. At the time when Labour should be focusing on public relations they are getting imbedded with real militant organizations that idealize revolutionary change. And that’s what Occupy Wall Street appears to be infatuated with. I just don’t think that it has the impact it used to.
Do you really think they are revolutionary? They seem pretty peaceful to me.
Yes, I think I agree. And I don’t think anybody is capable of violence or organization on a particularly large scale. And I don’t think this is what the goals of this movement are. I think they want peaceful change through marching and organization but not voting, not participating in the political process, they hope it will happen by virtue of changing of a tide, as it were in the hearts of ordinary Americans. I don’t think they are going about that the right way by organizing a general strike. But I think it appeals to a romantic notion of political change that was accomplished in the early 20th century. There’s certainly been a movement recently in a direction towards disparity among income. But what we are seeing more is a disparity among incomes between the upper middle class and the high high class and the lower classes as oppose to the middle class and the lower class, e.g. the 99% versus the upper classes. The upper class and the middle class are moving up – but they are moving up at a much slower rate. So, if you want to make that argument, I believe there is data for it, but there is also data I’ve seen to refute it, and it just depends on an economist you talk to. But that’s again not something that is going to move the middle and that’s really hard evidence of it. In a recession, you can make that case, but that’s when everybody is hurting. And it might play out politically. In fact, we’ve seen President Obama’s poll numbers go up rather significantly over the last month, when he’s embraced Occupy Wall Street and embraces a lot of their rhetoric. So, it may be moving the needle in that direction and that is maybe at time when income redistribution can play out politically, whereas in the past it has not. People are responding to that. Polls are showing that people are responding at least to the message of Occupy Wall Street. And they think they are in the right place politically. So, that may move the needle, as I said, but trying to move economically and empirically with data that incomes have in fact dramatically changed vis-à-vis the lower class and the upper middle class and the high class, it’s a little more difficult to prove. That is to say: is everybody hurting? we need to change – that’s resonating. And that’s absolutely on the democratic side, which is giving them a lot more energy that they need maybe a year down the line. And hopefully it doesn’t peak for them a little too soon. It’s absolutely energy on their side, and energy they desperately needed for the last two years.
What is the opinion of most Americans about Obama currently, especially democrats and people who really it is a hope message?
You don’t see a lot of people talking about hope and change anymore, you really don’t see that – a rank-and-file world rally about President Obama when it was time to vote. You don’t really see a whole lot of fans of the president. And that’s natural. I think, once the country really begins to gear up September after the Labour Day next year, I think you are going to see a whole lot of that stance on the issue. Most people on the left and then the center Democrats and independents who voted for Obama, are rather disappointed. The economic numbers are particularly bad. And all the changes that the Democratic Party has been able to deliver in the last two years of its government that were put under control of Washington, are not particularly popular. So, there is not a lot to run on. They have to run against. And they need the Republican Party and the Republican nominee in order to run against next year. The president has really enshrined a lot of President Bush’s techniques when it came to national security that were deprived. Rendition and extradition of terrorist suspects aboard is still practiced. There has even been an expansion in the theatres in which we engaged. We’ve seen increased airstrikes by unmanned drones in Pakistan and Yemen. Thad’s something that the Bush administration would have been taken to answer for. And what we are seeing now is that it’s basically enshrined in the national ethos.
"No one wants another war in the Middle East"
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East Expert and a Professor from the Center For Global Affairs at New York University.
10 November 2011, 17:22
Iraq 2003/Iran 2011: Parallel Can't Be Missed
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca.
You’ve read the IAEA report on Iran. Can you give us your quick overview?
Capitalism Has Grown Parasitic
Interview with Tim Summers, the former National Campaigns Officer with the Green Party of England and Wales in the UK, and a former political cartoonist and a current political activist.
I’d like to ask you a few questions on the Occupy movement, which started in Madrid and has become a worldwide phenomenon. Do you think this will be a flash in the pan or are they here for a long run?
Well, I think that the system, the police, the governments are doing everything they can to resist. The Church of England is in crisis at St. Paul’s regarding the occupation of their forecourt there. The occupations will have to keep taking new forms, new venues, new sites for occupation, but the energy is mounting – it’s not diminishing. Last week, there was a big occupation of Oakland docks, the big docks of Oakland, California, by a mass movement calling itself “99%.” That relates to a statistic of wealth in America, and, they closed down the whole port of Oakland for a day. The strange thing is that all these movements have different names for themselves but the focus comes down to the same thing – the injustice in capitalist economics, which is structural, of course. It focuses a lot on the banks and the corporations, naturally, but, of course, as capitalism moves deeper and deeper into crisis, so its bare bones are revealed.
Would you say this is a lesson that might be learned by the Russian Federation as a new democracy? Do you think this is a warning of the dangers of capitalism?
Yes, absolutely. It’s an interesting sign of this period – that the old left, the old left-wing of the world is pretty well irrelevant to the anti-capitalist actions that are sweeping the world today.
Why do you say that, why do you say they are irrelevant?
Well, that they have so little to offer politically. The youth, the young people who are so motivated in a spirit of self-sacrifice, or self-liberation to take part in these things that have worked out a sort of ethos for themselves outside and perhaps even despite of the old left. The first wave of socialism that broke after The First World War has now atrophied into just crumbling sects of the old Labour Party, or Stalinist kind of formations, and it’s going nowhere, recklessly trying to keep up with the pace of developments.
What do you think about their organization? They seem lost to me, I don’t know.
Yes, I do agree with you. The protest movement isn’t anti-capitalist in the sense that they want to actually change the capitalist regime. They want to stop the bonus culture of the banks. They want banks to be restricted by governments, to be more modest in their self-payment and more cooperative in loans to the first-time house buyers, small businesses and so on. Capitalism in its evolution has become a system dominated by the banks. For example, they’ve just determined that the government of Italy and Greece should fall and be replaced by something else. That’s bankers’ power, it’s not any other form of power. It comes from a troika of the International Monetary Fund and other sort of big international banking groups. They’ll have to think of something better than capitalism if their wishes are going to be sustained in the longer term. Yes, all the comforts and expectations of the long capitalist boom that followed The Second World War are now coming to an end and all those, sort of, the way of life almost of people expecting to be employed having got a qualification are ending. The whole expectation of further and higher education that became a way of life is ending with tuition fees in Britain and other impediments internationally. A lot of the comforts of the rich countries in the post-war period are now grinding to a halt. That’s why so many people are getting angry and calling themselves “99%.
Who would you blame for this?
I would blame the structural nature of capitalism itself in its final phase, but late capitalism is a fading, rotten parasitic system that is addicted to oil and constant war. The anti-war movement is very strong in Britain and internationally I think, and yet war clouds hang over Iran every day. This need of capitalism to fight wars is to seize the depleted natural resources of the planet in a very desperate way. In Afghanistan, they need the rare earth metals and minerals that are to be found in that volcanic part. In Iraq, for example, it was a massive oil theft. The countdown now to war with Iran is also a planned massive oil theft because the world’s resources are depleting fast and the corporations only understand growth. Capitalism can’t take a position in its board rooms for zero growth, as any ecologist will spell out to you is necessary. It has to go on plundering the Earth’s resources for its profitability. It is an out-of-date system. It’s going into complete crisis and meltdown.
What’s going on with the Church of England, with the activists? They were at St. Paul’s Cathedral, apparently, and they were going to call the police or something.
It caused a terrific crisis in the Church of England because they had to start debating what they were there for. Are they there as property owners and revenue raisers? Or are they there as addressing the spiritual needs of the people? The Church of England itself has become a very Establishment organization. But the leading cleric, the Archbishop of Canterbury, took the moral high ground, I’m pleased to say, so the protesters haven’t been moved on yet.
Occupy Wall Street
US is Not a Democracy
Bill Csapo OWS organizer
Interview with Bill Csapo, an Activist and Organizer with OccupyWallStreet.org.
How are things holding up? Can you tell our listeners a little bit about what’s going on with the police shutting down the encampment at the park?
As you know, the momentum of this movement was just incredible and completely unforeseen. I have had some training and experience as organizer and, from what I’ve seen, there is no doubt that this is a grassroots movement, because something like this doesn’t happen with somebody pushing from behind. We’ve had 100-150 occupations going on in the US right now, with a variety of suppressing in the area. Some occupations are supported by the municipality therein, some, as you’ve seen in Oakland, were harshly suppressed. A variety of movements have been suppressed. We had a vicious fact at Celebrity Square in New York City Occupy Wall Street last night. The site was swept cleaned. The tents, sleeping bags, computers – pretty much all possessions were cleared away and thrown in dump trucks. We had 5,000 books thrown into dumpster. More or less paramilitary-styled police surrounded the square. The occupiers gathered at Canal, at 6th Street, and took a temporary occupation of Trinity Church, which is private ground.
Just a little while ago, the Manhattan Supreme Court had it found in our favour and barricades went down, the police backed up and we are trying to sort out whose property is whose and what was destroyed and such, because our property has been ordered to be returned. There is a complete mess and a quite vicious attack on the part of Mayor Bloomberg and NYPD. Mayor Bloomberg stated that he was concerned about safety issues. When there is a choice between safety issues and constitutional rights, safety issues, health issues take precedence over the constitution. So we are now worried about the dictatorship of the Department of Health, I guess. That’s what he is trying to say.
I saw photos of piles of stuff. That’s just horrible. Everybody’s computers. They didn’t give people a chance to even pack up?
No. Not at all. This was an attempt to suppression. This was a very violent attack. The NY City Council member was arrested and suffered an injury. People were injured. About 100 people were arrested. This was not pretty. This was a very ugly thing for them to do. They threw away 5,000 books in a dumpster. They threw out our library. They came in dressed in a very tactical manner. People that I’ve spoken to said it was military-type black gear on them. They went in with an expressed purpose of educating to the point that people would riot and they were ready for a riot. They were dressed for it, they were armed for it, they were deployed for it. And they went in, and it didn’t happen.
So, they were trying to provoke a riot?
From their actions, yes, they were ready for a riot. They were ready for a serious riot and serious suppression. Even the demeanor of the police. People I’ve spoken to said this did not appear to be regular police.
So, they were like paramilitaries. Our report says about seventy people were arrested. Is that correct?
Yes, I can say that I’ve seen that number as a confirmed number. That would be the real estimate.
Were there any injuries, any people taken to hospital?
We do know that the City Council member was injured and taken to hospital. I did see it referred to later as a serious injury. I don’t have a new story on that yet. I read about that in one of our operations rooms.
What is the City Council member’s name?
Ydanis Rodriguez. He is the 10th District Council member of New York City in Manhattan. He was beaten and arrested last night. He was heavily injured.
He is the 10th District Council member and he was beaten and arrested?
It’s already snowing here a little bit. What’s the weather like there and what are your plans?
It is the middle of November, so, of course, it’s going to be getting colder for a while. The people are aware of this and we are keeping supplies in our camp. They know how to camp in this weather. Unfortunately, we have a lot of people in this country right now who have experienced in the last 10 years of how to camp in harsh weather, veterans. So there are experienced people. And, as I said, unfortunately, we have that experience. So we have their knowledge there. And, even last night when they came and took out tents and sleeping bags and blankets, the people were still committed to occupying as they had to stay in the rain. The weather will be harsh, but it happens every year and people know how to take care of it.
We started to report about a group last week – about ten people, one of them was barefoot – that headed off for Washington on foot.
Yes, they are marching to Washington and I think they are planning on arriving there on 22nd . And one of the occupations in DC, the Freedom Plaza occupation – I got in touch with people who work on this – is going to have a group come from their occupation and march up to meet them. And then, they’ll all return to Washington together. We’ve had a lot of people call in from New Jersey. A Church Federation called in and offered them room and board all the way across. They are doing well. They’ve got a lot of support, a lot of people behind them. It’s a nice.
You said a Church Federation offered them room and board? That’s good.
They have been travelling 20 miles a day. They’d have meals on their way and place to sleep.
In New York City, how many people have you got now?
There are 650 committed Occupy activists there. And, of course, throughout the weekend, whenever we have an operation, a march or something like that.
Is it still going up to 2,000-3,000 like it was before?
Yes, for marches and such, easily. I’d just like to say that, whenever when in a nation one of political parties can be purchased, that nation is not by definition a democracy. You can call it a plutocracy, an anarchy or a plutarchy, or whatever. What doesn’t enter into definition is democracy. The US is not a democracy. And that is what we are struggling for – to ‘install’ in the US a democracy.
19 November 2011, 13:25
SOPA: The U.S. Censoring the Internet
A Senate committee passed an act recently called the Protect IP Act but then, just as quickly, a Senator from Oregon, Ron Wyden, put the bill on hold because as he said, it would “muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth.
A Senate committee passed an act recently called the Protect IP Act but then, just as quickly, a Senator from Oregon, Ron Wyden, put the bill on hold because as he said, it would “muzzle speech and stifle innovation and economic growth.”
The latest piece of internet blacklist legislation, known as the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House of Representatives, was introduced by the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) who claims it is for the purpose of shutting down foreign sites that post intellectual property created by U.S. firms, goes even further than the Protect IP Act.
The act would allow the US Justice Department powers to punish and shut down websites, both in the U.S. and anywhere in the world and go after companies that provide support for them, either technically or through payment systems
The US and the West have long criticized China for stifling dissent and for censorship but now they are not only joining China but they are taking censorship even further and attempting to censor the whole world.
The international implications of SOPA are worrying for as experts claim: it appears that the US is taking control of the entire world. The definitions written in the bill are so broad that any US user who uses a website overseas immediately gives the US the power to potentially take action against it and enable them to force ISPs to DNS-block any foreign site.
On a global scale it grants the U.S. Government far-reaching powers to go after Web sites which it claims are hosting copyrighted content. According to Public Knowledge a group which promotes a free internet “SOPA is significantly worse than its Senate cousin” because even sites that are not directly responsible for their content can be held liable and shut down, including sites such as search engines.
Not long ago the U.S. admitted that it was in a state of information warfare and that it was losing the war. So what do you do if you are losing the information war? You muzzle the messenger.
SOPA is not being rushed through to protect against copyright theft, the US is scared, the Arab Spring has become the Western Fall and the U.S. is going all out against those who dare to question the official US Government line, something that the internet inconveniently allows as the people use the internet more and more to find out the truth.
Record numbers of people are turning away from the mainstream U.S. controlled media and getting information from independent news sources online that are reporting on events.
You now hear people in the everyday situations mentioning things that only a few years ago were unknown outside of "conspiracy" circles. For example the collapse of building 7 on 9-11, the fact that the Republicans and Democrats are essentially the same political party, as are Labour and the Tories all choreographed for our consumption to maintain the pretence of democracy. Most people now know they have a government controlled by bankers and that NATO is attempting to dominate the world, we also know in advance that the West wants to invade Iran and take control of the Arctic by force.
The SOPA Act has been met with wide criticism and the list of those opposing it is long and sounds like a who’s who of the tech community. For starters Mozilla blacked out its name on its home page in protest, as did the social news site Reddit. The website Tumblr published a page against the act, and internet giants like AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, Twitter and Zynga criticized Sopa by taking out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times.
At present, if Facebook, You Tube or other leading websites are found to be illegally hosting copyrighted material they are told to take it down. However the SOPA Act takes things to the next level and would allow the U.S. Government to block the website entirely.
Imagine if one day, for example, you could not access Google because it had been blocked for linking to an illegal mp3 file. In a blog post Google said SOPA “…would threaten innovation, jobs, and free expression”
In a collective statement put out by internet giants they say that the SOPA Act “…would encourage censorship, kill jobs and give US authorities unrivalled powers over the world's websites.” “We support the bills' stated goals – providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign 'rogue' websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting. Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding US internet and technology companies to new and uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites," the firms wrote in a public statement.
On Tuesday, ten members of Congress signed a letter expressing concern over the bill, including nine Democrats and one Republican, Rep Ron Paul from Texas.
They write that the SOPA Act is "overly broad and would cause serious and long term damage to the technology industry, one of the few bright spots in our economy." The representatives say that passing the act would cause, “…an explosion of innovation-killing lawsuits and litigation."
Opponents say the bills could basically destroy the internet and destroy innovation by "using the same domain blacklisting technologies pioneered by China and Iran".
An open letter has also been sent to Congress and was co-signed by AOL, eBay, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Mozilla, Twitter, Yahoo! and Zynga, all of whom rarely agree on anything else, which says a lot.
The freedom of speech and expression and the uncontrolled dissemination of information online is a serious problem for Western political elites and the truth-spreading-culprits are many: 9-11 truth sites, intelligence sites, anti-war sites and foreign mass media sites like this one and many others, sites such as the aforementioned and many more, along with bloggers of every shape and form are out there on the net, exposing things, getting at the truth.
These truth seekers are in the millions and are exposing things like, torture, war crimes, political assassinations, media manipulation, government lies and corruption, who controls politicians, the fraudulent nature of the money system, police brutality (and uncensored video evidence to show it), eugenics, cover ups and the blacker intelligence operations. And they are spreading all of this information across the globe in seconds.
For the U.S. the truth has become an inconvenience and a dangerous threat to its power.
21 November 2011, 16:11
What's Behind Katya Zatuliveter's Story?
Michael John Smith
Interview with Michael John Smith, a convicted Soviet spy in the UK, a blogger and an intelligence specialist.
I’d like to speak with you today about the Katya Zatuliveter case. In your opinion, do you think that Katya Zatuliveter is a Russian spy?
I don’t think so. But all we really know about this case is that she had some sort of private affair with her boss, Michael Hancock. He is a Liberal Democrat MP in the British House of Commons. Katya was his assistant and what started as a work relationship developed into some sort of a romantic relationship that often happens between a boss and his assistant. But no actual evidence has been produced that proves that Katya was a spy. And Mr. Tim Owen, her lawyer, has stated that MI5 doesn’t have any evidence that she has been involved in espionage.
Why would then MI5 target her?
Somehow they must have seen Katya as another Anna Chapman. I believe it is no coincidence that Katya was arrested in December 2010, shortly after the witch hunt over Anna Chapman. Mr. Hancock would also appear to be at possible risk partly because of his work with the all-party group on Russia, where apparently he has been rumoured as having opinions that were “too favourable” to Russia. Mr. Hancock was also on the Defense Select Committee, another parliamentary body and that dealt with government defense matters. And this is probably what really worried MI5. This spy case actually caused Mr. Hancock to resign from his post last month, in October.
So, these were just suspicions? There was nothing real?
You have got to remeber MI5 are a very paranoid organization, because they see spies wherever they see any Russians in the UK. And any Russian working for a member of Parliament will be seen as a possible spy.
Do you consider that MI5 acted unprofessionally in the Zatuliveter case?
I think they did. And I think this case does enormous damage to the reputation of MI5 and it shows them as being amateurs really, for their simplistic attitude to national security. Katya’s lawyer, Tim Owen, he has described MI5 as more like Inspector Clouseau than George Smiley, who was John le Carré’s spy. So, he is presenting MI5 as a sort of comic case. I think this recent case is just an indication of what is really going on behind the scenes. Both MI5 and MI6 use the media to spread false stories, disinformation and real lies: there is a long history of propaganda coming from the intelligence services. They also have their mouthpieces, their favourite spokesman, who can influence news in any way they want.
You mean someone, for example like, Oleg Gordievsky?
He plays no effective role apart from being a mouthpiece for the security services. As we are coming up to Christmas – and we know that Santa Claus has his little helpers, the elves, those vile ugly little critters – I believe MI5 and MI6 also have their little helpers as well. And Oleg Gordievsky plays a role as one of their loyal servants. And he comes out with very biased claims against Katya in the newspapers, clearly stating that she has always been a Russian spy from the time she was a student. Obviously, this is just a sort of propaganda that MI5 wants to get out there, into the media. Whenever Oleg Gordievsky appears in the media he always supports and praises the role of the British Intelligence Services. who are actually his bosses. Gordievsky’s explanation for the lack of evidence against Katya is that she was so good at what she was doing that she didn’t leave any sort of trace. Such an argument demonstrates to me that Gordievsky is an intellectually dishonest person, it is not any proof against Katya.
Is Gordievsky the only person who is used?
One of the main spokespersons is Prof. Christopher Andrew. He works at Cambridge University. He is another person who is often used by MI5 and MI6 to put stories into the public domain. In 2009, Andrew was entrusted by MI5 to publicize the authorized history of their organization. On my blog, I have referred to Prof. Andrew as the “Cambridge Parrot” simply because he is so adept at mimicking the words he is asked to say on behalf of our British Intelligence Services. Another book of Andrew’s is The Mitrokhin Archive, which was published back in 1999, with the aim of exposing alleged Soviet spies in Britain, including myself. This was just a propaganda operation and was meant to remind the public that the Cold War was justified and also a warning not to get too friendly with Russia.
Can you give the listeners another example?
A good example is one by Prof. Andrew’s identification of a woman known as Melita Norwood, a Soviet spy, the so-called “granny spy.” She was about 80-something at the time when she was exposed. What was strange about this case is the way in which it was exposed. A journalist named David Rose apparently he found out about Melita Norwood, managed to track her down and he did the very first interview with her at the time The Mitrokhin Archive was being published. The timing and the detective work, at the time, seemed incredible. How could he do this? In fact, it was too incredible. What actually happened was – it later became known – that during this period, Mr. Rose was actually working as an agent of MI5 and MI6. And he was given the task of leaking stories such as this through his job as a journalist. He was approached in 1992 by some MI6 officer. Apparently, his main qualification is that he unquestionably agreed to be recruited as an agent. And he also agreed not to talk about it to anybody or then he wouldn’t gain access to these, these sort of scoop stories.
So, how did we learn about it?
We learnt about it because he has actually stated this in the newspapers. In New Statesman Magazine in September of 2007, he wrote and admitted the fact that he had been an MI5 and MI6 agent.
Do you think that, also was a part of some operation?
I’m not sure. But let’s not beat about the bush with this. What we are dealing with here is disinformation and manipulation of the news, which is available to the public in newspapers and on TV. The media is used as a tool in this propaganda war and news stories can be molded to suit the aims of intelligence services in anyway they like. They want to win the hearts and minds of the general public. And, in the case of Katya, they attempt to boost the status of Britain and malign that of Russia.
IAEA resolution on Iran: questions remain
Interview with Alon Ben-Meir, one of the leading US experts on the Middle East and a professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University in the US.
23 November 2011, 15:53
Occupy UC Davis
U.S. A Pepper Spray Democracy
Interview with Artyom Raskin, a media contact and an activist with the Occupy UC Davis and the Occupy Davis movements in Davis, California. (His personal views)
Can you give us a first-hand account of what is going on over there?
The occupiers have set up tents in the central quad of the UC Davis campus, which is legal until sundown. But they decided to stay there overnight and have an indefinite occupation going on. Chancellor Linda Katehi ordered the UC Davis police to come in and remove the camp. From what I understand, at that time she knew that the protocol would allow the use of pepper spray and rubber bullets and so on. So the police came in and removed the tents. After they removed the tents, the fact that protesters remained on the Quad was no longer illegal because the only thing that was illegal was camping. Being on the Quad in and of itself is not illegal. Nevertheless, the police continued to try to remove the students from the Quad, so the students formed a chain where they linked arms and refused to go. They linked arms in order to ensure that the police cannot pull them out of the crowd and arrest them other way that they did in UC Berkley several days before that.
You said they had the right to use pepper spray and rubber bullets. Is that correct?
Definitely, not the law in California. But they claimed their protocol allowed it. From what I understand, that’s not necessarily true because they are only supposed to be using it when it’s necessary. Of course, that’s a grey area term, so they have some cover behind that. But I’m fairly sure that it was not necessary because they claimed it was necessary in order to get through the line of protesters. If you look at the video, they could just walk around them. The protesters are not giants, so they could step over.
They did step over them. I saw the police stepping over them and the protesters weren’t doing anything. It seemed completely brutal what he was doing to them. Some people die from pepper spray.
Yes, I believe there was actually a report in August that the police killed a man in New York with pepper spray. So it’s definitely a fairly dangerous weapon. From what I understand, the type of pepper spray that they used in Davis specifically was the military type of pepper spray that’s not supposed to be used when you are closer than 15 feet (5 meters) to the person. And that’s what I’ve been told by one of the people who had been pepper-sprayed and researched that.
They were using military-type pepper spray? If I recall, he was about 2-3ft away from these people. I mean he was spraying right in their faces.
Yes. That’s definitely contrary to the instructions of how you are supposed to use that specific type of pepper spray. It’s not safe unless you’re 15 feet removed.
Were any people injured or taken to the hospital?
Yes, there were several people who were taken to the hospital. Also, from what I understand, there was a person who was arrested and taken to hospital because of nerve damage that was done to his arm when he was put in handcuffs that were a lot tighter than they should have been. Also, police forcibly opened the mouth of at least one protester and sprayed, with pepper spray, down his throat. So, he had to be given medical attention. He was coughing up blood an hour after the incident.
Why did they do that?
You’d really have to ask them. I don’t really understand why anyone would do that to a person.
Seriously?! They forced the guy’s mouth open and sprayed pepper spray down his throat?
Have there been any repercussions against the police?
What happened was that originally the police and the university officials had said that everything was going according to procedures, that they didn’t do anything. And then after of course, there was the outcry and this got into the news and everyone saw the actual videos of what happened. So they couldn’t go on saying that everything was fine and dandy. So they formed an internal investigation and in the meantime suspended several officers who were responsible for that.
Do the UC Davis police have a history of being brutal?
Several of the protesters that I know told me they were pepper-sprayed in previous years when they were protesting tuition hikes. What I do know is that the police at UC Davis is not accountable to anyone besides the administration of UC Davis, which is different from, for example, the city police, which is accountable to democratically elected institutions, which is why the city police have been a lot more respectful of the rights of the protestors who are protesteing in Central Park than the UCD police have been.
What is going on with the Chancellor? Do you think she is going to resign?
We are calling on the Chancellor to resign officially. That’s been our stance as we believe that the Chancellor is responsible for this and she should resign. The Chancellor spoke to us at one of our general assemblies and did kind of a non-apology apology, in which she said that what happened on Friday was horrible – which it was – but neglected to mention that she was the one who made it happen. So far, I haven’t seen that she made any indication she is going to resign. Of course, if we keep up the pressure, I hope eventually it will happen.
What would you say to people all over the world regarding the extreme level of force used by US police?
I’m not superfamiliar with the level of force used in Europe. From what I understand, the British police have been militarized, recently. So I can’t speak to that. What I would say is that the level of police brutality that we’ve seen on campus is not necessarily unprecedented in the US. It’s just that typically it happens in lower-income communities or communities segregated by race, which means that no one pays attention to it. So it’s not so much that the protesters have precipitated police brutality that hasn’t existed before, it’s that they made it visible because of course once it happens to educated people now everyone suddenly starts caring about it.
So you are saying that if it had happened in some black neighbourhood no one would have said anything about it?
No one would even know about this. But it’s happening all the time.
It's happening all the time. How are the protesters there on campus and in Davis? Are they afraid of the police?
We were discussing trying to turn this university into a sanctuary, in which the students would be maintaining security or at least trying to curb the amount of armor that the police are allowed to have on campus. We haven’t arrived at a perfect solution yet. We haven’t had any formal proposal passed that would achieve that goal. But we were definitely thinking about and working on that. So we are definitely concerned about this in the long term to ensure this type of brutality doesn’t happen again. In the short term, I think that they were sufficiently scared by the media reaction that I don’t think there will be another police crackdown in the short term.
So people are actually very afraid and are trying to plan on how to protect themselves against the police who are supposed to serve and protect them?
That is correct.
23 November 2011, 16:08
U.S. SOPA will lead to Internet lawlessness
Professor David Post
Interview with Prof. David Post, Professor of Law at the Temple University School of Law in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and one of the authors of an open letter to the US House of Representatives signed by over 100 noted US law professors protesting the SOPA Act.
I would like to ask you a few questions regarding the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). I understand you wrote an open letter to Congress regarding this act? Could you give the listeners a quick overview on what this act is and what it means?
It would be part of the Copyright and Trademark Statute of the US. It is designed to combat primarily international, that is foreign sites – foreign in the US – that are infringing US copyrights. That would be mostly movies and recorded music and trademarks. And that can be anything like knockoff Louis Vuitton bags, or Nike shoes, or Apple computers, or things like that. The concern is that the way they go about this is like taking a sort of meat cleaver to a problem that would better be handled with a scalpel. There are a couple of fundamental principles that maybe interconnected with what it is – that is a single, global platform for communication. If you go to Moscow, if you go to Boston, if you go to Shanghai and you log on to the internet and you request access to a site you can get it because it’s a single network. So, one of the problems with this bill – I think a very fundamental one – is that it really contravenes that principle for the first time. If this bill were to pass, my service provider – whoever that might be – would be subject to an order and could have removed some listing from the domain tables and its users, someone in Seattle, or Mexico, or Brazil would have a different table listing all of the domains that I have. That’s no longer a single, global internet. If you multiply that by thousands and thousands of sites that may be targeted here, you’d get a very different looking internet depending upon how you are accessing it. It’s a kind of censorship that the US never had anything to do with, not unlike what other countries do, China being the most notorious example. The US has always been very critical of China’s attempts to block off portions of the internet from Chinese users. The US has taken a stand on this interference with the freedom of speech of the Chinese people. Now we would be doing the very same thing.
Anyone could be blocked just by someone making an accusation. Is that true?
Pretty much. The basic principle is that a rights holder, for example a music company, can go to court, present evidence that the site is infringing and the court can then seize the website, meaning that it can grab hold of, take possession of the domain name by issuing an order as if it were contraband, in effect. In virtually all of these cases it’s not hard to imagine that the website operator might even not know that this is happening. The idea is that he or she can drop what they’re doing and come to Washington DC or New York and fight this order. I think this is not going to happen. It’s impractical to expect people to be able to come to the US to a hearing to protest this, even though in many cases they may not in fact be infringing. Laws differ in different parts of the world and a site may be complying with the copyright law of the Netherlands or copyright law of Thailand, even though to a US judge it may look like they are infringing copyright. So, we have this situation when just on the say-so of the intellectual property rights holder some website operator in Thailand or in Russia wakes up one morning and suddenly realizes that nobody in the US can any longer get access to the site and they had no opportunity to be heard, no real opportunity to present opposing arguments. It’s not the sort of thing we ordinary do in the US. It plays fast and loose with important notions of due process. Before you can take away somebody’s livelihood, you have to give them an opportunity to be heard in court and, if they want, with a lawyer to make their arguments. This sort of run roughshod over that in a way that I think is a terrible precedent. We don’t have anything like this in the US law right now and I think, once this door swings open, there are going to be lots of people who are piling in to say “we got the same treatment too”. And then you have a sort of lawlessness on the internet that I think is very troubling to those of us who think that the internet is a very precious global resource.
So, basically, what you are saying is that this would allow the US to censor the world without allowing people to defend themselves?
Pretty much. I do not think that is an exaggeration that it would enable us, at least for the US internet and people who are accessing the internet from the US, to block out large portions of the internet simply because some intellectual property rights holder is angry at what is going on on some foreign site. I think it’s a fairly dreadful state of affairs. Many of the larger tech companies in the US have really for the first time taken a stand opposing this bill. There was a four page ad in the New York Times where tech companies like Google and Yahoo and Facebook and Twitter and eBay and all of the household names of these tech world giants spoke out opposing this bill. That’s a very important moment in the political history of the internet. I think we will look back at this as something of a turning point. I think it has turned many people’s heads.
28 November 2011, 18:23
Hypersonic Missile: To Target Russia
The first thing that is on everybody’s minds is President Medvedev’s statement regarding NATO. Why at this late date exactly, at this juncture?
29 November 2011, 18:36
Does the West Want Arms Race in Europe?
Interview with Rick Rozoff, the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to GlobalResearch.ca.
About a month ago, NATO tested first-strike capabilities of using mobile radar in Turkey. Why would a defensive system need to test offensive capabilities? We have the cyber warfare center. You said it also can be used as an offensive tool by the US. We have hypersonic missile tests and the Prompt Global Strike system. I think these are pretty good reasons for the Russian Federation to be worried, to put it mildly, as to the intentions of the West. Why would the West want to start an arms race in Europe? Why would this be profitable? Why not include Russia as part of the sectoral approach system? It’s probably a rhetorical question but can you touch upon it?
2 December 2011, 12:36
"We want our democracy back"
Marilyn an LA protester
Interview with Marilyn, activist with the Occupy LA movement in Los Angeles, California, USA.
We’ve got a lot of news out of Los Angeles. From what we hear, the Occupiers have been kicked out of the park, where they were camping. Can you give us some details on that?
1,400 LAPD officers raided the camp after midnight last night, cleared the park and arrested 292 protesters.
You said 292?
Some say 297. Somewhere into there.
So, close to 300 people were arrested. Do you know what they were arrested for?
Failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly.
Do you think that’s a legitimate reason for them to have been arrested?
I don’t know. It’s one of several that the police often use when they want to arrest people at a protest. The bail is not reasonable. It’s $5,000.
Why so high?
The rumour is that they want to keep people in jail for a few days.
They are trying to keep everybody separate. It’s a police tactic to break up a protest.
Yes. The people who were arrested last week, their bail was only $100.
For a lot of these people $5,000 is a lot of money.
So, there is a lot of people sitting in jail, for how many days are they going to be sitting there?
Up to 72 hours until their arraignment. We expect them to be let out with no or lower bail when they are arraigned.
I have talked to a lot of the occupy movements, what are the goals of the Occupy LA people there? What are you guys protesting?
We are in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. We believe that our government and many of the governments throughout the world are controlled by a global financial oligarchy, that we’ve nicknamed the “one per cent”. We want to restore out democracy so that we can solve all the problems that we face.
If you had a key demand that they had to meet, what would it be?
The first thing most people think about is to get money out of politics so that our government can no longer be bought, so that politicians can no longer be bought so that they act in our interests and in the best interests of the American people, instead of just taking orders from the people who own them.
What would be your second demand?
I think that’s the main one. If we can restore our democracy so that our government belongs to the people again, then we could use the democratic process to solve all the problems that we have.
So you see the government as being controlled by the corporations, the rich?
They are not even in America. They are international corporations and banks. So, yes, I see our government as controlled by them.
And all the policies and laws are being implemented to benefit them?
Yes. And they are taking away our constitutional rights. This has been going on for a couple of decades. They are picking up speed right now.
When would you say it started? Can you give any concrete event that you would say kicked all this off?
Somewhere around 1990. There’s always been tendencies. Some people in our government have always had tendencies towards globalism. I’d say around 1990, maybe 20 years ago, George Bush, Sr., was a big-globalist. And then Bill Clinton, he is too. He started taking away our rights and he deregulated the banks.
Bill Clinton, you say?
Yes. Our… Both our parties belong to the same people.
Some people are saying that this is just a natural function of capitalism, that capitalism is just doing what it is supposed to do. Would you agree with that statement?
No. Capitalism is fine. What we have now is rich capitalism. We have these people with influence on our government that buy special favors to help them make more and more money and take more and more money from the American people.
If you look in the dictionary under the word “fascism,” it says “a government controlled by corporations.” Would you say the US has become a fascist state or a police state?
Yes, yes. When the government and corporations merge, yes. That’s what we are fighting. The purpose of the occupation movement is to fight that.
We talked about the Arab spring. We have the US Fall, as far as suppressing protest and freedom of speech how would you rank the US compared to Arab countries ?
Many things that our government supports in other countries they refuse to do at home. They supported protesters in Arab countries but they turn around and they are trying to squelch their own protesters.
Yes, why would they be supposedly supporting democracy and freedom of speech, dissent, protests…?
I think they saw a benefit in supporting it in the Arab countries. And they see no benefit in supporting it here, in the US.
Would you say that this is government-wide or maybe these are just isolated incidents? Do you think there is actually some script being played out here?
Apparently, the US Department of Homeland Security is orchestrating raids on Occupy camps nationwide. Apparently, the governors were ordered to evict their camps as they saw fit.
As they saw fit?
Yes, they were allowed some latitude in how they did it. But I believe they were ordered to do it. You heard about the conference calls between the mayors (Haven’t you?) and the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI?
No, I hadn’t heard too much. We haven’t heard too much of that over here. I talked to some of the Occupy Davis people and they said the Davis campus police at UC Davis had a directive, under which they had the right to use rubber bullets and tear gas. I would pretty much characterize it as kids sitting around.
Last night at Occupy LA, four people were up in a tree house. There were four men and a dog. They refused to come down and the police fired beanbags at them.
These big heavy beanbags, right?
They come out of a gun. I’m not sure. They got rubber bullets, although they are called beanbags. So they fired those at them to get them.
They knocked the people out of the trees.
No, the cops lifted themselves up level with them with some sort of crane. And they fired the beanbags to subdue them. I heard that one person’s arm was broken from it. He got hit twice. But I’m not sure that’s true – that’s just what I heard. They took the 4 protesters and their dog down.
Why do you think the government is so afraid of you guys?
Well, if our message got out about our country becoming more fascist and being controlled by corporations, etc. And if it kept growing, I think we have a chance of restoring our democracy. And maybe people don’t want that to happen.
Well, I think the “one per cent” wouldn’t want that to happen, would they?
I would think they won’t.
They live in their big houses in the suburbs, driving their big jeeps around.
And they live in some other country. I think we are a threat and an embarrassment. We’re on the news all the time.
What are the plans for Occupy LA? I hope you guys are not finished. Or are you?
No, we are regrouping and we may occupy someplace else. I’m not sure. We haven’t decided yet. We are meeting today.
8 December 2011, 17:00
"U.S not in a position to criticize Russian elections"
Interview with Rick Rozoff , the manager of the Stop NATO website and mailing list and a contributing writer to Global Research.ca. Mr. Rozoff also worked "against the Chicago political machine" for approximately 25 years, from 1976-2000, including as: a ward-wide voter registration coordinator, the founder and leader of an independent ward organization, a congressional district coordinator for Mayor Harold Washington's 1987 reelection bid, a campaign manager in two state representative and one alderman election, and as a third party candidate for state office.
12 December 2011, 12:12
"We will occupy DC until we are heard"
Interview with Kelly Meers, one of the protesters at Occupy DC in the United States.
Can you tell our listeners about what’s going on there, what the mood is like and what your guys’plans are?
Yes, I’d say spirits are up, there are Occupiers from all over the country here, in DC this week. It’s been really interesting to me and to everyone, coming in from everywhere, from Tempa and West Virginia, Wall Street, Kansas City. All sorts of occupiers coming in. Spirits are pretty high. We had a huge day of action yesterday on K Street. Things are going really well there.
Compared to some of the other occupy movements, I’d believe that the Occupy DC movement would be extremely focused as to where your goals are and have some plan of attack. What exactly are your goals in Washington?
We have a declaration, as Occupy DC, on our website OccupyDC.org. The goals are myriad but also focused. My personal goals have to do with the legislative reform related to campaign finance contributions and the political power of lobbyists over our nation’s politics.
Do you feel any pressure from the authorities or are you afraid of speaking out? Have there been any threats by the police or any other forms of pressure by the authorities on our movement there? Are any of the people there afraid? What can you tell us about the climate there right now?
I am personally not afraid of speaking out. I think that the climate in the US now is really interesting right now and prominent in some ways to the effect that we are very polarized and very angry at one another, which is something that I think Occupier by and large think is rather unfortunate. I don’t think that we have to be separate, Democrats and Republicans, but this sort of differences between us is an obstruction in a sense. They are traded by corporate news media in the US and they hold us down. But I am somewhat concerned about people’s reaction to our occupying McPherson Square. I wouldn’t say “afraid.” Also, actions of our government are somewhat alarming in working on the NDA bill that gives the government authority to hold domestic citizens indefinitely as war criminals. That’s somewhat concerning. But I’m not afraid and certainly not an alarmist in that sense…
Do you know of any people who have disappeared or have been held indefinitely?
No, I don’t know of anybody in our camp who has disappeared.
You talked about differences between Democrats and Republicans. A lot of people say that politically, I mean when you are talking about the parties, they’re almost indistinguishable from each other. Would you agree with that statement?
Yes. I think that people are very upset with that kind of things in the US right now. It’s almost entirely Liberal vs. Conservative, or Democrat vs. Republican divide, like boxes that people put themselves into and put one another into.
That sounds like you are speaking about the people. What about the policies? What about the politics of the parties? What’s the difference; would you say, between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party in the US? Are people upset, disappointed or disillusioned with Obama’s promises?
Ostensibly there are a lot of concrete differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Republican Party would be for a limited, smaller government and quo lo que le faire economy. And Democrats are for a larger government. All that’s a step back.
But that’s classic. What about in operation? Do you see any real difference?
Ultimately they are the same. Probably about a half are lobbyists and they represent – doesn’t matter Republican or Democrat – corporate infests in the US, not the people’s interests. It’s not even appropriate to call it a democracy, in my personal opinion.
You said you wouldn’t characterize the US as being a democracy at this point?
Personally, no. I do not see that the US is a true democratic republic at this juncture. I think that politicians in the US represent corporate interests over human interests. And if you are representing the role of a machine over the role of man, that’s something more akin to fascism. I wouldn’t call it fascism outright. I don’t think we’re quite there yet. But it’s definitely not a democratic republic.
If you heard of Fox News, they’ve put out some protest footage from Greece and said that was in Moscow. Have you heard anything about that in the US?
No, I don’t watch Fox News but it wouldn’t surprise me if they would put out footage from another country in order to represent protest happening in Russia.
How long are you planning to stay in there?
We will be occupying DC until the government takes people’s best interest to heart. From my perspective, there are a lot of different views out there on the square about what it means to have “a government for the people, of the people and by the people,” representing the people’s interests in 2011. I think there is some legislative reform that would potentially lead us out of the park, Reinstating Glass-Steagall, and overturning Citizens United, which is, you know, undoing basically the shackles of corporate person hood that hold the US people hostage, at this point, to corporate interests would be a great start. We are not going anywhere for the foreseeable future.
12 December 2011, 14:13
From Sanctions to Negotiations: US Strategy
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir, a Middle East expert and a professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.
13 December 2011, 11:17
Climate and Economy: Two Crises
Tim Summers Green Party
Interview with Tim Summers, the former national campaigns officer with the Green Party of England and Wales in the UK, a former political cartoonist and a current political activist.
You said there is a very close tie between the ecological situation right now and the global economic crisis. How are those affecting each other?
Well we've recently had the Durban conference, unable to really make any world decision to save the planet from particularly carbon emissions but also other emissions. All the problems of climate change that are affecting huge changes now that are so demonstrable, I think the argument has been settled, and the melting of the polar ice caps, the floods that are being caused in some parts of the world, the general disturbance. I think it is time to draw a line and say clearly the efforts of humans have badly disturbed this planet, particularly now its climate. And that this is a problem of the profit motive continuing to log forests, the breathing lungs of the planet, continue to carry on with ecologically damaging forms of accumulation all over the world. One can say that capitalism can’t save the planet and that the Durban conference and previous attempts underline that.
Can you give us some information about the rising ocean levels?
I don’t have any figures, but certainly the lobbying of those small island communities faced with imminent flooding was a factor in the last day of the Durban conference, where some kind of schema was put forward for most of the world most of the time. The plight of so many low-lying countries now is simply a question of survival. The whole of Bangladesh is faced with going under water soon. It really is that dire. The Maldive Islands and other islands are actually going under water now as we speak, having to be evacuated. The problem is with us, though I haven’t got a clear time scale.
What did they come up with at the Durban conference? Was there anything concrete that they were able to resolve?
There was a general world agreement, but excepted by America, China and India, which is rather contradictory really to talk about a world decision with those three huge industrial powers absenting themselves from it, showing my point that capitalism is so addicted to fossil fuels, especially oil, that it just simply can’t face the priority of saving the planet because it simply must accumulate. Capitalism simply can’t operate on a no-growth or very low-growth basis. The UK’s GDP is likely to only grow at 1% - I hear tonight - in future. Capitalism can’t operate on that basis. That’s part of the reason why capitalism is going into deep crisis.
What is the Green Party doing in the UK currently?
We’ve been in the forefront of warning of climate change for the last 30 years. We continue to do that: to oppose wars, to campaign for low growth, or a no-growth economy, and that we want green jobs. We want a whole change in industry for a green economy. We want to start building our own wind turbines, instead of importing them from abroad. We want much greater targets adopted across the UK for carbon dioxide emissions and other dangerous emissions. We want a complete radical transformation of the whole economy.
What would you say to people who say that global climate change and rising sea levels is something that’s not real?
The Koch Brothers, the second largest industrial conglomerate in America, has been heavily funding climate change denial in America that has been very successful. The embarrassment of evidence disorders at East Anglia University discredited the climate change campaign movement, if you follow me, avidly used by the climate change deniers to argue that the whole business of climate change was simply another move for increasing taxation, was a con in other words, and so on. This climate change skepticism through its enormous funding is a major force in America. It’s a considerable force in Britain, particularly when at a time of growing economic hardship the climate and the global ecological questions tend to take a back seat. I didn’t mention, as regards the oceans, not only their rising levels, but also the poisoning of the oceans, its ecosystems, by the increasing acidity of the oceans. This again is a byproduct of carbon dioxide emissions. This is destroying the whole life of the oceans. All our fishing expectations now have to be cut short. Britain eats more fish from fish-farming than it does from catching them out in the oceans. These are the kind of changes that invisibly are going on, that are bringing the whole planet to a crisis similar to the financial crisis of the capitalist system.
Last time we talked about the Occupy movement. Can you give our listeners an update on what is going on?
Well there’s been an enormous smear campaign to allege that drug addicts and people defecate in local alleyways, have made the site a terrible abomination. This is nowhere true, it’s tightly organised, it's brilliantly organized to the very highest of standards. And this smear campaign, particularly in the Evening Standard, was answered fully. But there is a campaign by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, the City of London, with all its power, and the central government itself to force an eviction upon the protest Occupy movement at St. Paul’s, London, and that the police will service this eviction. So it’s coming to an end at that particular site, but it’s not coming to an end in London. Already the protesters are occupying other buildings in London and the struggle will take new forms in new locations. The struggle against capitalism, and to unmask its structural deficiencies, is only just beginning in London and across the world. Over 80 countries have now taken actions.
14 December 2011, 16:09
Russian Aid Needs Escort?
Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Konuzin
Interview with Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Konuzin.
Can you give our listeners a little bit of information about the situation on the ground in Serbia, please?
I’m standing at the administrative line between the Central Serbia and the Kosovo Province. We came here in the morning, at 9.30 a.m. and proceeded with passage from Central Serbia to Kosovo. Two trucks with humanitarian aid crossed the checkpoint, but then the procedure was disrupted and the whole convoy was blocked. We stayed for hours and only some 15 minutes ago I received a call from EULEX aide, explaining that it’s impossible for us to proceed. They insisted on escorting out convoy. I said we didn’t need any escort to go from Yarine to Kosovska Mitrovica. But he said it was impossible to go without escort or else we should go to Marbore. We didn’t go to Marbore and in this situation the whole convoy is unfortunately blocked. So, we are standing at Yarine.
The whole convoy is stopped right now?
Yes. Two trucks are on the Kosovo side and the rest of the convoy is on the side of Central Serbia.
Is this a serious problem? Do you think it will be worked out by morning?
I don’t know. I’m in communication with my authorities. We are examining the situation. We need some more time to make a definite decision.
Interview with Daniela Dragovic, a Serbian political activist.
Can you tell us a little bit about the aid? How many trucks of aid have arrived?
25 trucks have arrived. They are still on the border with Kosovo, as I know. We have out man down there, Mr. Konuzin, who is our national hero. All people in Serbia love Konuzin more than any of our politicians.
That’s nice to hear. Are they having any problems or is everything going normally out there?
No, there is nothing normal out there. I have to say we have self-destruction politicians here, in Serbia, and we are intentionally being isolated from the media. Nobody, no television, no newspapers are actually talking about Russian help. But the ordinary people in Serbia, they know, and we are very, very happy. They are on the streets, all along the way.
I saw some pictures and it looked like there were some trees on the road and stuff. Did somebody set up road blocks or was that just some trees that fell on the road? What happened with that? Do you know anything about that?
I don’t know. Maybe out men on the border do. Can I say something about our movement?
Sure. You can say anything you want. This is a free radio.
We are gathering young, honest people who don’t care about politics and just want to save Serbia from the worst situation in its history. Our leader is in fact in Russia and you can contact him for more information. The biggest part of Serbian people don’t trust our politicians and put all their faith in Russia and God. They are grateful for all Russian help. I’m very excited, I’m sorry.
Is the Russian Orthodox Church active with the Serbian Church?
No, I’m ashamed of telling this but our patriarch is so-called “uniate.” Our patriarch wants to cooperate with the Roman Church.
I thought there were some ties being built with the Orthodox Church as well.
I’m really sorry to tell this but we are in a very dire situation. Serbia is in a so-called silent occupation. All our political parties and their leaders actually don’t have any solution because they are in a no-exit position. We don’t have any hope and we must gather people to try to solve this situation. There are many people in our movement and we really have solutions to all Serbian problems.
What about the aid? I heard there are power units. You said there are problems with media. Are you able to use the internet there?
Yes, we are very active on Facebook. We try to get more information for people who are on Facebook, on Twitter etc. that’s all. You can’t read about it in a newspaper or watch about it on TV.
Why is that? Who is responsible for that?
Our government and all our politicians because they don’t want us to get close with Russia. We are on the road to Europe. And for our politicians there is actually no other way for Serbia. But it’s not so. Most of Serbian people at this time want to be closer to Russia. Most of us want to go to the Eurasian unit with Russia and other countries. This is it.
16 December 2011, 15:21
Russian Aid Convoy in Serbia Given Green Light
Russian Ambassador to Serbia Alexander Konuzin
Interview with Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Konuzin . Mr. Konuzin says an agreement was reached yesterday at the EU-Russia Summit that cleared the situation around Russian humanitarian convoy for Kosovo's Serbian population that was stuck at the Kosovo border.
Interview with Russian Ambassador to Serbia Aleksandr Konuzin. Mr. Konuzin says an agreement was reached yesterday at the EU-Russia Summit that cleared the situation around Russian humanitarian convoy for Kosovo's Serbian population that was stuck at the Kosovo border.
According to the ambassador, they have been working together with local authorities, the government of Serbia and EU representatives in Kosovo on a plan, which is not being implemented as follows: several trucks of EU mission are now going to the Yarine block post to join the convoy, while customs officers are processing the long-awaited Russian convoy.
16 December 2011, 15:24
Occupiers shut down West Coast ports
Interview with Sarah Page , one of the organizers of the Occupy San Francisco movement, www.occupysf.com . Yesterday, Occupy Oakland kicked off the West Coast Port shutdown, which had been planned for weeks.
Interview with Sarah Page, one of the organizers of the Occupy San Francisco movement, www.occupysf.com. Yesterday, Occupy Oakland kicked off the West Coast Port shutdown, which had been planned for weeks. The group has joined forces with other Occupy groups in other big port cities, including Los Angeles, Long Beach, Portland, Anchorage, Seattle, Tacoma and Houston According to Ms. Page, there have been several grounds for occupying the port, namely to prevent the ruling class, the infamous 1%, from getting excessive profits from the goods coming in and out of the port and to back trade unions that have been busted by companies in several West Coast ports.
Transparency International Distorts Data in Favour of its Western Paymasters
Interview with Calvin Tucker , Co-Editor of the web magazine 21st Century Socialism .
I’d like to ask you a few questions today about Transparency International. How transparent in your opinion is Transparency International?
I would actually say this is an organization that should probably change its name. I think it’s worth recalling that the Transparency International’s mission statement is “to combat corruption.”Its main activity is publishing reports on countries and companies and ranking them in order of how corrupt or nontransparent they are. These reports are then taking up by the media and more or less uncritically reported because Transparency International (TI) claims to be an independent, non-partisan organization. But – this is the issue – they are funded by Western cooperates and Western governments, for example, the US, the UK, France, Norway, Canada, Australia, the European Commission and so on. Secondly, the source of funding is corporate. The reason why I say that TI’s funding is a problem is because in 2008 I discovered that they backed a completely unjustified attack on Venezuela and it seemed to be a very clear case of “he who pays the piper calls the tune”. What I think happened here is that Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA came under a two-pronged attack – firstly, from Transparency International itself in the form of a report, and, secondly and simultaneously, from one of Transparency International’s main corporate donors ExxonMobil. I should explain that Venezuela’s PDVSA is not just another oil company like Shell or BP. It’s a publicly owned company, whose profits are directly plowed into the social programs to poor and working class citizens. PDVSA is Venezuela’s main source of export earnings. So, to attack PDVSA isn’t just to attack a company – it’s to attack the engine room of Venezuelan economy and the Venezuelan state itself. The US has had Venezuela and its socialist President Hugo Chavez in their cross hairs since the failure of the US-backed military coup in 2002. ExxonMobil launched this legal action against PDVSA in the British high court in a bid to seize their assets. While all this was going on TI was compiling and producing this hugely damaging report on Venezuela’s PDVSA, claiming that PDVSA were refusing to release basic financial information. The inference here was that PDVSA was probably corrupt. But the report was wrong. It wasn’t just a little bit wrong or wrong in an area here or there. It was totally, utterly and completely false. Despite Transparency International’s claims, all the information – and I mean every single piece of information – that TI said PDVSA was refusing to disclose was freely available on PDVSA’s website and on their published financial statements. I was utterly perplexed and I assumed that that had been some kind of appalling administrative error. So I contacted Transparency International to ask them what went wrong and I was met with what I can only describe as “wall of silence.” In short, they behaved exactly like one of those shady government companies and institutions that they are supposed to be holding to account. But the story gets even worse because what we do know is that the Venezuelan office of Transparency International is staffed entirely by opponents of Venezuelan government and many of them, including the current executive director, were supporters of the military coup that briefly overthrew Hugo Chavez in 2002. I certainly don’t believe that the composition of Venezuela’s Transparency International office is unconnected with the false allegations that have been coming from Transparency International against Venezuela in years and years. So I’m drawn inexorably towards the conclusion that, when it matters, TI consciously pursues the agenda of their Western paymasters and acts little more than an instrument of Western foreign policy. I think they’re something of a confidence trick played on the world’s public and it’s about time the media started doing their job properly, investigating the organization that claims to be investigating nontransparent and improperly run organizations.
With regards to Russia, recently they moved Russia up only 11 points, to 143th position to 154th on the corruption scale worldwide, despite the fact that Russia has been fighting corruption very actively for years now. What do you think is their agenda for the Russian Federation?
I think it’s a shame, because Transparency International does do some good work on fighting corruption. Unfortunately, it’s tainted by their political bias. The problem with the corruption perfection index is contained in the second word of the sentence. It’s a “perception.” And the big flaw is that perception is not the same thing as fact. You are going to get different perceptions depending on who you ask. So it’s obviously open to manipulation, with governments not favored by the Western powers generally scoring poorly. And anybody who looks at the table can see that very clearly. The big problem is that the index seeks to blame only the government of the developing nations for corruption, reinforcing the IMF, World Bank and Western insistence on placing owner risk conditions on loans. Of course, these loans themselves lock third-world countries into a pattern of underdevelopments and poverty, which in turn encourages corruption in its authority. I’ll just give you one example. In 2007, Jamaica received a very poor ranking because a Dutch oil company had paid $30 million to one of Jamaica’s political parties. Jamaica was lambasted and they were put right at the bottom of the corruption perception index. But the oil company that paid the money and the Dutch government finished in the Top 10 of least corrupt countries. So, I think we can see here that there’s a very clear pattern of political bias at work, which favours Western countries and attacks both developing nations and its more direct economic and political competitors such as Russia.
21 December 2011, 14:18
Middle East tensions: Forecast for 2012
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir , a Middle East expert and a professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.
23 December 2011, 15:52
Arab World: Forecast for 2012
Dr. Alon Ben-Meir
Interview with Dr. Alon Ben-Meir , a Middle East expert and a professor from the Center for Global Affairs at New York University.
26 December 2011, 16:12
The Troy Case: Voter Fraud Scandal in the US
Interview with Noah Rothman, a political news editor at Ology.com.
Why is Fox News reporting the scandal in Troy, New York, the way they are? Normally, Republican scandals are not covered as much as they’ve been covering this one.
This is actually a Democratic scandal, which probably accounts for why it has been so widely covered. In Troy, New York, four Democratic officials pled guilty. They were earlier indicted to trying to manipulate a Working Families Party primary in order to change that elections results in favour of the Democrats, which goes to a larger narrative that’s dominating the conversation in a lot of Republican-led states, where they are attempting to enact a sort of idea to reduce the incidents of actual election fraud, which was in this case rather blatant, and the officials that admitted to it. It’s a fairly large scandal, including the City Council President, the county elections commissioner, City Council members and 50 other people. This is a rather large scandal. And it goes to support the Republican narrative that there is voter ID fraud and there needs to be a significant reform. New York is a very special case. New York has laws on the books to allow officials to run on two-party lines. So, a Democrat can run under the Democratic Party and the Working Families Party, a Republican can run as a Republican and a Constitution candidate. All the votes go to that particular candidate. So, why would Democratic officials want to manipulate a Working Families Party primary? So that they could get their candidate on the ballot and he could benefit from that. In this kind of a situation, it’s really only good for a primary low-turnout election, where you can manipulate the rates with just a couple of votes. Actually, a similar scandal – not a voter ID fraud but a similar scandal – took down one of New York City Mayor’s Mike Bloomberg’s very close associates, who was indicted and convicted on embezzling money from the Independence Party, which is New York State’s third largest party. Mayor Bloomberg has actually donated several million dollars to it over the course of many years. So, New York is a special case in this situation. It’s a rampant problem especially when it comes to primary candidates and operatives manipulating these elections.
What about nationwide and Republican scandals that Fox News is not reporting?
Cable news bias is rather baked in the cake. I think voters for the most part are smart enough to understand that there is a coverage bias when it comes to Fox News and NBC, so you know what you are getting. Obviously, this scandal in particular supports the Republican agenda, which is probably going to be a bigger news story in 2012 than we are led to believe now. Actually, the Justice Department just struck down today voter ID laws in South Carolina. That made it very clear that they are supportive of the position that the voter ID law would disenfranchise minority voters. In order to have a voter ID and go to the poll, they say it’s an undue burden on those particular voters. And, in the event that you’d have to pay for a voter ID, that can amount to a poll tax, which is something that, according to Jim Crow Law, is a racial insensitive policy. If there’s a free ID however that gets a little more ambiguous. The Democratic argument is twofold. One is that there isn’t a significant amount of ID fraud enough to merit significant reforms. And when it is, the burden of having to have a voter ID disenfranchises the poor minority. But in the Troy case, which is actually quite interesting as one of the indictments is that the operative told the press after he pled guilty that what they were doing was specifically to target poor minority voters in order to fake their signatures on absentee ballots and then the operatives would work in the rest of the information. So, they had the signatures of registered voters in poor minority neighbourhoods because they tend not to speak up, because, they say, they are more intimidated and they don’t go to the press, they don’t go to the authorities if they vote at all. On both sides of the aisle, there is a little bit of disingenuousness here and it has all to do with the poor minority voting population, who are being disenfranchised, frankly, in two different ways. Whether one is more serious than the other will have to be decided, obviously, by voters next year.
How would you characterize the entire US elections system? Do you think that the US is in a position – in light of the fact that the US doesn’t allow, for example, international observers – to criticize other countries, for example the Russian Federation?
I couldn’t say. There are real internal political concerns. It plays politically to criticize for example the recent Russian elections. When it comes to these voter ID fraud cases, you can manipulate around the edges. For example, if you have a very close election, then, yes, systemic election fraud would be a significant issue and the worst case scenario that hasn’t happened yet is the discovery of fact that of that election fraud within the margin that could swing an election. That would be a very significant problem, because what would happen after the election is that it would essentially put elections to the courts. That hasn’t happened yet. To allow international observers in this country would be politically a very dangerous move for any politician to accept because it’s so deeply unpopular here, so that, if there were ever to be a platform, it would have to take place in a particularly liberal international city, for example. Just to have it anywhere else in the country would be politically damaging for anyone who’d embrace that.
What do you think about the George Bush’s election in 2000? Do you think there were actual cases of fraud going on there?
That goes back to the point of moving an election to the courts. There have been studies upon studies upon studies, and you can argue as to whether or not the court had stopped the recount that would have overturned the popular vote. The most studies were suggesting that that would not be the case. The elections would have turned out even if they had gone forward with the recounts data in other counties. However, the way it was decided in the Supreme Court where the Supreme Court had essentially have to stop the recounting has created that uncertainty that persists to this day. Only an election can bring about a fair outcome that can’t be argued. And when it goes to the courts – the issue never dies. That’s really why we want to stand election fraud as much as possible as soon as possible because, if it ever goes to the courts, it creates a much bigger problem. These things don’t come to light until well after the fact. And they are usually well underreported. There can be a broader, much more systemic election fraud that we just don’t know about.
29 December 2011, 20:18
Where Will America’s Imperial Hubris Lead To?
Can you give us the latest on NATO and your predictions for 2012, as far as the ABM system in Europe and NATO global expansion in general? I know it’s a big question.