Archive for January 11th, 2009


Doublegood doublespeak on Iran

January 11, 2009

Obama to face Iran nuclear crisis in first year, ex US official warns
Staff Writers
Washington (AFP)
Jan 8, 2009


Incoming US President Barack Obama will likely face a “serious crisis” over Iran’s nuclear ambitions in his first year in office, former US defense secretary William Perry predicted here Thursday. Perry told a foreign policy forum here that Obama must find a new diplomatic approach to stop Iran’s suspected nuclear arms quest because Israel — which has held out the threat of military action — will not “sit idly by.”

The star-studded event sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) was dominated by calls for Obama to check the spread of nuclear know-how and to promote peace in security in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. “If Iran and North Korea cannot be contained, we are facing a real danger of a cascade of nuclear proliferation,” Perry warned said. “Indeed I believe that today we are truly on the tipping point of nuclear proliferation.”

Perry said North Korea’s production of plutonium and nuclear test in 2006 amounted to the “most dangerous development” since the Cold War ended nearly two decades ago, but he believed it could be contained through diplomacy. In multilateral talks pursued by President George W. Bush’s administration, North Korea agreed in 2007 to dismantle its weapons-grade plutonium program in exchange for aid, although the talks are stalled amid a row over verification.

But Perry was “less confident” about diplomatic efforts involving the United States — under the outgoing administration of President George W. Bush — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The multilateral talks “are going nowhere,” said Perry, who was defense secretary under President Bill Clinton. “And it seems clear that Israel will not sit by idly while Iran takes defiant steps toward becoming a nuclear power,” Perry said. “As a result President Obama will almost certainly face a serious crisis with Iran.

Indeed, I believe that crisis point will be reached in his first year in office,” he added. He said the Iran problem needs international cooperation, which remains especially elusive as US relations with Russia are “at an all-time low” with Russian concerns over NATO expansion and US missile defense plans. However, he voiced hope that Obama could get off to a fresh start with Russia.

Perry said efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons that began after the Cold War have “stalled and even reversed,” because of developments in Iran and North Korea, as well as in China, Russia, India and Pakistan. He supports Obama’s stated push to abolish nuclear weapons, but said the United States needs to bolster its deterrent force over the short term. “I’m motivated … by a strong belief that the gravest danger facing our nation today is a terror group detonating a nuclear bomb in one of our cities,” Perry said.

James Schlesinger, another former US defense secretary, told a separate audience that Iran may regard the threat of a US nuclear attack as “much more likely” in light of Hillary Clinton’s warning during the US presidential campaign that Washington can obliterate Tehran. Schlesinger made the remark at a Pentagon news conference after presenting a blue-ribbon panel report finding that US nuclear deterrence has slipped due to neglect in past years at high levels of the Pentagon.

Schlesinger, who served under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, said North Korea probably has come to believe it is “reasonably safe from a nuclear response” because of the US response to its development of nuclear weapons.

But asked whether Iran feared a US nuclear attack, Schlesinger said: “I think they would regard that as a much more likely development.” “As you may recall in the recent democratic primaries, Mrs Clinton observed, ‘We can obliterate you’,'” he said, Noting that Obama has chosen Clinton to be his secretary of state, he added “I don’t think that remark will be forgotten in Tehran, even if it is forgotten in this country.”

At the USIP forum, Zbigniew Brzezinksi, the national security adviser under president Jimmy Carter, warned against any US war with Iran because it would inflame an already troubled region from Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan. “It is an issue which I would prefer not to confront, for such a war would involve the United States in a conflict that would then spanning in different degrees of intensity these four countries with a total population of approximately 300 million people,” he said.


Defeat Israel: one penny at a time.

January 11, 2009

Here is Naomi Klein’s newest article on Gaza, reprinted here for your convenience.

I have been harping for years on the power of boycotts to make the will of the people known and to take back our power from fascist countries and corporations.   Profits are the life blood of corporations and despots alike:  and we control the profits.   We don’t need to demonstrate, or arm ourselves or take over the media.

All we need do is be selective how we spend the money in our pockets.  And it wouldn’t hurt one bit to fire off an email to the product vendors you are boycotting.

Remember, one person is a crank.  Two complainers are a conincidence; but three disgruntled consumers constitute a movement.  We can make the world they way we want it just by watching our pennies and who we give them to.  It’s the only power we have: why not use it?


Israel: Boycott, Divest, Sanction

January 8th, 2009
By Naomi Klein

It’s time. Long past time. The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa.

In July 2005 a huge coalition of Palestinian groups laid out plans to do just that. They called on “people of conscience all over the world to impose broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era.” The campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions—BDS for short—was born.

Every day that Israel pounds Gaza brings more converts to the BDS cause, and talk of cease-fires is doing little to slow the momentum. Support is even emerging among Israeli Jews. In the midst of the assault roughly 500 Israelis, dozens of them well-known artists and scholars, sent a letter to foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel. It calls for “the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions” and draws a clear parallel with the antiapartheid struggle. “The boycott on South Africa was effective, but Israel is handled with kid gloves.… This international backing must stop.”

Yet even in the face of these clear calls, many of us still can’t go there. The reasons are complex, emotional and understandable. And they simply aren’t good enough. Economic sanctions are the most effective tools in the nonviolent arsenal. Surrendering them verges on active complicity. Here are the top four objections to the BDS strategy, followed by counterarguments.

1. Punitive measures will alienate rather than persuade Israelis. The world has tried what used to be called “constructive engagement.” It has failed utterly. Since 2006 Israel has been steadily escalating its criminality: expanding settlements, launching an outrageous war against Lebanon and imposing collective punishment on Gaza through the brutal blockade. Despite this escalation, Israel has not faced punitive measures—quite the opposite. The weapons and $3 billion in annual aid that the US sends to Israel is only the beginning. Throughout this key period, Israel has enjoyed a dramatic improvement in its diplomatic, cultural and trade relations with a variety of other allies. For instance, in 2007 Israel became the first non–Latin American country to sign a free-trade deal with Mercosur. In the first nine months of 2008, Israeli exports to Canada went up 45 percent. A new trade deal with the European Union is set to double Israel’s exports of processed food. And on December 8, European ministers “upgraded” the EU-Israel Association Agreement, a reward long sought by Jerusalem.

It is in this context that Israeli leaders started their latest war: confident they would face no meaningful costs. It is remarkable that over seven days of wartime trading, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange’s flagship index actually went up 10.7 percent. When carrots don’t work, sticks are needed.

2. Israel is not South Africa. Of course it isn’t. The relevance of the South African model is that it proves that BDS tactics can be effective when weaker measures (protests, petitions, back-room lobbying) have failed. And there are indeed deeply distressing echoes of South African apartheid in the occupied territories: the color-coded IDs and travel permits, the bulldozed homes and forced displacement, the settler-only roads. Ronnie Kasrils, a prominent South African politician, said that the architecture of segregation that he saw in the West Bank and Gaza was “infinitely worse than apartheid.” That was in 2007, before Israel began its full-scale war against the open-air prison that is Gaza.

3. Why single out Israel when the United States, Britain and other Western countries do the same things in Iraq and Afghanistan? Boycott is not a dogma; it is a tactic. The reason the BDS strategy should be tried against Israel is practical: in a country so small and trade-dependent, it could actually work.

4. Boycotts sever communication; we need more dialogue, not less. This one I’ll answer with a personal story. For eight years, my books have been published in Israel by a commercial house called Babel. But when I published The Shock Doctrine, I wanted to respect the boycott. On the advice of BDS activists, including the wonderful writer John Berger, I contacted a small publisher called Andalus. Andalus is an activist press, deeply involved in the anti-occupation movement and the only Israeli publisher devoted exclusively to translating Arabic writing into Hebrew. We drafted a contract that guarantees that all proceeds go to Andalus’s work, and none to me. In other words, I am boycotting the Israeli economy but not Israelis.

Coming up with our modest publishing plan required dozens of phone calls, e-mails and instant messages, stretching from Tel Aviv to Ramallah to Paris to Toronto to Gaza City. My point is this: as soon as you start implementing a boycott strategy, dialogue increases dramatically. And why wouldn’t it? Building a movement requires endless communicating, as many in the antiapartheid struggle well recall. The argument that supporting boycotts will cut us off from one another is particularly specious given the array of cheap information technologies at our fingertips. We are drowning in ways to rant at one another across national boundaries. No boycott can stop us.

Just about now, many a proud Zionist is gearing up for major point-scoring: don’t I know that many of those very high-tech toys come from Israeli research parks, world leaders in infotech? True enough, but not all of them. Several days into Israel’s Gaza assault, Richard Ramsey, the managing director of a British telecom specializing in voice-over-internet services, sent an email to the Israeli tech firm MobileMax. “As a result of the Israeli government action in the last few days we will no longer be in a position to consider doing business with yourself or any other Israeli company.”

Ramsey says that his decision wasn’t political; he just didn’t want to lose customers. “We can’t afford to lose any of our clients,” he explains, “so it was purely commercially defensive.”

It was this kind of cold business calculation that led many companies to pull out of South Africa two decades ago. And it’s precisely the kind of calculation that is our most realistic hope of bringing justice, so long denied, to Palestine.

This column was first published in The Nation

Further Information:
The only international news network covering every aspect of the war on Gaza is Al Jazeera English. The station isn’t available in North America but you can watch it live in high-quality through (player download is required).

Disengagement and the Frontiers of Zionism by Darryl Li

Bilbao Initiative


Net surveillance and Cyber cops – I C U

January 11, 2009

Here are two more articles the” I C U” progression on limiting internet freedom, increasing surveillance of people in general and ‘protecting us from those nasty terrorists’. In the second article, the arrest of a cyber user seems a bit dodgy but one might justify it.

My contention is that there will be little difference in the future between arrests for explicit threats on the net and those which merely express opinions contrary to the established government propaganda. And arrests could well be international with extradiction legislation now in place between the USA, the EU and other countries. I think there is real danger here for freedom of speech on the net. See HR 1955 bill passed by Congress for the amorphous definition of ‘domestic terrorist’. Are YOU a terrorist?

I have added a sexy bonus tidbit at the end….sort of a treat after all this bad news. Hope you like it.

Eagle Eye Adviser Watches Over Tech Privacy

John Scott Lewinski
January 10, 2009

Eagleeye01lgWhile the paranoia-driven thrills in Eagle Eye were exaggerated for the benefit of popcorn-selling fiction, the adviser brought on to comment on the movie’s use of surveillance technology warns the world that the premise is hardly far-fetched.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, appears prominently in the featurettes packaged onto the Eagle Eye special edition DVD, which was released last month. A professor of privacy law at Georgetown University, Rotenberg insists that efforts by any government to consolidate surveillance also consolidate power.

“Camera networks are growing in most major cities,” said Rotenberg, a graduate of Harvard and Stanford Law School. “Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. While those networks are supposedly built to provide security, most of what the cameras see are people living, working, visiting. Those people aren’t criminals or terrorists.”

Eagle Eye examines the “what ifs” of such surveillance networks run amok as a mysterious villain omnisciently pushes Shia LaBeouf into criminal acts in and around our nation’s capital. The DVD’s producers invited Rotenberg to speak on the real world’s ability to monitor you via cameras, cellphone monitoring and internet taps.

“In Washington, one camera operator can have access to 5,000 cameras at any given time,” Rotenberg said. “That approaches omniscience. We need to ask, ‘Should those cameras be used? Should they be put in residential neighborhoods?’ It’s not too difficult to peer into someone’s private home in that case.”

While such antiterrorism tactics became a hot political issue in the post 9/11 era, Rotenberg made it clear that surveillance issues go beyond how you might feel about Vice President Dick Cheney. The cameras are tools, and how they’re used is key.

For example, Rotenberg explained that law enforcement agencies could well have the public’s best interest at heart when installing such cameras, but “many of the networks can be accessed in different ways. So, are they really secure? Someone inside the agency or inside the company providing the cameras might not be so ethical.”

Eagle Eye’s shadow baddie is a hell’s toss from ethical, and Rotenberg applauded the writers and filmmakers’ efforts to consider just how far the proliferation of surveillance could go.

Monitoring and debating the ethics of the growing surveillance world is the primary motivation of Rotenberg and the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

“We’re probably the leading privacy organization in the country right now,” he said. “We testified before the 9/11 Commission — the relationship between privacy and security. While defending against terrorism, surveillance could be used to limit freedom.”

To document the growing surveillance web around D.C., EPIC started Observing Surveillance, a collection of photos and other resources.

“I don’t think the public is as aware as it should be or needs to be,” Rotenberg said. “I’m afraid people think all of this is going to happen no matter what.

“I would compare the construction of surveillance networks to the creation of Frankenstein’s monster. While the original technological quest seemed justified in the beginning, the 21st century may have created our biggest threat to privacy.”

Online Threat to Kill Obama Leads to Arrest

Kevin Poulsen
January 09, 2009

Wired Online

Obama_mail_500px A Southern California man was charged Thursday with threatening a presidential candidate, for posting a racist note to a Yahoo message board in October expressing displeasure over Barack Obama’s candidacy, and predicting “he will have a 50 cal in the head soon.”

Walter Edward Bagdasarian, 47, was found with an arsenal of six weapons when Secret Service agents raided his La Mesa home in November, according to court records (.pdf). He had three handguns and three rifles, including a 30.06 with a telescopic sight and a Remington .50 caliber muzzle-loading rifle.

Bagdasarian is not accused of actually plotting against Obama, and he was released last month on a $100,000 real estate bond. Bagdasarian’s attorney did not return a phone call Friday.

The post in question showed up on a Yahoo Finance board on Oct. 22, about two weeks before the election, under the handle “californiaradial.” The message was titled “Shoot the nig.”

“County fkd for another 4+ years, what nig has done ANYTHING right???? Long term???? Never in history, except sambos.”

“Fk the niggar, he will have a 50 cal in the head soon,” the message concludes.

The message thread has been deleted by Yahoo, but traces in Google’s cache show that several other users announced that they were reporting californiaradial’s comments. In subsequent posts, the author calls one critic a “crybaby,” but does offer an explanation for the apparent threat. “I was drunk.”

U.S. Secret Service agents in Los Angeles traced the post to Bagdasarian through the IP address. When they interviewed him, Bagdasarian reportedly admitted authoring the message.

Here is a bonus article for anyone who likes sex.
What do you think?

‘Sex chip’ being developed by scientists