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The US is a terrorist regime and must be denounced as such.

Soleimani assassination only one of many (and not the most consequential) US acts of war against Iran

By Stephen Gowans

While the assassination of an Iranian general by a US drone attack in Iraq has been construed in some quarters as a consequential act of war, it is only one, in a long series of US actions, that constitute de facto acts of war by the United States against Iran that have caused considerable harm to the country.

Ever since Iranians overthrew the US puppet ruler, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in 1979, Washington has pursued an unceasing campaign of aggression against the sovereign state with the aim of returning Iran to its orbit. Since 2018, US aggression has intensified. In a stepped up effort to topple the independence-minded government in Tehran, Washington has undertaken campaigns of destabilization on top of information-, cyber-, and economic-warfare—significant aggressions against which the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani is but a minor act.

Press TV

The roots of anti-Iranian US hostility can be summed up in one sentence: Tehran rejects the hegemony of the United States and its allies over the Middle East and the Muslim world. [1] This is consistent with the view of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. Iran, they testified before the US Congress in 2017, seeks to “counter the influence of the U.S. and our Allies.” [2] Accordingly, the Iranian government has been declared an enemy of the United States. In short, Washington insists on imposing its will on the Middle East, and Tehran refuses to submit to US despotism. A former Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, once expressed the Iranian position this way: “We tell [the United States] that instead of interfering in the region’s affairs, to pack their things and leave.” [3] Insisting there should be no limit to its global influence, Washington targets for elimination any force that insists limits must be imposed. Advocacy of local independence and national assertiveness, in the US view, is an act of war against the United States, and must be met by aggression. That, at its base, explains Soleimani’s demise, and explains the character of US foreign policy—thuggery in the service of an international dictatorship.

The immediate goal of Washington’s campaigns of destabilization and information- and economic-warfare “is to spur uprisings in Iran that would lead to the overthrow of the cleric-led government,” according to The New York Times. [4] Washington is using economic tools to destroy the Iranian economy, along with US influence over media to mislead the Iranian population into attributing the collapse of their economy to government mismanagement, and therefore to view the solution to their misery as the overthrow of their own government.

Acts of war I: Economic terrorism

To destroy Iran’s economy, Washington has acted to cut Iran’s oil exports to zero. Additionally, by “sanctioning many of the country’s largest banks, including its central bank, it has severed most of Iran’s financial ties to the world. Other major non-oil sources of revenue have also been targeted—including the auto, aluminum, and petrochemical sectors—and insurers are prohibited from covering Iranian shipments,” according to The Wall Street Journal. [5] The sanctions, in the words of US president Donald Trump, are “massive.” [6] Indeed, the United States has used its economic weight and pressure on other countries to impose a total embargo on Iran, adding the Islamic republic to the list of countries now facing a total US embargo, including Venezuela, North Korea, Syria and Cuba. [7] Significantly, all of these countries share a single thing in common: refusal to submit to US domination.

The “massive” sanctions are hardly limited, surgical, or targeted—that is, restricted to government figures with exemptions for the civilian population. On the contrary, as the Iranian diplomat Majid Takht-Ravanchi explained to the United Nations Security Council in June,

The sanctions are basically designed to harm the general public, particularly those who are vulnerable, such as women, children, the elderly and patients. The sanctions harm the poor more than the rich, the ill more than the healthy and infants and children more than adults. In short, those who are most vulnerable suffer the most. For instance, patients who have severe conditions and therefore need scarce and expensive medicines and advanced medical equipment, which in most cases must be imported, suffer the most. [8]

“Sanctions aren’t an alternative to war,” tweeted Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in June. “They ARE war.” [9] Indeed, if we define war as the use of harm to achieve political ends, then harmful coercive economic measures are acts of war. As Takht-Ravanchi told the Security Council,

The United States is weaponizing food and medicine against civilians, which is a clear manifestation of the collective punishment of an entire nation, amounting to a crime against humanity and thus entailing international responsibility. [10]

Terrorism is the deliberate harm of civilians to achieve political goals. Economic warfare is terrorism. Washington’s anti-Iranian sanctions program has a clear political aim: to topple the independence-minded government in Tehran in order to re-assert US hegemony over the country. And there is no question it is aimed at civilians. US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, acknowledged the terrorist nature of the US economic warfare campaign when he said “The Iranian leadership has to make a decision that they want their people to eat.” [11]

“These days, the biggest, baddest weapon in the American arsenal isn’t a missile, or a tank, or a fighter jet. It is America’s economic clout,” remarked Gerald F. Seib, a columnist with The Wall Street Journal. [12] Patrick Cockburn, the veteran Middle East correspondent with The Independent, echoed Seib:

Because the media and much of the political establishment in Washington and western capitals are so viscerally anti-Trump, they frequently underestimate the effectiveness of his reliance on American economic might… At the end of the day, the US Treasury is a more powerful instrument of foreign policy than the Pentagon for all its aircraft carriers and drones. [13]

The US drone strike on Soleimani killed a handful of soldiers, people who had devoted their lives to local independence and national assertiveness. The Treasury Department’s sanctions have harmed vastly more people—of a different category: civilians, the victims of the United States’ crazed drive to extend its dictatorship over as many countries as will bow to US coercion.

Pompeo’s threat to starve Iranians unless Tehran capitulates to US demands was anticipated by Martinique-born Algerian revolutionary Frantz Fanon, author of The Wretch of the Earth. ”’When a colonial and imperialist power is forced to give independence to a people, this imperialist power says: ‘you want independence? Then take it and die of hunger.’ Because the imperialists continue to have economic power,” remarked the late Italian philosopher Domenico Losurdo, “they can condemn a people to hunger, by means of blockades, embargoes, or underdevelopment.” [14]

Acts of war II: Information warfare

Annihilating the Iranian economy is easily within the Treasury Department’s power, but misleading tens of millions of Iranians into understanding their misery as originating in their own government’s mismanagement, rather than US economic terrorism, is a task of an altogether different sort. In an effort to “win over the Iranian public” Washington has launched “an information campaign blaming the country’s economic hardship on its leaders and discrediting those who oppose the White House’s policies,” according to The Wall Street Journal. “The campaign aims to erode public support for the leadership in Tehran with hashtags, YouTube videos and traditional pro-U. S. media outlets broadcasting in the Middle East.” [15]

To this end, Washington “has helped anti-Iranian government hashtags to trend on Twitter, including #40YearsofFailure that coincided with the 40th anniversary of the country’s revolution. It has used Persian-language social media to blame deadly floods … on government mismanagement, tapping into a complaint many Iranians have made.” Additionally, Washington relies on its formal propaganda apparatus, the Voice of America, to beam messages aimed at discrediting the Iranian government to 14 million residents of Iran. [16] The propagation of lies to discredit a state in order to destabilize it and bring down its government is every bit as much an act of war as the assassination of Soleimani.

And when Washington isn’t using its influence over information media to try control the minds of Iranians, it’s acting to silence those who present an opposing point of view. Last year, Instagram cancelled Soleimani’s account, after Washington designated him the head of a foreign terrorist organization—an act of stunning hypocrisy, considering that the US government is targeting the entire Iranian population with harm in order to achieve its political goals, i.e., is practicing terrorism. What’s more, US terrorism is carried out on a massive scale, far in excess of anything the insurgents Washington labels as terrorists could ever hope to emulate. Additionally, Washington moved to discredit expatriate Iranians who contested the US war on Iran by dubbing them as propagandists for the Iranian government. According to The Wall Street Journal, “an online platform funded by the State Department, the Iran Disinformation Project, spearheaded a campaign to discredit Iranian journalists and scholars living in the U.S. and Europe, accusing them of being mouthpieces for the Iranian regime.” Their offense was to support the 2015 nuclear deal. [17]

Acts of war III: Covert CIA action

The total embargo of Iran is the principal means by which Washington intends to destabilize the country. But Washington is also relying on CIA covert action to help foster political instability. In 2017, The New York Times, citing multiple US defense and intelligence officials, reported that the Trump administration intended to use US “spies to help oust the Iranian government.” [18] The CIA destabilization program would be led by Michael D’Andrea, nicknamed “the Dark Prince”, who led the hunt for Osama bin Laden. In the years after 9/11, D’Andrea was “deeply involved in the detention and interrogation program,” which resulted in the torture and deaths of a number of prisoners. [19]

Citing a former US military commander, The New York Times reported that “there was a range of options that the Pentagon and the C.I.A. could pursue that could keep Iran off balance but that would not have ‘crystal-clear attribution’ to the United States.” [20] These included putting a bounty “on Iran’s paramilitary and proxy forces” to encourage “mercenary forces to take on Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies.” It could also include spreading “information, either embarrassing truths or deliberate false rumors, aimed at undermining the support that Tehran’s elites have for Iran’s leaders.” Additionally, Washington could provide assistance to Iran’s labor movement to make its protests against the government more effective. [21]

Acts of war IV: Cyber options

On top of these acts of war, Washington has carried on an ongoing campaign of cyberwarfare against the Iranian state. According to The New York Times, “The head of United States Cyber Command, Army Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, describes his strategy as ‘persistent engagement.’” According to a senior US defense official, US operatives “are carrying out constant low-level digital attacks.” [22] One of the most ambitions campaigns of cyberwarfare ever launched, namely, the Stuxnet virus, was developed jointly by the United States and Israel to disrupt Iran’s entirely legal uranium processing activities.

Of the multiple means Washington has used to try to impose its will on Iran and negate the country’s sovereignty—from total embargo, to the deliberate spreading of lies, to the suppression of alternative voices, to aid to dissidents, to persistent harassment of the Iranian state through cyber-operations—the assassination of the Quds Brigade commander has been the least significant in producing harm to Iran and perhaps the most likely to backfire and harm the United States.

Fighting back

What measures may a state legitimately take, in a de facto or de jure state of war, to protect itself from an aggressor? In 1939, the British authorities rounded up and jailed members of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. While Mosley’s followers were not accused of crimes, [23] their loyalty was deemed to be questionable. Accordingly, they posed a credible threat to national security during a period of acute crisis, and were duly incarcerated. Few people today would challenge the British government’s decision to lock up British fascists while the country was at war with a fascist state. Neither would they question the decision to suspend elections and confer extraordinary powers on the prime minister, that is, to establish a totalitarian state, while the country was at war.

There is no question that Iran finds itself in a state of emergency and a de facto state of war, arising through no fault of its own, but through Washington’s unceasing efforts to project its influence over the entire face of the globe and negate the sovereignty of other states. Whatever political police state measures Tehran takes to protect itself from US despotism are fully justified under the standards invoked by leading Western democracies during two world wars and other national emergencies.

I make this point because there is a principle that lies at the heart of Iran’s struggle against US tyranny—the principle of independence and local sovereignty, one which partisans of the tradition of equality, liberty, and international solidarity must defend. Defending this principle, however, can be difficult. Witness Washington’s attempts to discredit expatriate Iranians who have spoken out against the de facto US war. To avoid such difficulties, some seek an escape route. A favored tactic is to eschew support for states deemed official enemies of the United States on the grounds that they are police states, or authoritarian, or have abridged human rights. Of course, all of these descriptions fit. But if official enemies are police states, it is because they have been made so by US actions, in the same way the crises of world wars made leading Western democracies into robust police states. If we’re genuinely concerned with human rights, political openness, and political democracy, the way to make these institutions flower is to stop Western governments from poisoning the soil in which the institutions thrive.

Deciding one’s attitude to targets of US aggression on the basis of whether they’re police states sets an impossible standard. It mandates that countries attacked by the West must deny themselves the same defenses their own countries have taken in times of emergency to merit our support. In this view, our solidarity and assistance are available only to those who allow themselves to be victimized, while those who act in the real world, in realistic and consequential ways in defense of laudable principles and aims, are shunned, deplored, ostracized, and excoriated. The consequences of this for the preservation of the principles of democracy on an international scale, for self-determination, and for equality, are not difficult to discern.

Conclusion

While the US assassination of Qassem Soleimani was an act of international barbarity, emblematic of the thuggish nature of US foreign policy, it was neither the only de facto act of war the United States has undertaken against Iran, nor the most harmful. Indeed, against the total embargo Washington has imposed on Iran with the intention of starving Iranians into submission or inducing them to overthrow their government, the killing of Soleimani is a act of little consequence, even if its significance in provoking widespread outrage and galvanizing opposition to US aggression is undoubted.

1. Said K. Aburish, The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud, Bloomsbury, 2005, p. 137.

2. Posture statement of 19th Chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff before the 115th Congress Senate Armed Services Budget Hearing, June 13, 2017.

3. Howard Schneider, “Iran, Syria mock U.S. policy, Ahmadinejad speaks of Israel’s ‘annihilation’”, The Washington Post, February 26, 2010.

4. Edward Wong, “U.S. Turns Up Pressure on Iran With Sanctions on Transportation Firms,” The New York Times, December 11, 2019.

5. Ian Talley and Rebecca Ballhaus, “Trump imposes sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, others,” The Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2019.

6. Michael R. Gordon, Ian Talley and Laurence Norman, “US plans new Iran sanctions as Europe tries to defuse tensions,” The Wall Street Journal, June 23, 2019.

7. Vivian Salama, “US expands sanctions against Venezuela into an embargo,” The Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2019.

8. Takht Ravanchi (Islamic Republic of Iran) 8564th meeting of the United Nations Security Council, 26 June 2019.

9. Laurence Norman and Stacy Meichtry, “Iran threatens to pull out of nuclear treaty, like North Korea,” The Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2019.

10. Takht Ravanchi.

11. Mike Pompeo, November 7, 2018, quoted in ”Iran letter to the UNSG and UNSC on Pompeo provocative statement,” Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran, November 30, 2018.

12. Gerald F. Seib, “The risks in overusing America’s big economic weapon,” The Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2019.

13. Patrick Cockburn, “Europe doesn’t have the power to be much more than a spectator in the escalating US-Iran conflict,” The Independent, May 11, 2019.

14. Domenico Losurdo, “The New Colonial Counter-Revolution,” Revista Opera, October 20, 2017.

15. Sune Engel Rasmussen and Michael Amon, “US aims a megaphone at Iranian public as part of pressure campaign,” The Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2019.

16. Rasmussen and Amon.

17. Ibid.

18. Matthew Rosenberg and Adam Goldman, “CIA names the ‘dark prince’ to run Iran operations, signaling a tougher stance,” The New York Times, June 2, 2017.

19. Ibid.

20. Julian E. Barnes, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “White House is pressing for additional options, including cyberattacks, to deter Iran,” The New York times, June 23, 2019.

21. Ibid.

22. Julian E. Barnes, “US cyberattack hurt Iran’s ability to target oil tankers, officials say,” The New York Times, August 28, 2019.

23. David A. Price, “’Agent Jack’ review: Tell it to Hitler.” The Wall Street Journal, November 8, 2019.

US Regime’s Assassination Of Accredited Combatant General Of A Foreign State Was Terrorist Act.

Craig Murray on why the assassination of Soleimani was “act of state terrorism by the USA, pure and simple”

In one of the series of blatant lies the USA has told to justify the assassination of Soleimani, Mike Pompeo said that Soleimani was killed because he was planning “Imminent attacks” on US citizens. It is a careful choice of word. Pompeo is specifically referring to the Bethlehem Doctrine of Pre-Emptive Self Defence.

Developed by Daniel Bethlehem when Legal Adviser to first Netanyahu’s government and then Blair’s, the Bethlehem Doctrine is that states have a right of “pre-emptive self-defence” against “imminent” attack. That is something most people, and most international law experts and judges, would accept. Including me.

What very few people, and almost no international lawyers, accept is the key to the Bethlehem Doctrine – that here “Imminent” – the word used so carefully by Pompeo – does not need to have its normal meanings of either “soon” or “about to happen”. An attack may be deemed “imminent”, according to the Bethlehem Doctrine, even if you know no details of it or when it might occur. So you may be assassinated by a drone or bomb strike – and the doctrine was specifically developed to justify such strikes – because of “intelligence” you are engaged in a plot, when that intelligence neither says what the plot is nor when it might occur. Or even more tenuous, because there is intelligence you have engaged in a plot before, so it is reasonable to kill you in case you do so again.

I am not inventing the Bethlehem Doctrine. It has been the formal legal justification for drone strikes and targeted assassinations by the Israeli, US and UK governments for a decade. Here it is in academic paper form, published by Bethlehem after he left government service (the form in which it is adopted by the US, UK and Israeli Governments is classified information).

So when Pompeo says attacks by Soleimani were “imminent” he is not using the word in the normal sense in the English language. It is no use asking him what, where or when these “imminent” attacks were planned to be. He is referencing the Bethlehem Doctrine under which you can kill people on the basis of a feeling that they may have been about to do something.

The idea that killing an individual who you have received information is going to attack you, but you do not know when, where or how, can be justified as self-defence, has not gained widespread acceptance – or indeed virtually any acceptance – in legal circles outside the ranks of the most extreme devoted neo-conservatives and zionists. Daniel Bethlehem became the FCO’s Chief Legal Adviser, brought in by Jack Straw, precisely because every single one of the FCO’s existing Legal Advisers believed the Iraq War to be illegal. In 2004, when the House of Commons was considering the legality of the war on Iraq, Bethlehem produced a remarkable paper for consideration which said that it was legal because the courts and existing law were wrong, a defence which has seldom succeeded in court.

(b)
following this line, I am also of the view that the wider principles of the law on self-defence also require closer scrutiny. I am not persuaded that the approach of doctrinal purity reflected in the Judgments of the International Court of Justice in this area provide a helpful edifice on which a coherent legal regime, able to address the exigencies of contemporary international life and discourage resort to unilateral action, is easily crafted;

The key was that the concept of “imminent” was to change:

The concept of what constitutes an “imminent” armed attack will develop to meet new circumstances and new threats

In the absence of a respectable international lawyer willing to argue this kind of tosh, Blair brought in Bethlehem as Chief Legal Adviser, the man who advised Netanyahu on Israel’s security wall and who was willing to say that attacking Iraq was legal on the basis of Saddam’s “imminent threat” to the UK, which proved to be non-existent. It says everything about Bethlehem’s eagerness for killing that the formulation of the Bethlehem Doctrine on extrajudicial execution by drone came after the Iraq War, and he still gave not one second’s thought to the fact that the intelligence on the “imminent threat” can be wrong. Assassinating people on the basis of faulty intelligence is not addressed by Bethlehem in setting out his doctrine. The bloodlust is strong in this one.

There are literally scores of academic articles, in every respected journal of international law, taking down the Bethlehem Doctrine for its obvious absurdities and revolting special pleading. My favourite is this one by Bethlehem’s predecessor as the FCO Chief Legal Adviser, Sir Michael Wood and his ex-Deputy Elizabeth Wilmshurst.

I addressed the Bethlehem Doctrine as part of my contribution to a book reflecting on Chomsky‘s essay “On the Responsibility of Intellectuals”

In the UK recently, the Attorney General gave a speech in defence of the UK’s drone policy, the assassination of people – including British nationals – abroad. This execution without a hearing is based on several criteria, he reassured us. His speech was repeated slavishly in the British media. In fact, the Guardian newspaper simply republished the government press release absolutely verbatim, and stuck a reporter’s byline at the top.

The media have no interest in a critical appraisal of the process by which the British government regularly executes without trial. Yet in fact it is extremely interesting. The genesis of the policy lay in the appointment of Daniel Bethlehem as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Chief Legal Adviser. Jack Straw made the appointment, and for the first time ever it was external, and not from the Foreign Office’s own large team of world-renowned international lawyers. The reason for that is not in dispute. Every single one of the FCO’s legal advisers had advised that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, and Straw wished to find a new head of the department more in tune with the neo-conservative world view.

Straw went to extremes. He appointed Daniel Bethlehem, the legal ‘expert’ who provided the legal advice to Benjamin Netanyahu on the ‘legality’ of building the great wall hemming in the Palestinians away from their land and water resources. Bethlehem was an enthusiastic proponent of the invasion of Iraq. He was also the most enthusiastic proponent in the world of drone strikes.

Bethlehem provided an opinion on the legality of drone strikes which is, to say the least, controversial. To give one example, Bethlehem accepts that established principles of international law dictate that lethal force may be used only to prevent an attack which is ‘imminent’.

Bethlehem argues that for an attack to be ‘imminent’ does not require it to be ‘soon’. Indeed you can kill to avert an ‘imminent attack’ even if you have no information on when and where it will be. You can instead rely on your target’s ‘pattern of behaviour’; that is, if he has attacked before, it is reasonable to assume he will attack again and that such an attack is
‘imminent’.

There is a much deeper problem: that the evidence against the target is often extremely dubious. Yet even allowing the evidence to be perfect, it is beyond me that the state can kill in such circumstances without it being considered a death penalty imposed without trial for past crimes, rather than to frustrate another ‘imminent’ one.

You would think that background would make an interesting story. Yet the entire ‘serious’ British media published the government line, without a single journalist, not one, writing about the fact that Bethlehem’s proposed definition of ‘imminent’ has been widely rejected by the international law community. The public knows none of this. They just ‘know’ that drone strikes are keeping us safe from deadly attack by terrorists, because the government says so, and nobody has attempted to give them other information

Remember, this is not just academic argument, the Bethlehem Doctrine is the formal policy position on assassination of Israel, the US and UK governments. So that is lie one. When Pompeo says Soleimani was planning “imminent” attacks, he is using the Bethlehem definition under which “imminent” is a “concept” which means neither “soon” nor “definitely going to happen”. To twist a word that far from its normal English usage is to lie. To do so to justify killing people is obscene. That is why, if I finish up in the bottom-most pit of hell, the worst thing about the experience will be the company of Daniel Bethlehem.

Let us now move on to the next lie, which is being widely repeated, this time originated by Donald Trump, that Soleimani was responsible for the “deaths of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans”. This lie has been parroted by everybody, Republicans and Democrats alike.

Really? Who were they? When and where? While the Bethlehem Doctrine allows you to kill somebody because they might be going to attack someone, sometime, but you don’t know who or when, there is a reasonable expectation that if you are claiming people have already been killed you should be able to say who and when.

The truth of the matter is that if you take every American killed including and since 9/11, in the resultant Middle East related wars, conflicts and terrorist acts, well over 90% of them have been killed by Sunni Muslims financed and supported out of Saudi Arabia and its gulf satellites, and less than 10% of those Americans have been killed by Shia Muslims tied to Iran.

This is a horribly inconvenient fact for US administrations which, regardless of party, are beholden to Saudi Arabia and its money. It is, the USA affirms, the Sunnis who are the allies and the Shias who are the enemy. Yet every journalist or aid worker hostage who has been horribly beheaded or otherwise executed has been murdered by a Sunni, every jihadist terrorist attack in the USA itself, including 9/11, has been exclusively Sunni, the Benghazi attack was by Sunnis, Isil are Sunni, Al Nusra are Sunni, the Taliban are Sunni and the vast majority of US troops killed in the region are killed by Sunnis.

Precisely which are these hundreds of deaths for which the Shia forces of Soleimani were responsible? Is there a list? It is of course a simple lie. Its tenuous connection with truth relates to the Pentagon’s estimate – suspiciously upped repeatedly since Iran became the designated enemy – that back during the invasion of Iraq itself, 83% of US troop deaths were at the hands of Sunni resistance and 17% of of US troop deaths were at the hands of Shia resistance, that is 603 troops. All the latter are now lain at the door of Soleimani, remarkably.

Those were US troops killed in combat during an invasion. The Iraqi Shia militias – whether Iran backed or not – had every legal right to fight the US invasion. The idea that the killing of invading American troops was somehow illegal or illegitimate is risible. Plainly the US propaganda that Soleimani was “responsible for hundreds of American deaths” is intended, as part of the justification for his murder, to give the impression he was involved in terrorism, not legitimate combat against invading forces. The idea that the US has the right to execute those who fight it when it invades is an absolutely stinking abnegation of the laws of war.

As I understand it, there is very little evidence that Soleimani had active operational command of Shia militias during the invasion, and in any case to credit him personally with every American soldier killed is plainly a nonsense. But even if Soleimani had personally supervised every combat success, these were legitimate acts of war. You cannot simply assassinate opposing generals who fought you, years after you invade.

The final, and perhaps silliest lie, is Vice President Mike Pence’s attempt to link Soleimani to 9/11. There is absolutely no link between Soleimani and 9/11, and the most strenuous efforts by the Bush regime to find evidence that would link either Iran or Iraq to 9/11 (and thus take the heat off their pals the al-Saud who were actually responsible) failed. Yes, it is true that some of the hijackers at one point transited Iran to Afghanistan. But there is zero evidence, as the 9/11 report specifically stated, that the Iranians knew what they were planning, or that Soleimani personally was involved. This is total bullshit. 9/11 was Sunni and Saudi led, nothing to do with Iran.

Soleimani actually was involved in intelligence and logistical cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan post 9/11 (the Taliban were his enemies too, the shia Tajiks being a key part of the US aligned Northern Alliance). He was in Iraq to fight ISIL.

The final aggravating factor in the Soleimani murder is that he was an accredited combatant general of a foreign state which the world – including the USA – recognises. The Bethlehem Doctrine specifically applies to “non-state actors”. Unlike all of the foregoing, this next is speculation, but I suspect that the legal argument in the Pentagon ran that Soleimani is a non-state actor when in Iraq, where the Shia militias have a semi-official status.

But that does not wash. Soleimani is a high official in Iran who was present in Iraq as a guest of the Iraqi government, to which the US government is allied. This greatly exacerbates the illegality of his assassination still further.

The political world in the UK is so cowed by the power of the neo-conservative Establishment and media, that the assassination of Soleimani is not being called out for the act of blatant illegality that it is. It was an act of state terrorism by the USA, pure and simple.

Click here to read the same post entitled “Lies, the Bethlehem Doctrine, and the Illegal Murder of Soleimani” published yesterday on Craig Murray’s website.

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Additional:

Yesterday’s The Jimmy Dore Show welcomed independent journalist Max Blumenthal to discuss the illegality of America’s drone assassination of Qassam Soleimani and the “laughably horrible” news coverage [warning: strong language throughout]:

Our Vanishing World: Birds

From Desultory heroics

By Robert J. Burrowes

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, it is estimated that the total number of passenger pigeons in the United States was about three billion birds. The bird was immensely abundant, as illustrated by this passage written by the famous ornithologist, naturalist and painter John James Audubon:

‘I dismounted, seated myself on an eminence, and began to mark with my pencil, making a dot for every flock that passed. In a short time finding the task which I had undertaken impracticable, as the birds poured in countless multitudes, I rose, and counting the dots then put down, found that 163 had been made in twenty-one minutes. I traveled on, and still met more the farther I proceeded. The air was literally filled with Pigeons; the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse, the dung fell in spots, not unlike melting flakes of snow; and the continued buzz of wings had a tendency to lull my senses to repose… Before sunset I reached Louisville, distance from Hardensburgh fifty-five miles. The Pigeons were still passing in undiminished numbers, and continued to do so for three days in succession.’ See ‘Passenger Pigeon’.

So numerous was this bird that, in the nineteenth century, the passenger pigeon was one of the most abundant birds on Earth.

In 1914 it was extinct.

While new settlements kept reducing the bird’s habitat, more importantly, it was literally hunted from the sky. Shot for its meat.

So I have two questions for you? When is the last time that you saw a flock of birds so vast that ‘the light of noon-day was obscured as by an eclipse’? And when did you last see a flock of just 20 birds?

Sobering to ponder, isn’t it?

The origin of birds

Birds evolved from small carnivorous dinosaurs of the Late Jurassic and in the 65 million years since the extinction of the rest of the dinosaurs, this ancestral lineage diversified into the major groups of birds alive today. See ‘The origin of birds’.

Because they did not exist during the first five mass extinction events on Earth, birds have been spared the widespread extinctions suffered by those species that did exist in earlier eras.

Extinctions of birds in prehistory and history

Nevertheless, the fossil record tells us of the existence of prehistoric birds that became extinct before the Late Quaternary (that is, the past half to one million years) and thus occurred in the absence of significant human interference – see ‘List of fossil bird genera’ – while various sources tell us of both prehistoric and historic bird species, including flightless megafauna birds, that became extinct between 40,000 BCE and 1500 AD and ‘was coincident with the expansion of Homo sapiens beyond Africa and Eurasia, and in most cases, anthropogenic factors played a crucial part in their extinction, be it through hunting, introduced predators or habitat alteration’. See ‘List of Late Quaternary prehistoric bird species’.

Of course, there is an even wider range of evidence of bird extinctions since 1500. See ‘List of recently extinct bird species’. Most notably perhaps, given the symbolism it has since acquired, the dodo, a flightless bird of Mauritius, was driven to extinction by 1681 but not before it was carefully drawn. See ‘Dodo’.

How many bird species are there on Earth now?

While one recent estimate – see ‘Scaling laws predict global microbial diversity’ – indicates that Earth may be the home to one trillion species (the vast bulk of which are microorganisms such as bacteria, archaea and microscopic fungi), of which only an estimated 8.7 million species fall into the usual and simpler categories of plants, birds, animals, fish, amphibians, insects and reptiles, the most recent research conducted by George F. Barrowclough, Joel Cracraft, John Klicka and Robert M. Zink and published in 2016 indicated that there are just 18,043 species of birds worldwide. See ‘How Many Kinds of Birds Are There and Why Does It Matter?’

Somewhat controversially – see ‘New Study Doubles the World’s Number of Bird Species By Redefining “Species”’ – this figure is nearly twice as many as previously thought because the study focused on ‘hidden’ avian diversity: birds that look similar to one another or were thought to interbreed but are actually different species. In any case, whether there are just 10,000 species of birds, 11,000+ as estimated by the recognized international authority BirdLife International – see ‘Introducing the IUCN Red List’ – or even18,000, just like other species of life on Earth, birds are now under siege in a way they have never been before.

Killing birds in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries

More than 100 years have passed since the passenger pigeon became extinct. However, while one might have hoped that humans had become more adept at nurturing populations of birds, the reality is that we are continuing to drive bird populations to extinction. Moreover, we are now doing this with breathtaking efficiency, slaughtering birds by the millions in ever-shortening timeframes.

As a result, the fate of the passenger pigeon has been replicated many times over with a vast number of bird species passing through the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s eight preliminary categories – Not Evaluated, Data Deficient, Least Concern, Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild – before reaching the ninth and final category: Extinct. See ‘IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria’. At the moment, the ‘IUCN Red List of Threatened Species’ identifies 14% of remaining bird species as ‘threatened with extinction’. Also see ‘Introducing the IUCN Red List’.

Of course, this ongoing assault on birds is well documented in the scientific literature, along with descriptions of long-standing causes as well as those that are more recent.

In recently published research on the status of birds in North America, Dr. Kenneth V. Rosenberg led an international team of scientists from seven institutions in analyzing the population trends of 529 bird species on the North American continent. Their study quantified, for the first time, the total decline in bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada: a loss of 2.9 billion breeding adult birds, with devastating losses among birds in every biome, since 1970. Moreover, their research revealed that ‘declines are not restricted to rare and threatened species – those once considered common and widespread are also diminished’. See ‘Decline of the North American avifauna’ and ‘Vanishing: More Than 1 in 4 Birds Has Disappeared in the Last 50 Years’.

Like scholars researching dramatic declines and extinctions of other species, such as insects, Rosenberg and his colleagues stress that their results have ‘major implications for ecosystem integrity, the conservation of wildlife more broadly, and policies associated with the protection of birds and native ecosystems on which they depend’. While species extinctions ‘have defined the global biodiversity crisis’, extinction ‘begins with loss in abundance of individuals that can result in compositional and functional changes of ecosystems’. Hence, the staggering loss of bird abundance ‘signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity, function, and services’. See ‘Decline of the North American avifauna’.

In more blunt language ‘the most comprehensive inventory ever done for North American birds, points to ecosystems in disarray because of habitat loss and other factors that have yet to be pinned down’. See ‘Billions of North American birds have vanished’. And, yet more bluntly: ‘The scale of loss portrayed in the [Rosenberg et.al.] study is unlike anything recorded in modern natural history.’ See ‘Vanishing: More Than 1 in 4 Birds Has Disappeared in the Last 50 Years’.

Even more importantly, however, pointing out that the study results ‘transcend the world of birds’, Rosenberg explained that ‘These bird losses are a strong signal that our human-altered landscapes are losing their ability to support birdlife’ and ‘that is an indicator of a coming collapse of the overall environment.’ See ‘Vanishing: More Than 1 in 4 Birds Has Disappeared in the Last 50 Years’.

Is North America alone in its decimation of bird populations? Far from it. Other research and data have revealed that ‘farmland birds in Europe have declined by over 50 per cent collectively in the last 30 or 40 years’ according to Professor Richard Gregory, head of species monitoring and research at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) in the UK where, according to Martin Harper, director of conservation at the RSPB, ‘Our beleaguered farmland birds have declined by 56 per cent between 1970 and 2015 along with declines in other wildlife linked to changes in agricultural practices, including the use of pesticides’.

And, Professor Romain Julliard, a conservation biologist at France’s National Museum of Natural History, confessed his ‘shock’ when the latest research revealed that France has lost one-third of its birds in the past 15 years in what is being labeled a ‘dramatic collapse’ and ‘ecological catastrophe’ particularly because the decline has accelerated dramatically in recent years. See ‘“Shocking” decline in birds across Europe due to pesticide use, say scientists’.

In Germany, bird populations are vanishing with scientists using words like ‘decimated’ and ‘collapse’ to describe the enormity of the problem. In a recent study of government data, the German environmental organization Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) estimated ‘that more than 25 million birds [15% of the country’s total bird population] disappeared from Germany over the past 12 years’. See ‘Über zwölf Millionen Vogelbrutpaare weniger in Deutschland’‘Insect and bird populations declining dramatically in Germany’ and ‘“Decimated”: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76%’. But why?

While habitat destruction and other factors played roles, scientists have also long linked pesticide use to insect decline – a reasonable assumption given that killing insects is the purpose of pesticides – and research clearly demonstrates that pesticides are killing more than target insects. For instance, a 2008 study demonstrated low but persistent levels of a common neonicotinoid pesticide in aquatic ecosystems can kill off or reduce the growth of insects (such as mosquitoes) that have an acquatic phase. See ‘Acute and Chronic Toxicity of Imidacloprid to the Aquatic Invertebrates Chironomus tentans and Hyalella azteca under Constant- and Pulse-Exposure Conditions’ and ‘“Decimated”: Germany’s birds disappear as insect abundance plummets 76%’.

In essence, the problem is that killing the insects is tantamount to killing the birds that feed on them.

Another recent study came to the same conclusion. The study, conducted in the Lake Constance area in southern Germany, found that the population of six of the most common birds had ‘declined massively’. According to Hans-Guenther Bauer of the Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Biology: ‘These are truly shocking figures, especially when you consider that the decline in birds began decades before our first data collection in 1980.’ Why is it happening? According to Bauer, a key reason for the decline is the loss of food. ‘This confirms what we have long suspected. The death of insects caused by humans has a massive impact on our birds.’ To stem the tide of losses, scientists are calling for a rethink in agricultural and forestry policy including ‘drastic restrictions on insecticides and herbicides in agriculture, forestry, public areas and private gardens’ and significantly less fertilization. See ‘Scientists fear “collapse” of bird populations in Germany’.

As is the case elsewhere around the world, birds in Africa also face a wide variety of threats, the most significant of which are habitat fragmentation, degradation and destruction as well as direct impacts including hunting and trapping (mainly for meat and trafficking). See ‘Multiple threats are driving threatened birds towards extinction in Africa’.

But nowhere is safe with the killing of migratory birds in China – see Market trade is fuelling the killing of migratory birds in Northern China – and various factors adversely impacting penguins in Antarctica – see ‘Climate-driven reductions in krill abundance have caused Adélie penguin declines’ – just two more of many examples that could be cited.

Illegal hunting and trapping of birds

According to Birdlife International, the organization responsible for monitoring the welfare of birds for the IUCN’s Red List, ‘The illegal killing and taking of wild birds remains a major threat on a global scale’ with recent examples including the illegal poisoning of vultures in Sub-Saharan Africa, the illegal shooting of raptors in Europe and North America, the illegal trapping of passerines (perching birds) in Asia and the illegal capture for the bird trade in South America.

For example, based on extensive research over many years in relation to bird killing during migratory flights across the Mediterranean and through Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus, BirdLife International has compiled a series of reports. These reports document massive illegal killing of birds, often in ways that constitute torture, and totaling in excess of 25 million birds annually, including birds of species that are threatened with extinction. For recent reports, see ‘The Killing 2.0: A View to a Kill’‘Assessing the scope and scale of illegal killing and taking of birds in the Mediterranean, and establishing a basis for systematic monitoring’ and ‘Review of illegal killing and taking of birds in Northern and Central Europe and the Caucasus’. For a more detailed scientific report on this issue, see ‘Preliminary assessment of the scope and scale of illegal killing and taking of birds in the Mediterranean’.

But if you would simply prefer to be revolted, then watch BirdLife’s one minute video: Help us STOP illegal #birdkilling’. Or read a straightforward account of how ‘innocent’ human behaviours can be deadly for birds, in this case by ‘vacuuming’ millions of sleeping birds into oblivion each year during olive harvesting at night. See ‘Millions of Birds Killed by Nighttime Harvesting in Mediterranean’.

Unfortunately, if you think the descriptions and video of birdkilling above are bad, you won’t be impressed with the sheer insanity that militarized humans can display: ‘The Farmagusta area of Cyprus comes out as the worst place for illegally killing birds in the Mediterranean, while the British Territory in Cyprus is also affected, with the Dhekelia UK military base seeing hundreds of thousands of birds killed each autumn. The Ministry of Defence has started a programme to remove illegally planted trees and shrubs in the area, which trappers use for cover and to lure birds in.’ See ‘Millions of Birds Killed in the Mediterranean’. So, instead of ordering soldiers to stop shooting birds while using a combination of education and law enforcement measures to prevent civilians doing so, they removed ‘illegally planted trees and shrubs’!

Wild Bird trafficking

Another major killer of birds is the wildlife trade. Birds are often killed as a ‘byproduct’ of the trade in exotic birds, most of which is illegal, but which is a multi-billion dollar a year industry along with human, weapons, currency and drug trafficking. Equally importantly, however, once traded, birds no longer form part of their original habitat and hence they are lost as contributing and breeding members of that ecosystem. According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), species listed in Appendix I of the Convention are considered to be threatened with extinction and are not allowed to be traded commercially. There are currently 161 bird species on Appendix I. However, birds included on Appendix II are allowed to enter international trade ‘under specific controlled circumstances’; there are 1,300 bird species on this appendix. See ‘Wild Bird Trade and CITES’ and ‘CITES Appendices I, II and III’.

In theory, state parties are obliged to develop national legislation effectively implementing the obligations of the Convention including setting sustainable quotas for Appendix II species. But I am sure that you can imagine how well this regime works given the incredibly profitable wildlife trafficking industry, in which birds are a crucial component. In fact, ‘one third (3,337) of living bird species [that is, 2,000 species more than those that are “legal”] have been recorded as traded internationally for the pet trade and other purposes’. Of these species, 266 (that is, 8% of those internationally traded) are considered globally threatened. See ‘The Red List Index for internationally traded bird species shows their deterioration in status’.

And if the domestic trade in birds is taken into account as well, then ‘Nearly 4,000 bird species involving several million individuals annually are subject to domestic or international trade with finches, weavers, parrots and raptors being some of the most heavily affected groups.’ See ‘Wild Bird Trade and CITES’.

For a candid account of bird trafficking at its origin which describes the fate of macaw chicks being stolen from their forest nests in Ecuador, see ‘Wildlife Trafficking’.

Seabirds

In relation to seabirds, one recent study found that the global population of these birds declined by 70% between 1950 and 2010 as a result of a multiplicity of threats. These threats included ‘entanglement in fishing gear, overfishing of food sources, climate change, pollution, disturbance, direct exploitation, development, energy production, and introduced species (predators such as rats and cats introduced to breeding islands that were historically free of land-based predators)’. See ‘Population Trend of the World’s Monitored Seabirds, 1950-2010’.

Another study concluded just recently, was ‘the first objective quantitative assessment of the threats to all 359 species of seabirds’ and identified the main threats to their survival while outlining priority actions for their conservation. Using the standardized ‘Threats Classification Scheme’ developed for the IUCN Red List to objectively assess threats to each species, a team of ten scientists identified the top three threats to seabirds – in terms of number of species affected and average impact – to be as follows: invasive alien species (particularly rats and cats) which affected 165 species across all of the most threatened groups; bycatch in fisheries which ‘only’ affected 100 species but with the greatest average impact; and the climate catastrophe which affected 96 species. ‘Overfishing, hunting/trapping and disturbance were also identified as major threats to seabirds.’ The study emphasized that 70% of seabirds, especially those that are globally threatened, face multiple threats. For the three most threatened groups of seabirds – albatrosses, petrels and penguins – it is essential to tackle both terrestrial and marine threats to reverse declines. See ‘Threats to seabirds: A global assessment’.

In addition, however, another problem that has been getting insufficient attention is the result of the expanding impacts of the rapidly increasing levels of ocean acidification, ocean warming, ocean carbon flows and ocean plastics. Taken in isolation each of these changes clearly has negative consequences for the ocean. All these shifts taken together, however, result in a rapid and serious decline in ocean health and this, in turn, adversely impacts all species dependent on the ocean, including seabirds. Moreover, on top of these problems is the issue of oxygen availability given that oxygen in the air or water is of paramount importance to most living organisms. As the recently released report ‘Ocean deoxygenation: Everyone’s problem. Causes, impacts, consequences and solutions’ describes in some detail, oxygen levels are currently declining across the ocean.

But to graphically illustrate just one of the threats to seabirds, consider the impact of our chronic overfishing which is depleting the oceans of fish. In November 2019, thousands of short-tailed shearwater birds migrating from Alaska were washed up dead on Sydney’s iconic beaches in Australia. Moreover, thousands more shearwaters died out at sea in clear confirmation of the incredible fish shortages in the Pacific Ocean. After spending the summer in Alaska, the shearwaters were migrating back to southern Australia to breed: a 14,000km trip over the Pacific that requires the birds to be at full strength.

Unfortunately, vast numbers died due to lack of food because the krill and other fish they feed on have vanished. But if you think the problem only occurred along or at the end of their journey, in fact there had been ‘a series of catastrophic die-offs’ before and shortly after the birds departed to head south with thousands of shearwaters (along with puffins, murres and auklets too) lying dead from starvation on the beaches of Alaska and on Russia’s Chukotka Peninsula back in mid-year as well. The overall ‘large die-off’ pattern has been repeating since 2015 with little knowledge of the full extent of the crisis because millions of the birds ‘die at sea’. See ‘Fish all gone!… Millions of small sea birds died since 2015’.

Tragically though, as touched on above, an ocean emptied of fish is not the only hazard that seabirds have no choice but to attempt to navigate. An ocean full of plastic – with concentrations up to 580,000 pieces per square kilometer – is also deceiving many seabirds into attempting to eat pieces of plastic and this only complicates efforts by seabirds to get adequate nutrition. See ‘Threat of plastic pollution to seabirds is global, pervasive, and increasing’ and ‘Nearly Every Seabird on Earth Is Eating Plastic’. This is graphically illustrated in this photo of a dead albatross – see ‘Laysan Albatrosses’ Plastic Problem’ – although, tragically, plastic is not the only non-food item that is consumed by and is killing these majestic birds, with an abandoned US military base on Midway Atoll – where 65% of the global albatross population breeds – playing a vital role too. See ‘Study shows lead-based paint is poisoning albatross chicks at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge’.

But why do seabirds eat plastic instead of correctly identifying food? Well, one recent research project provided ‘the first evidence that, in addition to looking like food, plastic debris may also confuse seabirds that hunt by smell’. See ‘Marine plastic debris emits a keystone infochemical for olfactory foraging seabirds’ and ‘The oceans are full of plastic, but why do seabirds eat it?’

Other threats to birds

Another threat faced by birds in the nuclear age is the outcome of the radioactive contamination of the Earth in many places. For example, while there are ‘severe reductions in species richness and density’ in the regions surrounding the sites of the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear catastrophes, surviving birds display a wide range of deformities and dysfunctionalities, notably including impaired brain development as reflected by head volume with its negative implications for cognitive ability and hence viability. See Chernobyl Birds Have Smaller Brains’ and ‘Bird populations near Fukushima are more diminished than expected’.

Yet another threat to birds is posed by the deployment of 5G. ‘Typical effects of radiation from cellular communication antennas on resident, breeding, and migratory birds [include] site abandonment, feather deformation, locomotion problems, weight loss, weakness, reduced survivorship and death.’ Moreover, it can ‘blot out a bird’s perception of the earth’s field, causing the bird to fly in the wrong direction, and also disrupt a bird’s internal clock based on the sun’s changing position’. See ‘5G to Kill the Birds, Bees and Your Loved Ones?’ and ‘Western Insanity and 5G Electromagnetic Radiation’.

Finally, without elaboration, vast numbers of birds are also killed each year by warfare and other military activities – see, for example, ‘The impact of the 1991 Gulf War oil spill on bird populations in the northern Arabian Gulf – a review’ – by industrial activity and accidents – see, for example, ‘Effects of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill on Birds: Comparisons of Pre- and Post-spill Surveys in Prince William Sound, Alaska’ – by road and air traffic, the spread of certain avian diseases to previously unaffected species – see ‘Avian diseases are spreading to impact hitherto unaffected populations’ – wind turbines, cats, windows and communication towers, with 7 million birds losing their lives each year in the United States alone to the ‘web-like traps of wire and metal’ used for communication. See ‘Communication Towers Are Death Traps for Threatened Bird Species’. Other birds are now being killed in response to conflict generated between birds. See ‘Climate Change Leading to Fatal Bird Conflicts’. And, of course, ‘domesticated’ birds such as chickens and turkeys are farmed and consumed in prodigiously huge quantities, including for Christmas.

Sadly, too, millions of birds of many species are imprisoned in cages as ‘pets’ denied the freedom that all humans crave for themselves.

So, in essence, if you were a bird, here is a survival strategy that should work. Only live in a habitat that will not be impacted, in any way, by human beings and their activities. That is, don’t live on Earth.

Saving the birds

Given the vast range of threats posed to birdlife by humans – see a straightforward summary of ‘The greatest threats facing Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas today’ which doesn’t mention all threats and those that are emerging – it is clearly going to take a monumental effort on many fronts to contain the killing of birds and avert the ongoing extinction of bird species on Earth.

And, unless you are naive enough to believe that elite-controlled governments or international organizations and processes are going to do something that is actually effective – see ‘The Global Elite is Insane Revisited’ – then it is up to us to make the difference. Of course, we can do a few things that are specific to saving birds but the bulk of what must happen is really about saving the biosphere (which includes birds) generally. The biosphere is, after all, one deeply-interconnected living entity.

This is why, according to some biologists, laws that focus on the protection of rare species miss the big picture. Joel Cracraft, for example, argues that ‘We’re losing the battle because we’re fighting over single endangered species’. Species protection tends to focus on charismatic species – beautiful birds and mammals – and doesn’t value rare ecosystems or collections of species. See ‘New Study Doubles the World’s Number of Bird Species By Redefining “Species”’. Nor does it value the biosphere as a whole.

Still, some superlative efforts have been made on behalf of birds. For example, you can read some inspirational success stories by BirdLife International: ‘10 vital bird habitats saved through conservation action’.

And for one man’s initiative 120 years ago that is having ongoing impact, see ‘How one man changed a Christmas tradition forever – to save birds’.

So you can, of course, support the efforts of Birdlife International and the local, national and other organizations like it. See Welcome to BirdLife’s Globally Threatened Bird Forums’ and, for example, ‘Stop Wildlife Trafficking’.

Separately from initiatives that focus specifically on birds, if you wish to fight powerfully to save Earth’s biosphere consider joining those participating in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth which outlines a simple program to systematically reduce your consumption and increase your local self-reliance over a period of years. Among many other beneficial environmental outcomes, this will reduce the ongoing destruction of bird habitat to produce the products we all consume.

But given the fear-driven violent parenting and education models that drive all violence in our world and which, among a multitude of other adverse outcomes, generates the addiction of most people in industrialized countries to the over-consumption that is destroying Earth’s biosphere – see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War’ – then consider addressing this directly starting with yourself – see ‘Putting Feelings First’ – and by reviewing your relationship with children. See ‘My Promise to Children’ and ‘Nisteling: The Art of Deep Listening’. For fuller explanations, see Why Violence?’ and Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice.

If you wish to campaign strategically to defend birds against particular threats, such as the climate catastrophe, military violence or the deployment of 5G, for example, consider joining those campaigning to halt these and other threats as well. See Nonviolent Campaign Strategy which already includes a comprehensive list of strategic goals necessary to achieve these outcomes in two key contexts in ‘Strategic Aims’.

But, whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of fearfully begging elites to act on your behalf as, for example, the antiwar and climate movements are doing (with climate ‘activists’ marginalized at the latest COP25 gathering in Madrid). If we do not focus our efforts on engaging all people who are powerful enough to do so to respond strategically, then we will fail. And our failure will not only be the result of the elite refusing to take the requisite action despite your entreaties but also because the elite, as a group, is powerless to make sufficient difference: only a massive response from the wider population can produce the outcome we now need. For explanations of this, see ‘Why Activists Fail’‘The Global Climate Movement is Failing: Why?’ and ‘The War to End War 100 Years On: An Evaluation and Reorientation of our Resistance to War’.

Moreover, in those cases where corrupt or even electorally unresponsive governments are leading the destruction of the biosphere – by supporting, sponsoring and/or engaging in environmentally destructive practices – it might be necessary to remove these governments as part of the effort. See Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy.

You might also consider joining the global network of people resisting violence in all contexts, including against the biosphere, by signing the online pledge of The Peoples Charter to Create a Nonviolent World.

Or, if none of the above options appeal or they seem too complicated, consider committing to:

The Earth Pledge

Out of love for the Earth and all of its creatures, and my respect for their needs, from this day onwards I pledge that:

  1. I will listen deeply to children (see explanation above)
  2. I will not travel by plane
  3. I will not travel by car
  4. I will not eat meat and fish
  5. I will only eat organically/biodynamically grown food
  6. I will minimize the amount of fresh water I use, including by minimizing my ownership and use of electronic devices
  7. I will not buy rainforest timber
  8. I will not buy or use single-use plastic, such as bags, bottles, containers, cups and straws
  9. I will not use banks, superannuation (pension) funds or insurance companies that provide any service to corporations involved in fossil fuels, nuclear power and/or weapons
  10. I will not accept employment from, or invest in, any organization that supports or participates in the exploitation of fellow human beings or profits from killing and/or destruction of the biosphere
  11. I will not get news from the corporate media (mainstream newspapers, television, radio, Google, Facebook, Twitter…)
  12. I will make the effort to learn a skill, such as food gardening or sewing, that makes me more self-reliant
  13. I will gently encourage my family and friends to consider signing this pledge.
Do all these options sound unpalatable? Prefer something requiring less commitment? You can, if you like, do as most sources suggest: nothing (or its many tokenistic equivalents). I admit that the options I offer are for those powerful enough to comprehend and act on the truth. Why? Because there is so little time left and I have no interest in deceiving people or treating them as unintelligent and powerless. See ‘Human Extinction by 2026? A Last Ditch Strategy to Fight for Human Survival’ and ‘Doomsday by 2021?’

Conclusion

Birds are being killed with ruthless efficiency by human beings and their activities all over the world. Obviously, this is an unmitigated tragedy for Earth’s birds, the biosphere as a whole and those humans who love life generally. But what are the practical implications of this ongoing bird killing for us?

Well just as the death of one canary in a coal mine warned miners about their dangerous environment, the mass death of birds is yet another warning that we are destroying the planetary biosphere.

However, in this case, we are not treating the canary’s death as a warning and, even if we were, it does not mean that we can escape because there is nowhere else to go.

In short, if we don’t save the birds, we won’t save ourselves.

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of Why Violence? His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

HOW BRITAIN DRESSES UP CRIMES IN ISRAEL AS ‘CHARITABLE ACTS’

From: Astute news

Original article: By Jonathan Cook . Source: Middle East Eye

 

When is a war crime not a war crime? When, according to British officials, that war crime has been given a makeover as a “charitable act”. 

The British state is being asked to account for its financial and moral support for a UK organisation accused of complicity in the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland. So far, it appears determined to evade answering those questions.

The target of the campaign is the Jewish National Fund UK (JNF UK), which describes itself as “Britain’s oldest Israel charity”. Noting its role in “building Israel for over a century”, the organisation boasts: “Every penny raised by JNF UK is sent to a project in Israel.”

In fact, donations to JNF UK were used to buy some of the 250 million trees planted across Israel since 1948, the year when 750,000 Palestinians were forced out at gunpoint from their homes by the new Israeli army. Those expulsions were an event Palestinians call their Nakba, or “catastrophe”.

Afterwards, the Israeli army laid waste to many hundreds of Palestinian villages, turning them into rubble. Forests planted over the villages were then promoted as efforts to “make the desert bloom”.

Subsidised by taxpayers

In fact, the trees were intended primarily to block Palestinian refugees from ever being able to return to their villages and rebuild their homes. As a result, millions of Palestinians today languish in refugee camps across the Middle East, evicted from their homeland with the help of the forests.

JNF UK raised the funds for a parent organisation in Israel, the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF), which enforced the expulsions by using the donations to plant the forests. The Israeli state’s ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian population was effectively disguised as a form of environmentalism.

Britain and other Western states appear to have accepted that barely concealed deception. They have long treated their local JNF fundraising arms as charities. JNF UK received charitable status in 1939, nearly a decade before Israel was created as a Jewish state on the ruins of Palestinians’ homeland.

The forests are still managed with money raised through tax-deductible donations in Britain and elsewhere. Since 1990, donations to JNF UK have been eligible for Gift Aid, meaning that the British government tops up donations by adding its own 25 percent contribution.

In effect, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian villages has been subsidised by the British public.

Backing from MPs

Britain’s continuing sanction of these crimes – and others – is being belatedly given scrutiny by human rights activists in Britain.

A campaign launched in 2010 called Stop the JNF – backed by various Palestinian solidarity organisations – has aimed to shame British officials into ending JNF UK’s charitable status.

The campaign gained parliamentary support a year later, when 68 MPs signed an early-day motion condemning the JNF’s activities and calling for its charitable status to be revoked. The motion was sponsored by Jeremy Corbyn, then a backbencher but now leader of the Labour Party, and attracted cross-party support, though no Conservative MPs backed it.

Nonetheless, the campaign has faced institutional resistance every step of the way. Over the past six years, appeals to the Charity Commission, a department of the British government, to intervene and remove JNF UK from its list of registered charities have been repeatedly rebuffed.

Rather than seeking explanations from JNF UK, British officials have largely ignored the evidence they have been presented with.

Trees ‘a weapon of war’

The campaign has highlighted one specific and egregious example of JNF UK’s work. The organisation raised donations to create a large recreation area west of Jerusalem called British Park, which includes forests, over three Palestinian villages that were destroyed by the Israeli army after 1948. A sign at the entrance reads: “Gift of the Jewish National Fund in Great Britain.”

Many of those who donated to the project, often British Jews encouraged to drop pennies into the JNF’s iconic fundraising “blue boxes”, had no idea how their money was being used.

The Stop the JNF campaign included testimony from Kholoud al-Ajarma, whose family was expelled from the village of Ajjur during the Nakba. Today, the family lives in the overcrowded Aida refugee camp, next to Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.

KKL-JNF planted trees at British Park on land to which Ajarma’s family, and many others, still have the title deeds. In doing so, the group violated the protected status of such lands in international law.

In her submission, Ajarma wrote: “It was British pounds that helped destroy my village. The Jewish National Fund is not merely planting trees. These trees have been used as a weapon of war, a weapon of colonisation.”

Israeli scholar Uri Davis has observed that the establishment of British Park “ought to be classified as an act, and as a policy, of complicity with war crimes”.

4,000 protest letters

The Charity Commission’s barrister, Iain Steele, conceded in a submission that it was possible the JNF had violated the Ajarma family’s rights by creating British Park on their land. Nonetheless, the Charity Commission has on two occasions refused to consider revoking JNF UK’s charitable status. Rather than addressing the merits of Stop the JNF’s arguments, the Charity Commission has evasively claimed that the campaigners, even the Ajarma family, are not affected by whether the JNF is registered as a charity.

In June, a commission official even wrote to the campaign with an astounding defence that appears to strip the term “charitable” of all meaning. He wrote: “In simple terms the test for charitable status is a test of what an organisation was set up to do, not what it does in practice.”

The commission’s apparent reasoning is that, so long as the JNF includes fine-sounding words in its mission statement, what it does in practice as a “charity” does not matter.

In April, Stop the JNF appealed the commission’s decision not to revoke JNF UK’s charitable status to the First-tier Tribunal. The judge, however, told them that neither Ajarma nor the campaign itself had a legal right to be heard. He concluded instead that only the attorney-general could overrule the Charity Commission’s decision. In October, the attorney-general rejected the campaigners’ claims without investigating them.

In an attempt to revive the case, Stop the JNF has submitted more than 4,000 letters of protest to the attorney-general, calling on him to reassess the organisation’s continuing charitable status.

A parallel call was made to the advocate-general of Scotland, which has a separate legal system.

‘Intense political controversy’

The JNF did not respond to questions sent by Middle East Eye about its role in planting the forests, its charitable status and other criticisms of its involvement with Israel.

The establishment’s apparent unwillingness to confront JNF UK’s historical record is perhaps not surprising. The JNF was one of the key organisations that helped to realise a British government promise made in the 1917 Balfour Declaration to help create a “Jewish home” in what was then Palestine.

Two years later, Lord Balfour declared that the colonisation of Palestine by Zionist Jews from Europe was “of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 [Palestinian] Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land”. Little, it seems, has changed in official British attitudes since.

Steele, the Charity Commission’s barrister, successfully urged the First-tier Tribunal not to get involved, arguing that it would be “drawn into matters of intense political controversy, for no obvious benefit to anyone”.

Surely, Ajarma and many millions more Palestinians would strenuously dispute that assessment. They would have much to gain should Britain finally demonstrate a willingness to confront its continuing role in aiding and comforting groups such as the JNF, accused of complicity in crimes against international law in historic Palestine.

As Stop the JNF organisers wrote in their own letter to the attorney-general: “These people [Palestinian refugees such as the Ajarma family] are not defined by the JNF as recipients of their charity, but they have human and legal rights which the actions of this charity unacceptably violate.”

Reminiscent of dark regimes

The campaign has not only focused on JNF UK’s historic role in dispossessing Palestinians. It points out that the JNF is still actively contributing to Israel’s own grossly discriminatory and racist policies – another reason it should be barred from being considered a charity.

JNF UK’s accounts from 2016 show that it has funded the OR Movement, an Israeli organisation that assists in the development of Jewish-only communities in Israel and the occupied territories.

One such Jewish community, Hiran, is being established on the ruins of homes that belonged to Bedouin familes. They were recently forced out of their village of Umm al-Hiran – a move the legal rights group Adalah has described as “reminiscent of the darkest of regimes such as apartheid-era South Africa”.

On its website, JNF-KKL congratulates “Friends of JNF UK” for supporting the establishment of nearby Hiran Forest. The JNF claims the forest will “help mitigate climate change” – once again disguising ethnic cleansing of Palestinians as a form of environmentalism.

Funding the Israeli army

JNF UK’s annual accounts in 2015 also revealed that it contributed money to the Israeli army under the title “Tzuk Eitan 9 Gaza war effort” – a reference to Israel’s attack on Gaza in late 2014, whose death toll included some 550 Palestinian children.

A United Nations commission of inquiry found evidence that Israel had committed war crimes by indiscriminately targeting civilians – a conclusion confirmed by the testimonies of Israeli soldiers to Breaking the Silence, an Israeli whistle-blowing group.

Equally troubling, an investigation last month by Haaretz reported that, under Israeli government pressure, the KKL-JNF has been secretly directing vast sums of money into buying and developing land in the occupied West Bank to aid Jewish settlers, again in violation of international law.

The funds were allegedly channeled to Himnuta Jerusalem, effectively the JNF’s subsidiary in the occupied territories, disguised as funds for projects in Jerusalem.

Veteran Israeli journalist Raviv Drucker observed that KKL-JNF was rapidly converting itself into a banking fund for the settlers. He added that its “coffers are bursting with billions of shekels [and] the settlers’ appetite for land is at a peak”.

Given the lack of transparency in KKL-JNF’s accounts, it is difficult to know precisely where the funds have come from. But as more than $70m has been spent by KKL-JNF over the past two years in the occupied West Bank, according to Haaretz, the funds likely include money raised by JNF UK.

In any case, research by Stop the JNF suggests JNF UK has no objections to making “charitable” donations to settlements in the West Bank. Its accounts record contributions to Sansana, a community of religious settlers close to Hebron.

Settlements are considered a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

No ‘duty’ towards equality

KKL-JNF is a major landowner in Israel. Under a special arrangement with the Israeli government, it owns 13 percent of Israel’s territory – often lands seized from Palestinian refugees. The arrangement includes a provision from 1961 that the primary aim of the JNF in Israel is to acquire property “for the purpose of settling Jews on such lands and properties”.

In 2004, KKL-JNF explained its role. It was “not a public body that works for the benefit of all citizens of the state. The loyalty of the JNF is given to the Jewish people and only to them is the JNF obligated. The JNF, as the owner of the JNF land, does not have a duty to practice equality towards all citizens of the state.”

In marketing and allocating lands only to Jews, the legal group Adalah has noted, the JNF in Israel intentionally rides roughshod over the rights of a fifth of the country’s population who are Palestinian by heritage.

In other words, the JNF is integral to an Israeli system that enforces an apartheid-style regime that prevents Israel’s Palestinian minority from accessing and benefiting from a substantial part of Israel’s territory.

Violating British law

This institutionalised discrimination has been made even more explicit since Israel last year passed the nation-state law, which declares: “The State views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value, and shall act to encourage and promote its establishment and strengthening.”

As the Stop the JNF campaign notes, British charities should abide by legal responsibilities enshrined in UK legislation, such as the 2010 Equality Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate based on “colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin”.

The JNF UK is clearly failing to abide by this core legal principle. It is operating in a foreign state where it has helped, over many decades, to fund activities that grossly violate both British law and international law. The evidence compiled by Stop the JNF indicates that JNF UK has itself been complicit in aiding the commission of war crimes, both in Israel and the occupied territories.

It has also given financial and moral succour to its parent organisation, which has crafted a system of apartheid that confers superior land rights on Jews over Israel’s Palestinian minority.

British taxpayers should not be subsidising institutionalised discrimination and crimes abroad – even more so when they are being dressed up as “charitable acts”.


By Jonathan Cook
Source: Middle East Eye

A SECOND NAKBA IN THE MAKING

From: Astute News

Two Years ago Friday, President Donald Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. We knew then that this was an irresponsible and cruelly insensitive act that would do grave harm to the rights and well-being of Palestinians and put an end to any pretense that the United States could help negotiate an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What we did not know was that this dangerous move was only the beginning of the damage Trump would do to Palestinian rights and the prospects for peace.

During the past two years, the Trump administration has: Closed the US Consulate in East Jerusalem, closed the Palestinian consular office in Washington, DC, suspended aid to the Palestinians and to American non-governmental organisations working in the West Bank and Gaza, denied funding to UNWRA, the United Nations agency that provides essential services to Palestinian refugees, removed the designation “occupied” from all official publications and statements referring to the occupied territories; declared that in its view Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not “illegal”; and even gone so far as to deny that Palestinians should qualify as refugees. While each of these acts presents problems on their own, added together the toll they may take on the Palestinian people can ultimately be as devastating as a second Nakba.

In the short span of only two years, President Trump and his administration have attempted to undo all of the gains Palestinians have won during the past seven decades. Because the US has shuttered the Palestine Liberation Organisation office and denied that Palestinian refugees are, in fact, refugees and therefore part of the Palestinian community, the US is saying that it no longer sees Palestinians as a national community deserving of recognition and the right to self-determination. Because the US has repeatedly given carte blanche to every Israeli whim, regarding Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements, they have left Palestinians particularly vulnerable to more extreme Israeli measures, annexation, massive land seizures and even expulsion. And because the US has flaunted its contempt for the rule of law and international norms of behaviour, they have created a far more dangerous and precarious world in which any regional power backed by the US can act with impunity and suffer little or no repercussions for their behaviour.

I sometimes wonder if this is what the the “Deal of the Century” is supposed to look like. Maybe, all along, it was intended to be nothing more than what they have been doing for the last two years, creating a nihilistic order in which the Israelis are free to act out their most extreme fantasies while vulnerable Palestinians are forced to inhabit a dystopian world in which they have no rights and no recourse open to them. It is for this reason I suggest that the cumulative impact of what Trump has done has created the conditions for a second Nakba.

There are, of course, avenues open before us that provide ways to avoid such a disaster. While the US has created this mess on its own, each and every one of its moves have been rejected by the Arab States and the overwhelming majority of the nations of the world. For example, only a smattering of minor US dependencies have considered joining the US in moving their embassies to Jerusalem; last month, by a vote of 170 to 2, the United Nations reaffirmed its support for UNWRA; and then there were the denunciations issue by the Arab States and the Europeans to the new US position on Israeli settlements.

The problem is that while the Trump Administration has become increasingly politically isolated by its reckless behaviour, they have not been effectively challenged. To change the current downward spiral dynamic that is unfolding in the Israel-Palestinian arena is a bold confrontation of both the US and Israel. Statements or resolutions will not suffice, since they are routinely dismissed and ignored. What is required is that other nations say “enough is enough” and tell the US that its days of hegemonic control over the “peace process” have come to an end. Israel too must be confronted and made to pay a price for its lawless behaviour and gross systematic violations of Palestinian human rights.

Of course, a unified Palestinian response utilising a campaign of non-violent resistance would also be important, but I hesitate to place emphasis on this factor for two reasons. First, the burden of doing the heavy lifting should not rest on the most vulnerable party to the conflict. And even if the Palestinians were to rise up, as they have before, unless the nations of the world were ready to challenge both the US and Israel, their resistance would come to a bloody end.

We are running out of time. If action is not taken soon, we may well see a second, and potentially more devastating, Nakba. If it occurs, the responsibility for this tragedy will fall not only on the Israelis who carry it out and the US that aided and abetted them, it will also fall on the nations of the world who failed to act in time to stop this tragedy from occurring.


By James J. Zogby
Source: The Jordan Times

Two Documents (from 2011) Which Prove That Barack Obama Went To War Against Syria To Steal Syrian Gas and Oil

From: Therearenosunglasses

 

[SEE: Why Syria’s small oil reserves have become the linchpin for political control in the region]

Aug. 17, 2011

Syria announces discovery of new gas field near Homs

DAMASCUS: Syria announced Tuesday it has found a promising gas field in the central governorate of Homs, as Human Rights Watch urged the European Union to freeze the assets of Syria’s state oil and gas companies. “The first wells were drilled at Qara in Homs governorate and the flow rate is 400,000 cubic meters per day.” Oil Minister Sufian Allawi was quoted as saying by state news agency SANA.

“This discovery opens new perspectives in the region of Qalamun and the Syrian company will continue its drilling,” said Allawi, adding that the field was located in the Basin of Dau.

He said Syria’s natural gas production has reached 30.29 million cubic meters per day, up by 3 million cubic meters since last year. Oil production in Syria is about 380,000 barrels per day, Allawi added.

Syria has partially replaced oil with gas as fuel in its power stations on falling crude production.

The nation’s gas reserves, estimated at 284 billion cubic meters, may increase after new discoveries in many parts of the country, Allawi added.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said the European Union should freeze the assets of the Syrian National Oil Company, Syrian National Gas Company and the Central Bank of Syria until Damascus “ends gross human rights abuses against its citizens.”

The rights advocacy group said the state-run oil and gas companies have a 50 percent share in every oil and gas project in Syria.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged countries to stop buying Syrian oil and gas in a bid to pressure President Bashar Assad to end a brutal crackdown on protesters.

“We urge those countries still buying Syrian oil and gas, those countries still sending Assad weapons, those countries whose political and economic support give him comfort in his brutality, to get on the right side of history,” Clinton said.

In a March 2010 report, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the Syrian government earns approximately 2.1 billion euros ($3 billion) from oil and gas revenues per year.

Most of Syria’s oil is used domestically, but it exports approximately 150,000 barrels per day. Around 95 percent of that goes to Europe, primarily to Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Germany.

[The next day, Obama issued the following Executive Order, which amounted to a declaration of economic war against Syria, with the clear intention of preventing Bashar Assad from harvesting any of the newly discovered Syrian hydrocarbon wealth…Clearly an act of aggression.]

August 18, 2011

Executive Order 13582– Blocking Property of the Government of Syria and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to Syria

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps with respect to the Government of Syria’s continuing escalation of violence against the people of Syria and with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 of May 11, 2004, as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13399 of April 25, 2006, Executive Order 13460 of February 13, 2008, Executive Order 13572 of April 29, 2011, and Executive Order 13573 of May 18, 2011, hereby order:

Section 1.  (a)  All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the Government of Syria are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in.

(b)  All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:  any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(i)   to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(ii)  to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

Sec2.  The following are prohibited:

(a)  new investment in Syria by a United States person, wherever located;

(b)  the exportation, reexportation, sale, or supply, directly or indirectly, from the United States, or by a United States person, wherever located, of any services to Syria;

(c)  the importation into the United States of petroleum or petroleum products of Syrian origin;

(d)  any transaction or dealing by a United States person, wherever located, including purchasing, selling, transporting, swapping, brokering, approving, financing, facilitating, or guaranteeing, in or related to petroleum or petroleum products of Syrian origin; and

(e)  any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a United States person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person where the transaction by that foreign person would be prohibited by this section if performed by a United States person or within the United States.

Sec3.  I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 and expanded in scope in Executive Order 13572, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order.

Sec4.  The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a)  the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b)  the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec5.  The prohibitions in sections 1 and 2 of this order apply except to the extent provided by statutes, or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the effective date of this order.

Sec6.  (a)  Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, causes a violation of, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b)  Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec7.  Nothing in sections 1 or 2 of this order shall prohibit transactions for the conduct of the official business of the Federal Government by employees, grantees, or contractors thereof.

Sec8.  For the purposes of this order:

(a)  the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b)  the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization;

(c)  the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States; and

(d)  the term “Government of Syria” means the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, its agencies, instrumentalities, and controlled entities.

Sec9.  For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render those measures ineffectual.  I therefore determine that for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13338 and expanded in scope in Executive Order 13572, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

Sec10.  The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order.  The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law.  All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec11.  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Sec12.  This order is effective at 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on August 18, 2011.

BARACK OBAMA

STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN THE WATERS ALONG THE WEST COAST, & THE FISH ARE STARTING TO DISAPPEAR

 

From:https://blogfactory.co.uk/2019/12/15/strange-things-are-happening-in-the-waters-along-the-west-coast-and-the-fish-are-starting-to-disappear-by-michael-snyder-straight-line-logic/

 

Something is causing the waters just off the west coast to heat up dramatically, fish are dying off in staggering numbers, birds that feed on those fish are also dying off rapidly, and scientists have discovered 15,000 holes in the ocean floor off the coast of California. Oh, and scientists don’t know for certain why any of these things are happening.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media is not emphasizing this crisis, and so most Americans don’t even know what is going on. But the truth is that what we are facing is extremely serious. In fact, officials have taken the “unprecedented” step of shutting down the federal cod fishery in Alaska for the year because of the lack of fish. We are seeing things happen that we have never seen before, and this is definitely going to affect our food supply.

So why are the fish dying?

Well, nobody knows for sure, but some officials are blaming the “marine heat wave” that has been happening in the waters along the west coast. The following comes from KING5 News…

A massive warmer-than-normal pool of water that’s formed in the Pacific Ocean off the Washington coast and up into the Gulf of Alaska may already be wreaking havoc with our weather.

This is something that I have written about previously. Scientists are telling us that water temperatures are “as much as 6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal”, and if such conditions persist we could see millions upon millions of fish die.

At this point, we are being told that this vast expanse of water is roughly “1,000 to 2,000 miles” in size in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Hopefully this “blob” will go away soon, but that hasn’t happened so far, and nobody really knows what is causing it.

Meanwhile, fish are dying off at an absolutely staggering rate. As I mentioned above, there are so few cod off the coast of Alaska right now that officials felt that it was necessary to shut down the federal cod fishery for the entire year…

In an unprecedented response to historically low numbers of Pacific cod, the federal cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska is closing for the 2020 season. It’s a decision that came as little surprise, but it’s the first time the fishery has closed due to concerns of low stock.

When I first heard about that, I was quite stunned.

And the outlook for the future looks quite grim, because officials are telling us that there are “next to no” new eggs…

A stock assessment this fall put Gulf cod populations at a historic low, with “next to no” new eggs, according to NOAA research biologist Steve Barbeaux, who authored the report.

At their current numbers, cod are below the federal threshold that protects them as a food source for endangered Steller sea lions. Once below that line, the total allowable catch goes to zero — in other words, the fishery shuts down.

The birds that feed on those fish are also dying off in large numbers.

Because of a severe lack of fish, they are literally dropping dead from starvation, and at this point there isn’t much that officials can do about it. The following comes from the Big Wobble…

In November 2019, thousands of short-tailed shearwaters birds migrating from Alaska were washing up dead on Sydney’s iconic beaches and the bird deaths had nothing to do with the massive wildfires in the area, thousands more, short-tailed shearwaters were dying out at sea, in what was confirmation of the incredible fish shortages in the Pacific Ocean.

The corpses had been spotted at several shorelines including Bondi, Manly and Cronulla. The birds were migrating back to southern Australia to breed after spending the summer in Alaska. But, according to experts, a higher number than usual are dying on the way due to a lack of food. The birds need to be at full strength to make the 14,000km trip over the Pacific but the krill and other fish they feed on have apparently dwindled due to sea temperatures rising.

Let us hope that things will return to normal eventually, but there is no guarantee that is going to happen.

Our planet is becoming increasing unstable, and really weird things are starting to take place.

Speaking of weird, scientists are telling us that they have found 15,000 holes in the ocean waters off the California coast…

Thousands of strange round holes scooped out of the ocean floor have been uncovered along the coast of California.

Some measure nearly 600 feet across, but scientists are unsure how they formed.

As many as 15,000 holes have been found during an underwater survey by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).

I was quite alarmed when I read that, and even more alarming is the fact that scientists are telling us that the cause of all of these holes “remains a mystery”…

“The cause and persistence of the pockmarks still remains a mystery, but we find no evidence they were created from gas or fluid in the sea floor in the recent past. The micro-depressions are recently formed erosional features; they are not ‘incipient pockmarks’. Overall, a lot more work needs to be done to understand how all these features were formed, and this work is in progress.”

For a long time I have been warning about what is happening to our planet. Volcanoes are going off like firecrackers all over the globe, and there was another major volcanic eruption in New Zealand on Monday. And earthquake activity continues to rise to very troubling levels. In fact, it was recently reported that there have been almost 60,000 earthquakes of at least magnitude 1.5 around the world over the last 12 months…

Earthquake tracking website EarthquakeTrack has recorded an astounding 59,841 tremors around the globe in the last 365 days on December 9. In the last 30 days, a total of 4,172 tremors higher than magnitude 1.5 were felt and 895 hit in the last seven days.

The official story is that everything is just fine and our planet will start behaving normally again soon.

But unofficially, a lot of scientists out there are deeply concerned about what we are witnessing.

A great shaking has begun, and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next.