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Star of David

No consequences: Israel's moral hazard in the Gaza Strip

The passage in the British House of Commons of a resolution favoring recognition of a Palestinian state, coming on the heels of the Swedish government's announcement of its intention to extend such recognition, is the latest indicator of European disgust with Israeli policies. Recognizing a Palestinian state is, of course, an empty gesture as long as no such state exists on the ground, and the ground that would constitute such a state is under another state's occupation. But recognition is a peaceful and respectable way to express dismay. The Conservative MP who chairs the House of Commons foreign affairs committee probably was speaking for many both inside and outside Parliament when he said that he had "stood by Israel through thick and thin" but that "over the past 20 years...Israel has been slowly drifting away from world public opinion," and that "such is my anger over Israel's behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people."
gaza destruction 2014
© Reuters/Suhaib Salem
A Palestinian woman reacts upon seeing her destroyed house in Beit Hanoun town, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip August 1, 2014.
As the comments of the MP suggest, the behavior that is the object of the dismay and anger has both long-term and short-term components. The long-term part is the continued Israel occupation of conquered territory, with the accompanying subjugation of Palestinians and denial to them of political rights. In the shorter term is the destruction that the Israeli military wreaked on the Gaza Strip earlier this year, in an operation that began when the Netanyahu government attempted to use force to disrupt a unity pact between the main Palestinian political factions. This week United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon toured the devastation in Gaza, remarking that "no amount of Security Council sessions, reports, or briefings could have prepared me for what I witnessed today."

Another, even more recent, component of the Israeli-inflicted destruction in Gaza may also have influenced the mood of the Swedes, the MPs at Westminster, and indeed taxpayers in any Western country. At an international conference in Cairo participating countries pledged a total of $5.4 billion in aid, half for reconstruction in the Gaza Strip and the other half as budget support for the Palestinian Authority. Besides the sheer irksomeness of any of the rest of us in the world community having to pay to repair that damage, think about what this situation implies for Israeli incentives. The Israelis mow the lawn in Gaza as often as they like, and they don't even have to pay for the clean-up. They may even profit from it because any building supplies that Israel allows to enter the Strip generally come from Israeli sources. (Investment tip: it's time to be bullish on cement manufacturers in Israel.)

This is an example of what economists call moral hazard: of someone having no incentive to curtail risky (or in this case, outright destructive) behavior because someone else is covering the losses. This in turn is one reason to be pessimistic that the whole tragic cycle of periodic Israeli lawn-mowing will end any time soon. The Israelis' economic flank is covered by donor conferences, just as their political flank is covered by U.S. vetoes at the Security Council.

Comment: Israel is allowed its psychopathic behavior by being underwritten by the equally psychopathic US. Just one example from Israel's last 'mowing the lawn' in 2007.
  • Psycho talk: Netanyahu wants to cut water and power from Gaza while US lauds Israeli restraint
Nothing will happen until the rest of the world is willing to stand up to Israel and enforce consequences for their murderous ways. Boycott, Divest, Sanction (BDS) is a good way to start.
  • Join the BDS movement: 9 brands to boycott to hold Israel accountable for 60 years of violating international law


Magic Wand

Obama orders National Guard to fight Ebola in Liberia

Soldiers to fight ebola
© politics.suntimes.com
The National Guard: Obama's red line in the sand for Ebola.
President Barack Obama issued an executive order on Thursday paving the way for the deployment of National Guard and Reserve forces to West Africa to help contain the Ebola outbreak there.

Under the mandate, the secretaries of defense and homeland security can order to active duty some members of the Selected Reserve and the Individual Ready Reserve mobilization.

Sources earlier told NBC News that eight engineers and logistical specialists from the Guard, both active-duty and reservists, would probably be included in the first deployment. They are expected to help build 17 Ebola treatment centers, with 100 beds apiece. The sources said no decision had yet been made.

Defense Department officials said the executive order was necessary to speed the deployments, and would allow the president to send additional forces as needed. Health officials have recorded more than 2,400 Ebola deaths in Liberia, the highest of any country.


Comment: Below is the copy of Obama's Executive Order.


Comment: How do you "fight" Ebola with an organism that is susceptible to Ebola? It's like combating a gambling addiction with a slot machine, only deadly. And, what happens when the National Guard and the reservists want to come home? One-way ticket?

Estimates on Ebola infections in West Africa could hit 1.4 million by the end of January if current trends continue.

Dollars

U.S. proxy war against Iran, sponsoring the MEK terrorist cult

© AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt
A member of the Iraq-based Iranian armed opposition group, the People's Mujahedeen, (MEK), at a US check point in northeastern Iraq, 12 May 2003
It is not merely hyperbole when it is said the US created terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda or the so-called "Islamic State." It is documented fact. The current conflict in the Middle East may appear to be a chaotic conflagration beyond the control of the United States and its many eager allies, but in reality it is the intentional, engineered creation of regional fronts in a war against Iran and its powerful arc of influence.

It is not Western policy that indirectly spurs the creation and perpetuation of terrorist organizations, but in fact, direct, intentional, unmistakable support.

This support would manifest itself in perhaps the most overt and bizarre declaration of allegiance to terrorism to date, US Army General Hugh Shelton on stage before terrorists of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) and their Wahabist counterparts fighting in Syria, hysterically pledging American material, political, and strategic backing. MEK was listed for years by the US State Department as a foreign terrorist organization, but has received funding, arms, and safe haven by the United States for almost as long.

General Hugh's speech titled, "Making Iranian mullahs fear, the MEK, come true," was most likely never meant to be seen or fully understood by Americans. In titled alone, it is clear that US foreign policy intends to use the tool of terrorism to exact concessions from Tehran. If the true nature of America's support for terrorist organizations like MEK were more widely known, the current narrative driving US intervention in Iraq and Syria would crumble.

Magnify

Oliver Stone on Russia and Ukraine: "The U.S. is on the wrong path"

oliver stone

"On the internet you can find good reporters who do not work for a lot of money, but it’s their mission." (He's talking about RI! - editors)
Oliver Stone, one of America's most celebrated film makers, was in Moscow in September, working on his upcoming biopic of Edward Snowden and a new documentary about the Ukraine catastrophe.

He gave this long interview to a major Russian newspaper. Small parts of it have been published in English elsewhere, but we got our hands on the original transcript, and are delighted to share it with you here, in full, for the first time.

In the interview, Stone slams America's foreign policy, media and historical revisionism.

Stone is a remarkable phenomenon on the American cultural scene. Best known for a slew of iconic films like Wall Street, Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July , he has also created many films that are harshly critical of the US - about the JFK assassination, 9/11, US funded terrrorism in Latin America, Richard Nixon, Vietnam, corruption on Wall Street, and Cuba. He is an ardent defender of Edward Snowden, which is why he's making a movie about him.

He is an outspoken and relentless critic of much that is wrong with America today.

Comment: See also:
  • Oliver Stone to RT: 'U.S. has become an Orwellian state'
  • Oliver Stone's 'Untold History of the United States': World War Two
  • South of the Border: Oliver Stone documentary on Latin America and Hugo Chavez


Newspaper

ISIS, the Berlin Wall and Al Franken

The Anti-Empire Report #133
© AFP Photo
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) riding in a captured vehicle left behind by Iraqi security forces at an unknown location in the Salaheddin province.
The Islamist State


You can't believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).

You can't believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.

You can't believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if, in fact, it's only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many Islamic extremists to cross into Syria? Is Turkey more concerned with wiping out the Islamic State or the Kurds under siege by ISIS? Are these countries, or the Western powers, more concerned with overthrowing ISIS or overthrowing the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad?

You can't believe the so-called "moderate" Syrian rebels. You can't even believe that they are moderate. They have their hands in everything, and everyone has their hands in them.

Iran, Hezbollah and Syria have been fighting ISIS or its precursors for years, but the United States refuses to join forces with any of these entities in the struggle. Nor does Washington impose sanctions on any country for supporting ISIS as it quickly did against Russia for its alleged role in Ukraine.

The groundwork for this awful mess of political and religious horrors sweeping through the Middle East was laid - laid deeply - by the United States during 35 years (1979-2014) of overthrowing the secular governments of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. (Adding to the mess in the same period we should not forget the US endlessly bombing Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.) You cannot destroy modern, relatively developed and educated societies, ripping apart the social, political, economic and legal fabric, torturing thousands, killing millions, and expect civilization and human decency to survive.

Particularly crucial in this groundwork was the US decision to essentially throw 400,000 Iraqis with military training, including a full officer corps, out onto the streets of its cities, jobless. It was a formula for creating an insurgency. Humiliated and embittered, some of those men would later join various resistance groups operating against the American military occupation.1 It's safe to say that the majority of armored vehicles, weapons, ammunition, and explosives taking lives every minute in the Middle East are stamped "Made in USA".
Arrow Up

Stay out U.S.: Top Venezuelan legislator calls for investigation of opposition groups funded by USAID

© AFP
Top legislator Diosdado Cabello: We don't want you here, USAID
President of the Venezuelan National Assembly Diosdado Cabello accuses USAID of funding opposition groups.

The president of the Venezuelan National Assembly Diosdado Cabello called Friday on intelligence agencies to investigate Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the country that are funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Cabello's call comes on the heels of the arrival of a representative of the U.S. government in Venezuela to meet with representatives of NGOs at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas.

According to their website, USAID's mission is "furthering America's interests, while improving lives in the developing world."

In practice, much of the work of USAID has been to support the activities of groups that are opposed to democratically elected governments. Cabello pointed to an NGO that has links to "Operation Liberty", the group lead by Lorent Saleh, who is currently in custody on accusations of intent to commit terrorist acts in Venezuela.

Comment: More countries can spot a Trojan horse a mile away.
Meanwhile the U.S. accuses Russia that is supplying Eastern Ukraine with real humanitarian aid of invading its neighbor.
When the Bolivian President Evo Morales expelled and shutdown USAID in his country last year for alleged attempts to undermine his leftist government, he wasn't being paranoid after all. As a recent expose by the Associated Press shows USAID's so-called "democracy promotion programs" are designed to foment dissent against governments unfriendly to Washington.

"In a number of countries, including Venezuela and Bolivia, USAID is acting more as an agency involved in covert action, like the CIA, than as an aid or development agency," asserted Mark Weisbrot, an economist with a Washington-based think tank, the Centre for Economic and Policy Research.

In the late 70s, under the headline "Police program is called CIA cover" the New York Times revealed that the USAID police training initiative facilitated the CIA to "plant men with local police in sensitive places around the world" as well as recruit "prime candidates for enrollment as CIA employees."


Eye 1

Signs Under Attack! abovetopsecret.com EXPOSED!!!

Some of you may have noticed that Signs of the Times was down three times today. This was a result of threats by abovetopsecret.com's attorney to our website host. It seems that abovetopsecret.com finally could no longer stand the negative attention they were getting from our exposure of them as a probable CoIntelPro operation, initially in the form of Joe Quinn's article: Evidence That a Frozen Fish Didn't Impact the Pentagon on 9/11 - and Neither Did a Boeing 757 which is an analysis of the "catherder" article on abovetopsecret.com which essentially was support for Bush and the Neocon's conspiracy theory about the events of September 11.
USA

Nearly 2,400 people killed by U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, only 84 confirmed Al-Qaeda militants

© Reuters / Syed Shah
Residents stand at the site of a drone attack on an Islamic seminary in Hangu district, bordering North Waziristan, Pakistan
CIA drones strikes in Pakistan have killed nearly 2,400 people since 2004. But despite US claims it just hits "confirmed terrorist targets," only 84 of the victims have been named Al-Qaeda members, a report revealed.

On October 11, the US carried out its 400th drone strike in northwest Pakistan since its strikes started there in 2004. In almost a decade, 2,379 people have been killed.

"Only 704 of the 2,379 dead have been identified, and only 295 of these were reported to be members of some kind of armed group," the UK-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism found out.

As a part of its Naming the Dead project, the bureau collected the names and, where it was possible, the details of people killed by the CIA using a multitude of sources.

"These include both Pakistani government records leaked to the bureau, and hundreds of open source reports in English, Pashtun and Urdu," they noted.

It appears that less than 4 percent or 84 of the total number of killed have been identified as Al-Qaeda members.

These figures contradict what the US Secretary of State said in May, 2013, defending the CIA drone program as one of the "most accountable."

"The only people we fire at are confirmed terror targets, at the highest level. We don't just fire a drone at somebody we think is a terrorist," John Kerry said.
Bulb

ISIS hype: Why Kobane didn't fall

© Albawaba
Kurds against ISIS
A strange thing happened in Kobane, the Kurdish border town besieged by Islamic State: It didn't fall.

In fact, today the BBC reported that Islamic State, the supposedly invincible jihadis who have been besieging Kobane, is retreating from the city.

Nobody expected that. Well, nobody except me. I've been saying for a long time that IS(IS) was the most overhyped military force on the planet, and that IS has been attacking Kobane for fifteen months - fifteen damn months - without success, which might just sort of suggest it's not the juggernaut it's been made out to be, and that IS's other supposedly scary advance toward Baghdad is no more than a sad attempt to recover some of the Sunni suburbs of the capital the Sunni controlled completely less than a decade ago.

But I learned a long time ago you don't get rich being right in this business, so I wasn't surprised to be all alone yelling "Paper Tiger!" at IS while all the Lexus-driving pundits went into hysterical Victorian-girl fits on TV. It comes with the territory, like the roaches in our Kuwaiti kitchen.

Of course, it was only the suckers in the punditry who were actually surprised to find out how weak IS really is. The guys in the Pentagon must have known better - at least I friggin' hope so - but they were pushing the "Kobane delenda est" line as hard as any dumb-ass pundit - not because they really bought into the IS juggernaut meme but because they *wanted* Kobane to fall, and the sooner the better.

That may seem surprising at first. After all, the enemy this Kurdish militia was facing, IS(IS), has been selling captured women and girls into sex slavery - and you don't have to take my word for it. These freaks actually published an article in their house magazine, Dabiq, boasting about the way they enslaved, sold, and raped all the women and girls they captured in Sinjar:
"The Yazidi women and children were then divided according to the sharia amongst the fighters of the Islamic State . . . after one-fifth of the slaves were transferred to the Islamic State authority to be divided as khums," or required payment of spoils of war to a caliph, the article says.

It continues, "The enslaved Yazidi families are then sold by the Islamic State soldiers."
With an enemy like that, you'd expect the freedom-luvin' rulers of the U.S. to be fairly enthusiastic about helping the Kurds defend Kobane. But they've never been into it, inventing one excuse after another for leaving the Kurdish YPG militia to face these friggin' monsters all by themselves. The Pentagon's Press Secretary John Kirby even said it was the Kurds' own fault:
Light Sabers

Russia's blacklisted Rosneft, billionaire Rotenberg take EU to court over sanctions

Arkady Rotenberg, Igor Sechin
© RIA Novosti/Vladimir Fedorenko, Vladimir Astapkovich
Arkady Rotenberg, Igor Sechin
State-owned oil company Rosneft and billionaire Arkady Rotenberg have filed a case in the European Court of Justice against the European Council challenging its decision over sanctions, according to papers filed with the court.

Rosneft submitted the claim on October 9, and Rotenberg the next day, October 10.

On October 9, Rosneft announced a tender to law firms worth £17.7 million for five of legal work to help win the case, TASS reports citing Rosneft documents.

The full text of the claim isn't available on the court website, but the Financial Times says the Russian oil giant is challenging the European Council decision dated July 31 that placed the company and Arkady Rotenberg, President Putin's judo partner, on the blacklist.
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