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Monday, April 30, 2012

Obama designated driver for 'road to socialism'

Communist Party calls allies to unite behind Oval Office

byDrew Zahn

The Communist Party USA isn’t always happy with the Democrats, but in the 2012 election, its chairman says, the best bet for advancing the Party’s goals is to back Barack Obama.
In a report called “Defeating the Rightwing on the Road to Socialism” delivered to the CPUSA annual conference, Party Chairman Sam Webb moved to squash sentiments that disgruntled communists should jump off the Democrat ship and back a third-party candidate for president.
“Some think the Democrats are as bad as the Republicans. Others go further and say that the Democrats are worse because they create popular illusions that change is possible within the two-party system,” Webb said. “And finally there are advocates of running a third-party presidential candidate in this election.
“I can understand these sentiments, but only up to a point,” he said. “Like it or not, millions go to the polls in spite of their misgivings … and the Democratic Party is the vehicle of reform for tens of millions, the majority of whom are working and oppressed people.”
Therefore, Webb said, communists need to join other left-leaning allies in ensuring Republicans are defeated in November.
“A third-party presidential candidate would only help the extreme right, as well as isolate the left from the broader movement,” Webb strategized. “Only a closer alliance of a surging labor movement and its strategic allies – the African American people, Latino people, and other peoples of color, women and youth – have the wherewithal to turn back this corporate counterattack, while at the same time enact progressive measures.”
Other speakers at the conference threw their support behind Obama even more succinctly, including Executive Vice Chair of CPUSA Jarvis Tyner.
“These right-wing nut jobs need to understand, we are not going back,” Tyner said. “If Obama is elected, of course there will be a struggle; a struggle that the democratic forces could win, I would say. If he is defeated, the movement will suffer a big setback and the country will be pushed backwards.”
According to a report in CPUSA’s news source People’s World, Vice Chair Juan Lopez warned conference attendees that Republicans would use racism as a “powerful ideological weapon” to defeat Obama.
“There is no room for cynicism,” Lopez stressed, “if we expect to win against Republicans who are exhibiting fascist tendencies. The defeat of Obama would be a dangerous setback on every front of struggle, especially against racism and for equality for women. It would show that white people were not ready for an African American president, after all.”
Joelle Fishman, chair of the CPUSA Political Action Commission, further contrasted Obama and his “values … upholding the contribution of work and those who do it,” and Mitt Romney, who allegedly values “individualism and corporate greed.”
“The poll shows there is a lot of work to be done,” Fishman trumpeted, “but with a strong platform for jobs and fair taxes, Obama and Democrats can win voters in swing districts, including white voters who supported the tea party in 2010.”
Fishman and Webb each remarked on labor-union plans to put huge ground forces in play for the 2012 election and encouraged fellow communists to join, rather than fight, the efforts.
“Labor will throw itself into the campaign to elect Democrats, moderate as well as progressive,” Webb told the conference.
“The AFL-CIO grass roots crusade will engage 400,000 members to canvass their co-workers and neighbors with a unity message for Obama. SEIU will mobilize another 200,000 members with the same goal,” Fishman claimed. “Strengthening and enlarging union, civil rights, community and youth organizations during this election will lay the groundwork for year-round organizing and for future elections in which candidates who come out of the movements, including the Communist Party, run for office.”

What are the Occupiers Planning for Tomorrow‘s Massive ’May Day’ Protest?

Posted on April 30, 2012 at 1:05pm by Buck Sexton

On Sunday, we showed you why this week is going to be “one of the biggest weeks that anyone can remember” (as mentioned by Business Insider). A big reason for that is Occupy Wall Street’s plan to create a chain of disruptive protests and strikes around the world on May Day, tomorrow, in order to reinvigorate its movement and address, it says, inequality and pursue social justice.
Today, Bloomberg News has a piece with more details about what that will look like.
(Related: Are you ready? This week is going to be huge in the world… and here’s why)
Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Day of Disruption Tomorrow
OWS Brooklyn Bridge Shutdown Last Fall (Will Stevens/AP Photo)
The Bloomberg reports digs deeper into what the Occupy movement has planned. According the article, it will involve massive, coordinated May Day direct actions across the United States and the globe:
“Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona, London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.”
Bloomberg also went inside the planning meeting for the event, and the schedule of events:
About 150 attended an April 25 meeting at the Greenwich Village headquarters of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, making last-minute preparations for how to deploy legal and medical help; site selection for picketing; purchasing, production and distribution of protest signs; and how to talk to reporters.
The meeting convened inside the union hall basement, where attendees arranged chairs in a circle as three facilitators asked each of the assembled to identify themselves by first name and gender — he, she or they. Most appeared under age 30, though gray-haired baby boomers also participated. One of the older attendees pulled a ski mask over his head to protest the presence of a photographer from Tokyo.
Tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. in Bryant Park, scheduled events include teach-ins, art performances and a staging area for “direct action and civil disobedience,” such as bank blockades.

Raging Musicians

Tom Morello of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Rage Against the Machine along with 1,000 other guitar-playing musicians will accompany a march to Union Square at 2 p.m., according to the maydaynyc.org website. That will be followed by a “unity rally” at Union Square at 4 p.m.; a march from there to Wall Street at 5:30 p.m.; and a walk to a staging area for “evening actions,” which organizers at the April 25 meeting said would be the so-called after-party.
[...]
In San Francisco, a group calling itself the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition abandoned a plan to close the span while carrying on with a day of picketing to support bridge, ferry and bus workers seeking reduced health-care benefit costs, according to its website.
Across the bay in Oakland, protesters said they intend morning marches on banks and the Chamber of Commerce, followed by an afternoon rally and a march downtown.
Since the Occupation of Zuccotti Park in New York City was disbanded on November 15th, the Occupiers have been forced to rely on marches and smaller-scale protests during the winter months. They seek to change all that tomorrow and come back bigger than ever.
Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Day of Disruption Tomorrow
AP Photo
The Occupiers in New York will be able to call upon the additional strength of dozens of organized labor unions as well as a number of community organizers. With the help of the Occupiers’ digital media wing, images of mass protests and possibly civil disobedience are likely to be blast around the world in real time.
The Daily News Reports that the Occupiers are advising sympathizers: “If you can’t strike call in sick. If you can’t call in sick hold a slow down.”
Some believe that Occupy Wall Street will attempt to shut down a bridge or tunnel into Manhattan, while others believe the group will simply move en masse into the streets to snarl traffic. There is also the possibility of an “affinity group” direct action led by the anarchists of the so-called “Black Bloc,” which could turn destructive.
The NYPD and the residents of New York are bracing for what could be a hectic, frustrating, adrenaline-filled day on the streets of America’s biggest city. Mass arrests of Occupiers are certainly possible, and all it takes is one wayward group to create a very dangerous situation.
The Blaze will report live from various Occupy Wall Street protests and direct action events and will be on scene throughout the day tomorrow, so stay tuned and keep checking in.
(Editor’s note: to learn more about the Occupy Movement and its goals, get your copy of Occupy American Spring: The Making of a Revolution)

Holocaust Lesson: Genocide Always in the Name of ‘Human Rights’

Posted By Steven Plaut On April 30, 2012 @ 12:08 am

Every single act of genocidal aggression is couched in the language of human rights and the need for self-determination for minorities. One of the most infamous began as a supposed struggle to defend the human rights of an oppressed minority group, as an innocent demand for self-determination. All Hitler wanted was to achieve self-determination for the Sudeten Germans, to free them from oppression and mistreatment at the hands of democratic Czechoslovakia.
Never mind that the ethnic Germans living under Czechoslovak rule were being treated infinitely better than were Germans living under German rule. In fact, the Sudetens were arguably the best treated minority in all of Europe. Never mind that Germans already had achieved self-determination in the form of nation states – ­ Germany and Austria – to which Sudeten Germans could freely move. Never mind that the ONLY reason Germany was demanding self-determination and independence for the Sudetens was as a ploy to destroy all of Czechoslovakia and then to carry out genocide. Sound familiar?
The modern Czechoslovakian state came into existence in 1918; in the first of many parallels with modern Israel, it was a country recreated after centuries, having been destroyed and absorbed by others over the years. In the Middle Ages, Bohemia and Moravia had been separate Czech kingdoms, enjoying varying degrees of independence, generally within the framework of the Holy Roman Empire.
Modern Czech nationalism emerged in the second half of the nineteenth century. During World War I, Czechs participated in resistance and espionage against the Axis powers, and their leaders lobbied in European capitals for independence. After centuries of persecution, the Czechs reestablished their sovereignty following World War I and linked up with their Slovakian cousins in the new state of Czechoslovakia.
Czechoslovakia contained a diverse and heterogeneous population, like the Habsburg Empire from which it emerged. In particular, about 23 percent of its citizens were ethnic Germans, concentrated in the Western section known as the Sudetenland. Most Sudeten Germans were violently opposed to incorporation within the Czechoslovakian state. Instead, they identified openly with larger neighboring countries and fundamentally opposed the very existence of the new state. On October 21, 1918, German deputies from all parts of the former Austrian Empire convened and issued a call for national “self-determination” for the Germans of Czechoslovakia, using the term President Woodrow Wilson had recently added to the international lexicon. In the following year, Sudeten Germans launched a wave of violent demonstrations and terrorism in opposition to the inclusion of their lands in the Czech state. In addition, thousands of Sudeten Germans fled from the new state to the neighboring countries of Germany and Austria.
The new Czechoslovakia thus included a large element with questionable loyalty to the state. Czechoslovakia was ruled by social democrats committed to social reform and egalitarianism; they made attempts to resolve this problem by winning over the hostile minority through economic integration, tolerance, freedom, and liberal social reform. The first Czechoslovakian president, Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, a powerful, strong-willed, charismatic, and progressive politician, proposed a comprehensive program of equality for all national groups in the new state.
Czechoslovakia quickly developed in the 1920s into a stable parliamentary democracy with protection for all the freedoms found in modern Western states. A large number of political parties contested elections and gained representation in the parliament. The country passed legislative programs that were among the most progressive in the world. Trade union activism and power bloomed, and widespread experimentation with cooperative agriculture took place.
The German minority was permitted to operate its own schools in its own languages and control its own local affairs. German was an official national language in the German areas of Czechoslovakia. Sudeten Germans voted and were elected to parliament. On the whole, the Sudeten Germans enjoyed better treatment than any other national minority in Europe.
However, by 1937 the Sudeten Germans found themselves at the center of escalating tensions. The radicalization of nationalist movements in neighboring countries, where power was seized by revolutionary and xenophobic leaders, led to growing international conflict. Specifically, the pan-German ideology and imperialist ambitions of the Third Reich inflamed the Sudeten conflict. Adolf Hitler saw Czechoslovakia as an integral part of the German national homeland, an area to be absorbed and integrated into the Reich.
As international tensions grew, Berlin complained more and more about discrimination and mistreatment of the Sudetens. In response, Sudeten Germans moved away from peaceful coexistence in favor of polarization and extremism. Their growing nationalist movement was anti-liberal, anti-democratic, and authoritarian. The Nazi Party was formally banned in Czechoslovakia but support for the Sudeten German Party (SdP), the Nazi surrogate party, soared; in 1935 it received 63 percent of the German vote in Czechoslovakia (a higher percentage than what the Nazis received in Germany in 1933), and 78 percent in 1938. The SdP never outlined a political or social program of nation-building beyond demanding “self-determination.”
The SdP used violence to suppress other competing nationalist parties and asserted its own position as sole spokesman for the Sudeten Germans. It organized Sudeten refugees who had fled to Germany when Czechoslovakia became independent and recruited them into the Heimatbund, a paramilitary organization. This group later formed the basis of the Sudeten German Freikorps, a terrorist organization to which 34,000 Sudetens living in Germany were recruited. These terrorists raided Czech border areas and carried out atrocities until late 1938. The SdP and other Sudeten political organizations openly identified with the Nazi Party in Germany.
After coming to power, but especially beginning in 1937, Hitler turned the issue of Sudeten national rights into his main instrument for aggression against Czechoslovakia. Self-determination served him as a means to destroy and annex the country. The most important Nazi assault on Czechoslovakia was its propaganda machine’s denunciation of the supposed torture and physical abuse of Sudeten Germans at the hands of Czechoslovakia—this from the regime that had already built concentration camps.
By mid-1937, Hitler simultaneously pressured Prague to make concessions on the Sudeten issue and completed a military plan for the conquest of Czechoslovakia. In 1938 the SdP adopted the Carlsbad Eight Points, a manifesto that essentially called for the partitioning of Czechoslovakia and the secession of the Sudetenland to Germany.
The internal problem of minority “rights” quickly assumed international dimensions. Responding to Nazi protests, the Western powers received Henlein with an official welcome of a kind usually reserved for a head of state. In contrast, as Czech historian Radomir Luza notes, Czechoslovakia’s president Benes was treated “more cavalierly than if he had been the chief of a tribe in Africa.”
This symbolism revealed a deeper outlook as the Western states pressured Prague to accede to Sudeten demands. In July 1936, Britain’s Foreign Minister Anthony Eden urged Czechoslovakia to grant the Sudeten Germans full autonomy. Responding to these pressures, Czechoslovak leaders agreed to negotiate with the SdP and proposed a program for limited Sudeten autonomy. The SdP, acting under orders from Hitler, peremptorily rejected the plan. (Nazi foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop advised the Sudeten Nazis: “Always negotiate and do not let the thread break; but always demand more than the opposing side can offer.”)
Henlein escalated his rhetoric, denouncing the Prague regime as “Hussite-Bolshevik criminals,” even as threats from the Third Reich assumed a more ominous tone. Reports arrived of German troop concentrations near the Czechoslovak frontier. At the same time that Berlin prepared for war, it denounced the Czechs as “the real disturbers of peace in Europe.”
Prague from the beginning argued that the issue of Sudeten self-determination was a red herring, that the real cause of crisis was the Third Reich’s aggressive intentions. The few Western voices that agreed with this analysis were generally ignored. Although Czechoslovakia had always maintained that the Sudeten problem was an internal affair and no business of the world community, in August 1938, London demanded and Prague had to accept a British mediator. Chamberlain and French prime minister Edouard Daladier accused Prague of ill-treating the Sudeten minority and so being responsible for conflict. The European press routinely painted Czechoslovakia prime minister Benes as a warmonger.
During the negotiations over the mounting crisis, Prague had to accede under Western pressure to one German demand after another. It agreed on making the Carlsbad Eight Points the basis for negotiations. As tensions mounted along the borders in the summer of 1938, Czechoslovakia went on military alert. The Czechoslovak military being based mainly on a system of emergency reserve mobilization, the Western states exerted pressure on Prague not to mobilize, so as not to provoke Berlin. Prague persisted anyway and was denounced by some in the West for war-mongering.
In late summer 1938, Prague agreed essentially to the whole of the Carlsbad program. On September 13, before the SdP could formally respond to this capitulation, an intifada-like revolt broke out in the Sudetenland. Organized by the SdP, the rioters attacked Jews, Czechs, and democrats, and fired on many Czechoslovak policemen. London and Paris then increased pressure on Prague. On September 19, they proposed to transfer to Germany all parts of Czechoslovakia in which the population was more than half German; in exchange, they offered Czechoslovakia an international guarantee for its new boundaries after partition. In fact, no such formal guarantee was ever received. Earlier, the same two powers had pledged to defend Czechoslovakia sovereignty over its entire territory.
On September 29-30, 1938, the leaders of Europe met in Munich and sealed the fate of Czechoslovakia by agreeing to transfer the Sudetenland to Germany. No Czechoslovak representatives were present. They apportioned parts of Czechoslovakia to Germany and other parts of the country were awarded to Poland and Hungary. On October 1, the German Wehrmacht entered the Sudetenland, where most Czechoslovak fortifications happened to be located with almost no opposition. They then rapidly expanded the areas under their control.
German propaganda immediately clamored about the alleged denial of national and human rights of those Germans still living within the rump Czechoslovakian state, demanding recognition of their rights to self-determination. On March 15, the German army completed the destruction of Czechoslovakia by seizing military control of all the remaining parts of the country. On March 16, 1939, the German army occupied Prague, and the rump Czech state ceased to exist. Thus were the Sudeten people at last liberated and granted their national rights of self-determination. In all these events, not a single country had lifted a finger to save Czechoslovakia.
In 1938, in the midst of negotiations over the settlement of the Sudeten conflict, Czechoslovakia’s president, Eduard Benes, had warned the West: “Do not believe it [is] a question of self-determination. From the beginning, it has been a battle for the existence of the state.” Several years later, after Sudeten self-determination had been granted and Czechoslovakia had ceased to exist as a country, Benes—then in exile—observed that “such a concept of self-determination is a priori a denial of the right of self-determination of ten million Czechoslovakians and precludes the very existence of a Czechoslovakian state.”
There are, of course, many differences between the Sudeten story and the Middle East conflict, the most important being the absence of a Hitler in the latter. This said, a large number of parallels between Sudeten and Palestinian self-determination are worth noting.
In both cases, the campaign against the “oppression” of a minority group in fact served as an instrument for aggression against the state in which they lived. Since 1948, those who would destroy Israel have steadily insisted that they were acting out of moral high-mindedness and compassion for their “Palestinian” brethren, simply trying to help the latter achieve self-determination, though their goal is far more aggressive than that.
The campaign for “Palestinian self-determination,” like its Sudeten forerunner, has not the slightest connection with concern over the human rights and civic treatment of “Palestinians.” Those who exaggerated discrimination and oppression against the minority showed little interest in their plight in neighboring German and Arab countries. The Arabs’ assault on Israel has been based on a determination to drive Israel out of their Lebensraum. As such, theirs is another example of the twentieth-century tendency to disguise naked aggression in the self-righteous cloak of promoting self-determination.
“Palestinian self-determination” serves as the banner for Arab aggression against Israel. In both cases, the minority group whose “oppression” formed the rationalization for aggression in fact enjoyed toleration and democratic rights that were completely absent in the neighboring countries where its ethnic brethren formed majorities. Refusal of the neighboring states to accept the presence of an “alien population and state” within their Lebensraum led to war. Both the victims of aggression were social democracies and states with extensive “progressive socialist” structures and high standards of living.
If the Oslo process results in “Palestinian” statehood, will this end the Middle East conflict or mark an intermediate stage of transition to a new form? Will the “Palestinian” state discover the plight of oppressed and mistreated Arabs remaining in the rump Israel, much as Germany demanded further concessions for Czech Germans in the rump partitioned Czechoslovakia? That seems inevitable, as such demands have long been heard by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Arab states. Arabs of the Galilee, the Negev, the Triangle, and then those in Ramla, Haifa, and Jaffa will also demand their self-determination. A Galilee Liberation Organization is yet to be heard from.
The world chose to ignore the evidence that demands for Sudeten self-determination were a Nazi device to disguise military aggression aimed at destroying the self-determination of another nation; might something similar happen in the Middle East? It remains to be seen whether “Palestinians” will be permitted to fulfill their role, assigned to them by the Arab states, of the Sudetens of the Middle East.
Western powers have chosen to blind themselves to the misuse of the campaign for self-determination, and to the ambition by aggressor states to use “self-determination” to liquidate the target state. The powers bewail the sufferings of the minority group while ignoring the fact that the campaign on behalf of their “rights” are serving to delegitimize and weaken the democratic states being targeted for destruction.
So will Great Britain (with its Ulster, Scotch, and Welsh problems), France (with the Corsicans and Bretons), Belgium (with the Flemish and Walloons), Spain (with the Basques and Catalonians), and Canada (with the Quebecois) have any doubts? No, they are all likely to agree on one thing: the “Palestinians” are morally and politically entitled to “self-determination,” no matter how this jeopardizes Israel’s security or even, as in the Czechoslovak case, its very existence. Self-determination for the “oppressed” minority is assumed to provide an instant, just, and sublime solution to a conflict. Westerners (and the rest of the world, too) dismiss challenges to the legitimacy “Palestinian” self-determination with the same unthinking and indignant self-righteousness as their grandfathers did in the 1930s with regard to Sudeten self-determination.
But what moral basis is there for such self-determination? “Palestinians” always identify themselves as Arabs. That being the case, why are over twenty sovereign Arab states, in a territory larger than that of the United States, not sufficient? And if Palestinians are not Arabs, why do Arab leaders never demand, at least not audibly, self-determination for those Palestinians not under Israeli control—such as in Jordan and Lebanon, or in the pre-1967 West Bank?
It has become a matter of near-universal consensus in recent years that “Palestinian self-determination” stands at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It does not.
Such people ignore the fact that for a century nearly every form of aggression, irredentism, and xenophobia has wrapped itself in the banner of self-determination. Twentieth-century aggressors feel a need to present themselves as defenders of the downtrodden and friends of those souls seeking self-determination. Other examples of aggressors claiming to be fighting for self-determination for minorities or for oppressed peoples include Spain’s invasion of Mexico (to protect tribes from the Aztecs); Japan’s invasion of Manchuria, China, Indochina, and Burma; and Russia’s occupation of Eastern Europe. More recent examples include Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia; Russia in Afghanistan; Iraq’s aggression against Iran and against Kuwait; and the Serb invasions of its several neighbors, including Bosnia and Kosovo. This historic pattern should give pause to anyone hearing appeals about the rights to self-determination.
For decades, “Palestinian self-determination” has being utilized to threaten Israeli self-determination. The PLO has often repeated that Oslo is part of the “plan of stages” by which all of Palestine, including all of Israel, will be liberated in stages. The Arab states have been even less reticent about promoting the ultimate goal of dismantling Israel. If the Arabs ever get their way and get to carry out a second Holocaust against Jews, it too will be in the name of protesting “abuses” of “human rights” and the need for self-determination for “Palestinians. But the ruse of Arab fascists and their fellow travelers is not new.
Westerners seem unable to imagine that any form of self-determination is morally or politically objectionable or ethically deniable; therefore, they tend to receive the self-determination argument with understanding and approval. Ever since Woodrow Wilson devised the term, Westerners have tended to give “self-determination” the benefit of every doubt, even though many of the most horrific conflicts on the planet have been fought in the name of just this “self-determination.” The Arabs already have 22 states. More than any other ethnic group on earth. They deserve no more.
The West must recognize that any form of “Palestinian self-determination” will result in a major escalation of Arab aggression and terror, seeking a new genocide of Jews.

New Round of Palestinian Games

Posted By David Meir-Levi On April 30, 2012

On April 17, Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), delivered to Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a letter listing the PA’s demands in anticipation of peace negotiations, demands with which Israel must comply or Abbas will eschew further negotiations and instead “seek the full and complete implementation of international law as it pertains to the powers and responsibilities of Israel as occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory.” In other words, Abbas will go back to the UN and the International Criminal Court to seek redress against Israel’s putative criminal activities. Much like an obstreperous child on the playground, Abbas tells Netanyahu that either he play the game according to Abbas’ rules or Abbas will tell the teacher what a bad boy Israel has been. It would be a comical farce were not so many lives at stake.
Abbas goes on to threaten, albeit obliquely, that because Israel has not played the game according to Abbas’ demands, he might just go ahead and dissolve the PA, throwing back upon Israel all of the responsibilities for administration in the West Bank: “For the Palestinian Authority—now stripped of all meaningful authority—cannot continue to honor agreements while Israel refuses to even acknowledge its commitments. The P.A. is no longer as was agreed and this situation cannot continue.” So in addition to tattling to the teacher, he will also take his ball and go home.
Hopefully, Netanyahu will not be moved by such puerile posturing.
None of this is new. After being rebuffed at the UN last year, Abbas floated informal threats about dismantling the PA, and even took the idea to the Fatah Central Committee (FCC). The FCC supported the idea but no decision was taken. When questioned while in Japan about Yossi Beilin’s open letter in Foreign Policy magazine on April 4, in which Beilin urged Abbas to carry out his threat to dissolve the PA as a way to express his exasperation with Netanyahu’s “intransigence,” Abbas quickly back-tracked and told journalists that “The PA is an achievement and we must not dissolve it but strengthen it.” But if that were true, why would the FCC support the idea? Perhaps because they know that Abbas has no intention of dissolving the PA.
In order to understand what is going on here, we must recognize the perils to Israel that are implied in both of Abbas’ threats.
Abbas knows that unlike former U.S. Presidents, Obama has already threatened to withhold a US veto in the UN if a Security Council resolution could create an existential threat to Israel. Abbas’ second try at the UN might work, especially if this timethe PA demand is pared down to recognition with the status of a non-member state (a big step above the “observer status” that the PA now has, but below full membership), and especially if Obama wins a second term and no longer needs to worry about losing some of his Jewish vote. Moreover, although the PA’s attempt to bring war-crime accusations against Israel at the International Criminal Court ended in failure with the decision that the court had no jurisdiction, as the present writer noted earlier, the chief prosecutor outlined for the PA the directions it could take if it wanted to appeal at a later date. By requesting that the UN petition the court to hear the PA case, or by convincing state members of the court to agree to bring the case to the docket, Abbas could do an end-run around the jurisdiction issue. If the PA’s attorneys have the brains that God gave a napkin, they are working on both of these issues now.
So the peril to Israel in Abbas’ first threat is that Israel may be pilloried in the ICC with a re-run of the Goldstone report, especially if Obama wins a second term.
The other threat may imply even greater danger. Following Israel’s victory over the 2nd Intifada, PA security forces in the West Bank have for the most part cooperated with the IDF in preventing terrorism, even collaborating at times in the hunt for secret Hamas cells. But if those PA forces were to suddenly cease to exist, if all government apparatus for social services and financial controls were to suddenly disappear, the Palestinian organization most primed and ready to take over would be Hamas; and Hamas would jump at the opportunity. It is perhaps not coincidental that Abbas met late last year with Khaled Mesha’al, the political leader of Hamas, to “…discuss…the present situation and the prospects of getting out of it and working out a national strategy for the future.”
So what Abbas is really trying to tell Netanyahu is that the terms of his letter are the best deal that Israel can hope to get; and if Netanyahu does not play ball, Abbas will step aside and let Hamas mount the 3rd Intifada from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip at the same time. It would take only a bit of stalling by Abbas to interfere with Israel’s assumption of these responsibilities, during which time Hamas steps in.
It is likely that Hamas would jump at the opportunity to rule all of “Palestine” and to launch a multi-front terror war-on-steroids against Israel, precisely because it has been weakened by the loss of its Syrian base due to the Muslim Brotherhood’s support of the revolution in Syria, it has lost Iran’s financial support to competing terror groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (such asHizb ut-Tahrir) as punishment for Hamas’ refusal to support Syria’s Assad, and its popularity is in severe decline with its rank-and-file in the Gaza Strip and West Bank due to its lack of sufficient qassam rocket attacks on Israel. So expanded political power and greater latitude to attack Israel is just what Hamas needs to get itself back to its position of primus inter pares amongMuslim terrorist groups.
So what are the real options?
The letter itself is obvious bluster and a postured pretense at peace-making. Some have critiqued it noting that it is full of errors, omissions and outright lies; and it is really nothing more than a rehash of PA demands to which the PA knows Israel cannot accede. As Israeli officials have said in the past, if one agrees to all of the other side’s demands in advance of negotiations, then what does one negotiate about? PA officials know this just as well as do Israeli leaders. The letter is not an opening to peace negotiations. In fact, it is, in all probability, not even addressed to Netanyahu.
Israeli media sources received leaks from Palestinian leaders about the content of the letter almost a week in advance of the meeting. Yet the Israeli side wanted to keep details of the meeting secret even up to the day of the meeting. For what audienceswere those leaks, obviously in violation of Israel’s desire for secrecy, intended?
The same question was asked about Abbas’ op-ed in the New York Times before his UN bid for recognition. He stated clearly and unabashedly that the entry of “Palestine” into the family of nations and its acquisition of UN status as a bona fide state would not end the conflict. Rather such status would enable the PA to ratchet up the conflict to a higher level of political warfare by giving the new state of “Palestine” access to the ICC and ICJ (International Court of Justice) wherein Abbas and complicit partners in evil could support the Palestinian attempts to delegitimize Israel, condemn it as the world’s worst violator of human rights and perpetrator of war crimes, and then pressure Israel’s allies, especially those in the EU, to disassociate from Israel.
Did Abbas think that such threats endeared him to the EU or reduced the likelihood of American pressure against his bid? More likely, his audience for these comments was not those to whom he spoke, but rather those in the Arab world and their collaborators elsewhere who do not want to see the conflict end until Israel is destroyed. For that audience, Abbas’ anti-Israel credentials have been eroded by his cooperation with Israel, by his PA security forces’ collaboration with Israel, and by the relatively terror-free calm of the West Bank since Israel’s defeat of the 2nd Intifada. His statement to the world of Israel-haters was clear: He is still at it, working with lawfare and BDS and delegitimization and accusations of war crimes, rather than with qassams and suicide bombers; but the end game is the same — Palestine from the river to the sea.
And this is probably the case with the letter to Netanyahu. By leaking its contents prematurely, he told his constituency and financial supporters and other partners in evil that he is still in a better position than Hamas to bring about Israel’s demise, despite his temporary setbacks at the UN and ICC.

North Korea Campout

Posted By Lloyd Billingsley On April 30, 2012

Blaine Harden, Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, Viking, $26.95.
“North Korea’s labor camps,” says Blaine Harden “have now existed twice as long as the Soviet Gulag and about twelve times longer than the Nazi concentration camps.” Harden, a former Washington Post bureau chief in East Asia, has written an important account of a man born into one of the camps and the first man to escape from the notorious Camp 14.
“Enemies of class, whoever they are, their seed must be eliminated through three generations.” That was the view of Kim Il Sung, who with Stalin’s blessing invaded South Korea in 1950. The policy continued under Kim Jong Il, who deployed the camps to eliminate the evil seed. According to escapee Shin Dong-hyuk, the camps work well as a killing machine.
Shin’s view is that Kim Jong Il was worse than Hitler because while Hitler attacked his enemies, the North Korean dictator worked his own people to death in places like Camp 14. In the event of some major action, the North Korean regime would launch “collective execution” of all prisoners. Shin has solid grounds for this belief, such as Rule 10 of Camp 14.
“Prisoners who violate the laws and regulations of the camp will be shot immediately.” Camp commandants force prisoners to watch executions, including those of their own parents. Shin was forced to watch his mother executed by hanging and his older brother killed by a three-man firing squad.
In camp schools Shin saw teachers beating students to death for no apparent reason. Students worked as slaves at such tasks as gathering human excrement in freezing conditions, with no gloves and no proper winter clothing. Their lot included heavy lifting in factories and on farms.
“Prisoners must more than fulfill the work assigned them each day,” explains Camp 14 rule number 7. “Prisoners who neglect their work quota or fail to complete it will be considered to harbor discontent and will be shot immediately.” Those were the working conditions under which Shin and thousands of other inmates labored. The death penalty also applied to dalliance between the sexes.
“Should sexual physical contact occur without prior approval, the perpetrators will be shot immediately,” explains Camp 14 rule number 8. Camp guards, however, were free to function as sexual predators. If one of their victims became pregnant, the mother and the baby were killed. For a genocidal regime infanticide is not a problem and neither is torture.
Shin Dong-hyuk bears the marks of his own torture sessions, which make for grim reading. Such suffering was part of the process in which the Marxist-Leninist regime punishes children for the sins of their parents. “Prisoners must genuinely repent of their errors,” says Camp 14 rule number 9. “Anyone who does not acknowledge his sins and instead denies them or carries a deviant opinion of them will be shot immediately.”
Harden’s careful account goes beyond anything a dystopian novelist could invent but Escape from Camp 14 confirms a key reality. Even North Korea cannot fully extinguish the quest for freedom. Shin’s escape, here outlined in considerable detail, was truly miraculous. In South Korea and the United States, Shin worked to restore the humanity of which the regime had bilked him, and now does not hesitate to speak out.
“We think the Holocaust is a thing of the past, but it is not. This continues in North Korea.” Shin made that statement to reporters shortly before North Korea’s latest missile launch and following the release of Hidden Gulag, the second edition of a report by the Committee for Human Rights in Korea calling for the dismantling of the prison-camp system. The North Korean regime maintains the camp system does not exist, but the issues do not stop there.
This regime deploys nuclear weapons and has recently threatened to turn South Korea, a key U.S. ally, into “ashes.” The regime also aids terrorist groups and kidnaps foreign nationals. In the competition for most loathsome regime in the world, North Korea has few rivals, and Escape from Camp 14 makes a convincing case that it is by far the worst. As such, it deserves more criticism than it currently gets.
Western Democracies, with free elections, independent courts and the rule of law also get criticized on human-rights grounds. When that happens, government officials and journalists alike should cross-check and compare the treatment that North Korea gets from the critics. The United States and its allies need not take seriously those who can’t tell the difference between free but imperfect democracies and a genocidal Communist regime of fathomless depravity.
Harden provides maps, photos and historical background of the Korean conflict. The book should have included an index and perhaps a reference to I.F. Stone, a Soviet spy and Stalinist the American left still hails as an independent journalist. Stone’s Hidden History of the Korean War charged that South Korea had invaded the North, with backing of the United States. As it happens, that’s exactly what Shin Dong-hyuk was taught in Camp 14.
The Korean War never officially ended and under Kim Jong Un, the latest incumbent, one sees no sign of liberalization. That’s why Escape from Camp 14 and Hidden Gulag will be important reading for years to come.

Our Marie Antoinette President

Posted By Arnold Ahlert On April 30, 2012

On Friday, in yet another report tagged with the word “unexpected,” economic growth in the United States slowed to a 2.2 percent annual rate, well below economists’ predictions of 2.5 percent. This anemic trend represents part of the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Most Americans understand that such a reality requires a certain amount of belt-tightening on their part. President Obama and the First Family? Not so much. A series of upscale vacations, substantial portions of which are underwritten by taxpayers, continue to be an integral part of the Obamas’ lifestyle.
Few reasonable Americans begrudge “down time” for the president or his family. Yet at a time when the word “staycation” has become an increasingly familiar part of the American lexicon, one might think a president who both vilifies the rich and reminds Americans that he wasn’t born ”with a silver spoon in my mouth” might be a bit more sensitive to the kind of vacations taken by the president and his family.
In a rather odd way, he is. When the president’s 13-year-old daughter, Malia, took a Spring Break trip to Mexico with 12 of her friends and 25 Secret Service agents–one that reportedly cost taxpayers $2.5 million–it was covered by the mainstream media. AFP filed the initial report, and the story was subsequently picked up by Yahoo, the Huffington Post, and the International Business Times, as well as foreign publications, such as Daily Mail, the Telegraph and The Australian.
Yet by the same evening, all of the stories had been removed from each of those sites. The updated links either directed one to a site’s home page or 404 error pages, reading “page not found.” What happened? The White House got a compliant media to scrub the story. Kristina Schake, Communications Director to the First Lady, confirmed this to Politico: “From the beginning of the administration, the White House has asked news outlets not to report on or photograph the Obama children when they are not with their parents and there is no vital news interest. We have reminded outlets of this request in order to protect the privacy and security of these girls.”
Again, such concerns for the safety of First Family members are entirely legitimate. Yet some questions remain unanswered. Why would the president allow his daughter to travel to Mexico despite a Texas Department of Public Safety warning not to go there because “cartel violence and other criminal activity represent a significant safety threat, even in some resort areas”? Why was it necessary to include a dozen friends, making the trip more expensive and security far more complicated? Why are members of the mainstream media taking marching orders from the White House? Why did the trip cost taxpayers $2.5 million?
Perhaps, as the saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Last week, Judicial Watch released a report revealing that First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to Costa Del Sol, Spain in 2010 cost taxpayers $467,585. Again, no reasonable person begrudges a woman in the public spotlight some rest and relaxation. But as the New York Times reports, part of that R&R included a stay at the “five-star Hotel Villa Padierna near Marbella, where at least 30 rooms were reserved for the entourage, including those for security. The hotel is one of Spain’s more luxurious establishments, with rooms ranging from $500-a-night to a $6,600 suite with 24-hour butler service.”
Furthermore, Mrs. Obama is hardly reticent when it comes to taking vacations. Her February 2012 trip to upscale Aspen, Colorado, for a President’s Day ski weekend with daughters Sasha and Malia, marked the 16th vacation (the updated number is now 17) taken by Obama family members in just over three years, not including visits to the Camp David compound, or short trips like a New York City “date night” taken in May 2009. Nor is the First Lady or the president seemingly concerned saddling taxpayers with the cost of flying separately to the same vacation sites. It cost taxpayers $100,000 when the First Lady jetted to a 2010 Hawaii vacation ahead of her husband, and several thousands more when the First Lady traveled to a Martha’s Vineyard vacation on a separate government jet only four hours prior to the president’s trip there. While at Martha’s Vineyard, the First Family stayed at Blue Heron Farm, a property that reportedly rents for approximately $50,000 per week. And on a trip to Maine in July of 2010, the President’s dog, Bo, and his handler traveled on a separate plane to that destination.
Such a penchant for extravagance has added up to some pretty daunting numbers. The UK’s Daily Mail, citing White House sources who referred to the First Lady as “a vacation junkie,” claimed Michelle Obama had “has spent $10 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money on vacations alone in the past year”–as of August 2011. The unnamed source further notes that Mrs. Obama also enjoys “drinking expensive booze during her trips. She favors martinis with top-shelf vodka and has a taste for rich sparking wines.”
Unsurprisingly, a member of the mainstream media defended the Obamas. Mark Knoller of CBS News contended that former president George W. Bush’s vacation “day count” was more than double the Obama totals during the same period of time. Yet Bush went to his own ranch in Crawford, Texas, and the costs associated with such trips hardly compare with, for example, the Obama’s 2011 Christmas vacation in Hawaii, exceeding $1.5 million, according to the Hawaii Reporter.

And the same media that ridiculed George Bush for his golfing is remarkably silent regarding president Obama’s numerous golf outings, despite the fact that the current president has played more times in his first term than Bush did in two. One of those rounds was played in lieu of attending the funeral of Polish President Lech Kaczynski.
The First Family’s extravagance is starting to wear thin, including on Democrats. Pollster John McLaughlin and other Republican pollsters traveled to 11 battleground states to talk to swing voters, “mostly Democrats” who voted for Obama in 2008, but are currently undecided. While there was overall depression among those they spoke with regarding the economy, as well as resentment directed at both the rich and government workers “sucking up” their tax dollars, many of the respondents “volunteered criticism of the presidential vacations as something that should be cut.” McLaughlin illuminated their reasoning. “They view everything through their own personal situation and if they can’t afford to do it, they can’t enjoy it, they don’t like Obama using their tax dollars to benefit himself,” he said. “In this case, they see him as out of touch. While they are struggling, he’s not sharing in that struggle, and he’s basically doing what they can’t do on their tax dollars.”
Rightly or wrongly, what determines the outcome of an election is as much about perception as it is about facts. There is no question the president is seeking to paint wealth in general, and Mitt Romney’s success in particular, as something to be vilified and/or envied. Such a message undoubtedly resonates with a substantial number of Americans. Yet some Americans are beginning to notice that one wealthy individual (the president’s current net worth is approximately $5 million) vilifying another wealthier individual, demonstrates a certain level of disingenuousness at best, and outright hypocrisy at worst. That unseemliness is exacerbated by a publicly lavish lifestyle at least partially underwritten by taxpayers, even as the president has called for “shared sacrifice” among his fellow Americans.
Mr. Obama has a potential tiger by the tail. It would be more than a little ironic if the man committed to stoking class resentment was undone next November by that resentment being turned towards himself and his family. Yet when measured against running on his record, it would seem that the president and his campaign handlers consider it the more viable of the two options. Whether is it or not will be revealed in the coming months.

Top CIA al-Qaida Interrogator: Obama, Pelosi 'Reinventing The Truth'




The retired CIA officer who oversaw the tough terrorist interrogation program using waterboarding and other techniques says his methods saved lives by thwarting plots against the United States.

During an interview Sunday night on “60 Minutes” — just days before the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of Navy SEALs — Jose Rodriguez also lashed out at President Barack Obama for calling waterboarding torture and criticizing its use, and at congressional Democrats like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for dodging responsibility over the issues.

"I cannot tell you how disgusted my former colleagues and I felt to hear ourselves labeled 'torturers' by the president of the United States," Rodriguez, the former chief of CIA clandestine operations, writes in his book, "Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives."

The book is due out Tuesday. The highly charged interview came in the same week Republicans harshly criticized the administration for using bin Laden's death as a campaign tactic. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden said that presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney would not have made the tough call to kill bin Laden.

But Rodriguez criticizes many Democrats for not backing the tough tactics that he said eventually led to bin Laden.

“Pelosi said that we only briefly mentioned waterboarding and left the impression that it had not been used,” Rodriguez writes, insisting that the California Democrat was fully briefed — by Rodriguez himself — about waterboarding and its use. He says that Pelosi posed no objection to the technique. “I know she got it.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that she, like almost all Americans less than a year after, wanted us to be aggressive to make sure that al-Qaida wasn’t able to replicate their attack.” He writes that “Pelosi was another member of Congress reinventing the truth.”

Many members of Congress have “watched too many episodes of the old TV series Mission Impossible — the part they liked best was the opening, in which the operatives were told that if anything went wrong, their leaders would ‘disavow any knowledge of your actions,’” says Rodriguez.

Rodriguez said the CIA developed the tactics because high-level detainee Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian-born jihadist with close ties to Osama bin Laden, had provided some initial information, but then he "clamped up and he was not talking anymore."

"We needed a new approach, a new technique," Rodriguez said. "Something new, something outside the box. That's how we came up with the enhanced interrogation techniques."

Rodriguez said his team had legal clearance for everything it did — from waterboarding, on down to top-level terrorists like Zubaydah and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

"We made some al-Qaida terrorists with American blood on their hands uncomfortable for a few days," he tells “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl. "I am very secure in what we did and am very confident that what we did saved American lives.”

Pressed by Stahl about charges that Zubaydah, who was waterboarded and sleep deprived, gave false information that wasted U.S. resources, Rodriguez replies, "Bull****!, He gave us a roadmap that allowed us to capture a bunch of al-Qaida senior leaders," says the ex-spy.

The interrogation program, which also included stress positions, nudity and "insult slaps," was "about instilling a sense of hopelessness ... despair ... so that he [the detainee] would conclude on his own that he was better off cooperating with us."

He says that even Mohammed, whom he termed "the toughest detainee we had," eventually gave up information.

KSM, as the mastermind of 9/11 was known, would not cooperate at first.
"He eventually told us, 'I will talk once I get to New York and I get my lawyer,' " Rodriguez recalls in the “60 Minutes” interview. But "it was the cumulative effect of waterboarding and sleep deprivation and everything else that was done that eventually got to him."

Rodriguez says he got information that enabled the CIA to disrupt at least 10 large-scale terrorist plots.

But when Stahl reminded him the CIA's own inspector general said that his enhanced interrogation program did not stop any imminent attack, Rodriguez says, "We don't know ... if, for example, al-Qaida would have been able to continue on with their anthrax program or nuclear program ... or sleeper agents ... working with Khalid Sheik Mohammed to take down the Brooklyn Bridge, for example."

Rodriguez also made headlines when he ordered the destruction of videos showing waterboarding. He did it, he writes, because he was tired of waiting for Washington's bureaucracy to make a decision that protected American lives.

The chapter about the interrogation videos adds few new details to a narrative that has been explored for years by journalists, investigators and civil rights groups. But the book represents Rodriguez's first public comment on the matter since the tape destruction was revealed in 2007.

That revelation touched off a political debate and ignited a Justice Department investigation that ultimately produced no charges. Critics accused Rodriguez of covering up torture and preventing the public from ever seeing the brutality of the CIA's interrogations. Supporters hailed him as a hero who acted in the best interest of the country in the face of years of bureaucratic hand-wringing.

The tapes, filmed in a secret CIA prison in Thailand, showed the waterboarding of terrorists Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri.

Especially after the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, Rodriguez writes, if the CIA's videos were to leak out, officers worldwide would be in danger.

"I wasn't going to sit around another three years waiting for people to get up the courage," to do what CIA lawyers said he had the authority to do himself, Rodriguez writes. He describes sending the order in November 2005 as "just getting rid of some ugly visuals."

Rodriguez writes critically of Obama's counterterrorism policies today. With no way to capture and interrogate terrorists, Rodriguez says, the CIA relies far too much on drones. Unmanned aerial attacks alienate America's foreign partners and make it impossible to question people in the know, he says.

These points could foreshadow Republican attack lines in the presidential race because other former senior CIA officers are advising presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

The killing of bin Laden is Obama's signature national security accomplishment, but Rodriguez writes that valuable intelligence from the CIA's "black sites" helped lead the United States to bin Laden.

The book is published by Threshold, a conservative imprint of Simon and Schuster that also published former Vice President Dick Cheney's memoir.




Sharia in Moscow

Posted By Daniel Greenfield On April 30, 2012

“You think that we are coming here as foreigners, but we believe that we are at home here and maybe you are the foreigners. We will make those laws that suit us, whether you like it or not, and any attempts to change that will lead to spilled blood. There will be a second dead sea here and we will drown the city in blood.”
Those were not the words of some back alley preacher, but of noted Moscow lawyer, Dagir Khasavov, giving an interview to a television station about his proposal to implement Sharia courts in Russia. Interspersed with footage of death sentences being executed, Khasavov spoke about his new organization that would protect Muslim rights and claimed that his proposal was only the beginning of a worldwide expansion.
“We are going to expand this net, we will begin in Russia, first Asia, and then everything will be encompassed, as it was in the Caliphate,” Khasavov said. According to Khasavov, Russian security services already unofficially refer cases involving Muslims back to Sharia courts and his proposal to officially establish such courts would only legitimize the parallel justice system that already exists for the millions of Muslims who now live in Moscow and other cities.
There is no official count of the number of Muslims who have migrated to find work in Moscow, but it might be as high as a third of the population. Muslim prayers spill out into the streets and take over portions of the city. After the demolition of the decrepit Cathedral Mosque, eighty thousand Muslims took over the streets to celebrate Eid al-Adha while the police scrambled to control the streets.
Halal cafes are easier to set up than mosques and have proliferated much faster. Unofficial Sharia courts already operate out of Moscow mosques with Imams acting as the arbitrators, but Khasavov would like to go much further. Last year he proposed the creation of a Council of Imams, the first step toward establishing a united Muslim legal system. Nor is Khasavov a man who can be easily dismissed as a bearded lunatic playing Al-Awlaki sermons.
Khasavov has an extended background with the MVD, Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, a section of its security services, and graduated from two of its institutions, including one named after Felix Dzerzhinsky, the godfather of Russia’s police state. Until recently he served as an aide to a member of the Federation Council dealing with social policy. And media coverage of his Sharia courts proposal was generally positive until a hostile interviewer on REN TV baited him into a rant that led to a catastrophic backlash causing him to temporarily leave the country. It is entirely possible that his proposal was a trial balloon from higher up the food chain.
One of the stranger acts of Muslim terror in Moscow was the assassination of a Russian Orthodox Priest who had spent a great deal of time campaigning against Islam. Fr. Danill Sysoyev was killed in his own church by a masked man armed with a Makarov pistol tipped with a silencer. Security services supposedly turned up the pistol in the hands of a dead man they had killed, but no one appears to believe this version of the story, including the Moscow Patriarchate.
The method of the killing would have been out of character for Muslim terrorists, but entirely in character for the Russian security services, which have assassinated enemies of the state in the exact same manner. Opposition figures have been killed by masked gunmen armed with silenced pistols in public places, with their murders added to the list of unsolved crimes or attributed to some convenient career criminal. It would not have been the first time that the Russian security services had murdered a priest who fell out of line with government policy and treated it as an unsolved murder. The case of Alexander Men comes to mind.
Putin, like many European leaders, has used the Muslim presence to create chaos and instability for his own purposes. The UK’s Labour Party imported Muslim immigrants in their own divide and conquer scheme for Britain and Putin is following the same policies, the only difference is that critics of Russian government policy don’t get dragged into court on racism charges, they get shot in the head and the crime becomes another unsolved murder.
Like Europe, Russia is on the path to demographic suicide and has adapted to it by trying to divide Muslims into two groups, those they think they can control and the extremists who have to be suppressed. The native population is treated the same way. The lawless violence of the Russian government makes it easier to suppress the “extremists” in ways that the Eurocrats could not even dream of, but that doesn’t mean that its policies are fundamentally different.
Nearly a sixth of the Russian population is already Muslim and the birth rate numbers have put it on track to a Muslim majority. It’s an open question as to whether the authorities will allow things to go that far, but tellingly the Russian military is projected to become a majority Muslim force in a much shorter time. Once that happens it will become very difficult to change the direction of a country where control of the armed forces and major cities counts for more than the ballot box.
It’s not just Obama who has said that Islam has always been a part of his country, Medvedev said before him at an Arab League meeting in Cairo. “Russia does not need to seek friendship with the Muslim world,” he said, “Our country is an organic part of this world.”
Khasavov’s proposal follows Medvedev’s logic. If Russia, like America, is part of the Muslim world, it needs Sharia law and courts. And it will have them; initially under the auspices of trusted Muslim leaders, who like Khasavov, have links to the security services.
Putin is less concerned with whether he rules a Christian or Muslim country, so long as his power is unchallenged. And his propaganda increasingly aims at presenting his rule in a Muslim religious context. After the Iraq War, Russia’s Supreme Mufti called for a “joint ‘Orthodox-Islamic’ Jihad” against the United States and an election song by a Muslim singer set to traditional rhythms mixed with pop music praised Putin as “God’s Messenger”.
Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of Chechnya, was even more direct, saying, “Putin gave the Chechen nation its second life! Allah appointed him to his position.” Kakiev Said-Magomed Shamaev, leader of a GRU Spetsnaz battalion, appeared in a Pravda piece titled, “Special Services fight in the name of Allah and Putin.”
This brand of Eurasianism is to Russia what multiculturalism is to the West, both reject the European context and in doing so hope to build an empire through union with the Muslim world. And both strategies are equally doomed. Instead of protecting Russia, Putin has protected his own power and once again the Russian people are paying the price for the imperial dreams of their leaders.
Today the bloody mess on the streets of Moscow is only that of sheep being slaughtered for Muslim festivals, but If Russia continues on its present course the day will come when Khasavov’s prediction of a city drowned in the blood of Muslim violence will come true.

Occupy Wall Street Plans Global Disruption of Status Quo

By Henry Goldman and Esmé E. Deprez - Apr 30, 2012
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, whose anti-greed message spread worldwide during an eight-week encampment in Lower Manhattan last year, plan marches across the globe tomorrow calling attention to what they say are abuses of power and wealth.
Organizers say they hope the coordinated events will mark a spring resurgence of the movement after a quiet winter. Calls for a general strike with no work, no school, no banking and no shopping have sprung up on websites in Toronto, Barcelona,London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney, among hundreds of cities in North America, Europe and Asia.
In New York, Occupy Wall Street will join scores of labor organizations observing May 1, traditionally recognized as International Workers’ Day. They plan marches from Union Square to Lower Manhattan and a “pop-up occupation” of Bryant Park on Sixth Avenue, across the street from Bank of America’s Corp.’s55-story tower.
“We call upon people to refrain from shopping, walk out of class, take the day off of work and other creative forms of resistance disrupting the status quo,” organizers said in an April 26 e-mail.
Occupy groups across the U.S. have protested economic disparity, decrying high foreclosure and unemployment rates that hurt average Americans while bankers and financial executives received bonuses and taxpayer-funded bailouts. In the past six months, similar groups, using social media and other tools, have sprung up in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Pooling Resources

The Occupy movement in New York has relied on demonstrations and marches around the city since Nov. 15, when police ousted hundreds of protesters from their headquarters in Zuccotti Park near Wall Street, where they had camped since Sept. 17.
Banks have pooled resources and cooperated to gather intelligence after learning of plans to picket 99 institutions and companies, followed by what organizers have described as an 8 p.m. “radical after-party” in an undetermined Financial District location.
“If the banks anticipate outrage from everyday citizens, it’s revealing of their own guilt,” said Shane Patrick, a member of the Occupy Wall Street press team. “If they hadn’t been participating in maneuvers that sent the economy into the ditch, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.”

Police Prepared

New York police can handle picketers, according to Paul Browne, the department’s chief spokesman.
“We’re experienced at accommodating lawful protests and responding appropriately to anyone who engages in unlawful activity, and we’re prepared to do both,” he said in an interview.
About 2,100 Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York have been arrested since the demonstrations began, said Bill Dobbs, a member of the group’s media-relations team.
In U.S. District Court in Manhattan today, four City Council members accused JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), Brookfield Office Properties Inc., Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, of suppressing free speech and using excessive force against protesters.

Come Together

Organizers describe the May Day events as a coming together of the Occupy movement, with activists also calling for more open immigration laws, expanded labor rights and cheaper financing for higher education. Financial institutions remain a primary target of the protests.
“Four years after the financial crisis, not a single of the too-big-to-fail banks is smaller; in fact, they all continue to grow in size and risk,” the group’s press office said in an April 26 e-mail.
Five banks -- JPMorgan, Bank of America, Citigroup Inc. (C),Wells Fargo & Co. (WFC), and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) together held $8.5 trillion in assets at the end of 2011, equal to 56 percent of the U.S. economy, compared with 43 percent in 2006, according to central bankers at the Federal Reserve.
Occupy Wall Street began planning for May Day in January, meeting in churches and union halls with a decision-making system that avoids a single leader. Instead, participants rely on group “break-out” sessions in which clusters discuss such tasks as crowd-building, logistics and communications.

Planning Meeting

About 150 attended an April 25 meeting at the Greenwich Village headquarters of the Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union, making last-minute preparations for how to deploy legal and medical help; site selection for picketing; purchasing, production and distribution of protest signs; and how to talk to reporters.
The meeting convened inside the union hall basement, where attendees arranged chairs in a circle as three facilitators asked each of the assembled to identify themselves by first name and gender -- he, she or they. Most appeared under age 30, though gray-haired baby boomers also participated. One of the older attendees pulled a ski mask over his head to protest the presence of a photographer from Tokyo.
Tomorrow, beginning at 8 a.m. in Bryant Park, scheduled events include teach-ins, art performances and a staging area for “direct action and civil disobedience,” such as bank blockades.

Raging Musicians

Tom Morello of the Grammy Award-winning rock band Rage Against the Machine along with 1,000 other guitar-playing musicians will accompany a march to Union Square at 2 p.m., according to the maydaynyc.org website. That will be followed by a “unity rally” at Union Square at 4 p.m.; a march from there to Wall Street at 5:30 p.m.; and a walk to a staging area for“evening actions,” which organizers at the April 25 meeting said would be the so-called after-party.
Occupy-related events are planned in 115 cities throughout the U.S., from college towns such as Amherst, Massachusetts, and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago and Philadelphia.
In San Francisco, a group calling itself the Golden Gate Bridge Labor Coalition abandoned a plan to close the span while carrying on with a day of picketing to support bridge, ferry and bus workers seeking reduced health-care benefit costs, according to its website.
Across the bay in Oakland, protesters said they intend morning marches on banks and the Chamber of Commerce, followed by an afternoon rally and a march downtown.
“We’re looking forward to vigorously asserting our constitutional right to protest and giving a loud outcry about Wall Street and greed,” Dobbs said. “We’re hoping this will make a splash. We hope it will bring a lot of more people into the Occupy movement.”

The E.U. Speeds for the Iceberg

Posted By Bruce Thornton On April 30, 2012 @ 12:26 am

The foreign minister of Spain recently compared the troubled E.U. to the Titanic, a metaphor not quite so trite given the new research into why the world’s biggest ocean liner collided with an iceberg. Titanic historian Tim Maltin argues that a cold-water mirage may have obscured the iceberg from the watchmen until it was too late. So too with the E.U.: ideological illusions have for decades fooled the EUrophiles into thinking that they could speed full steam ahead to their utopian destination, a United States of Europe that could rival the United States for global power and influence. Now that the fiscal iceberg is looming ever closer, the enthusiastic effusions of those who once touted Europe as a “bold new experiment in living” and “the best hope in an insecure age” sound more and more like the White Star Line’s assurances that the Titanic was unsinkable.
The mirage that has blinded the E.U.’s creators and champions is not hard to explain. For two centuries many Europeans have been deluded by the notion that nationalist loyalties and identity could be subordinated to a transnational institution run by elites with superior knowledge and technical skills. Loyalty to and affection for one’s own people, land, customs, governments, and mores were seen as primitive holdovers from a less enlightened age. Like religious faith, these exclusionary, divisive values were barbaric instigators of war and civil strife, predicated as they were on ignorance and superstition. Sweep those loyalties and beliefs away, and the human race could progress to peace and prosperity by relying instead on science, technology, and the elites who possessed the knowledge of both.
And why not? History offered evidence of such progress. In the 19th century, communication and transport technologies like the telegraph, railroad, and steamship shrank the world, making possible a global trade and exchange of ideas that seemingly bound people into a “solidarity which unites the members of the society of civilized nations,” as the Preamble to the First Hague Convention put it in 1899. For many internationalist idealists, what Immanuel Kant a century earlier had called the “progress of the human mind” was creating a global community of shared values and aims, a “harmony of interests” that could be codified in international laws and institutions superior to the parochial cultures, irrational customs, and retrograde values of any individual country or people. An imagined consequence of this increasing unification of peoples was Kant’s imagined “federation of free states” that could create global peace and prosperity by transcending the zero-sum and often irrational, destructive interests of individual states and peoples.
World War I should have put paid to the illusion that humans could progress beyond the local and particular cultures in which most people lived and found their identities. From 1914-1918 millions of Europeans slaughtered each other on behalf of those national loyalties, even the universalist, transnational socialists fighting and dying in the trenches under their nations’ banners. In 1918, G. K. Chesterton explained why: “Nobody has any such ecstatic regard for the mere relations of different people to each other, as one would gather from the rhetoric of idealistic internationalism . . . Now, too much cosmopolitan culture is mere praise of machinery. It turns ultimately upon the point that a telegram can be sent from one end of the earth to the other, irrespective of what is in the telegram.” In the end, Chesterton says, “Men care more for the rag that is called a flag than for the rag that is called a newspaper. Men care more for Rome, Paris, Prague, Warsaw than for the international railways connecting these towns.”
In other words, the “global community” is a mirage, no more a real human community than an on-line chat room. Our collective identities and loyalties are necessarily local, a consequence of particular ways of life lived in particular landscapes defined in part by their differences from those of other peoples, an existential fact no amount of technological advances can change. This means that we want to be ruled by people who live and speak like us, and whom we can hold politically accountable. And it means that our own national interests will necessarily differ from those of other states, and sometimes those different interests will lead to conflict.
After World War I, the persistence of internationalist idealism institutionalized a fatal incoherence in the Versailles Treaty’s supranational League of Nations. The designers of the League intended it to be the creator and guarantor of global peace and order, and thus avoid the sort of nationalist-driven carnage of the Great War. Yet the League also enshrined the notion of what Woodrow Wilson called “national aspirations” and ethnic self-determination. The two ideals were contradictory, since sovereign nations defined by their distinct identities did not want to surrender their sovereignty or subordinate their particular interests to a body comprising alien peoples that would at times have to pursue aims contrary to those nations’ own. The failure of the League in resolving this contradiction quickly became evident in the two decades between the wars, when it was powerless to stop the escalating inter-state violence that paved the way for World War II. Nor should we be surprised at this failure: as long as there are sovereign, self-ruling states comprising peoples with different languages, cultures, and customs, nations and peoples will collide, sometimes violently.
Yet the failure of the League, along with that of its equally incoherent offspring the U.N., did not inhibit the creation of the E.U., yet another “federation of free states” whose purpose is to subordinate national interests to loftier goals. Yet the incoherence remains and is obvious in the E.U. monetary union, which is made up of sovereign states, each with its own peculiar economic and political interests, histories, cultural norms regarding work and leisure, laws, and fiscal systems. These different customs, different virtues, and different attitudes towards work, leisure, and the good life all derive from the particular histories, geographies, and cultures that define a people and a nation. These differences will not disappear because states share a currency or economic regulations.
The increasingly bitter divide among the E.U. nations is evidenced over the past few years in the elections of leaders skeptical about the leadership of the E.U.’s economic powerhouse and financier, Germany, and its prescriptions about how to solve the fiscal disaster. These divisions increasingly illustrate the continuing power of national identity and culture that always has compromised the whole E.U. project. As Walter Russell Mead succinctly put its, “Club Med doesn’t want to live under German rules and Germany doesn’t want a Club Med currency. Club Med can’t make Germany underwrite the Club’s lavish lifestyle and Germany can’t make Club Med live by German rules.” That’s because Germans, French, Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, and the rest are all profoundly different peoples, and no amount of internationalist mirages can change the reality of those differences. Like that iceberg in 1912, the cultural and nationalist peculiarities of the E.U. countries are the stubborn and unchanging realities with which the E.U. project is destined to collide.

Gibson’s Blues: Endless Laws Criminalizing Business

CBN News

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Thanks to an overreaching and arcane penal code, experts say almost any ordinary American could be convicted of a federal crime.
As Gibson Guitar Corp. CEO Henry Juszkiewicz discovered, the phenomenon has not only destroyed people's lives, it's also bad for business.
Juszkiewicz, inspired by the Beatles, first picked up the guitar when he was 8 years old.
His journey to the top of the music industry captures the idea of the American dream: He bought and saved a legendary company from going out of business. That company was Gibson Guitar Corp.
CBN News asked Juszkiewicz what sets Gibson guitars apart from others companies.
"I think we have the best people, and we have the best guitars," he replied.
Since taking the helm, Juszkiewicz has become the face of Gibson. It's a position that has put him in the company of some of the most famous names in entertainment and politics - from Tony Bennett, Sting, Earl Scruggs, and Willie Nelson to President Obama, Prince Charles, and Queen Elizabeth.
Gibson Strums the Blues
During an exclusive interview at Gibson's corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., Juszkiewicz played an electric guitar for our CBN News crew.
The song he chose to play mirrors the mood his company finds itself in today - the blues.
That's because the company is mired in the middle of not one but two federal investigations. The most recent took place last year.
When he arrived at his office August 24, 2011, Juszkiewicz was greeted by armed federal agents from the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Homeland Security.
Without any explanation, they raided two Gibson factories and its corporate offices and confiscated computer hard drives, records, and about $1 million worth of equipment and raw materials used to produce their guitars.
"They said they couldn't tell me because [the warrant] was sealed," he said, recounting the events of the raid. "I said, 'You're here with guns, and you can't tell me why?' And they said, 'That's right.'"
Five months later, Gibson still knows little about the investigation.
Juszkiewicz has been vocal about the government's conduct during its investigations, calling the government a big bully that's abusing its power and violating his legal rights in due process.
"We've had no charges filed, and we've had disastrous impact on our business," he said.
According to a government affidavit, the investigation centers on the material used to make Gibson guitar fingerboards, in particular Indian rosewood. While the raw material is perfectly legal to import, what's at dispute is the thickness of the wood and tariff codes used to import the goods.
The issue hinges on a 100-year-old wildlife anti-trafficking law called the Lacey Act. In 2008, Congress amended the law to include a broad range of plant products, making it illegal "to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any plant taken in violation of the law of a U.S. state or any foreign law that protects plants."
Gibson argues that it did its best to comply with the laws in each case that sparked the investigation.
Juszkiewicz told CBN News he had lawyers both in the U.S. and India review the law and used wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, an independent non-government organization.
"Both India and Madagascar, whose laws the government is citing in this prosecution, say that we've done everything legally," he said.
Juszkiewicz blames unelected environmental attorneys at the Department of Justice for launching the investigation. They appear to be working toward a conviction for using the wrong tariff codes for the wrong size of wood. A conviction could result in huge fines and the possibility of imprisonment.
The Justice Department isn't saying much. In a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office-Middle Tennessee to CBN News, the only comment offered was, they had "nothing new to say" and that "the case is ongoing."
Targeting the Little Guys
But if you think the government is going after Gibson because it's a multimillion-dollar corporation, you're wrong. They go after the little guys, too.
Krister Evertson, who is featured in the book One Nation Under Arrest, became fascinated by science when he was 9 years old. He earned awards and won prizes for his work at school and science fairs, and he eventually started his own company to make hydrogen fuel cells more efficient.
But in May 2004, his American dream turned into a nightmare when two SUVs filled with SWAT agents ran him off the road and arrested him, he said.
"Nothing mattered," Evertson explained. "The only thing that mattered was -- what are they going to do with me? Are they going to throw me in jail? Are they going to let me go? Are they going to shoot me?"
He was arrested for attaching the wrong shipping label to a package of raw sodium he sold on eBay - a violation of the Hazardous Material Transportation Act. That charge was a technicality, which Evertson fought and won.
While a jury acquitted him, the government wouldn't give up.
It brought in the Environmental Protection Agency, which decided to charge him for breaking an environmental law, claiming sealed supplies worth more than $100,000 that he paid to keep at a storage facility were abandoned "hazardous waste."
Evertson spent a total of a year and a half in prison. His experience fighting the feds left him leery of government.
"I told them, 'Look, I'm doing a good thing here,'" he said. "They didn't care. As a matter of fact, they took words that I used and turned it around on me. And if anything doesn't fit [their] agenda, even the truth, they don't care."
These examples aren't isolated.
The number of people put in prisons has exploded in just the last two decades. More than 80,000 federal sentences were handed down in 2011.
That's about twice as many sentences as there were in the mid-1990s, according to statistics used by Wall Street Journal. Some of the offenders were caught in a web of federal law they didn't even know were crimes.
It's part of what's called "overcriminalization," a phenomenon where even minor offenses can now be punished with criminal penalties, and the number of potential violations is constantly growing. Approximately 59,000 new federal rules have been enacted since 1996.
Harming Businesses
Critics point to Congress for imposing far too many penalties in laws and regulations that cover virtually every part of life. But many in Congress don't realize the impact of these laws when it's time to cast their votes.
"If I apply this law to the process in Congress, I say they're guilty," Juszkiewicz said. "It doesn't matter that they didn't know. Put them in jail."
Experts say overcriminalization and overzealous enforcement of laws like the Lacey Act not only breeds the public's contempt for the justice system, they say it's bad for business.
"It has an effect on anyone who owns the company," Paul Larkin with the Heritage Foundation explained. "It has an effect on the employees who work at company. If it's a publicly-held company, it has an effect on the shareholders."
Timothy O'Toole, a Washington-based attorney specializing in federal criminal laws, described scenarios in which some of his clients shied away from international business ventures because of the vast network of laws and regulations.
"Some of them have just decided it's not worth it," O'Toole said. "That is, it looked like the foreign market would be very profitable for them but because of all of the additional requirements [that] would then apply to the American companies they just decide not to do it."
Those requirements and regulations hurt American businesses, profits, and job growth.
The Small Business Administration estimates that regulations cost the economy about $1.75 trillion a year.
The case against Gibson, however, has wider implications - affecting other music and furniture makers and any company that relies on rare wood.
Time to Take a Stand
Tennessee lawmaker Marsha Blackburn has co-sponsored legislation that would fix the problems companies like Gibson are facing.
"Here is a company who creates a product here, and they are facing the uncertainty and the overreach and the heavy hand of the federal government," Rep. Blackburn, R-Tenn., said.
"And it is completely standing in the way of their ability to do their job," he added.
Juszkiewicz is a longtime conservationist, and he still supports the overall goal of the Lacey Act. But he warned that if the law stands uncorrected, it could create even more victims of federal prosecution when it comes to declaring wood-based products Americans carry while traveling.
"So if you had a guitar and lipstick, that's two separate forms," he explains. "They can fine you $100,000 each, confiscate each, and then up to a year in prison for filling out the form incorrectly."
He said that's why he is taking a stand and speaking out. He wants to make sure America remains the land of the free - the sweet land of liberty - and not a nation of criminals.
"Democracy means that each and every one of us is responsible for this country and what happens," he said. "If we don't have citizens stand up and become part of the process to make it better, than we deserve what we get."