What game is the House of Saud playing?

Reuters / Lucy Nicholson

The House of Saud now finds itself in times of extreme trouble. Their risky oil price war may eventually backfire. The succession of King Abdullah may turn into a bloodbath. And the American protector may be musing a change of heart.

Let’s start with oil – and some background. As much as US supply has increased by a couple of million barrels a day, enough oil from Iran, Kirkuk in Iraq, Libya and Syria has gone out of production; and that offsets extra US oil on the market. Essentially, the global economy – at least for the moment – is not searching for more oil because of European stagnation/recession and the relative China slowdown.

Reuters / Todd Korol

Reuters / Todd Korol

Since 2011, Saudi Arabia has been flooding the market to offset the decrease in Iran exports caused by the US economic war, a.k.a. sanctions. Riyadh, moreover, prevented OPEC from reducing country production quotas. The House of Saud believes it can play the waiting game – as fracked oil, mostly American, is inexorably driven out of the market because it is too expensive. After that, the Saudis believe they will regain market share.

In parallel, the House of Saud is obviously enjoying “punishing” Iran and Russia for their support of Bashar Assad in Damascus. Moreover, the House of Saud is absolutely terrified of a nuclear deal essentially between the US and Iran (although that’s still a major “if”) – leading to a long-term détente.

Tehran, though, remains defiant. Russia brushed off the attack because the lower ruble meant state revenues remained unchanged – so there will be no budget deficit. As for oil-thirsty East Asia – including top Saudi customer China – it’s enjoying the bonanza while it lasts.

Oil prices will remain very low for the time being. This week Goldman Sachs lowered their 2015 WTI and Brent Crude forecasts; Brent was slashed from $83.75 a barrel to $50.40, WTI was cut from $73.75 to $47.15 a barrel. Prices per barrel could soon drop as low as $42 and $40.50. But then, there will be an inevitable “U-shaped recovery.”

Nomura bets that oil will be back to $80 a barrel by the end of 2015.

Reuters / Lucas Jackson

Reuters / Lucas Jackson

Punish Russia or bust

US President Barack Obama, in this interview, openly admitted that he wanted “disruptions” in the“price of oil” because he figured Russian President Vladimir Putin would have “enormous difficulty managing it.” So that settles the argument about hurting Russia and US-Saudi collusion, after US Secretary of State John Kerry allowed/endorsed King Abdullah in Jeddah to simultaneously raise oil production and embark on a cut price strategy.

Whether Kerry sold out the US shale gas industry out of ignorance or incompetence – probably both – is irrelevant. What matters is if the House of Saud were ordered to back off, they would have to do it in a flash; the ‘Empire of Chaos’ dominates the Persian Gulf vassals, who can’t even breathe without at least an implicit US green light.

What is way more troubling is that the current bunch in Washington does not seem to be defending US national and industrial interests. If humongous trade deficits based on currency rigging were not enough, now virtually the entire US oil industry runs the risk of being destroyed by an oil price racket. Any sane analyst would interpret it as contrary to US national interests.

Anyway, the Riyadh deal was music for the House of Saud’s ears. Their official policy has always been to slash the development of all potential substitutes for oil, including US shale gas. So why not depress oil prices and keep them there long enough to make investments in shale gas a lunatic proposal?

But there’s a huge problem. The House of Saud simply won’t get enough in oil revenues to support their annual budget with oil at below $90 a barrel. So as much as hurting Iran and Russia may be appealing, hurting their own golden pocketbooks is not.

The long-term outlook spells out higher oil prices. Oil may be replaced in many instances; but there isn’t a replacement – yet – for the internal combustion engine. So whatever OPEC is doing, it is actually preserving demand for oil vs. oil substitutes, and maximizing the return on a limited resource. The bottom-line: yes, this is predatory pricing.

Once again, there’s an immense, crucial, complicating vector. We may have the House of Saud and other Persian Gulf producers flooding the market – but its Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup who are doing the shadow, nasty work via leveraged derivative short futures.

Oil prices are such an opaque racket that only major oil trading banks such as Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley have some idea who is buying and who is selling oil futures or derivative contracts – what is called “paper oil.” The non-rules of this multi-billion casino spell out “speculative bubble” – with a little help from those friends at the Gulf oil pumps. With oil futures trading and the two major London and New York exchanges monopolizing oil futures contracts, OPEC really does not control oil prices anymore; Wall Street does. This is the big secret. The House of Saud may entertain the illusion they are in control. They’re not.

U.S. President Barack Obam.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. President Barack Obam.(Reuters / Kevin Lamarque)

That dysfunctional marriage

As if this was not messy enough, the crucial succession of the House of Saud is propelled to the forefront. King Abdullah, 91, was diagnosed with pneumonia, hospitalized in Riyadh on New Year’s Eve, and was breathing with a tube. He may – or may not, this being the secretive House of Saud – have lung cancer. He won’t last long. The fact that he is hailed as a “progressive reformer” tells everything one needs to know about Saudi Arabia. “Freedom of expression”? You must be joking.

So who’ll be next? The first in the line of succession should be Crown Prince Salman, 79, also defense minister. He was governor of Riyadh province for a hefty 48 years. It was this certified falcon who supervised the wealth of private “donations” to the Afghan mujahedeen in the 1980s jihad, in tandem with hardcore Wahhabi preachers. Salman’s sons include the governor of Medina, Prince Faisal. Needless to add, the Salman family controls virtually all of Saudi media.

To get to the Holy Grail Salman must be proven fit. That’s not a given; and on top of it Abdullah, a tough nut to crack, already survived two of his crown princes, Sultan and Nayef. Salman’s prospects look bleak; he has had spinal surgery, a stroke and may be suffering from – how appropriate – dementia.

It also does not bode well that when Salman was promoted to Deputy Defense Minister, soon enough he was shown the door – as he got himself mixed up with Bandar Bush’s atrocious jihadi game in Syria.

Anyway, Salman already has a successor; second Deputy Prime Minister Prince Muqrin, former governor of Medina province and then head of Saudi intelligence. Muqrin is very, very close to Abdullah. Muqrin seems to be the last “capable” son of Ibn Saud; “capable” here is a figure of speech. The real problem though starts when Muqrin becomes Crown Prince. Because then the next in line will be picked from the grandsons of Ibn Saud.

Enter the so-called third generation princes – a pretty nasty bunch. Chief among them is none other than Mitab bin Abdullah, 62, the son of the king; cries of nepotism do proceed. Like a warlord, Mitab controls his own posse in the National Guard. Sources told me Riyadh is awash in rumors that Abdullah and Muqrin have made a deal: Abdullah gets Muqrin to become king, and Muqrin makes Mitab crown prince. Once again, this being the “secretive” House of Saud, the Hollywood mantra applies: no one knows anything.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.(Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal.(Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

Abdullah’s sons are all over the place; governor of Mecca, deputy governor of Riyadh, deputy foreign minister, president of the Saudi Red Crescent. Same for Salman’s sons. But then there’s Muhammad bin Nayif, son of the late Crown Prince Nayif, who became Interior Minister in 2012, in charge of ultra-sensitive internal security, as in cracking down on virtually anything. He is the top competitor against Mitab among the third-generation princes.

So forget about family “unity” when such juicy loot as an oil hacienda impersonating a whole country is in play. And yet whoever inherits the loot will have to face the abyss, and the same litany of distress; rising unemployment; abysmal inequality; horrendous sectarian divide; jihadism in all its forms – not least the fake Ibrahim Caliphate in “Syraq”, already threatening to march towards Mecca and Medina; the unspeakably medieval Council of Ulemas (the lashing/amputating/beheading-loving bunch); total dependency on oil; unbounded paranoia towards Iran; and a wobbly relationship with His Masters Voice, the US.

When will they call the cavalry?

And it so happens that the real ‘Masters of the Universe’ in the Washington-New York axis are debating exactly the erosion of this relationship; as in the House of Saud having no one to talk to but the“puppets”, from Bush Two minions to Kerry at most on occasion. This analysis contends that any promises made by Kerry over the House of Saud “cooperation” to damage Russia’s economy really mean nothing.

Rumbles from ‘Masters of the Universe’ territory indicate that the CIA sooner or later might move against the House of Saud. In this case the only way for the House of Saud to secure its survival would be to become friendly with none other than Moscow. This exposes once more the House of Saud’s suicidal present course of trying to hurt Russia’s economy.

As everyone is inexorably an outsider when faced with the totally opaque House of Saud, there’s an analytical current that swears they know what they’re doing. Not necessarily. The House of Saud seems to believe that pleasing US neocons will improve their status in Washington. That simply won’t happen. The neocons remain obsessed about the House of Saud helping Pakistan to develop its nuclear missiles; some of them – once again, that’s open to speculation – might even be deployed inside Saudi Arabia for “defensive purposes” against that mythical Iranian “threat.”

Messy? That doesn’t even begin to describe it. But one thing is certain; whatever game Riyadh thinks it’s playing, they’d better start seriously talking to Moscow. But please, don’t send Bandar Bush on another Russian mission.

Pepe Escobar’s latest book is Empire of Chaos. Follow him on Facebook.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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Stuart Littlewood: They won’t silence George Galloway with half-truths

After providing days of Holocaust coverage the BBC is slammed for inviting ‘anti-Israel MP’ George Galloway to a chat show 

by Stuart Littlewood

28 January 2015

BBC TV are being bad-mouthed for inviting MP George Galloway onto the Question Time panel in the Finchley and Golders Green constituency next week.

Golders Green especially, and neighbouring Finchley to a lesser extent, are large Jewish enclaves in North London. I grew up in Finchley and as a lad used to jump on the number 660 trolley bus that took me through Golders Green en route to the West End. A standing joke among bus conductors was the warning to passengers to have their passports ready.

The Jewish Chronicle reporting the story describes Galloway as an “anti-Israel MP” who “refuses to debate with Israelis”. Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer said the BBC’s invitation was deliberately provocative. “Given what’s going on in the world it is a slap in the face for the local community.”

But not half as stinging as the slap in the face felt by British taxpayers, struggling against austerity cuts, when Chancellor Osborne announced this week that £50 million of OUR money will be lavished on a Holocaust memorial and education centre.

And what is going on in the world that we must pay no attention to the Israeli terror that has stalked the Holy Land for nearly 67 years?

The JC reminded viewers that two years ago Galloway walked out of a debate at Oxford University after discovering his opponent was Israeli, saying “I don’t debate with Israelis”. And earlier this month Galloway interviewed “Israeli antisemite” Gilad Atzmon on his Russia Today television show.

But the JC tells only half the story. At the Oxford debate the motion was: “Israel should withdraw immediately from the West Bank”. Galloway spoke in favour and was followed by another panellist who said, “We wanted peace, we got war, we must not make the same mistake again.”

Galloway interrupted: “You said ‘we’, are you an Israeli? I don’t debate with Israelis, I’ve been misled, sorry. I don’t recognise Israel and I don’t debate with Israelis.” Whereupon he put on his coat and left.

At least that’s how the JC told the story at the time. According to the Daily Mail the opposing speaker, name of Aslan-Levy, complained: “To refuse to talk to someone just because of their nationality is pure racism, and totally unacceptable for a Member of Parliament.”

 Which is pretty rich coming from a citizen of a racist state.

The following message then appeared on Galloway’s Facebook:

“The reason is simple: no recognition, no normalisation. Just boycott, divestment and sanctions, until the apartheid state is defeated. I never debate with Israelis nor speak to their media. If they want to speak about Palestine, the address is the PLO.”

The PLO, of course, acts as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

In Galloway’s terms BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) means

“no purchase of Israeli goods or services, no normal contacts with individuals or organisations in Israel who support the existence of the racist Apartheid creed of Zionism. That’s what I mean by boycott. That’s what I do. Israelis who are outside of and against the system of Zionism are comrades of mine… My opponent at Oxford University did not meet this test.”

The JC failed to mention that bit.

As for Gilad Atzmon , he was born and raised in Israel but is a fierce critic of the criminal Israeli regime, as many right-thinking Jews are. He is therefore a comrade in the battle to free Palestinians from the hell of Israeli occupation and brutality. So there is nothing odd about Galloway’s decision to interview him.

Besides, Galloway chooses his words carefully. He says he doesn’t debate with Israelis, not Jews. Others cannot bring themselves to debate with North Koreans or ISIS or Al-Qaeda. British foreign secretaries refused to talk with their Iranian counterparts for 30-odd years while turning the sanctions screw. The Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury would rather hobnob with Israeli rabbis and dignitaries than visit their beleaguered Christian brethren in Gaza. And there’s no chance of Netanyahu dropping in on Haniyeh in Gaza to discuss their love of football.

Mike Freer is a member of Conservative Friends of Israel. He and the people he represents among Jewish communities of Finchley and Golders Green, might learn something valuable if they sit down and listen carefully to George Galloway when Question Time is screened.

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‘We Palestinian Christians say Allahu Akbar’

Nadezhda Kevorkova is a war correspondent who has covered the events of the Arab Spring, military and religious conflicts around the world, and the anti-globalization movement.


January 30, 2015 15:16

Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova

Photo by Nadezhda Kevorkova

The only Palestinian Orthodox Christian bishop in the Holy Land speaking about the suffering of Palestinian Christians, their unity with Muslims in the Palestinian struggle, about Orthodox Christian martyrs, and Ukraine.

Archbishop Sebastia Theodosios (Atallah Hanna), 49, is the only Orthodox Christian archbishop from Palestine stationed in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, while all other bishops of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem are Greeks. The Israeli authorities had detained him several times, or stopped him at the border, and taken away his passport. Among all Jerusalem clergymen he is the only one who has no privilege of passing through the VIP gate in the airport – because of his nationality. “For the Israeli authorities, I am not a bishop, but rather a Palestinian,” explains his Beatitude. When talking on the phone he says a lot of words you would normally hear from a Muslim: “Alhamdulillah, Insha’Allah, Masha’Allah”. He speaks Arabic, and the Arabic for ‘god’ is Allah, whether you are a Christian or a Muslim.

Your Beatitude, what’s it like being the Palestinian bishop in the Holy Land?

Firstly, I’d like to confirm that I am the only Palestinian bishop in the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. A fellow bishop is serving in the city of Irbid in the north of Jordan; and there are also several Palestinian priests.

I take pride in belonging to this great religious institution that’s over 2,000 years old.

My church has been protecting the Christian presence in the Holy Land and the sacred items related to the life of Christ and Christian Church history.

I am proud of my religion and nationality, I am proud to belong to my fatherland. I am a Palestinian, and I belong to this religious people who are fighting for the sake of their freedom and dignity to implement their dreams and national rights.

I support Palestinians and share their cause and their issues. We the Palestinian Orthodox Christians are not detached from their hardships.

The Palestinian issue is a problem that concerns all of us, Christians and Muslims alike. It’s a problem of every free intellectual individual aspiring for justice and freedom in this world.

We the Palestinian Christians suffer along with the rest of Palestinians from occupation and hardships of our economic situation. Muslims and Christians suffer equally, as there is no difference in suffering for any of us. We are all living in the same complicated circumstances, and overcoming the same difficulties.

As a church and as individuals we protect this people, and we hope a day will come when Palestinians get their freedom and dignity.

A Christian pilgrim holds a cross as he dips in the water after a ceremony at the baptismal site known as Qasr el-Yahud on the banks of the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho January 18, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

A Christian pilgrim holds a cross as he dips in the water after a ceremony at the baptismal site known as Qasr el-Yahud on the banks of the Jordan River near the West Bank city of Jericho January 18, 2015. (Reuters/Mohamad Torokman)

For those coming to visit the Holy Land there are few opportunities to see how hard the Palestinians’ situation is. What would you like to say to those wishing to understand better the Palestinian problem?

The Israel authorities treat the Palestinian people in a way we can never accept or approve, first and foremost because Israel treats Palestinians as foreigners, as if we were strangers in our land.

Palestinians have never been strangers either to Jerusalem or to the entire homeland. Israel is an occupation force which treats us as visitors or some temporary residents. But we are the native people of this land. We didn’t come here, we have always been here. In contrast, Israel appeared out of the blue.

They are treating us as if we came here from elsewhere, as if we accidentally and recently strayed into this land. But we are the rightful owners of this land. We didn’t intrude into Israel. Israel intruded into our lives in 1948, and in 1967 it occupied Eastern Jerusalem. We have been here long before Israel. By the time Israel came here, our forefathers had been living here for many centuries.

This is why we cannot accept Israel treating us like strangers to our own homeland. I shall be honest and say it over again: both Christians and Muslims suffer the same from the Israeli authorities.

Is visiting Jerusalem as difficult to a Christian Palestinian from the West Bank as for a Muslim?

They don’t ask if a person arriving from Beit Jala or Ramallah to Jerusalem is a Christian or a Muslim. They only ask one question, “Do you have a permit to enter Jerusalem or not?”

The pass allowing a Palestinian to enter Jerusalem is issued by Israel. No one can come through without one. In pursuing its racist policy towards the Palestinian people Israel disregards different confessions. We are all targeted just the same. It all depends on getting a pass, whether you’re a Christian or a Muslim.

We all are their targets.

On top of that, Israel took control of a lot of property of the Orthodox Christian Church and is interfering with the internal affairs of the Church. They put pressure on the Palestinian Christians in all sorts of ways trying to force them to leave.

There is only one cause of suffering for both Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.

The recent attack on the French satirical magazine triggered a wave of anti-Muslim marches in Europe. Netanyahu walked in the front row of such a march. What it your attitude to what happened?

We denounce the attacks in Paris which were committed by the people allegedly representing a particular religion.

But they do not represent any religion – they are murderers.

This attack was committed by the people, who claimed to have faith, but they definitely don’t represent Islam and cannot act on behalf of Islam, they only do harm and hurt the image of Islam through what they do.

At the same time, we denounce just as much terrorist operations in Syria and Iraq as we denounce the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Those who committed the terror attack in Paris and elsewhere, belong to the same groups that are engaged in terrorism in Syria and Iraq and attack sacred places, desecrate churches and kidnap religious leaders.

They attack women and children in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.

We were witnesses of the terror act in Lebanon’s Tripoli just days ago which killed dozens of innocent people who were at a café.

We condemn the terror attacks in Paris and we equally condemn any such attacks in any part of the world. We strongly oppose the idea of connecting these attacks to Islam.

We are currently preparing for an international conference that religious figures – Christian, Muslim and Judaist – from many countries will take part in to assert that we, the representatives of the three monotheistic religions, are against terror, fanaticism and violence used under religious slogans. The conference might take place in Amman, Jordan.

To a Western mind, Allahu Akbar sounds like a threat. What do Christians of the Holy Land think about them?

We Christians also say Allahu Akbar. This is an expression of our understanding that the Creator is great. We don’t want this phrase to be related to terrorism and crimes.

We refuse to associate these words with massacres and murders.

We speak against using this phrase in this context. Those who do, they insult our religion and our religious values.

Those using these words while taking some unreligious, unspiritual, uncivilized actions are harming the religion.

Allahu Akbar is an expression of our faith.

One must not use these words for non-religion-related purposes in order to justify violence and terror.

Christian priests hold a Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 25, 2014. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Christian priests hold a Christmas Midnight Mass at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem December 25, 2014. (Reuters/Ammar Awad)

Do people say Allahu Akbar in church?

Of course.

For us, Allah is not an Islamic term. This is a word used in Arabic to indicate the Creator who’s made the world we are living in. So when we say Allah in our prayers we mean the Creator of this world.

In our prayers and pleas, in our Orthodox Christian religious ceremonies we use exactly this word. We say, glory be to Allah in all times. We say Allah a lot during our liturgy. It’s erroneous to think that the word Allah is only used by Muslims.

We the Arab Christians say Allah in our Arabic language as a way to identify and address the Creator in our prayers.

Is this all about Christ? Was he the one to provoke a religious split in the Holy Land? Christians and Muslims recognize that Jesus Christ had been born, and they are awaiting his second coming, and the judgment day. Jews deny this however, and await their Messiah.

We Christians believe that Jesus has already come. We have recently celebrated Christmas as a reminder that Jesus came into this world, that he was born in Bethlehem, and began his road here in the Holy Land for the sake of all mankind, and for the salvation of the world.

So as far as we are concerned, Jesus has already come.

Jews believe that he hasn’t come yet, and await his coming. This is the main disagreement between Jews and us. We believe that Jesus has already come, whereas they don’t.

Despite this fact, we are not at war with Jews. We do not express aggression against Jews or anyone else in the world, despite any differences in our beliefs.

We pray for those who disagree with us.

When Jesus came into this world he didn’t tell us to hate, ignore, or be at war with one or the other; he didn’t tell us to kill this one or that one. He gave us one very simple instruction: to love one another. When Jesus told us to love one another this love wasn’t conditioned by what a person was like, or what he was doing. If we are indeed true Christians it is our debt to love all people, and to treat them with positivity, and with love.

When we see someone who’s sinful, lost, and distant from Allah and from faith, someone who acts wrongly, then it is our duty to pray for him although he might be different from us and our religion. When we have religious disagreements with people we pray that Allah would guide them the right way. Hatred, anger, and accusations of having a wrong faith are not a part of our ethics as Christians. This is the key disagreement and difference between the Jewish religion and ours. The Jewish religion that had existed before Christ is the religion of people who were awaiting Jesus’ coming. Many Jews followed him, yet there were those who didn’t believe in him, and rejected him.

We know that Jesus was persecuted, and so were the early Christians. For instance, Herod the King killed thousands of babies in Bethlehem thinking that Jesus would be among them. The book of the Acts of the Apostles, as well as sacred tradition, talk about numerous instances of persecution of early Christians.

Despite that, we see each person who disagrees with us on religion as our brother, our fellow human. Allah created all of us, he gave us life, therefore it is our duty to love each person, and to pray for those who are mistaken or are misunderstanding, so that Allah would guide them the right way.

Is that why Christians and Muslims are persecuted?

We don’t divide the Palestinian people based on who is Christian and who is Muslim, who is religious and who isn’t, who is left or what party they are a member of. We don’t divide the people based on convictions and religion.

For the resistance it doesn’t matter whether they are Muslim or Christian.

Regardless of what their political views may be, all Palestinians actively support the idea that the Palestinian people should be able to exercise their rights and achieve their dream.

Yes, a number Christians have been killed since 1948 to this day. Some Christians have been driven away from their houses. Some Christian villages have been completely destroyed, and now there’s not a single house or resident there, for example, Al Galil in the Golan Heights.

Many churches have been attacked in Jerusalem; there have been attempts to seize their property and lands.

There are Christians in Israeli prisons – not as many as Muslims, but there are some. The Christian community is smaller in general, but we have our own martyrs who were killed and prisoners who spent years and years behind bars.

Christians suffer under the Israeli occupation just the same as Muslims – the entire Palestinian population suffers under it. They don’t distinguish between us.

Are there any special aspects when it comes to Christians living in the Holy Land?

Here’s one of the many examples, connected to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Trinity Cathedral located in the western part of Jerusalem belonged to the Russian Orthodox Church, but after 1948 Israel used the situation in Russia to its advantage and seized some of the buildings around the Cathedral, using them as police quarters and a prison with torture practices.

When someone says “moskobiya”, referring to something connected to the Moscow Patriarchate, something holy and spiritual, the first thing that comes to the mind of a Palestinian living in Jerusalem is torture, police, interrogation and prison.

In Nazareth, for example, the word “moskobiya” is associated exclusively with the old Russian school where the Palestinian cultural elite, scientists and politicians studied. Although it was closed after the 1917 Revolution in Russia, its fame lives on.

So it’s only for the Palestinians in Jerusalem.

What do Palestinian Christians, I mean Orthodox Christians first of all, think of the Ukraine crisis?

Overall, we are deeply concerned with the divide in Ukraine. We still believe all Ukrainian Christians must stay within the fold of the Mother Church that is the Moscow Patriarchate.

I wish the Ukraine crisis would resolve through dialogue so that we see reconciliation and an end to violence and bloodshed.

Christians do not need wars, killings and massacres. This political crisis must be resolved in a peaceful way. The Church must work hard to ensure that the divisions are bridged and overcome.

The Orthodox Church in Ukraine is strong because most of the people preach Orthodox Christianity.

Divisions must be healed. We really hope that the efforts by the Moscow Patriarchate and the Patriarchate of Constantinople will help to re-unite the Ukrainian Church.

I believe the split can be reversed and those who broke away could come back. But in order for that to happen we need humility, belief and strong will.

We pray for the Orthodox Church in Ukraine.

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American Sniper and US doom

A US soldier is seen in this December 29, 2014 photo taken in Taji, north of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad. (© AFP)

A US soldier is seen in this December 29, 2014 photo taken in Taji, north of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad. (© AFP)

The film American Sniper has sent the US public into raptures over the “heroic life” of its autobiographical subject Chris Kyle – who has been described as America’s “greatest warrior” soldier.

Last week, the movie premiered in cinemas to rave reviews, earning its director Clint Eastwood a box office smash-hit. Multiple Oscar awards are nominated.

Critics have quibbled about this or that aspect of the cinematography and storyline. But the prevailing impression is that Kyle – a US Marine marksman – was a tragic hero, a guy who honorably served his country during the American war in Iraq.

The film has even been described by some as an “anti-war” movie because it delves into the mental trauma of veterans and the suffering they endure after conflict.

Lost in the discussion is the central issue, which is the criminal nature of American militarism and its destructive impact on millions of innocent people. American Sniper may express certain misgivings about US foreign wars, owing to the psychological consequences on its military personnel.

But in indulging “heroes” like Chris Kyle, the insidious effect is to glorify American war-making. This reinforces American narcissism about its “exceptionalism” as a nation that is intrinsically good, superior and which has the prerogative to wage wars wherever it deems necessary for its “national interests” regardless of international law or morality.

Over one million Iraqis were killed during American military occupation of that country from 2003-2011. The fraudulent pretext for that war – Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction – has been amply documented and is irrefutable. That makes US involvement in Iraq an epic crime, a war of aggression, or, to put it plainly, a state-sponsored terrorist cataclysm.

American government leaders and Pentagon commanders, including incumbent President Barack Obama, should be prosecuted for war crimes based on legal standards established at the Nuremberg Trials for the Nazi Reich.

Astoundingly, the power of American propaganda and brainwashing, facilitated by its corporate media, erases any awareness or discussion of this central issue.

Instead, American angst is consumed in sympathy for “our noble veterans” and their trauma suffered “in the line of duty.”

America’s war machine killing own society

Where are the calls for justice over America’s state-sponsored criminality and genocide of the Iraqi people? Where is there even a semblance of remorse or reparation? American politicians continue to swan around the world, sanctimoniously lecturing others as if they were the epitome of virtue.

Legal justice may be absent, but nevertheless there is a very real form of justice for America’s systematic iniquity. The American war machine may appear to trundle on untrammeled by international law, illegally occupying countries, assassinating with aerial drones on a weekly basis, and subverting foreign nations by covert proxy terrorism, as in Syria and Ukraine. But, unequivocally, this war machine is killing its own society, financially, psychologically and morally.

Chris Kyle is eulogized as “America’s deadliest sniper” having killed singlehandedly over 200 people during his four tours of duty in Iraq. It doesn’t matter if most of his victims were “terrorists” or if he was serving in good faith to protect the lives of other American soldiers. The fact is that Kyle was a cog in a criminal war machine that was engaged in destroying a whole nation. For Americans to celebrate him as a “warrior hero” is indicative of the moral corruption that US society has descended into. It shows how much that violence has become endemic in the American psyche.

Kyle was shot dead at a Texas shooting-range in 2013. His alleged killer, Eddie Ray Routh, was also a veteran, said to be suffering from post-traumatic syndrome. Kyle, who declared his own post-conflict trauma after he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 2009, was working as a counselor for other mentally disturbed US vets. It says something about American social pathology that victims of conflict trauma are treated with “therapy” by letting them fire off assault rifles at shooting-ranges.

Every day, some 20 US military veterans commit suicide, most of them wracked by mental breakdown. That’s over 7,000 deaths every year. Tens of thousands of other veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other overseas American killing fields are reckoned to be silent victims of post-conflict trauma, committing acts of violence and crimes against other citizens, or degenerating into self-destructive lives of alcohol and other drug abuse. Similar numbers of American families are ruined by dysfunctional veterans who can’t readjust into normal society.

The economic cost of US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone is put at $6 trillion – or a third of America’s crippling national debt pile.

But a proper accounting reveals a much greater toll when the full social damage of these wars is assimilated. Medical bills, unemployment, crime, personal breakdown, unproductive members of society are just the tip of the iceberg.

In real, but intangible magnitude, American society is sitting on a massive “dirty” time-bomb from its criminal war-mongering. This is the “justice” for US wars of apparent impunity. The violence and destruction that American leaders have unleashed – are unleashing – on countries around the world are coming back to haunt and corrode American society to its core. Killing millions of people remotely in far off villages and deserts is exacting a righteous revenge on American society.

The story of Chris Kyle is not just a story about an ill-fated American sniper. It is a metaphor for America as a whole. Part of this destruction, and what makes it so profoundly terminal, is that the American public is largely oblivious to its own collapse. When mass murder of humans is hailed by popcorn-munching morons as heroic, it is a sure sign that America is doomed. Fatally.



FINIAN CUNNINGHAMFinian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Originally from Belfast, Ireland, he is now located in East Africa working as a freelance columnist for Press TV and Strategic Culture Foundation (Moscow).

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ISIS War Authorization Bill Would Limit Conflict

Via Syria Solidarity Movement

Jan 28, 2015, Antiwar.com


Several months into the ISIS war, the 90-day limit for President Obama to seek Congressional authorization has passed. He’s given some lip-service to wanting Congressional support, but only on his terms.

Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D – CA) bill probably isn’t what he had in mind. Offering an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS, Schiff is also looking to dramatically limit the scope of the conflict.

The bill would limit the war to three years, would confine it to Iraq and Syria, and would rule out the use of US ground troops in combat operations. The Pentagon opposes all these limits.

Rep. Schiff expressed frustration with the White House for not offering any language on the authorization despite promises to do so, saying there had been no apparent movement toward a vote after almost half a year of conflict.

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John McCain defends three Israel-First criminals

On January 29, 2015, a large number of protesters disturbed a US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington DC, when three former US secretaries of state, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and George Shultz, all Israel-First Jews, were about to enlighten the committee members on global security issues, in Russia, Iran, Syria, terrorism, etc. The protest was lead by members of anti-war group CODEPINK that called for a citizen arrest of Henry Kissinger as a WAR CRIMINAL. Watch video below.

John McCain later apologized to Henry Kissinger on behalf of his “uncivilized” fellow goyim.

Sen. John McCain, one of the top anti-Muslim and pro-Israel US lawmakers, who was chairing the committee, called the protestors “lowlife scum” and said it was “the most disgraceful and despicable demonstration he had ever seen.” He even accused the protesters of threatening ‘God’s Chosen’ Henry Kissinger physically. The COPEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin (Jewish)denied McCain’s claim.

CODEPINK is really proud of our action in the Senate today, speaking out on behalf of the people of Indochina, China, East Timor and peace-loving people everywhere. Henry Kissinger is responsible for the deaths of millions. He’s a murderer, a liar, a crook, and a thug, and should be tried at the Hague,” said Ms Benjamin.

John McCain’s loyalty to the Zionist state over United States runs in the family. His father Admiral John S. McCain Jr. helped US president Lyndon Johnson cover-up Israeli attack on USS Liberty. John McCain’s dirty hands are found behind propaganda lies, sanctions and wars to protect Israel’s interests whether it’s Islamic Republic of Iran, or Ukraineor Pakistan, or pro-Israel Syrian rebels, and 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq for Israel. On September 6, 2013, Mother Jones reported that McCain is desperately wants US army to attack Iran, Russia, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosova, Nigeria, Georgia, Sudan, Mali and China.

Henry Kissinger is a mass murderer no doubt. Let us not forget, Harvard historian professor Niall Ferguson in his highly praised 2006 book, The War of the Worldclaimed that some of the greatest mass murderers of modern times were Jewish. Jewish author, Christopher Hitchens, an Islamophobe, even wrote a book, Trail of Henry Kissinger.

Madeleine Albright, who discovered her Jewish family roots while heading American foreign ministry should not be considered a “lesser war criminal” than John McCain or Henry Kissinger. She didn’t show remorse for being part of killing half a million Iraqi children – but wept over the killing of three Israeli Jew girls by a Jordanian soldier. Since Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a crypto-Jew, became the new Hosni Mubarak, John McCain, John Kerry, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton , Henry Kissinger and Madeline Albright have all dined with al-Sisi in Cairo.

George Shultz visited the Zionist entity before and after he became US secretary of state. He was the keynote speaker at 1987 AIPAC Policy Conference. He was introduced as “not just a very, very good friend, but a warm, deeply-committed partisan”. George Shultz, who had criticized Israel in the past, changed his tune in 1983.

In May 1983, a Jewish newspaper editorial praised Shultz for becoming, “in recent weeks, a consistent advocate of US-Israel friendship.” When the US embassy in West Beirut had been bombed, with extensive loss of life, in April 1983, Shultz had also become personally involved in negotiating the Lebanese-Israeli withdrawal agreement, which seemed to assume that Syria would pay a political price for a troop withdrawal that Israel was almost desperate to make in order to reduce casualties to its army of occupation in Lebanon.

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In Memory of the great Anthony Lawson

January 31, 2015  /  Gilad Atzmon


Letter of complaint to Channel4 News



I am very saddened, livid, angry, at the way you presented “HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY”, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Camp by the Soviets.


Some other holocausts were remembered: Black Africans in Rwanda and Darfur, ethnic and/or religious minorities in Cambodia, (reluctantly) Christians in Armenia, but the FIVE/SIX MILLION NON-JEWISH HUMAN BEINGS of the World War Two holocaust did not get a mention. Also, the “six million Jews” figure has never been properly verified. Disputing it is labelled “Holocaust Denial”.


Worst of all, Palestine was altogether forgotten: It is the COUNTRY which was wiped off the map in 1948 by terrorist gangs of heartless, racist ZIONIST JEWS, and which has been in a horrific holocaust since then: From the systematic ethnic cleansing of 78% of Palestine in 1947-1948, to the 1967 military invasion of the West Bank and Gaza (also parts of Syria and Egypt), to the recent July-August 2014 assault, when some 2,200 Palestinian Gazans (mostly children and women) were slaughtered by “the most moral army in the world”, i.e., the Israeli Occupation Army! Five months on, in the West Bank, 50 more died and several more were either wounded, beaten up, kidnapped, dispossessed, made homeless through demolition of their houses, or saw their crops, olive trees, and even their animals destroyed. Gaza is still under daily attacks. However, this dire situation does not make the news and “Israel” is still “defending itself” against its PALESTINIAN VICTIMS.


OCCUPIED PALESTINE’s torturers do not tell the world that their famous “Holocaust Memorial”, at Yad Vashem, is situated in full sight of the village of Deir Yassin whose inhabitants were savagely murdered on 9 April 1948 by the Irgun and the Stern Gang, aided and abetted by the Haganah which became the “Israeli Defence Force” after the Zionists declared themselves “Israelis” on 14 May 1948.


At Auschwitz today, 27 January 2015, we saw Israeli flags, a proof that the illegitimate state of Israel, calling itself the “JEWISH AND DEMOCRATIC STATE” was there to say that “Israel is the result of the Shoah/Holocaust of the JEWS”, not that of Zionism whose origin goes back to the early nineteenth century, a long time before World War Two, anti-Semitism and “NEW ANTI-SEMITISM” caused by the daily atrocities perpetrated in PALESTINE.


It is time for honest reporting regarding the Zionist Jews and Palestine. It is clear that the Israeli Jews have no intention to give up one single inch of their conquest and constantly fabricate incidents in order to punish the “Palestinian Terrorists”. They seized the opportunity of the Paris killing of “Four-Jews-because-they-were-Jews” (or created it) in order to promote “anti-Semitism” and the “Return to their Homeland” – “Israel” naturally. Let all media look for the truth and expose it, stand up to Israeli/Zionist propaganda supported by our politicians, Friend of Israel.






’Israel’ Shaken by Sayyed Nasrallah’s Fateful Speech

Local Editor

The cheerful mood of the participants in the ceremony held by Hizbullah at Sayyed Shuhada Complex, in Dahiyeh [Beirut’s Southern Suburb]on Friday amidst un-resting applause and the chanting of “Abu Hadi”, all showed that the honorary festivity to commemorate the martyrs of Quneitra turned out to be a festival of triumph, and not a grieving sacrament.


An opposing scenario on the “Israeli” part could be exposed. On Friday, “Israeli” media covered Hizbullah’s Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s televised speech which conquered the Hebrew media.

The literal translation of the speech was posted as a whole on “Israeli” news websites, especially channel 2 and the Zionist newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, the most prevalent among “Israeli” media. Sayyed Nasrallah’s speech also topped the news bulletins and feeds of television channels and radio stations.

However, Zionist media tried to undermine the grave impact of his Eminence’s speech on the “Israeli” public through shedding light on the local Lebanese ground.

“Israeli” news website Ynet for instance, mentioned that Hizbullah’s provocation is Lebanon’s nightmare.
Ynet analyst stated that the Lebanese leadership and public feared a new round of fighting with “Israel” which would inflict huge economic damage. Furthermore, Iranians – as the report accused – feared that their involvement in the conflict would negatively affect nuclear talks.

According to the report, Yedioth Ahronoth allegedly learned that members of Lebanon’s al-Mustaqbal party even tried to convince Sayyed Nasrallah to call off his planned speech in order to prevent an unnecessary provocation against “Israel”.

These allegations could be refuted through the public and official reactions nationally and internationally which appreciatively received Hizbullah’s attack on Shebaa farms on January 28.

From the “Israeli” point of view, the most important part of the speech was its focus on two aspects: the issues of deterrence and the closure of the rules of engagement, and engaging among all fronts against “Israel”.

Meanwhile, silence prevailed among the “Israeli” officials – their inaction offered an opulent subject for analysts and commentators.

The first Hebrew channel indicated that Sayyed Nasrallah seemed very proud of the cell that carried out the Shebaa operation, and was more pleased of the supportive reactions in Lebanon.

But most of all, according to the channel, “Hizbullah did not conceal its desire to engage in an additional front in the Golan Heights, and deterred “Israel” as a result of his responses on the Lebanese border with the occupied Palestinian territories”.

They pointed out that Sayyed Nasrallah was trying to impose new rules of engagement with “Israel”.

It added that what happened two days ago, and the firing of rockets in the Golan, pointed to a change in the rules of engagement identified in 2006 and in accordance with 1701 resolution. Henceforward, the recent events in the North ended, but Hizbullah wrote that ending.

Military Affairs commentator in the channel said that Sayyed Nasrallah set his destination to the following: any “Israeli” act against Hizbullah, be it in the Golan or elsewhere, was now subject to different rules of engagement, and would be responded by Hizbullah. Thus, the security establishment viewed the new rule as a dangerous precedent; henceforth “”Israel” should take into consideration whatever action it will initiate”.

Sayyed Nasrallah addressed the Zionist entity at the height of his morale and strength saying: “By your cowardly actions, you have made the resistance break all the equations from now onwards”. He added that the resistance did not want war; however, it did not fear it once called upon.

Source: al-Ahed news

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CIA, Mossad Behind Killing of Imad Mughniyeh, Washington Post Confirms

Published Saturday, January 31, 2015

Updated at 1:30 pm (GMT+2):

A report from the Washington Post on Friday confirmed that the CIA and Israel’s spy agency Mossad were behind an elaborate plot to kill Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh in a 2008 car bomb attack in Syria.

Citing former intelligence officials, the newspaper reported that US and Israeli spy agencies worked together to target Mughniyeh on February 12, 2008 as he left a restaurant in the Syrian capital Damascus.

He was killed instantly by a car bomb planted in a spare tire on the back of a parked car, which exploded shrapnel in a tight radius, the Post said.

On January 19, Jihad, Mughniyeh’s 24-year-old son, was also killed by Israeli forces in Syria, along with five Hezbollah members and and an Iranian general in a helicopter airstrike near the city of Quneitra.

The bomb that killed Mughniyeh, built by the United States and tested in the state of North Carolina, was triggered remotely by Mossad agents in Tel Aviv who were in communication with the CIA operatives on the ground in Damascus.

“The way it was set up, the US could object and call it off, but it could not execute,” a former US intelligence official told the newspaper.

The CIA declined to comment to the Post about the report.

According the newspaper, the authority to kill required a presidential finding by George W. Bush. Several senior officials, including the attorney general, the director of national intelligence and the national security advisor, would have had to sign off on the order, it added.

The newspaper said that during the Iraq war, the Bush administration had approved a list of operations aimed at Hezbollah, and according to one official, this included approval to target Mughniyeh.

“There was an open license to find, fix and finish Mughniyeh and anybody affiliated with him,” a former US official who served in Baghdad told the Post.

According to the newspaper, American intelligence officials had been discussing possible ways to target the Hezbollah commander for years, and senior US Joint Special Operations Command agents held a secret meeting on the issue with the head of Israel’s military intelligence service in 2002.

“When we said we would be willing to explore opportunities to target him, they practically fell out of their chairs,” a former US official told the Post.

Though it is not clear when the agencies realized Mughniyeh was living in Damascus, a former official told the newspaper that Israel had approached the CIA about a joint operation to kill him in Syria’s capital.

The agencies collected “pattern of life” information about him and used facial recognition technology to establish his identity after he walked out of a restaurant the night he was killed.

In 2013, an Al-Akhbar investigation into the 2008 assassination revealed that Mossad, under the leadership of Meir Dagan at the time, was responsible for the operation, which took around six weeks to implement, from A to Z.

Mossad and CIA have repeatedly planned and carried out assassinations on Hezbollah’s senior commanders and members in Lebanon and Syria.

In 2013, Hezbollah commander Hassan al-Laqqis was assassinated in the suburbs of Beirut, an attack that the resistance group said was orchestrated by Israeli intelligence.

On Friday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah spoke about the latest attack on Hezbollah members in Quneitra, stressing that Israel had “planned, calculated and took a premeditated decision to assassinate” Hezbollah fighters.



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Was Goldman Sachs’ involvement in deceiving EU over Greece’s debt in part a policy to destroy the EU itself

This whole “Greek Debt” crisis was concocted by Goldman Sachs and a Conservative government

Goldman Secret Greece Loan Shows Two Sinners as Client Unravels


Greece’s secret loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was a costly mistake from the start.

On the day the 2001 deal was struck, the government owed the bank about 600 million euros ($793 million) more than the 2.8 billion euros it borrowed, said Spyros Papanicolaou, who took over the country’s debt-management agency in 2005. By then, the price of the transaction, a derivative that disguised the loan and that Goldman Sachs persuaded Greece not to test with competitors, had almost doubled to 5.1 billion euros, he said.

Papanicolaou and his predecessor, Christoforos Sardelis, revealing details for the first time of a contract that helped Greece mask its growing sovereign debt to meet European Union requirements, said the country didn’t understand what it was buying and was ill-equipped to judge the risks or costs.

“The Goldman Sachs deal is a very sexy story between two sinners,” Sardelis, who oversaw the swap as head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency from 1999 through 2004, said in an interview.

Goldman Sachs’s instant gain on the transaction illustrates the dangers to clients who engage in complex, tailored trades that lack comparable market prices and whose fees aren’t disclosed. Harvard University, Alabama’s Jefferson County and the German city of Pforzheim all have found themselves on the losing end of the one-of-a-kind private deals typically pitched to them by securities firms as means to improve their finances.

Goldman Sachs DNA

“Like the municipalities, Greece is just another example of a poorly governed client that got taken apart,” Satyajit Das, a risk consultant and author of “Extreme Money: Masters of the Universe and the Cult of Risk,” said in a phone interview. “These trades are structured not to be unwound, and Goldman is ruthless about ensuring that its interests aren’t compromised — it’s part of the DNA of that organization.”

A gain of 600 million euros represents about 12 percent of the $6.35 billion in revenue Goldman Sachs reported for trading and principal investments in 2001, a business segment that includes the bank’s fixed-income, currencies and commodities division, which arranged the trade and posted record sales that year. The unit, then run by Lloyd C. Blankfein, 57, now the New York-based bank’s chairman and chief executive officer, also went on to post record quarterly revenue the following year.

‘Extremely Profitable’

The Goldman Sachs transaction swapped debt issued by Greece in dollars and yen for euros using an historical exchange rate, a mechanism that implied a reduction in debt, Sardelis said. It also used an off-market interest-rate swap to repay the loan. Those swaps allow counterparties to exchange two forms of interest payment, such as fixed or floating rates, referenced to a notional amount of debt.

The trading costs on the swap rose because the deal had a notional value of more than 15 billion euros, more than the amount of the loan itself, said a former Greek official with knowledge of the transaction who asked not to be identified because the pricing was private. The size and complexity of the deal meant that Goldman Sachs charged proportionately higher trading fees than for deals of a more standard size and structure, he said.

“It looks like an extremely profitable transaction for Goldman,” said Saul Haydon Rowe, a partner in Devon Capital LLP, a London-based firm that advises global investors on derivatives disputes.

Disappearing Debt

Goldman Sachs declined to comment about how much it made on the swaps. Fiona Laffan, a spokeswoman for the firm in London, said the agreements were executed in accordance with guidelines provided by Eurostat, the EU’s statistical agency.

“Greece actually executed the swap transactions to reduce its debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio because all member states were required by the Maastricht Treaty to show an improvement in their public finances,” Laffan said in an e-mail. “The swaps were one of several techniques that many European governments used to meet the terms of the treaty.”

Cross-currency swaps are contracts borrowers use to convert foreign currency debt into a domestic-currency obligation using the market exchange rate. As first reported in 2003, Goldman Sachs used a fictitious, historical exchange rate in the swaps to make about 2 percent of Greece’s debt disappear from its national accounts. To repay the 2.8 billion euros it borrowed from the bank, Greece entered into a separate swap contract tied to interest-rate swings.

Falling bond yields caused that bet to sour, and tweaks to the deal failed to prevent the debt from almost doubling in size by the time the swap was restructured in August 2005.

Greece, which last month secured a second, 130 billion-euro bailout, is sitting on debt equal to about 160 percent of its GDP as of last year.

Eurostat Rules

Under Eurostat accounting rules, nations were permitted until 2008 to use so-called off-market rates in swaps to manage their debt. Greek officials, including Sardelis, say they learned that other EU countries such as Italy had employed similar methods to shrink their debts, taking advantage of the secrecy of over-the-counter derivatives compared with swaps traded on exchanges.

Eurostat said Greece didn’t report the Goldman Sachs transactions in 2008 when the agency told countries to restate their accounts.

“The Greek authorities had never informed Eurostat about this complex issue and no opinion on the accounting treatment had been requested,” the Luxembourg-based agency said in a statement last month.

Eurostat said it had only “general” discussions with financial institutions on its debt and deficit guidelines when the swap was executed in 2001. “It is possible that Goldman Sachs asked us for general clarifications,” Eurostat said, declining to elaborate.

Loudiadis Role

Bloomberg News filed a lawsuit at the EU’s General Court seeking disclosure of European Central Bank documents on Greece’s use of derivatives to hide loans. Releasing such information could damage the commercial interests of the ECB’s counterparties, hurt banks and markets, and undermine the economic policy of Greece and the EU, the central bank said last May in a response to the suit. A judgment is pending.

Sardelis, 61, and Papanicolaou, 72, said several banks, including Goldman Sachs, made proposals to manage Greece’s debt. The bank was represented by its top European sales executive at the time, Addy Loudiadis. She was trusted, said Papanicolaou, because she had helped price competitors’ derivatives and in 1999 warned the Greeks against buying a complex swap.

Sardelis, a former bank economist, described Loudiadis, who’s based in London, as “very professional — a little bit aggressive as is everyone at Goldman Sachs.”

‘Teaser Rate’

The derivative Loudiadis offered Sardelis in 2001 was also complex. Designed to provide a cheap way to repay 2.8 billion euros, the swap had a “teaser rate,” or a three-year grace period, after which Greece would have 15 years to repay Goldman Sachs, Sardelis said. All in, the deal appeared cheap to officials at the time, he said.

“We calculated that this had an extra cost above our normal funding cost on the yield curve of 15 basis points,” Sardelis said. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

Loudiadis, now CEO of Rothesay Life, a Goldman Sachs unit that insures longevity risk for U.K. corporate pension plans, declined to comment, a company spokeswoman said.

‘Very Bad Bet’

Sardelis said he realized three months after the deal was signed that it was more complex than he appreciated. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., bond yields plunged as stock markets sold off worldwide. That caused a mark-to-market loss on the swap for Greece because of the formula used by Goldman Sachs to compute Greece’s repayments over time.

“If you calculated that when we did it, it looked very nice because the yield curve had a certain shape,” Sardelis said. “But after Sept. 11, we realized this would be the wrong formula. So after we discussed it with Goldman Sachs, we decided to change to a simpler formula.”

The revised deal proposed by the bank and executed in 2002, was to base repayments on what was then a new kind of derivative — an inflation swap linked to the euro-area harmonized index of consumer prices. An inflation swap is a financial bet that pays off according to the degree to which a consumer-price index exceeds or falls short of a pre-specified level at maturity.

That didn’t work out well for Greece either. Bond yields fell, pushing the government’s losses to 5.1 billion euros, according to an analysis commissioned by Papanicolaou. It was “a very bad bet,” he said in an interview.

“This is even more reprehensible,” Papanicolaou said of the revised deal. “Goldman asked them to make a change that actually made things even worse because they went into an inflation swap.”

Confidentiality Requirement

Greece was handicapped, in part, by the terms Goldman Sachs imposed, he said.

“Sardelis couldn’t actually do what every debt manager should do when offered something, which is go to the market to check the price,” said Papanicolaou, who retired in 2010. “He didn’t do that because he was told by Goldman that if he did that, the deal is off.”

Sardelis declined to comment about the analysis, as did Petros Christodoulou, director general of the debt-management agency since February 2010.

It isn’t unusual for dealers to impose confidentiality requirements on clients in complex transactions to prevent traders from using the information to front-run or trade against the bank arranging and hedging the deal, said a former official who analyzed the swap and asked not to be named because the details are private.

‘Large Number’

Goldman Sachs’s initial 600 million-euro gross profit “sounds like a large number, but you have to take into account what the bank will be setting aside as a credit reserve, the cost to Goldman to fund the loan and the cost of hedging the currency component,” said Peter Shapiro, managing director of Swap Financial Group LLC in South Orange, New Jersey, an independent swaps adviser. “It’s hard to tell what the profit margin would have been.”

The report Papanicolaou commissioned after taking over the agency showed the repayment formula meant that Greece would have to pay Goldman Sachs 400 million euros a year, he said. The coupon and the mark-to-market swings on the swap prompted George Alogoskoufis, then finance minister, to decide to restructure the deal again to limit losses, Papanicolaou said.

Loudiadis and a team of Goldman Sachs advisers returned to Athens in August 2005, according to former Greek officials. The agreement they reached to transfer the swap to National Bank of Greece SA and extend the maturity to 2037 from 2019, gave the Greeks what they wanted, Papanicolaou said.

‘Squeeze Taxpayers’

The 5.1 billion-euro mark-to-market value of the swap was “locked in,” Papanicolaou said. It was that politically motivated decision to restructure and fix the increased market value that did as much damage as the original swap, said Sardelis, now a board member of Ethniki General Insurance Co., a subsidiary of National Bank of Greece.

“You can’t have prudent debt management if you change all the assumptions all the time,” he said.

Gustavo Piga, a professor of economics at University of Rome Tor Vergata and author of “Derivatives and Public Debt Management,” sees a different lesson.

“In secret deals, intermediaries have the upper hand and use it to squeeze taxpayers,” Piga said in an interview. “The bargaining power is in investment banks’ hands.”

According to NYT (again) Israel was fighting for survival in 1967 war, according to Israeli PM at the time “it was a war of choice”

Look how the New York Times refers to confessions of Israeli war criminals

“The wrenching, taped testimony“.  You almost want to say: oh, those poor Israeli war criminals. It must have hard committing massacres.

The New York Times version “the 1967 war, when Israel started out fighting Egypt, Jordan and Syria for its very survival and ended up seizing the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and parts of the Golan Heights”

Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s version ” In June 1967 we again had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.”



Disillusioned by War, Israeli Soldiers Muted in 1967 Are Given Fuller Voice


TEL AVIV — A young Israeli soldier, fresh from the front, bluntly recounts the orders from above. “They never said, ‘Leave no one alive,’ but they said, ‘Show no mercy,’ ” he explains. “The brigade commander said to kill as many as possible.”

Another recalls encountering Arabs on rooftops. “They’re civilians — should I kill them or not?” he asks himself. “I didn’t even think about it. Just kill! Kill everyone you see.” And a third makes it personal: “All of us — Avinoam, Zvika, Yitzhaki — we’re not murderers. In the war, we all became murderers.”

The wrenching, taped testimony is not from last summer’s bloody battle in the Gaza Strip but from the 1967 war, when Israel started out fighting Egypt, Jordan and Syria for its very survival and ended up seizing the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai Peninsula and parts of the Golan Heights. As the International Criminal Court considers a war crimes investigation in the recent conflict, a new documentary film is showcasing previously unaired admissions of brutal behavior by an earlier generation.


Mor Loushy, director of “Censored Voices,” a new film about the 1967 war.

The film, “Censored Voices,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, the latest in a series of movies by leftist Israeli filmmakers who have won awards abroad by presenting harsh looks at their own society. Based on interviews that the military heavily edited at the time, it includes accounts of Israelis summarily executing prisoners and evacuating Arab villages in a manner that one fighter likened to the Nazis’ treatment of European Jews.

The director, Mor Loushy, said in an interview that she was trying to revamp the prevailing Israeli narrative of triumph in 1967 in light of all that has happened since, and that the film “is very relevant for today.”

But with Israel increasingly in a defensive crouch on the international stage, the film raises concerns that, viewed without consideration for the existential threat Israel faced at the time, it could become catnip for contemporary critics.

Continue reading the main story Video

Play Video|1:06

Israeli Soldiers Capture Sinai Region


Israeli Soldiers Capture Sinai Region

Uri Liss recalls the scene after Israeli soldiers conquered the Sinai Peninsula and captured Egyptian soldiers.

Video by One Man Show & kNow on Publish Date January 25, 2015.


“People abroad who don’t remember the way we do the circumstances of the Six-Day War will turn this into one more indictment of Israel,” said Yossi Klein Halevi, whose 2013 book, “Like Dreamers,” followed the lives of a group of 1967 veterans. “If there were isolated acts of abuse by our soldiers, that should not become the narrative about what the Six-Day War was about. Many of us here are, frankly, sick and tired of the blame-Israel-first narrative.”

Asked to respond to the film, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner of the Israel Defense Forces said it was “representative of Israel’s vibrant democracy, where everything can be and is openly discussed,” but not particularly pertinent to current debates over military conduct. While 1967 was a war between sovereign states, Colonel Lerner noted, today Israel faces “belligerent nonstate or semistate” actors with weapons “dispersed within the civilian arena.”

“Any attempt to draw similarities between the two,” he said in an email, “is weak and nonrepresentative of how warfare has developed, how the battlefield has evolved and how today terrorism takes precedence over traditional warfare.”


The author Amos Oz, a veteran of the 1967 Middle East war, listens for the first time to taped testimony that he gave at the time. Credit Avner Shahaf

The 84-minute film had a budget under $1 million, financed mainly by Israeli and European broadcasters and the American documentary producer Impact Partners. Interspersing the 1967 interviews with archival footage from the war and ABC News’s coverage of it, it does make clear the imminent threat to Israel — and then the stunning turnabout that military historians have long considered a marvel.

Beyond the accounts of killing prisoners and civilians, perhaps the most striking element of the film is that within a week or two of the war’s end, these soldiers — from Israel’s socialist kibbutz movement — questioned its wisdom.

“I think that in the next round the Arabs’ hatred towards us will be much more serious and profound,” one says. Already ambivalent about the occupation of Palestinian territory, another worries, “Not only did this war not solve the state’s problems, but it complicated them in a way that’ll be very hard to solve.”


Israeli soldiers during the 1967 war. Credit Yossi Limor

As Ms. Loushy put it, “This is the story of men who went out to war feeling like they had to defend their life, and they were right, of course, but they went out in one position and came back as conquerors.”

“If those voices had been published in 1967,” she said, “maybe our reality here would be different.”

Some of the voices were published at the time in “A Conversation With Warriors,” a collection edited by Avraham Shapira that sold a stunning 120,000 copies in Israel. (The English-language version is called “The Seventh Day.”) Mr. Halevi said its publication “was the moment when part of Israeli society started sobering up from the euphoria.”

Continue reading the main story Video

Play Video|0:57

Israeli Soldiers Capture Western Wall


Soldiers recall the Western Wall in Jerusalem coming under Israeli control in 1967.

Video by One Man Show & kNow on Publish Date January 25, 2015.


When Ms. Loushy, 32, tripped across a copy doing research for a history paper, she was riveted by how different its tone was from the 1967 story she had learned in school. She cajoled Mr. Shapira, an aging kibbutznik and philosophy professor, to share the original audiotaped interviews that he had denied to legions of journalists and historians.

“If you listen — not hearing but listening — to the recordings, there is a symphony of sounds: There are screams, crying, real weeping,” Mr. Shapira said in an interview. “They anticipated what can happen if we’ll not work immediately for peace, practically to return back all the occupied territories. They express it as an inner feeling, no politics.”

He said current soldiers had told him that they found in these old interviews “a deep, personal expression of their own moral and human dilemmas.”


A new documentary includes wrenching testimony that soldiers — now graying men — gave in taped interviews that the military heavily edited at the time. Credit Israeli Army film service

Ms. Loushy, whose previous film, “Israel Ltd.,” attempted to unmask Zionist propaganda tours, listened to 200 hours of tapes over eight months, much of which the censors had blocked from publication in the book. She was deep into the project before she discovered that the film, too, would be subject to censorship, she said.

Israel forbids the filmmakers to reveal how much they were forced to change, and the military censor’s office refused to discuss it.

“For us as a society to mend and to improve ourselves, we can’t censor,” Ms. Loushy said. “I think it’s important that we look the truth in the eyes.”

The film’s star is the original reel-to-reel tape recorder that Mr. Shapira bought in 1967. It replays the interviews as the soldiers — now graying, wrinkled men — sit alongside, sometimes closing their eyes or cringing a bit. Only in the final few minutes do some of them speak, briefly. One says he has become “less Zionist, less patriotic, less of a believer,” and another says, “I’m much more right wing than before.”

Pinchas Leviatan, 73, a retired horticulturalist and teacher, said in an interview that when Ms. Loushy had come to his home and played the tape, he had not recognized the voice, “but when I heard what I said, I was sure that it was me.” He had been telling the same stories to students for years.

In the film, Mr. Leviatan talks of being emotionally broken by seeing the humiliation of Egyptian soldiers after the fighting, when they “came with canteens filled with urine” and, upon being given water, “threw up on our feet and kissed us.” He is one of the Israeli soldiers whose views have changed with time.

“I was convinced that the peace is coming, and maybe after the Six-Day War I was hoping that it’s going to happen,” he said in the interview. “I was very naïve. I participated in another five wars as a commanding officer. The fact is that during the years, I lost my belief in the possibility of getting any solution in the area.”

New York Times comic again “we failed to do our job after 9/11” & let Bush get away with fake “war on terror”

New York Times editor: we failed to do our job after 9/11. Dean Baquet admits that US mainstream media did not ask ‘hard questions’ about Bush administration’s prosecution of so-called war on terror

New York Times editor: we failed to do our job after 9/11. Dean Baquet admits that US mainstream media did not ask ‘hard questions’ about Bush administration’s prosecution of so-called war on terror

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, believes his newspaper – in company with the US mainstream media – failed their audiences after 9/11.

He told the German news magazine Der Spiegel that he agreed with the criticism originally made by an NYT reporter, James Risen,
Baquet said: “The mainstream press was not aggressive enough after 9/11, was not aggressive enough in asking questions about a decision to go to war in Iraq, was not aggressive enough in asking the hard questions about the war on terror. I accept that for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times”.
Baquet, in charge of the NYT since May 2014, was previously editor-in-chief of the LA Times. In his wide-ranging interview with Der Spiegel, Baquet also spoke about the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden having chosen to tell his story to the Guardian.
He said he regards the Guardian as “a new competitor [for the NYT] in the digital age.” He said: “Does it make me nervous that they compete with us and in fact beat us on the Snowden story? Yes.
Der Spiegel asked: “How painful was it as an institution thatEdward Snowden didn’t approach the New York Times?” Baquet replied:
It hurt a lot. It meant two things. Morally, it meant that somebody with a big story to tell didn’t think we were the place to go, and that’s painful. And then it also meant that we got beaten on what was arguably the biggest national security story in many, many years.
Not only beaten by the Guardian, because he went to the Guardian, but beaten by the [Washington] Post, because he went to a writer from the Post. We tried to catch up and did some really good stories that I feel good about. But it was really, really, really painful.
It was suggested that Snowden didn’t approach the NYT because it had refused to publish the initial research about the NSA’s bulk collection in 2004.
Edward Snowden.
Asked whether it was mistake to have held back on that reporting, Baquet pointed out, reasonably enough, that he wasn’t at the NYT at the time.
The magazine also asked Baquet about digital rivals, citing a leak of an internal NYT document saying that its “journalistic advantage” was shrinking in the face of online competitors. Baquet said:
We assumed wrongly that these new competitors, whether it was BuzzFeed or others, were doing so well just because they were doing something journalistically that we chose not to do. We were arrogant to be honest.
We looked down on those new competitors, and I think we’ve come to realize that was wrong. They understood before we did how to make their stories available to people who are interested in them. We were too slow to do it.


CIA tried to plant nuclear weapon evidence in Iraq , just as they did with Iran

CIA Tried to Give Iraq Nuclear Plans, Just Like Iran

If you’ve followed the trials of James Risen and Jeffrey Sterling, or read Risen’s book State of War, you are aware that the CIA gave Iran blueprints and a diagram and a parts list for the key component of a nuclear bomb.

The CIA then proposed to do exactly the same for Iraq, using the same former Russian scientist to make the delivery. How do I know this? Well, Marcy Wheeler has kindly put all the evidence from the Sterling trial online, including this cable. Read the following paragraph:

“M” is Merlin, code name for the former Russian used to give the nuclear plans to Iran. Here he’s being asked, just following that piece of lunacy, whether he’d be willing to _______________. What? Something he agrees to without hesitation. The CIA paid him hundreds of thousands of our dollars and that money flow would continue to cover a more adventurous extension of the current operation. What could that mean? More dealings with Iran? No, because this extension is immediately distinguished from dealings with Iran.


It seems that a national adjective belongs in that space. Most are too long to fit: Chinese, Zimbabwean, even Egyptian.

But notice the word “an,” not “a.” The word that follows has to start with a vowel. Search through the names of the world’s countries. There is only one that fits and makes sense. And if you followed the Sterling trial, you know exactly how much sense it makes: Iraqi.


And then further down: “THINKING ABOUT THE IRAQI OPTION.”

Now, don’t be thrown off by the place to meet being somewhere that M was unfamiliar with. He met the Iranians in Vienna (or rather avoided meeting them by dumping the nuke plans in their mailbox). He could be planning to meet the Iraqis anywhere on earth; that bit’s not necessarily relevant to identifying the nation.

Then look at the last sentence. Again it distinguishes the Iranians from someone else. Here’s what fits there:


North Koreans doesn’t fit or make sense or start with a vowel (And Korean doesn’t start with a vowel, and DPRK doesn’t start with a vowel). Egyptians doesn’t fit or make sense.

The closest words to fitting this document, other than IRAQI and IRAQIS, are INDIAN and INDIANS. But I’ve tried approximating the font and spacing as closely as possible, and I encourage typographical experts to give it a try. The latter pair of words ends up looking slightly crowded.

And then there’s this: The United States knew that India had nukes and didn’t mind and wasn’t trying to start a war with India.

And this: the mad scheme to give slightly flawed nuke plans to Iran was admitted in court by the CIA to risk actually proliferating nukes by giving Iran help. That’s not such a bad outcome if what you’re really after is war with Iran.

And this: the U.S. government has repeatedly tried to plant nuke plans and parts on Iraq, as it has tried for decades to portray Iran as pursuing nukes.

And this: The Sterling trial, including testimony from Condoleezza “Mushroom Cloud” Rice herself, was bafflingly about defending the CIA’s so-called reputation, very little about prosecuting Sterling. They doth protested too much.

What did blowing the whistle on Operation Merlin put at risk? Not the identity of Merlin or his wife. He was out there chatting with Iranians online and in-person. She was outed by the CIA itself during the trial, as Wheeler pointed out. What blowing the whistle on giving nukes to Iran put at risk was the potential for giving nukes to more countries — and exposure of plans to do so (whether or not they were followed through on) to the nation that the United States had been attacking since the Gulf War, began to truly destroy in 2003, and is at war in still.

When Cheney swore Iraq had nuclear weapons, and at other times that it had a nuclear weapons program, and Condi and Bush warned of mushroom clouds, was there a bit more to Tenet’s “slam dunk” than we knew? Was there an alley oop from the mad scientists at the CIA? There certainly would have been an attempt at one if left up to “Bob S,” “Merlin,” and gang.

Did Sterling and other possible whistleblowers have more reason to blow the whistle than we knew? Regardless, they upheld the law. Drop the Charges.


UPDATE: Multiple sources tell me that each letter in the font used above is given the same space, which is why they line up in vertical columns, so in fact IRAQI and IRAQIS use the right number of spaces

How Israel deliberately targeted homes in Gaza killing over 500 children

How Israel deliberately targeted homes in Gaza killing over 500 children

Israeli human rights organization says the hallmark of Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in Summer 2014 was its bombing of Palestinian residential homes.

Gaza home bombed by Israel

ATTACKS in which the Israeli military deliberately targeted Palestinian homes were an “appalling hallmark” of the military offensive this summer and had the backing of top Israeli officials, an Israeli human rights organization charges in a report released Wednesday.

For its report, Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014 (pdf), B’Tselem investigated 70 incidents in which at least three people were killed while inside their home during what Israel called Operation Protective Edge.

In these incidents, B’Tselem said, over 600 Palestinians were killed, 70% of whom likely too no part in fighting. They included the deaths of 93 infants and children under the age of 5, as well as 129 5- to 14-year old children, and 37 people over 60.

One of the incidents described in the report is the bombing of the Abu Jame’ home in Bani Suheil, which killed 24 members of a family and one person described as a Hamas operative who is not related to the family.

Thirty-six-year old Tawfiq Abu Jame’, whose wife and six of his seven children were killed in the attack, told B’Tselem that though there was artillery fighting in the area, his family had nowhere to flee. “We were bombed without any warning. We didn’t receive a telephone call and a missile wasn’t fired at our house, like sometimes happened in other houses.”

“I’d worked with my brothers on building this house, building our lives, since I was eleven, and suddenly we’d lost everything. The house and the family obliterated in a matter of seconds. I only have my son Nur a‐Din left. All I have left of them is a few photos of my children I took on my cell phone at a wedding a week before Ramadan. I keep turning on my phone, looking at the pictures, and remembering my kids and the various stages in their lives,” he said.

The organization pointed to three factors behind the high numbers of Palestinian civilian casualties in the incidents they investigated: Israeli forces’ overly broad definitions of legitimate military targets, their repeated violations of the “principle of proportionality,” and a lack of or ineffective warnings to civilians that the homes would be targeted.

The operation ultimately killed over 2,100 Palestinians, including over 500 children. The attacks also resulted in the deaths of 67 Israeli soldiers and 5 Israeli citizens.

The report also acknowledges that Hamas violated international humanitarian law, yet stresses that this does not abdicate Israel from still having to adhere to the law.

The organization sent the report to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his response. In a letter accompanying report, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad wrote, “Senior officials, with you at the helm, backed the strikes, reiterating the argument that the attacks conform to international humanitarian law (IHL) and eschewing any responsibility for harm to civilians.”

“This interpretation is designed to block, a priori, any allegation against Israel and means that there are no restrictions whatsoever on Israeli action and that whatever method it chooses to respond to Hamas operations is legitimate, no matter how horrifying the consequences. This interpretation is unreasonable, unlawful, and renders meaningless the principle that violations committed by one party do not release the other party from its obligations toward the civilian population and civilian objects,” El-Ad wrote.

B’Tselem’s report, which follows a slew of other reports denouncing Israeli actions during the offensive, comes a day after the UN Relief and Works Agency announced it was suspending its cash assistance program to the nearly one hundred thousand people in Gaza whose homes were damaged or destroyed during the summer attack.

The agency cited a funding shortfall of $585 million as reason for the suspension.

UNRWA Director in Gaza Robert Turner stated the while raising $135 million was “a tremendous achievement; it is also wholly insufficient.”

“It is easy to look at these numbers and lose sight of the fact that we are talking about thousands of families who continue to suffer through this cold winter with inadequate shelter,” Turner continued. “People are literally sleeping amongst the rubble; children have died of hypothermia. US$ 5.4 billion was pledged at the Cairo conference last October and virtually none of it has reached Gaza. This is distressing and unacceptable.”

The Electronic Intifada‘s Maureen Clare Murphy previously remarked that Israel was “the true beneficiary” of the $5.4 billion pledged in aid. She continued: “The self-declared international community has once again footed the reconstruction bill as it arms Israel with the weaponry and ensures it the impunity that only rewards its brutal onslaught on Gaza and essentially guarantees its repetition.”

Source: Common Dreams


israel has a license to kill Arabs. They can “Auschwitz” them as much as they like

An Auschwitz for Arabs

By Michael Hoffman
The Auschwitz bandwagon has rolled onto our television and Internet screens and newspaper front pages once again. It never actually leaves, so perhaps it is more accurate to say that this week it is more present than usual.
You don’t believe we’re ruled by halacha (Talmudic law)? In that case, how is it that whatever befalls The Holy People of Counterfeit “Israel” is branded the supreme evil of the cosmos, and whatever happens to the eternally skimmed (we the goyim), counts for slightly less than nothing?
You never heard of it, correct? Why is that? It was a torture camp; a death camp paid for in part with American taxpayer money. But you know nothing of it. Israeli allies under Israeli direction killed and tortured the Lebanese in that El Khiam concentration camp. All of the victims were goyim, not Holy People. Now do you understand why El Khiam is unsung and unknown?
El Khiam was liberated by Hezbollah, the people Americans are taught to hate because they are the only formidable armed resistance against Israeli conquest and land theft in the Middle East. Unlike Sunni Saudi Arabia which is allied with the Israelis, Shiite Hezbollah has not cut a deal with the US or the Israelis. This is why Assad in Syria and the government of Iran are attacked and sanctioned — they are the principal, and practically the only significant allies of Hezbollah.
“Saudi Arabian interests and Israel are almost parallel,” says Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. “He notes the startling alliance of Saudi Arabia and the Jewish state.” (Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2013, p. A11). 
“…the kingdom now supports Islamist rebels in Syria who often fight alongside Qaeda groups like the Nusra Front. The Saudis say they have little choice…they believe they must now back whoever can help them defeat Mr. Assad’s forces and his Iranian allies.” (New York Times, January 5, 2014, p. A10).
Saudi Arabia, which maintains a compact with its clerics who furnish the murderous Wahhabist-Salafist theology which drives ISIS and al-Qaeda, is our precious “ally,” while Hezbollah, Iran and Assad’s Syria we are taught to hate, sanction and prepare to do war with.

We are seeing the makings of another war unfolding this week, which the Israelis are instigating in league with their covert Saudi-based Wahhabist-Salafist Sunni terrorist allies; a war intended to finish off Assad, the protector of the Christian population in Syria, and in Lebanon to “mow the lawn” (an Israeli euphemism for periodic massacres of Arab civilians so as to “tame” these lesser humans).

Here’s how it’s playing out as we write these words: nine days ago the Israeli military bombed a convoy in Syria’s Golan Heights. The bombs killed five members of Hezbollah, including the son of the group’s former military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, and an Iranian general. The Israeli government justified the unprovoked attack on Syrian land by claiming, on no evidence, that Hezbollah and its Iranian allies “had been building an infrastructure in the Syrian Golan Heights with which to attack Israel.” The NY Times and other controlled media published this alibi without skepticism and without publishing any comment from Syria, Iran or Hezbollah as a counter to it. The Israelis issue the pretext for their violence and all people who think “correct” thoughts are obligated to believe it’s true.

Today, Jan. 28, in retaliation for the Israeli attack (although the mainstream media will not patently report it as retaliation), Hezbollah struck an Israeli convoy, with the difference being that whereas the US media published almost no photos of the Israeli attack nine days ago, today graphic and grisly photos of the wounded Israelis and the wreckage of their vehicles are plastered all over the US media.
To summarize, the Israelis launched an unprovoked bombing raid on Syria, killing Hezbollah personnel and an Iranian general. When representatives of those victims fight back, we have the situation today, as decreed by “our” media: “Hezbollah launches attack on Israel.”
One envisions the shaking heads and indignation of all of those millions of Fox News habitués and “American Sniper” movie viewers, who are thinking, “Those damned Arabs are at it again! Go Israel!”
With an Israeli national election weeks away, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was anxious to initiate a tit-for-tat exchange with Hezbollah which he knew the US media would suggest was “an act of Arab terror,” which in turn provides Netanyahu the opportunity to gain more popularity with the generally bloodthirsty Israeli electorate by sparking a war with Lebanon and Syria.
All this might very well precipitate another genocidal Israeli “lawn mowing” of Lebanese civilians (last witnessed in 2006), and the opportunity to further assist the al-Qaeda connected Nusra front in Syria in finally crushing the Syrian-Christian population’s ally, Assad, and instituting Nusra’s Sharia law in Syria, which Right wing Republicans claim to oppose in the US but support in Syria — by means of their Israeli-approved goal of overthrowing Assad.
According to a statement on his Facebook page, Russian-Judaic Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, stated that “Israel” should respond to Hezbollah’s retaliation, “in a very harsh and disproportionate manner.”
We’ll wager that Lieberman’s advocacy of a “disproportionate” attack is a reference to his goal of another massacre of Lebanese. Lieberman’s political ally, Ayelet Shaked, a member of the Israeli Knesset (parliament), spelled it out: “bombing a civilian population is justified when civilians give shelter to evil” (Jewish Daily Forward, Jan. 26, 2015).
“Evil” in this context signifies any goy who raises his head against Israeli occupation and mass murder.
Israelis have a license to kill Arabs. They can “Auschwitz” them as much as they like, on this, the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Israel’s terrorist attacks on Palestinian fishermen

Israeli Navy Attacks Fishing Boats In Gaza Waters

Israeli navy ships opened fire, on Saturday at dawn, on a number of Palestinian fishing boats near the Sudaniyya shore, northwest of Gaza city.

File - felesteen.ps
File – felesteen.ps

Eyewitnesses said one of the navy ships chased the fishing boats while firing rounds of live ammunition, forcing the fishers back to the shore.

The boats were within the six nautical miles allotted for the Palestinians for fishing.

On Thursday morning, navy ships attacked a number of Palestinian fishing boats, also in the Sudaniyya Sea, opened fire on them and forced them back to the shore.

On Wednesday morning, soldiers stationed across the border fence with the Gaza Strip opened fire at Palestinian fields east of Khan Younis.

On Monday evening, the navy opened fire on a fishing boat, in Palestinian waters west of Gaza city, causing it to sink, and kidnapped four fishermen.

The Israeli navy targets Palestinian fishing boats on almost a daily basis, in clear breach of the Egyptian-brokered truce agreement reached on August 26 of last year.

The agreement includes allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within 6 nautical miles in the Gaza Sea, with an incremental expansion in the allotted area. Under the Olso accords, the Palestinians are allowed to fish and sail within 20 nautical miles, but Israeli kept attacking them, and repeatedly unilaterally reduced the miles to 3, then to six.

Related Link(s): http://www.imemc.org/article/70072

The cracks are showing, even the New York Times comic publishes report on Israel’s war crimes

Surprise– ‘NYT’ publishes straightforward report on Israeli human rights violations in Gaza

By James North, Mondoweiss
Thursday, Jan 29, 2015
In today’s New York Times, reporter Isabel Kershner devotes a substantial article to a new report from B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, saying that Israel likely committed war crimes in its attack on Gaza last summer.

An Israeli human rights group said Israel’s attacks on residential buildings in Gaza during the 50-day war against Hamas last summer appeared in at least some instances to violate the provisions of international law and raised grave legal concerns in others, according to a report to be published on Wednesday…

[B’Tselem] investigated 70 cases in which more than 600 Palestinians were killed inside homes, a majority of them — children, women and men over the age of 60 — considered unlikely to have been involved in the fighting.

Simple as that. How much clearer can you be?  A few paragraphs down, we get the denial from Israeli authorities. But then it goes back to the charges. The bulk of the story is what B’Tselem says in its 49-page report, which is titled “Black Flag: The legal and moral implications of the policy of attacking residential buildings in the Gaza Strip, summer 2014.” There’s even an interview with B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad. And a paragraph that begins, “The B’Tselem report contains wrenching testimonies from the survivors of 13 houses that were hit.”

Of course the Times should have been doing this all along. As I reported last summer, the Times’s failure to quote B’Tselem’s reports has been a serious omission in its coverage.

In the past two years, B’Tselem has been mentioned only 20 times — and 9 of those appearances were in “The Lede,” a blog by Robert Mackey that is not part of the printed newspaper.

But better late than never. I feel like I’m reading a normal report in a normal newspaper. We salute Kershner.

Now let’s brace for the backlash. This is the kind of thing that will get hasbara worked up, and the full-scale counterattack on the Times is probably already under way. I cannot recall ever reading a news article in the Times that is so clear about Israeli human rights violations.

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Netanyahu is a criminal, should he even be allowed entry into the USA?

Poll: Netanyahu Should be Investigated for Nuclear Weapons Tech Smuggling Before US Visit

A majority of Americans believe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be investigated by the FBI for nuclear weapons technology smuggling before being allowed to enter the United States according to a new poll.


In 2012 the FBI declassified and released files (PDF archive) of its investigation into how 800 nuclear weapons triggers were illegally smuggled from the U.S. to Israel. According to the FBI, the Israeli Ministry of Defense ordered nuclear triggers (krytrons), encrypted radios, ballistic missile propellants and other export-prohibited items through a network of front companies. Smuggling ring operations leader Richard Kelly Smyth alleged that Netanyahu worked at one of the fronts – Heli Trading owned by confessed spy and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan – and met with him frequently to execute smuggling operations.

The poll was commissioned by the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep). When informed of the incident, most Americans (54.9 percent) indicate that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be investigated by the FBI before an upcoming U.S. visit.

Israel officially designated the smuggling operation “Project Pinto.” Smyth was captured, prosecuted and incarcerated in 2002 after years on the run as an international fugitive. The krytrons were believed to be destined for Israel’s clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Only 25.8 percent of Americans polled believe Netanyahu should be allowed to freely visit the U.S. while 15.9 percent say said he should neither be investigated nor allowed to enter the U.S.

When questioned by Israeli and Russianmedia about the smuggling affair, the Israeli Foreign Ministry denied involvement.

Younger respondents (age 18-24 and 25-34) are generally more likely to want Netanyahu investigated (73.6 percent and 62.0 percent) than older Americans. Reponses vary little between income categories. However females (63.4 percent) were more likely than males (50.4 percent) to prefer Netanyahu be criminally investigated before being allowed to enter America.

Netanyahu has recently announced plans to break diplomatic protocol and address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Congress in March, 2015 without coordinating his state visit with the White House.

The IRmep poll, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent, was fielded January 26-28, 2015 by Google Consumer Surveys and received 1,507 responses. The poll question, response choices and statistically significant results may be viewed online and cross-tabulated.

Grant F. Smith is the author of America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government. He currently serves as director of research at the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington (IRmep), D.C. Read other articles by Grant, or visit Grant’s website.

Israel and the US: a Troubled Romance

By Robert Fantina | CounterPunch | January 30, 2015

It is sometimes interesting to see the many hoops the United States jumps through to accommodate the brutal whims of Israel. With Palestine ratifying the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court (ICC) beginning its initial investigation of possible Israeli war crimes committed against the Palestinians, more such information is leaking out.

Israel, it is reported, is pressuring nations that fund the ICC, however inadequately, to either reduce or suspend that funding altogether. Reports are that poor Israel is being rebuffed at every turn, with the major funding nations saying they have no intention of making such adjustments. The U.S., this writer is sure, would cease all funding for the ICC, if it had ever deigned to join. But no international body, it seems, has the right to judge the soldiers and/or leaders of the self-described ‘land of the free and home of the brave’ for illegal invasions, wanton killing of civilians, or torture of political prisoners. So Israel, which has in the past successfully demanded that the U.S. cease any aid to Palestine, can’t rely on the U.S. to pull the plug on the ICC.

All this comes at a very awkward time for the troubled romance between Israel and the U.S., a time when perhaps the final nail has been hammered into the coffin of the dysfunctional bromance between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. In March, Mr. Netanyahu will visit the U.S. to give Congress his instructions regarding U.S. negotiations with Iran. This, in all likelihood, will torpedo the delicate, years-long negotiations that Mr. Obama, with support from much of the international community, has been spearheading. But the general direction of these negotiations has been displeasing to Mr. Netanyahu, and he will inform Congress of that fact in no uncertain terms. Congress, always responsive to the holders of the purse strings, will fall into line. So what if it means that more young Americans will be sent to kill and die in another war? What is this, when funds are needed for one’s next re-election campaign?

A presidential spokesperson said that Mr. Netanyahu’s forthcoming visit to the U.S. is a slap in the face of Mr. Obama. And U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, an international joke if ever there was one, is said to be particularly peeved. Did he not, as has since been reported, contact at least fifty world leaders in December, begging and pleading with them on Israel’s behalf, to vote down a resolution being introduced at the United Nations, that would have mandated an end to the Israel occupation of Palestine by 2017? Was he not successful in procuring Israel’s desire at the expense of the basic human rights of the Palestinians? And then, within days, to have Mr. Netanyahu spit in his eye! Oh, the shame of it! One is confident that Mr. Kerry will send a strongly-worded message to someone in Israeli diplomatic circles, perhaps a staff member responsible for cleaning the guest bath at the ambassador’s residence.

A reasonable person might ask what response to this is most appropriate. Unfortunately, we have moved far beyond reasonable when the U.S. tramples the basic human rights of an entire nation to please a powerful lobby, and when a member of the House of Representative invites a world leader to address Congress without mentioning it to the president. But let’s play the ‘what if’ game anyway.

The U.S. gives Israel $3 billion a year, with no strings attached. One might think that that would give the U.S. some leverage in getting Israel to adapt its behavior in some way. Might not the U.S. say that the next gift, perhaps a shipment of bombers, is contingent on a cessation of new, illegal settlement activity? Or perhaps an end to the brutal blockade of the Gaza Strip? Some adherence to international law, it seems, could be tied to continued U.S. funding.

But no, there is no precedent for such actions; in fact, the reverse is true. There is historical precedent for simply writing a blank check to Israel. In 1988, an Israeli journalist commented that “One may say no to America and still get a bonus.” Nothing has changed in twenty-seven years.

So there we are. In March, Mr. Netanyahu will be in town to address Congress and participate in that even more important governing body, AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee). Most of Congress will join him there, where the real governing takes place, to bow and scrape before the holders of the biggest checkbooks. Heaven forbid they spend as much time or energy with constituents; what a waste of valuable time! Money, it is said, talks, and the members of Congress always have a listening ear.

Fortunately, the rest of the world is looking in another direction, recognizing the arrogance of Mr. Netanyahu, the cruelty of the occupation, the hypocrisy of the U.S. and the ineffectual administration of Mr. Obama. The work of the ICC will continue slowly, but it will continue. Without Israel’s cooperation, which it has vowed not to provide, there may be no just outcome, but the focus is on Israel. While an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty, the reputation of an accused who gets off on the technicality of refusal to cooperate is more than a little tarnished. Israel’s long walk toward international isolation is accelerating. And the U.S. is only expediting it.

Whatever the next several months bring for Palestine, Israel and the U.S., only a few things are sure: Palestinians will continue to suffer under the brutal, apartheid Israeli regime even as more and more nations recognize it; Israel will continue to draw almost universal condemnation, with the U.S. being the main holdout, for the brutal occupation of Palestine, and the U.S., long seen outside its own borders as the world’s main terrorist nation, trampling on the human rights of entire nations simply to ensure the filling of corporate coffers, will do nothing to dissuade the world from that opinion. The U.S. and Israel will impede the march of justice, but increasingly it is obvious that they cannot stop it.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

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