Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BUSTED: The citizen's guide to surviving police encounters

Musical Innerlube: Atari Teenage Riot

War veterans and resisters say "All Out for March 20th-National March on Washington!"

Get involved in the anti-war movement! Help build the March 20th anti-war demonstrations!

Visit www.March20.org to find out how

Australia, Afghanistan and three unanswered questions

By Kellie Tranter, On Line Opinion

Here's the rub: America is at war against people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.

The trouble is that once America goes off to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place. Arundhati Roy, The Guardian, September 29, 2001.

No thinking person can read, hear or watch the evidence being unearthed at the Chilcot Inquiry into the legality of the Iraq war without also questioning the legality of the war in Afghanistan.

Governments say they keep no official or unofficial body counts but unofficial reports suggest that as many as 1.3 million Iraqis have been killed as a result of the invasion of Iraq. How many people have been killed in Afghanistan? How many of the people killed in either country were actually combatants or terrorists?

In 2008 Prime Minister Rudd delivered an address at the Australian War Memorial CEW Bean Foundation dinner about why we are involved in Afghanistan, what we are trying to achieve and how we are trying to achieve it.

He spoke of the “… need for a more stable Afghanistan … one that supports security rather than offers succour to those who seek to undermine it … will make for a more secure world ... a goal endorsed by the United Nations Security Council”. The UN Security Council may endorse that specific goal, but tell us, Mr Rudd, did the Security Council actually sanction the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001?

According to Marjorie Cohn, the immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law:

The U.N. Charter provides that all member states must settle their international disputes by peaceful means, and no nation can use military force except in self-defense or when authorized by the Security Council. After the 9/11 attacks, the Council passed two resolutions, neither of which authorized the use of military force in Afghanistan. Resolutions 1368 and 1373 condemned the September 11 attacks, and ordered the freezing of assets; the criminalizing of terrorist activity; the prevention of the commission of and support for terrorist attacks; the taking of necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist activity, including the sharing of information; and urged ratification and enforcement of the international conventions against terrorism.

The invasion of Afghanistan was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the Charter because the attacks on September 11 were criminal attacks, not "armed attacks" by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the United States after September 11, or Bush would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001 bombing campaign. The necessity for self-defense must be "instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation." This classic principle of self-defense in international law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the U.N. General Assembly.

Is she right Mr Rudd?

Ian Hamilton QC, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Law Awards of Scotland, seems to think so. He has challenged the Lord Advocate to prosecute him for publishing remarks encouraging officers engaged in the Afghan campaign to disobey their immediate superiors due to the illegality of the war there.

To encourage such conduct is in itself a crime. Hamilton argues that Scottish politicians should be calling for this action, but fear of prosecution is preventing them from doing so. He has therefore challenged the Lord Advocate to prosecute him, and says that in order to succeed it would be necessary to prove the Afghan war is legal. He asserts that it is not.

And he's not alone. The National Lawyers Guild International Committee is preparing a White Paper that will delineate the legal arguments against the War in Afghanistan and Dr Myra Williamson Lecturer of Law at the University of Waikato, New Zealand has released a book seeking to challenge “received wisdom” on the legality of the action against Afghanistan.

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The stakes in "punishing" Greece

By Rick Wolff, MRZine

Global capitalism imploded in 2007.  The central causes of capitalism's crisis include:

  1. the end of real wage increases in the US and the substitution of rising worker debt far beyond what workers could sustain;
  2. the buildup of excess global industrial capacity;
  3. the explosion of speculation and excess risk-taking by banks, other financial and non-financial corporations, and the rich;
  4. the systematic misrepresentation of credit risks by capitalist rating firms;
  5. the failure of supervision and regulation by governments increasingly dependent on corporations and the rich (for campaign contributions, lobbyists' supports, etc.) over the last quarter century;
  6. the growing indebtedness of governments;
  7. the huge imbalances between trade and capital flows among nations (and, above all, the trade deficits of the US and the trade surpluses of the PRC)

In this list, the role of Greece is minor almost to the vanishing point.  But Greek workers loom large among the proposed victims of the capitalist crisis they did not cause.

When the global capitalist crisis hit in 2007, Greece like most other countries boosted its deficit finance.  It had already been running high government deficits largely based on very rosy predictions of Greece's economic prospects given its low (for Europe) wages and rising productivity in the years before 2007.  So Greece has borrowed a lot (although other countries who borrowed more and for similar reasons are not -- yet -- being treated like Greece).

The problem for Greek national debt is that other, larger, richer capitalist nations -- those whose capitalists' actions were the leading causes of the global crisis -- have also vastly increased their borrowing.  Lending to the latter is far safer than lending to the poorer, often more indebted countries like Greece, Portugal, etc.  So lenders are requiring them to pay much higher interest rates just to meet their current debt obligations (and they probably need to borrow more, just like other countries, to avoid another nasty recessionary downturn).  Lenders are also threatening to stop lending unless these poorer countries lower the ratio between their debt and their GDP (the widely used measure of the country's total output and thus its ultimate ability to pay back its debts).

To make the billions in extra interest payments and/or to lower their outstanding debt, governments in countries like Greece would have to raise taxes on their people or cut spending on their peoples' needs or both.  Those steps would provide those governments with the funds to pay higher interest rates on their debt and lower the total of outstanding debt.

In simple English: the global capitalist crisis first brought an economic downturn to Greece, and now the "recovery" seeks to impose on the Greek people an indefinite period of economic suffering as global lenders provide funds to the richer, larger capitalist economies elsewhere so that they can avoid what is demanded of the Greeks.  The same leaders of business and government who produced the crisis are managing the "recovery" in just this way.

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'TRUTH has always been the enemy of western civilization and in due time will be its undoing'

From Useful Lies, Useless Lives  by Mohamed Khodr, Axis of Logic

...Not since World War II has one western leader, not even one, ever been charged or prosecuted for war crimes against humanity. While Holocaust museums are being erected around the world, often at tax payers expense, not one single museum in a western capital, with the exception of Latin America, has ever been built to memorialize the genocides against African Americans, Latinos, Africans, Arabs, Muslims, Asians, and Aborigines - all victims of imperial holocausts.
These days in London an “inquiry”, not trial, named after its chair, Chicot Inquiry, has been looking into the reasons and justifications that led to the massively illegal war and devastation of an innocent nation, Iraq.
So far, former British government officials have presented evidence that the war was “illegal”, did not have support from the U.N., nor from the entire world except for UK and US, - that Tony Blair had been told that there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction, and that intelligence was “sexed up” and manipulated to justify Blair's war crimes against Iraq.
Blair launched his war crime against Iraq with the same zeal, lies, and fear mongering propaganda used by George Bush, Dick Cheney and Pau Wolfowitz.  Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Defense, called by Time Magazine, the “Architect” of the Iraq War, was asked in a Vanity Fair interview, May 2003, why was the Iraq War based on Saddam's alleged possession of WMD's.  This time, he actually told the truth.  Wolfowitz stated:

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.”  
As a second reason he stated that the war gave the U.S. the opportunity to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia where Saudi hostility against the presence of the troops was high.
Tony Blair's lies to the British people, despite their immense opposition to the war, and to Parliament have been aptly documented.  But this arrogant war criminal, ironically a MidEast "peace envoy", told the Chicot Inquiry that he did not lie about his justifications for war and unconscionably stood by his false assertions for the devastating illegal war. He was unrepentant and unremorseful for the millions of dead, injured, and displaced Iraqis. Nor was he unrepentant for the sacrifice of British soldiers.  In true narcissistic and pathological fashion he said he would make the same decision to invade Iraq again today.  Even Saddam's death wouldn't have stopped their messianic psychosis to invade Iraq.  Got to do it for Oil and Israel.
Blair quotes that reveal a pathological liar with no conscience but possessing a hypocritical racist soul, much like all Israeli leaders, including today's war criminal du jour, Netanyahu.

“Yes, there are consequences of war. If we remove Saddam by force, people will die and some will be innocent. And we must live with the consequences of our actions, even the unintended ones.”
“Ridding the world of Saddam would be an act of humanity. It is leaving him there that is in truth inhumane.”
“The document discloses that his military planning allows for some of the WMD to be ready within 45 minutes of an order to use them."

-Foreword to UK Government dossier on
Iraqi weapons of mass destruction

Tony Blair's arrogant testimony to the Chicot Inquiry is a blatant genocidal example of a western leader trying to justify the unjustifiable.  Both Blair and Bush knew beforehand that Iraq had no WMD's and that their falsified intelligence came from an alcoholic liar (“Curveball”) and Iraqi dissident, Ahmad Chalabi, whose lies gave Blair and Bush the weapons for mass destruction of Iraq. The British Intelligence even plagiarized statements from a U.S. PhD student's thesis on Iraq which included the outrageous claim that Saddam can launch WMD's within 45 minutes. 
Blair in true contempt to truth and history used Bush's fallback position that 9/11 changed their outlook on world affairs and became their pretext for a world “war on terror”.  Blair's testimony showcased that the best defense was a good offense.
The U.N., Fourth Geneva Convention, I.C.C., and International Laws were created by western powers and thus easily manipulated and selectively applied by them to the third world and not to themselves who self ascribe the right to devastate in the name of self defense, even pre-emptively. Using such logic any nation can invade another pre-emptively if it can manufacture hysteria, lies and self perceived threats to itself. Thus China is totally justified to invade Taiwan, Russia can invade Poland and the Czech Republic given America's deployment of missile defense systems, Cuba can invade the U.S., Turkey can invade Armenia and so on.

[ ... ]

Blaming, then bombing Muslims seems to be Blair's, Obama's, and Israel's policy. Nuclear Israel, demonstrably a criminal nation, is untouchable while non-nuclear Muslim nations are bombable. Justice lies in the eye of the criminal...

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Iceland plans future as global haven for freedom of speech

Iceland intends to become a bastion for global press freedom under a package of laws proposed by opposition MPs to defend freedom of speech, and protect sources and fight libel tourism.

With the help of Wikileaks, the online whistleblowing site, the MPs have launched the Icelandic Modern Media Intiative, with the goal of turning the country into a global haven for investigative journalism.

The proposal, which has widespread backing among Iceland's 51 MPs, is scheduled to come before the Althingi, Iceland's parliament, next Tuesday, in the first step towards turning the idea into law.

"It is a good project for political change," said Róbert Marshall, a member of the ruling Social Democratic Alliance party. "We have been through a difficult period and this is an initiative that can unite the whole political scene."

As a former journalist Marshall is keen on the creation of the Icelandic Prize for Freedom of Expression. A haven for free expression would, he said, help counter the growing practice of libel tourism. British courts in particular, have become a favoured destination for complainants seeking to take advantage of the UK's plaintiff-friendly libel laws. The House of Lords recently established a government panel to look into the possibility of amending its laws to make it tougher for foreigners to bring defamation suits in Britain, amid fears that current British law was having a "chilling effect" on freedom of expression.

With a population of just 320,000, Iceland's ambition to transform itself from a country heavily dependent upon fishing into a financial powerhouse, went up in smoke after the 2008 credit crunch. The failure of Landsbanki and the bailout of its online savings bank, Icesave, left Icelanders picking up the tab after the government had to find funds to repay creditors in Britain and the Netherlands.

The new legislation has won support from Julian Assange and Daniel Schmitt, the co-founders of the Wikileaks website.

Assange wrote in an email from Iceland last week: "I have been [here] the past few weeks advising parliamentarians here on a cross-party proposal to turn Iceland into an international 'journalism haven' – a jursidiction designed to attract organisations into publishing online from Iceland, by adopting the strongest press and source protection laws from around the world."

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The new McCarthyism sweeping Israel

To disagree with the state is to 'delegitimise' the state: that is the increasingly strident response of the country's political and military establishment to those who dare to criticise its conduct

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

It's hard, sitting on the other side of the office table from which Naomi Chazan is picking at her modest hummus and salad snack lunch, to believe that the amiable 63-year-old university professor with a self-deprecating sense of humour has suddenly become the most discussed, not to say demonised, woman in Israel.

Ms Chazan is president of a long-established agency with large numbers of Jewish donors in the US and Britain, which is committed to fighting for "social justice and equality for all Israelis". The New Israel Fund has over the last 30 years disbursed some $200m to around 800 charitable, social and human rights groups, and justly claims much of the credit for building modern Israel's still vibrant civil society.

But in the last fortnight the former Knesset member who by her own account loves her native Israel "without reservation" has been sacked as a columnist on the Jerusalem Post after 14 years, had rowdy demonstrators outside her house brandishing a chilling caricature of her with a horn obtruding from her forehead, and most far-fetched of all, been accused, in a newspaper article circulated to foreign journalists by the Government Press Office, of "serving the agenda of Iran and Hamas".

The onslaught has prompted Nicholas Saphir, the Jewish businessman who runs the New Israel Fund in the UK, to warn that the "Jewish values of social justice and our duty to tikkun olam (repairing the world) have come under serious threat in the state of Israel".

The row has come to symbolise a new mood of establishment intolerance in Israel towards criticisms by Israeli human rights groups of such episodes as last year's military operation in Gaza. This harsh new mood has been fuelled by ministers, right-wing politicians and military figures who have closed ranks behind accusations that the UN-commissioned report into the war, led by Richard Goldstone, which accused both sides of war crimes, is being used to "delegitimise Israel".

The NIF's travails began when a right-wing group called Im Tirtzu provoked accusations of latterday McCarthyism by charging that "without the NIF there could be no Goldstone report and Israel would not be facing international accusations of war crimes". It is a charge which Abe Foxman, director of the US-based Anti- Defamation League and no great friend of the Israeli left, told New York Jewish Week was "absurd".

Ms Chazan does not herself talk about McCarthyism –though several of her agency's defenders, including Isaac Herzog, a Labour party minister in the governing coalition, have done so. But she told The Independent: "Every country has its own version of things but the general climate is very problematic. It's ugly." She said the mood reminded her of the hate-laced run-up to Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in November 1995. "But it's different, because that was an avowedly political disagreement. This is the beginning of a rather systematic campaign against really the very essentials of Israeli democracy."

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There are seven big bad countries in the world -- is America the worst of them?

By Evert Cilliers (aka Adam Ash)

America, Britain, France, Germany, China, Japan and Israel all have one thing in common: they're the only countries on earth who think they're better than anyone else.

America thinks its Constitution and economy and military make it better than anyone else. Britain thinks its Shakespeare and erstwhile empire and Beatles and sense of humor make it better than anyone else. France thinks its food and fashion and culture and Revolution make it better than anyone else. Germany thinks its Beethoven and philosophers and engineering and efficiency make it better than anyone else. Japan thinks its honor and work ethic and tech smarts and kawaii make it better than anyone else. Israel thinks its Jewish suffering make it better than anyone else. China thinks its size and growth make it better than anyone else.

Call them countries who suffer from a superiority complex.

Now, if you meet anyone at a party who thinks he or she is better than anyone else, your reaction is natural and immediate. You say to yourself under your breath, what an asshole, and move on.

But one thing we cannot do with these We're-Better-Than-Anyone-Else countries is avoid or ignore them. They're bigger and stronger than most other nations, unfortunately. So when they act like assholes, which is what feeling superior makes you do, their influence can be felt beyond their borders. Believing they are better than anyone else, they try to prescribe their better-than-anyone-else-ness to everybody else: they think the entire world should be like them.

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Lifting the lid on Burma's persecuted ethnic minorities

Another warning note ahead of elections in Burma has been sounded, with a major report unveiling the plight of the country's oft-persecuted ethnic minority groups.

Most international criticisms of the impending elections centre on the continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, one of 2,100 prisoners of conscience in Burma.

But a new report from Amnesty International UK says ethnic minority activists are being arrested, imprisoned, tortured and killed prior to this year's elections.

The human rights group spoke to 700 activists from Burma's seven largest ethnic minorities, including Rakhine, Shan, Kachin and Chin, over two years beginning August 2007 in a period including the 2007 Saffron Revolution.

They reported a constant state of surveillance, harassment and discrimination from the country's military junta.

No date has been set for the general elections by the deeply superstitious generals, who infamously relocated the country's capital from Rangoon to the astronomically-favourable jungle hideout of Naypyidaw in 2006.

Among the crimes committed specifically against Burma's ethnic minority groups uncovered by Amnesty is an incident where troops refused to rescue a pregnant woman in the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis after discovering she was Karen and a Christian.

In 2007 meanwhile four teenage Kachin girls were caned in public and imprisoned for a year after their gang rape by Burmese soldiers was covered by BBC Burmese. Their only provocation before the attack had been to sing Kachin songs at a karaoke bar.

"Ethnic minorities play an important but seldom acknowledged role in Myanmar's [Burma's] political opposition," said Amnesty International's Burma expert Benjamin Zawacki.

"The government has responded to this activism in a heavy-handed manner, raising fears that repression will intensify before the elections.

"Activism in Myanmar is not confined to the central regions and urban centres. Any resolution of the country's deeply troubling human rights record has to take into account the rights and aspirations of the country's large population of ethnic minorities."

Amnesty International is calling on the Association of South East Nations (Asean), of which Burma is a member, and the region's major power China to expert more pressure on Burma to begin recognising people's rights to freedom of association, assembly and religion.

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Former Khmer Rouge 'First Lady' seeks release from war crimes trial

Lawyers for Ieng Thirith, the former "First Lady" of the Khmer Rouge, called for her release from pre-trial detention at the international war crimes court Monday. Ieng Thirith, 78, appeared to struggle to recall the name of her husband and co-accused, former foreign minister Ieng Sary, when asked by the court.

"I seem to forget his name," said the former minister for social affairs, before turning to the court's security guards. "What is his name? Can you please help me?"

Her Cambodian lawyer told the court she should be released to house arrest because there was little evidence to link her to the alleged crimes. He claimed she was not a threat to witnesses, would not try to destroy evidence and was not a flight risk.

Lawyer Phouv Seang Phat also criticized court investigators for using what he described as "a default policy of detention," saying they failed to comply with international human rights standards.

"[Her continued detention] is unjustifiable and constitutes an infringement of her human rights and cannot be considered necessary," he said.

But the prosecution said Ieng Thirith remained a threat as shown by a previous outburst in court and 70 similar threatening tirades in the detention centre, where she is being held with her husband and three others.

During her court appearance in February 2009, Ieng Thirith denied the prosecution's allegation that she was aware of the killings at the notorious Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, and claimed she had done nothing wrong.

"Don't accuse me of being a murderer or you will be cursed to the seventh circle of hell," the former Shakespeare scholar and professor of English shouted during that appearance.

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Secret detention may amount to crime against humanity: UN experts

UN human rights experts warned in a report on Wednesday that "widespread and systematic" secret detention of terror suspects was continuing and could pave the way for charges of crimes against humanity.

The report listed 66 countries that have allegedly been involved in secret detentions -- from Ethiopia to Romania, from Kosovo to Pakistan -- and called on governments to investigate and prosecute those who ordered such detentions.

In their first in-depth global study on secret detentions, the UN experts said that virtually no judicial steps had been attempted against the practice despite the "widespread" manner in which suspects were held in a legal limbo.

"Secret detention continues to be used in the name of countering terrorism around the world" in spite of international human rights norms, said the study, which is due to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March.

"If resorted to in a widespread and systematic manner, secret detention might reach the threshold of a crime against humanity," the authors cautioned.

The "global war on terror," which was launched by President George W. Bush's administration after the September 11 attacks, had "reinvigorated" the use of secret detentions in an organised manner, they said.

The campaign saw the creation of "a comprehensive and coordinated system of secret detention of persons suspected of terrorism, involving not only US authorities, but also other states in almost all regions of the world."

The study was compiled by two independent UN experts on counter-terrorism and torture, as well as UN panels overseeing arbitrary detention and enforced disappearances.

Campaign group Amnesty International said in a statement that governments must be held to account.

"States must act swiftly to implement the recommendations in this important study, to confront and end secret detention and the human rights violations it entails and enables," said Widney Brown, Amnesty's director of international law, citing torture and unlawful executions.

The UN study welcomed commitments by US President Barack Obama to dismantle and investigate secret detentions.

But the experts also called for clarification of outstanding issues such as short term CIA holding facilities and those operated by the military Joint Special Operation Command.

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A statement from Jenny McCarthy & Jim Carrey: Andrew Wakefield, scientific censorship, and fourteen monkeys

Dr. Andrew Wakefield is being discredited to prevent an historic study from being published that for the first time looks at vaccinated versus unvaccinated primates and compares health outcomes, with potentially devastating consequences for vaccine makers and public health officials.

It is our most sincere belief that Dr. Wakefield and parents of children with autism around the world are being subjected to a remarkable media campaign engineered by vaccine manufacturers reporting on the retraction of a paper published in The Lancet in 1998 by Dr. Wakefield and his colleagues.

The retraction from The Lancet was a response to a ruling from England’s General Medical Council, a kangaroo court where public health officials in the pocket of vaccine makers served as judge and jury. Dr. Wakefield strenuously denies all the findings of the GMC and plans a vigorous appeal.

Despite rampant misreporting, Dr. Wakefield’s original paper regarding 12 children with severe bowel disease and autism never rendered any judgment whatsoever on whether or not vaccines cause autism, and The Lancet’s retraction gets us no closer to understanding this complex issue.

Dr. Wakefield is one of the world’s most respected and well-published gastroenterologists. He has published dozens of papers since 1998 in well-regarded peer-reviewed journals all over the world. His work documenting the bowel disease of children with autism and his exploration of novel ways to treat bowel disease has helped relieve the pain and suffering of thousands of children with autism.

For the past decade, parents in our community have been clamoring for a relatively simple scientific study that could settle the debate over the possible role of vaccines in the autism epidemic once and for all: compare children who have been vaccinated with children who have never received any vaccines and see if the rate of autism is different or the same.

Few people are aware that this extremely important work has not only begun, but that a study using an animal model has already been completed exploring this topic in great detail.

Dr. Wakefield is the co-author, along with eight other distinguished scientists from institutions like the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Washington, of a set of studies that explore the topic of vaccinated versus unvaccinated neurological outcomes using monkeys.

The first phase of this monkey study was published three months ago in the prestigious medical journal Neurotoxicology, and focused on the first two weeks of life when the vaccinated monkeys received a single vaccine for Hepatitis B, mimicking the U.S. vaccine schedule. The results, which you can read for yourself HERE, were disturbing. Vaccinated monkeys, unlike their unvaccinated peers, suffered the loss of many reflexes that are critical for survival.

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US drone missiles slaughtered 700 Pakistani civilians in 2009

US drone missile attacks have claimed the lives of over 700 Pakistani civilians since Barack Obama took office a year ago, according to figures released this week by officials in Islamabad. The escalation of Washington’s AfPak war, now in full swing, will mean the slaughter of thousands more men, women and children in 2010.

The grim death toll was announced in the Pakistani English-language daily Dawn Monday, just as news of the latest strike by a Hellfire missile made its way from an impoverished village near the Afghanistan border.

The missile strike left dead and buried in the rubble of their home a Pakistani teacher and his nine-year-old son. According to media accounts citing unnamed US intelligence officials, the teacher’s home had been targeted for a Predator drone attack because of reports that militants had frequented the house.

Who provided these reports? How were they verified? Was there any evidence that the teacher—not to mention his child—were in any way implicated in the activities of the alleged “militants?”

No answers are forthcoming from the US government or the CIA, which conducts the majority of these attacks, reaffirming the intelligence agency’s reputation as Murder, Inc.

Washington, the CIA and the Pentagon have arrogated to themselves the unlimited right to carry out extra-judicial executions wherever they please, with no need for explanation, much less probative evidence. Initiated under the Bush administration in the name of a global war on terror, this criminal practice has been only intensified under Obama.

Over the course of the past year, US drones have fired missiles into the tribal areas of western Pakistan 44 times—more than twice the number of strikes carried out during the last year of the Bush administration. Citing statistics compiled by Pakistani government officials, Dawn reports that these missile strikes succeeded in killing only “five key Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders,” while their so-called collateral damage included the lives of 708 innocent civilians.

“For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die,” the newspaper reports. “Over 90 per cent of those killed in the deadly missile strikes were civilians, claim authorities.”

The newspaper listed as one of the drone campaign’s few successes the missile strike that killed the leader of the Pakistan Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, and his wife on August 5 of last year. As investigative reporter Jane Mayer pointed out in the New Yorker last October, however, it took “sixteen missile strikes, and fourteen months, before the CIA succeeded in killing him.” The earlier, failed attacks are believed to have killed as many as 321 innocent civilians, while terrorizing an entire region.

There is no information from the US government to contradict Dawn’s story. The CIA classifies its drone program as “covert” and provides no information as to the number or identity of the people it kills. Citing unnamed intelligence sources (as well as military spokesmen in Afghanistan), the media routinely report that all those killed in drone attacks are “militants.” Only when eyewitness accounts of the torn bodies of women and children make it out of the remote tribal areas is there any suggestion that the truth might be otherwise.

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Do predator drone attacks constitute war crimes?

Obama has been criticized for backing away from the phrase "war on terror." Thursday, he acknowledged that the nation remains at war, calling it a "war on al-Qaida." - Detroit News

Obama now talks in terms of waging "war" against terrorists. But does this word reflect the president's actual approach to the conflict? Consider:

* Traditionally "war" has entailed some degree of personal risk to the combatants themselves (most acts of terrorism even resemble war in this respect).
* In modern times, unlike terrorism, the conduct of war has been governed by laws of war intended to afford protection to non-combatants.

Predator drone attacks do not conform to these notions we have about war. This much is apparent when we look at the mortality statistics or contemplate the likelihood of error when predator drones strike.

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Malalai Joya: Why NATO troops should leave Afghanistan

Malalai Joya, a young female Afghan MP, who has survived several assassination attempts, talks about why she wants NATO troops to leave Afghanistan.

A Carefully Crafted Hoax

A Carefully Crafted Hoax is a feature investigative documentary that examines child prostitution and sexual exploitation in America by focusing on the well-documented story of Johnny Gosch, a paperboy adbucted in Des Moines, Iowa, and its connection to a notorious pedophile network based in Nebraska.

The shocking disclosures begin at an old brick warehouse in a seedy section of Washington, DC, progressing through the $40 million dollar bust-out of a nondescript Midwestern credit union and then back to a DC party-house that was wired for blackmail. A tragic tale that tears at your heart and rips your soul, A Carefully Crafted Hoax proves that child-pandering was covered up from the utmost pinnacle of power - using the CIA, FBI, Secret Service and a corrupt judicial process

Every 40 seconds a child is abducted or goes missing in the United States. Some have run away, some have strayed from their parents and are temporarily lost, but many others fall through the cracks and become entangled in the webs of predators - only to end up being abused, enslaved, pandered, or worse. An estimated 100,000 to 300,000 American children under 18 years of age are victimized through prostitution every year. The traumatic effect that losing a child has on the families and communities would lead one to believe that protecting our nation's youth would be law enforcement's top priority, but Shared Hope International, a sex trafficking watchdog, has found that most Americans, including far too many government officials, have no idea that children under the age of 18 are being shipped from state to state as child prostitutes. How could this be happening right underneath our noses?

Featuring first hand interviews with several of the players at the center of story, including child victims, their parents, members of the trafficking ring, and law enforcement, A Carefully Crafted Hoax seeks to understand how such behavior can go unchecked. Most importantly, the film seeks to answer the questions the mainstream media has been too negligent - or too afraid - to ask. Are our politicians, top business and media personalities compromised? Is there a covert checks-and-balances system affecting our body politic?

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