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Total number of comments: 1516 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)

Mark Koroi

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  • ISIL Endgame: Obama to send 250 more US Troops into Syria
    • Another issue that should be addressed is the potential of the U.S. Armed Forces confronting Syrian Arab Army - or worse - Russian soldiers which could provoke a major international incident.

      The precedent of Turkey shooting down a Russian jet already exists and the proliferation of U.S. Special Forces troops in combat situations increases the likelihood of confrontation - especially if the U.S does not coordinate its troop movements with the Syrian government and the Kremlin.

  • In Fascist Turn, Thousands Demonstrate for Israeli Soldier who shot Dazed Palestinian in Head
    • During the Operation Cast Lead incursion into Gaza, an Arab woman waving a white flag was shot in the temple and died, but the responsible IDF soldier was charged with manslaughter and later pled to negligent homicide and received a lenient sentence during his court martial - whereas a soldier in a separate incident who stole and used a Gazan's credit card received a 7-month jail term, largely because an Israeli financial institution was concurrently victimized by the unauthorized use.

      The above-referenced Gaza homicide incident was covered in the 462-page Goldstone Commission report as characterized as credible proof a war crime and crime against humanity.

      The crime of voluntary manslaughter is defined at law as a homicide committed during the heat of passion before there has been time to allow the "blood to cool" by an individual where a reasonable person would have motivated to kill under the same circumstances.

      The case involving IDF soldier Elor Azraya does not involve such facts:

      (1) Cpl. Azraya appeared completely calm on all videotape versions published;

      (2) a soldier - especially a medical corpsman such as Cpl. Azraya - who kills an arrestee cannot be held "reasonable" under any circumstances.

      The actions of Cpl. Azraya - whose identity has been censored by the Israeli government but leaked out via blogs - would have likely in any similar situation in the U.S. been charged with "open murder" leaving discretion to a judge or jury to decide whether to convict of either murder or manslaughter.

  • Activists Ask IRS why Jewish National Fund gets Tax Break for Illegal Squatter Support
  • Israeli police: Explosive device on bus in Jerusalem bus causes 21 injuries
    • V.P. Joseph Biden addressed the bus bombing briefly in a speech to J-Street - but rebuffed Netanyahu by comparing himself (Biden) to 30-year-old leftist Labor Party member of the Knesset and Netanyahu critic Stav Shaffir, whom he asked to stand for applause. Biden indicated he was first elected to the U.S. Senate at age 29 and held similar progressive views Ms. Shaffir.

      Biden drew applause as he indicated he hoped the Israeli government would eventually adopt Ms. Staffir's views as its official policy.

      Ms. Staffir along with Daphni Leef had been leaders of the J-14 social reform movement in Israel.

  • Israel has Kidnapped ("Detained") a million Palestinians since 1967: Occupation as Imprisonment
  • Saudis warn they will withdraw $750 Bn. from US economy if 9/11 Bill Passes
    • It is very difficult - although not impossible - to obtain a pre-judgment sequestration of a defendant's assets in a United States District Court.

      However, I am sure even the remote possibility of such a court order is likely to send the Saudis scrambling to protect their interests.

    • The Saudis have about $10 trillion total investment inside the United States.

      To give one the idea of the impact a financial impact could have on the U.S., the same $10 trillion figure represented the decline in value of publicly traded corporate securities in the U.S. following the 2008 financial meltdown

      The U.S. Treasury securities identified in the article can be easily liquidated and transferred out of America.

      The Saudis also own large blocks of shares in blue chip stocks in the U.S. that could be fairly easily liquidated.

      Saudi Arabia could also retaliate by initiating an oil embargo on the U.S. which has supplied about 28% of petroleum consumed in the U.S. in recent years. Gasoline prices tripled virtually overnight when an oil embargo was placed against the U.S. following U.S. support of Israel during the Yom Kippur War.

  • Forget the Trump/Cruz Circus: Why Liberals are the Future of America
    • Progressive liberal activism is zealously advocated in Ann Arbor, Michigan where the Green Party in voting precincts often outpolls Republicans.

      Nevertheless, certain religious denominations - such as Quakers - have been at the forefront there of liberal causes such as Palestinian self-determination. Black Baptist ministers there have been vocal on progressive civil rights issues such as curtailment of police brutality.

    • Liberal Democrats in the U.S.:

      -tried to pass the Equal Rights Amendment but lost;

      -tried to oppose the federal death penalty law eventually signed by G.H.W. Bush but lost;

      -tried to keep Medicaid-funded abortions but lost;

      -tried to decriminalize marijuana but lost;

      -tried to oppose U.S. involvement in Afghanistan but lost;

      -tried to get the Iranian hostages released but failed;

      -entered the U..S. into WWI;

      -entered the U.S. in the Vietnam War;

      -entered the US in the war in Kosovo;

      -inaugurated Operation Mongoose to destabilize a popular socialist regime in Cuba;

      -failed to close Guantanamo detention facilities;

      -failed to pass effective gun control legislation.

      Liberal Democrats in the U.S. have been ineffective at attempts to pass much progressive legislation and further have not hesitated to voluntarily enter military conflict or covert action situations to promote a foreign policy agenda.

  • How Americans Hate: 8-fold increase in Islamophobic Crime since 2000
    • A recent lawsuit against the Muslim-majority City of Hamtramck alleges that the Arab-American community's businesses were targeted for investigation by law enforcement in a offensively discriminatory manner and with use of racial slurs:

      link to wxyz.com

  • Far-Right Israeli Government 'At Risk of Collapse,' as Electorate feels Buyer's Remorse
    • ".........but discussions were frozen in late March when Labor leader Isaac Herzog was linked to a preliminary investigation into party financing."

      Leader of the Opposition Herzog has claimed that the corruption investigation in question had its origin in Likud Party activists trying to discredit him:

      link to jewishnews.co.uk

      link to thejc.com

      The right-wing Jewish Homeland Party of Avigdor Lieberman is NOT part of the Netanyahu coalition and that is the chief reason that there is only a 61-seat coalition majority in the current Knesset. Lieberman's party leaders have also been under a corruption investigation that was made public shortly before the last Knesset election; this investigation had been labeled political by Jewish Homeland Party leaders and was credit with Likud being the beneficiary of crossover voting at the expense of Lieberman's party in the last Knesset election.

  • Are Sanders' Criticisms of Israeli Occupation Policies unprecedented in a Presidential Campaign?
    • Mr. Sanders is substantially accurate the 10,000 estimate of "casualty" figures during the 2014 Operation Defensive Shield incursion into Gaza.

      The commonly accepted definition of "casualty" incudes wounded as well as fatalities. According to the Gaza Health Ministry figures published by Ma'an News Agency in January of 2015, the number of Gazan wounded was 10,626 during that incursion - in addition to the approximately 2,000 killed as a result of hostile action.

  • What's at Stake for Israel in al-Sharif Killing: Japanese Officers were Executed for Killing POWs
    • Former Kach Party leader and self-described "right-hand man" to slain Jewish extremist MK Meir Kahane, Baruch Marzel, has been reported to have appeared on a video at the killing site shaking hands with the smiling IDF shooter - Elor Azraya

  • Family of Assailant suing Israeli Army over summary execution of Son
    • Good luck!

      The Israel Supreme Court in 2015 upheld the dismissal of a wrongful death action in the Rachel Corrie case using the doctrine that the IDF is immune from civil liability for deaths occurring in a combat zone:

      link to theguardian.com

      However, the family of Briton Thomas Hurndall received a $1.5 million-dollar settlement where the British government applied diplomatic pressure upon the Israeli government where an IDF sniper shot an International Solidarity Movement volunteer to death in the Gaza Strip - this was the same organization that Corrie had belonged to.

  • Autopsy confirms bullet fired by Israeli Soldier at point-blank range killed al-Sharif
    • Several points:

      (1) There have been prior cases where clear cut acts of murder by IDF soldiers against Arabs have been prosecuted as manslaughter, rather than murder - in one case during Operation Cast Lead the soldier pled to negligent homicide and received a lenient sentence for shooting a woman in the temple while she waved a white flag, and in another case a Bedouin IDF sergeant in Gaza served 6-1/2 years in prison for manslaughter for shooting Briton Thomas Hurndall, a civil rights activist, to death in Gaza;

      (2) the fact a manslaughter charge - not murder - is sought by IDF prosecutors means that it is conceivable that the soldier could be released within a few years - even months - even if convicted of that proposed charge;

      (3) the failure to even seek a murder charge by the prosecution is proof that Israel has no effective legal mechanism to address war crimes committed by the IDF - which is an essential element of International Criminal Court jurisdiction;

      (4) the conduct of prominent elected Israeli officials - such as Netanyahu, Lieberman and Bennett in visiting the family members of the accused or expressing public support for the clearly culpable soldier - is nothing less than shocking - but not surprising.

  • Palestinian rights group submits Israeli war crimes report to Int'l Criminal Court
    • "I wonder what the US and Israel will do to try and block it?"

      (1)The United States does not fund the International Criminal Court nor does submit its citizens to its jurisdiction, hence it has very little influence over its affairs;

      (2) Israel has international law experts that are trying to craft a defense largely predicated upon lack of jurisdiction - similar to what Adolf Eichmann's legal team attempted when he was prosecuted for genocide in Israel in the early 1960s.

    • Page: 15
  • "Investigate Israel's Extrajudicial Killings:" Sen Leahy, 10 other Congressmen
    • The Hadeel Hashlamoun case referenced above did not result in criminal charges even though an IDF investigation concluded that deadly force was not necessary.

      The killing of Abdul al-Sharif in Hebron has resulted in demonstrations in two Israeli cities in support of the IDF soldier accused of his killing.

      PM Netanyahu has met with the soldier's father in the al-Sharif incident and the official charge from the IDF tribunal is manslaughter - not murder.

  • The Trump Doctrine: End NATO, Patrol Mosques, Nukes for Japan & Allies
    • In the Metro Detroit area, the FBI has been accused of violating the civil rights of Muslims by unfairly targeting them during investigations.

      One of the most controversial cases involved Luqman Abdullah, an imam, who was shot 21 times by the FBI during a raid on a Dearborn warehouse - which has led to calls for investigation and allegations of a government cover-up:

      link to startribune.com

      link to democracynow.org

      link to freep.com

    • The targeting of "Muslim communities" has occurred in Metro Detroit. The FBI has used aerial surveillance against Dearborn residents.

      There was also the killing of a Muslim cleric by the FBI in Dearborn that aroused the interest of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

      Here are some links:

      link to wired.com

      link to cnn.com

      link to arabamericannews.com

  • Israeli Squatters issue death threats against Videographer who filmed execution of Palestinian
    • In the Bus 300 affair in 1984, the Israeli government was caught red-handed when an Israeli press photographer took a snapshot of an 18-year old bus hijacker taken away alive from the bus in handcuffs alive and the photo was published in the New York Times after the Israeli government had announced the youth died in the raid on the bus.

      An investigation determined that Shin Bet intelligence agents bludgeoned the arrestee to death in a field.

      PM Yitzhak Shamir termed the agents' conduct "an aberration".

      A subsequent further probe uncovered that Shin Bet director Avraham Shalom ordered the killing of the youth and Shalom was later pardoned by the Israeli president since he did so reportedly on orders of his superior - his only boss was PM Shamir.

      Other agents who were complicit in the killing received pardons from the Israeli president despite attempts of the Israeli attorney general to prosecute the culpable parties for murder. One agent involved in actual killing and pardoned was later elected to the Knesset as a Likud Party member.

    • The sole prosecution eyewitness in the Dawabsha murder case had his home recently firebombed by Jewish extremists

      An Israeli soldier and settler both recently entered a hospital room to threaten a Palestinian who recently ended a 94-day hunger strike after an agreement reached with the Israeli government:

      link to palestinechronicle.com settler-threaten-to-kill-al-qeq/

      A Jewish extremist was recently sentenced to prison for composing a handbook, entitled "Kingdom of Evil", directing readers to commit violence against Palestinians and avoid detection by authorities by joining terror cells:

      link to japantimes.co.jp

  • UN: Israel Soldier's execution of wounded Palestinian on ground gruesome, unjust
    • "The soldier has since claimed he killed al-Sharif out of fear the incapacitated man was going to detonate a suicide bomb vest......."

      There have been no recent suicide bombings in Israel or the West Bank.

      Obviously, there was absolutely not one iota of proof he (al-Sharif) was so armed.

      Under that line of thinking, every Palestinian who attempts to injure an Israeli may be summarily executed upon the possibility he may be wearing a suicide bomber vest.

      Certainly no other IDF soldier or emergency personnel at the site appeared concerned of such a possibility - but rather calmly stood or walked near al-Sharif.

      It was also apparent that the initial IDF statement only said that the two Palestinian men were killed. No one onsite had officially initially reported that al-Sharif was shot while lying on the ground or that there were concerns of a possible "suicide bomb vest".

      The second Palestinian killed was unarmed. Neither he nor al-Sharif were loaded into in ambulance before they died despite the fact that three Magen David ambulances were present and the lightly wounded IDF soldier who was stabbed was immediately placed into ambulance and transported out before al-Sharif was fatally shot in the head.

      The B'tselem human rights group's publication of this videotaped incident was the only impetus for the Israeli government to address it as an apparent extrajudicial execution. No one who witnessed it onsite other than the human rights worker who secretly videotaped it had attempted to report or publicize it as an apparent war crime.

      Amnesty International and Palestinian Authority officials have described the incident as a war crime.

  • How not to talk about Muslims after a Fringe Terrorist Group attacks
    • "...and some of the dangerous people are.....Donald Trump."

      One wonders how much of Trump's apparent anti-Muslim bias relates to the fact his wife was raised in Slovenia, which has had a history of such bias:

      news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3590841.stm

  • More US Muslims favor Bernie Sanders than do US Jews
    • Bernie Sanders campaigned in Dearborn, MI where 40% of the population is Arab-American and heavily Muslim and won in a landslide among the electorate in Dearborn:

      link to thearabdailynews.com

      link to freep.com

      Bernie Sanders also did well but narrowly got fewer votes than Clinton in the Democratic primary vote totals from Hamtramck, MI, which has a Muslim majority population. Sanders did not campaign in Hamtramck.

      The converse situation has existed as well: when Rashida Tlaib of Detroit - a Palestinian-American attorney - became the first Arab Muslim woman elected to the Michigan Legislature, about 20% of her campaign contributors were Jewish-Americans from Metro Detroit. Her anti-hate message resonated among all levels of local residents.

  • Where are the Women? Syrian, other Peace Talks need female Representation
    • Suheir Atassi, a female Syrian exile, was a negotiator at the Geneva II Conference.

      She also has served as vice-president of the Syrian National Coalition, whom the U.S. recognizes as the Syrian government-in-exile.

  • 9/11: Clueless US Judge doesn't Know Shiites from al-Qaeda, finds against Iran for $10 Bn.
    • The 9/11 commission report concluded that several hijackers had been in Iran without having their passports stamped and this was the "proof" that the plaintiffs presented to support their claim against Iran before Judge Daniels.

      The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was cleared by the U.S. District Court despite assertions by conspirator Zacharias Moussawi that the attacks were planned in KSA.

      Bell Helicopter received a 22 million-dollar judgment against Iran a few years ago which was later vacated under the Federal Sovereign Immunities Act.

      A wrongful death judgment was also obtained in a U.S. District Court based upon a terrorist bombing in Israel that killed a U.S. tourist with the theory that Iran openly financed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group that carried out the attack - the proof being that Iran's national budget disclosed the funding of that organization. The Plaintiff's estate did not collect on the judgment and the U.S. State Department opposed collection attempts by the victim's family despite attempts to seize the former Iranian Embassy property in Washington D.C.

      As a practical matter, the plaintiffs will likely have a long road to travel before they come close to seeing paydirt.

  • Will the Militias & gun nuts volunteer as Donald Trump's Storm Troopers?
    • Hamtramck, MI with its Muslim-majority population voted for Donald Trump by a 3-1 margin in the GOP primary over second-place finisher John Kasich.

      Dearborn, MI with its 40% Arab-American electorate, saw Trump handily win in that city as well in the primary.

      Not that Trump got very many Muslim or Arab votes in either municipality - rather that Trump votes reflect likely biased attitudes in those jurisdictions.

  • Winners and Losers in 5 Years of Syrian Civil War
    • "....at least as far back as 2006...the USA was secretly... trying to undermine and overthrow Assad....."

      Yes, however this did not occur in a vacuum.

      The impetus behind the Bush administration decision to use covert means to destabilize the Baathists in Damascus was the perceived role of Syrian intelligence services in the killing of Lebanon's prime minister Rafik Hariri.

  • Which Protest-busting Dictator is Trump most Like?
    • The U.S. never supported Pol Pot - although he was the recipient of arms from Red China after his government was defeated by the Vietnamese and he Khmer Rouge became a guerrilla force opposing the pro-Vietnam regime in Phnom Penh.

  • Nearly Half of Israeli Jews want to Expel Palestinian-Israelis from Country
    • In the late 1980s, Meir Kahane was first elected to the Knesset with the slogan "I say what you think." He advocated deportation of Palestinian Arabs from "Greater Israel" with compensation.

      He was reviled by the world's Jewry at the time as an extremist kook and his Kach Party was decertified in Israel due to racist policies.

      Today, posters bearing his image are hung throughout public places in Jerusalem and the violent Kahane Youth movement has reached unprecedented popularity.

      Public attitudes in Israel have changed since the 1980s and - after living through the First and Second Intifadas - many Jewish Israelis have little reluctance about expressing their desire to see Arabs ethnically cleansed from their nation.

  • 5 Surprising Truths about Terrorism
    • Each defendant was convicted and received a 25-year prison sentence.

      In a 2-1 decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the convictions, albeit a sharp judicial dissent assailing government misconduct was written by Judge Jacobs.

    • The only post 9/11 terror prosecution of Michigan residents of Middle Eastern descent was a disaster for the federal government - the case of U.S. vs Karim Koubriti et al - which eventually ended in the criminal prosecution of an assistant U.S. attorney and a U.S. State Department investigator, plus a spate of federal civil rights lawsuits.

      There was a massive buildup of federal law enforcement and investigative activity in Metro Detroit after 9/11 to target Arab-Americans - who amount to about 10% of the 4 million residents of the Metro Detroit area.

      link to newsweek.com

      link to deadlinedetroit.com

      link to justicedenied.org

      link to factsofisrael.com

      link to convertino.org

  • Rubio's 7 Fallacies on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
    • The Speaker of the Knesset recently was photographed with Israeli citizens supporting the passage of legislation to punish the relatives of those tied to "terrorism":

      link to knesset.gov.il

      Collective punishment violates the Geneva Conventions and is obviously inconsistent with "democracy".

    • Michigan's young GOP congressman Justin Amash - the only Palestinian-American in the U.S. House - has bucked the general sentiment in the Republican Party to act as cheerleaders for Cuban-American exiles by openly advocating normalized relations with the Castro regime.

      Fidel Castro has long been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.

    • Links to Ehud Olmert's recent incarceration:

      link to indianexpress.com

      link to theguardian.com

    • "That video of Netanyahu is dynamite......."

      Yes, but likely only about 2% of Americans know it exists given the attitudes of mainstream U.S. media.

    • "........the only pro-American free enterprise democracy in the entire Middle East."

      The Israeli government is opposed to "free enterprise" as it continues to intentionally sabotage the Gazan economy by targeting factories and farms for destruction:

      link to theguardian.com

      As far as "democracy", neither Rubio or any other candidate is commenting on the fact that ex-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who enthusiastically directed the deadly Operation Cast Lead against Gazans, has just entered an Israeli prison to serve a sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice convictions:

      link to theguardian.com

      "They (Hamas)........launch rockets and terrorist attacks against Israel on an ongoing basis."

      What about all of the families where most children - completely innocent - have been killed by Israeli military action? For example:

      link to newsweek.com

  • How the US went Fascist: Mass media Makes excuses for Trump Voters
    • It is not that easy, state law and party rules establish who can get on the ballot.

      David Duke ran for president as a Democrat in 1988 in several primaries and dropped out after finishing poorly. He later finished the campaign by being the Populist Party presidential nominee.

      He later made runs for state representative, governor and U.S. senator in Louisiana - much to the chagrin of the GOP hierarchy who could do little other than to denounce his candidacy.

      In Michigan, a number of declared white supremacists were elected as Republican Party precinct delegates but party officials explained there was nothing that could be done to keep them off the ballot.

  • Two Children Die Every Day Trying to Cross the Mediterranean
    • The aforementioned iconic Alan Kurdi press photo should be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for vividly capturing the dangers faced by Syrian child refugees and bringing attention to their plight.

      In 1975, President Ford inaugurated Operation Babylift to evacuate Vietnamese children to the U.S. during the collapse of the Republic of Vietnam. Hundreds were brought to America.

      The Obama administration has lacked the commitment to embark on any project that could help save the lives of Syrian children as the Ford administration did over 40 years ago.

  • Trump's SC Victory and anti-Muslim Hatred
    • Interestingly, the Muslim-bashing politics of GOP presidential candidates does not obtain in Michigan to a large extent by the Republican leadership.

      Republican governor Rick Snyder recently appointed a Lebanese Shia former immigrant to a circuit court judgeship a few months ago - he became the fourth Shi'ite currently on the bench in Wayne County; Charlene Elder, another circuit judge who adheres to Shi'ism from the same county, wears a hijab on the bench - she had been the first female Muslim in the U.S. to become a judge.

      Gov. Rick Snyder made a highly-publicized visit to a Bangladeshi-American eatery in Hamtramck shortly after that city elected the first Islamic majority city council in the U.S.

    • In 1991, incumbent governor Buddy Roemer lost in a early runoff election to Republican David Duke, a former Klan leader. This galvanized the black community into aggressively supporting Duke's opponent in the general election

      Duke's populist campaign began to falter and he was soundly defeated by Edwin Edwards, a Democrat who later would be convicted of corruption.

      Duke proclaimed that he won his constituency of the white electorate by garnering 55% of their vote. Duke espoused some of the same type of bias that Trump has been propounding currently. Duke has expressed his support toward Trump for his focus on immigration issues.

      Trump's extremist views are likely to harm his chances to get elected president should he receive the GOP nomination as he is expected to alienate minorities and those who find his anti-immigrant policies to be repugnant.

  • Gaza: Palestinian Women's unemployment reaches "astronomical" levels as Israeli siege Continues
    • Israel's military adventurism into Gaza and its blockade there have been the primary causes of the economic woes in that area.

      The Israel blockade violates international and the initial impetus behind the construction of tunnels was not for military purposes, but to get around the blockades of both Egypt and Israel.

      Here are some links:

      link to wordbank.org

      link to palestinechronicle.com

      news/antiwar.com/2104/07/27/gaza-tunnels-used-in-war-but-built-for-economy/

  • Civility? Professor Proposes Israel "flatten" a City of 1 million
    • "Israel was charged with bombing Shia neighborhoods in Beirut in order to pressure Hezbollah to stop firing missiles."

      A resident of a Shia neighborhood in Beirut had told me that aerial leaflets were dropped during the Second Lebanon War in 2006 in which they were warned by the Israel Air Force of imminent bombing. The neighborhood was leveled the following day by an air strike.

      The fallacy with bombing the Shia neighborhoods as a "pressure tactic" was that most Shi'ites in Beirut - as well as Lebanon in general - do not support Hezbollah - but rather the Amal Party of Nabih Berri - as evidenced by the number of seats held by Amal in the Lebanese parliament. Hezbollah is heavily localized in its power base to south Lebanon.

      Secondly, the aforesaid aerial bombardment example amounts to a war crime under the Geneva Conventions since it is an example of collective punishment of civilians.

      As for the "Fuel Air Explosives", recall the incendiary bombings over Tokyo during World War II, and the controversy of whether those acts constituted war crimes.

      Ironically, Israel complained that the Hezbollah missile strikes against population centers in northern Israel constituted war crimes. This included eight railway workers killed at a train depot in Haifa; Hezbollah countered that the depot was a legitimate military target.

  • Do Drug Profits actually drive Terrorism in the Muslim World?
  • Top 5 Scalia Rulings that helped Progressives
    • Justice Scalia's judicial integrity is perhaps best known for his being the swing vote in two separate decisions striking down state and - later - federal statutes making it a criminal offense to desecrate an American flag. The initial (state law conviction)invalidation decision was derided by political conservatives and was opposed by President George H. W. Bush who signed into law the federal legislation that the U.S. Supreme Court would subsequently strike down - also on First Amendment grounds. Scalia in a later interview expressed his distaste for the conduct of the defendants, but conceded that the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment protected the conduct of the defendants.

      He would also later join the majority in upholding a U.S. Court of Appeals decision reversing a multimillion-dollar verdict against the Westboro Baptist Church and members of the Phelps family by the father of a U.S. Marine Corps soldier who died in Iraq. The Westboro church members protested the military funeral which Scalia felt was protected activity under the First Amendment.

  • Do Latinos really view Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as their Leaders?
    • This issue came up when Mexican-born George Romney, the former chairman of American Motors and later Michigan governor, ran for president in 1968.

      That question was never conclusively established, although most legal scholars felt Mitt's father was constitutionally qualified to serve as U.S. president.

    • There are some constitutional scholars that have expressed doubts whether Cruz will qualify to be president due to his Canadian birth.

    • The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 gives Cuban immigrants special treatment compared to other similarly-situated immigrants - such as Haitians. This disparate treatment has been a bone of contention.

      Cuban-Americans' special status historically has been viewed as being derived from their opposition to Marxism and Fidel Castro. There were literally thousands of Cuban exiles who worked for the joint CIA-Army Cuban project to destabilize the Castro regime known as Operation Mongoose, based in the Miami area throughout the 1960s and 70s. These exiles were politically active and associated closely with the Republican Party.

      In 2000, the state chairman of the Florida Republican Party, a Cuban-American, spearheaded an intense effort to urge Cuban-Americans in Florida to vote for George W. Bush in response to the Clinton administration's efforts to return Elian Gonzalez to Cuba. Florida became the "swing state" in the presidential election that year and many credit the Florida GOP's efforts with ensuring Al Gore's extremely narrow defeat.

      In contrast, Mexican-Americans are overwhelmingly liberal Democrats and have not enjoyed the cozy relationship with the Republican Party and the U.S. intelligence community as the Cuban-Americans have.

  • Israel: Former official Labeled Traitor for backing Vets Denouncing Occupation
    • Several other former high-raking intelligence, military, and police officials have spoke out in support of Breaking the Silence, including former Shin Bet intelligence director Ami Ayalon:

      link to timesofisrael.com

      Ayalon, also a former Member of Knesset, had earlier made waves by:

      (A) submitting to an interview in the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Gatekeepers" in which he was interviewed, along with four other Shin Bet directors, who accused the Israeli government of intentionally subverting the Israeli/Palestinian peace process for political motives;

      (B) publicly expressing support for the Iranian nuclear agreement as being in Israel's best interests.

  • Israel: Friedman of the NY Times surrenders to One-State Solution, sees ME Apocalypse
    • "..........the unprecedented turmoil in the ME is to a large degree the result of American aggression in the region, something Friedman, and other Liberal imperialists, refuse to acknowledge."

      Thomas Friedman did in fact warn that the U.S. involvement in Lebanon in support of the Maronite-controlled Lebanese Army during the civil unrest during the 1980s would result in a perception among Shia Lebanese that the Americans were opposed to the Shi'ite interests.

      Mr. Friedman astutely pointed out that dissenting voices among U.S. Armed Forces in Lebanon felt that firing 2-ton shells from offshore battleships (ordered by National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane) into Shi'ite neighborhoods could create a blowback from the perception that the U.S. was siding with the Maronites. Not long after this, the suicide bombing carried out by Shia extremists at the USMC base in Beirut occurred, killing 237.

      Friedman was also critical of Israel's Likud-dominated foreign policy moves following the Operation Galilee IDF invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

      Mr. Friedman has generally been dismissive toward Likud and American neo-conservative policies toward Lebanon and the Israel/Palestine issue.

    • ".........I haven't read him since 2002 he supported the Iraq invasion........"

      Friedman did support the invasion of Iraq believing that the removal of the Baathist regime would allow a democracy to flourish and become a model for other countries in the Middle East to follow - obviously he miscalculated.

      His other "clinker" was his professed belief that Israel could defeat Islamic militant forces in Lebanon primarily through strategic air strikes. This idea was implemented by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, an air force general, in the 2006 Second Lebanon War and resulted in Hezbollah emerging from that conflict as more popular and eventually growing into the seventh largest military power in the world - and with Gen. Halutz resigning in humiliation after issuance of the Winograd Commission report sharply criticizing his performance.

      That said, Mr. Friedman, a longtime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, authored the critically-acclaimed "From Beirut to Jerusalem" book which won him several awards and is considered an important primer to Lebanese and Israeli politics during the 1980s. Friedman has had an influence on international foreign policy via his connections to the Clinton and Obama administrations. He also briefed Saudi leaders during the formulation of the proposal issued by then-Crown Prince Abdullah.

  • Israeli Parliament Targets Human Rights NGOs
    • The two most prominent human rights watchdog groups based in Israel are B'tselem and Yesh Din.

      B'tselem is largely financed by foreign donors which include several European nations - however its board of directors is overwhelmingly Jewish Israelis; one board member is a Palestinian associated with the Arab group Adalah.

      Yesh Din (literally "There is law") is also heavily dependent on foreign donors, including some European governments, however its governing board is composed of prominent
      Israelis - including retired senior IDF officers.

      These two watchdog groups document and advocate against human rights violations perpetrated against Palestinians - and are viewed as traitors by many right-wing Israelis.

      The fallacy with Shaked's policy arguments in supporting this proposed legislation is that the actual control of these NGOs resides with Jewish Israelis and not the financing foreign governments. Governments that have financed these human rights organizations in Israel have been those with a historically benign attitude toward the Zionist state - including Norway and Ireland.

      These human rights organizations have received international acclaim for their efforts in addressing civil rights abridgments - to suggest a political agenda exists to target the Israeli right is disingenuous.

  • Is Netanyahu Readying the next Israeli Assault on Blockaded Gaza?
    • "Israel would attempt to recreate the post-1982 war scenario, when they pacified their enemies using extreme violence and then entrusted their political allies to rearrange the subsequent political landscape.........."

      Several points:

      In the Marjayoun incident in 2006 the IDF had their officers visit their Lebanese army "allies" at a base and had tea with the Lebanese army base commander and returned one hour later to fire tank shells at the base's gates and capture several hundred Lebanese army soldiers. Even though those soldiers were released shortly thereafter, the incident galvanized Christians and Hezbollah to unite and President Emile Lahoud "deputized" Hezbollah as part of the Lebanese national defense and forced IDF to withdraw as part of a cease-fire pact.

      Following that war, the Qatari government donated millions to rebuild war-ravaged cities in south Lebanon, such as Bint Jebayl, and as a result, IDF "search and destroy" and "scorched earth" tactics were neutralized.

      The Hezbollah militia increased its rocket arsenal from 12,000 prior to the 2006 war to an estimated 40,000 to 100,000 today. It has been estimated by IDF experts that a war today between Israel and Hezbollah would result in a daily death toll of Israelis in double digits or even triple digits - in 2006, 165 Israelis died due to hostile fire by Lebanese forces over a 30-day period.

      The IDF has not returned to Lebanon in the last 9 1/2 years due to a strong mutual deterrent between the parties. Should Gazans acquire enough military strength to create a similar deterrent, the IDF will be directed to stand down from future military adventurism in Gaza.

  • Israel frets about "Iran as Neighbor" if Aleppo falls & al-Assad Regime Wins
    • Russia is the largest exporter of crude oil to the State of Israel and they also have had history of military cooperation - including hundreds of millions of dollars in trading armaments.

      An estimated 80,000 Israeli emigres live in Moscow.

      Historically, the Soviet Union backed the creation of Israel since it felt it was going to be Marxist in orientation - Ben-Gurion's Mapai Party had the hammer-and-sickle symbol on its emblem.

      Even though the Soviet Union participated against Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, there is no compelling economic or military interest Russia currently has to vigorously advocate for Palestinians - although the Soviet Union was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in 1988 and had trained P.L.O. fighters.

  • 5 Worst Foreign Policy Moments of GOP New Hampshire Debate
    • "And in the Gulf War the US for the first time used a significant amount of "smart" weaponry, so that wasn't carpet bombing........."

      Actually, the U.S. Department of Defense first extensively utilized "smart bombs" in conjunction with Operation Linebacker II against North Vietnam in December of 1972 - this included laser, LORAN, and radar-guided weaponry as part of an air offensive that focused upon civil infrastructure in and near Hanoi and caused heavy damage.

      These smart weapons were able to knock out many Communist targets that were unsuccessfully targeted in prior years as part of the Rolling Thunder program.

      The USAF emerged from the Linebacker air offensive operations with a certain degree of satisfaction and patterned the Gulf War smart weapons assault against Baathist Iraq after the Linebacker II program that had concluded 18 years earlier.

  • Syria Rebels face Collapse as Thousands flee North Aleppo
    • Try Operation Just Cause on Christmas of 1989 where Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega was deposed and President-elect Guillermo "Porky" Endara was sworn in as the new head of state.

    • If the Free Syrian army and allied local brigades collapse, the Syrian rebel movement will be to the Obama administration what the Bay of Pigs was to JFK and Vietnam was to LBJ - unmitigated foreign policy failures that are historic in dimension.

      In mid-2013, the Free Syrian Army was the pre-eminent anti-Assad military force within Syria and close to defeating the Assad military units - until the State Department suspended aid to the FSA , causing defections of FSA fighters to Islamist-orientation brigades and halting FSA advances against Baathist regime forces.

      There needs to be a Congressional investigation how the Obama administration snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Syria.

  • Brazil opens Palestine Embassy after rejecting Israeli Squatter Envoy
    • Every independent country in South America - with the exception of Colombia - has granted full diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine.

      So have most nations in Central America.

  • Syria: The Mother of all Battles for Aleppo is Joined
    • The U.S. and allied forces are bombing Raqqa and some sources in the U.S. Department of Defense are seeing the fall of Aleppo as the beginning of victory for Putin and Assad, and of the end to rebel forces that have been backed by the U.S.:

      link to thedailybeast.com

      Another humiliating defeat for the U.S. State Department is in the offing?

    • "......I don't suppose it was the most inclusive election under the circumstances........."

      Thousands of Syrian citizens have been detained over the last several years at 27 "convenient" separate torture centers operated by the Baathist regime":

      link to hrw.org

      These detainees - if they had been permitted to vote - would likely not had voted for Assad.

    • ".........(Syrian government forces) advances on the battlefield....were in part made possible because the Russians tricked the U.S. into pressuring Turkey and Saudi Arabia to halt temporarily the resupply of the Aleppo rebels while the talks were going on........."

      If this statement is accurate it is yet another example of the utter incompetence of the Obama administration in dealing with the Syrian civil war.

      Geneva II was an utter failure and the recent Russian offensive actions are a slap in the face to the peace process - especially since FSA and local forces are being targeted currently. Syria's largest city may fall to the Syrian Arab Army while ISIS-controlled Raqqa remains unscathed.

      This kind of reminds me of those poor anti-Castro Cuban exiles wondering where air cover was at the Bay of Pigs in 1961.

  • Israel Continues to Spray Crop-killing Chemicals on Gaza Farmlands; Cancer Fears
    • Ironically:

      (1) Gaza has severe problems in obtaining potable water sources;

      (2) Flint has a sizeable Arab-American community - including Palestinian-Americans who have been affected by the contaminated water supply in that municipality.

  • Moscow's Historical Relationship with Damascus: Why it Matters Now
    • Overall, a good article that emphasizes the long term bilateral relations between the former Soviet Union and the Syrian Baathists.

      Additional points:

      (1) most of the Christians in Syria are Orthodox, as are most Russian Christians, and the Syrian Christians have been a generally - though not always - a source of support to the Baathists, and thousands of Russian women have emigrated to Syria to marry in recent years;

      (2) Russia has educated in its universities a large number of Syrian professionals and has been a major source for providing the expertise in creating the civil infrastructure for Damascus and other urban areas in the country;

      (3) the Syrian Arab Army is heavily supplied, and to a large extent, trained with the assistance of the Russians;

      (4) the article above makes brief reference to the P.L.O. - the 4,500-member Palestinian Liberation Army, the "official" army of the P.L.O., is integrated as an distinct arm of the Syrian Arab Army under the leadership of Major General Tariq Khadra and is currently fighting alongside Syrian government troops in support of Assad;

      (5) even though the U.S. has a trade embargo against Syria, many European-based corporations have operations within Syria - including Mercedes-Benz, Royal Dutch Shell, and the Swiss-based Nestle.

  • Exasperated by Netanyahu, France Prepares to Recognize Palestinian State
    • Some people see President Ruby Rivlin as the "deKlerk" - seeking a workable one-state solution, acknowledging past Zionist misdeeds, and promoting citizenship for West Bank Arabs.

      Avinery - incredibly still active at 90 years of age - has described Daphni Leef's J-14 movement as the beginning of a "Second Israeli Republic" in which the national security structure that dominates the Israeli governmental system will give way to a true democracy for all.

  • Anne Frank's Stepsister: Donald Trump Is Another Hitler
    • One of the indicia that Trump is analogous to Hitler is the massive support he is receiving in America's white supremacist community, including praise from David Duke and an endorsement from the neo-Nazi periodical Stormfront as well as other extremist groups:

      link to rawstory.com real-sentiment-of-america/

      link to dailystormer.com

      Back in Louisiana about 25 years ago the leaders of the GOP - including President Bush - did everything to denounce David Duke's candidacy for a state representative seat. He won and later made runs for governor and the U.S. Senate in that state.

      The Republican leadership today should be giving similar vocal opposition to Trump's frankly embarrassing religious perspectives.

  • Gaza speaks: This is what the decade-long Israeli siege has done to us
    • This fine article underscores the fact that Gaza remains under IDF occupation despite the 2005 disengagement.

      It has been confirmed via WikiLeaks from cables from the Israeli government to U.S. Embassy personnel that Israel actively is attempting to sabotage the Gazan economy.

      About 50% of Gazans would emigrate that area if they could, according to a recent poll, and conversely 51% of Israelis polled support a military re-occupation of Gaza.

      Israeli armed forces during the recent incursions have failed to destroy Hamas or stop its smuggling tunnels, but have been very successful in damaging the Gazan economy. During Operation Defensive Edge they:

      (1) with ten artillery shells destroyed the factory of the largest employer in Gaza - a biscuit manufacturer that employed 600;

      (2) destroyed the Italian Mall, via missiles from an F-16 fighter jet, which had been the tallest building in Gaza.

      Once Gazans leave due to lack of habitability, Jewish settlers can return and whole Gaza can be colonized by these settlers - that is the goal of Likud theorists.

    • Good article that emphasizes how Israel can damage Gazan society without need for direct military intervention.

      One aspect of Israel's conduct needing to be mentioned is the violence leveled against the Rafah Zoo - one of the few areas where Gaza's children can play and learn about exotic animals firsthand.

      In 2004 IDF tanks rolled over and killed tortoises and other animals were killed.

      During Operation Cast Lead in 2009, Israeli soldiers entered the Rafah Zoo and intentionally killed almost all the animals - leaving behind only a pony and some parrots; an ostrich was decapitated.

      Currently the Israeli blockade of Gaza has resulted in the starvation deaths of animals in the Rafah Zoo.

      Some links about the history of the Israel Defense Forces against zoo animals:

      link to theguardian.com

      link to cnn.com

      link to nypost.com

  • Are Palestinian-Israelis going from 2nd Class Citizens to 3rd Class?
    • There is one additional method of discriminating against Arab Israelis not mentioned in the article.

      Eligibility for payments from social welfare programs are often dependent upon service of a family member in the Israel Defense Forces. Since universal conscription exists for Israeli Jews, but only a very small percentage of Christian or Muslim Arabs actually serve in the IDF, this effectively bars most Arab Israelis from entitlement from eligibility in most social welfare programs administered by the Israeli government.

      Also, the Israel Supreme Court exists at the pleasure of the Knesset since there is no federal constitution in Israel. That court derives its authority from the Basic Law - which may be amended at any time from by the Knesset; therefore, the powers of that court can be diminished by the Knesset. In the past the Israeli Supreme Court has protected the rights of Israeli Arabs in running for the Knesset by striking down Knesset actions promoted by right-wing MKs.

  • Flint's water crisis is a blatant example of environmental injustice
    • Michigan has had the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act since the 1970s that bars discrimination on account of sex (and other protected characteristics) by employers, schools and places of public accommodation.

      There is therefore no need for an amendment to the State of Michigan Constitution.

  • Netanyahu demands more billions from US after Iran Deal, insults US Envoy, Steals more Land
    • Obama has only a year left in his presidency and it is my guess his administration will take a path of increasing criticism toward Netanyahu's actions.

      After he leaves office on Jan. 20th, 2017, I speculate that Obama shall take a path similar to former Pres. Carter and become an open critic of Israeli government policies.

    • "I wish our leaders would grow a spine............."

      I recently saw a televised British House of Commons debate on the Israel/Palestine issue and was amazed at how publicly critical those MPs were toward Israeli misconduct - even Jewish MPs.

      Those MPs appeared even-handed as they were equally critical of Hamas' conduct in the conflict - without attacking the Palestinians.

      It would have been shocking to such critical discourse in U.S. Congress.

    • Regarding "inhuman conditions", Palestinian children are being tortured and placed in outdoor iron cages during winter:

      link to mintpressnews.com

  • No, Gov. Snyder, Flint's water wasn't poisoned by "Government": It was by your Appointee
    • Miguel Del Toral, an EPA official, is emerging as a hero in this tragedy. In June of 2014 he raised red flags in a report disclosed to Michigan state officials and city officials in Flint.

      He indicated the test results of the home of Leann Walters "blew his mind" as lead readings were highly elevated. EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman had been angered that the report was leaked outside the agency before being examined and cleared by higher-ups at the EPA.

      Dr. Hedman has since resigned from the EPA.

      Del Toral has objected to being called a hero - instead claiming it was Ms. Walters, the Flint mother who tried to expose the water problems, whose actions should be deemed heroic.

    • The Sugar Law Center filed that suit in United States District Court in Detroit and plaintiffs include board members of the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) district, who was placed under emergency manager control.

      Here is a link to the lawsuit information:

      link to sugarlaw.org

      The DPS was rife with corruption, violence and mismanagement prior to the state EM appointment with students bringing toilet paper to school since the district ran out, the district running up a $160 million-dollar deficit, rapes and shootings of students rampant on school grounds - one of the most absurd news reports were that school board members received chauffer-driven transportation as a perk while the district teetered on the brink of financial collapse.

      City of Detroit and Wayne County government were so bad that the FBI obtained corruption convictions of over 30 city and county officials. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick received a 28-year prison sentence and longtime Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano received only 6% of the Democratic primary vote in a failed re-election bid.

      Under this backdrop, many Detroit residents saw Governor Snyder as a liberator when Kevyn Orr was appointed as emergency manager. The City of Detroit, whose population approaches 90% minority residents, elected, in a landslide, a successful white hospital executive from the suburbs, Brian Duggan, who established Detroit residency and pledged to cure the mismanagement that plagued the Motor City.

    • In a late-breaking story carried by the Detroit News, Flint's McLaren Hospital has confirmed that their water supply was contaminated with the Legionella bacteria in 2014 and an expert they hired has opined that the Legionella contamination likely emanated after the City of Flint changed their water source from the City of Detroit to the Flint River.

      There had been a spike of Legionnaire's Disease deaths in Genessee County and its county seat Flint shortly following the city changing its water source to the Flint River. Some estimates are as high as 10 Flint-area deaths due to Legionella contamination that may be water-related.

    • ".........Snyder's rather arrogant state government... delights to take over a city........"

      In fact, residents of a municipality or its city council may initiate the process for state financial review under the emergency manager law.

      In the City of Hamtramck, its City Council requested the governor appoint an emergency manager. The reason for this is that the emergency manager may invalidate collective bargaining agreements negotiated by public service unions and save the municipality millions of dollars per annum; this was the impetus for the Hamtramck City Council in requesting an emergency manger to take over operation of its government.

      "....this measure typically entailed white politicians from the west and center of the state being appointed by the white, Republican governor to take over cities with a big African-American and working class population......."

      This is incorrect.

      The City of Hamtramck is about 13% black and has a white mayor, but had an African-American appointed as emergency manager, Cathy Square, who served for about 18 months.

      Detroit has had a black emergency manager - Kevyn Orr.

      Benton Harbor has had a black emergency manager.

      The legality of the emergency manager law in Michigan is being tested by a federal court lawsuit on the grounds it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment since its allegedly being used against predominantly black communities on a frequent basis and, also, it violates the voting rights of residents to the representation of their choice.

      The Flint tragedy is sad - but blame can go around to many in state and local government.

  • Israeli Squatters scrawl hate graffiti on Jerusalem Church
    • The Netanyahu government has winked a condescending eye to these extremist attacks by failing to investigate them thoroughly and being more concerned about the welfare of the criminal suspects themselves.

      Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked - who as an MK is considered the most right-wing member of that elected body - pressured the Israeli Attorney General to vigorously ensure that the suspects held in a deadly arson attack against an Arab child received all legal protections allowed by law.

      In 1999, just months before then-PM Netanyahu left office, his Justice Minister, Tzachi Hanegbi, the son of the former operational commander of the terrorist Stern Gang in the 1940s, issued a recommendation to the Israeli president for a sentence reduction to Ami Popper, a prisoner who was serving seven life terms plus 20 years for machine-gunning Gazans at a bus stop - killing seven and wounding eleven in 1990.

      Based on this recommendation, Popper's sentence was commuted to 40 years. He also received over 120 furloughs, due to the efforts of the Shin Bet intelligence service, and married three times. On a 2007 furlough he got into a car accident, killing his wife and a son.

      PM Netanyahu last year delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, an extremist leader who served time for killing an Arab shopkeeper - calling him a "great example".

      It is not surprising that terror attacks occur against Palestinians by Jewish extremists - it is however even more disturbing to see the cabinet ministers and the Israeli law enforcement community give the level of support they do to help violent extremists.

  • Sanders: Michigan Governor Must Resign over Flint Lead-Poisoning Crisis
    • The Governor has expressly welcomed the U.S. Attorney's Office investigation.

      The United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, Barbara McQuade, is an Obama appointee and has no reason to protect either Governor Snyder or his administration. She obtained the indictment and conviction of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and dozens of other city and county officials on public corruption charges.

      The Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has commenced his own investigation.

      From what I have seen so far, lead contamination was known to government officials but the extremely high levels of toxicity posing imminently serious health dangers were not until a Virginia Tech researcher was stunned by his own test results.

    • Governor Snyder's longtime chief of staff, Dennis Muchmore, has announced his resignation, effective January 20th - without stating any reason.

      A safe level of lead in drinking water is 15 parts per billion (pbb), per EPA rules, however the generally recognized level that causes concern where children are involved is only 5 pbb.

      A Virginia Tech professor took multiple tests from a number of Flint homes at various flow levels.

      He was astonished when the highest lead content test result was 13,000 ppb. This level of lead toxicity was unprecedented in his 25 years as a researcher. The children in that household had been diagnosed with lead poisoning.

  • Swedish FM: Israel Extrajudicial killings; Netanyahu: OK to Kill Assailants
    • The only case I have ever seen when an IDF soldier was prosecuted for extrajudicial killing, convicted and sent to prison was the homicide of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Thomas Hurndall, a Briton; in that situation Hurndall's estate received a large wrongful death settlement payout from the Israeli government as well.

      The differences in the Hurndall case as opposed to other similar events:

      (A) the IDF sergeant (charged and convicted of only manslaughter) was a Bedouin Arab;

      (B) the victim not Arab and was a citizen of a foreign government;

      (C) the British government was applying significant diplomatic pressure against Israel to exact accountability.

      In contrast, when fellow ISM activist Rachel Corrie was killed by an IDF bulldozer operator, the U.S. Congressman from her district was alone and unsupported in his calls for action against Israel. Her family filed an action in the Israeli court system which was dismissed following trial in which the judge blamed Corrie for standing in front of a bulldozer.

      ISM has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize.

      The failure of Israel to prosecute extrajudicial killings is a basis for International Criminal Court jurisdiction.

  • Noam Chomsky slams Turkish Pres. Erdogan for Arresting Academics, supporting Extremism
    • PKK has been designated by the U.S. State Department as a foreign terror organization - their leader, Abdullah Ocalan is imprisoned in Turkey. Other nations - such as Switzerland - have declined to identify PKK as a terror group.

      That said, they have been an effective opponent to ISIS on the battlefield. They have also been a thorn in the side of the Turkish government.

      Other Kurdish groups fighting within Syria - YPG and some Peshmerga - are cooperating with American interests as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

      Overall, the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria have been historically friendly to the United States.

  • The Fifth Anniversary of Arab Uprisings: A Turning point in Modern History?
    • #8 "Soviet defeat in Afghanistan.........led to its collapse a few years later......."

      Actually, the Gorbachev commitment to both glasnost and perestroika - as well as the popularly-elected Congress of Peoples Deputies - in the late 1980s allowed for the exercise and expression of long-suppressed public sentiment for democratic reforms and free enterprise that gave rise to the Boris Yeltsin presidency and the eventual outlawing of the Communist Party.

      The Afghan conflict had little to do with public sentiment in the Soviet Union for an end of the Communist Party monopoly on power there.

      #9 "......the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 9th of November 1989, which led to the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991 and the end of the Cold War........."

      In reality, the fall of the Berlin Wall was a product - not a cause of the end of the Cold War.

      Pope John Paul II and Lech Walesa's joint effort to oppose the Polish government and - via the Solidarity Union - create a populist democratic alternative in the early 1980s inspired the eventual removal of the Communist Party from power in 1988 and inspired later revolts in Romania, Czechoslovakia, and the Soviet Union - as well as other countries - that doomed the primacy of Marxist forces of governance in Eastern Europe.

      #11 "The terrorist attacks in New York and Washington marked the first time the US mainland had been attacked since the War of Independence.........."

      This is inaccurate:

      (A) the War of 1812 was fought extensively on U.S. soil - recall the British army burning the U.S. Capitol building?

      (B) the Confederacy attacked Gettysburg, PA in 1863 during the Civil War;

      (C) the Japanese released a limited number of deadly bomb-laden balloons on the U.S. mainland during World War II.

  • Why Arson was suspected in Fire at Offices of Israeli Human Rights & Peace Group B'Tselem
    • A fire investigator has revised the original arson suspicion to a probable faulty electrical circuit as the cause of the blaze.

      However, many right-wing Israelis had initially accused B'Tselem of staging an arson attack against itself for political gain. One was a spokesman for the conservative Otzma Yehudit political party.

      Some "witnesses" even reported B'Tselem workers were removing B'Tselem's mailbox and other equipment from their office shortly prior to the fire.

  • Majority of Jerusalem Palestinians detained in 2015 were minors
    • The UN Committee on the Rights of Children issued a report documenting torture of Palestinian children that has been corroborated by lawyers of the Israeli Public Defender Office that includes:

      (A) keeping child detainees in external iron cages during winter;

      (B) committing and threatening to commit acts of sexual violence against the children.

      Many of those child detainees are being held for stone throwing.

      link to mintpressnews.com

  • People in Lead-Poisoned Flint Still without clean Water
    • According to some Internet sources I just checked - Governor Snyder and various state and local officials were sued by some Flint residents in November over the contaminated water.

      The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan has commenced their own investigation.

      There has been almost NO recent Michigan coverage of the matter in the media - although the discoloration and health problems linked to the water were reported by the Detroit Free Press about a year ago.

    • I am a member of the Michigan Bar and was a state resident when the PBB cattle contamination scandal occurred in the 1970s in rural Michigan. The plaintiffs lost those product liability lawsuits and it was EPA Superfund monies that paid for the clean-up at the site where the contaminated cattle were buried in St. Louis, Michigan. Contaminated dairy and meat products due to accidental mixing of PBB with cattle feed resulted in thousands of Michigan consumers ingesting toxin-laded food.

      Years of Republican-controlled legislatures in this state have resulted in the Michigan Tort Reform Act and broad scope of governmental immunity legislation that significantly limits the rights of injured parties to sue for just about anything - especially against the state and its political subdivisions.

      Any plaintiffs' legal counsel suing the state will find themselves facing a phalanx of attorneys from the Michigan Department of Attorney General who will vigorously assert immunity defenses.

      Flint, Michigan is rife with abandoned buildings, high crime and unemployment rates - much like the City of Detroit. It was the subject of the $150,000.00 budget "Roger and Me" documentary hit that made filmmaker Michael Moore a household name in the late 1980s by his exposing the effects of General Motors shutting down of a plant in that municipality.

    • I am from Metro Detroit and this is the first time I heard of the story.

  • Airline apologizes for letting Racist Israelis force Palestinian-Israeli passengers off Plane
    • An op-ed piece in one of Israel's largest newspapers slammed the Greek airline employees for caving into a "mob" mentality and also referencing that ultraorthodox Jews have, in similar situations, objected to being seated next to women:

      link to haaretz.com

  • Separating anti-Semitism from Anti-Zionism
    • "I feel particularly as Jews we have a responsibility to remain vigilant and to speak out against the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The pursuit of a just society is a fundamental concept of Judaism......................................."

      B'tselem, the Jewish human rights organization that investigates Israeli government human rights violations against both Jews and Palestinians, had their Jerusalem office building today burn in a suspected arson. Firemen are evacuating persons trapped on upper floors.

  • Saudi Arabia Executes Top Shia Cleric Nimr Al Nimr Under “Terrorism” Charges
    • ".........we don't want to say things that might seem to reflect badly on our 'friends'."

      Back in 1980 the Public Broadcasting System aired "Death of a Princess", the true story of a Saudi princess executed due to her failure to consummate an arranged marriage due to her relationship with another man. That docudrama created an international furor.

      Mobil Oil Corporation purchased newspaper ads denouncing the production as an inaccurate representation and other entities with Saudi ties likewise condemned the decision to air the critically-acclaimed drama.

      In 1983, a Harvard University study researched the film's impact on the interdependence of various entities to the Saudi government:

      link to pbs.org

      The same forces are at play here 35 years later - deserved public criticism takes a back seat to economic pressure.

    • ".....there is no reason the USA can't just walk away from Saudi Arabia........"

      Saudi Arabia has $10 trillion invested in American real estate, blue chip stocks, and other financial vehicles that are easily capable of quick liquidation and withdrawal from the U.S. if effectuated. These vast holdings represent the reinvestment from proceeds of crude oil sales from KSA. If KSA were to divest such holdings in the U.S. it would trigger severe repercussions on the U.S. economy.

      Even though the 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudis, the Bush administration did not make much of a protest or issue public ultimatums to KSA due to these reasons.

      Likewise, the powerful Israel Lobby that has existed since the 1940s has had the perceived power to make or break the candidacies of U.S. presidents or challengers, so American politicians are unlikely to see it to their advantage to criticize Israel.

      Both Saudi Arabia and Israel get free passes for their misdeeds and odious policies from the U.S. government.

  • Palestinian population to exceed that of Jews by 2020 in Israel/Palestine
  • Most important Neglected Middle East Stories of 2015
    • Re#7: "....we need to consider...the evidence that the Taliban are back...."

      What needs to be emphasized is that the opium production out of Afghanistan has, according to one source, increased fortyfold since the initiation of Operation Enduring Freedom to topple the Taliban, who had previously eradicated much of the trade in that narcotic since acceding to power in that nation in 1996.

      Opium production generates about 3 to 4 billion dollars per annum and about 4% of the GNP of Afghanistan. Afghan-cultivated opium poppies have represented 80-90% of the world total production of that narcotic in recent years.

      The U.S., due to its heroin abuse levels of its population, have a compelling interest in eradicating opium cultivation and have spent 7.6 billion dollars in taxpayer dollars since 2001 for eradication programs directed toward Afghan farmers, who have been encouraged to grow such crops as wheat and pomegranates.

      To avoid these eradication programs, farmers have sought refuge in Taliban-controlled areas so that they may harvest opium as a crop - with the Taliban raking in a percentage of opium revenues. It has been estimated that about 89% of Afghan opium produced emanates from Taliban-controlled regions of the Afghan countryside.

      Here are some links:

      link to rt.com

      link to csmonitor.com

      link to theguardian.com

      link to pbs.org

      link to voanews.com

      The withdrawal of foreign troops has exacerbated the opium farming problem and the Taliban are content to live with a stalemate militarily with the Afghan government while they share in the profits of the cultivation of opium poppies generated from areas they control in the Afghan countryside.

  • Israeli PM: 'Arab terror and Jewish terror' are different
    • "Netanyahu stated that.....Israeli leadership condemns terror attacks........"

      "The Shin Bet last week warned that the case revealed the growing threat of Jewish terror organizations....."

      The Israeli leadership and Shin Bet have a history of ongoing support to one of the most notorious Jewish terrorists in Israel's history: Ami Popper, whose name repeatedly surfaces in the news despite the fact he is "officially" in prison.

      Popper was convicted in the 1990 machine-gun slayings of seven Gazans , eleven more were wounded, at a bus stop. He received seven terms of life imprisonment plus an additional 20 years. Former Knesset member Meir Kahane held a celebration near the bus stop later and one of Kahane's followers married Popper while he was in prison.

      In 1999, President Ezer Weizman commuted Popper's sentence to 20 years.

      In 2007, the public was shocked when it was reported that Popper was involved in a car accident in which his wife and son were killed when he was driving a vehicle that struck another oncoming car. The Israeli prisons bureau indicated that the Shin Bet intelligence service had authorized Popper 120 previous furloughs, and that Popper - who had no driver's license - was on a furlough when he caused the 2007 accident by swerving into oncoming traffic.

      In 2013, Popper made news again when he was granted a furlough to attend a wedding in Jerusalem to a third wife.

      In later years, Popper has made news by his attempts at a pardon and his son appearing before the Knesset to advocate for his release.

      In late 2015, several investigative journalists have shown that Popper receives financial support from U.S. non-profit tax-exempt organization sources.

      Here are some links:

      link to timesofisrael.com

      link to thestruggle.org

      link to jpost.com

      link to israelnationalnews.com

      link to thejewishweek.com

      link to haaretz.com

  • The Regime Strikes Back: Syrian Gov't advances, Bolstered by Russia
    • Thanks for the link.

      It reveals that many in the Pentagon leadership wish that the U.S. would join Russia and China in an-anti-terror coalition - in direct contravention of the Obama administration policy.

  • The rise of Daesh/ ISIS, explained in 6 minutes
    • There is no conclusive proof that the CIA had direct ties to Bin Laden in Afghanistan while fighting the Soviets (although it is debatable).

      Bin Laden was, however, clearly allied with other rebel groups within Afghanistan receiving vast weapons resources and training by the CIA and other Western intelligence agencies.

      What is also clear hat Bin Laden had not only extensive Saudi funding at that juncture, but (A) returned to Saudi Arabia a national hero, and (B) received an audience with the Saudi king after the Soviets had been defeated.

  • Shin Bet: Jewish Terrorists Out to 'Violently Overthrow' Israeli Government
    • Non-profits in the U.S. have donated 220 million dollars in financial support for West Bank Jewish settlements, including legal aid to Jewish terrorist elements.

      Investigative reporter Uri Blau of the Israeli periodical Haaretz had revealed the money trial in a recent article published just days ago in Israel:

      link to haaretz.com

    • "...........lawyers representing the suspects held a press conference accusing the agency for using methods of torture during interrogation......."

      There have been numerous angry Jewish right-wing protestors demonstrating in front of the home of the Shin Bet intelligence service director over these allegations of torture:

      link to timesofisrael.com

      Shin Bet has long been accused by human rights watchdog groups of engaging in interrogation methods that are in violation of international law as to Palestinian detainees, including children.

  • Where are women’s voices in the Syria peace talks?
    • Suheir Atassi had been a vice-president of the Syrian National Coalition, who the U.S. recognizes as the legitimate government-in-exile of Syria.

      She has been called the "Lady of the Revolution".

      She was a negotiator on behalf of the Syrian opposition at the Geneva II Conference.

  • Int'l Criminal Court group will fact-find in Israeli-Occupied Palestine
    • In a rare public attack in the Israeli Knesset against misconduct of the Israel Defense Forces, MK Zehava Galon accused the Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon of "McCarthyism" in attempting to exclude the group "Breaking the Silence" - an organization dedicated to exposing misconduct of the IDF, from traditional IDF soldier functions.

      MK Galon, chairwoman of the Meretz Party, indicated that her party supported Breaking the Silence, its members were "heroes, not traitors", and urged Yaalon to "stop persecuting them" as "civil society should be proud of such soldiers".

      These statements created an uproar in the Knesset and resulted in several MKs being removed from the Knesset plenum.

      Here is a link:

      link to knesset.gov.il

  • Should an al-Qaeda Ally have a seat at the Syrian Table? Al-Assad rejects talks w/ any armed Group
  • 10 facts the government doesn’t want you to know about Syria
    • "The guy (Alloush) is hardly a minor figure in the movement."

      He is chief of military operations for the Islamic Front.

      "He is allied to a movement we are supposedly at war with."

      America is not "at war" with the Islamic Front, who declined several invitations from U.S. diplomats to join the Geneva II conference and who further declined U.S. aid during the Ankara Conference - preferring to keep its distance from America and rely upon donations from Persian Gulf states.

      ".........the west has no rationale for backing this movement that could possibly withstand public scrutiny."

      Some U.S. officials view the Islamic Front as a "swing vote" that could tip the balance of anti-Assad forces away from the jihadist extremism of the al-Nusra Front and ISIS.

      Some relevant links on these issues:

      link to washingtoninstitute.org

      link to carnegieendowment.org

      link to carnegieendowment.org

      link to carnegieendowment.org

      link to carnegieendowment.org

    • Several points:

      (1) the genesis of the Islamic Front (IF) was the rejection of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC) as the representative of the Syrian people as a government-of-exile - they formerly fought alongside the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army who owed their allegiance to the SNC;

      (2) the Islamic Front is an umbrella group of dozens of constituent brigades whose primary purpose is to coordinate military action and facilitate distribution of arms - Alloush whom you quote is merely a leader of a subgroup (Jaysh al-Sham) within the IF, however the political office of IF is controlled by Ahrar-al-Sham, who was wooed for support by Western diplomats at the Ankara Conference - but rejected such proposed support - neither the IF nor Ahrar al-Sham has been designated as a foreign terror organization (FTO) by the U.S. State Department and has been described as subscribing to "Revisionist Jihadism" - a "softer" version of Islamic fundamentalism by at least one observer:

      link to warontherocks.com

      (3) agreed that the IF membership does not generally embrace democratic principles, but rather adherence to Muslim fundamentalist forms of governance - but they have eschewed the violent suicide attacks that have been the hallmark of the al-Nusra Front and ISIS;

      (4) the Free Syrian Army have generally been allied with the IF, and the Islamic Front has clashed extensively with ISIS on the battlefield - the IF has been a key restraining force against ISIS within Syria.

    • Overall, this is a good article that quotes the eminent authorities in the field of the Syria situation, including Professor Landis of Syria Comment.

      Additional points:

      (1) there is a general fear in the West that if adequate intervention is not effectuated that the flag of ISIS or the al-Nusra Front will eventually fly over Damascus and cause a grave threat to U.S. foreign policy interests in the region;

      (2) Russian military intervention has been inevitable as the Assad regime nears financial collapse - its monetary reserves during the civil war have dwindled from $30 billion to $1 billion;

      (3) Russia's diplomatic assistance is needed to persuade Assad to transfer limited power to opposition representatives as part of a transition government - currently Assad and his extended family members enjoy effective dictatorial control over the areas of Syria controlled by government forces;

      (4) coordinated airstrikes worked against the Taliban in Afghanistan and can be used against Islamic extremists in Syria with equal success - "collateral damage" is always a by-product of such air power as is adverse reaction from civilians in the areas targeted for air strikes;

      (5) ISIS has become a major player in the international opium trade from poppies grown in Afghanistan - this an additional reason the U.S. has an interest in targeting ISIS;

      (6) the Geneva II conference mediated by Lakhdar Brahimi was a failure due to the Assad regime's failure to negotiate in good faith - it came on the heels of key Baathist government victories against rebel forces that ensured the viability of the Damascus-to-Latakia supply corridor;

      (7) There is a command center headquartered near Amman, Jordan of Western intelligence services from the U.S., Israel, and other friendly nations that are attempting to coordinate and support the rebel opposition to the Baathist government in Damascus;

      (8) international financial sanctions against Syria have been devastating and have caused Syria to utilize Russian and Qatari financial institutions - who have also been investigated for possible sanctions, with one Russian bank being sanctioned;

      (9) the "Islamic Front", heavily financed by Saudi and Qatari interests to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars, have fought ISIS and are not traditional "jihadists" in the mold of al-Qaeda - the Islamic Front could play a key role in advancing Western interests;

      (10) various Kurdish forces (YPG, and limited numbers of Peshmerga from Iraq) within Syria have fought ISIS and have been generally friendly to Western interests - including a support role in Operation Inherent Resolve;

      (11) Robert Ford, who served as U.S. ambassador to Syria in Damascus during the Obama administrations, became a critic of the U.S. State Department's handling of the Syria situation and emphasized that arming moderate rebels in Syria posed a danger that those arms could likely wind up in the hands of Islamic extremist forces;

      (12) the Baathist government in Damascus has sponsored 27 "convenient" torture centers throughout Syria that kill an average of four Syrians per day - primarily political prisoners - the Baathist military and police forces regularly target civilians and are responsible for 76% of the total civilian deaths that have occurred as a result of the civil war.

  • Western Invasions can't fix the Middle East because they wrecked the Middle East
    • "Who funds the terrorists?"

      The media has focused heavily on oil revenues and theft as the key sources of the financing of ISIS, however the international drug trade, as with many groups designated by the U.S. State Department as foreign terror organizations, plays a very significant role in generating income for ISIS:

      link to rt.com

      link to nytimes.com

      link to globalresearch.ca

  • Israeli Occupation Court Sentences Palestinian Legislator for Thought Crimes
    • A Palestinian Liberation Organization spokesperson confirmed that Ms. Jarrar, a senior legal counsel of the P.L.O., played an instrumental role in the application to the International Criminal Court to have Israeli officials investigated for war crimes.

      One suspects it was this activity that led to her "administrative detention" - a legal theory extensively employed by the former Soviet Union to commit its citizens to concentration camps without any formal criminal charges.

  • Top Seven Myths about Muslims
    • Many good points in the article.

      While many states in the Near and Middle East are perceived as "Arab Muslim" the demographics and governments belie such a characterization:

      (A) Lebanon has had Christian presidents since their 1943 independence until the present and French, Armenian and Aramaic are additional languages spoken there in addition to Arabic, additionally ethnic Armenians make up about 5% of the country's population;

      (B) Syria has had substantial (non-Arab) Kurdish, Assyrian, and Turkmen populations, and during the 1950s had an ethnic Kurdish president, Adib Shishakli, and it is subject to debate whether the Alawite minority that currently rules Syria is even "Muslim" considering its beliefs are so far from that of mainstream Islam;

      (C) recent Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is Kurdish and about 3% of Iraqis are Christian - former Baathist Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz had been Catholic.

      Additionally, Islam has many adherents outside the Arab world:

      (A) most Muslims in the U.S. are black;

      (B) there are substantial non-Arab Muslim populations in Malaysia, the Philippines and China and throughout sub-Saharan Africa;

      (C) a significant percentage of the populations of the former Soviet Union constituent republics include non-Arab Islamic adherents - including Kazakhstan, Tajikstan, and Turkmenistan.

  • Beyond ISIS: Suicide by World War IV
    • "........how do we get off the bus regarding the Middle East?"

      (A) use all available diplomatic leverage with the Israelis and Palestinians to forge a final status agreement - as Pres. Carter did with Sadat and Begin at Camp David in 1978 to create a lasting peace between Egypt and Syria;

      (B) limit involvement in Syria to current levels - humanitarian relief, assistance to the pro-democracy FSA, plus aerial bombing runs against ISIS until ISIS is defeated;

      (C) after (A) and (B) are accomplished - stay out of Middle Eastern affairs as much as possible where no compelling U.S. foreign policy interest exists.

      The non-democratic minority Alawite rule of the Syrian regime traces directly back to French colonial rule where the Alawites administered the occupation government installed by the French. The Assad family is Alawite and this continuation of inequitable minority rule is the root cause of the conflict within Syria - the Alawites are less than 15% of the total population within Syria.

    • America has had its fingers in the Middle East since the end of WWII in a number of ways, including:

      (A) overthrowing, via CIA officers Stephen Meads and Miles Copeland, popularly-elected Shukri al-Quatli. a Sunni Muslim, as president of Syria in 1949. after the Syrian government refused to allow an oil pipeline to run through the country - a military junta was formed and a series of unelected authoritarian regimes ruled Syria to the present;

      (B) the CIA overthrew governments in oil-producing states Iran in 1953 and Iraq in 1963 which led to repressive regimes in those nations and subsequent political upheavals;

      (C) the CIA propped up the political forces of Camille Chamoun in Beirut in 1958 and the U.S. Marine Corps occupied Lebanon during that period;

      (D) the U.S. promoted Turkey as a member of NATO and had installed nuclear missiles there as a deterrent against Soviet aggression;

      (E) the U.S. had funneled massive amounts of high-tech military hardware to both Israel and Saudi Arabia.

      It has been estimated that 10 trillion dollars has been expended as the economic cost of armed conflict in the Middle East since 1990.

  • Upheaval in Palestine and Israel: Occupation and beyond (96 Palestinians, 17 Israelis Killed since Oct. 1)
    • A recent study by an Israeli think tank headed by Avner Halevi and Gilead Sher has given the recommendations that Israel unilaterally withdraw about 100,000 settlers from the West Bank and leave those near the de facto Israeli border to stay pending a final status agreement.; the IDF would maintain current positions.

      Haaretz columnist Rogel Alpher has opined that if an adequate remedy is not implemented forthwith Israeli society will descend into an environment of fear, hatred, knifings and increased international isolation and sanctions activity.

  • Putin: Turkey was protecting ISIL oil Smuggling; Russia urges Assad-Kurdish Alliance
    • Several points:

      (1) Turkey did not kill two Russians - the pilot and co-pilot ejected safely but the pilot and a Russian marine in a rescue unit were killed by Turkmen rebels inside Syria;

      (2) an audiotape has surfaced warning the Russian jet crew that they were approaching Turkish airspace and to turn south immediately;

      (3) the primary concern that appears to have triggered the shootdown was that Turkmen rebels within Syria - whom the Turks see as brethren - and NOT ISIS were being targeted.

  • Two Israelis Found Guilty of Burning Alive Palestinian Teen
  • Muslims are our Scientists, Physicians, Philanthropists & are critical to American progress

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