Phony Commissioners & Phony Reports, Central Asia, Laos, Bryza Candidacy, Gulen…You Name it!
This post is similar to what I usually publish under my ‘Weekly Round Up’ series, only with a caveat: the time period covers more than a week, make that more than a month. I’ve been saving links and articles of interest, either those I’ve been coming across or ones sent by my loyal friends with good noses, and meaning to publish them as ‘weekly round ups.’ Then of course, due to ‘this or that,’ those ‘round up’ points ended up piling up week after week. Where did they get piled up? As ‘saved’ e-mails in my e-mail box and marked as ‘unread.’ Why that way? Because that’s one of my ‘supposed’ motivating strategies to prevent ‘delays & procrastination;’ seeing these piled up e-mails in my box every day, usually several times a day, bugs me big time…
Well, obviously, and for truly justifiable reason(s), that so-called strategy/method didn’t work, and I ended up with over one hundred e-mails of this particular category sitting in my mail box, glaring at me. Last night I decided I couldn’t take it any longer. After putting my daughter in bed for the evening, I sat behind my PC, scrolled down to the bottom of my e-mail box where the oldest e-mails sit, clicked and read. I eliminated (deleted) many due to the time-sensitive nature of those articles/analysis/editorials, and saved (technically ‘re-saved’) those timeless and or worthy-of-listing ones. And, at 10:30 p.m., began typing away!
I hope ‘some’ of you will find ‘some’ of this information worthy or useful; I did. Maybe we’ll get a chance to discuss these in the comments section… Oh, also, I am going to preempt a few finicky readers: I am mostly listing the links & the headlines/titles rather than adding my usual fairly long commentaries to each and every one of the links, because I don’t have the time; hope you understand. And finally, I am looking forward to tomorrow morning, when I’ll check my mail box and won’t see those glaring ‘months’ old e-mails;-) So here we go!
Last year I did a piece on Vietnam & Agent Orange. The following is another awful footprint left by one of our many wars, reminding us once again of our established record as the number one nation in using WMD (and going for ‘preemptive wars’!)…Truly sad; truly sad.
New case for US reparations in Laos
Melody Kemp, Asia Times
Laos carries the tragic distinction of being the most heavily bombed country in the history of modern warfare. Thirty-five years after the United States wound up its so-called "secret war" against communist guerillas, the impact of its unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to take a heavy human and economic toll.
A new report published jointly by UXO Lao and the Lao National Regulatory Authority (NRA) has shed more light on the damage caused by the US's UXOs. The research surveyed 94% of Lao households and concluded that an estimated 20,000 people had died from UXOs since the conflict ended after the communist takeover in 1975.
COPE's research shows that the US government, corporations and private foundations have given over $39.5 million for UXO clean-up since 1993 - a trifling sum compared with the billions it has allocated for its new generation of wars. A US Senate committee recently recommended committing $7 million for UXO clearance in Laos in 2011 and $3.5 for similar activities in Vietnam. The US Congress allocated about $5 million and the US State Department $1.9 million for UXO clearance in Laos this year.
The US war in Laos was shrouded in intrigue and disinformation. An Australian-made film entitled Bomb Harvest contains footage of a US government spokesperson saying that internationally accepted rules of engagement were suspended during the campaign in Laos. Legally, that means there are still unresolved questions over who should bear primary responsibility, the US government
or the private companies who produced the weapons, for UXO victims and other legacies of the war in Laos.
As warfare is increasingly outsourced to private companies, questions are emerging about the legal liability of private companies that supply and profit from war. From a common law perspective, US negligence and injury in Laos are easy to prove, say international lawyers. However, the tenets of war reparations have been generally designed so that the vanquished are economically punished for both their aggression and loss
Laos, which had an estimated one ton of ordnance per capita rained on it by US bombers, has more recently emerged as a global icon for the movement against cluster bombs. It is estimated by the US State Department's Walk the Earth With Safety bureau that about 30% of those bombs did not explode on contact with the ground. Canisters dropped from US B-52s could have carried up to 600 cluster bomb units and distributed them over a wide terrain on impact.
A new research report entitled National Survey of UXO Victims and Accidents reveals that, apart from cluster munitions, land mines, artillery shells and other US ordnance also continue to cause significant casualties decades after the end of the war. Indeed, many areas of the country where injuries have recently occurred were not adjacent to known combat zones.
During the conflict, the largest numbers of bombing-related fatalities came among soldiers. Nowadays, it's farmers, fisherfolk, foresters and women and children foraging for food in UXO-contaminated areas. That is, those being killed now by what is known to be US ordnance are civilians merely trying to make a living. Many of those killed and injured, such as the five children killed in southern Champassak province in February this year, were not even alive during the war.
Military adventurism for less ideological reasons, including access to and control over natural resources, has changed the face of modern warfare. However, some wonder whether reformed reparation laws that forced state aggressors and the private companies that supply them with weaponry to pay for all injuries and assistance to non-combatants would reduce the risk of future armed conflicts.
Vietnam tried for years to win US compensation for its victims of US chemical warfare, including the US's use of the defoliant Agent Orange, but ultimately failed to secure a US court decision in its favor. Laos has not collected comprehensive data on the effects of Agent Orange and other chemical defoliants on its southern territories, but the recent $300 million deal Vietnamese stakeholders reached with the US panel could change that.
Meanwhile, signatories to the Convention on Cluster Munitions are scheduled to meet in Vientiane in early November. The US is notably not a signatory to the munitions-curbing treaty, but 107 other nations are, 40 of which have formally ratified the agreement. The convention took effect on August 1, 2010, and the meeting in Laos will be the first since its enactment.
I encourage you to read the rest here. And below are two clips I filmed while in Vietnam: First, Victims of Agent Orange, and the second, an interview I conducted (with Le Ly Heyslip) while in Vietnam on Agent Orange:
The Latest ‘Pitch & Tone’ on Central Asia
The following links are on one of the most important topics unknown to and or ignored by the majority here in the States: Central Asia & the Caucasus. I picked the following three since they reflect the latest ‘trend’ and the ‘advertised tone’ by the Obama-Hillary Clinton Administration. The first analysis/report was published by the Council on Foreign Relations, so it’s independence and purity should be pretty self explanatory. The following two pieces by the same author, published by Asia Times, are a bit hard to judge; as far as intentions & interests are concerned… Okay, take a look at them and you’ll see what I mean.
Samuel Charap and Alexandros Petersen, Foreign Affairs
As Kyrgyzstan descended into chaos after President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was ousted in April 2010, most observers were focused on the fate of the key U.S. airbase there. They feared that Moscow had orchestrated the unrest as revenge for Bakiyev reneging on his alleged promise to shut down the base and would now demand that the new government follow through on that pledge. But instead of indulging in geopolitical gamesmanship as usual, Russia and the United States actually worked together, pursuing back-channel talks that facilitated Bakiyev's safe escape into exile. Periodic consultations since April have thus far managed to prevent conflict between the Cold War adversaries in the one country where both have military outposts. This marked a tectonic shift in the geopolitics of Eurasia. For the first time in over a decade, what Russia calls its "near abroad" was a locus of cooperation, not confrontation, between Russia and the United States.
This shift has opened a window of opportunity to fundamentally rethink U.S. foreign policy in Eurasia -- a term used here to refer to the countries of the greater Black Sea region and Central Asia -- a strategically situated area with massive natural resource wealth and great economic potential. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has formulated its approach to countries as diverse as Azerbaijan and Ukraine through a Russia-centric lens; U.S. policy toward the region as a whole became a function of its plans for dealing with Moscow. Although Washington focused on ensuring Eurasian states' independence in the 1990s, the past decade saw U.S. policy toward these countries devolve, becoming mired in outright U.S-Russia strategic competition. Although that competitive dynamic has diminished significantly over the past year and a half, its legacy still defines Washington's engagement with the states of the region.U.S. policymakers must abandon the tired Russia-centric tack and develop new individualized approaches to the states of the greater Black Sea region and Central Asia. By treating each country based on its merits, as opposed to approaching the region as a set of contested territories, Washington can serve long-term U.S. interests and avoid re-creating a nineteenth-century-style Great Game.
You can read the rest here
Russia and US march in post-Soviet step
By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times
An unprecedented military parade in Red Square in Moscow on Sunday, when servicemen from the major North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries will march alongside Russian soldiers, will be a commemorative event marking the 65th anniversary of Victory Day in World War II. Arguably, it is not a parade of NATO troops but rather of Russia's erstwhile allies in the coalition against Adolf Hitler.
You can read the rest of this fairly brief, and equally light-weight on the analysis-front, piece here. I think Bhadrakumar misses on several extremely important points, what I call ‘reality check,’ but what do you think?
Here is another piece by the same author, Bhadrakumar. This one is a bit better, relatively speaking, that is
A Kosovo on the Central Asian steppes
By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times
A robust geopolitical thrust by the United States aimed at creating a role for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in resolving conflicts in Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan promises to rewrite the great game rivalries in Central Asia in anticipation of an Afghan settlement. The US initiative poses political challenges to Russia, which is a member of the 56-member OSCE, and China, which is not. The security vehicles piloted by each the respective two regional powers - the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - are being outmaneuvered by the US.
Paradoxically, Russia and China could seize the initiative if the OSCE plan to stabilize the situation in Kyrgyzstan somehow crash-lands and ethnic tensions, violence and anarchy ensue. But that would be a dubious blessing as Russia and China too are stakeholders in regional stability in their own ways.
'B team' for the Afghan war
The unkindest cut of all is that it is Kazakhstan, which both Moscow and Beijing counted to be their most sober and thoughtful regional partner, which is heading the OSCE chariot. As Kazakh President Nurusultan Nazarbayev firmly asserted, "There is no doubt a new OSCE strategy on Afghanistan is necessary."
The US is delighted, and as a quid pro quo, Washington has accommodated the Kazakh leaderships' desire to chair an OSCE summit meeting within the year in Astana and thereby claim a legacy on the world stage. The last time the OSCE held a summit meeting was in 1999. This is also the 35th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act..
Again, I don’t consider the piece heavy-weight by any means, and in fact that’s exactly why I am listing it here…It may open up a few of our readers whom I know to be very savvy in this area;-) Now, the following piece seems to have somel dose of realism:
Bad Blood in Baku
Thomas Goltz, FP
If I were still a journalist, I would have had juicy scoop last Saturday when I learned of the imminent but still unannounced arrival in Azerbaijan of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Gates had been tasked with hitting the reset button -- there are a lot of those in the former Soviet Union these days -- on Washington's increasingly problematic relationship with Baku.
I learned of the emergency visit when an old friend of mine called to say he knew I was in the Azerbaijani capital, and that his former boss, a U.S. intelligence officer, wanted to buy me a few beers and chat about my nearly 20-year hobby of reading tea leaves and goat entrails in the Land of Az.
"The American chargé d'affaires told me not to talk to you, but he is State Department and I am not," the official said -- I'm paraphrasing from memory here, but closely -- putting initial pleasantries out of the way. "I am here to set up the Gates visit tomorrow. We finally decided to give the Azerbaijanis something before this thing deteriorates any further." Then he sort of smirked while saying the following: "We frankly don't care about human rights or democracy-building, or Israel and Turkey, or peace in Karabakh or Georgia, or even Azerbaijani energy. There is only one thing we really care about right now, and that is Afghanistan."
I was not surprised, but had to ask: "Afghanistan," he said, and then repeated the word
Azerbaijan's role in that war is fairly well known: The country has donated a symbolic company of 90 soldiers (which has suffered no casualties to date) and shared intelligence with the United States. But Azerbaijan's main contribution to the U.S.-led war effort has been geographic: The country's location in the Caucasus is a gateway between Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, and Baku has provided a vital transportation alternative by opening its air, rail, and seaport space to NATO.
There has been no murmur of a threat to close or restrict the Azerbaijan corridor, but even the remote possibility that the Azerbaijanis would do so has apparently worried Pentagon contingency planners -- enough so that a decision was made to show Baku some respect, in the form of a personal letter from President Barack Obama to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. Delivering the missive was the purpose of Gates's visit, and news of the surprise stop-off was regarded as important enough that the usual Associated Press and Reuters stories about the visit and the letter were soon splashed across the front pages of most international and virtually all American newspapers -- even small ones, such as my local rag in Bozeman, Montana.
All right, let’s not violate the ‘quote’ limits, at least not too much; here is the link.
The Fear Mongering & Opportunist 9/11 Commissioner, Phony Reports & More
Here is another from last May. I was away, travelling, so I don’t know if this piece of nothing coming from a less-than-nothing weasel was ever publicized by the media that is good at publishing nothing noteworthy or truth-worthy…
The United States is more vulnerable to terrorist attacks than any time since the 2001 assault on the World Trade Center, according to the chairman of the 9/11 commission."This is the most dangerous time I’ve seen since 9/11," former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean said. "Al Qaeda is constantly learning our weaknesses, and the U.S. intelligence community is dysfunctional.
Both Friedberg, who was deputy national security adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Kean also agreed the new face of terrorism is increasingly "home-grown." Faisal Shahzad, for example, is a naturalized citizen allegedly responsible for last month’s abortive attempt to detonate a car bomb in Times Square."Thank God no one was hurt, but terrorists have learned that they don’t have to be successful to disrupt our lives and our economy," Kean said. "So now they’re looking to recruit home-grown (American) operatives who can move around at will under the radar of our intelligence community."
Who really cares about what this omission-er guy says? Is there anyone left out there who doesn’t recognize this guy as a phony little fear-mongering joker badly in need of some publicity? Please tell me he was totally ignored by our phony-loving MSM on this particular case! Did they put his face on MSNBC/CBS for this? Again, I was gone, and (maybe blissfully!) missed the coverage (or lack of) of stooges like Kane/Hamilton…
Speaking of commissioners, ‘ommosioners,’ and laughable reports, here is a good one:
Bhutto probe: More than enough blame
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times
Pakistan has suspended eight police officials following the release of a United Nations report into the assassination of former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, but no action has been taken against any members of the military or intelligence agencies, even though the report implicates the military in the events surrounding Bhutto's death on December 27, 2007.
Bhutto's assassination after leaving a campaign rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi two weeks before general elections has been the subject of intense controversy, and while the report does not give any definitive answers it is most likely to intensify divisions between the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the military establishment, both of which are tainted by the report.
Current officials, the report says, were less than helpful. "The investigation was severely hampered by intelligence agencies and other government officials, which impeded the search for the truth," Heraldo Munoz, chair of the Bhutto Commission of Inquiry and permanent representative of Chile to the UN, said. "These officials, in part fearing intelligence agencies' involvement, were unsure of how vigorously they ought to pursue actions which they knew, as professionals, they should have taken," he said.
The commission's report, based on interviews with 250 people in and outside Pakistan as well as other evidence, says the official investigation focused on "low-level operatives and placed little or no focus on investigating those further up the hierarchy in the planning, financing and execution of the assassination".
Read the rest here. Doesn’t it sound like our very own investigations here?! You know, BCCI, Iran Contra, 9/11 …Please bring in your own reasoned theories, speculations, interpretation, or just plain good ole comments…
You’d think this latest on Dr. Kelly’s highly suspicious ‘suicide’ would make it to the front pages, and stay there. Well, not surprisingly it is not the case…I wonder what kind of a ‘commission & commissioners’ will be ‘set up’ by the Brits to handle this latest…of course, with another phony report attached at the end of it…
British Medical Experts Seek Full Inquest on Iraq Inspector Kelly's Death
Thomas Penny & Chris Peterson, Bloomberg
A group of U.K. doctors and lawyers called for a full inquest into the death of David Kelly, the government scientist who was the source of a story saying the official dossier justifying the Iraq war had been “sexed up.”
Kelly, a former weapons inspector working for the defense ministry, was found dead in a wood near his home in southern England in 2003 after he was revealed as the origin of a BBC report about the way information about Iraqi arms had been used to make the case for the U.S.-led invasion that toppled President Saddam Hussein.
The group, including two former coroners and an intensive care specialist, said in a letter published by the Times of London newspaper today that, based on the evidence currently in the public domain, it was “extremely unlikely” that Kelly had bled to death after slitting his wrist.
The letter-writers, who include former coroners Michael Powers and Margaret Bloom, as well as Julian Bion, a professor of intensive-care treatment, said it was “extremely unlikely from a medical perspective” that Kelly’s severed ulnar artery would have bled enough to be the primary cause of death.
I think this is a good place for the next link dealing with another repeating joke: The State Department’s ever-alteration of terror list!
State Department to Leave Chechen Rebel Group off Terror List
Josh Rogin, The Cable
The State Department's update of its annual list of official terrorist groups is imminent, but the group that just attacked Moscow won't be on the list.
The Caucasus Emirate, which has been waging a jihad against the Russian government, is led by Doku Umarov, who calls himself the "emir of the North Caucasus." He was previously President of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, but dissolved that Republic and established the Emirate in its place in 2007 in order to impose sharia law in his territory.
Umarov declared all the way back in 2007 that his group was expanding its struggle to wage war against the United States, Great Britain, and Israel. Last month, he released a video claiming credit for the suicide attacks in Moscow in March that resulted in the deaths of 39 people.
But apparently, the State Department chose not to include Caucasus Emirate in the newest update to its list of foreign terrorist organizations, according to Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-FL, who is calling on the State Department to add the group for the sake of national security and U.S. -Russia relations.
Foreign Lobbies & Serving Elected Officials: Jane Schmidt Story
We’ve been talking about the speedy transitions of former elected officials from public office to foreign lobby firms as foreign agents… Well, this particular ‘representative’ is in a real hurry! She ain’t waiting! Why would she? Who’s watching? Who is reporting? With no worries she’s been doing lap dances for the foreign lobby, and yes, she’s been getting paid…
Who's paying Schmidt lawyers?
Malia Rulon, Enquirer
Rep. Jean Schmidt isn't Turkish, and there aren't many Turks in her southern Ohio district, but the Miami Township Republican is deeply invested in a legal battle stemming from the Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide. And that battle could land her in a heap of trouble. At issue is whether Schmidt accepted what foes estimate to be at least $200,000 worth of free representation from a Turkish legal group so she could file two cases against former opponent David Krikorian, who is of Armenian descent.
Schmidt spokesman Bruce Pfaff told The Enquirer that the Schmidt campaign hired the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund to represent her in both cases against Krikorian. Pfaff said she is in the process of setting up a legal expense fund to pay the organization's fees.
Krikorian, who ran unsuccessfully as an independent in 2008 and as a Democrat in this year's primary, has filed a complaint over this issue with the Office of Congressional Ethics, which forwards complaints of merit to the official House ethics committee for further action. Investigations aren't typically made public unless a sanction is made. Krikorian's complaint is dated July 13.
He alleges that Schmidt, or her campaign, accepted free legal services from TALDF, which would be a violation of campaign finance laws or House gift rules, or both. If it turns out she violated campaign finance laws or House rules, she could face a fine, a reprimand, or much more - such as an ethics investigation.
Haven't gotten the bill yet
Since her first case filed with the Ohio Elections Commission in May 2009, Schmidt's campaign finance reports have not indicated any payment or debt for legal services, or any in-kind gifts from TALDF for the work. A separate lawsuit was filed against Krikorian this past June. Again, no payments were listed in her latest campaign finance report, which covers activity until June 30.
Schmidt spokesman Pfaff said that's because the cases are still going on. He turned down a request to speak to the congresswoman directly.
"I don't believe that there has been a bill for their services to this point," he said, adding that the lawyers are waiting for the legal expense fund to be set up before submitting a bill. But statements made under oath in August 2009 by Bruce Fein, who handles cases for TALDF and is representing Schmidt, and former Schmidt chief of staff Barry Bennett seem to contradict this. They suggest the TALDF would pay the legal bills for Schmidt's case. When asked whether TALDF had charged the Schmidt campaign any money for representation, Fein said: "The answer is no. We stated that we would do this and we would not charge them legal fees."
Krikorian's lawyer asked Bennett, "And there's no ethics issue associated with Turkish American Legal Defense Funds paying for Ms. Schmidt's legal fees?" Bennett replied: "No, not that I'm aware of." These statements were made in depositions taken for the Ohio Elections Commission case. They were submitted to the Office of Congressional Ethics as part of Krikorian's request for a formal investigation.
In May 2009, right after filing the Ohio Elections Commission complaint against Krikorian, she traveled to Turkey, courtesy of the Turkish Coalition of America. The following month, an editorial she wrote was published in Today's Zaman, a Turkish newspaper.
In Congress, she has praised the founding of Turkey on the House floor, opposed legislation recognizing the Armenian genocide, and joined the Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations. She has also marched as grand marshal in a Turkish Day Parade, lunched with a group of Turks at Cafe Istanbul in Newport, and raised thousands in campaign contributions from Turkish Americans.
According to the last census, there are just 3,159 Turks in Ohio, including 297 in the 2nd Congressional District.
And here is an update on our Bryza story:
Controversy Continues Over Obama’s Pick for Ambassador to Azerbaijan
Richard Solash, RFERL.Org
At a July 22 hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bryza said the criticism was to be expected given the high tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. "Being criticized or being thought of as being closer to one side or the other is part of the game," he said.
But at the request of Senator Barbara Boxer (Democrat, California), who represents the largest Armenian-American constituency in the country, the committee's vote on Bryza's nomination was put on hold. Boxer and her legislative colleagues are far away from Washington at the moment, so they're unlikely to have picked up a copy of the August 23 "Washington Examiner," a conservative-leaning D.C. daily.
In a guest opinion-page column that day, former Republican Senator Conrad Burns came to Bryza's defense. Burns wrote: "It appears this opposition [to Bryza's nomination] is based upon senators responding to special interest groups whose sole purpose is to oppose all things related to Azerbaijan." The apparent reference was to efforts by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), an influential Armenian lobbying group, to stop Bryza's confirmation.
And here is the juicy part:
After the column was published, the ANCA contacted the newspaper to point out a detail in Burns' background that wasn't mentioned in the piece: the senator himself can be linked, albeit in a roundabout way, to the family of President Aliyev.
The former senator is a senior adviser to the Gage Company, a Washington-based lobbying firm. The CEO of Gage is Leo Giacometto, a former political aide to Burns. In addition to being CEO of Gage, Giacometto sits on the board of a company called Silk Way Holding.
As revealed in an investigative report by RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service earlier this month, Silk Way Holding -- which owns more than a dozen aviation industry companies in Azerbaijan -- is partially owned by Arzu Aliyeva, the 21-year-old daughter of President Aliyev.
"It came, sadly, as no surprise at all that the people defending Bryza are exactly the people who are close to the Aliyev regime," said Aram Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee, who added that he used the information uncovered by RFE/RL to connect the dots.
But it was apparently a surprise to the editorial-page editor of "The Washington Examiner," who published Burns' piece.
Two days after the piece appeared, Mark Tapscott wrote a special column that said, "Burns' relationship to a special interest that may benefit by the Bryza appointment should have been revealed by Burns' spokesman when the [editorial] was first proposed. When 'The Examiner' pointed this out to the spokesman after becoming aware of it, Gage Vice President Ryan Thomas offered no explanation or apology."
You can read the rest here
Speaking of Turkey, Fethullah Gulen is Back in the News
Objectives of charter schools with Turkish ties questioned
Greg Toppo, USA Today
They have generic, forward-sounding names like Horizon Science Academy, Pioneer Charter School of Science and Beehive Science & Technology Academy. Quietly established over the past decade by a loosely affiliated group of Turkish-American educators, these 100 or so publicly funded charter schools in 25 states are often among the top-performing public schools in their towns.
The schools educate as many as 35,000 students — taken together they'd make up the largest charter school network in the USA — and have imported thousands of Turkish educators over the past decade. But the success of the schools at times has been clouded by nagging questions about what ties the schools may have to a reclusive Muslim leader in his late 60s living in exile in rural Pennsylvania.
Described by turns as a moderate Turkish nationalist, a peacemaker and "contemporary Islam's Billy Graham," Fethullah Gülen has long pushed for Islam to occupy a more central role in Turkish society. Followers of the so-called Gülen Movement operate an "education, media and business network" in more than 100 countries, says University of Oregon sociologist Joshua Hendrick.
Top administrators say they have no official ties to Gülen. And Gülen himself denies any connection to the schools. Still, documents available at various foundation websites and in federal forms required of non-profit groups show that virtually all of the schools have opened or operate with the aid of Gülen-inspired "dialogue" groups, local non-profits that promote Turkish culture. In one case, the Ohio-based Horizon Science Academy of Springfield in 2005 signed a five-year building lease with the parent organization of Chicago's Niagara Foundation, which promotes Gülen's philosophy of "peace, mutual respect, the culture of coexistence." Gülen is the foundation's honorary president. In many cases, charter school board members also serve as dialogue group leaders.
Utah's State Charter School Board launched an investigation last year after American teachers complained that Turkish colleagues got hiring and promotion preferences. The charter school board looked into Beehive's ties to Islam and found them "circumstantial," but a financial probe found that the school was $337,000 in the red — and that Accord officials had loaned it thousands. The board last April revoked its charter, but in June voted to keep the school open on probation.
Dunnigan, the state lawmaker who requested the legislative audit, says the financial details, such as personal loans and public funds spent recruiting overseas faculty, are what concern him. "When they're in such financial difficulty, should they spend $53,000 to bring these people over from another country?"
Those of you who’ve been following our Gulen discussion will find this very interesting. Read the rest here
Israel’s Success Recipe: Covert Operations to Pocket the US Media & Publication Industries
Here is a very important release with an attached report on Israel’s covert operations targeting the US media. Many thanks to Metem (as always;-) for bringing it to my attention:
Declassified files from a Senate investigation into Israeli-funded covert public relations and lobbying activity in the United States were released by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) on July 23rd, 2010. The subpoenaed documents reveal Israel's clandestine programs for "cultivation of editors," the "stimulation and placement of suitable articles in the major consumer magazines" as well as U.S. reporting about sensitive subjects such as the Dimona nuclear weapons facility.
Documents are now available for download from http://IRmep.org/ila/azc include:
Dimona (excerpt): "The nuclear reactor story inspired comment from many sources; editorial writers, columnists, science writers and cartoonists. Most of the press seemed finally to accept the thesis that the reactor was being built for peaceful purposes and not for bombs." http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf
Content placement and promotion (excerpt): "The Atlantic Monthly in its October issue carried the outstanding Martha Gellhorn piece on the Arab refugees, which made quite an impact around the country. We arranged for the distribution of 10,000 reprints to public opinion molders in all categories… Interested friends are making arrangements with the Atlantic for another reprint of the Gellhorn article to be sent to all 53,000 persons whose names appear in Who's Who in America…Our Committee is now planning articles for the women's magazines for the trade and business publications." http://www.irmep.org/09101961AZC.pdf
Pressure campaigns (excerpt): "It can be said that the press of the nation…has by and large shown sympathy and understanding of Israel's position. There are, of course, exceptions, notably the Scripps-Howard chain where we still need to achieve a 'break-through,' the Pulliam chain (where some progress has been made) and some locally-owned papers." http://www.irmep.org/11-121960AZC.pdf
Magazine Committee achievements (excerpt): "We cannot pinpoint all that has already been accomplished by this Committee except to say that it has been responsible for the writing and placement of articles on Israel in some of America's leading magazines...." http://www.IRmep.org/10301962_AZC.pdf
According to Grant F. Smith, director of IRmep, "It is frightening how easily some in the American news media surrendered to a foreign public relations campaign that spent the 2010 equivalent of $36 million over two years. Time has proven most of the planted content to be misleading, if not dangerous. These historical documents hold many important lessons for Americans who have long needed—but rarely received—straight reporting on key Middle East issues."
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. It retains 1%-3% of the most important documents of business conducted by the United States Federal government. The Israel Lobby Archive, http://IRmep.org/ila is a unit of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy in Washington.
I agree with Metem ‘And this is especially timely given the recent purchase of Newsweek by Jane Harman's husband.’ Let’s repeat the golden quote in this release by Grant Smith:
"It is frightening how easily some in the American news media surrendered to a foreign public relations campaign that spent the 2010 equivalent of $36 million over two years. Time has proven most of the planted content to be misleading, if not dangerous. These historical documents hold many important lessons for Americans who have long needed—but rarely received—straight reporting on key Middle East issues."
And finally, here is an interesting observation on the latest Wikileaks story sent to me by Linda (Linda, thank you for all your e-mails with great links). As you may already know I have refrained from making comments on this case, but I think this particular article is harmless enough to take a chance on…:
Wikileaks: that sinking feeling
Mark Pesce, ABC
Reading a recent lengthy and detailed Sydney Morning Herald article
detailing the latest charges against Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange, I can only nod my head knowingly. This was always going to be the way things worked out. From the time last year when we all became aware of Assange, I felt a twinge of fear, an inner voice saying Something isn't right here. It took me a few weeks to articulate that feeling into a real, grounded rationale for my dread.
Long ago, before I moved to Australia, before I'd done any of the work that I'm known for within the technology community, I had some peripheral contact with the 'hacker' world (In this usage, 'hacker' means folks who break into computers, not the folks who stay up all night programming them in weird and wonderful ways).
One of the things I learned very early on was a simple rule of thumb to separate the accomplished from the n00bs and fools: only a n00b would brag about their exploits. Only a n00b would tell others that he'd broken the law. Those who do crimes keep silent about their darker doings. Those who wannabe, they're loud about it.
When Assange suddenly became the public face for the increasingly fascinating Wikileaks, it confused me on several levels.
You can find the rest here