Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ten Reasons Why the Israel Lobby AIPAC is So Dangerous
by Medea Benjamin / February 28th, 2012

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is one of the most powerful lobby organizations in the country. AIPAC’s clout helps fuel a never-ending cycle of violence in the Middle East.
Here are ten reasons why AIPAC is so dangerous.

1. AIPAC is lobbying Congress to promote a military confrontation with Iran. AIPAC – like the Israeli government – is demanding that the U.S. attack Iran militarily to prevent Iran from having the technological capacity to produce nuclear weapons, even though U.S. officials say Iran isn’t trying to build a weapon (and even though Israel has hundreds of undeclared nuclear weapons). AIPAC has successfully lobbied the U.S. government to adopt crippling economic sanctions on Iran, including trying to cut off Iran’s oil exports, despite the fact that these sanctions raise the price of gas and threaten the U.S. economy.

2. AIPAC promotes Israeli policies that are in direct opposition to international law. These include the establishment of colonies (settlements) in the Occupied West Bank and the confiscation of Palestinian land in its construction of the 26-foot high concrete “separation barrier” running through the West Bank. The support of these illegal practices makes to impossible to achieve a solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict.

3. AIPAC’s call for unconditional support for the Israeli government threatens our national security. The United States’ one-sided support of Israel, demanded by AIPAC, has significantly increased anti-American sentiment throughout the Middle East, thus endangering our troops and sowing the seeds of more possible terrorist attacks against us. Gen. David Petraeus on March 16, 2010 admitted that the U.S./Palestine conflict “foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel.” He also said that “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the [region] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support.”

4. AIPAC undermines American support for democracy movements in the Arab world. AIPAC looks at the entire Arab world through the lens of Israeli government interests, not the democratic aspirations of the Arab people. It has therefore supported corrupt, repressive regimes that are friendly to the Israeli government, such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Events now unfolding in the Middle East should convince U.S. policy-makers of the need to break from AIPAC’s grip and instead support democratic forces in the Arab world.

5. AIPAC makes the U.S. a pariah at the UN. AIPAC describes the UN as a body hostile to the State of Israel and has pressured the U.S. government to oppose resolutions calling Israel to account. Since 1972, the US has vetoed 44 UN Security Council resolutions condemning Israel’s actions against the Palestinians. President Obama continues that policy. Under Obama, the US vetoed UN censure of the savage Israeli assault on Gaza in January 2009 in which about 1400 Palestinians were killed; a 2011 resolution calling for a halt to the illegal Israeli West Bank settlements even though this was stated U.S. policy; a 2011 resolution calling for Israel to cease obstructing the work of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees; and another resolution calling for an end to illegal Israeli settlement building in East Jerusalem and the occupied Golan Heights.
6. AIPAC attacks politicians who question unconditional support of Israel. AIPAC demands that Congress rubber stamp legislation drafted by AIPAC staff. It keeps a record of how members of Congress vote and this record is used by donors to make contributions to the politicians who score well. Members of Congress who fail to support AIPAC legislation have been targeted for defeat in re-election bids. These include Senators Adlai Stevenson III and Charles H. Percy, and Representatives Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey, Cynthia McKinney, and Earl F. Hilliard. AIPAC’s overwhelmingly disproportionate influence on Congress subverts our democratic system.

7. AIPAC attempts to silence all criticism of Israel by labeling critics as “anti-Semitic,” “de-legitimizers” or “self-hating Jews.” Journalists, think tanks, students and professors have been accused of anti-Semitism for merely taking stands critical of Israeli government policies. These attacks stifle the critical discussions and debates that are at the heart of democratic policy-making. The recent attacks on staffers at the Center for American Progress is but one example of AIPAC efforts to crush all dissent.

8. AIPAC feeds U.S. government officials a distorted view of the Israel/Palestine conflict. AIPAC takes U.S. representatives on sugar-coated trips to Israel. In 2011, AIPAC took one out of very five members of Congress—and many of their spouses—on a free junket to Israel to see precisely what the Israeli government wanted them to see. It is illegal for lobby groups to take Congresspeople on trips, but AIPAC gets around the law by creating a bogus educational group, AIEF, to “organize” the trips for them. AIEF has the same office address as AIPAC and the same staff. These trips help cement the ties between AIPAC and Congress, furthering their undue influence.

9. AIPAC lobbies for billions of U.S. taxdollars to go to Israel instead of rebuilding America. While our country is reeling from a prolonged financial crisis, AIPAC is pushing for no cuts in military funds for Israel, a wealthy nation. With communities across the nation slashing budgets for teachers, firefighters and police, AIPAC pushes for over $3 billion a year to Israel.

10. Money to Israel takes funds from world’s poor. Israel has the 24th largest economy in the world, but thanks to AIPAC, it gets more U.S. taxdollars than any other country. At a time when the foreign aid budget is being slashed, keeping the lion’s share of foreign assistance for Israel means taking funds from critical programs to feed, provide shelter and offer emergency assistance to the world’s poorest people.

The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has influence on U.S. policy out of all proportion to the number of Americans who support its policies. When a small group like this has disproportionate power, that hurts everyone—including Israelis and American Jews.
From stopping a catastrophic war with Iran to finally solving the Israel/Palestine conflict, an essential starting point is breaking AIPAC’s grip on U.S. policy.

AIPAC, for those who don't know, is a right wing US zionist organisation that has almost all US senators and representatives in its deep pockets. Most of its political creatures hate AIPAC but fear its power. President Obama is one who dances to the music of the AIPAC piper. AIPAC dictates US policy on the Middle East. Note the 'AIPAC' banner in the Latuff cartoon, below.

(From Dissident Voice via Angry Arab's Comments Section)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Carlos Latuff pinxit (via Team Palestina)

Monday, February 27, 2012

UK Green Party endorses campaign against JNF
Media Release: Israel ‘charity’ accused of racism suffers another blow
27 February 2012

The Jewish National Fund (JNF), a British charity implicated in human rights violations in Israel, received yet another blow when Green Party of England and Wales members voted overwhelmingly to support an international call for action against JNF practices in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and to revoke its charity status in the UK.
Green Party member Deborah Fink, who is co-founder of Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, moved the motion on Sunday. Fink alerted the conference to “JNF greenwash” and said that “the Green Party stands for environmental and social justice, the upholding of human rights, is against racism and is officially in solidarity with the Palestinian people who have called for this campaign. The JNF is a major impediment to realisation of Green Party policy on the Middle East, therefore the JNF should be condemned. As a charity, the JNF gets tax advantages, so through our taxes, we are subsidising injustice”. The motion passed with no one speaking in opposition and with only three people voting against.

(via Jews Sans Frontieres)

A4e, the welfare-to-work business which Ms Harrison used to pay herself an £8.6m dividend last year, confirmed that it had told the Department of Work and Pensions about suspected fraud inside the company in November 2010 – at least 10 days before Mr Cameron named her as his unpaid adviser for troubled families. She has since resigned from that role.

November 2010? In August 2009 I quoted a wikipedia article, as follows -
"On the 28th June 2009, The Guardian disclosed information regarding to a fraud investigation into A4E which was instigated after the Department for Work & Pensions uncovered discrepencies [sic] in its 'confirmation of employment' forms - discrepencies which centred upon the falsifaction of employer's signatures by a number of recruiters. Further to this, as the largest New Deal scheme provider, A4E has a turnover of over £145 million and yet has only helped 19,725 people back to work (a figure which is almost impossible to qualify as the success of the applicant in actually keeping the job is not disclosed). Alongside the widespread corruption which has recently been uncovered in various recruitment companies, these statistics have called into question the actual necessity of spending tax payer's money on these schemes as their vast and lucrative turnovers as private businesses are in direct opposition to their limited public service."

So Cameron is stupid, or badly briefed, or he likes to employ crooks - remember Andy Coulson?

Friday, February 24, 2012

" It is a shame so many jobs have been outsourced to the likes of Apple's Foxconn factory in China, with its "suicide nets" around the building. But there's me being snobby again. A job is a job, and apparently we can't all win The X Factor. Who knew? Still, unlike IDS's CV, mine is real. Remember he said he attended the University of Perugia when he didn't? And his grandiose management qualifications turned out to have been a few weekend courses at GEC Marconi. Still, va va vooming your CV is all part of it, isn't it? Get a suit. Drone on. You could be work and pensions minister. Or something in Matalan. You just need to adjust your attitude."

(Suzanne Moore)
The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: NATO rebels in Libya: mistreating blacks in cages: (thanks Shawky)
Freedom and democracy in Natostan.
Cameron, Clegg, Hague, are you proud of your allies in the former Libya? Send them more arms and ammunition, there are still more blacks to kill.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The other day I went into that bookshop I don't like and was looking through some swag being sold off cheap. I lighted on a map of Bologna.
Do I need a map of Bologna? No
Did I want a map of Bologna? At 99p, yes.
Difficult to say why.
I associate the city of Bologna with three things -
An ancient and famed university
A football team with left-leaning supporters
The Wu Ming literary collective.

So what? I suppose it's something like that workmate of George Orwell's in Paris. Leaving work by Métro he always got off at the Cambronne station even though it wasn't the nearest station to his home. The reason; he was an old soldier and the station commemorated a brave general. "The Old Guard dies, it does not surrender."
Some say Cambronne's last word (not words) was otherwise. But no matter, the Old Guard did not surrender.
Some things elicit a positive, though not necessarily rational, response in a person's mind. Leastways that's how my mind works.
So I got the map and learned that there is a park in Bologna called the "Parco Pier Paolo Pasolini". Also I found that the street on which the university, or part of it, is situated is called the Via Zamboni. Could this be for the poor little Anteo Zamboni who tried to curtail Mussolini's dictatorship with a bullet? I checked. It could. I also learned that the multi-talented Pasolini was a native of Bologna, though he spent most of his life elsewhere.

I love maps, and atlases and gazetteers. No doubt there is a psychological explanation for this condition. I know there is a posh word for map collectors, but I've forgotten what it is. Learn something, forget something, the mind of the septuagenerian.
Ed Sheeran

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Work experience scheme in disarray as Tesco and other retailers change tack"

"It is a great relief to those millions around the world who were moved to prayer and action by Khader Adnan’s extraordinary hunger strike of 66 days that has ended due to Israel’s agreement to release him on April 17." (Richard Falk)
"BESNA deal dead and buried"

(via London IWW)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I don't usually listen to news chat shows, whatever they're called - political comment or opinion or something. People from different parties telling us how they can manage a rip-off economy better than the others, while newspaper columnists tell them what the billionaire press barons expect of them.
Clicking through the channels today I heard mention that more workdays are lost through strikes of late than since the early eighties, you know the Thatcher Francis of Assissi period. I lingered a while.
Right, so what is behind all this conflict? Why are workers in precarious jobs risking those jobs by striking? Was that what the pundits were going to ask and discuss?
No, the question was, is it time for more legislation to stop people withdrawing their labour? Good old reliable BBC, the Tory Party at the microphone. I cursed the boss class's propagandists and moved on.
On ITN news I encountered someone called Lucy Manning explaining workfare to the newsreaders in the studio. She quoted growling Grayling; the opponents of unpaid labour were left wing extremists out to wreck the economy. Then she told us the taxpayers' opinion; better to work for nothing than sit at home doing nothing. Those, you see, are the alternatives from the viewing platform of the well-heeled and securely employed. I'm assuming that Ms. Manning didn't interview all taxpayers before appointing herself their spokesperson. Maybe she made the whole thing up. I'm certain she didn't interview the many people on jobseekers pittance who pay, via Value Added Tax, the highest proportion of income of all taxpayers.
I wonder who feeds her the crap she tries to feed us. A government spin doctor perhaps?

Monday, February 20, 2012

"He's not a fascist, he's a very silly boy." (Dave 'the Python' Cameron)

Despite 30,000 complaints to the BBC, and 800 to OfComm, Jeremy 'Gobshite' Clarkson has been found to have done nothing wrong in advocating the murder of trade unionists on a BBC talk show.
This is Gobshite Jez whose offensive remarks about the people of Mexico were okayed by the BBC, in spite of a complaint lodged by Mexico's Ambassador to the Court of St. James.
This is the gobshite who managed to insult the population of India and get away with it in spite of the protests of the Indian High Commissioner.
So how do we account for the baleful influence of this racist and homophobe?
I think he's blackmailing somebody, but I don't know who. Cameron? Mark Thompson?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour."
Human Rights Act (1998), section 1(3), article 4

A-HA! Is this why the Conservatives want to get rid of the Human Rights Act?

Firms taking advantage of the Conservative and Post-Liberal Slave Labour scheme include -
Tesco, Asda, Argos, Holland & Barrett, Primark
Addendum (20.2.12) How could I have missed those leaders in the field of exploitation - McDonalds, Burger King? And a special mention for Sir Philip Green, chevalier d'industrie; he's the individual who is a pauper for tax purposes and a billionaire for all other purposes. One of his money-makers, Arcadia by name, has its share of Sklavenarbeiter.
"Et in Arcadia ego"
Etiam in servitute, it seems. Arcadia ain't what it used to be.

Firms known to have used slave labour, possibly still doing so -
Morrisons, Savers, Wilkinsons, B&Q, Matalan

Firms who have pulled out of the scheme -
Sainsbury, Waterstones, TK Maxx

Firms not cooperating with "Arbeit macht frei C21"

Update (20.2.12) I have heard that Matalan has suspended its dealings with the state's people traffickers. So what then happens to those already in bondage? Are they returned to the trafficker, or kept in servitude? (Sarcasm alert!) Maybe they become paid workers.

Update (21.2.12) An appallingly long list of offenders can be studied here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Every little hurts."
The government recently said it was extending the scheme to more than 100,000 placements a year. However, this has not stopped Sainsbury's, Waterstones and clothing giant TK Maxx announcing in recent weeks that they were pulling out.
Waterstones said it did not want to encourage unpaid work. Sainsbury's stressed the only back-to-work scheme it was engaging with was entirely voluntary and would try out benefit claimants for an actual job vacancy. The Guardian understands that other major high street chains are reconsidering their involvement>.
(see below, January 12th)
In what could be a major breakthrough for rank and file action, Balfour Beatty has withdrawn the imposed ‘BESNA’ contracts at the heart of a 7-month dispute. Balfour Beatty and six other construction companies were aiming to scrap longstanding pay and conditions arrangements and impose new contracts on sparks and other workers, involving deskilling and cuts in pay and allowances of up to 35% - with threats of dismissal for those not signing up.
It comes after Balfour Beatty failed this week to win an injunction to stop strike action by Unite. However the front-line battle has been fought over the last seven months by rank and file electricians organising on their own account. Hundreds of electricians have taken part in weekly protests throughout the country, including wildcat strikes when an earlier official strike vote was overturned by the courts. In London, early morning weekly actions (with London GMB members regularly attending in solidarity), included blockades of Park Lane and Oxford Street, invasions of Kings Cross and Cannon Street stations and demonstrations and occupations at Blackfriars, the Shard and other sites. At recent actions we distributed a Polish language flier translated and produced by London FWs which made the case against crossing picket lines.
Balfour Beatty abandoning this attack on workers is a real shot in the arm for rank and file direct action, but the sparks need to be vigilant – as Unite and Balfour Beatty promise future talks “to secure members’ livelihoods and the stability of the industry”. Rank and file organisers are carrying on the protests until the other six companies follow Balfour Beatty’s lead. As one of the sparks said: “Victory is near. Let’s not be rushed into a deal now.”

(lifted from

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday 17 Cleaners Demo against NTT Communications CANCELLED

London, 16/02/2012 -IWW Cleaners and Allied Trades
Once again vindicating the IWW mottos - "An Injury to One is an Injury to All" and "Don't Mourn - Organise!" - the Fighting Industrial Workers of the World Cleaners and Allied Trades Union today gained yet another victory notch on their belt against unscrupulous bosses! Not ones to passively accept injustice, after their unfair sacking for organising a union, the Cleaners of NTT Communications stood up and confronted the management of cleaning services contractor Dynamiq for this unacceptable act of union-busting. Through the IWW Cleaners' Union's negotiations with Dynamiq management, the NTT Cleaners today obtained their reinstatement as a workforce onto a single worksite, and payment of the London Living Wage. The demonstration planned for Friday 17 February has thus been CANCELLED for cause of VICTORY!!
Dynamiq Cleaning and Program Management Ltd kicked out an entire workforce who had been at NTT for years - why? Because they joined a union and stood up for their rights in the face of bullying and intimidation.
Following today's negotiations with the cleaning contractor Dynamiq, who cover the contract for NTT, the Workers, with the IWW Cleaners Union's representation, secured an agreement which puts all the workforce in one site and provides full-payment of the London Living Wage.
As a result the IWW Cleaners Branch and London Delegates Committee has cancelled the demonstration called for Tomorrow at Devon house. We thank all trade unionists and fellow workers for their solidarity and support.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب: On hunger strike but not famous: "By the time you read these words, Khader Adnan could be dead. After 58 full days on hunger strike, his body is already well past the stage...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

3.8 million children in the UK don't own a book, according to a survey conducted by, or for, the National Literacy Trust*.
Well, maybe some of them have a library ticket. They could always read online, but most probably don't.
But, as Chris H. pointed out earlier, there's more to books than just reading matter.

*Never heard of them, but I stick to my old caveat; never trust an organisation with the word 'Trust' in its name.

Addendum: I have heard of this mob. They're the ones who recruited Premier League footballers to pretend that they can read, and name their favourite tome. It turns out that these jokers are all childrens' authors by proxy, and their favourite books turn out to be the ones they get royalties for putting their names to.
I was going to suggest that these moneygrubbers would sell their own grannies. But maybe they already have ... Wayne Rooney's a collector.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

This morning I caught the tail-end of Melvyn Bragg's programme (I don't know what it's called). There was a panel of academics talking about Erasmus. I keep saying that I learn one new thing every day, and forget two or three old ones. Today I learned that, more than anything else, old Desi was an unequivocal, and vocal, opponent of war. One of the panel - I think it was Eamon Duffy - quoted him; "Dulce bellum inexpertis", a great line. "War is sweet to those who haven't experienced it", to those who haven't been "up to their necks in muck and bullets", as the old army saying goes. But the Latin version is short and bitter-sweet, succinct.
Later, chasing up the adage online, I found that Professor Duffy (if it was he) was quoting Erasmus quoting a fourth century Roman known as Vegetius.

I remember a couple of things about the learned Erasmus from school. He was a humanist; an advocate of reform in religion. He remained loyal to the old faith in spite of his objections to it's corrupt ways. He wrote a work called "In Praise of Folly". That's it.
Now my interest is awakened. Now I have to find out what of the works of Desiderius Erasmus is available in print. There's stuff online, but that's no good to an old gimmer like me.

E-books, PAH!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Leading neuroscientists believe that the UK Government may be about to sanction the development of nerve agents for British police that would be banned in warfare under an international treaty on chemical weapons.

... the Royal Society working group says the Government shifted its position to allow the development of more severe chemical agents, such as the type of potentially dangerous nerve gases used by Russian security forces to end hostage sieges. "The development of incapacitating chemical agents, ostensibly for law-enforcement purposes, raises a number of concerns in the context of humanitarian and human-rights law, as well as the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)," the report says.
(The Independent)

This on top of the news that the Paras are been trained to brutalise their fellow citizens. Nothing new there, of course. Remember Bloody Sunday?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Hardy Sheffield Wobblies brave the elements to show support for ripped-off P*zza H*T workers.
According to the British IWW website, "Solidarity demos were held all over the UK and worldwide, including Birmingham, Glasgow, London, Calais, Portland, Vancouver, Berlin." In Hull the placards were taken up by our comrades of the Solidarity Federation, living up to their name. The manager called the cops on them, but - silly manager! - the picket was legal. Book that man a place on the company's next union-busting seminar!

Courtesy of Viola Wilkins (though she doesn't know yet).

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Stating the obvious -
'Right wingers are "less intelligent"'
(Headline in today's "I on Saturday")

The research leading to this conclusion is supposed to have been publicised in a periodical called "Psychological Science".
One problem for me -
If the research was commissioned by right-wingers then the results would have been suppressed. If commissioned by left-wingers then they were demonstrating a want of intelligence, chucking their money away to learn what they should have known and been relaxed enough not to need to go in search of external confirmation.
Value-free academic research conducted by disinterested individuals or organisations? I chortle at the idea.

Maybe it's a wind-up, to induce an epidemic of coronaries among fascists, crypto-fascists (aka Mail readers), racists, tories, etc.

Friday, February 03, 2012

During the course of a long correspondence, the BBC’s head of editorial standards for audio and music, Paul Smith, wrote that the show’s producer "did not edit out the word 'Palestine’ because it was offensive — referencing Palestine is fine, but implying that it is not free is the contentious issue."

In the same letter in which he disputed the occupation, the BBC’s Paul Smith went on to say: "Palestine does not exist at the moment … 'Palestine’ refers to a historical state or an aspiration."

Thursday, February 02, 2012

I don't like to plug brand names here but sometimes they merit a mention -
"No more slimeburgers? Until recently, 70 percent of burgers in the United States contained “pink slime”, also known as ammoniated boneless lean beef trimmings, a cheap beef filling unfit for consumption until it is gassed with ammonia. Now McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Burger King are dropping the magic additive following a campaign of withering criticism from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver."
I wonder what appetising ingredient will replace the missing bonne bouche.