Through a relentless investigation to find the answer, Disruption takes an unflinching look at the devastating consequences of our inaction. The exploration lays bare the terrifying science, the shattered political process, the unrelenting industry special interests and the civic stasis that have brought us to this social, moral and ecological crossroads.The film also takes us […]
This is a film based on the book “Death of the Liberal Class” by journalist and Pulitzer prize winner, Chris Hedges. It charts the rise of the Corporate State, and examines the future of obedience in a world of unfettered capitalism, globalization, staggering inequality and environmental change. The film predominantly focuses on US corporate capitalism, […]
A report called Body Count has revealed that at least 1.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of the US-led “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a report which should have made front page news across the world.
In the comprehensive 101 pagedocument ‘Body Count,’
Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, have produced figures for the number of people killed from September 11, 2001 until the end of 2013.
The findings are devastating: the in-depth investigation concludes that the ‘war on terror‘ has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate”.
“The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely,” the executive summary says.
Even if we take the lower figure of 1.3 million deaths, that’s still approximately 10 times greater than the figures propagated up to now by the media and NGOs. 1.3 million Iraqis equates to 5 percent of the population, the equivalent to 3.2 million Britons being killed following a foreign invasion.
One of the most sickening parts of the report is a paragraph about drone attacks on Pakistan entitled ‘Festive Parties as Targets’ on Page 94.
“The presence of noncombatants at these entirely peaceful assemblies is totally ignored. Frequently, the first drone attack is followed by a second one an hour or two later, directed against people who are searching for survivors and trying to find the dead in order to bury them.”
In one such attack ten of the children killed were between five and ten years old.
The report certainly makes shocking reading but it fully vindicates those who have always maintained that the numbers of people killed in the ‘the war on terror‘, and particularly the figures in Iraq, had been deliberately played down by supporters of Western “intervention”.
Media Lens is definitely owed an apology by its neocon/ ‘liberal interventionist’ critics (as indeed are the authors of an earlier report published in 2006 by the renowned medical journal The Lancet which was dismissed by George Bush and Tony Blair of not being credible), but of course they won’t get one.
The war lobby have ‘moved on’ from Iraq and is now focusing its attention on demonizing Russia and further attempts to remove the Assad government in Syria via the imposition of ‘no-fly zones’. It’s interesting isn’t it that those who can tell us to the nearest thousand how many people have died in Syria (in order to propagandize for another Western ‘humanitarian intervention‘), have little or no interest in the Iraq death toll, a country where there was a full-scale Western ‘intervention’.
We remember how US General Tommy Franks, who led the illegal invasion, arrogantly declared “We don‘t do body counts.” How very convenient not to record the number of people your military interventions kill.
“Officially ignored are casualties, injured or killed, involving enemy combatants and civilians,” writes Dr Hans-C. von Sponeck, a former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, in his preface to Body Count. “This, of course, comes as no surprise. It is not an oversight but a deliberate omission. The U.S. authorities have kept no known records of such deaths. This would have destroyed the arguments that freeing Iraq by military force from a dictatorship, removing al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and eliminating safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan’s tribal areas has prevented terrorism from reaching the US homeland, improved global security and advanced human rights, all at “defendable costs”.
Body Count gives us 2 million reasons why we should not allow the neocon architects of the “war on terror” and the journalists who peddled pro-war propaganda to ‘move on’ from the carnage they have caused.
Let’s be clear that what we are talking about here is genocide. It’s a genocide caused by military campaigns which were allegedly about protecting us from “terrorism” and making the world a safer place but in fact did neither. 2,996 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, but that number has been dwarfed by the number of people who have lost their lives in the US-led wars which followed. In fact Body Count reveals that between 2004 and October 2012 between 2,318 and 2,912 people were killed in US drone attacks on Pakistan, a great many of whom were civilians.
In addition to the 2 million killed in the ‘wars on terror’ investigated in Body Count (but which more accurately should be called ‘wars OF terror’), we must also add in the 50,000 or so who have lost their lives in Libya both during and after the NATO “humanitarian” military intervention of 2011.
The entire ‘MSM’ disagreed, we got plenty of nasty criticism, but in fact we were right about the Iraq death toll http://www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/body-count.pdf …
We must not forget either the millions who have been made refugees, or the way that Western military intervention in the Middle East has enabled the rise of groups such as Islamic State. Body Count’s death toll, it’s worth pointing out, does not include deaths among the 3 million refugees from the Iraq war subjected to privations.
All things considered, the neocons and their ‘liberal interventionist’ allies are responsible for the greatest amount of death, destruction and human misery on this planet since the dark days of the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler – whose “illegally invade a different country every couple of years” foreign policy they have emulated. Yet the war lobby is still there in positions of power and influence, urging more ‘interventions’ as if nothing had happened.
The situation can be likened to Nazis being left in prominent positions in Germany after World War Two – they were of course put on trial – but unlike the Nazis, the neocons and ‘liberal interventionists’ have never been held to account for the deaths their wars have caused and so the bloodshed continues.
What ‘Body Count’ proves to us is that the true humanitarian foreign policy is a non-interventionist one. We need to return urgently to a system of international relations in which the waging of aggressive war is regarded as the ultimate crime. The judges at Nuremberg in 1946, repeating the words of Chief US Prosecutor Robert Jackson, said that “to initiate a war of aggression… is the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
In the last fifteen years or so, beginning with the 1999 bombardment of Yugoslavia, another illegal act carried out by the US and its allies, we’ve been told by our neocon/faux-left elite that ‘not-intervening’ is a greater crime than launching a war – but ‘Body Count’ provides evidence of just how morally bankrupt that argument is.
Those warmongers, who deny the genocide which has taken place – and which is meticulously detailed in Body Count, need to be publicly shamed and treated with the opprobrium they deserve. We must boycott media outlets and newspapers- like the ones owned by Rupert Murdoch – that endlessly beat the drums of war.
Page 46 of Body Count specifically mentions the Murdoch-owned Times newspaper for “regurgitating old accusations” against The Lancet report on Iraqi war deaths, which said that around 655,000 people, had died up to June 2006.
We need to be ready to link to Body Count whenever neocons and the fake-left have the nerve to lecture us on the need for further ‘humanitarian’ military interventions. The report, on page 53 quotes Les Roberts, co-author of The Lancet study, speaking at a hearing in the German Bundestag organized by the Left Party parliamentary group:
“When the President of Sudan denies widespread massacres in Darfur, when President Ahmadinejad downplays the Holocaust, we are all appalled. Please do not allow Germany to be associated with the Americans doing the same thing as part of their so-called war on terror.”
We must also do all we can to see that the architects of the ‘war on terror’ are arrested for war crimes. A website here offers a cash reward for anyone attempting a peaceful citizen’s arrest of Tony Blair. It’s an obscenity that this man, with the blood of so many innocents on his hands, is still at liberty, and has accumulated a personal fortune since stepping down as Prime Minister in 2007.
Americans, sick of how their country has been hijacked by the endless war lobby, need to focus on bringing their war-criminal ex-President George W. Bush to justice; we in Britain must focus on Blair.
We also need to counter elite attempts to turn the attention away from Western crimes to crimes committed by other groups in which less people lost their lives.
There’s been talk in European establishment circles of making Srebrenica genocide denial a criminal offence, but as terrible as that massacre was, the indisputable fact is that far more people have been killed by the US and its allies in subsequent years. If Srebrenica genocide denial is made an offence, but denying the genocide caused by the US-led ‘war on terror’ is not, then the double standards will be there for all to see.
The difficulty of the task of exposing and publicizing genocide caused by Western military interventions can be demonstrated by the lack of media coverage Body Count has received. What should have been a major news story has been all but ignored. Independent US researcher David Peterson, co-author of ‘The Politics of Genocide’, noted on March 27:
“I just ran a Factiva database search for mentions of the (Body Count) report. As best I can tell, within the universe of wire services and newspapers archived by the Factiva database, only four different English-language media have reported the existence of this document, and in these cases, two reports were picked up by two media.”
It seems that some genocides really are more important than others. We can only imagine what the coverage would have been like if Russia had launched wars in a 12 year period which had caused 2 million deaths. Or if a black African leader of whom the West doesn’t approve, such as Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, had been involved.
But it’s the US and its allies who have caused this genocide so we’re expected to keep quiet and focus instead on the ‘crimes‘ of the latest ‘official enemy‘.
Three of Rupert Murdoch’s largest and most powerful news outlets promoted baseless conspiracy theories that Google is using its alleged “close ties” with the Obama administration to receive favorable treatment and to push its policy agenda. Murdoch has a long history of attacking Google.
On March 24, News Corp’s Wall Street Journal reported on the purportedly close ties between the Obama administration and Google after discovering that Google employees have visited the White House multiple times since President Obama took office. The piece went on to allege that Google used its ties with the White House to get favorable action from a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust probe into the company.
The New York Post (News Corp) went further on March 28 in an article titled “Google controls what we buy, the news we read – and Obama’s policies.” The article speculated that Google has used its influence and financial contributions to the Obama administration to receive favors including net neutrality regulation, favorable FTC action, and contracts to fix the Affordable Care Act’s website. The piece speculated on “what’s coming next: politically filtered information.”
21st Century Fox’s Fox News echoed the New York Post during the March 30 edition of Fox & Friends, with co-host Clayton Morris claiming “the same search engine that controls our news also controls the White House.” During the show, Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo claimed that Google was “being investigated, the president dropped it — net neutrality — Google wanted the president to go that way.” Bartiromo also speculated on whether Google was “editing” the news “to make it more favorable for the president.”
But the Wall Street Journal admitted that the “FTC closed its investigation after Google agreed to make voluntary changes to its business practices.” And the FTC pushed back critically to the Journal‘s piece, writing:
The article suggests that a series of disparate and unrelated meetings involving FTC officials and executive branch officials or Google representatives somehow affected the Commission’s decision to close the search investigation in early 2013. Not a single fact is offered to substantiate this misleading narrative.
Rupert Murdoch, head of both News Corp and Twenty-First Century Fox, has a history of attacking Google. Murdoch has accused Google of being “piracy leaders,” and in 2009 found himself in a war of words against Google and threatened to block his content from the search engine.
Last night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a probable candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, shared his thoughts about climate change with late-night host Seth Meyers (video above). Here’s what he said:
CRUZ: I just came back from New Hampshire where there’s snow and ice everywhere. And my view actually is simple. Debates on this should follow science and should follow data. And many of the alarmists on global warming, they’ve got a problem because the science doesn’t back them up. And in particular, satellite data demonstrate for the last 17 years there’s been zero warming, none whatsoever. It’s why, you remember how it used to be called global warming, and then magically the theory changed to climate change?
CRUZ: The reason is it wasn’t warming. But the computer models still say it is, except the satellites show it’s not.
We totally agree with his point that debates about climate “should follow science and should follow data.” Right on! But according to Kevin Trenberth, a leading climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, everything else in Cruz’s quote is “a load of claptrap…absolute bunk.”
Trenberth wasn’t alone in his criticism. Several prominent climate scientists contacted by Climate Desk dismissed Cruz’s analysis. “It is disturbing that some of our most prominent elected officials have decided to engage in distortions of and cynical attacks against the science,” said Michael Mann of Penn State.
“Lawmakers have a responsibility to understand the science, and not to embrace ignorance with open arms, as Senator Cruz is doing here,” added Ben Santer, a researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab.
So what’s wrong with what Cruz said? For starters, the satellite record does, in fact, show warming. Here’s a view of temperature anomalies (that is, the deviation from the long-term average) reported by Remote Sensing Systems, a NASA-backed private satellite lab. It shows warming of about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per decade since 1980, the beginning of the satellite record:
Even still, there are a couple important caveats with satellite temperature data that Cruz would do well to make note of. One, Santer said, is that it has a “huge” degree of uncertainty (compared to land-based thermometers), so it should be approached with caution. That’s because satellites don’t make direct measurements of temperature but instead pick up microwaves from oxygen molecules in the atmosphere that vary with temperature. Fluctuations in a satellite’s orbit and altitude and calibrations to its microwave-sensing equipment can all drastically affect its temperature readings.
More importantly, satellites measure temperatures in the atmosphere, high above the surface. The chart above shows the lower troposphere, about six miles above the surface. This data is an important piece of the climate and weather system, but it’s only one piece. There are plenty of other signs that are far less equivocal, and perhaps even more relevant to those of us who live on the Earth’s surface: Land and ocean surface temperatures are increasing, sea ice is declining, glaciers are shrinking, oceans are rising, the list goes on. In other words, the satellites-vs-computers dichotomy described by Cruz ignores most of the full picture.
For example, here’s the most recent land and ocean-surface temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, showing how temperatures this winter deviated from the long-term average (dating all the way back to 1880). Much of the globe is warmer than average, some parts are the hottest on record, and the overall global temperature was the warmest on record:
There’s also a big underlying flaw with Cruz’s cherry-picked timespan of 17 years, which almost any climate scientist would agree is far too short to observe any meaningful trend. 1998, the year Cruz starts with, was itself exceptionally warm thanks to the biggest El Nino event of the 20th century. If that’s your starting place, the warming trend does indeed look weak. But look over a longer time period, and it’s obvious that very warm years are more common now than before.
And in any case, even the modest “slow-down” in warming that has occurred since 2000 isn’t inconsistent with what scientists have always expected man-made climate change will look like. Even the earliest climate models predicted the possibility of occasional leveling-off periods in upward-bound global temperature, like a landing on a staircase.
In fact, one reason why many scientists “magically” (as Cruz put it) have begun to prefer the term “climate change” to “global warming” is because they think the latter can misleadingly imply that every year will be incrementally warmer than the last. In reality, climate change is all about odds: Man-made greenhouse gas emissions substantially increase the chances of an exceptionally warm year, but they don’t eliminate the possibility for average or even cold years to happen.
Even accounting for the apparent stability of the last few years, Santer said, “everything tells us that what’s going on isn’t natural.”
As for Cruz’s reference to snowy weather in New Hampshire…give us a break.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – (CT&P) – The New York Times is reporting that Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros is wanted for questioning regarding the serial murder of 11 Manhattan residents. Ms Tantaros’ current whereabouts are unknown, and police are warning the public that if she is spotted under no circumstances should she be approached. She was last seen leaving a nightclub in downtown Manhattan at around 2 A.M. on Saturday.
Tantaros, a co-host on the vacuous round table show The Five, is well-known for her inane comments and tenuous grip on complex subject matter. She also co-hosts a show called Outnumbered, but its ratings are so low that very few people know it exists, including many Fox employees.
New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton held a news conference early this morning regarding the string of murders and told reporters that his investigators had reason to believe that Tantaros was responsible.
According to the Bratton, the victims in the murder spree are all male ranging in age from 22 to 45 and were murdered over a period of seven months beginning in September. The most recent victim was discovered only late last week. The men were all killed in the same horrific fashion, having the salt drained from their bloodstream by means of suckers similar to the ones found on cephalopods.
“In every case, Tantaros was seen leaving a nightclub late at night with the victim,” said Bratton. “Our best guess at this time is that Tantaros is some sort of shape-shifting misanthrope from outer space who has come to our planet in order to feed on humans. She apparently requires salt to survive in the same way that a vampire requires human blood to live.”
Tantaros’ colleague and co-host on The Five Greg Gutfeld told The Daily News that he was not surprised by Bratton’s revelations.
“I knew that something was wrong with her,” said Gutfeld. “It’s rare that you see someone over thirty have such childlike opinions on political matters. I mean that gal is just downright dumb. I guess Roger hired her because of her looks, but that lamprey mouth she has just turns me off. Frankly, I’m scared of the woman.”
The public is being warned by the NYPD that although Tantaros is thought to be mentally deficient, she should be considered highly dangerous and should not be approached. If spotted, members of the public should dial 911 and proceed as rapidly as possible to a safe location, preferably not a restaurant or any establishment with salt shakers on its tables.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a bilateral ‘free trade’ agreement currently under secret negotiation by the EU, USA and powerful industry lobbies. Very few Europeans have heard of this deal, which will change the face of Europe forever.
They say the deal will create jobs and boost the economy, but after seven years of financial crisis we should have learned one thing: any extra cash made will be siphoned off to the 1%, while the rest of us get poorer and poorer.
Here’s what TTIP really means: threats to online privacy, American corporations suing European countries that don’t do as they are told, fracking rights, closure of public services, and Monsanto’s takeover of agriculture on our continent (as it has already done in Ukraine). It would mean that Monsanto could destroy a nation’s food supply and the people would be powerless to do anything about it. It would destroy free national health services, strip us of our civil liberties and ensure that American corporations have full control over the European parliament.
The most hideous thing about this top-secret trade deal is that over one million citizens signed a petition to stop it, and they were ignored. This might not seem so strange- public opinion is never an obstacle to corporate lobbyists- but in Europe we are supposedly granted protection from shady deals like this through ECIs, or European Citizen’s Initiatives. Petitions signed under an ECI must be considered by law, but in this case, it was ignored.
In addition to the informative cartoon above, more details on the consequences of TTIP by a speaker from the Gaia Foundation can be seen below. Please consider signing and sharing the petition against TTIP here.
A Jerusalem court found former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert guilty of corruption Monday over allegations that he received envelopes of cash from a US businessman, Israeli media reported.
The former premier, who already faces a six-year prison sentence in a separate bribery case that he has appealed to the supreme court, will be sentenced on May 5, the reports said.
Olmert’s lawyers said he would appeal the latest conviction.
The 69-year-old had initially been acquitted of fraud and corruption in the case, escaping with a $19,000 fine and a suspended jail sentence for breach of trust in 2012.
But new evidence came to light during his trial in the other corruption case and prosecutors again pressed the two more serious charges.
In return for a reduction in sentence, his former secretary and confidante Shula Zaken revealed that secret tape recordings existed of conversations between her and Olmert about the tens of thousands of dollars that he was alleged to have received from businessman Morris Talansky while trade and industry minister in the early 2000s.
The six-year prison sentence handed down against Olmert in May last year was the first ever against a former Israeli premier for corruption.
After a two-year trial, he was convicted of taking bribes to the tune of 560,000 shekels (now $160,000/116,000 euros) while mayor of Jerusalem between 1993 and 2003 from the developers of the city’s massive Holyland residential complex.
The towering construction project, which dominates the city’s skyline, is seen as a major blot on the landscape and widely reviled as a symbol of high-level corruption.
The veteran centre-right politician, who was first elected to parliament in 1973, became premier in 2006 but resigned in September 2008 after police recommended that he be indicted in several graft cases.
Killing Jesus – the adaptation of Bill O’Reilly’s book premiering on 29 March – is not history. This might seem like an obvious statement, but it bears repeating, given how the three-hour “television event” is being pitched to viewers: as a restrained Biblical history, suitable for believers and non-believers alike.
We rarely think and talk about “Bible movies” as products of artistic interpretation – instead, we often treat them as “historical” or “religious” films. But Exodus is a Ridley Scott movie; Noah is a Darren Aronofsky movie. If we’re to go by the same guidelines here, let’s call Killing Jesus not some generic “history,” but a “Bill O’Reilly movie.”
Going Clear and Killing Jesus show controversy is cable TV’s secret weapon
O’Reilly, the American pundit with a long-running show on conservative Fox TV, is virtually synonymous with “opinionated.” He makes his living using those opinions to bully anyone who disagrees with him, including guests on his show. Recently, O’Reilly’s disregard of facts has been especially well-documented.
A Catholic self-described “traditionalist,” O’Reilly can’t be trusted not to confuse religious interpretation with historical fact. Thus, if we see Killing Jesus as a Bill O’Reilly film, that should remind us that it can’t be an impartial, historical film at the same time.
Much is being made of the show casting a young Muslim actor of Middle Eastern descent as Jesus, possibly in hopes of avoiding charges of Christian bias, or as a way of emphasizing the human qualities of Jesus. (Islam considers Jesus human, and prophetic, but not divine.) Promotional videos tout the “real authenticity” gained by filming in the Moroccan desert. The show’s credibility is buoyed by its association with the National Geographic Channel, which also produced other O’Reilly TV movies, such as Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy.
At least Lincoln and Kennedy are within the scope of recorded modern history. Jesus is not. As the devout Catholic author James Carroll writes in Christ Actually: “the empirically identifiable Jesus, focus of historians’ quest, and the interpreted Jesus of the Gospels, focus of theologians’ contemplation, are not the same Jesus”.
Even the critics are confusing the issue. Bryan Lowry writes of Killing Jesus in Variety: “Along the way there are discreet miracles, but this represents a more historical approach to the material”. More historical than what? Miracles, by definition, no matter how discreet, cannot be counted as fact.
O’Reilly’s telling takes as fact a number of time-worn myths that have been repeatedly disavowed by scholars. Characterizing the apostle Paul as a Christian is an anachronism: Christianity didn’t begin until a century after the crucifixion; Jesus and all his apostles died Jews. Scholars have noted with irony that in depicting the Pharisees as legalistic, hypocritical evildoers, O’Reilly, ironically, picks up on a caricature originally created by Reformation-era Protestants to ridicule Catholics. Even the show’s air date belies its historical, universalist veneer. If Killing Jesus is supposed to be history suitable for Christians and non-Christians, why on earth does it premiere on Palm Sunday, the start of the Holy Week leading up to Easter?
It may be true that Ridley Scott, whose company helped produce the film, learned from the critical response to Exodus that Bible movies should make greater efforts at Middle Eastern atmospherics. Scott was accused of racism and inaccuracy for casting, for example, John Turturro as the Egyptian Pharoah. But I’d prefer a Bible movie with more greasepaint and special effects that billed itself as the blockbuster entertainment it was over a Middle Eastern-looking Bible movie that thinly masks Gospel theology.
This week, news reporter Brian Williams created global controversy when he admitted to lying about being in a helicopter crash in Iraq. His admission is just the most recent revelation in a long line of situations that have exposed the corruption that exists within the mainstream media.
While it is fairly common for reporters like Williams to get caught up in lies, it is equally common for mainstream media whistleblowers to leave their jobs and speak out against what they had seen.
Amber Lyon, for example, is an investigative journalist and photographer, who is most well known for her work reporting human rights abuses against pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain. She has also done extensive work on the power of psychedelic drugs as well as the problem of police brutality.
Lyon was thrown into the spotlight in 2012, after she conducted a groundbreaking investigation on the violence that the government in Bahrain was carrying out against their own citizens.
Unfortunately, before the episode that she recorded was able to air, CNN cancelled the report because the government in Bahrain paid them to cover it up. Instead of remaining silent about this cover-up, Lyon spoke out about the censorship and publicly left her job at CNN.
According to Wikipedia, on September 5, 2012 with the help of journalist Glenn Greenwald, Lyon exposed that CNN International never aired her documentary, iRevolution, on the Bahrain uprising. In an article by Greenwald in The Guardian, Lyon accused the network of censoring the documentary because the Bahrain regime was a paying customer at the network. The article also exposes that the government of Bahrain, as well as other governments throughout the world, are paying CNN for special content casting their countries in a positive light.
by John Vibes
Originally posted on I hope to be remembered for my atrocities!:
From September 1960 until October 1962, Rogozov worked in Antarctica, including his role as the sole doctor in a team of thirteen researchers at the Novolazarevskaya Station, which was established in January 1961.
On the morning of 29 April 1961, Rogozov experienced general weakness, nausea, and moderate fever, and later pain in the lower right portion of the abdomen. All possible conservative treatment measures did not help. By 30 April signs of localized peritonitis became apparent, and his condition worsened considerably by the evening. Mirny, the nearest Soviet research station, was more than 1,600 km (1,000 mi) from Novolazarevskaya. Antarctic research stations of other countries did not have an aircraft. Severe blizzard conditions prevented aircraft landing in any case. Rogozov had no option but to perform the operation on himself.
The operation started at 02:00 local time on 1 May with the help of a driver and meteorologist, who were providing instruments and…
Smoke rises from buildings in Tikrit during clashes between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on Thursday. Photo: AP
al-Rashid airbase: Three major Shiite militia groups have pulled out of the fight for Tikrit, immediately depriving the Iraqi government of thousands of their fighters on the ground even as US warplanes readied for an expected second day of airstrikes against the Islamic State there.
The militia groups, some of which until recently had Iranian advisers with them, pulled out of the Tikrit fight on Thursday in protest at the US military airstrikes, which began late Wednesday night, insisting that the Americans were not needed to defeat the militant Sunnis holding the city.
Together the three groups represent as much as a third of the 30,000 fighters on the government side in the offensive against the so-called Islamic State (also known as ISIS),analysts said.
Iraqi security forces prepare to attack Islamic State extremist positions in Tikrit on Thursday.
Iraqi security forces prepare to attack Islamic State extremist positions in Tikrit on Thursday. Photo: AP
“We don’t trust the American-led coalition in combatting ISIS”, said Naeem al-Uboudi, the spokesman for Asaib Ahl al-Haq, one of the three groups which said they would withdraw from the front line around Tikrit. “In the past they have targeted our security forces and dropped aid to ISIS by mistake”, he said.
One of the leaders of the biggest militias in the fight, the Badr Organisation, also criticised the US role and said his group, too, might pull out.
“We don’t need the American-led coalition to participate in Tikrit. Tikrit is an easy battle, we can win it ourselves,” said Mueen al-Kadhumi, who is one of the Shiite militia’s top commanders.
Iraqi security forces prepare to attack Islamic State positions in Tikrit on Thursday.
Iraqi security forces prepare to attack Islamic State positions in Tikrit on Thursday. Photo: AP
“We have not yet decided if we will pull out or not,” he said. The Badr Organisation’s leader, Hadi al-Amiri, was shown on Iraqi television leading the ground fight in Tikrit on Thursday.
The US air strikes began late Wednesday night and continued for more than eight hours, subsiding at dawn on Thursday, when Iraq’s handful of Russian-made fighter jets took over from this base on the outskirts of Baghdad and further bombed Tikrit in a succession of daytime raids.
Before starting the strikes, US officials demanded that Iranian officials and the militias closest to them to stand aside while other Iraqi forces went in to drive out the last militants in the city.
Iraqi security forces launch rockets against Islamic State militants on Thursday.
Iraqi security forces launch rockets against Islamic State militants on Thursday. Photo: AP
But a pullout by those militias, especially by the Badr Organisation, would effectively disband the largest and most effective ground force the Iraqi government has been able to field since the invasion by the so-called Islamic State last year.
The other groups that announced they would boycott the Tikrit operation were the Hezbollah Brigades, which like Asaib Ahl al-Haq is closely aligned to and supported by Iran, and the Peace Brigade, the latest name for a militia made of up followers of the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, previously known as the Mahdi Army.
Hakim al-Zamily, one of the leaders of the Sadrist group, said his group had warned it would pull out of the Tikrit fight if the Americans were brought in. “We don’t trust the Americans; they have targeted our forces many times in so-called mistakes,” he said.
Sadr, whose troops fought bitter battles against the Americans during much of the Iraq war, said his group was pulling out because, in his words, “the participation of the so-called international alliance is to protect ISIS, on the one hand, and to confiscate the achievements of the Iraqis, on the other hand”.
Since March 2, Islamic State forces in Tikrit have been under attack by the Iraqi militias, collectively known as the Popular Mobilisation Committees, and regular Iraqi military forces, together numbering more than 30,000 fighters. The great majority of the fighters were members of the militias. Some of those fighters, particularly followers of the Badr Organisation, which is closely identified with the Iraqi government’s leaders, have so far remained in the fight.
Still, a much smaller force of Islamic State fighters has been able to hold them off in a few areas of the city for almost four weeks. In recent days, despite the claims of self-sufficiency made by militia commanders, Iraqi military officials said American airstrikes were needed to break the deadlock.
The militias who were withdrawing did not say they were quitting their positions in the Tikrit area altogether, or in adjoining areas of Salaheddin province, just returning to their nearby bases and boycotting the front-line advance.
By 10am on Thursday, the Iraqi jets had carried out four waves of attacks on Tikrit, consisting of up to five jets each from this base, taking over from the US bombers in the coalition.
As the Tikrit operation continued through Thursday, Staff General Anwer Hamid, the commander of the Iraqi air force, said that for operational reasons US aircraft would concentrate on night bombing runs, and the Iraqis would continue their daytime sorties.
“Their role in this fighting is very important to us,” he said. “They have a high number of aircraft and they have good capabilities, they can really help us,” he said.
New York Times
Increasingly, younger Jews are opposing Israeli’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “open racism and obstinate refusal to help create a Palestinian state,” Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of Tikkun magazine, writes.
Lerner continued at Salon:
What makes this year’s Passover Seders unlike any others is that a majority of American Jews have been forced to face the fact that Palestinians today are asking Jews what Moses asked Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” The Israeli elections, and subsequent support for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s open racism and obstinate refusal to help create a Palestinian state, is not playing well with many younger Jews, and they will be challenging their elders to rethink their blind support for Israeli policies
Increasingly, young Jews are on the Moses side, and see Netanyahu as the contemporary Pharaoh. So at the Seder more and more Jews will be asking Israel to “let the Palestinian people go.”
The easiest way for Israel to allow Palestinians their freedom is to create a politically and economically viable Palestinian state living in peace with Israel and based on the 1967 borders of Israel with slight border changes to allow Israel to incorporate the settlements in Gush Etzion and Jewish parts of Jerusalem that were built on conquered Arab land in 1967. The terms for that agreement were well worked out by “The Geneva Accord” developed by former Yitzhak Rabin aide (and Ehud Barak’s Minister of Justice) Yossi Beilin, and would include Jerusalem serving as the capital of both states, massive reparations to the Palestinian people to help fund such a state (paid in part by the international community), and joint police and military cooperation, supplemented by international help, to deal with the inevitable acts of terror from both Israeli and Palestinian terrorists who would want to block any such agreement.
Though Prime Minister Netanyahu has now sought to back away from his unequivocal election commitment in mid-March that he would never allow Palestinians to have a separate state, it is clear to most American Jews that he was telling the truth to his own community when he made that commitment. Only a fully unambiguous embrace of a detailed plan for ending the Occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, and major unilateral acts on Israel’s part to begin to implement the creation of a Palestinian state, would be believed by any Palestinians at this point. And who can blame them?
But Netanyahu, like Pharaoh, has a hardened heart. Like Pharaoh’s dealings with Moses, he is likely to make statements seeking to appease the people he holds in bondage on the West Bank and Gaza, but when it comes to actions, he will give little but token steps that are not close to the freedom the Palestinian people rightly ask for themselves. In a tragic reversal, we who had been oppressed now oppress, as though the psychological dynamic of the victim identifying with the oppressor is now playing out in a way that brings dishonor to the revolutionary vision of freedom that the Jewish people brought to the world and have celebrated for at least 2,000 years as central to Judaism. Not that we had no warning—our Torah explicitly repeats over and over versions of the following theme: “When you come into land, do not oppress the stranger/other, remember that you were the stranger/other in the Land of Egypt.”
Given this reality, many Jews, and a disproportionately larger number of young Jews, will be asking a provocative question at their Seder tables: “If Israel won’t let the Palestinian people have their own state, then don’t we have to insist that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza be given the vote? After 45 years of Occupation and subordination to the Israeli government, Israel can no longer claim to be a democratic society while denying the vote to those Palestinians who live under Occupation. If West Bank Palestinians and Gazans are not allowed the same rights as Jews living next door to them in West Bank settlements, how can we pretend that Israel is not acting as an oppressor and forsaking any claim to be a democracy?”
The call for “One Person, One Vote” has a strong resonance with the American people and with most people on the planet. It may even resonate with many Israelis who have memories of what it was like to live in societies that did not give Jews equal rights. But for other Israelis, that demand might be the one thing that would open them up to the need for the immediate creation of a separate Palestinian state. Fearful that giving Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza the same rights already given to Palestinians living within the pre-’67 borders of Israel might give Palestinians real power to influence the outcome of elections, they might respond in the same panic that led Netanyahu to scare Israelis that they had better get out to vote because Israeli Palestinians were already going to the polls in large numbers. The Palestinian Authority might find that adopting the demand for “One Person, One Vote” might be the most powerful way to get the two states they’ve unsuccessfully sought up till now. In my view, two states are preferable to trying a forced marriage between two peoples that have so much mutual suspicion–they need a clean divorce, not a shotgun wedding! But since Israel won’t give that divorce any other way, the demand for a fair marriage is better than Palestinians remaining a de facto slave to Israeli fears and Israeli power.
Passover Seders are all about asking important questions—this year, many American Jews are likely to be asking how Jews can celebrate our own freedom without insisting that Israel “Let their people go” or at least give them the vote! Many younger Jews are good at sniffing out hypocrisy, and they may be causing a heated debate at any Seder that avoids this question.
Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun Magazine, chair of the interfaith and secular-humanist-welcoming Network of Spiritual Progressives, http://www.spiritualprogressives.org and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without Walls in San Francisco and Berkeley, California. He welcomes your responses and invites you to join with him by joining the Network of Spiritual Progressives (membership in which also brings you a subscription to Tikkun Magazine). RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.com.
A new transparent solar cell that could be used as a window was recently developed by researchers at Michigan State University.
This is a feat that was once thought to be impossible, because traditional solar panels absorb light and turn it into energy, but a transparent surface is not typically able to absorb light.
To make a transparent solar cell, researchers opted for a different system called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator (TLSC), which contains organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light. This light is then guided towards traditional photovoltaic solar cells which are able to trap the energy and convert it into electricity.
Not only can this material be used for windows, but it can also be used for displays on electronic devices, giving them another source of power and potentially extending their energy life significantly.
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – (CT&P) – Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law yesterday in an attempt to show solidarity with politicians around the Bible Belt who are pushing “Religious Freedom Acts” of their own. The legislation allows individuals and corporations to cite ‘religious beliefs’ as a defense when sued by a private party. Thus, business owners who don’t want to serve same-sex couples, or any other member of a group they dislike, now have legal protection to deny service.
“We just wanted to show that religious folks in Indiana have just as much pent-up prejudice and hatred as our brothers and sisters down South,” said Governor Pence at a press conference after he signed the bill. “We want to protect our God-given right to treat people who disagree with our archaic belief system as second class citizens and objects of derision. Judge Roy Moore ain’t got nothing on us,” chuckled the governor, as he foamed at the mouth.
The fact that the bill may cost the state millions of dollars in revenue did not seem to bother the governor.
“If people and businesses want to move to a more progressive state that treats all its citizens and tourists as equals, then let them burn in hell with all the other heretics. We in Indiana want to stand as an example of God’s love for bigots and hatred of fags. If we lose a few conventions here and there then so be it!”
The bill has prompted public outrage around the country and several large organizations such as Salesforce have abandoned all future plans that include Indiana. Other organizations such as Gen Con, the NCAA, and Ely Lilly, one of the state’s largest employers, have already spoken out against the bill.
When asked if the bill would not allow business owners to refuse service to just about anyone they disagreed with or did not like, Governor Pence replied, “Yes, thank God. Like other ‘Religious Freedom’ bills making their way through state houses around the country, we made this one vague enough to where we can discriminate not only against gays, but Jews, Muslims, atheists, Mormons, Scientologists, or just about anyone we want to. It’s great!”
“The main thing to remember here is to ask yourself the question ‘What would Jesus do?,’ and I think we can all agree that if Jesus owned an Ace Hardware he would refuse to sell building materials to homosexuals, Jews, Muslims, atheists, or any other group that threatens our fragile and insecure system of beliefs.”
Governor Pence concluded, “The God-fearing citizens of Indiana want nothing more than to return to the Middle Ages, just like those folks down South, and I think this bill is a good beginning.”
“Asking questions doesn’t make you a cheerleader for Assad – that’s a false argument. It just makes you less susceptible to spin. The good news is, there’s a sceptic born every minute”
A closer look at the reporting of the violence in Syria: