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Archive for May, 2010

The Legal Position on the Israeli Attack

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I found Craig Murray’s blog through Rabble. Craig Murray is a human rights activist, writer, former British Ambassador, and an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Lancaster School of Law. Here is part of what Murray has to say about the Israeli attack on a Turkish ship on a humanitarian mission:

But as I told this afternoon’s tremendous spontaneous demonstration on Whitehall, fine words are not enough and we must now see the kind of sanctions regime we saw against apartheid South Africa.

A word on the legal position, which is very plain. To attack a foreign flagged vessel in international waters is illegal. It is not piracy, as the Israeli vessels carried a military commission. It is rather an act of illegal warfare.

Because the incident took place on the high seas does not mean however that international law is the only applicable law. The Law of the Sea is quite plain that, when an incident takes place
on a ship on the high seas (outside anybody’s territorial waters) the applicable law is that of the flag state of the ship on which the incident occurred. In legal terms, the Turkish ship was Turkish territory.

There are therefore two clear legal possibilities.

Possibility one is that the Israeli commandos were acting on behalf of the government of Israel in killing the activists on the ships. In that case Israel is in a position of war with Turkey, and the act falls under international jurisdiction as a war crime.

Possibility two is that, if the killings were not authorised Israeli military action, they were acts of murder under Turkish jurisdiction. If Israel does not consider itself in a position of war with Turkey, then it must hand over the commandos involved for trial in Turkey under Turkish law.

In brief, if Israel and Turkey are not at war, then it is Turkish law which is applicable to what happened on the ship. It is for Turkey, not Israel, to carry out any inquiry or investigation into events and to initiate any prosecutions. Israel is obliged to hand over indicted personnel for prosecution.

I would add that Israel, by attacking a NATO member state, has apparently declared war on NATO, which obviously includes the U.S.
Does President Obama have what it takes to do the right thing and hold Israel accountable?

Written by slothropia

May 31st, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Irael Massacres Humanitarian Activists in International Waters

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Glenn Greenwald reports on the Israeli high seas massacre of humanitarian activists:

Late last night, Israel attacked a flotilla of ships in international waters carrying food, medicine and other aid to Gaza, killing at least 10 civilians on board and injuring at least 30 more (many reports now put the numbers at 19 dead and 60 injured). The Israeli Defense Forces is claiming that its soldiers were attacked with clubs, knives and “handguns” when they boarded the ship without permission, but none of the Israeli soldiers were killed while two are reported injured. Those on the ships emphatically state that the IDF came on board shooting. An IDF spokesman said: “Our initial findings show that at least 10 convoy participants were killed.”

The six-ship flotilla was carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid along with 600 people, all civilians, which included 1976 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, European legislators and an elderly Holocaust survivor, Hedy Epstein, 85. In December, 2008, Israel, citing rocket attacks from Hamas, launched a 22-day, barbaric attack on Gaza, bombarding a trapped population, killing hundreds of innocent civilians (1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed), and devastating Gazan society. A U.N. report released earlier this month documented that, as a result of the blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt (the two largest recipients of U.S. aid), “[m]ost of the property and infrastructure damaged . . . was still unrepaired 12 months later.”
The flotilla attacked by Israel last night was carrying materials such as cement, water purifiers, and other building materials, much of which Israel refuses to let pass into Gaza. At the end of 2009, a U.N. report found that “insufficient food and medicine is reaching Gazans, producing a further deterioration of the mental and physical health of the entire civilian population since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against the territory,” and also “blamed the blockade for continued breakdowns of the electricity and sanitation systems due to the Israeli refusal to let spare parts needed for repair get through the crossings.”

There’s more, with links to other coverage and comment.

I don’t understand why Israel seems intent on making an enemy of the entire world (except for the United States of course). Even the U.S. will not be able to protect Israel for much longer because the U.S. economy is losing the ability to pay for the bloated “defense” department with which we are, for the time being, cursed.

One of Greenwald’s links takes readers to an IBN post that contains this:

Turkey has threatened Israel with unprecedented action after Israeli forces attacked an aid vessel, killing 10 peace activists headed to Gaza.

A shocked world has responded with outrage. Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and warned of unprecedented and incalculable reprisals.

Two Turkish activists were reported to be among those killed in the flotilla. Ankara warned that further supply vessels will be sent to Gaza, escorted by the Turkish Navy, a development with unpredictable consequences.

Will Israel respond by nuking Ankara or Istanbul? Or Tehran? How far will the Israeli fascist right (the faction in power there) go in its own paranoid defense? If Israel responds with force to a future Turkish mission to Gaza, how will Ankara respond?

Written by slothropia

May 31st, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Solas: Pastures of Plenty

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Woody Guthrie meets Celtic music. Deeeelicious!!

Written by slothropia

May 30th, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Posted in Folk Music,Music

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She and Him (on MTV Canada): Change is Hard

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She is Zooey Deschanel. Him is M. Ward.

Change is hard. Ain’t it the truth.

Written by slothropia

May 23rd, 2010 at 11:06 pm

Good Crisis Advice for No Drama Obama

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Over at Crooks and Liars, karoli has a few suggestions for POTUS:

Dear President Obama,
All the good you’ve done (and all the goodwill many have for you) is about to be undone and forgotten by this mess in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a President’s worst nightmare, no doubt. A combination of the wrecked mess of the Louisiana wetlands and the bogeyman of Big Oil at the helm is a nightmare, especially when the aforementioned Big Oil Company has been cozily sleeping with its guards.

The thing is, you’re not helping things much. Your weekly video message this week was as much an apologetic for the plan to continue risking our coastline as it was a lukewarm reassurance that everything that could be done was being done. It left me — someone frequently referred to as an Obama apologist, fangirl, and blind-eyed supporter — cold. My sense of things was that YOU didn’t even believe the line about making sure this never happens again.

Making a promise like that is akin to saying you’ll make sure the sun doesn’t rise and if it does, it’ll rise in the west. It cannot be done. Mr. President. Yet, this is an opportunity for you. A big one. Avail yourself of it.

Karoli then advises BHO to:

    1. Quit putting BP in the front.
    2. Select a press pool and give them full access to the area.
    3. Start talking about what the government IS doing.
    4. Rapidly implement creative citizen-led initiatives.
    5. Employ the unemployed.
    6. Stop talking about drilling offshore in the future.
    7. Start talking about what we need to sacrifice to save our coastlines.

For further details read the whole thing.

One of the things that annoys me about the President is his stubborn insistence that everything is cool, no need to panic”I’ve got this.”

The situation in the Gulf is a serious crisis and no one, repeat nobody, knows how bad it will be before it is over. The U.S. needs a leadership that recognizes a crisis when it sees it and responds appropriately.

Karoli’s got some great ideas though.

Written by slothropia

May 23rd, 2010 at 10:55 pm

PA, AR, KY Senate Primary Predictions

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Not that I know anything from the inside, but it looks to me like the following will occur tomorrow:

In the Arkansas Democratic Senate Primary, Lincoln and Halter will be condemned to a runoff because Lincoln will fall short of 50%. Ding dong, the witch is wounded.

In Kentucky, Rand Paul will win going away for the Senate Republican nomination. In the Democratic primary, I have Conway over Mongiardo by a half a whisker.

In the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Sestak will shut Specter up for good. Couldn’t happen to a nicer weasel.

I would predict more results but the crystal ball grows cloudy, I spilled coffee on the Tarot deck and I’m not as young as I used to be, dang it.

Fastball: The Way

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Here’s a tune I’ve been working on with the garage band. Fun to play and fun to hear (despite the sad lyrics).

Written by slothropia

May 16th, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Posted in Music

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Gordon Campbell Wants to Walk into a Buzzsaw

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Gordon Campbell has made Carol James a very happy woman.

Would-be Liberal successors to Premier Gordon Campbell can take a summer break: Mr. Campbell has reaffirmed his intention to seek another term in 2013.

Mr. Campbell said Thursday he has every intention of running for a fourth term in the next provincial election.

Of course a week is a long time in politics and three years is a lot of week. Social Credit – I mean the B.C. Liberals – may have something to say about when the B.C. Premier will be available for recreational drinking and driving on a full time basis.

Also, the B.C. NDP has blown big leads before, and Social Credit – I mean the B.C. Liberal party – has been known in the past to outmaneuver the Left Coast (sort of kind of) Lefties.

Still, Gordo should carefully check the email addresses of those messages of support he is receiving.

Written by slothropia

May 14th, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Congressional Activity, May 11-14

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Here are this weeks major votes by our local critters:

May 12: The House passed an amendment to the Internal Revenue Code to include children of Vietnam War and certain Korean War veterans receiving care and services through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for spina bifida-related medical conditions as meeting the definition of minimum essential coverage under requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Halvorson, Hare and Schock all voted Yea.

That is it for actual legislation voted on this week. The rest of the House activity was parliamentary activity like consideration of amendments and resolutions that only monsters would vote against. Like one expressing sympathy for the victims of the floods in Tennessee , Kentucky and Mississippi. No! Boo!. To heck with the flood victims.

Over on the Senate side, Burris and Durbin have been busy with their 98 other colleagues considering the Financial Reform legislation. Some amendments passed and some failed. My favorite is the amendment introd by Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vermont) to audit the Federal Reserve Bank. The amendment’s description is as follows:

To require the non-partisan Government Accountability Office to conduct an independent audit of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System that does not interfere with monetary policy, to let the American people know the names of the recipients of over $2,000,000,000,000 in taxpayer assistance from the Federal Reserve System, and for other purposes.

Guess what! It passed 96-0. Go Bernie, Go Bernie.

Who knew there were at least 96 socialists in the U.S. Senate.

Written by slothropia

May 14th, 2010 at 10:54 am

Ezra Klein Interviews James Galbraith: The danger posed by the deficit ‘is zero’

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Thanks to Daily Kos for pointing me to this. Galbraith provides some well informed straight talk (real straight, talk, not the John McCain pandering kind) about deficits and the economy. Too bad the current “Democratic” Administration didn’t hire him, or someone similar, instead of Summers or Geitner.

Where have you gone Franklin Roosevelt, Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Here is how the interview concludes:

JG: I have one more answer, though! Since the 1790s, how often has the federal government not run a deficit? Six short periods, all leading to recession. Why? Because the government needs to run a deficit, it’s the only way to inject financial resources into the economy. If you’re not running a deficit, it’s draining the pockets of the private sector. I was at a meeting in Cambridge last month where the managing director of the IMF said he was against deficits but in favor of saving, but they’re exactly the same thing! A government deficit means more money in private pockets.

The way people suggest they can cut spending without cutting activity is completely fallacious. This is appalling in Europe right now. The Greeks are being asked to cut 10 percent from spending in a few years. And the assumption is that this won’t affect GDP. But of course it will! It will cut at least 10 percent! And so they won’t have the tax collections to fund the new lower level of spending. Spain was forced to make the same announcement yesterday. So the Eurozone is going down the tubes.

On the other hand, look at Japan. They’ve had enormous deficits ever since the crash in 1988. What’s been the interest rate on government bonds ever since? It’s zero! They’ve had no problem funding themselves. The best asset to own in Japan is cash, because the price level is falling. It gets you 4 percent return. The idea that funding difficulties are driven by deficits is an argument backed by a very powerful metaphor, but not much in the way of fact, theory or current experience.

Written by slothropia

May 14th, 2010 at 10:22 am