Saturday, August 19, 2017

Iran Says Nikki Haley's Statement On Sanctions Is "Devoid Of Any Shred Of Truth"

To read the news, click here.

Moral Superiority - by Lucy Steigerwald

We’re finally in agreement – there were Nazis marching in Charlottesville last weekend. Enough with the alt- right euphemisms. Nazis were marching with Nazi symbols and Nazi chants. It’s not a stretch to dub them as what they are.
President Trump, utterly unable to schmooze like a normal politician, did a dreadful job in condemning the men shouting slogans like "blood and soil" and "Jews will not replace us." He waited more than two days, and seemed unable to scorn one of the least socially acceptable group in the United States without qualification. At one point, Trump even referred to the original protesters as "us," causing many commentators and observers to suggest that Trump was identifying as an open white supremacist. Whether you believe that was a dog-whistle to supporters, or, as I suspect, a flailing, motor-mouthed attempt to keep his far-right supporters as he was pushed into condemning Nazis running over protesters, it came off as impotent.
Condemning Nazis is the right thing to do. Three prominent figures at the Charlottesville march once expressed support for libertarianism, and are now full white nationalists. Alt-right king Richard Spencer never seemed to be a libertarian, but he had enough overlap in their circles that he’s distressing for believers in equal rights, and small (or no) government for all people.
However, a disturbing aspect of this rush to condemn Trump and his worst followers has popped up with renewed vigor since Charlottesville. Most of the mainstream Republican Party including former Gov. Jeb Bush, to Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio professed horror at the Trump campaign. Trump’s awfulness was gauche, but theirs was covered up by the "respectability" that a career in politics brings. This continues, and it’s being once again embraced by the left.
Trump is bad. Nazis are bad. This doesn’t mean that people opposed to both have clean hands.
After Trump fumbled again, people took the bold stance that condemning Nazis was good. Being against Nazis isn’t a bold stance – no matter what the president says – but doesn’t make it a bad one. It’s good to be against Nazis. Unfortunately, that stance is being defended by
  • Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, who once said that US sanctions against Iraq killing up to half a million children was "worth it," and who backed the 1999 bombing of Serbia, thought that Trump’s equivocating about Nazis and counter-protesters was "not American."
  • US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, who earnestly tweeted that "The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775." Considering that the US Army brutally stamped out native Americans for decades, was only desegregated in 1948, and has engaged in myriad wars of aggression against non-white people all over the world even then, that seems like a bit of a stretch.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has never met a potential war he didn’t support, said that Trump’s words are "dividing Americans, not healing them." Well, war is the health of the state. Tepidly scolding neo-Nazis is not the way to bring the people together – not like a war with North Korea might! Or Iran! Or anywhere! Graham is not picky.
  • Angry, Waco-condoning, drug war backing Sen. Chuck Schumer was similarly offended by Trump.
  • John Brennan, who used to be the director of the CIA, thinks Trump’s words were "a national disgrace." The CIA has run its own drone assassination program under Obama, staged numerous coups, occasionally dosed people with LSD in the name of science, and engaged in other wholesome activities.
  • Both Presidents George Bush released an official statement against hatred and racism post-Charlottesville. While they are probably sincerely opposed to overt Nazism, George H.W. Bush was once the head of the CIA, and W. invaded two countries, among his many other bloodstained decisions while president. Do we really want, or need their official PR statements against racism and hate?
The list of those attempting to distance themselves from Trump’s inability to cleanly distance himself from a racist march could go on, and it does. It should be comforting to have much of the country against the president. Unfortunately, as Trump happily bombs the Middle East, arrests peaceful immigrants, and repeatedly praises law enforcement in an entirely unqualified manner, he is still mostly hated for what he says – maybe even how he says it – instead of continuing the worst aspects of executive power, but in a sloppier, more vulgar manner.

Trump and the Nazis in Charlottesville deserve the flak they’re getting. Condemning the president and white nationalism, and the former’s hamfisted tolerance for the latter is easy – and it is also important.
But as none of the above people, nor the liberals, libertarians, even anarchist who are happily sourcing them, seem to realize that the enemy of my enemy is still not my friend. The entirety of US foreign policy over the decades proves this, and the reaction of the wretched mainstream Republican party to Trump during the 2016 proved it again and again. Panicking about a few hundred white nationalists, who had months to come together and organize, and who had to come from across the nation to fill these sad, Tikki-wielding ranks, will not benefit anything except the state.
The heroic American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is getting flak for its defense of free speech for the idiots in Charlottesville. My social media is covered with people who don’t think that Nazi speech is protected, even though American case law says otherwise. Others are hungry to make the US into Europe, in terms of making a legal category for hate speech, or are just eager to stamp white nationalists groups with the label of terrorist. Warnings that this could backfire for antiwar protests, Black Lives Matter, or good causes are dismissed as softening the threat of white power groups.
It’s easy to condemn the blatant racism of Nazi rallies. That kind of bald-faced hatred is not popular, and hasn’t been since 1946. However, the kind of warmongering and police brutality that Trump AND the above people who are so offended by him support remains popular. The more nervous Americans feel, the more they cling to institutions they trust, such as the military and the police.
Overt Nazism is blessedly rare. The inherent racism and ethnocentrism of saying each American death is a tragedy, about which something must be done, no matter how dangerously hasty and ill-thought out, but hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis is an awkward oopsy that is easily brushed away is a fundamental tenet of American, Western, and nation-state life.
The Richard Spencers of the world who occasionally profess to be against intervention are not to be trusted with the mantles of antiwar and free speech. Radical libertarians, leftists, and the doveish right have failed at these important caused too often – why would we think white nationalists would be able to keep a consistent principle beyond "white is right"?
Nazis make bad allies, no matter who else you’re fighting. However, neither do career politicians, intelligence officers, and military people make good comrades simply because they prefer subtle nationalism, to blatant white nationalism, and wish the embarrassing president would go away and stop giving away their secrets.
Do join the thousands who scorn the rally in Charlottesville, and who think Trump is a dangerous joke, just don’t fall for the deadly serious alternative that is mainstream American politics.
Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor for and an editor for Young Voices.

Uri Avnery's latest article

For a Palestinian Federation   

I don’t know when the wheel was invented, or who invented it.
However, I have no doubt that it was invented again and again, with many happy inventors sharing the glory.
The same is true for the Israeli-Palestinian Confederation. From time to time it appears in public as a brand-new idea, with another group of inventors proudly presenting it to the public.
This just shows that you cannot suppress a good idea. It appears again and again. During the last few weeks, it has appeared in several articles, presented by new inventors.
Every time it happens, I would take off my hat, if I had one. As Europeans used to do when they met a lady or an old acquaintance.
Actually, the United Nations Partition Plan adopted by the General Assembly on November 29, 1947 (Resolution 181) already proposed a kind of confederation, though without using the term. It said that the two new states that it created – one Arab, one Jewish, with Jerusalem as a separate unit – would be united in an "economic union".
A few days later, the "war of 1948" broke out. It was a bitter and cruel war, and when it ended in early 1949, nothing of the UN resolution remained. There were still some desultory negotiations, but they petered out.
The war had created "facts on the ground" – Israel controlled vastly more territory than was allotted to it, Jordan and Egypt had taken over what was left. Palestine had ceased to exist, the very name erased from the map, with half the Palestinian people evicted from their homes.
Immediately after the war, I tried to set up a group of young Jews, Muslims and Druze to propagate the setting up of a Palestinian state next to the new State of Israel. This initiative led nowhere. In 1954, when some Palestinians in the West Bank revolted against their Jordanian masters, I published a call for the Israeli government to support the creation of a Palestinian state. It was ignored.
It was three years later that the idea of an Israeli-Palestinian federation first took on a serious form. The 1956 Israeli attack on Egypt, in collusion with France and the UK, aroused the disgust of many Israelis. In the middle of the war, I got a phone call from Nathan Yellin-Mor. He proposed that we do something about it.
Yellin-Mor had been the political leader of Lehi (alias the Stern Gang) the most extreme of the three underground organizations that fought against British rule. I was the owner and editor-in-chief of a popular news magazine.
We set up a group called Semitic Action. As a first step, we decided to compose a document. Not one of those flimsy political programs that are published today and forgotten tomorrow, but a serious plan for the total overhaul of the State of Israel. It took us more than a year.
We were some 20 people, most of them prominent in their field, and met at least once a week for our deliberations. We divided the subjects among us. The subject of peace with the Arabs fell to me.
The basis of the new creed was that we Israelis are a new nation – not outside the Jewish people but a part of it, much like Australia was a new nation within the Anglo-Saxon community. A new nation created by its geopolitical situation, climate, culture and traditions.
(This idea itself was not quite new. In the early 1940s, a handful of poets and writers, nicknamed the Canaanites, had proposed something similar, but denied any connection with the world Jewish people and also denied the existence of the Arab nation or nations.)
In our view, the new "Hebrew" nation was a part of the "Semitic Region" and therefore a natural ally of the Arab nations. (We categorically refused to call it "Middle East", an Eurocentric, imperialist term.)
In a dozen detailed paragraphs we outlined the structure of a federation that would consist of the two sovereign states of Israel and Palestine and be in charge of their joint economic and other interests. Citizens of either of the two states would travel freely in the other one, but not be allowed to settle there.
We foresaw that this federation would in due course become part of a wider confederation of all the countries of the Semitic region in Asia and Africa.
Other chapters dealt with the total separation between state and religion, free immigration, relations with the Jewish communities around the world and a social-democratic economy.
The document, called "The Hebrew Manifesto", was published before the State of Israel was ten years old.
Christopher Columbus, the man who "discovered" America, was asked how to make an egg stand up. He knocked the end of the egg on the table and lo and behold – it stood.
Since then, the "Egg of Columbus" has become proverbial in many languages, including Hebrew. The idea of a federation in Palestine is such an egg. It combines two principles: that there would be one country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and that both Israelis and Palestinians would live in their own independent state.
The "Whole of Eretz Israel" and the "Whole of Palestine" are right-wing slogans. The "Two-state Solution" belongs to the Left.
In this debate, "federation" and "confederation" are often used interchangeably. And indeed, no one quite knows the difference.
It is generally agreed that in a federation, the central authority has more powers, while in a "confederation" more powers are vested in the component units. But that is a vague distinction.
The American civil war was fought between the Southern "confederacy" which wanted to retain the rights of the component states in many fields, (with the fields tended by slaves), and the federation of the North, which wanted the central government to retain most of the important powers.
The world is full of federations and confederations. The United States, the Russian Federation, the Confederation Suisse, the United Kingdom, the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (official translation: Federal Republic of Germany) and so on.
There are no two among them which resemble each other completely. States are as different from each other as human beings. Each state is the product of its geography, the special character of its peoples, its history, its wars, loves and hatreds.
Members of a federation do not have to love each other. Last week, in a bizarre way, the American civil war was fought again in a Southern city, at the foot of the statue of a Southern general. Bavarians have no great love for the "Prussians" of the north, Many Scots would love to get rid of the bloody English, as would many Quebecois from Canada. But common interests are strong, and very often they prevail.
When it is not a marriage of love, it is at least a marriage of convenience.
Technical advances and the demands of the modern economy drive the world together into larger and larger units. The much-maligned "globalization" is a global necessity. People who today wave the "Bonnie Blue Flag" or the Swastika are ridiculous.
One day in the future people will pity them as people today pity the Luddites, who smashed the machines at the beginning of the industrial era.
Back to us.
The idea of a federation or confederation of Israel/Palestine may sound simple, but it is not. There are many obstacles.
First of all, there is the vast difference in the living standards of the two peoples. It would necessitate massive help from the rich world for the Palestinians.
The historical hate between the two peoples, not since 1967, not since 1948, but right from the beginning in 1882, must be overcome. This is not the job of politicians, but of writers and poets, historians and philosophers, musicians and dancers.
This looks like a daunting mission, but I am deeply convinced that it is easier than it looks. In Israeli hospitals (doctors and nurses), in universities (professors and students), and, naturally, in joint peace demonstrations, bridges between the two peoples are already in place.
The very fact that the federation idea crops up again and again shows its necessity. The groups of activists who are bringing it up now were not yet born when we first proposed the idea – yet their message sounds new and fresh.
May their cause prosper.
Uri Avnery is a peace activist, journalist, writer, and former member of the Israeli Knesset. Read other articles by Uri, or visit Uri’s website.

Friday, August 18, 2017

An appeal from Burma Task Force to call national leaders to stop final solution of the Rohingyas of Myanmar

Are they getting ready for “final solution”!

This week, the Burmese military began a massive troop build-up in Rohingya region, rapidly fanning fears of a major new “Clearance Operation” in Myanmar / Burma. The previous operation starting in October 2016 resulted in the death of 1,000 Rohingya, rape of 52% of all women surveyed by the UN, village burnings and atrocities.

A high level of concern is being expressed not only by Rohingya leaders but by international rights monitors like Yanghee Lee, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Burma.

These troubling developments take place as a Burmese coalition of 20 political parties, led by the former governing military party (USDP), called on their government to declare to the international community that there is “no Rohingya ethnicity” in Burma.  There are troubling reports that Buddhist militias are being trained and armed in the Rakhine State.
On the other hand, Bangladesh has stepped up patrols on its border with Burma, to block Rohingyas, while India this week announced to expel 40,000 Rohingyas.

Rohingya people are increasingly squeezed between two militaries intent on their erasure and displacement.

URGENT: Please Contact the Following

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Department of State, 2201 C Street NW
Washington DC 20520
Twitter: @Secy_State_US
Main Switchboard 202-647-2663
Talking Points
  • Because of the recent harsh repression and mass rape of Rohingya, the current troop build-up creates panic in Rakhine State and is counter-productive, hurting the cause of coexistence. State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi must rein in her military immediately.
  • The Myanmar Parliament must not pass legal resolutions to declare that there are no Rohingya in Burma.
  • Burma must restore the citizenship  of Rohingya.
  • Bangladesh must allow all Rohingya full access to humanitarian agencies on their own soil.
  • Support the UN investigation into mass rape, killing, and other abuses. We must all demand the Government of Burma permit the UN investigation team to enter Burma.
The Rohingya are an indigenous people living in their ancestral lands.  The Rohingya are one of the most persecuted people on the planet. No people should be stateless. Instead of facing deportation, the Rohingya must have their rights fully recognized and restored, both as refugees and as citizens of Burma.

For Further Reading

Burma covers up its systematic abuse of a minority group

IN FEBRUARY, the United Nations released a report detailing the Burmese government’s human rights abuses against the long-suffering Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state — abuses that likely amounted to crimes against humanity. Burma should have responded by allowing U.N. investigators into the country and creating accountability mechanisms to prevent further violations. Instead, a government inquiry has concluded that there is “no evidence of crimes” and that “people from abroad have fabricated news claiming genocide had occurred.”
On the contrary, there is considerable evidence to suggest that systematic human rights violations have occurred in Rakhine. The Rohingya have long been denied citizenship and pushed into ghetto-like conditions. This persecution escalated last year, when Burmese security forces conducted a scorched-earth campaign in the state amid widespread reports of mass rape, torture, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings. The government has also restricted the movements of Rohingya people, imposing curfews and contributing to extreme food shortages. Nearly 90 people have died since the violence erupted last year, while an estimated 65,000 have fled Rakhine.
Burma’s response was to establish an investigative commission that lacked credibility from the outset. The 13-member committee was headed by former military leader and current Vice President Myint Swe and included no Rohingya representatives. According to reports from civil society, its investigators used sloppy research methods, browbeat villagers and ignored complaints.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Burma’s partially democratic government bears many similarities to its autocratic predecessor: It is overly sensitive to criticism, repressive toward minorities and willing to go to great lengths to protect the military. The international community should take note and renew calls to allow a U.N. fact-finding mission to visit the country. Congress should rethink the idea of expanding American military ties with Burma or, at the very least, consider imposing a vetting process and human rights benchmarks for any further military engagement. The United States has long championed democracy in Burma; the commission’s announcement proves this fight is not over yet.

Myanmar army and Rakhine’s cruelty on Rohingya fishermen in Rathedaung

The news below is from the Arakan Times:
A fisherman and his two young daughters of Thingannet village of ThinTaungPyin union of Zay Di Pyin of Rathedaung, Arakan State were inhumanely tortured by Myanmar army and Rakhine extremists while they were catching fishes in the river today, 18 August 2017.
The victim has been identified as Mohamed Tayoub (33), son of U Nur Mohamed and his two young daughters of the village.
According to our correspondent report, the victim is a fire wood seller by his profession. As he was unable to go to forest for fire wood due to fear of arrest and torture by army, he has stopped going to wood.
Since his family was about to starve, he along with his two young daughters went to the river beside his village to catch fish to sell in the market to buy food for his family with the money.
There, some army personnel went and caught him along with his two daughters while they were catching fish and took them to the ThazinMyaing Rakhine village where they were cruelly tortured to critical injury by army and Rakhine extremists.
There is no place left on their body where they did not receive injury of assault. Now their physical condition is stated to be deteriorating following inhumane torture of military and Rakhine miscreants. They have no financial ability for better treatment for their injury.
Now the Rohingya are completely cripple and can’t work for their livelihood due to attack of military and Rakhine extremists in the area for which the villagers are facing acute food crisis, says a resident.

Deadly South Asia floods affect 16m people

More than 16 million people have now been affected by seasonal flooding across a swathe of South Asia, say aid officials.
The floods in Nepal, Bangladesh and India are thought to have killed about 500 people and are expected to worsen.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says it is becoming one of the worst regional humanitarian crises in years.
There are growing concerns about food shortages and disease.
Martin Faller, IFRC's deputy regional director, said more than a third of Bangladesh and Nepal were flooded, while about 11 million people across four northern Indian states were also affected.
Tens of thousands of people have been displaced.
"This is fast becoming one of the most serious humanitarian crises this region has seen in many years, and urgent action is needed to meet the growing needs of millions of people affected by these devastating floods," Mr Faller said in a statement.
"Millions of people across Nepal, Bangladesh and India face severe food shortages and disease caused by polluted flood waters."
Bangladesh, where flood levels are already at a record high, is expected to be further hit as swollen Indian rivers flow down through it in the coming days.
Save the Children Director Mark Pierce said the situation there was "extremely desperate".
"The sheer volume of water is also making it really difficult to access some of the communities most in need."
Nepal's Red Cross Society said food crops there had been wiped out, as floods hit major farming and agricultural land in the south.
"We fear that this destruction will lead to severe food shortages," said Secretary General Dev Ratna Dhakhwa.
Further heavy rain has been forecast across the region in the coming days, worsening the flooding and making it harder to reach those affected.
Save The Children's India manager, Murali Kunduru, told Reuters that while the monsoon rains come annually, "this year is particularly severe".