“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

U.S. drone strikes break international law, report finds
At least 57 civilians killed in 6 airstrikes in Yemen, Human Rights Watch says
CBC News Posted: Oct 22, 2013 12:08 AM ET Last Updated: Oct 22, 2013 6:20
The United States government has carried out some targeted airstrikes against alleged terrorists in Yemen and violated international law, says a new report released by Human Rights Watch Tuesday.
The organization's 97-page report examines six incidents, most using armed drones, from 2009-13. At least 57 civilians died because of the strikes, which killed 82 people.
"The U.S. says it is taking all possible precautions during targeted killings, but it has unlawfully killed civilians and struck questionable military targets in Yemen," said Letta Tayler, who works for the organization and wrote the Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda: The Civilian Cost of U.S. Targeted Killings in Yemen report.
Human Rights Watch researchers spent six weeks in the country interviewing nearly 100 people, including witnesses and relatives, about the strikes.
"Yemenis told us that these strikes make them fear the US as much as they fear Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," said Tayler.
All six attacks either killed civilians indiscriminately, targeted illegitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths, according to the report.
"The bodies were charred like coal - I could not recognize the faces," said Ahmad al-Sabooli, a 23-year old farmer whose mother, father and 10-year-old sister died in one of the attacks.
During these operations, the U.S. government may be using "an overly elastic definition of a fighter who may be lawfully attacked during an armed conflict," said Human Rights Watch in a press release.
The American government and Yemeni authorities both declined to comment on the investigation.
Amnesty International released a separate report Tuesday on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan.
Both organizations are calling for Congress to investigate the cases outlined in the two reports and any other potentially unlawful strikes.
"The US should investigate attacks that kill civilians and hold those responsible for violations to account," Tayler said. "It’s long past time for the US to assess the legality of its targeted killings, as well as the broader impact of these strikes on civilians."
Human Rights Watch admits the applicability of international humanitarian law is sometimes unclear, adding America's battle with Al-Qaeda does "not appear to meet the intensity required under the laws of war to amount to an armed conflict."
However, America should still follow international human rights law, said the organization, which only permits using deadly force "when strictly and directly necessary to save human life."



    Hamas admits: We dug terror tunnel to abduct Israelis
    2.5 kilometer "mega tunnel" discovered last week near Israeli kibbutz of Ein Hashlosha • Hamas planned to use kidnapped Israelis as leverage in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners • Resistance will continue, says statement on Hamas website.

    Not cutting down tree you know, just using 600 tons of concrete, supposed to be used in helping the civilians of gaza rebuild their homes, used to build a tunnel to KIDNAP civilians.



    Remember Hamas agreed to a ceasefire after the last battle and promised to stop tunneling INTO Israel to murder and kidnap.

    Yea, peace partners...

    The democratically elected representatives of the Palestinians, Hamas.

    1. Hamas top dogs admit to building tunnels to kidnap Israelis

      Even if they wanted to, the Palestinian Authority leaders with whom Obama is demanding that Israel negotiate can't rein in Hamas. "Hamas Leaders Admit to Building Tunnels to Kidnap Israelis," by Adam Kredo for the Washington Free Beacon, October 21 (thanks to Block Ness):

      Hamas leaders confessed on Monday that they had been planning to kidnap Israelis using a recently discovered tunnel system burrowed deep beneath the Israeli-Gaza border, according to reports.
      The admission that Hamas is still seeking to kidnap and ransom Israelis has renewed concerns that a new round of violent demonstrations known as an intifada could sweep the region and jeopardize nascent peace talks.

      Israeli authorities revealed last week that they had discovered a complex 1.5-mile tunnel system running from the Gaza Strip into a nearby Israeli kibbutz.

      Hamas officials came clean about the tunnel on Monday when a senior leader admitted that the terror group was planning to abduct Israelis and ransom them to secure the release of imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.

      “This tunnel was made by the hand of the fighters of (Izzadine) al-Qassam and they will not sleep in their efforts to hit the occupation and kidnap soldiers,” Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida was reported as saying on al-Aqsa radio, a Hamas-owned station.

      “Kidnapping soldiers is the only way to succeed against the (Israeli) occupation,” Obeida was quoted as saying by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency.

      The Hamas leader vowed to continue efforts to spark violence and kidnap Israelis.

      “We are working on the ground and under the ground to release the prisoners,” Obeida said.

      Hamas secured the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in 2011 under a deal that bought freedom for kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

      Middle East experts said Hamas’ admission is another sign that the group is not backing down from its violent agenda as U.S. officials attempt to foster a peace deal....

    2. From the dreaded and much censored Jihad Watch.


    3. “A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle ,and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor. At a point, one can only fight fire with fire”

    4. Murder is murder and trees are trees.Tue Oct 22, 10:53:00 AM EDT

      Well this video aint Jews chopping down trees... Its a Palestinian trying to stab Jews like they were trees..


    5. “A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle ,and the oppressed is often left no recourse but to use methods that mirror those of the oppressor. At a point, one can only fight fire with fire”

      You mean the palestinians are going to invent, build, work hard and love their children enough not to send to to blow up rather to become decent ethical adults???

      wow.. now that's fighting fire with fire

    6. Q&A: Property Destruction and Land Confiscation in Palestine

      Q. How many Palestinian homes have been destroyed by the Israeli government?

      A. Since 1967, over 7,000 home demolitions have occurred across the occupied territories, leaving some 50,000 Palestinians homeless. According to United Nations Relief and Works Agency, since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, the Israeli Defence Force has demolished 655 houses in the refugee camps in the Gaza Strip, in which 5,124 people lived.

      Q. What does the demolition of Palestinian property have to do with the Jewish settlers in the occupied territories?

      A. Many Palestinian homes have been destroyed to make way for Jewish settlements. Then, more homes are destroyed to allow expansion and security buffers for Jewish settlements and to build bypass roads for use by Jews only. The settlements are strategically located to disrupt territorial contiguity between Palestinian population centers, to control access to water aquifers, and to create enormous obstacles to the creation of a viable Palestinian state. During the first six months of 1999 alone, Israel confiscated 2,500 acres of land for the purpose of settlements and their infrastructure, and a total of 3,500 acres were leveled to facilitate the further expansion of settlements and bypass-road construction.

      Q. Aren’t the homes destroyed by the Israeli government built illegally by Palestinians?

      A. Since 1967, thousands of Palestinian homes have been demolished on the basis that they were not supported by the required construction permits. But the Israeli government virtually never grants building permits to Palestinians. International law views occupation as a temporary status during which the occupier is obligated first to end the occupation as quickly as possible and second to safeguard the rights of the occupied population during the temporary period in which the occupation is maintained. It is the right of the Palestinians to build homes on their own land – a right violated by nearly four decades of occupation.

      Q. Don’t some of the destroyed homes belong to terrorists?

      A. In the first four years of the 1988-93 intifada, Israel destroyed 786 homes as reprisal against those who took part in the uprising. The Rafah refugee camp in the Gaza Strip has been targeted for home demolitions repeatedly, including June 23 and July 10, 2001 and January 15, 2002. The January raid resulted in the demolition of over 60 refugee homes in retaliation for a fatal attack on Israeli soldiers the previous day by two gunmen who lived in Rafah camp. This strategy of collective punishment is in direct violation of international law: the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly forbids collective punishment, stating that no resident of an occupied territory “may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed.”

    7. Q. What is the situation in East Jerusalem?

      A. Over 60,000 Palestinians have lost their residency rights in East Jerusalem since 1967. As of January 2002, 7,300 Palestinian-built homes in East Jerusalem are defined as illegal and are in danger of demolition. Since the 1967 Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, 70,000 government- sponsored housing units have been built for Jewish Israelis on land which is illegally occupied under international law . In 2001 alone, 70 Palestinian homes were demolished in East Jerusalem.

      Q. How much agricultural land has been destroyed in Palestine?

      A. Between September 29, 2000, and the end of February 2002, Israel bulldozed more than 8,000 acres of Palestinian land, uprooted nearly half a million trees, and demolished more than 200 homes of Palestinian farmers. In both Gaza and the West Bank, thousands of acres of agricultural land have been razed by the Israeli army following allegations that olive groves provided shelter to Palestinian gunmen. An olive tree takes between 5 to 7 years to mature and start bearing fruit, and some of the uprooted trees were more than a hundred years old.

      Q. But who owns the land on which these homes and farms lie?

      A. Since 1967, Israel has confiscated almost 750,000 acres of land from the 1.5 million acres comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli government has confiscated large areas of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem and designated them areas for exclusive Jewish use. The settlements of Neve Ya’cub, Pisgat Zeiv, Ma’ale Adumim, Gilo, the French Hill, Giva’at Shabira and Har Homa are all built on confiscated Palestinian land. The Geneva Conventions are very clear: any move by the occupier to infringe of the rights of the occupied or change the status of the occupied land through, for example, annexation, confiscation of resources, population transfer, or destruction of civilian property is illegal and may constitute a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

      Q. What are the consequences of the land confiscation, closure, and property destruction for Palestinians?

      A. The destruction of Palestinian land has left many farmers in destitute economic condition. The clearing of land for settlements is destroying crops on which Palestinian families depend; this Israeli policy has led to a significant loss of income, impoverishing already deprived Palestinian agrarian communities. Data on the extent and value of Palestinian losses can be found at the website of Al Mezan Center for Human Rights.

    8. Having land is a necessary component to liberty and freedom.

    9. “I think that nothing is so important for freedom as recognizing in the law each individual’s natural right to property, and giving individuals a sense that they own something that they’re responsible for, that they have control over, and that they can dispose of.”

    10. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany, in 1930, a few years before Germany's government was taken over -- constitutionally -- by the Nazi Party. In the mid- and late '30s, this government "legally" deprived Germany's Jews of their professions, livelihoods and property. These injustices provoked not much outrage on the part of the German people.

      Like the measures taken by the German government in the '30s, Israel's theft of Palestinian property in East Jerusalem occurred within the law, and provoked no outrage from Israelis -- either from the right, or from Sharon's new Labor partners.

      Many of these same Palestinians recently had part of their property confiscated by Israel for the construction of the separation fence. When the fence was completed, these Palestinians found themselves cut off from the rest of their property.

      Now, as they petition Israel's courts to be given access to their lands across the fence, many of them are being told it actually is no longer their land at all, nor will they receive any compensation for it.

      It sounds too unjust, too evil, to be true, particularly for a Jewish state that considers its very existence a living reproach to the German people, and to the world, for the injustices and suffering inflicted on the Jewish people. But the details of Israel's manipulations of the legal system and its theft of Palestinian lands are described in the Israeli media for all to read and see.

      Predictably, Israel is invoking security to justify its behavior, as it has invoked that elastic concept to justify other injustices -- as if robbing people of property and possessions that have been in their families for generations can be seen as enhancing Israel's security. In fact, it is being done for political reasons, and out of sheer greed.

      As reported by the Israeli media, certain Israeli real-estate interests long ago started work on plans for large new housing projects in East Jerusalem that will replace these stolen Palestinian homes, farms and orchards.

      In addition to enriching themselves as they impoverish the Palestinian owners, they will also sever East Jerusalem from its Palestinian hinterland, thus precluding the possibility of a capital of a future Palestinian state in any part of East Jerusalem. This would make any peace process with a new Palestinian leadership -- even one that is democratic, reformed, and committed to nonviolence -- a complete non-starter.

    11. Arab's VALUE Jews 1000 to OneTue Oct 22, 03:12:00 PM EDT

      Let's see, the arabs? destroyed/stole over 250,000 Jewish homes from 1948 - 1967

      Assuming a Jew's home is equal to an Arab's?

      Israel needs to destroy several hundred thousand more to get even...

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. On this day in 1784 Russia founded a colony on Kodiak Island, Alaska. In 1797 AndrĂ©-Jacques Garnerin made the first recorded parachute jump from one thousand meters (3,200 feet) above Paris. In 1836 Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas. In 1844 Millerites, followers of William Miller, anticipate the end of the world in conjunction with the Second Advent of Christ. The following day became known as the Great Disappointment. In 1879 using a filament of carbonized thread, Thomas Edison tested the first practical electric incandescent light bulb (it lasted 13½ hours before burning out). In 1926 J. Gordon Whitehead punches magician Harry Houdini in the stomach in Montreal, precipitating his death. In 1957 the United States suffered its first casualties in Vietnam. In 1962 President John F. Kennedy, after internal counsel from Dwight D. Eisenhower, announced that American reconnaissance planes have discovered Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba, and that he has ordered a naval "quarantine" of the Communist nation. In 1966 The Supremes become the first all-female music group to attain a No. 1 selling album (The Supremes A' Go-Go). In 1975 the Soviet unmanned space mission Venera 9 lands on Venus. In 1978 it was the Papal inauguration of Pope John Paul II.

  4. On this day the Libertarian ceased music and went back to politics and the nation groaned in despair.

  5. "There will not be peace until they teach their children not to hate."

    Golda Meier

    "They love hate, they eat it, they drink it, they roll in it."

    Martha Gellhorn

    Youth mag associated with Palestinian Authority publishes "Hitler's sayings"

    "God Bless Hitler" reads the sign.

    1. Out for day, folks, sorry to disappoint! -

  6. UN China rights review: Stepped up efforts to silence critics

    As Chinese diplomats defend their human rights record in Geneva, Chinese activists say officials have targeted social media users, academics, and others who want more public participation in politics.

    “There has been no improvement” in China’s human rights situation since the country was last subjected to a UN review four years ago, said Liang Xiaojun, a lawyer who has defended political dissidents. “The government has regressed. Repression is tougher and more widespread.”

    “People had high hopes of the new leadership” when President Xi Jinping took office last year, added Hu Jia, an HIV-Aids activist who has endured nearly a decade of official persecution. “But the authorities have hardened their ideology.”
    The Chinese government stepped up its efforts to silence critics last month with a Supreme Court ruling that threatened social media users with jail time if their tweets were deemed to spread “rumors” and were re-posted more than 500 times or were viewed more than 5,000 times.
    About 30 members of the organization are believed to have been arrested since February; most of them have been charged with “gathering to disturb public order” even when they had not participated in any demonstrations.

    Nobody knows how many people have been arrested under the new rules punishing “rumor spreading,” but official reports suggest several hundred may have been detained. Almost all of them are thought to have been released within a few days.


  7. Isabel Kershner wrote last week in the New York Times that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF)...
    ... plans to discontinue the use of white phosphorus munitions, adding that ...

    Israeli and international human rights organizations accused Israel of using white phosphorus munitions improperly during Israel’s three-week military offensive against Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza in the winter of 2008-9. Such munitions are not prohibited under international law, but they are not supposed to be used in civilian areas, because white phosphorus is highly flammable and, like napalm, it can burn flesh. Israel maintained that its use of shells containing phosphorus did not violate international law.[1]

    Human rights organizations “accused” Israel, Kershner wrote, as though this was merely an unproven accusation and not ...
    ... a well-documented, indisputable fact.
    The “accusation” is that Israel used white phosphorus “improperly”, Kershner’s euphemism for “illegally”.
    The munitions are “not prohibited under international law, but they are not supposed to be used in civilian areas”, meaning that ...
    ... the use of white phosphorus in civilian areas is prohibited under international law.
    Finally, Israel maintains it “did not violate international law.”

    The question one might find oneself asking after reading this is:...
    ... Did Israel use the munitions in civilian areas, or not?
    We know the answer.
    So, then, why cannot Kershner bother herself to tell her readers that there is no question that Israel did in fact use the munitions in civilian areas?
    Why does she decline to point out to her readers that, by doing so, it is an incontrovertible fact that Israel violated international law ...
    ... with its use of white phosphorus?

    Kershner also didn’t mention that Israel initially denied its use of white phosphorus, ...
    ... which would be an behavior had its use of the munitions been legal.
    The London Times reported on January 5, 2009 that despite Israel’s denials, “the tell-tale shells could be seen spreading tentacles ...
    ... of thick white smoke to cover the troops’ advance.”[2] ...

    On January 8, The Times reported again that photographic proof of Israel’s use of white phosphorus munitions had emerged,...
    “despite official denials” by the IDF.

    The Times had identified munitions bearing the designation M825A1, made in the USA. Confronted with the evidence, an IDF spokeswoman lied,
    “This is what we call a quiet shell—it is empty, it has no explosives and no white phosphorus. There is nothing inside it”.[3]

    1. Israeli also used white phosphorous in 2009 during “Operation Cast Lead”
      Israel ratified Protocol III of Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (“Protocol III”)....
      – which outlaws the use of incendiary devices in war – in 2007. So this was a war crime.

      Moreover, the 1925 Geneva Protocol (which is different from Protocol III) prohibits ...
      “the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases”.

      The use of White phosphorus (“WP”) may also be a war crime under other international treaties and domestic U.S. laws.
      For example, the Battle Book, published by the U.S. Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, contains the following sentence: “It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.”

      The U.S. National Safety Council states that ...
      “White phosphorus is a poison . . . It is considered a dangerous disaster hazard because it emits highly toxic fumes.
      The EPA has listed white phosphorus as a Hazardous Air Pollutant.

      Indeed, it is interesting to note that the U.S. previously called white phosphorous a chemical weapon when...
      Saddam used it against the Kurds.

      Those that deploy White Phosphorous ...

      . . . . More Dangerous Then Hitler . . . .


    3. ...knowingly against civilians...Unfortunately, there may have been some civilian casualties because Muslim warriors often cower behind them...bad luck that...

    4. hamas shot thousands of rockets at civilian homes on purpose, that is not a "may" be a war crime, that IS a war crime.

      Israel used White Phosphorus against HAMAS targets in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. This violated no international laws or conventions.

      White Phosphorus (WP), known as Willy Pete, is used for signaling, screening, and incendiary purposes. White Phosphorus can be used to destroy the enemy's equipment or to limit his vision. It is used against vehicles, petroleum, oils and lubricants (POL) and ammunition storage areas, and enemy observers. WP can be used as an aid in target location and navigation. It is usually dispersed by explosive munitions. It can be fired with fuze time to obtain an airburst. White phosphorus was used most often during World War II in military formulations for smoke screens, marker shells, incendiaries, hand grenades, smoke markers, colored flares, and tracer bullets.

    5. Those that deploy White Phosphorous ...
      . . . . More Dangerous Then Hitler . . . .

      Are you saying America is more dangerous that Hitler?

      The Battle of Fallujah was conducted from 8 to 20 November 2004 with the last fire mission on 17 November. The battle was fought by an Army, Marine and Iraqi force of about 15,000 under the I Marine Expeditionary Force (IMEF). US forces found WP to be useful in the Battle of Fallujah. "WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired "shake and bake" missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out. ... We used improved WP for screening missions when HC smoke would have been more effective and saved our WP for lethal missions."

      White phosphorus is not banned by any treaty to which the United States is a signatory. Smokes and obscurants comprise a category of materials that are not used militarily as direct chemical agents. The United States retains its ability to employ incendiaries to hold high-priority military targets at risk in a manner consistent with the principle of proportionality that governs the use of all weapons under existing law. The use of white phosphorus or fuel air explosives are not prohibited or restricted by Protocol III of the Certain Conventional Weapons Convention (CCWC), the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects, which regulates the use of "any weapon or munition which is primarily designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to persons . . ."

    6. No formal charges have been brought against the US, UK, or Israel for the use of WP.

      It is amazing that the usual suspects will hammer the US, UK, and Israel for the legitimate use of a weapon, but say nothing about the Russians killing tens of thousands of civilians purposefully in an illegitimate use of the same weapon.

      "You have a right to your own opinions, you do not have a right to your own facts."


  8. Today, the public has already indicated what interests it, via the Internet, and the editor just has to be savvy enough and shameless enough to give the rabble what it wants.

  9. Rasmussen has Obama @50/49 +1 amongst Likely Voters

    There was little in the findings for the GOP to feel good about.
    The party’s image has sunk to an all-time low in Post-ABC surveys, with
    32 percent of the public saying they have a favorable opinion and
    63 percent saying they have an unfavorable view.

    Almost four in 10 Americans have a strongly unfavorable view of the GOP.

  10. Interestingly, the same dog that didn't bark, last week, isn't barking this week.

    That non-yelping canine, of course, is people reporting that they've gone on the healthcare exchanges, and found that the ACA is not saving them money.

    1. So far, the story, 100%, has been one of, It took too long, but I saved a lot of money.

    2. .

      Of course there are always two sides to a story. (note: the Detroit News is typically a conservative rather than liberal newspaper but that doesn't mean it makes up the data it cites.)

      Last week I got news that my health insurance costs are going up. A lot. In 2014 my monthly premium for a family of four will increase 15 percent to $575, my deductible will double to $3,000 and I will lose my drug coverage, adding another $100 a month to my expenses. My story is typical for employees of Gannett, the Detroit News’ parent company, and other businesses across the country...


      While many small employers have welcomed a delay in the ACA’s employer mandate until 2015, businesses that already provide insurance are facing Obamacare’s new reality. The bad news has come in waves as companies like Home Depot and Trader Joe’s announced they are dropping coverage for part-time employees. Hundreds of thousands of consumers are losing their “mini-med plans” because they don’t meet Washington’s minimum requirements. Now come the premium increases for self-insured businesses that an analysis by Duke University’s Center for Health Policy estimates will cost an average family $800 a year. In Michigan, for example, insurance costs for the Extreme Chrysler dealership in Jackson are going up 70 percent and Michigan Group Benefits insurance says its clients’ average increase is 23 percent.

      The $2,100 cost jump in my Gannett plan, administered by United Health, is actually worse than it appears, as my premiums have already swelled by 45 percent since 2011 as insurers anticipated federal regs forcing, for example, coverage of dependents up to 26 years old. Gannett must also swallow a $63 tax for each individual in its group plan and another $2.13 fee per head to “study heath care outcomes.” Similar costs threaten private, union-negotiated health plans, leading Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa to say Obamacare will “destroy the very health and well being of our members.”

      From The Detroit News:


  11. Oregon is moving ahead with a controversial plan to tax motorists based on the number of miles they drive as opposed to the amount of fuel they consume, raising myriad concerns about cost and privacy. The problem for lawmakers is that the existing per-gallon gas tax has hit a point of diminishing returns, as Americans drive less and vehicles become more fuel efficient.

    Which is, you know, the reason they gave to sell the tax in the first place, get people to use fewer fossil fuels. But now it's cutting into their cash cow.

  12. Since 1948 over 850 thousand jews and their 2.1 milllon descendants have been forced from their homes.

    The number of homes? close to 250,000 homes destroyed or stolen.