Friday, June 26, 2009

Why Taxes Enslave… Period.


I often find myself in discussions with people. People who insist that the state is their best friend. People who believe that waging mass murder on the rest of the world is keeping us safe. People who believe that being a serviceman/woman does still serve the good of the world. People who believe that our support for the state is necessary for our well being and that of the world at large. Some people cannot be broken out of this infinitely flawed view. Some of these are the same people who can’t see that capitalism is not the culprit of the current economic crisis or that the same issues that caused alcohol prohibition to fail will be the same causes that make the “War on Drugs” fail.

Oddly, these same people are the ones who’ve never heard of the torture that we carry out at Guantanamo and other “black sights” around the world. They’ve never heard of the illegal detention and kidnapping of people around the world who were tortured, in some cases, and never had the chance to file for grievances with their captors. The daily killings of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan somehow escape their world view. What do these things have in common? The killing, detentions, torture, economic crises, and their continuation are made possible by you and I. Our tax money has not only turned life into a living HELL for other foreign people but it has also enabled the state to use our money to crack down on us. Taser’s, tanks, pistols, missiles, jets, and aircraft carriers are all bought and built with our money.

The money coerced out of me and you not only has resounding macro effects but it also has micro effects like the police state here in the US. Woman, children, and the disabled are being assaulted by cops who are paid by the very people they violate. How else can this occur other than in a state run system. Imagine a company who routinely violates it’s customers. This could not occur in a purely Free Market society because the victimized customers would quickly switch to the competitor and the aforementioned company would suffer great loses and possibly go out of business. Instead we are stuck with a system where the state has a monopoly on security which means that they can treat us any way they want without the risk of losing income. Other municipal systems operate this way too. Instead of water systems finding ways to maximize their water output or conserve they simply cut off water to their customers because they can. Of course in a free market one would be able to switch water companies or other technologies would be created to acquire water in other ways to keep water providers afloat.

So, as I’ve shown above taxes not only fuel wars, torture, monopoly’s, police states, and the war machine, but there are also many indirect consequences. For example the unlawful detention and torture of civilians in other countries creates resentment and hatred for the occupying power. When people are killed then you have others who want revenge against the occupying power (or invader) who committed the atrocity. As a result more enemies are created against the state (who took it’s people’s money (taxes) and used it to create war and mass murder in the foreign land). Some foreigners will want to take revenge on the people who enabled the occupying or invading state to carry out the attacks that killed their loved ones. The attacks that these people carry out in the homeland of the occupying/invading force will in turn be used by that occupying/invading force to justify it’s interventions in foreign countries and might be used to expand these operations. As a result more and more people are hostile toward the occupying/invading country. As a result the occupying/invading state is forced to crackdown more and more on it’s people to stem any attacks that might be carried out by it’s foreign enemies. Thus, the people who enabled their state to take their money for “security” are eventually the ones who the state has to keep itself safe from.

However, this is just one facet of the enslavement that taxes enable. The other facet is one that undermines private property. Certain things like your labor or property (that is acquired from another party) have nothing to do with the state yet they find it appropriate to come in and tax these things. The state has never owned or contributed to 100% of the property in it’s borders so how can it claim to be owed a taxes for 100% it’s use? Likewise, how can the state claim to have a stake in the income you receive from your job? Your labor never belonged to the state so how can they tax you when you trade it for private income (at your job)? The fact that you are taxed in these two ways means that the state feels that it owns us. You can never truly own private property because you must always pay taxes on it or the state will take it. Likewise, if you do not pay income taxes, even though they never owned the money or your labor, they will either take some of your money (a fine) or your time and labor (prison time). Does this sound like an entity “that’s for and by the people”? NO!

In-other-words the state makes freedom impossible for others and it’s own people. The state claims the right to wage mass murder in it’s people’s name while simultaneously taking it’s people’s rights. It creates monopoly’s in certain markets and undermines capitalism. It claims to provide security while being the biggest threat to it. It takes people’s money and converts it into death and destruction on foreign countries. It claims to own everything. It claims to be accountable to nobody.

Peace…

Source: Last Free Voice

The Right to Torture Americans


Conservatives are protesting a federal judge’s ruling that torture victim Jose Padilla’s civil lawsuit against former Justice Department attorney John Yoo be permitted to continue. The conservatives feel that Yoo, who authored some of the infamous torture memos for the Bush White House, should be immune from lawsuits from Americans who were tortured as a natural consequence of such memos.

Let’s sum up what conservatives (and neo-conservatives) are saying about the America in which we now live. They’re saying that the federal government now wields the power to torture Americans and that Americans had better get used to this new way of life. Any American who is tortured should forget about ever suing any federal official who either does the torturing or who authorizes or facilitates it.

At the same time, conservatives say that federal torturers should be immune from criminal liability for torturing Americans, no matter how many criminal laws against torture they violate. The idea is that the federal torturers would become despondent and demoralized if criminal prosecutions were initiated against them. And how could we expect the torturers to continue torturing Americans if the torturers faced the prospect of criminal prosecution in the future?

Of course, the same rationale holds true for official investigations into the torture of Americans and others. If such investigations were to be conducted, then how could we count on the torturers to be ready and willing to torture in the future?

What Jose Padilla’s lawsuit is exposing is the harsh truth about the country in which we now live. Padilla is an American citizen. He was tried and convicted in a federal district court of a federal criminal offense, to wit: terrorism, and he is now serving time in a federal penitentiary for that crime. No one disputes that Padilla is a criminal.

But prior to the time that Padilla was convicted, federal officials incarcerated him in a military dungeon run by the Pentagon, where he was held for years and intentionally denied a speedy trial and due process of law. U.S. officials made it clear that if they wanted, they could keep Padilla incarcerated for the rest of his life without a trial.

During the time this American was incarcerated in that military dungeon, he was knowingly and deliberately tortured through isolation and sensory deprivation. Moreover, he was subject to being treated to the entire panoply of torture and sex-abuse techniques that the Pentagon and the CIA have imposed on people in their prison camps at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere.

Padilla’s civil lawsuit is not just about him. It’s about what federal officials, including those in the Pentagon and the CIA, can now do to all Americans.

That’s a discomfort, not only for the American people, who are now subject to be treated in the same way that Padilla was treated, but also for those who wish to continue portraying the United States to the rest of the world as a paragon of freedom, morality, human rights, and due process of law.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that when it comes to torture, liberal icon Barack Obama has turned out to be no different from conservative icon George W. Bush. They both utter the same anti-torture mantras (“We don’t torture” or “We won’t torture anymore”) while steadfastly insisting on civil and criminal immunity for federal torturers and steadfastly opposing official investigations into the federal government’s torture regime.

Was John Yoo simply delivering a good-faith legal opinion on torture or was he instead knowingly, intentionally, and deliberately participating in and facilitating an illegal torture regime through the issuance of bogus legal memos? Jose Padilla’s lawsuit, which will likely entail depositions under oath, might go a long way to answering that question, much to the chagrin of the defenders of torture.

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Source: The Future of Freedom Foundation

Arizona Looks to Outlaw Global Warming Legislation


One state looks to ensure its citizens do not have to pay for climate change efforts

Climate change is a controversial topic. Some believe man is causing the world to warm. Others point out that the Earth has undergone solar warming and cooling for millions of years and that current temperatures are well within historic levels. A recent report challenging AGW theory showed significant support with 31,478 U.S. researchers and scientists, many of whom hold Ph.D's, signing a statement that they believe that man has not played a part in the current warming trend.

Arizona is now close to becoming the first state to outlaw climate change legislation. The state Senate voted Monday, 19-10 to approve a bill banning the Department of Environmental Quality from enacting or enforcing measures with language pertaining to climate change. The bill is now awaiting House approval.

The bill will likely pass and be signed into law thanks to a switch in power. Formerly, Janet Napolitano (D) was governor of the state, but she left to join Barack Obama's Cabinet. Napolitano was replaced by Jan Brewer (R), who has not indicated a strong desire to support AGW theorists.

If Senate Bill 1147 passes it will block rules passed by the DEQ that set harsher emission standards. The proposed increases were hastily pushed through by the former governor, despite complaints from industry leaders. It would also end work on "cap and trade" carbon legislation, which has been opposed by the utility industry. Such a scheme could help to raise power prices for the state's citizens significantly.

A passage could also give the state means to challenge the federal government in court over the proposed Waxman-Markey bill, which would put over $1,600 in yearly costs on American citizens to cut carbon emissions. The legislation, which has also received criticism for potentially hurting farmers, is currently making its way through a Democrat controlled House and Senate, awaiting Barack Obama's approval.

by Michael Andrews

Source: The Daily Tech

Israeli firms accused of profiting from the Holocaust


“My grandfather died because he was a Jew, and it is shameful that other Jews are exploiting his death… We need to wake people up about this." – David Hillinger, grandson of Auschwitz victim

Israel’s second largest bank will be forced to defend itself in court in the coming weeks over claims it is withholding tens of millions of dollars in “lost” accounts belonging to Jews who died in the Nazi death camps.

Bank Leumi has denied it holds any such funds despite a parliamentary committee revealing in 2004 that the bank owes at least 75 million US dollars to the families of several thousand Holocaust victims.

Analysts said the bank’s role is only the tip of an iceberg in which Israeli companies and state bodies could be found to have withheld billions of dollars invested by Holocaust victims in the country – dwarfing the high-profile reparations payouts from such European countries as Switzerland.

“All I want is justice,” said David Hillinger, 73, whose grandfather, Aaron, died in Auschwitz, a Nazi camp in Poland. Lawyers are demanding reparations of 100,000 dollars for Bank Leumi accounts held by his father and grandfather.

The allegations against Bank Leumi surfaced more than a decade ago following research by Yossi Katz, an Israeli historian.

He uncovered bank correspondence in the immediate wake of the World War II in which it cited “commercial secrecy” as grounds for refusing to divulge the names of account holders who had been killed in the Holocaust.

“I was shocked,” said Dr Katz, from Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. “My first reaction was: ‘My God, this isn’t Switzerland!’ ”

In 1998, following widespread censure, Swiss banks agreed to pay 1.25 billion dollars in reparations after they there were accused of having profited from the dormant accounts of Holocaust victims.

Dr Katz’s revelations led to the establishment of a parliamentary committee in 2000 to investigate the behaviour of Israel’s banks. Its report came to light belatedly in 2004 after Bank Leumi put pressure on the government to prevent publication.

Investigators found thousands of dormant accounts belonging to Holocaust victims in several banks, though the lion’s share were located at Bank Leumi. Obstructions from Leumi meant many other account holders had probably not been identified, the investigators warned.

The parliamentary committee originally estimated the accounts it had located to be worth more than 160m dollars, using the valuation formula applied to the Swiss banks. But under pressure from Leumi and the government, it later reduced the figure by more than half.

A restitution company was created in 2006 to search for account holders and return the assets to their families.

Meital Noy, a spokeswoman for the company, said it had been forced to begin legal proceedings this week after Bank Leumi had continued to claim that its findings were “baseless”.

The bank paid 5m dollars two years ago in what it says was a “goodwill gesture”. Ms Noy called the payment “a joke”. She said 3,500 families, most of them in Israel, were seeking reparations from Bank Leumi.

The bank was further embarrassed by revelations in 2007 that one per cent of its shares – worth about 80m dollars – belonged to tens of thousands of Jews killed during the Holocaust.

Mr Hillinger, who was born in Belgium in 1936 and spent the World War II hiding in southern France, today lives in Petah Tikva in central Israel.

He said before the outbreak of war his father and grandfather had invested money in the Anglo-Palestine Bank, the forerunner of Leumi, in the hope it would gain them a visa to what was then British-ruled Palestine.

Although his parents escaped the death camps, his grandparents were sent to Auschwitz and died in the gas chambers shortly after arrival.

Mr Hillinger said he had only learnt of the outstanding debt from Bank Leumi after his father, Moses, died in 1996. Papers showed the bank had paid his father “a pittance” in 1952 when he closed his account and that it had never returned his grandfather’s money.

When he wrote to Bank Leumi in 1998, it denied his grandfather had ever opened an account.

“My grandfather died because he was a Jew, and it is shameful that other Jews are exploiting his death,” he said. “We need to wake people up about this.”

A quarter of a million Holocaust survivors are reported to be in Israel, with one-third of them living in poverty, according to welfare organizations.

Shraga Elam, an Israeli investigative journalist based in Zurich, said after the war many Israelis showed little sympathy for the European Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel.

“David Ben Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister] notoriously called them ‘human dust’, and I remember as children we referred to them as sabonim, the Hebrew word for soap,” he said, in reference to the rumoured Nazi practice of making soap from Jewish corpses.

“In fact, I can’t think of any place in the world where [Holocaust] survivors are as badly treated as they are in Israel,” Mr Elam said.

He said Bank Leumi’s “lost” accounts were only a small fraction of Holocaust assets held by Israeli companies and the Israeli state that should have been returned. The total could be as much as 20bn dollars.

He said European Jews had invested heavily in Palestine in the pre-war years, buying land, shares and insurance policies and opening bank accounts. During the World War II Britain seized most of these assets as enemy property because the owners were living in Nazi-occupied lands.

In 1950 Britain repaid some 1.4 million dollars to the new state of Israel, which was supposed to make reparations to the original owners.

However, little effort was made to trace them or, in the case of those who died in the Holocaust, their heirs. Instead, the Israeli government is believed to have used the funds to settle new immigrants in Israel.

“These are huge assets, including real estate in some of the most desirable parts of Israel,” Mr Elam said.

Last year the Israeli media reported an investigation showing that the Finance Ministry destroyed its real estate files in the 1950s, apparently to conceal the extent of the state’s holding of Holocaust assets.

The case against Bank Leumi may end the generally muted criticism inside Israel of the banks’ role. Officials and even the families themselves have been concerned about the damage the case might do to Israel’s image as the guardian of Jewish interests.

In 2003 Ram Caspi, Bank Leumi’s lawyer, used such an argument before the parliamentary committee, warning its members that the US media “will say the Israeli banks also hide money, not just the Swiss”.

Organizations that led the campaign for reparations from European banks, such as the Jewish Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organization, have also downplayed the role of the Israeli banks.

by Jonathon Cook


“My grandfather died because he was a Jew, and it is shameful that other Jews are exploiting his death… We need to wake people up about this." – David Hillinger, grandson of Auschwitz victim

Israel’s second largest bank will be forced to defend itself in court in the coming weeks over claims it is withholding tens of millions of dollars in “lost” accounts belonging to Jews who died in the Nazi death camps.

Bank Leumi has denied it holds any such funds despite a parliamentary committee revealing in 2004 that the bank owes at least 75 million US dollars to the families of several thousand Holocaust victims.

Analysts said the bank’s role is only the tip of an iceberg in which Israeli companies and state bodies could be found to have withheld billions of dollars invested by Holocaust victims in the country – dwarfing the high-profile reparations payouts from such European countries as Switzerland.

“All I want is justice,” said David Hillinger, 73, whose grandfather, Aaron, died in Auschwitz, a Nazi camp in Poland. Lawyers are demanding reparations of 100,000 dollars for Bank Leumi accounts held by his father and grandfather.

The allegations against Bank Leumi surfaced more than a decade ago following research by Yossi Katz, an Israeli historian.

He uncovered bank correspondence in the immediate wake of the World War II in which it cited “commercial secrecy” as grounds for refusing to divulge the names of account holders who had been killed in the Holocaust.

“I was shocked,” said Dr Katz, from Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv. “My first reaction was: ‘My God, this isn’t Switzerland!’ ”

In 1998, following widespread censure, Swiss banks agreed to pay 1.25 billion dollars in reparations after they there were accused of having profited from the dormant accounts of Holocaust victims.

Dr Katz’s revelations led to the establishment of a parliamentary committee in 2000 to investigate the behaviour of Israel’s banks. Its report came to light belatedly in 2004 after Bank Leumi put pressure on the government to prevent publication.

Investigators found thousands of dormant accounts belonging to Holocaust victims in several banks, though the lion’s share were located at Bank Leumi. Obstructions from Leumi meant many other account holders had probably not been identified, the investigators warned.

The parliamentary committee originally estimated the accounts it had located to be worth more than 160m dollars, using the valuation formula applied to the Swiss banks. But under pressure from Leumi and the government, it later reduced the figure by more than half.

A restitution company was created in 2006 to search for account holders and return the assets to their families.

Meital Noy, a spokeswoman for the company, said it had been forced to begin legal proceedings this week after Bank Leumi had continued to claim that its findings were “baseless”.

The bank paid 5m dollars two years ago in what it says was a “goodwill gesture”. Ms Noy called the payment “a joke”. She said 3,500 families, most of them in Israel, were seeking reparations from Bank Leumi.

The bank was further embarrassed by revelations in 2007 that one per cent of its shares – worth about 80m dollars – belonged to tens of thousands of Jews killed during the Holocaust.

Mr Hillinger, who was born in Belgium in 1936 and spent the World War II hiding in southern France, today lives in Petah Tikva in central Israel.

He said before the outbreak of war his father and grandfather had invested money in the Anglo-Palestine Bank, the forerunner of Leumi, in the hope it would gain them a visa to what was then British-ruled Palestine.

Although his parents escaped the death camps, his grandparents were sent to Auschwitz and died in the gas chambers shortly after arrival.

Mr Hillinger said he had only learnt of the outstanding debt from Bank Leumi after his father, Moses, died in 1996. Papers showed the bank had paid his father “a pittance” in 1952 when he closed his account and that it had never returned his grandfather’s money.

When he wrote to Bank Leumi in 1998, it denied his grandfather had ever opened an account.

“My grandfather died because he was a Jew, and it is shameful that other Jews are exploiting his death,” he said. “We need to wake people up about this.”

A quarter of a million Holocaust survivors are reported to be in Israel, with one-third of them living in poverty, according to welfare organizations.

Shraga Elam, an Israeli investigative journalist based in Zurich, said after the war many Israelis showed little sympathy for the European Jewish refugees who arrived in Israel.

“David Ben Gurion [Israel’s first prime minister] notoriously called them ‘human dust’, and I remember as children we referred to them as sabonim, the Hebrew word for soap,” he said, in reference to the rumoured Nazi practice of making soap from Jewish corpses.

“In fact, I can’t think of any place in the world where [Holocaust] survivors are as badly treated as they are in Israel,” Mr Elam said.

He said Bank Leumi’s “lost” accounts were only a small fraction of Holocaust assets held by Israeli companies and the Israeli state that should have been returned. The total could be as much as 20bn dollars.

He said European Jews had invested heavily in Palestine in the pre-war years, buying land, shares and insurance policies and opening bank accounts. During the World War II Britain seized most of these assets as enemy property because the owners were living in Nazi-occupied lands.

In 1950 Britain repaid some 1.4 million dollars to the new state of Israel, which was supposed to make reparations to the original owners.

However, little effort was made to trace them or, in the case of those who died in the Holocaust, their heirs. Instead, the Israeli government is believed to have used the funds to settle new immigrants in Israel.

“These are huge assets, including real estate in some of the most desirable parts of Israel,” Mr Elam said.

Last year the Israeli media reported an investigation showing that the Finance Ministry destroyed its real estate files in the 1950s, apparently to conceal the extent of the state’s holding of Holocaust assets.

The case against Bank Leumi may end the generally muted criticism inside Israel of the banks’ role. Officials and even the families themselves have been concerned about the damage the case might do to Israel’s image as the guardian of Jewish interests.

In 2003 Ram Caspi, Bank Leumi’s lawyer, used such an argument before the parliamentary committee, warning its members that the US media “will say the Israeli banks also hide money, not just the Swiss”.

Organizations that led the campaign for reparations from European banks, such as the Jewish Claims Conference and the World Jewish Restitution Organization, have also downplayed the role of the Israeli banks.

Source: Redress Information and Analysis

Norman Finkelstein: A different take on the Holocaust


Norman Finkelstein is not a wild-eyed Holocaust denier. In fact, his parents were both survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and the camps, his father from Auschwitz, his mother from Majdanek.

A feisty intellectual raised in Brooklyn and expertly trained in political science at Princeton and in Paris, Norman Finkelstein published his book The Holocaust Industry – Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering in 2000, a second paperback edition in 2003, all of which created a “a firestorm” in Europe and little but tsuris in America.

At the time of its writing, in the late ’90s, Finkelstein was a professor of Political Science at Hunter College in New York City. He taught too at my alma mater, Brooklyn College, and Rutgers University, most recently DePaul University in Chicago, from which he resigned when he was denied tenure in 2007, most notably through the efforts of the uncritical Holocaust booster, Alan Dershowitz.

Apart from the Wiki profile linked above, an interview by Victor Frolke, ironically titled There’s No Business Like Shoah Business, Shoah meaning “calamity” in Hebrew, a shorthand for the Holocaust, the title bearing its own kind of Jewish wit, not unlike Finkelstein’s, and providing a good inside view of the author’s wit, erudition, and convictions about the Holocaust Industry. Finkelstein has accused as well Eli Wiesel and Jewish leaders worldwide, including American Jewish elites, of a vast shakedown of dollars from European countries and corporations, mainly Germany, Switzerland and Poland, in the name of “needy Holocaust survivors” when in fact the monies have gone largely to Holocaust programs, memorials, studies, literature, museums, and, in general “the Jewish community.”

Finkelstein also criticized Wiesel for taking $25,000 plus a limousine for each of his lectures (given with a mystically proprietary pain) on the Holocaust, forgetting, perhaps, the Gypsies had their own German genocide in relatively the same percentage for their number. Wiesel comes off vaguely like America’s self-appointed Sheriff Rudy Giuliani, who made millions in speaking engagements on 9/11, multi-millions on his own various companies post 9/11. This while he pushed first responders to clean up Ground Zero in eight months not the allotted two and a half years, and then walked away when those same first responders became fatally ill and started dying off. I say this to level the religious-political playing field here.

I add that another Italian-American, Senator Al D’Amato, made the Holocaust his cause as his polling numbers were sagging, helping to bully these same European nations and corporations into excessive and misdirected Holocaust survivors’ reparations. Of course, America paid little to nothing for its failures to accept a limited number of survivors, and turned away others.

Together Finkelstein tells us these various Holocaust causes form more than a “cottage industry,” but a full-fledged promotion industry, fueled by an ongoing ideology of “Holocaust correctness” that serves “certain class and political interests.” Ironically, instead of helping the Jewish cause, Finkelstein argues that the Holocaust Industry has become “the main fomenter of anti-Semitism in Europe,” spreading an image of greedy Jews. For his tough-mindedness, a genetic gift from his parents, Finkelstein was labeled alternately “poisonous . . . a disgusting self-hating Jew . . . something you find under a rock.” As Jesus, also a Jew, would say, “Let he who is not guilty cast the first stone.”

Finkelstein, who is swift and astute man by nature, points out in the Frolke interview that the New York Times in its Sunday Book Review reserved a full page “to compare [his] book to ‘The Protocol of the Elders of Zion,’ a notorious anti-Semitic work, and called its author ‘indecent,’ ‘juvenile,’ ‘self-righteous,’ ‘arrogant’ and ‘stupid.” Is that all the news that’s fit to print or is it just a major media organization serving the Holocaust Industry?

“I’ve looked it up; this review is worse than the one of Mein Kampf,” Finkelstein says, in his high-pitched voice, full of moral indignation. Finkelstein’s theory that the memory of the Nazi Holocaust is being abused for political, moral and financial blackmail has had some considerable impact. Not surprisingly, he has received death threats from fanatics within the Jewish community and heard Elan Steinberg, executive director of the World Jewish Congress, say, “Mr. Finkelstein is full of shit” on the nightly television news in Germany. So much for respecting a fellow Jew’s dissenting opinion.

Historically, Finkelstein points out that the frequent Holocaust mention arrived in the US only after the Six Day War in 1967, that is when Israel was seen as a winner not a victim, and able to protect American interests in the Middle East. It grew exponentially in both places, becoming “an ideological weapon in the Palestinian conflict.” He points out, ironically, that his parents, being real Holocaust victims, used the specter of the Holocaust to defend Palestinian rights. Finkelstein mentions, too, in the second part of his book that the Nazi Holocaust “is ideologically recast to serve certain political ends.” And so, his aim is to establish “a distinction between Holocaust scholarship and Holocaust literature.”

This latter literature is the one to which Daniel Goldhagen’s Hitler’s Willing Executioners belongs, according to Finkelstein, because it has two dogmas at its core: one, “the uniqueness of the Holocaust and the gentiles’ [purportedly] eternal irrational hatred of the Jews.” For the author this becomes “a very small step from ‘Holocaust framework’ to ‘Holocaust conspiracy.’” He questions who profits from “a body of literature with no historical merit.” In other words, “it only exists to serve certain political and ideological goals . . . It’s called the sociology of ideas.”

When questioned if the success of Goldhagen’s book was due in some part to “an almost masochistic feeling of guilt in certain parts of Europe,” Finkelstein’s response is “not probable. And besides, the book was a bestseller in the US, too, and America had nothing to do with the Holocaust.” Finkelstein asks if the book would have been equally successful titled Hitler’s Unwilling Executioners. He doesn’t think so. Its thesis -- that the gentiles were all killers waiting for the leader’s signal -- “was ideologically convenient. It is the same thing the American writer Cynthia Ozick said after the 1973 War [when Syria and Egypt attacked Israel]: ‘Why does everybody hate Israel? Simple [stock] answer: All the world wants to wipe out the Jews.’”

Asked if he was a conspiracy theorist, Finkelstein answered “I’m not sure why you’re invoking the conspiracy theory. Look, whenever you show patterns, whenever you go beyond the spontaneous actions of people, you hear conspiracy theory! I think that there’s more to history than just the spontaneous actions of people.”

Asked how Finkelstein first conceived the book, he responded, “This book is a result of 15 years of reflection. While I was working to get financial compensation for my mother, I listed on a piece of paper around 60 things that really bothered me about the Holocaust business. One of these was the whole notion of ‘survivors.’ In the early days, I knew that a lot of Jews were stretching it a bit in order to be considered as ‘survivors’ under the German reparation laws. If you were in the Soviet Union during the war, you weren’t eligible. So I knew people had falsified their papers -- which was fairly easy because there was no way to prove it. The only numbers there were, were from Auschwitz.

“So for a piece I did about the reparations issue, I looked in the old agreements, from the ’50s, the Luxembourg Agreements. The German government paid in all about $50 billion. And, in addition, it gave $10 million a year between 1953 and 1965 to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany -- a billion dollars in current values. The Germans said that only 15 percent of this money went to the victims. The large chunk of the rest of it, according to Ronald Zweig, an expert on the subject, went to Jewish communities in the Arab world, such as Iraq, and institutions, such as Yad Vashem in Israel.

“You know why they didn’t give everything to the survivors? That’s what is so amusing. They said there weren’t any victims anymore. All their needs had been met. So the irony is, after misappropriating the money in the ’50s because there weren’t any more victims, now they claim all these needy Holocaust victims have languished in poverty all these years, because the Germans gave them no money. I find that funny.”

When Victor Frolke asks Finkelstein, “Your mother received $3,500 from the German government right after the war. What happened?”

“In the ’50s my mother, a mathematician who worked for Chase Manhattan Bank, was diagnosed by a doctor -- I believe it was a Jewish doctor -- as having extreme hysteria, but this was not from her experiences in Majdanek, she was told, but from her difficulty with adjusting in the U.S. -- which is, of course, a filthy diagnosis. The Claims Conference was exactly designed to pay out money to people like my mother, who were either unfairly or inadequately compensated by the initial reparations. Cases like hers were being corrected by giving a lump sum. But she didn’t get a penny. Only so-called outstanding Jewish leaders and rabbis got anything.

“My father got injured in Auschwitz and was given a lifetime pension by the Germans. They delivered the money promptly and efficiently. I still remember the blue envelopes from Trier. My father had Alzheimer’s near the end of his life and I was his guardian. Every three months I had to go to the German consulate to pick up his checks and to prove that he was still alive. At the end of his life it came down to $600 a month. All in all, $250,000 during his lifetime.

“All the survivors I talk to -- the Finkelstein residence quickly became known as CCBC, Claims Conference Buster Central -- say the same thing: We want the money that was distributed by the German government; we don’t want the money given to the Jewish organizations. I think that is one of the most devastating insights on the Holocaust industry -- that the victims of Nazi persecution trust the German government more than they do the Jewish organizations.”

When Finkelstein is asked about Jewish organizations claiming too much money, and complaining that people like his mother didn’t get enough, he responds “Some people misinterpret my book as saying I’m against compensation. Oh no, I’m not! I’m all for compensation. But it should only go to the real victims, and not to pseudo victims or to Jewish communities and organizations.”

When asked if he, Finkelstein, considers himself a second generation Holocaust victim, he answers firmly: “I think such a concept is repulsive. That’s simply an effort to milk the Holocaust for another generation. If I had ever said that to my mother, she would have given me a good smack in the face! And rightfully so!”

Finkelstein’s personal morality is exemplary. And I think that’s part of the resentment towards him: that his critics don’t live up to his standards. Frolke suggests Finkelstein “believes only camp survivors are real Holocaust survivors.” Frolke asks “What about Jews who fled to the Soviet Union, came back and had nothing -- why not call them ‘Holocaust survivors’ as well?”

“Fine, then we should call Palestinians ‘Holocaust survivors.’ If you make the definition so elastic, so flexible that it includes refugees, then you should count them all.”

“That wouldn’t be fair to the real survivors,” Frolke comments.

“It’s not a question of fair. You can’t argue on the one hand that the Holocaust is fraught with moral meaning, and then trivialize the term ‘Holocaust survivor’ by including everyone. There is a difference whether you spent the war on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, like Mr. Kissinger, or you spent it in Auschwitz . . . Since Hitler targeted all of world Jewry, Israel Singer says, anybody who has survived is a Holocaust survivor. But I would say, what about all the Vietnamese people who suffered from the politics of Mr. Kissinger? Are they Holocaust survivors? No, no, we can’t call them that. Do you think the Vietnamese received one nickel of compensation? Forget it. The U.S. won’t even officially apologize.”

When Finkelstein asserts that the “Holocaust Industry” has become an even bigger Holocaust denier than the usual Holocaust deniers, Frolke wonders, “How so?”

Finkelstein responds that “The official number of Holocaust survivors the Israeli government now gives is a million. Or 960,000, to be exact. At the same time Jewish organizations have been claiming, since the early ’90s, that 10,000 die each month. So that would mean that in 1990 there were 2 million survivors left. In 1990, not more that a quarter could be alive from World War II. That means 8 million in May 1945. Well, there were fewer than 8 million Jews in all of Nazi-occupied Europe. In other words, if these numbers are correct, the Holocaust didn’t happen. As my mother used to say, if everyone who claims to be a Holocaust survivor actually is one, who did Hitler kill?”

When reminded that in 1998, when Swiss banks restituted $1.25 billion to Jewish organizations for dormant Jewish accounts, Finkelstein is asked if they get should get their money back. He responds, “The case should have been handled by the international Claims Resolution Tribunal, instead of by the World Jewish Restitution Organization. They could have processed the claims and given out the money to those who deserve it.

“By the way, nobody noticed one of the most interesting revelations in the book: that banks in the U.S. also sit on dormant Jewish accounts from the war. It’s not even my own finding. It’s on Page 2 of the Volcker Report [the $500 million audit report on Switzerland that came out in 1999]. It amounts to $6 million, of which only $500,000 is going to be paid. In other words, the American record is worse than the Swiss! That’s what Seymour Rubin, American delegate during the negotiations, testified to the House Banking Committee. Not a word reported anywhere. Not a word.” When asked what American banks were involved, Finkelstein answered, “Nobody knows. We have to do a $500 million research report just like the Swiss to find out. We might never. We would be on a slow boat to Munich.”

When Frolke says to Finkelstein, “you are totally opposed to the claims that are now being laid on property owned by the 3.5 million Jews who lived in Poland. Your family is from Poland. You could get some money back after all.” Finkelstein answers, “No! It never occurred to us. We don’t want the money. My mother’s father owned a little tobacco store, my father’s father owned a little lumber mill. Jewish organizations are claiming back my grandparents’ property without asking our permission. We never gave our sanction! It’s grave robbery!

“I say: Enough. The American Jewish community is rich enough. It doesn’t need to evict Polish peasants from their land, Polish tenants from their homes and Polish sick from the hospitals for more money. They have plenty of money. Mr. Bronfman just sold Seagram for $27 billion. That’s plenty. You don’t have to impoverish Polish people even more.”

When asked, “What if your grandparents’ lumber mill is owned not by a poor Polish family but by a wealthy former Communist apparatchik? Still not interested? Finkelstein answers, “That wouldn’t make any difference.”

When asked, “Have you ever been to Auschwitz?,” Finkelstein answers, “No. I’ve lived with the Holocaust for 40 years. That’s enough. I don’t need to have more of it. I’m not like one of those second-generation Holocaust victims that go lie in a gas oven.” And so, we’ll leave Finkelstein’s story at that for now . . .

There’s much more to know, to find out, about the Holocaust from this amazing man, Norman Finkelstein. I offer this article up as a belated review. It’s never too late to understand, to change your opinion about, what you thought was absolute truth and is not. Give Norman a look. You’ll never look at the Holocaust the same way again.

By Jerry Mazza

Source: Online Journal

Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s a Raytheon Spy Blimp!


As the American republic’s long death-spiral continues apace, newer and ever more insidious technologies usher us towards an age of high-tech barbarism.

“At first glance” Newsweek reveals, “there was nothing special about the blimp floating high above the cars and crowd at this year’s Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend.”

“Nothing special” that is, until you took a closer look. What you then discovered was another quintessentially American innovation, all the more chilling for its bland ubiquity. A silent, hovering sentinel linking commerce and repression; a perfect trope for our ersatz democracy. “Like most airships” Newsweek continued, “it acted as an advertising vehicle.”

But the real promo should have been for the blimp’s creator, Raytheon, the security company best known for its weapons systems. Hidden inside the 55-foot-long white balloon was a powerful surveillance camera adapted from the technology Raytheon provides the U.S. military.

Essentially an unmanned drone, the blimp transmitted detailed images to the race’s security officers and to Indiana police. “The airship is great because it doesn’t have that Big Brother feel, or create feelings of invasiveness,” says Lee Silvestre, vice president of mission innovation in Raytheon’s Integrated Defense division. “But it’s still a really powerful security tool.” (Kurt Soller, “Are You Being Watched? The blimp flying above your head may be watching your every move,” Newsweek, June 11, 2009)

“It doesn’t have that Big Brother feel” and yet here, as elsewhere, the “feelings of invasiveness” are implicit, unseen, invisible, the securitized DNA giving form and structure to the Empire’s “new normal.”

Imported from America’s aggressive wars of conquest in Iraq and Afghanistan and now deployed in the heimat, sprawling intelligence and security bureaucracies have teamed-up with corporate scofflaws to fill a market niche, inflating the bottom-line at the expense of a cherished freedom: the right to be left alone.

But as Antifascist Calling has noted many times, “what happens in Vegas” certainly doesn’t stay there, a point driven home by Raytheon.

“Anticipating requirements for innovative and affordable ways to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR),” according to a company press release, “Raytheon is using aerostats–modern blimps or balloons–carrying high-tech sensors to detect threats on the ground and in the air at distances that enable appropriate countermeasures.”

Known as RAID (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment) the system is kitted-out with “electro-optic infrared, radar, flash and acoustic detectors.” According to the firm, some 300 have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The same military version, as Newsweek reported and Raytheon confirmed, “demonstrated to officials concerned with security and spectator safety its value by providing situational awareness in what is billed as one of the largest sporting events of the year.”

Indeed Charles Burns, the director of Corporate Security for the Indy Racing League said in the company’s press release: “Conducting this demo with Raytheon gives us the opportunity to evaluate new and innovative technology that keeps our venues safe and optimizes the racing experience for our fans.”

Along with a suite of sensors and high resolution video cameras, RAID’s digitized mapping tools are similar to those developed for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). In tandem with a preprogrammed mapping grid of the target location, the system can scan a wide area and relay video clips to a centralized command center.

Captured data known as GEOINT, or geospatial intelligence, is “tailored for customer-specific solutions” according to NGA. That agency along with its “sister” organization, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the super-secret agency that develops and flies America’s fleet of spy satellites are also among the most heavily-outsourced departments in the so-called Intelligence Community.

As investigative journalist Tim Shorrock points out in his essential book, Spies For Hire, giant defense firms such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman “with assistance from Republican lawmakers from the House Intelligence Committee,” helped launch a lobby shop for the industry in 2004, the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF).

Self-described as a “not-for-profit educational foundation,” USGIF “is the only organization dedicated to promoting the geospatial intelligence tradecraft and building a stronger community of interest across industry, academia, government, professional organizations and individual stakeholders.” Since its formation, USGIF has expanded to some 154 companies and state agencies and has an annual budget that exceeds $1 million.

Strategic partners” include the usual suspects, corporate heavy-hitters such as Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Science Applications International Corporation, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, IBM, Google, AT&T, Microsoft, The MITRE Corporation, and L3 Communications. Additionally, niche companies such as Analytical Graphics, Inc., DigitalGlobe, GeoEye, Intergraph, PCI Geomatics, TechniGraphics, Inc., flesh-out USGIF’s roster.

In this context, the public roll-out of RAID is all the more pressing for securocrats and the companies they serve since Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano “plans to kill a program begun by the Bush administration that would use U.S. spy satellites for domestic security and law enforcement,” the Associated Press reported June 22.

That program, the National Applications Office (NAO) was first announced by the Bush regime in 2007 and was mired in controversy from the get-go. As Antifascist Calling reported last year, NAO would coordinate how domestic law enforcement and “disaster relief” agencies such as FEMA utilize GEOINT and imagery intelligence (IMINT) generated by U.S. spy satellites. But as with other heimat security schemes there was little in the way of oversight and zero concern for the rights of the American people.

The intrusiveness of the program was so severe that even Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the author of the despicable “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007″ (H.R. 1955) vowed to pull the plug. Chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee’s Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment subcommittee, Harman introduced legislation earlier this month that would have shut down NAO immediately while prohibiting the agency from spending money on NAO or similar programs.

When the bill was introduced, Harman told Federal Computer Week: “Imagine, for a moment, what it would be like if one of these satellites were directed on your neighborhood or home, a school or place of worship–and without an adequate legal framework or operating procedures in place for regulating their use. I daresay the reaction might be that Big Brother has finally arrived and the black helicopters can’t be far behind. Yet this is precisely what the Department of Homeland Security has done in standing up the benign-sounding National Applications Office, or NAO.”

According to the Los Angeles Times, Napolitano reached a decision to cut NAO off at the knees “after consulting with state and local law enforcement officials and learning that they had far more pressing priorities than using satellites to collect information and eavesdrop on people.”

Perhaps those “pressing priorities” could be better served by a low-key approach, say the deployment of a system such as RAID? After all, what’s so threatening about a blimp?

It comes as no surprise then, that the next target for Raytheon marketeers are precisely local police departments and sports facilities “that want to keep an eye on crowds that might easily morph into an unruly mob,” as Newsweek delicately put it.

Nathan Kennedy, Raytheon’s project manager for the spy blimp told the publication, “large municipalities could find many uses for this [technology] once we figure out how to get it in their hands.”

While the company refuses to divulge what this intrusive system might actually cost cash-strapped localities drastically cutting social services for their citizens as America morphs into a failed state, municipalities “without a Pentagon-size police budget” could look at the airship’s “potential to display ads [that] may assist with financing.”

Raytheon claims that local authorities fearful of succumbing to what I’d call a dreaded “surveillance airship gap,” could install “a built-in LED screen to attract sponsors, generate revenue and defer operating costs.”

How convenient!

However, Raytheon’s slimmed-down surveillance airship is a spin-off from a larger Pentagon project.

Among other high-tech, privacy-killing tools currently under development is the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Integrated Sensor Is Structure (ISIS) program. As conceived by the agency, ISIS will be a high-altitude autonomous airship built for the U.S. Air Force that can operate at 70,000 feet and stay aloft for a decade.

Washington Technology reported April 29, that Lockheed Martin won a $400 million deal to design the system. “Under the contract” the publication revealed, “Lockheed Martin will provide systems integration services, and Raytheon Co. will furnish a high-energy, low-power density radar, Lockheed Martin officials said.”

Operating six miles above the earth’s surface, well out of range of surface-to-air missiles, the airship will be some 450 feet long, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and packed with electronic surveillance gear and radar currently being field-tested by Raytheon.

Projects such as ISIS reflect a shift in Pentagon planning and spending priorities. Under Bush regime holdover, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the military plans to leverage America’s technological advantage to improve intelligence and surveillance capabilities at the expense of over-inflated big ticket items such as the F-22 Raptor or new Navy destroyers.

Gates and others in the Pentagon believe a shift towards “robust ISR platforms” will better facilitate the Pentagon’s new paradigm: waging multiple, counterinsurgency wars of conquest to secure natural resources and strategic advantage vis-à-vis imperialism’s geopolitical rivals.

But military might and technological preeminence, however formidable, represented by the Pentagon’s quixotic quest for total “situational awareness” promised by platforms such as ISIS and RAID, will no more ameliorate the Empire’s extreme political weakness than putting a band-aid over a gangrenous lesion changes the outcome for a dying patient.

by Tom Burghardt

Source: Dissident Voice

Stop Cap-and-Trade


Congress could vote on "cap-and-trade," yet another attempt to impose a hidden tax on all of us, at any time. House leadership may not have the votes needed to pass the plan, so it is crucial you voice your opposition to your congressman.

Click here to get contact information for your representative, and urge him to oppose this new tax scheme!

Source: Campaign For Liberty

Video: Holy Land grab

A look at Israel's plan to use eviction and archaeology as a means to expand and solidify the settlements surrounding occupied East Jerusalem.

Source: American Jews For A just Peace

Ron Paul’s Bill Would Put Fed on the Hot Seat


Treasury Department Secretary Timothy Geithner is calling on Congress to hand the privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve even more power to regulate financial markets at a time when there is growing support among legislators to put Fed bankers on the hot seat by giving federal officials the authority to audit the central bank.

In the June 29 edition, AMERICAN FREE PRESS reported that the Federal Reserve Transparency Act (H.R. 1207) introduced by Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) had picked up “enough sponsors to get it out of committee and onto the floor of the House of Representatives.”

The bill gives the federal government the power to audit the privately owned and controlled Federal Reserve and its various funding arms, which have loaned, given out or guaranteed trillions of dollars to various Wall Street pals and financial institutions. At that time, the bill had 226 co-sponsors—more than half the entire membership of the House. Since then, however, the number has grown to 243, with more joining every day.

The rising popularity of Paul’s bill contrasts sharply with recent statements made by Geithner, who wants to give Federal Reserve bankers even more power to regulate financial institutions. The problem for Geithner is that it was former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s loose fiscal policies that have largely been to blame for the economic woes facing the country. For decades, Greenspan flooded the world with U.S. dollars, creating the perfect environment for Wall Street speculators and bankers to dig themselves a financial hole so deep that they took Main Street with them.

Now, as part of a sweeping financial overhaul proposed by the Obama administration, Geithner wants to give the Fed even more power to oversee the largest financial firms such as Citigroup and Bank of America. It’s the equivalent of putting the fox in charge of the brooder after he’s already eaten most of the chickens in the henhouse.

During a recent hearing on the matter, Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), a longtime critic of the Fed, grilled Geithner: “What makes you think the Fed will do better this time around?”

Geithner could only respond that empowering the Fed “made the most sense, given the circumstances.”

It should be no surprise that Geithner continues to side with the central bank given the fact that he served as the head of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 2003 to 2009. The New York Fed is considered the most powerful of the regional central banks due to its location near Wall Street and the leadership role it plays in setting monetary policy.

Meanwhile, Paul’s call to audit the Fed continues to make headlines across the country.

In mid June, CBS News reported in depth on Paul’s measure, which “mandates a thorough audit of the Federal Reserve.”

“The tremendous grass-roots and bipartisan support in Congress for H.R. 1207 is an indicator of how mainstream America is fed up with Fed secrecy,” Paul said.

“I look forward to this issue receiving greater public exposure.”

By Christopher J. Petherick

Source: American Free Press

Shocking Book Details New Info On Israeli Attack on USS Liberty


This much we do know: On June 8, 1967, during the Six Day War, Israel surprisingly launched a deadly attack upon a lightly armed American spy ship cruising off the coast of Egypt, Israel’s enemy at the time. When the attack ended, 34 of the USS Liberty’s crew were dead and 171 others were injured, many of them critically.

Here’s what we don’t know, and may never know: why the Israelis decided to mount the attack. The Liberty was clearly marked, flying the American flag and behaving in a completely benign manner. Moreover, it bore almost no resemblance to the much smaller Egyptian freighter some Israelis said they thought they were attacking. Israel’s explanations ranged from lame to downright unbelievable.

Nor will we ever know, for certain, why the United States government’s response was so uneven, unless we simply credit those who believe that the pro-Israel lobby in Washington is so all-powerful that American politicians felt too vulnerable to risk its wrath.

We do know that the attack on the Liberty came when the war in Vietnam was going badly and President Lyndon B. Johnson was almost paralyzed by a fear of failure.

James Scott’s father was the damage control officer aboard the Liberty, so he had exceptional access to the inside story of the attack. But he didn’t simply rely on tales told around the family dining table. He conducted prodigious research to document every aspect of the story, a story that only briefly made headlines before fading into historic obscurity.

Unfortunately, the lessons that should have been learned from the Liberty episode didn’t prevent the United States from putting another spy ship, the USS Pueblo, at risk. Seven months after the Liberty was attacked, the Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans in international waters and held hostage, with its crew, for almost a year.

As a former newspaper reporter, Scott knows how to dig for facts, and his book resonates with the results of his relentless search for the truth. Unfortunately, it would appear that the Israeli government was either unwilling or (for reasons that defy logic) unable to conduct its own investigation in such a way that the findings would be credible.

In fairness, Israel did apologize for the attack, but its inability, or its refusal, to provide a plausible explanation for it remains an insult to the victims and their families, not to mention the United States government (which didn’t exactly cover itself with glory in its own investigation).

Anyone reading Scott’s account of the encounter that occurred 42 years ago may be infuriated by the diplomatic and military blunders (or deceit) on both sides, and yet the most compelling passages of his narrative are those that describe the horrors of the attack and the dreadful consequences for those aboard the Liberty. It is high time someone drew our attention to this tragedy, and Scott has done it in magnificent fashion.

By Al Hutchinson of The Tampa Tribune

Source: American Free Press

Graduates Recite The Lord’s Prayer Despite ACLU Ban


Nearly 400 graduating seniors at Pace High School in Santa Rosa County, Fla. stood up in protest against the ACLU and recited the Lord’s Prayer during their graduation ceremony on Saturday. Many painted crosses on their graduation caps to make a statement of faith. This event follows a lawsuit the ACLU filed against the Santa Rosa County School District, claiming some of the teachers and administration endorsed religion. Liberty Counsel, a law firm represents Pace High School Principal Frank Lay and schoolteacher Michelle Winkler.

The protest was preceded by a lawsuit filed six months ago by the ACLU. The school district entered into a consent decree, which essentially bans all Santa Rosa County School District employees from engaging in prayer or religious activities. The ACLU alleges that during a dinner event held at Pace High School, Lay asked the athletic director to bless the meal.

The ACLU also alleges that Michelle Winkler’s husband, who is not a school board employee, offered prayer at an awards ceremony. Leading up to the graduation ceremony, the ACLU demanded the school stop students from offering prayers or saying anything religious. The ACLU then charged Lay and Mrs. Winkler with contempt of court.

The students were furious with the ACLU for hijacking their free speech rights and decided to take a stand at graduation. As soon as Lay asked everyone to be seated at the ceremony, the graduating class remained standing and recited the Lord’s Prayer. The ACLU has not taken any legal action yet.

Mathew D. Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel and dean of Liberty University School of Law, commented:

“Neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gate. The students at Pace High School refused to remain silent and were not about to be bullied by the ACLU. We have decided to represent faculty, staff and students of Pace High School, because the ACLU is clearly violating their First Amendment rights. Schools are not religion-free zones, and any attempt to make them so is unconstitutional.”

by By Julia Foster

Source: American Free press

New Givens in America


Here is a list of the new truths in America today. You dare not challenge any of these. You must accept them as fact based on consensus opinion.

People who believe this and sell it to you have a special aura. The young people who knock on your door with Bibles have this look. Kids who believe in Santa have it when you take them to see Santa. It’s a glow. It’s a special knowledge that the possess and know you need to possess also. Watch carefully as you see them present their case for these givens. They are just so special.

Global warming. These missionaries know it as fact. It gives them an advantage over the non-believers. Like religion, it will assure their place in heaven. They are saving the world. They are making a difference. No price is too big to pay for the rewards that will come later.

Universal Health Care. America is a rich country. No one should be without health insurance. This is a given. Doesn’t matter how much it costs. Doesn’t matter whether it doesn’t work in other countries. Doesn’t matter if the government can’t run Medicare and Medicaid. Doesn’t matter if there aren’t enough doctors and nurses to cover another 46 million people. Doesn’t matter if tort reform doesn’t happen. Even if doctors work 5 months a year to cover their malpractice insurance. None of this matters. It’s the same logic that said: every American should own their own home. How did that work?

Too big to fail is a given. We must selectively bail out those designated entities that get this label. No price is too big to save any organization that is too big to fail.

President Obama is a smart man and he is doing all the right things. This is a media given. Not necessarily shared by millions of Americans. More may be falling off this wagon every day. We must do all the things he feels we need to do and do them at mach speed. If he is wrong, we can fix all the mistakes. Really, can we fix the deficits? Can we recover the lost time not spent doing the opposite. Is America too big to fail? Where did this special knowledge Obama possesses originate? From the community organizer days? From the Illinois senate? From the 6 years in the US senate spent campaigning? Can we equate oration with judgment?

Our government can run things. We can run GM, Chrysler, banks, AIG, health insurance, two wars, medicare and medicaid, the post office, NASA, Amtrak, and maybe even the oil industry, the airline industry, and many projects yet to come. All of us know how good our government is at running things, big and small. It’s a given.

Green energy will replace fossil fuels and nuclear. It’s a given. It’s been a given for 25 years with no progress. Just not enough money and government attention has been dedicated to this end. Someone should add up all the billions we have spent without results pursuing this given.

The dollar is the currency of the world. That’s a given. Will it be a given in 5 years or will something replace the dollar?

The US is the world leader, that’s a given. We must dole out aid to all countries who need help. And, military help. It comes with the job. We will always be top dog. That’s a given. If we are making too many mistakes and going too deep in debt chasing all the givens, will this always be the case?

Brainwashing is not a pretty thing. Every day we are inundated with the givens we need to accept. Even with all our supposed freedoms, we must not question the givens. Tack this list on your wall or put it on the fridge. Every day you must go over this check list so you can be true to your country.

Source: No Smoke Blown

We Interrupt This Important News To Bring You This Unimportant News


As I type this the television is blaring the news that singer Michael Jackson has died. For most of the day the blaring was about actress Farrah Fawcett's death. I'm sure the rest of the week will bring retrospectives of their careers, interviews with those who knew them, interviews with those who barely knew them, etc. I won't comment on them specifically except to say it's especially sad when anyone, celebrity or not, dies prematurely (Fawcett was 62, Jackson only 50). But I will comment on the over-the-top media coverage of their deaths.

Continued...

Granted when a celebrity dies, especially before their time, we are curious. As consumers of their work we want to know the how and why of it all. We may even appreciate a few minutes of clips from performances and interviews they gave. I wouldn't be surprised if many of their fans are watching old videos or playing old cd's this weekend as a sort of personal wake for a performer they appreciated.

But it says something about our culture and our collective priorities when healthcare reform, the impending climate bill, North Korea's nuclear threats and the latest news on the Iranian protests can be knocked off the television screen during the 6:00pm hour on all the major news channels in favor of wall-to-wall celebrity death coverage.

I've been thinking a lot lately, especially with regard to important domestic issues, how difficult it is for the average person to stay informed. I have the luxury of a work situation where I have all-day access to television news and the Internet. But between work and family obligations most Americans are lucky to get a few minutes a day to devote to keeping up with the world. And today the precious time they have to find out what's going on was filled with anchormen prattling on with other so-called journalists about an actress passing after a long public battle with cancer and whether or not a pop star was, in fact, dead. There was so little actual news to report on these "stories" that they were interviewing each other. Note to the media: your job is to collect and report the news, not chit chat with your co-workers on air about how you felt the first time you saw the Thriller video.

Well at least one person is probably pleased with today's coverage. It seems a couple celebrity deaths are the only thing that takes the focus off a political sex scandal. Take five, Governor Sanford.

By Carole

Source: Talking Sides

Suppressing Free Speech Here at Home


While the Ayattolahs in Iran are intimidating people into ceasing their criticism of the government, U.S. Justice Department prosecutors are doing the same here in the United States, specifically in the trial of U.S. vs. Robert Kahre, which is currently taking place in Las Vegas. Upset with critical comments posted by American citizens regarding the prosecution of a man who used gold and silver coins issued by the U.S. mint as legal tender, the prosecutors have been abusing their power to issue grand-jury subpoenas.

This prosecutorial-abuse saga, which I blogged about here, began with an ordinary news article in which the Las Vegas Review Journal explained what the Kahre prosecution was all about. Dozens of people posted comments under the article, most of which were critical of the government and the prosecution.

Obviously stung by the criticisms, the prosecutors responded by serving a grand-jury subpoena on the paper demanding that it produce all identifying information on all of the people who had posted the comments.

After the paper resisted the subpoena, the prosecutors issued a new subpoena that limited their request for identifying information to only two commentators. One commentator wrote: “The sad thing is there are 12 dummies on the jury who will convict him. They should be hung along with the feds.” Apparently the other commentator bid 12 Quatloos (Star Trek money) that one of the prosecutors would not celebrate his next birthday.

It would seem rather obvious that the issuance of the narrower subpoena is prima facie proof that the primary aim of the prosecutors was intimidation when they issued their original subpoena. After all, if they really were concerned about only two comments, why subpoena identifying information about all the other commentators?

Moreover, in my opinion the aim of the narrower subpoena is about intimidation as well. Here’s why:

The central issue is: Is there any reasonable possibility that the Justice Department is going to prosecute the commentators for the precise words they used in their comments?

The answer to that question has to be “No.” After all, this is not Iran but rather the United States, a country in which people are still free to express critical opinions about what their government is doing, no matter how repugnant.

Consider the first comment — that the jury “should be hung along with the feds.” The word “should” is a subjunctive and, as such, does not connote anything but an opinion. It is, in fact, a common figure of speech that has long been used in this country. If it were a criminal offense to use it, the penitentiaries would be even more filled than they already are.

Consider the second comment, where the commentator bids Quatloos that the prosecutor does not celebrate his next birthday. Is there any reasonable possibility that a jury would convict a person of a crime or that a federal court would uphold a criminal conviction based solely on the utterance of that precise phraseology?

Again, the answer is “No.” After all, it is impossible to determine any objective meaning to the phrase. Is the commentator suggesting that the prosecutor might not reach his next birthday because of a heart attack brought on by the stress of the Kahre trial? Or is he implying that someone might do harm to the prosecutor? We don’t know. Far more information would be needed to sustain a criminal conviction on the mere utterance of those precise words.

So, what’s the point of subpoenaing the newspapers records in an attempt to secure the identity of the commentators, if it’s not to intimidate and scare the commentators and everyone else? After all, everyone knows that the commentators can refuse to answer any questions before the grand jury based on the Fifth Amendment, something they would almost certainly do. In that case, the prosecutors would be left with nothing more than the phrases posted on the newspaper’s website.

But in the process, the prosecutors will have forced the newspaper to identify commentators on its website and forced the commentators to appear before a federal grand jury. They will also have threatened the commentators with the prospect of a federal criminal prosecution for what they wrote.

In other words, the prosecutors will have sent a powerful message to the American people, the same message those Ayatollahs are sending to the Iranian people: “If you know what’s good for you, shut up and stop criticizing what we’re doing.”

by Jacob G. Hornberger

Source: The Future Of Freedom Foundation

Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them


“It astonishes me to find… [that so many] of our countrymen… should be contented to live under a system which leaves to their governors the power of taking from them the trial by jury in civil cases, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce, the habeas corpus laws, and of yoking them with a standing army. This is a degeneracy in the principles of liberty… which I [would not have expected for at least] four centuries.”
–Thomas Jefferson, 1788

“Most citizens,” writes columnist Nat Hentoff, “are largely uneducated about their own constitutional rights and liberties.”

The following true incident is a case in point for Hentoff’s claim. A young attorney, preparing to address a small gathering about the need to protect freedom, especially in the schools, wrote the text of the First Amendment on a blackboard. After carefully reading the text, a woman in the audience approached the attorney, pointed to the First Amendment on the board and remarked, “My, the law is really changing. Is this new?” The woman was a retired schoolteacher.

For more than 200 years, Americans have enjoyed the freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, among others, without ever really studying the source of those liberties, found in the Bill of Rights–the first ten amendments to our U. S. Constitution.

Yet never has there been a time when knowing our rights has been more critical and safeguarding them more necessary. Particularly telling is the fact that even under the Obama presidency, most of the Bush administration policies and laws that curtailed our freedoms have remained intact–all of which have drastically altered the landscape of our liberties.

Thus, it is vital that we gain a better understanding of what Thomas Jefferson described as “fetters against doing evil.” If not, I fear that with each passing day, what Jefferson called the “degeneracy” of “the principles of liberty” will grow worse until, half asleep, Americans will lose what our forefathers fought and died for.

A short summary of the first ten amendments shows how vital these freedoms are.

The First Amendment protects the freedom to speak your mind and protest in peace without being bridled by the government. It also protects the freedom of the media, as well as the right to worship and pray without interference. In other words, Americans cannot be silenced by the government.

The Second Amendment guarantees “the right of the people to keep and bear arms.” This is one of the most controversial provisions of the Bill of Rights. Indeed, there are those who claim that gun ownership in America should be restricted solely to the police and other government officials.

In many countries, owning a firearm is a mere privilege, reserved for the rich and powerful. Self-protection, however, is not a privilege in America. It is an individual citizen right which the U.S. Supreme Court has now recognized.

America was born during a time of martial law. British troops stationed themselves in homes and entered property without regard to the rights of the owners. That is why the Third Amendment prohibits the military from entering any citizen’s home without “the consent of the owner.” Even though today’s military does not threaten private property, this amendment reinforces the principle that civilian-elected officials are superior to the military. But increasingly, even under the Obama presidency, the threat of martial law being imposed is a clear and present danger.

There’s a knock at the door. The police charge in and begin searching your home. They invade your privacy, rummaging through your belongings. You may think you’re powerless to stop them, but you’re not. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from searching your home without a warrant approved by a judge. But what about other kinds of invasions? Your telephone, mail, computer and medical records are now subject to governmental search.

Even though they’re all personal and private, they are increasingly at risk for unwarranted intrusion by government agents. The ominous rise of the surveillance state threatens the protections given us by this amendment.

You cannot be tried again after having been found innocent. The government cannot try you repeatedly for the same crime, hoping to get the result they want. It’s one of the legal protections of the Fifth Amendment. Moreover, you cannot be forced to testify against yourself. You can “plead the Fifth.”

This means that if you are accused of committing a crime, it is up to the state to prove its case against you. You are innocent until proven guilty, and government authorities cannot deprive you of your life, your liberty or your property without following strict legal codes of conduct.

The Sixth Amendment spells out the right to a “speedy and public trial.” An accused person can confront the witnesses against him and demand to know the nature of the charge. The government cannot legally keep someone in jail for unspecified offenses.

Moreover, unlike many other countries, Americans also have the right to be tried by a jury of ordinary citizens and to be represented by an attorney. Our fates in criminal proceedings are not decided by panels of judges or unaccountable politicians.

Property ownership is a fundamental right of free people. In a legal dispute over property, the Seventh Amendment guarantees citizens the right to a jury trial.

Like any other American citizen, those accused of being criminals have rights under the Constitution as well. In some countries, the government abuses what they see as disloyal or troublesome citizens by keeping them in jail indefinitely on trumped-up charges. If they cannot pay their bail, then they’re not released. The Eighth Amendment is, thus, similar to the Sixth–it protects the rights of the accused. These are often the people most susceptible to abuse and who have the least resources to defend themselves. This amendment also forbids the use of cruel and unusual punishment.

The framers of our Constitution were so concerned about civil liberties that they wished to do everything conceivable to protect our future freedom. Some of the framers opposed a bill of rights because it might appear that these were the only rights the people possessed. The Ninth Amendment remedied that by providing that other rights not listed were nonetheless retained by the people.

Our rights are inherently ours, and our government was created to protect them. The government does not, nor did it ever, have the power to grant us our rights. Popular sovereignty–the belief that the power to govern flows upward from the people rather than downward from the rulers–is clearly evident in this amendment and is a landmark of American freedom.

Ours is a federal system of government. This means that power is divided among local, state and national entities. The Tenth Amendment reminds the national government that the people and the states retain every authority that is not otherwise mentioned in the Constitution.

Congress and the President have increasingly assumed more power than the Constitution grants them. However, it’s up to the people and the state governments to make sure that they obey the law of the land.

Having stood the test of time, there is little doubt that the Bill of Rights is the greatest statement for freedom ever drafted and put into effect. In the end, however, it is the vigilance of “we the people” that will keep the freedoms we hold so dear alive. Therefore, know your rights, exercise them freely or you’re going to lose them.

By John W. Whitehead

Source: 10th Amendment Center

In God's Name: Criminalizing Criticism of Religion


The growing trend for criminalising criticism of
religion is a declaration of war on freedom of
speech, says Miklos Haraszti

It should no longer be difficult to tackle illegitimate limits to free speech,
particularly since so many dictatorships have now made the transition to
democracy. The required standards are clear enough: actual instigations to
actual crimes must be seen as crimes, but otherwise offensive speech should
be handled by encouraging further dialogue – in the press, through media
ethics bodies or in civil courts.
What we see instead, despite some progress internationally in
decriminalising violations of honour and dignity [see pp159–163], is a
growing, punitive trend that is introducing new speech bans into national
criminal codes.
One of these a` la mode speech crimes is defamation of history –
committed in some countries by questioning a nation’s historical narrative
and in others by defending it. While Turkey prosecutes writers for using the
word genocide to describe the massacre of Armenians in 1915, Switzerland
has prosecuted a Turkish politician for calling the use of the term genocide
an ‘international lie’. Yet defamation of religions is proving to be an even
more insidious and restrictive pattern worldwide.

On 26 March, the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution
condemning ‘defamation of religions’ as a human rights violation, despite
wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech. The
Council adopted the non-binding text, proposed by Pakistan on behalf of
the Islamic states, with a vote of 23 states in favour and 11 against, with
13 abstentions. The resolution ‘Combating Defamation of Religions’ has
been passed, revised and passed again every year since 1999, except in
2006, in the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) and its predecessor, the
UN Human Rights Commission. It is promoted by the persistent sponsorship
of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference with the acknowledged
objective of getting it codified as a crime in as many countries as possible, or
at least promoting it into a universal anathema. Alongside this campaign,
there is a global undercurrent of violence and ready-made self-censorship
that has surrounded all secular and artistic depictions of Islamic subjects
since the Rushdie fatwa.

It is a post-modern, Orwellian spin crusade against human dignity.

This year’s resolution, unlike previous versions, no longer ignores Article 19,
the right to free expression. That crucial human right has now received a
mention, albeit in a context which misleadingly equates defamation of
religions with incitement to hatred and violence against religious people,
and on that basis denies it the protection of free speech. It also attempts to
bracket criticism of religion with racism.

communist governments among them, along with the post-colonial or
predominantly Muslim nations. Yet only very few of the 23, amongst them
South Africa and Indonesia, are democracies equipped with a truly
pluralistic media. The consistently high number of abstentions, including
by nations with free speech guarantees, helps ensure the proposition is
officially accepted every year.
Because of this contemporary strategy, I reject the often heard claim
that the resolution’s backers represent a culturally defined movement. That
claim would only serve to offer another excuse to patronise the endeavour,
and leniently underestimate its impact. In fact, the drive to criminalise
defamation of religions is an entirely post-modern, Orwellian spin crusade
against human dignity, ostensibly in its name.
Year after year, the Human Rights Council (HRC) vote lends a double
domestic victory to the supporting oppressive governments. It cements their
control of speech through cultural taboos and blasphemy laws, and at
the same time glorifies and internationally acknowledges them in the
vanguard of promoting tolerance.
Of course, one can understand why many democracies condescendingly
abstain from the fight and let the game of the Organisation of the
Islamic Conference prevail. After all, since the Iranian Revolution and the
global debut of al Qaeda, those willing to present the oppressive notion of
defamation of religions in human rights terms are by definition moderates,
compared to the jihadists who openly reject those rights. The HRC
manoeuvres also help the moderates to counter claims by domestic radicals
that their governments are not true guardians of the faith.
I happen to remember these games from my time in the closed
civilisation of the communist one-party state, where pluralism consisted of
factional fights inside the Politburo of the Party. Kremlinologists also knew
the game, but they must have had more fun watching it than I had. The
technique was called ‘overtaking from the left’, and it meant the recurring
scene whereby otherwise pragmatic leaders of the Party started to emanate
hardliner slogans, obviously in order to keep the Stalinists at bay. It actually
never simply meant just tough talk; it always came with new measures
against freethinkers, such as house searches and indictments, ‘only’ to
provide proofs of the leadership’s fidelity to the cause. This tactic is a distant
relative of the ‘taking the wind out of the sails’ policy of western moderate
parties, when they buy into anti-immigration measures in order to preclude a
growing popularity of xenophobic platforms that propose . . . anti-immigration
measures.

The trouble is that ‘taking the wind out of the sails’ may help one stay on
board, but never succeeds in easing the restrictions. Let me tell you how it
really works when the stipulations of the Human Rights Council resolution
are applied.
In Azerbaijan, one of the supporters of the resolution, two journalists
were given prison sentences in 2007. Rafiq Tagi, a journalist of the
intellectual monthly Senet, and Samir Sadagatoglu, the newspaper’s
editor, were sentenced to three and four years respectively, for alleged
‘incitement to religious hatred’ in a philosophical essay published in 2006.
In fact, the essay compared European and Islamic values in a somewhat
self-critical vein. (The language was ‘them and us’.) Its thesis was innocent,
well-meaning and polite. It was a similar message about a similar subject,
‘reason and faith’, to Pope Benedict XVI’s famous Regensburg speech the
same year. In my assessment, it was even milder, as there were no Byzantine

quotations ascribing violent proselytism to Mohammed. The question of
violence did not even turn up in the text.
Previously, an Iranian grand ayatollah, Fazel Lankarani, had issued a
fatwa calling for the two journalists to be killed. Domestic religious activists
responded by starting an intimidation campaign against the journalists.
Reportedly, they were allowed to shout death threats in the courtroom. The
journalists’ crime was defamation of religion (their own, apparently) and
incitement, by the same act, to religious hatred (against themselves, one
must conclude). Yet it was the journalists who sat in the dock, not those
who menaced them with violence.
And, most importantly, the Iranian ayatollah who called for their death
was never accused of incitement, neither in Azerbaijan nor in Iran –
protected as he was by his status as a defender, rather than a defamer,
of the faith.
Similar abuses could be cited from several non-Muslim countries as
well, all of them, by the way, participating states of the OSCE, and some of
them members of the Council of Europe. The commitments of the former
and the standards of the latter would forbid any persecution based on
‘defamation of religions’. But under the justifying umbrella of the HRC
resolutions (and exploiting the lack of resolute opposition to them in Europe)
the crisis created around the Danish cartoons was used to get tough on
critically minded outlets and journalists.
In Russia, the Vologda newspaper Nash Region published a collage of
the cartoons on 15 February 2006, as part of an article on the global
controversy. The proprietor decided to close the newspaper shortly
afterwards in order to ease the legal consequences. Prosecutors had
immediately opened a case against the editor, Anna Smirnova, for ‘inciting
religious hatred’. In April 2006, she was fined 100,000 roubles (approximately
US$3,000) and given a two-year suspended sentence. Happily, a
month later, the Vologda Oblast Court overturned the decision on appeal.
It was clear no happy ending would have been possible had the paper still
existed.
Exactly the same scenario was played out in Volgograd: the publisher
of Gorodskie Vesti decided to close the newspaper after charges for
defamation and incitement were brought by the regional branch of the
country’s ruling party, United Russia. Criminal proceedings were subsequently
dropped. The trigger for the prosecution was a sweet, truly
peace-preaching caricature of the four venerated personalities Moses,
Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha. In the cartoon, the religious leaders are watching television and concerned to see demonstrators from different
religions hurling insults at each other. ‘This is not what we have taught
you to do,’ one of the prophets is saying.
In Belarus, Alexander Zdvizhkov, editor of the Zhoda opposition
newspaper, was sentenced to three years in prison on 18 January 2008 for
incitement of religious hatred. His newspaper was shut down in March 2006
for merely planning to publish the cartoons, and remains closed today.
Zdvizhkov went into hiding abroad, was then arrested upon return, and
finally released after the Supreme Court reduced his sentence from three
years to three months, the term he had already served.

I do not see any moral difference between ordering the killing of reporters and issuing fatwas against writers

But these were only opportunistic blitzes. Since the cartoons crisis, another
new punitive fashion has emerged, also inspired by the HRC resolutions: the
extremism package. In Russia (which came up with the idea), Belarus,
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova and Tajikistan, legislators have bundled
the defamation of religions provisions with otherwise legitimate incitement
laws, adding also the ban of ‘offensive criticism’ (yes, defamation) of
government bodies or officials. This cocktail of legislation is presented as a
heightened form of combating a never precisely defined attitude –
extremism. There is an echo here of the West’s promotion of terrorism
provisions, which is helpful in defusing possible criticism. But while western
legislation was criticised domestically as being possibly conducive to
illegitimate prosecution of political thought, the eastern extremism packages
are actually created for that purpose. And they are used, too, especially in
retaliation for unwanted coverage of the human rights situation in the
Northern Caucasus.
At the time of writing, Slovakia is planning to introduce its own
‘extremism’ package, ostensibly to fight radicalism. Ireland – while
otherwise decriminalising libel – is about to introduce a new crime, ‘blasphemous libel’, described as an act of compliance with a constitutional
tenet dating from the 1930s. Is it far-fetched to see here an implicit, perhaps
even unconscious, influence of the HRC campaign? When I referred earlier to
the surrounding threat of violence, I meant the disturbing, but untold,
connection between the recurring legal drive at the UN Human Rights
Council and the fatwas, murders and violent demonstrations against secular
or critical depictions of Islamic issues. The grievances expressed by the
fatwa authors and the HRC diplomats are in fact indistinguishable. What is
missing here is the realisation that combating defamation of religions is not
just harmful: it is the wrong fight, the wrong criminalisation.
I do not see any moral difference between ordering a contracted killing
of investigative reporters like Anna Politkovskaya and issuing fatwas that
call for murdering writers or journalists. Both punish writers for doing their
job. And, by the way, the fatwas also offer financial rewards, just like the
zakazchiki in Russia.
In Pakistan, the main country sponsor of this year’s HRC resolution,
Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi, prayer leader at the historic Mohabat Khan
mosque in Peshawar, announced in 2006 that the mosque and his
religious school would give US$25,000 and a car, while a local jewellers
association offered another US$1m, for the murder of any Danish
cartoonist. In India, Uttar Pradesh Minister for Haj and Minority Welfare
Haji Yaqoob Qureishi placed a 510m Indian rupee (US$11m) bounty on
the head of a cartoonist, plus the murderer’s weight in gold. I am listing
here examples only from inside democracies that signed the HRC
resolutions or abstained.
At this point, the resolution is no longer an exercise at taking the
wind out of the sails of the radicals. It is turning out to be a cover-up
for the murderous instigators of religious tension and reactionary
self-censorship.
I find it a scandal that authors of edicts calling for the murder of
writers or journalists can still continue to be respected and do not have to
face the consequences of their hateful acts, while many journalists have
to live anonymously under police protection. So far, none of the names of
the instigators of these fatwas has appeared on wanted lists, not even in
the countries which, I am sure, would extradite the masterminds of
Politkovskaya’s murder, if found. That is the HRC resolution’s longest
shadow.
Caution is somewhat understandable in a country such as
tiny Denmark, stricken by calls for a commercial boycott, or in any single nation. But what about the European Union? Has it not been designed
to be stronger than its components? What about Interpol and other
international law enforcement agencies? Since when have they dropped
soliciting murder from their list of crimes? What about at least a travel ban
against the well-known zakazchiki of religious hate crimes?
The Human Rights Council must be told: if incitement to religious
hatred is what you are concerned about, call immediately for the punishment
of those who issue fatwas inciting violence. There can be no stronger
protection against defamation of Islam or any faith. Promote tolerance by
relieving the fear factor from the minds of the world’s editors.

On the other hand, the vague parameters of possible defamation cases
have now grown to include the ‘targeting’ of symbols and venerated leaders
of religion by the media and the Internet. What we are witnessing may be an
effort at diplomacy, but it is also a declaration of war on twenty-first century
media freedoms by a coalition of latter-day authoritarians.
There is nothing backward looking or historicising in the declaration.
It adopts the language of human rights so that the proposal sounds
compatible with the advanced multiculturalism of liberal democracies.
All the signatories have acquiesced: the late-communist and the post-

by Miklos Haraszti

Source: Index On Censorship