Thursday, July 2, 2009

Liberal White Boy: He Thinks Therefore He Is...But Why Does Norman Finkelstein Walk Among The Living?

I was on my couch a few years ago reading the most recent issue of Scientific American and listening to Book-notes on C-Span when I first heard Norman Finkelstein speak (before Professor Finkelstein came on to discuss his book, The Holocaust Industry, I was pondering how the leakage of gravity and its resulting impact on cosmic acceleration might affect me personally).

If I remember correctly there was another Jewish author on before Finkelstein opining about an increase in anti-Semitism in America and the world. I thought to myself, God Damn it another juvenile delinquent has painted a swastika on a grave marker in one of those apartheid Jewish cemeteries. I wish they would stop doing that shit. Every time they do it seems to cause mass hysteria. I then returned to my magazine.

Next up was Professor Finkelstein. I couldn't believe the words I was hearing. Who is this guy? I set down my Scientific American and started to pay attention. The Holocaust Industry?

After his C-Span presentation I went to my computer, found his web site and ordered his book. I then began a journey of discovery that would turn upside down almost everything I once believed. And of course Liberal White Boy was born.

A few months ago I had the opportunity to hear Professor Finkelstein speak in person at a peace summit put on by a bunch of radical Christians like myself in Indianapolis. Yes there was some of the usual hysteria that always seems to accompany a Finkelstein presentation. There were letters to the editor in the local newspaper by outraged Zionists who simply can not tolerate the speaking of the truth. They once again suggested that Finkelstein's words were hate speak. As always though there was no sign of hate speak in Finkelstein's presentation, just the plain ugly truth. The topic of his presentation was Gaza and of course the latest murderous savagery conducted against the people of Palestine by Apartheid Israel. There was little that I hadn't heard before. I of course get my news from alternative news sources so I am well educated in regards to the Middle East.

Finkelstein's presentation was very professorial and well documented. He utilized many radical sources in his presentation like almost every human rights organization in existence, the International Courts and the American War College. But in the midst of his presentation my mind began to wonder. I have that problem a lot. Like a few months ago I made a rare appearance in a church for a friend's wedding. Instead of paying attention to the religious wedding ceremony going on I was thinking to myself, I wonder if Joseph and Mary ever got a divorce who would have had to pay child support? I'm sure many divorced fathers have had this thought. I then tried to imagine Joseph trying to explain his circumstances to the Bethlehem County Persecutors Office. No dice I would bet. Anyway you see what I mean.

During Finkelstein's presentation I began to wonder, how is it that this interesting character could be standing before me. He was the son of holocaust survivors. If it was Hitler's intent to kill all Jews how is it that this man is standing here addressing me? Were the Germans not as efficient as we have been told? Why were there so many survivors? What possible use could all of those emaciated bodies discovered alive in camps after the war have been to the Nazis? Why had they not been gassed and cremated? This is after-all the official account of what we were told was happening.

Then it occurred to me, almost everything I once believed about Israel including it's current inhabitants was a complete and utter fabrication. Is it possible possible that the holocaust did not happen in the manner that we have been lead to believe? Didn't the Nazis keep meticulous records of those passing through these camps? Why have those records not been made public. How is it that Eisenhower and Churchill wrote extensive histories of WWII and not one mention of the Holocaust. It seems like that might have been important to them. Why was there no depiction of the soccer field, swimming pool or Ho-house in Spielberg's movie? And how could there be a million or so adjustment at Auschwitz and the number left at six million. Was this number really contrived decades before?

But most disturbingly why is it that I could be imprisoned in some countries just asking these questions?

Why does Norman Finkelstein walk among the living? I don't know but I am glad he does. He seems like a good man to me.

Thanks to:Liberal White Boy: He Thinks Therefore He Is...But Why Does Norman Finkelstein Walk Among The Living?

The Fading American Dream: The Constitution Circumvented: Fake "town hall" meetings staged to perpetuate the "transparency myth"

All Americans should be outraged by this. How anyone can still support Obama is beyond me. This is evidence, right in front of your eyes and ears, that there is absolutely no transparency to this administration. In fact, this is the most secretive, tightly controlled White House operation we have ever had. They are showing you more, but none of it means anything. (Now, before you drinkers of the liberal koolaid go off on a tangent, read my past blogs, I am just as critical of the Bush administration being secretive and acting in a rogue manner.)

These two reporters are actively grilling Gibbs as to why there is no real transparency to this administration. They want to know why do you call it a "town hall" meeting when it is actually a set-up conference using "pre-selected" questions. Gibbs refuses to answer the question, instead diverting to the "email your question" answer, which of course does not address the issue. The issue being brought to task here is the fact that, while anyone can email any question they want, the "town hall" meeting hoax takes place by pre-selecting those questions to be heard. Why not just have a real "town hall" meeting? Or, if you can do that, how about you just don't have one at all? Rather than LYING TO US and having a mock up, make believe "town hall" meeting to ACT like you have transparency.

Now, I know some of you are still drinking the kool-aid out there and believe that there is nothing amiss here. But, I'm telling you, the best way to hide something is to act like you're not hiding nothing at all. This is exactly what we have here.

The Fading American Dream: The Constitution Circumvented: Fake "town hall" meetings staged to perpetuate the "transparency myth"

kenny's sideshow: The silence is deafening

ynet is reporting that the Gaza relief ship passengers heading to Gaza and detained by the Israelis will be deported.
Israel is planning to deport within the next few days the 21 peace activists who arrived on a boat from Cyprus with the intention of entering the Gaza Strip. An Israeli Navy unit boarded their boat and escorted it to Ashdod port. Immigration police will transport the detained activists to Ben Gurion Airport, and from there they will be deported out of the country.

Eight immigration police arrived at Ashdod police and performed a search of the activists' belongings. The detainees will then be transferred to the Immigration Administration in Holon. The police will take their fingerprints, and then send them to Ben Gurion Airport, where each one will face a hearing before the Interior Ministry before being deported.

Obama will get a pass on this one without saying a word and the story will die as the zionist run corporate media will remain quiet and if not totally silent will marginalize Cynthia McKinney again.

Paul Craig Roberts is not silent.

The US talks a good “human rights” game, but never delivers--especially if the human rights abuser is Israel. After all, Israel owns the US Congress and President Obama. Israel even has an Israeli citizen and former member of the Israeli Defense Forces as the Chief-of-Staff in Obama’s White House. Israel owns millions of American “Christian Zionists” and “rapture evangelicans.” When it comes to Israel, the American government is a puppet state. It does what it is told.

Macho Americans might stand tall, but not when Israel snaps its fingers.

Israel, of course, will get away with a mere act of piracy. After all, Israel has been getting away with its war crimes and violations of international law for 60 years. If the UN tries to do anything, the US will veto it, as the US has done for decades.

Meanwhile, California, which has become a failed state, has been denied bailout money from Washington. Israel, which has been a failed state for 60 years, can, unlike the American state of California, always count of Washington to deliver the money and the weapons to keep Israel going.

The same week that “our” government in Washington told the Governor of California “not one red cent,” President Barak Obama handed over $2.775 billion to Israel.

And so it goes. There’s no money for California, or for Americans’ health care, or for the several million Americans who have lost their homes and are homeless, because Israel needs it. Israel needs the American taxpayers’ money to that it can create even more enemies, and, therefore, need more American money to spend with the American armament industries to oppress more Palestinians and to make more enemies, requiring more American money to protect Israel from its folly and its evil.

And the brainwashed American public goes along year after year. {more}

And while California is bankrupt, Philip Weiss reports:
California's broke? State official leads panel urging investment in...Israel

Here's an invitation from the vice chair of California's state Board of Equalization (which collects $53 billion in sales tax and other fees), inviting people to an "Investing in Israel" discussion with Israeli consulate officials next week. It's in West Hollywood. And it looks like the official, Judy Chu, is elected to the board.

Les Visible is never silent, although there is an effort to make him so.
Let’s see now… The Israelis invade Gaza and murder 1500 people in cold blood using banned weapons and destroying the infrastructure so that the people are now living in the rubble and… Obama says nothing. Cynthia McKinney along with a Nobel Peace Prize winner and 20 or so other people get kidnapped on the high seas, while trying to deliver aid to these people and this same psychopathic, thug nation or… should I call it a repug-nation? Well… this same murderous collection of international criminals hijacks their boat and arrests them and… Obama says nothing. {more}

Will we ever be free from the influence of the criminal state of Israel?

The WSJ and their shill Alan Dershowitz pretend that Obama may do just that in Has Obama Turned on Israel?
There may be coming changes in the Obama administration's policies that do weaken the security of the Jewish state. {more}
I'm not betting the farm on that happening.

Thanks to Kenny's Sideshow Where We Found This Post: The silence is deafening

Why Does Our Government Still Spy On, Arrest and Persecute Dissidents?

One needn't return in time to the McCarthy Era to find many individuals who have been investigated and persecuted for holding vilified opinions.

Recently, an American Civil Liberties Union report pointed out, "Anti-terrorism training materials currently being used by the Department of Defense (DoD) teach its personnel that free expression in the form of public protests should be regarded as ‘low level terrorism’.”

Although DoD officials removed the offensive section at the urging of ACLU members, the DoD stance is still troubling since a longstanding practice to designate peaceful, law-abiding activists as dangerous and treasonable still exists in many government departments and agencies.

Indeed the participants of the first antiwar protest against the Vietnam incursion, put together in the mid-1960's using Gandhi's Salt March as a model for a nonviolent demonstration, faced government operatives filming them face by face from rooftops as they moved en masse down Broadway to the UN Plaza.

(My mother, a pacifist married to a World War II Conscientious Objector, and I, a child at the time of the march, both were in attendance. When the film crew focused on us, she stood tall, faced the agents with their telephoto lens, glared in disdainful defiance and, simultaneously, threw the corner of her coat over my face. Afterwards, she muttered, "How dare they try to intimidate us!")

With that history in mind, it shouldn’t be assumed that the treatment of Nobel Peace Award winner Aung San Sui Kyi in Myanmar would be all that different if she were leading protests in the United States. While it's commendable that U.S. spokespersons object to her most recent arrest, they still might seem to be a bunch of hypocrites.

For instance, a number of Nobel Peace Award recipients, such as the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), have had difficulties of their own on American soil.

"AFSC’s work, always open and resolutely nonviolent, has been under government surveillance for decades. The Service Committee secured nearly 1,700 pages of files from the FBI under a Freedom of Information request in 1976,” the AFSC said in seeking more recent “war on terror” records.

“These [earlier] files show that the FBI kept files on AFSC that dated back to 1921. Ten other federal agencies kept files on AFSC, including the CIA, Air Force, Navy, Internal Revenue Service, Secret Service, and the State Department. The CIA has intercepted overseas mail and cables in the 1950s, and some AFSC offices (and even its staff's homes) have been infiltrated and burglarized in the late 1960s into the 1970s."

AFSC associate general secretary for justice and human rights, Joyce Miller, asked, “How can we speak of spreading democracy in Iraq while dismantling it here at home?” She further remarked, “Political dissent is fundamental to a free and democratic society. It should not be equated with crime.”

Add to the AFSC problems, those pertaining to Nobel Peace Award recipient Nelson Mandela, who only a year ago had the designation "terrorist" removed from his name, under protest by the State Department, so that he no longer suffered travel restrictions from the U.S. government.

Yet his travel curtailment was not nearly as awful as was Ramzy Baroud's blockage. He, the editor of Palestine Chronicle, had his U.S. passport seized by a consular officer at an overseas American Embassy. Similarly, Sen.Edward Kennedy was, also, flagged by the U.S. no-fly list.

Then again, Ted Kennedy received much less harassment than did Nobel Peace Award winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire after her flight from Guatemala had been directed to Ireland through Houston:

"She was probably tired and ready to get back to Belfast, where her attempts to bring about an end to The Troubles in 1976 made her at 32 the youngest Nobel Peace Prize-winner ever,” according to an article in the Houston Press.

“Since then, she's been given the Pacem in Terris Award by Pope John Paul II, and the United Nations selected her (along with the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, Jordan's Queen Noor and a dozen or so other fellow Nobel Laureates) as an honorary board member of the International Coalition for the Decade.

"Unfortunately for Maguire, her flight back home to Northern Ireland was routed through Houston, where none of that meant diddly. Federal Customs officials were far less interested in any of that than they were in a box on the back of the transit form she filled out on her flight.

"'They questioned me about my nonviolent protests in USA against the Afghanistan invasion and Iraqi war,' Maguire said later in a statement. 'They insisted I must tick the box in the Immigration form admitting to criminal activities.'

"Maguire was detained for two hours -- grilled once, fingerprinted, photographed, and grilled again. She missed her flight home. She was only released after an organization she helped found -- the Nobel Women's Initiative -- started kicking up a fuss."

One can add to her troubles countless other ones wherein human rights and environmental supporters have been repeatedly hassled for no other reason than that they're holding views that don't jive with positions at any number of U.S. government institutions.

One needn't return in time to the McCarthy Era to find many individuals who have been investigated and persecuted for holding vilified opinions. For example, Stephen Lendman, a peace advocate and writer in his seventies with a permanent knee injury that delimits travel, has been repeatedly investigated by the FBI.

At the same time, he is joined by myriad others such as assorted activists in Maryland whose names were put on federal terrorist lists by state police who infiltrated their groups. As such, their perfectly legal activities, freedom of speech and right to unhindered assembly have been criminalized.

Simultaneously, there's a certain inescapable irony and disingenuous quality presented by the Western government heads who are harshly critical of the Iran crackdown on dissenting citizens while they, themselves, condone similar ironfisted policies in their own lands.

Their two-faced position is barely hidden beneath the surface of their mock concern for the well-being of Iranian protesters as they urge their own and allied troops into battle, show little (if any) sincere remorse over the slaughter of masses of civilians that happen in the process and make sure that demonstrators at home are disregarded, denigrated or preemptively rounded up as happened at the 2008 Republican National Convention and similar events.

Then again, one might find himself in pretty good company if he were singled out as unpatriotic and treacherous for holding viewpoints or undertaking actions that go contrary to the perspectives that a certain hawkish and totalitarian segment of society holds.

All the same, every method conceivable might be used to hunt down the offenders and, when taken to the extreme, render their seemingly provocative positions ineffectual by any means possible, including imprisonment and murder.

Anyone who doubts this to be the case needs only to remember what happened to people like Howard Fast; the slain Freedom Riders Andy Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner; the thirteen shot students at Kent State University at which Ohio National Guardsman fired sixty-seven rounds over a thirteen second period, and scores of others who have stood against mainstream policies.

Meanwhile, stigmatizing dissidents is a fairly common practice. As such, “There are 1.1 million people on the [U.S.] Terrorist Watch List and there is a 35 per cent error rate, minimum, for that list,” according to ACLU's Michael German.

Furthermore, the overzealous and aggressive surveillance tactics used by the National Security Agency (NSA) to check the public's e-mails, telephone calls and other communications are the same ones as were in use during George W. Bush's administration. Likewise, the amount of spying on personal exchanges is as high as it ever was.

In relation to recent claims by Justice Department and national security officials that the over-collection was unintentional, U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, a Democrat from New Jersey and Chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, commented: “Some actions are so flagrant that they can't be accidental.”

Additionally, the act of tracking e-mailed transmissions and other interactions has seemed in violation of federal law, according to lawyers at the Justice Department. Regardless, the practice continues.

At the same time, the decision to designate social activists as troublemakers, while singling them out for intimidation, threats and investigations, carries serious legal and political implications in democratic societies.

The further measure of subjecting them to the sorts of difficulties that Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Ramzy Baroud, AFSC members and innumerable others have endured is clearly based in xenophobic, paranoid and despotic thinking. It embodies the kind of authoritarian mentality and oppressive activities that one finds in the worst types of tyrannical regimes.

As Harry S. Truman suggested, "Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear."

Due to this fear, are we, then, to all conform with lock-step in perverse obedience to the State's dictates, outlooks and agendas in an increasingly Orwellian milieu?

If not, then we must constantly remind ourselves and each other of U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas's vision: "Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."

Source: Alter Net

The Role of “The People” in Protecting Inalienable Rights

It is interesting to know that many of the attendees at the Constitutional Convention held in 1787 were OPPOSED to including a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Why would this be so? The chief concern was that if a written bill of rights were included, the people would, over time, think that these rights were the ONLY rights they had. They were wise enough to know that the people would not understand how vast this body of “inalienable” rights was, and would therefore allow the government (especially the federal government) to dictate, and invade, the sacred domain of self-government that was to remain with the people.

As a result, the Bill of Rights was not included in the original Constitution, but was later introduced by James Madison in 1789 to the First United States Congress as a series of amendments to the Constitution.

The Bill of Rights, which are now defined as the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are understood to protect such rights as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion. Also included (among others) are the freedom of assembly, the right to keep and bear arms, and protections against unreasonable search and seizure. It is critical to understand that this in no way limits the extent of the rights of “the people.” What has been generally lost is an understanding of the purpose and meaning to the 9th Amendment which states:

“The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Obviously, the founders were referring to these other “unspoken and unwritten” rights which the people possessed, even if the Bill of Rights did not explicitly detail those rights.

In addition, “the people” (that is us) have lost an understanding of our role in the governing process. An understanding of the purpose and intent of the 10th Amendment is also critical to understand the “vision” of the founders. The 10th amendment states:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Therefore, there has existed, and still exists, a vast realm of rights (also referred to as “natural rights”) that we, the people, possess that are not defined by the Constitution or its amendments. In order to gain an understanding of these rights, let me ask a few questions about only one of the important areas of our lives, our physical health.

Despite no specific mention in the Constitution or its amendments, do humans have an individual right to choose their form of medicine or medical treatments? Do we have an individual right to choose “alternative” forms of medicine (such as Native American medicine, ancient Chinese medicine, or ancient Ayurvedic medicine, as examples? On the other hand, can we be forced to only accept what our government states is “legal” medical treatment according to current governmental regulations? Does the Federal government have any constitutional authority to even speak on the subject?

A study of the history of “acceptable” medicine in this country reveals that “chiropractic” treatments were for many decades “illegal,” as government authorities (dominated by the American Medical Association) had not yet deemed it “safe.” Some of the greatest breakthroughs in medical history were not “legal” according to existing governmental authorities. This reality is even more evident today as new breakthroughs in alternative medicine are being discovered every day. Does it make sense to allow a government bureaucracy (which is obviously subject to control by special interest groups) to make such an important decision for YOU, as your choice of medical treatment? Or is this potential life or death decision part of “the peoples” inalienable rights to make choices for themselves, without having to resort to “permission” from some government authority?

Hopefully, this discussion will help to clarify how we, the people, must not allow governments to invade those sacred realms of personal decisions and responsibilities, collectively referred to as our “inalienable rights.” In upcoming articles I will continue to uncover how the Founders were attempting to give us our freedom, if only we would accept it.

Source: 10th Amendment Center

"Legislate whatever you want; I will not obey...."

As you probably are aware, this Saturday is July 4th, Independence Day. As you may also know, on the afternoon of this July 4th, I'll be one of four speakers at Independence Mall, in downtown Philadelphia, at the "Tea Party" event there. My topic will be "You're Not the Boss of Me!" and this article is a sort of introduction to that rant.

The Declaration of Independence basically amounted to a bunch of guys telling their king, "You're not the boss of us anymore." The Declaration was an act of treason, written by a bunch of tax cheats and lawbreakers. It wasn't merely some people whining or petitioning the government to do something different. In fact, the Declaration describes how they had already tried that, and it hadn't worked. So they resorted to open disobedience. And it wasn't just one protest or demonstration, to make a point or try to convince their masters to change; it was a declaration that they were completely and permanently denying the right of the standing regime to rule them at all, ever again. And that's a pretty darn radical thing to do.

For all the parades, fireworks, picnics, and other events which will happen on July 4th to celebrate "Independence Day," how many Americans today do you think are capable of even contemplating the possibility of engaging in "illegal" resistance against "authority"? Not many.

What would the equivalent of the Declaration of Independence look like today? Well, we would have a lot more to complain about than the colonists did, with far higher taxes, far more intrusive regulation, and a much higher level of oppression all around. But what would the conclusion be? It wouldn't be, "So you better change those laws!" It would be more like this:

"Dear Federal Government, you're fired! We're not paying your taxes anymore, not obeying your laws ever again, and from now on we will resist your thugs when you try to enforce your will on us."

How many Americans would dare to even think such a thing, much less say it out loud, or write it down and send it to the feds? Very few, indeed. The truth is, the spirit of resistance is all but dead in this country. Even among those in the pro-freedom movement, the vast majority of efforts revolve around begging the masters to be nice, petitioning for or against this or that legislation, arguing over which politician should run our lives and take our money.

"Write your congressman and tell him to oppose ... "
"Promise to vote against any candidate who doesn't support ... "
"Sign this petition, to push legislation which will ... "

I have a better idea. How about if a few million of us send one message--and only one message--to those pretending to be our "representatives," those who claim to have the right to rule us. That message should be this: "Legislate whatever you want; I will not obey. And when you send your thugs to punish me, I will resist." That is the message of the Declaration of Independence. But on this July 4th, how many Americans do you think would even dare to think such a thing--even quietly and to themselves?

What this country needs is not a change in legislation, or a change of parties or candidates. It doesn't need another election, or another protest or demonstration, or another group lobbying the government for this or that. What it needs is a people with a fundamentally different mindset. What it needs is a population capable of saying, "You're not the boss of us!" But nothing the people ever hear from the mainstream media, or from those in government, or from the talking heads and political pundits, will ever endorse such an attitude. On the contrary, the only message you'll ever hear in the papers, on the radio or on the TV, from academia or from the government, will boil down to this: "You can whine and complain about what the government is doing to you, and you can beg your masters to change, but you must never disobey!"

As long as obedience to authority is taught as the highest principle--and it absolutely is almost everywhere in the country--this will be a nation of pathetic slaves perpetually yet fruitlessly whining at their sadistic, power-happy masters. Maybe this country should be something better than that.

If you're one of the few who would like to hear a drastically different message--one that is not premised on the assumption that we all have an obligation to bow to those who claim to be our masters--then be at Fifth and Market in downtown Philadelphia on the afternoon of July 4th. (The talks start at 3:00, and my rant might be first, so make sure you're there before that.) And while you're at it, bring along some obedient, unthinking flag-wavers, to see if they can handle some real advocacy of freedom. Let's see how they respond when their indoctrination as obedient subjects collides with the concept of true liberty.

Or, if you can't make it to Philly on the Fourth (or even if you can), order a few copies of "The Iron Web," and start "corrupting" the people you know by exposing them to the radical idea that they own themselves, and that they don't need the permission of tyrants in order to be free. Yes, understanding freedom requires a dramatic shift in mindset from the statist conformism that now plagues this country. On the other hand, it's getting downright embarrassing watching all the robbed, regulated and restricted American slaves wildly cheering about how free they are.

Source: Freedom's Phoenix

Amnesty accuses Israel of using human shields in Gaza

JERUSALEM (AFP) — Amnesty International on Thursday accused Israeli forces of war crimes, saying they used children as human shields and conducted wanton attacks on civilians during their offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The London-based human rights group also accused Hamas of war crimes, but said it found no evidence that the Islamist rulers of Gaza used civilians as human shields during the 22-day offensive Israel launched on December 28.

It also reiterated its call for an international arms embargo against Israel.

"Much of the destruction was wanton and resulted from direct attacks on civilian objects," Amnesty said in a study.

Israeli troops forced Palestinians to stay in one room of their home while turning the rest of the house into a base and sniper position, "effectively using the families, both adults and children, as human shields and putting them at risk," the group said.

"Intentionally using civilians to shield a military objective, often referred to as using 'human shields' is a war crime," Amnesty said.

It could not support Israeli claims that Hamas used human shields. It said it found no evidence Palestinian fighters directed civilians to shield military objectives from attacks, forced them to stay in buildings used by militants, or prevented them from leaving commandeered buildings.

However, the report did point out that Hamas and other armed groups fired hundreds of rockets into southern Israel. "Such unlawful attacks constitute war crimes and are unacceptable," said Donatella Rovera, who led an Amnesty mission to Gaza and southern Israel.

More than 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died during the offensive Israel launched in response to rocket fire from Palestinian militants.

Amnesty said 300 children were among those killed.

"Hundreds of civilians were killed in attacks carried out using high-precision weapons, air-delivered bombs and missiles, and tank shells.

"Others, including women and children, were shot at short range when posing no threat to the lives of the Israeli soldiers," it said.

"Most of the cases investigated by Amnesty International of close-range shootings involve individuals, including children and women, who were shot at as they were fleeing their homes in search of shelter.

"Others were going about their daily activities. The evidence indicates that none could have reasonably been perceived as a threat to the soldiers who shot them and that there was no fighting going on in their vicinity when they were shot," the report said, adding that "wilful killings of unarmed civilians are war crimes."

It said Israel's use of white phosphorus shells was also a clear breach of international law.

White phosphorus is not illegal if used as a smokescreen in open areas "but it should not be used in a densely populated area as it was used here," Rovera told AFP, adding that her team saw Palestinians with "hideous burns" from white phosphorus shells.

Amnesty also said Israel's initial denial it used phosphorus caused further deaths.

"People could have been saved if the army had admitted using white phosphorus, rather than continuing to deny it," Rovera said. "Then they could have received the care that was necessary.

The rights group was also critical of Israel's use of flechette rounds -- artillery shells which explode to emit hundreds of steel darts.

These are designed for use in open battle but were employed by Israel in built-up areas, a clear breach of the international rules of war, said Chris Cobb-Smith, an artillery expert engaged by Amnesty.

With its dazzling array of high-tech weaponry, Israel was perfectly capable of distinguishing between civilian and military targets, he told AFP.

Asked if Israel had deliberately targetted unarmed civilians, he said it was "very difficult to come to any other conclusion".

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.

Source: Google News

Italy to Declare Independence from US Military |

Do they have a fourth of July in Italy? That's not a trick question. This July 4th, Italians plan to gather in Vicenza to take nonviolent action aimed at freeing Italy from U.S. occupation and opposing the proposed construction of an enormous new U.S. military base in a town already swarming with U.S. troops stationed at existing bases. For years now, a major campaign organized by local residents has resisted the construction of the new base. The history of this campaign is chronicled in English here and here. A local referendum voted 95 percent against the base. A leader of the opposition to the base has been elected to the local government. An Italian prime minister has been temporarily thrown out of power. Local activists and members of parliament have visited Washington to oppose the base, and testified before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on April 23, 2009. The European media has been unable to avoid the story.

Last month, participants broke into the fenced off construction site to plant flags and banners: (video). Last week, U.S. soldiers jogging through Vicenza were greeted with signs asking them to go home: (video). I used to live in Vicenza in the late 1980s and was enthusiastically welcomed as an American and a friend. The military presence was already pervasive, but since then it has grown tremendously, while Italians' opinions of the purposes served by the U.S. military have plummeted. The U.S. Army is not liberating Italy from Nazism, but sending soldiers off to fight aggressive wars in the Middle East, and bringing them back disturbed, suicidal, and prone to drinking and causing trouble. In April, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez visited Venice (Venezia in Italian, and not far from Vicenza), where she told Italians that they would just have to accept the new base, and that the United States needs it in order to more easily attack Africa.

This week the "No Dal Molin" campaign (named for the Dal Molin site of the proposed base) sent a letter to U.S. President Barack Obama that quoted his victory speech from November 4, 2008, in Chicago: "a government of the people, by the people, and for the people . . . I will listen to you, especially when we disagree." The letter noted that Obama will soon be in Italy for a G8 summit and invited him to visit Vicenza, which has hosted U.S. military installations since 1955. The letter read, in part:

"For three years, women and men, young and old, wealthy and ordinary people have been working together to defend the city and the future of our land for future generations. We, like you, started in neighborhoods and built a community working for change. This has nothing to do with anti-Americanism, which is how our movement is often painted. Our concerns are based on facts, and we would therefore like to ask you a few questions:
"In the United States would it be possible to build a military base one mile from the center of a UNESCO World Heritage site? This is what is happening in Vicenza.
"In the United States would it be possible to do this without consulting the local population and going against the will of local residents, who during a recent referendum voted 95 percent opposed?
"In the United States would it be possible to build a military base above one of the most important ground water sources on the continent (the one in Vicenza is considered one of the most important here in Europe), vital for the population, placing it at serious risk of contamination and in violation of existing legislation? This is what is happening in Vicenza.
"Vicenza, a city that has always had a strong vocation for peace, is destined to become the home of the most important US base in Europe, a command center for Africom as well as an integral part of preventive war designed and pursued by the Bush administration, which has thus far proved a failure. With which rights do you impose this upon us?
"If the words written in the Declaration of Independence of the United States have real value and if you, like us, believe in values such as democracy, respect, legality, and transparency, then you should know that these values are being denied in Vicenza."

On the eve of the G8 summit (July 8-10 in L'Aquila), the No Dal Molin organization is inviting people from all over Italy and the world to celebrate the Fourth of July in Vicenza and "declare our independence from the US military, freeing the land from the presence of a new war base." The words of these new Jeffersonians are worth quoting in the original:

"Il 4 luglio è l'anniversario in cui gli statunitensi festeggiano la propria indipendenza; quest'anno sarà anche il giorno in cui i vicentini - e tutti coloro che vogliono la pace e la difesa dei beni comuni - decreteranno la propria indipendenza dalle servitù militari."

Translation: July 4th is the holiday with which the people of the United States celebrate their own independence. This year it will also be the day on which Vicentines, and all those who support peace and defense of the common good, declare their own independence from military servitude.

And it's worth considering the use to which the words of my neighbor here in Charlottesville, Thomas Jefferson, are now being put. Jefferson borrowed from Filippo Mazzei, but it is the words of Jefferson that are now being translated back into Italian in ironic and tragic protest of what Jefferson's nation has become:

"Quando nel corso di eventi umani, sorge la necessità che un popolo sciolga i legami politici che lo hanno stretto a un altro popolo . . . un conveniente riguardo alle opinioni dell’umanità richiede che quel popolo dichiari le ragioni per cui è costretto alla secessione."

To support this effort, write to

Italy to Declare Independence from US Military |

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CNN Covers Unlawful Detention Of Steve Bierfeldt Of Campaign For Liberty

Supreme Court Takes A Stand For English In The Schools

Thursday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Horne v. Flores drives another nail into the coffin of bilingual education, the teaching theory in which immigrant children are segregated by language and taught primarily in their native language while being taught English on the side.

Bilingual education is a documented failure in school systems across the country, and the 5-4 decision, written by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., involving Arizona's Nogales Unified School District emphasizes this failure with a stark conclusion: Teach English. Specifically, the high court recognizes the demonstrated effectiveness of structured English immersion (SEI) methods for teaching English language learners (ELL).

In 1992, some students and parents in the district sued the state, claiming it wasn't taking "appropriate action" to overcome barriers to ELLs in schools. The state responded with English-immersion techniques. (Thomas Horne is the state school superintendent for public instruction.) Here's what the high court concluded: "Research on ELL instruction indicates there is documented academic support for the view that SEI is significantly more effective than bilingual education. Findings of the Arizona Department of Education in 2004 strongly support this conclusion."

The Supreme Court also concluded that a lower court had failed to adequately consider whether the Nogales school district's implementation of SEI was a "changed circumstance" warranting relief.

SEI has proved its superiority to bilingual education wherever it has been implemented. The English-advocacy group ProEnglishfiled a Horne friend-of-the court brief, and it is significant that the ruling cites Arizona data provided by the organization.

In fact, new numbers just released by the Arizona Department of Education estimate that 40,000, or 29 percent, of ELLs enrolled in SEI classes passed the English fluency exam and will transition into mainstream classes this year. That is up from just 17,813 students, or 12 percent, of ELLs who passed the English-fluency exam after being enrolled in bilingual education classes in 2006-07.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Nogales school district is doing exactly what the law requires - taking "appropriate action" through English immersion techniques to teach English to students who grew up speaking another language.

The Supreme Court could have cited many more SEI success stories. Massachusetts, for example, effectively uses English immersion as opposed to bilingual education. The June 7 Boston Globe reported on that state's top-performing high school graduates - the valedictorians - including a boy from Haiti who arrived in Boston four years ago without knowing a word of English. The paper reported that Edner Paul not only leads his school but won a four-year scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Furthermore, according to the Globe, immigrant students were class valedictorians in 17 of the 42 high schools in Boston - and most arrived a few years ago barely knowing English.

A recent study by the Editorial Projects in Education also spotlights Massachusetts education and chronicles further encouraging news about English learners. Compared to English learners across the country, 36 percent of the state's ELL students reached a proficient level in English, as opposed to just 16 percent nationwide. If that level of success holds true each year, most kids would learn English quickly enough to be out of special programs in two to three years at most.

Nogales school officials were trying to follow a successful model in spite of a vocal multilingual lobby that seeks to coddle non-English speakers in our classrooms. Yet polls continue to show that more than 90 percent of all Americans view English is the nation's unifying language - a common tongue that enables job-seeking legal newcomers to participate in the American dream. The Supreme Court couldn't have sent a clearer signal: Get rid of bilingual education and give English language learners a real opportunity to learn English and succeed.

Supreme Court sends a signal - in English - Washington Times

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Israeli 'Settlements': Fictions on the Ground

I am old enough to remember when Israeli kibbutzim looked like settlements (“a small village or collection of houses” or “the act of peopling or colonizing a new country,” Oxford English Dictionary).

In the early 1960s, I spent time on Kibbutz Hakuk, a small community founded by the Palmah unit of the Haganah, the pre-state Jewish militia. Begun in 1945, Hakuk was just 18 years old when I first saw it, and was still raw at the edges. The few dozen families living there had built themselves a dining hall, farm sheds, homes and a “baby house” where the children were cared for during the workday. But where the residential buildings ended there were nothing but rock-covered hillsides and half-cleared fields.

The community’s members still dressed in blue work shirts, khaki shorts and triangular hats, consciously cultivating a pioneering image and ethos already at odds with the hectic urban atmosphere of Tel Aviv. Ours, they seemed to say to bright-eyed visitors and volunteers, is the real Israel; come and help us clear the boulders and grow bananas — and tell your friends in Europe and America to do likewise.

Hakuk is still there. But today it relies on a plastics factory and the tourists who flock to the nearby Sea of Galilee. The original farm, built around a fort, has been turned into a tourist attraction. To speak of this kibbutz as a settlement would be bizarre.

However, Israel needs “settlements.” They are intrinsic to the image it has long sought to convey to overseas admirers and fund-raisers: a struggling little country securing its rightful place in a hostile environment by the hard moral work of land clearance, irrigation, agrarian self-sufficiency, industrious productivity, legitimate self-defense and the building of Jewish communities. But this neo-collectivist frontier narrative rings false in modern, high-tech Israel. And so the settler myth has been transposed somewhere else — to the Palestinian lands seized in war in 1967 and occupied illegally ever since.

It is thus not by chance that the international press is encouraged to speak and write of Jewish “settlers” and “settlements” in the West Bank. But this image is profoundly misleading. The largest of these controversial communities in geographic terms is Maale Adumim. It has a population in excess of 35,000, demographically comparable to Montclair, N.J., or Winchester, England. What is most striking, however, about Maale Adumim is its territorial extent. This “settlement” comprises more than 30 square miles — making it one and a half times the size of Manhattan and nearly half as big as the borough and city of Manchester, England. Some “settlement.”

There are about 120 official Israeli settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank. In addition, there are “unofficial” settlements whose number is estimated variously from 80 to 100. Under international law, there is no difference between these two categories; both are contraventions of Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which explicitly prohibits the annexation of land consequent to the use of force, a principle re-stated in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter.

Thus the distinction so often made in Israeli pronouncements between “authorized” and “unauthorized” settlements is specious — all are illegal, whether or not they have been officially approved and whether or not their expansion has been “frozen” or continues apace. (It is a matter of note that Israel’s new foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, belongs to the West Bank settlement of Nokdim, established in 1982 and illegally expanded since.)

The blatant cynicism of the present Israeli government should not blind us to the responsibility of its more respectable-looking predecessors. The settler population has grown consistently at a rate of 5 percent annually over the past two decades, three times the rate of increase of the Israeli population as a whole. Together with the Jewish population of East Jerusalem (itself illegally annexed to Israel), the settlers today number more than half a million people: just over 10 percent of the Jewish population of so-called Greater Israel. This is one reason why settlers count for so much in Israeli elections, where proportional representation gives undue political leverage to even the smallest constituency.

But the settlers are no mere marginal interest group. To appreciate their significance, spread as they are over a dispersed archipelago of urban installations protected from Arab intrusion by 600 checkpoints and barriers, consider the following: taken together, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan Heights constitute a homogenous demographic bloc nearly the size of the District of Columbia. It exceeds the population of Tel Aviv itself by almost one third. Some “settlement.”

If Israel is drunk on settlements, the United States has long been its enabler. Were Israel not the leading beneficiary of American foreign aid — averaging $2.8 billion a year from 2003 to 2007, and scheduled to reach $3.1 billion by 2013 — houses in West Bank settlements would not be so cheap: often less than half the price of equivalent homes in Israel proper.

Many of the people who move to these houses don’t even think of themselves as settlers. Newly arrived from Russia and elsewhere, they simply take up the offer of subsidized accommodation, move into the occupied areas and become — like peasants in southern Italy freshly supplied with roads and electricity — the grateful clients of their political patrons. Like American settlers heading west, Israeli colonists in the West Bank are the beneficiaries of their very own Homestead Act, and they will be equally difficult to uproot.

Despite all the diplomatic talk of disbanding the settlements as a condition for peace, no one seriously believes that these communities — with their half a million residents, their urban installations, their privileged access to fertile land and water — will ever be removed. The Israeli authorities, whether left, right or center, have no intention of removing them, and neither Palestinians nor informed Americans harbor illusions on this score.

To be sure, it suits almost everyone to pretend otherwise — to point to the 2003 “road map” and speak of a final accord based on the 1967 frontiers. But such feigned obliviousness is the small change of political hypocrisy, the lubricant of diplomatic exchange that facilitates communication and compromise.

There are occasions, however, when political hypocrisy is its own nemesis, and this is one of them. Because the settlements will never go, and yet almost everyone likes to pretend otherwise, we have resolutely ignored the implications of what Israelis have long been proud to call “the facts on the ground.”

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, knows this better than most. On June 14 he gave a much-anticipated speech in which he artfully blew smoke in the eyes of his American interlocutors. While offering to acknowledge the hypothetical existence of an eventual Palestinian state — on the explicit understanding that it exercise no control over its airspace and have no means of defending itself against aggression — he reiterated the only Israeli position that really matters: we won’t build illegal settlements but we reserve the right to expand “legal” ones according to their natural rate of growth. (It is not by chance that he chose to deliver this speech at Bar-Ilan University, the heartland of rabbinical intransigence where Yigal Amir learned to hate Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin before heading off to assassinate him in 1995.)

THE reassurances Mr. Netanyahu offered the settlers and their political constituency were as well received as ever, despite being couched in honeyed clichés directed at nervous American listeners. And the American news media, predictably, took the bait — uniformly emphasizing Mr. Netanyahu’s “support” for a Palestinian state and playing down everything else.

However, the real question now is whether President Obama will respond in a similar vein. He surely wants to. Nothing could better please the American president and his advisors than to be able to assert that, in the wake of his Cairo speech, even Mr. Netanyahu had shifted ground and was open to compromise. Thus Washington avoids a confrontation, for now, with its closest ally. But the uncomfortable reality is that the prime minister restated the unvarnished truth: His government has no intention of recognizing international law or opinion with respect to Israel’s land-grab in “Judea and Samaria.”

Thus President Obama faces a choice. He can play along with the Israelis, pretending to believe their promises of good intentions and the significance of the distinctions they offer him. Such a pretense would buy him time and favor with Congress. But the Israelis would be playing him for a fool, and he would be seen as one in the Mideast and beyond.

Alternatively, the president could break with two decades of American compliance, acknowledge publicly that the emperor is indeed naked, dismiss Mr. Netanyahu for the cynic he is and remind Israelis that all their settlements are hostage to American goodwill. He could also remind Israelis that the illegal communities have nothing to do with Israel’s defense, much less its founding ideals of agrarian self-sufficiency and Jewish autonomy. They are nothing but a colonial takeover that the United States has no business subsidizing.

But if I am right, and there is no realistic prospect of removing Israel’s settlements, then for the American government to agree that the mere nonexpansion of “authorized” settlements is a genuine step toward peace would be the worst possible outcome of the present diplomatic dance. No one else in the world believes this fairy tale; why should we? Israel’s political elite would breathe an unmerited sigh of relief, having once again pulled the wool over the eyes of its paymaster. The United States would be humiliated in the eyes of its friends, not to speak of its foes. If America cannot stand up for its own interests in the region, at least let it not be played yet again for a patsy.

Source: New York Times

As Independence Day Nears, Sgt. Christian DeJohn is Still Waiting

This Saturday, Americans will celebrate the 233rd anniversary of our declaration of independence. With our nation presently fighting two wars abroad, this year's Independence Day reminds us again that the brave men and women of our armed forces make unimaginable sacrifices every day in defense of our constitutional freedoms.

It's fitting, therefore, to inform Torch readers that this Sunday, Sergeant Christian DeJohn of Wyncote, Pennsylvania, will return to active duty for the Army. One day after the Fourth's fireworks, Christian will be heading out on active duty to the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California, right smack in the middle of the Mojave Desert. When he arrives, Christian will be greeted by 100-degree heat, 100 pounds of gear and body armor, and several weeks of very intense desert training.

But Christian is used to enduring hardships for the constitutional freedoms of both himself and others. Indeed, the name "DeJohn" should be familiar to anyone with an interest in free speech on campus. As FIRE supporters no doubt recall, Christian brought a successful suit against Temple University, where he was and is still a graduate student, which resulted in the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit striking down Temple's former sexual harassment policy on First Amendment grounds last fall.

The Third Circuit's landmark ruling in DeJohn v. Temple University made clear that the free speech rights of students at public universities in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania cannot be abrogated by poorly-written speech codes. As such, it was a resounding victory for free speech on campus, and we have Christian to thank. Without his courage, unconstitutional policies would still be on the books.

Unfortunately, Christian's "reward" for his victory has been bitter indeed. As I described at length back in March, Christian has been in an uncomfortable academic limbo following the Third Circuit's decision. I urge you to read the ugly details in full, but here's the bottom line: Despite obtaining each of the 26 credits necessary for his master's degree and maintaining a GPA of 3.2, Temple's History Department has refused to grant Christian an honest review of his master's thesis.

That's right: After filing his lawsuit against Temple, Christian's progress towards his degree has been completely stonewalled by a school with an axe to grind. He's done everything required but finish his master's thesis, and he can't do that because no professor will review it. Obviously, this leaves Christian in an unbelievably frustrating position. And all for standing up for his First Amendment rights. If it sounds unfair, that's because it is. Temple should be ashamed.

Since my entry about Christian's dilemma was posted back in March, there has been a small but promising sign that Temple may be coming around. In response to an e-mail query, Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico's office informed Christian last week that they are reviewing his situation, and that they plan on being in touch in the next several weeks.

While this small note is far from a guarantee, there's no choice but to hope that Temple decides to proceed in good faith. It goes without saying that Temple should do the right thing and establish a clear path for Christian to complete his degree, free from lingering faculty animus and petty persecution. Christian deserves to be treated fairly, like any other student. To single Christian out and prevent him from obtaining his degree because of his willingness to go to court on behalf of the First Amendment is just plain wrong.

So here's hoping that Christian receives good news from the Provost's office while he's in California, sweating it out under the desert sun.

Until then, he's still waiting. And so are we.

Source: Foundation For Individual Rights In Education

Emergency Action for Free Gaza Movement

Today we planned to tell you about the upcoming July 9th anniversaries of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling against Israel's apartheid wall and the Unified Palestinian Call for boycott, divestment and sanctions and how we plan to mark these anniversaries, but we want to draw your attention to an important development in Israel/Palestine. Today the Israeli navy attacked and kidnapped the passengers and crew of the Free Gaza boat, The Spirit of Humanity, including US Campaign Advisory Board member Huwaida Arraf.

The Free Gaza Movement, which has organized several humanitarian deliveries to the Port of Gaza via their fleet of Cypriot boats, had one ship, the Dignity, rammed by the Israeli navy in December. Now, the Spirit of Humanity is being towed to Israel, where the crew and passengers expect to be handed over to the Israeli border patrol. Take action to have these humanitarian aid workers released.

The July 9th anniversaries are even more important in light of the capture of the Spirit of Humanity. The ICJ ruling makes clear that Palestinians do have rights to their land and to freedom from life in the sort of open-air prison that the Gaza strip has become. While Free Gaza boats represent a form of direct engagement to support human rights in Palestinian territory, boycott and divestment act as the other side of the coin, nonviolently pressuring Israel to live up to its responsibilities under international law.

Take Action

Click here to send an email to the Israeli Prime Minister's office, the Israeli Defense Ministry, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, and your Members of Congress demanding that The Spirit of Humanity's passengers and crew are released!

You can also use our website to find out how to get involved in July 9th activities in your area. Click here to take action for boycott and divestment online. Click here to learn more about how you can get the global boycott and divestment movement into the media. Click here to find out about July 9th events in your area or click here to find out how to join the US Campaign at our two Washington, D.C. anniversary events.

Learn More

You can learn more about the Spirit of Humanity's saga by following the Free Gaza Movement on Twitter or by visiting their website, here.

Israel's kidnapping of international humanitarian workers in international waters is exactly the kind of state failure to abide by international law that the Palestinian Unified Call intends to end. Boycott and divestment actions offer a nonviolent, direct tactic for citizens to pressure offensive governments and stand in solidarity with those whose rights are being violated.

We urge all of our member groups and individual supporters to plan or participate in a local action marking the July 9th anniversaries. Click here to find out about events in your area. For more information on the anniversaries of the ICJ ruling against Israel's apartheid wall and the Unified Palestinian Call for boycott and divestment please visit our July 9th Day of Action web section by clicking here. Start following us on Twitter or join our Facebook group now to take part in our July 9th online actions! Our Twitter and Facebook actions are both part of a campaign to educate the public about boycott and divestment and to call Caterpillar and Motorola to account for their support of Israel's military occupation and apartheid practices.

Source: US Campaign To End The Israeli Occupation

Life, Liberty, and Property Are Inseparable

Life, Liberty, and Property Are Inseparable

"The reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; and the end why they chuse and authorize a legislative, is, that there may be laws made, and rules set, as guards and fences to the properties of all the members of the society, to limit the power, and moderate the dominion, of every part and member of the society: for since it can never be supposed to be the will of the society, that the legislative should have a power to destroy that which every one designs to secure, by entering into society, and for which the people submitted themselves to legislators of their own making; whenever the legislators endeavour to take away, and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence."

* John Locke [Second Treatise of Government, (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1980) Pg. 111]

Life, liberty, and property were the central, inalienable rights that formed the foundation of the great experiment in self government called the United States of America. The founders of our country never broke apart this sacred triumvirate, because each one of these rights is inextricably bound to the other. No one of these three can exist without the other. Moreover, when all three are secured, it is almost impossible for injustice to exist. Wherever one does find injustice, one invariably finds a violation of one of these three basic rights at its root.

While it is certainly true that today the rights to life and liberty are grossly violated in innumerable ways, they are nevertheless at least spoken of by our politicians. However hypocritically, they at least say that they value life and liberty, even as they pervert those sacred rights as justification for their wars and plunder.

Yet, they never even hypocritically evoke the right to property. No journalist ever challenges them based upon it, and honestly, most average Americans don't talk about it either. As a principle, property has vanished from our consciousness. However, as all of the great philosophers throughout history have understood, there is no right to life or liberty without property. In fact, property is part and parcel of life itself.

What is property? It is that which an individual rightfully owns. Included among every human being's property are his mind, his body, his conscience, and his actions. Every act of mind and body undeniably belongs to the actor, including that act which he engages in more than any other: his labor. To deny someone's right to ownership of his mind, body, or labor is to make him a slave.

It is labor that allows each individual to sustain his existence and pursue his happiness. All consumption must be preceded by production. Production can only be achieved through human labor. In fact, there is no way for an individual to pursue any goal, whether material, intellectual, or spiritual, without exertion. Even the search for God requires an intellectual and spiritual effort -- it cannot commence without labor.

For most of us, the bulk of our labor is devoted to providing the basic necessities of life for ourselves and our children. Some portion of it also provides the extras -- the toys, the vacations, or the dining out that enriches our lives and adds to our happiness. A further portion is devoted to study, prayer, or just simple reflection -- the quest for meaning and purpose in our lives. None of these things are possible without labor; our labor provides them all. Every item in every store is the product of someone's labor. Every phone call you make is made possible by someone's labor. Healthcare is someone's labor, as is education.

However, the actual effort of mind and body is not the most precious aspect of labor. If human beings were immortal, we could afford to spend our labor and its fruits indiscriminately, consuming as much as we wished and providing anything to anyone who asked it of us. If a shoemaker were able to make shoes for the rest of eternity, then certainly there would not be a bare foot on the face of the earth. If the land developer were immortal, we would all live in a mansion.

However, we are not immortal, and it is this fact that places such a premium on our labor. Our labor is not just composed of the exertion of mind and body that is necessary to produce some good or service. That exertion happens over time, the hours or days of the laborer's life. Every hour of our labor is an hour of our life from a limited supply which cannot be replenished. Whatever we have produced with our labor now contains that portion of our life which we have sacrificed to produce it.

So, when human beings trade their goods or services with one another, they are really trading pieces of their lives. If they have exchanged their labor for money with an employer or customer, that money now contains some part of their lives -- a part that can never be reclaimed. That is why the same verb is used for both money and time -- both are "spent" in exchange for some benefit. Both also represent each individual's means of self determination.

Therefore, it is impossible to call a person free if he does not own his labor and all the product of his labor. It is only through his labor that he can provide better food, clothing and shelter for himself and his family, send his children to better schools, or realize the leisure time necessary to grow intellectually and spiritually. His labor is his means to determine the course of his life. Without self determination, there is no liberty.

Furthermore, to deny a human being ownership of his labor is also to deny his right to life itself. Since his labor is his means of sustaining his existence, once his right to ownership of his labor is denied he lives only at the arbitrary whim of whoever has claimed ownership of it. For such a person, life is now a privilege granted by someone else, rather than a right.

To the founders of the United States of America, all of this was self evident. When one reads the writings of Samuel and John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, or Locke, one finds one word that is used many times more often even than liberty: property. Recognizing property as nothing more than the individual's labor and/or the product of his labor, the founders placed the protection of property as the very highest priority of government. In fact, they often stated that it was the only priority of government. While no high school history book or Hollywood biopic even hints at this fact, merely reading the words of the founders for oneself puts any debate on this point to rest.

Let us apply this concept to a contemporary issue. The unambiguous statements in the Declaration of Independence that all human beings have unalienable rights and that government's sole purpose is to secure them should absolutely beg at least one timely question from most Americans today. Why did the founders not provide for the right to health care? Why did they not establish Medicare or Medicaid? Given a whole system of government whose purpose was to secure individual rights, why was this right so glaringly overlooked?

Of course, the answer to that question is that the founders recognized that health care was not a right. Health care, like every other good or service, is someone's labor. No one but the laborer can have a right to it. To say that people have a right to health care is really to deny the health care provider a right to his own life, for it is impossible for both he and his patient to have a right to ownership of his labor. It is no less a crime to forcefully rob the health care provider's fee from a third party (the taxpayer), for that simply denies the taxpayer's right to his own life. In either case -- whether the health care provider is forced to treat the patient for free or a third party is forced to pay the bill -- someone's labor, some part of someone's life, is being stolen from him. This is the specific crime that government exists to defend its citizens against. By instead committing this crime, government becomes the most grotesque absurdity imaginable.

This is not to imply that we are at some sort of crossroads because President Obama and his pet Congress are closing in on expanding government healthcare. We came to that crossroads decades ago and quite undeniably took the wrong road. Until our philosophy changes and we recognize that retirement benefits, health care, research grants, corporate subsidies, investment in alternative energy -- all money, goods, and services -- are really pieces of someone's life that cannot be seized from them without their consent (not even by majority vote), we will never restore the liberty that we have lost. Instead, we will continue to be the most pitiable form of slave, not bound to one master, but to everyone.

When a fellow human being offers to buy your product or hire you for your services, he has paid you the highest compliment imaginable. That person has offered a piece of his life to you in exchange for something that you have to offer, which is itself a piece of your own life. He is saying that you have value and that what you offer is worth hours or days of his life that he can never reclaim. This consensual interaction between free people is the most beautiful aspect of civil society and has been responsible for every improvement in the quality of human life that has ever occurred throughout history.

Conversely, when a fellow human being points a gun at you and demands that you provide him with some good or service, he commits the most egregious crime imaginable, short of pulling the trigger and ending your life at that moment. For in reality, he is really stealing a piece of your life that you can likewise never reclaim. He may be committing this crime because he wishes to increase his wealth without earning it, or he may desperately need whatever he takes from you, but it is the same crime nonetheless. This interaction is the most evil aspect of civil society and has been responsible for every war and human misery that has ever occurred throughout history.

Government can only be organized to fulfill one of two purposes: to protect your property or to take it from you - for whatever purpose government or its constituents deem fit. There is no third choice. To organize society around competing groups stealing from one another is to create a society whose citizens exist in a perpetual state of war with one another -- for the use of force to obtain another's property without his consent is the definition of the state of war.

Such a society cannot endure indefinitely. Ours has come to the beginning of its inevitable end. Countless empires throughout history -- some much more preeminent in their worlds than we are in ours -- have disintegrated for exactly the same reason. We can still choose justice over injustice but our philosophy must change. We must again institute a government that secures our rights, rather than annihilates them in the attempt to provide us with the property of others.

This will not happen by any act of government itself. Whether we elect a liberal or a conservative, we will never achieve different results by continually electing different people or parties but asking them to do the same thing -- provide us with the property of others. It must be the people who change their philosophy and then demand that government assume its appropriate role according to that philosophy. Our government ultimately gives us what we ask for. For the past century, we have increasingly asked it to make us slaves, seduced by the siren's song of comfort and security without responsibility. This can only be provided to each of us at another's expense and can only be provided to others at ours. Once we reject the idea that we can claim a right to another human being's life, the chains that bind us will be broken. Then, it will matter not who makes our laws.

Source: Campaign For Liberty

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UK deplores Israeli decision to allow new settler homes

British foreign secretary tells parliament, 'Settlements are illegal under international law and they are a major blockage to peace in the Middle East on the basis of a two-state solution'

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Tuesday he deplored Israel's decision to approve construction of 50 new homes at a West Bank settlement in defiance of a US call for a settlement freeze.

"Settlements are illegal under international law and they are a major blockage to peace in the Middle East on the basis of a two-state solution," Miliband told parliament.

"There are reports coming through of the Israeli Ministry of Defense yesterday granting permission for 50 new housing units at the Adam settlement which is something that we completely deplore," he said.

"This is the worst possible time for new settlements to be initiated or for construction to be started," he said. "We are at an absolutely vital moment as the new American administration comes to a decision about how it will prosecute its commitment to a two-state solution."

Earlier Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak met with US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell in Washington. Barak told Mitchell that Israel was willing to consider "any positive contribution to the peace efforts."

Following the talks Barak and the US envoy agreed to set up a meeting between Mitchell and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The defense minister did not say whether he and Mitchell managed to reach an understanding on the issue of settlement freeze, but stated: "We weren't stuck on the subject of the settlements and we're not stuck now. We're continuing the dialogue in order to reach understandings.

"The meeting was conducted in a very good atmosphere, despite the differences," he added.

Source: YNetNews

Another victim of an archaic law

Darryn Walker has suffered unemployment and vilification for writing a pornographic story. The censorious obscenity law that allows this to happen must be scrapped, say John Ozimek and Julian Petley

Authors across the UK breathed a sigh of relief on Monday, as a landmark prosecution for obscenity was dropped at the eleventh hour. The importance of this case cannot be underestimated. The alternative, a world in which this prosecution had gone ahead and succeeded, would have changed the nature of the Internet (and publishing) in the UK for years to come.

Newcastle civil servant Darryn Walker was charged with publishing “obscene material” — namely a story called Girls (Scream) Aloud — which he had posted nearly two years ago on the Alt Sex Stories Text Repository, an Internet archive based in the US and dedicated to hosting stories of an erotic nature.

Walker’s blog was seriously questionable both on grounds of literary merit and taste: a work of violent sexual fantasy involving the mutilation and murder of each member of the pop group Girls Aloud, whose body parts are then sold on eBay.

The Daily Star drew it to the attention of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is responsible for policing certain categories of material found on the Internet in the UK (primarily child abuse-related materials, but also the ‘criminally obscene’). The IWF reported the story to the police and, after an investigation, charges followed.

The significance of this case lay in the fact that the matter in question was wholly written. When it comes to obscenity, the law that has to be taken into account (in England and Wales) is the Obscene Publications Act 1959. When prosecuted under this Act in 1960, the publishers of Lady Chatterley’s Lover were found not guilty, and subsequent guilty verdicts on Last Exit to Brooklyn and Inside Linda Lovelace were overturned on appeal in 1966 and 1976 respectively. Given the extreme difficulty of achieving a successful prosecution of the written word under the Act, the prosecuting authorities have for many years fought shy of bringing such a case. Since the Linda Lovelace case in 1976, after which the Metropolitan Police were reported as saying that if this was not obscene “nothing was”, it has come to be assumed that the written word to all intents and purposes falls outside the scope of the Act.

What then might have been the consequence of a successful prosecution in this case? If Girls (Scream) Aloud were to be judged obscene, then so could works by J G Ballard, Georges Bataille, William Burroughs and the Marquis de Sade.

Of course, it could be argued that the works cited possess certain literary qualities and would thus escape prosecution (much as, no doubt, there are those who would like to see them banned). But this assumes that there exist literary standards upon which everyone is agreed and that there is an absolute and watertight distinction between works of high and low culture.

The popularity of the “crime procedural” means that a very great deal of mainstream fiction is nowadays focused on the most gory aspects of homicide and sexual crime — often combined. Had this prosecution succeeded, the authors of such works would have had to be constantly looking over their shoulders.

A further argument which appeared in the popular press was that the focus on the real living members of Girls Aloud meant that the story was tantamount to harassment or evidence of other darker motives. But if that was the case, why not prosecute for harassment?

One of the key grounds for prosecution was that because of Girls Aloud’s young fanbase, the blog was very likely to be chanced upon by people who would be seriously disturbed by it. However, a simple Google search for “Girls Aloud” will reveal millions of web pages dedicated to these individuals. You would need to focus the search terms much more closely (adding words such as “rape” and “murder”) before you would be likely to “chance” upon this story — and even then, we are still talking odds of one in one hundred thousand. This was the key factor that led to the CPS dropping the case: Darryn Walker’s fantasy was not in fact easily accessible to the general public.

Had this prosecution succeeded, we might have been looking forward to a world in which bookshops were stripped of titles deemed obscene by the police and the prosecuting authorities, and in which anyone based in the UK and seeking to publish an erotic story on the Internet would now be doing so in a state of considerable anxiety.

So why was the case brought in the first place? In particular, why did the Internet Watch Foundation report it to the police when it involved only the written word, which, as we have seen, has not been successfully prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act for over 30 years. And, in these circumstances, why did the CPS press ahead with the case?

The answer to the latter question lies, we believe, in the differing views of different factions within the CPS. Our understanding is that the head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the North-East, at the time of Darryn Walker’s arrest, had pressed for it to go forward, but that, at the national level, the CPS ultimately decided to abandon the trial.

Obscenity prosecutions do not require the oversight of the director of public prosecutions (DPP). This is a particular concern given that the end result of this case could have impacted seriously on the rights of every individual in the UK in terms of how they express themselves.

It may well be that parliament has created an odd little loophole, allowing prosecution under the Obscene Publications Act, which covers publication of obscene material, without involvement of the DPP, whilst the more recently legislated extreme porn law, covering mere possession, does require DPP consent to proceed.

Some thought should go to the defendant in this case. Darryn Walker has lost his job. He has been pilloried in the press. His reputation is in tatters. He has spent a year in limbo, unable to get on with his life, and undoubtedly under great stress. Although found not guilty, this delay means he has suffered a form of extra-legal punishment — of a form that seems all too frequently to be associated with obscenity cases — presumably “pour encourager les autres”. Doubtless he won’t be receiving any apologies, either.

If the Obscene Publications Act is once again in trouble, one obvious solution would be simply to abolish it.

Source: Index On Censorship