August 2012

Lawrence S. Wittner

... World military spending reached a record $1,738 billion in 2011 — an increase of $138 billion over the previous year. The United States accounted for 41 percent of that, or $711 billion ... Yes, military expenditures by China and Russia increased in 2011. And in “real” terms, too. But, even so, their military strength hardly rivals that of the United States. Indeed, the United States spent about five times as much as China (the world’s # 2 military power) and ten times as much as Russia (the world’s # 3 military power) on its military forces during 2011.

Reuters

Iran welcomed a group of 120 developing nations on Sunday to a summit it says proves that Washington has failed to isolate it from the rest of the world ... 80 countries are participating in the summit at the level of minister or higher, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, with 50 sending their heads of government. And the expected attendance of big players including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Egypt's new president, Mohammad Mursi - the first Egyptian leader to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution - will give the meeting diplomatic heft.

The Telegraph (Britain)

The US activist Rachel Corrie, whose death beneath an Israeli military bulldozer made her an international symbol of Palestinian resistance, bore sole responsibility for the incident that killed her, a court in Israel ruled. / ... Fellow activists from International Solidarity Movement, the group for which Corrie campaigned, have long rejected the official Israeli explanation. Tom Dale, a British former activist who was just 30 feet away when Corrie was crushed, said that it was impossible for the driver of the bulldozer not to have seen her, pointing out that she wore a fluorescent vest and was standing on raised ground.

Alice Slater

... The New York Times, which has been beating the drums for war with Iran, just as it played a disgraceful role in the deceptive reporting during the lead-up to the Iraq War, never mentioned Iran’s proposal for nuclear abolition ... Surely the most sensible way to deal with Iran’s nascent nuclear weapons capacity is to call all the nations to the table to negotiate a treaty to ban the bomb. That would mean abolishing the 20,000 nuclear bombs on the planet — in the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — with 19,000 of them in the US and Russia ... The US must start with a genuine offer for negotiations to finally ban the bomb in all countries, including a freeze on further missile development.

Farideh Farhi – IPS

... The summit is being used to make a visually forceful case that it is not the “global community” that has problems with the Islamic Republic, as repeatedly asserted by U.S. officials, but only a U.S.-led and pressured coalition of countries. ... To be sure, whether this showcasing of Iran’s non-isolation will strengthen Iran’s hand and actually have an impact in denting the escalating U.S.-imposed sanctions regime is an entirely different matter. NAM has already issued several statements in support of Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and there is not much else that it can or will do in Tehran beyond confirming its past positions.

The Moscow Times

A senior Russian Orthodox priest has called Vladimir Lenin an "even bigger villain" than Adolf Hitler and backed an effort to check his works for extremism. Archpriest Dmitry Smirnov, head of church relations with the armed forces and law enforcement, said in an interview that a closer study of Lenin's writings could drastically alter societal beliefs regarding the Bolshevik leader, who he described as an "unscrupulous and utter cynic and villain," Interfax reported ... For him, Smirnov said, Lenin was "an even bigger villain than Hitler" because "Hitler treated his people much better."

BBC News

German business confidence has fallen for the fourth month in a row to a 29-month low, according to the closely-watched Ifo survey. The index compiled by the think tank fell to 102.3 in August from a downwardly revised 103.2 in July. The survey of 7,000 firms suggests businesses are increasingly nervous about Germany's ability to withstand the weak eurozone economy. Growth in Europe's largest economy slowed between April and June to 0.3%. "Enterprises are increasingly pessimistic about their business development," Ifo president Hans-Werner Sinn said.

Times of Israel

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is determined to attack Iran before the US elections,” Israel’s Channel 10 News claimed on Monday night, and Israel is now “closer than ever” to a strike designed to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive ... The report added that Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak believe Obama would have no choice but to give backing for an Israeli attack before the US presidential elections in November. There is considerable opposition to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities, the report noted ...

CNS News

The money the U.S. government owes to foreign entities rose to a record $5.2923 trillion in June, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Wednesday afternoon ... The U.S. government’s indebtedness to foreign interests has grown by 72.3 percent during President Barack Obama’s term in office ... Entities in the People’s Republic of China remain the largest holders of U.S. government debt. Entities in Japan, however, are on track to eclipse the Chinese as the top holders of U.S. government debt.

Andrew Burnstein and Nancy Isenberg – Salon

...Let this be, then, the tale of two highly visible Harvard Ph.D.’s who have been caught red-handed committing plagiarism. Both Fareed Zakaria and Doris Kearns Goodwin were awarded degrees in government from Harvard, 25 years apart. Goodwin, the elder, is a serial plagiarizer who has been welcomed back with open arms by the TV punditocracy ... The public seems to like what is most easily digestible, especially if it comes from the word processor of someone congenial whom they regularly see on TV. And publishers know they can successfully market a book from a household name, no matter how derivative its content. Name recognition trumps quality. Appearance is everything.

Stephen M. Walt

What's wrong with America? Everyone has their own pet answer to that question -- especially in an election year -- but my nominee today is lack of accountability, especially among political pundits. To be specific: for high-profile public intellectuals, malfeasance of various sorts has virtually no professional consequences ... Absence of accountability is at least part of the reason why our political life is governed not by logic and evidence, but by fact-free fairy tales. And when you base political decisions on flights of fancy, bad results are to be expected.

Institute for Historical Review

Here is the complete text of Hitler’s historic address of Dec. 11, 1941, in which the German leader recounts the reasons for the outbreak of war in September 1939, explains why he decided to strike against the Soviet Union in June 1941, reviews the dramatic course of the war thus far, and deals at length with US President Roosevelt's hostile policies toward Germany. Hitler details the US government’s increasingly belligerent actions against Germany and Italy, and concludes by announcing that Germany was now joining Japan in war against the United States.

William Henry Chamberlin

… American involvement in war with Germany was preceded by a long series of steps [by FDR, including] … the orders to American warships to shoot at sight at German submarines, formally announced on September 11 [1941]. The beginning of actual hostilities may be dated from this time rather than from the German declaration of war, which followed Pearl Harbor … The promises to "keep America out of foreign wars" were a deliberate hoax on the American people, perpetrated for the purpose of insuring Roosevelt's re-election and thereby enabling him to proceed with his plan of gradually edging the United States into war.

Thomas Fleming -- American Heritage

Blazoned in huge black letters across page one of the December 4, 1941, issue of the Chicago Tribune was the headline: F.D.R.’S WAR PLANS! … Chesly Manly, the Tribunes Washington correspondent, revealed what President Franklin D. Roosevelt had repeatedly denied: that he was planning to lead the United States into war against Germany. The source of the reporter’s information was no less than a verbatim copy of Rainbow Five, the top-secret war plan drawn up at FDR’s order by the Joint Board of the Army and Navy. … Rainbow Five called for the creation of a ten-million-man army, including an expeditionary force of five million men that would invade Europe to defeat Hitler.

Boston Globe

Only a quarter of the Army’s officers and enlisted soldiers believe the nation’s largest military branch is headed in the right direction — a survey response that is the lowest on record and reflects what some in the service call a crisis in confidence. The detailed annual survey by a team of independent researchers found that the most common reasons cited for the bleak outlook were “ineffective leaders at senior levels,” a fear of losing the best and the brightest after a decade of war, and the perception, especially among senior enlisted soldiers, that “the Army is too soft” and lacks sufficient discipline.

The New York Times

... The Dieppe raid, code-named Operation Jubilee, was mounted on Aug. 19, 1942, as the Allies’ first amphibious attack on German-occupied France. More than 6,000 men landed at daybreak at five points along the beachfront here — nearly 5,000 of them Canadian, with 1,000 British commandos and 50 United States Rangers. But things went horribly wrong ... Of the Canadians, more than 900 were killed on the beaches, and about 1,900 were taken prisoner. Dieppe remains the most deadly conflict in Canadian history. “It’s our Gallipoli,” said Jeff Noakes, a World War II historian at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

Global News (Canada)

New research suggests the real intent of the historic raid on Dieppe in 1942 was to steal a machine that would help crack top-secret German codes. Military historian David O’Keefe spent 15 years searching through the once-classified and ultra-secret war files and says the real purpose behind the Dieppe operation — which cost hundreds of Canadian soldiers their lives — was to capture advanced coding technology from the German headquarters near the French beach. “For years, so many veterans, men who stormed the beaches and ended up in prisoners of war camps, had no clue what the reason was that they were there,” O’Keefe tells Global National’s Christina Stevens.

ABC (Australia)

An Australian historian has uncovered hidden documents which reveal that more than 600 African-American troops turned their guns on their white officers during a siege on at base in North Queensland in 1942 ... What he discovered is evidence detailing one of the biggest uprisings within the US military ... After some serial abuse by two white US officers, there were several ring-leaders and they decided to machine gun the tents of the white officers ... According to the findings, the soldiers took to the machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons and fired into tents where their American counterparts were drinking. More than 700 rounds were expended. At least one person was killed and dozens severely injured and Australian troops were called in to roadblock the rioters.

Daily Mail (Britain)

Grave robbers are plundering the burial sites of thousands of German soldiers to feed the demand in Britain for Nazi memorabilia. Tens of thousands of troops from the Third Reich were killed in battlefields in east Europe during the Second World War. Alongside their fallen bodies were items such as dog tags, rifles, daggers and helmets. Organised gangs are now digging up the graves of the dead soldiers to make off with the valuable items. The trade in Nazi memorabilia is worth millions of pounds and Britain is one of a handful of European countries where it is still legal.

Mark Weber

One of the most lurid and slanderous Holocaust claims is the story that the Germans manufactured soap from the bodies of their victims. Although a similar charge during the First World War was exposed as a hoax almost immediately afterwards, it was nevertheless revived and widely believed during the Second. More important, this accusation was "proved" at the main Nuremberg trial of 1945-1946, and has been authoritatively endorsed by numerous historians in the decades since. In recent years, though, as part of a broad retreat from the most obviously untenable aspects of the "orthodox" extermination story, Holocaust historians have grudgingly conceded that the human soap tale is a wartime propaganda lie.

Michelle Goldberg -- The Daily Beast

... It’s hard to overstate how important Barton has been in shaping the worldview of the Christian right, and of populist conservatives more generally. A self-taught historian with a degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University, he runs a Texas-based organization called WallBuilders, which specializes in books and videos meant to show that the founding fathers were overwhelmingly “orthodox, evangelical” believers who intended for the United States to be a Christian nation ... But now, suddenly, Barton’s reputation is in freefall, and not just among the secular historians and journalists who have been denouncing him for ages.

Colin H. Kahl – Foreign Policy

... As the Defense Department official with primary responsibility for enhancing Israel's defense capabilities and deepening joint military cooperation with the United States from 2009 to 2011, I can attest to a different reality: No president in history has done more for Israel's security than Obama. The case for Obama's Israel policy begins with record-high levels of Foreign Military Financing (FMF). The Obama administration has increased security assistance to Israel every single year since the president took office, providing nearly $10 billion in aid -- covering roughly a fifth of Israel's defense budget -- over the past three years.

Sheldon Richman - FFF

You will strain your eyes looking for a significant difference between President Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s positions on Iran and the prospects of an Israeli attack on the Islamic republic. Both say “all options are on the table.” All. That includes a full-scale military attack with even nuclear weapons ... They will tell you that Iran must not have a nuclear weapon. But there is no evidence that Iran is developing one. Its religious leader has forsworn such weapons, and the country’s uranium is under the close watch of the International Atomic Energy Agency; that is more than one can say about Israel, which has hundreds of nukes and refuses to join Iran in signing the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Uri Avnery (Israel)

... Israel will not attack Iran. I have said so before, and I shall say so again, even after the endless talk about it. Indeed no war has been talked about so much before it happened ... Since it will be crystal clear that this is an Israeli war, the rage will be turned against us. Worse, much worse – since Israel insists that it is “the state of the Jewish people”, the rage may take the form of an unprecedented outbreak of anti-Semitism ... The calculation goes like this: Netanyahu and Barak will attack without giving a damn for American wishes. The Iranian counter-attack will be directed against American interests. The US will be dragged into the war against its will.

Stephen M. Walt – Foreign Policy

... It's virtually impossible to know how much credence to place in the repeated predictions that Israel is about to attack ... Given these various motivations, one should take all these forecasts of an imminent Israeli attack with many grains of salt. Although I believe war with Iran would be folly, one cannot rule it out. All countries commit blunders, and neither the United States nor Israel is immune to this sort of miscalculation (see under: Iraq, Lebanon, etc.). But I remain skeptical that Israel will attack, for the simple reason that it does not have the military capability to inflict strategically significant damage on Iran's nuclear facilities.

L. Michael Hager -- The Christian Science Monitor

... Under the strict wording of the [UN] Charter, neither Israel nor the United States would have a legal right to preemptively launch a military strike on Iran. Moreover, if the US were to participate in such an attack without the approval of Congress, the president would violate US law as well as the UN Charter, which by treaty became part of US law ... Do we want a world in which leaders are free to launch military attacks on other countries simply on an assumption of hostile intent and military capacity? ... It is time for President Obama to say “No” to the Israelis – no more military aid (now amounting to more than $3 billion a year) if they launch a military strike on Iran. He should publicly and definitively rule out the possibility of US participation in a military attack on Iran.

Basil Dmytryshyn – Institute for Historical Review

Just how and why did the Soviet Union collapse? Was the demise of this once-mighty empire inevitable? In this important book, the last leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1985-1991), and the last President of the USSR (1989-1991), offers answers to these questions and provides valuable insights on the 70-year Soviet experiment, including its origins and collapse, an assessment of his tenure as the last Soviet leader, and reflections on current global issues. On My Country and the World is organized into three parts.

Time

Those who claim that the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to get control of the country's giant oil reserves will be left scratching their heads by the results of last weekend's auction of Iraqi oil contracts: Not a single U.S. company secured a deal in the auction of contracts that will shape the Iraqi oil industry for the next couple of decades. Two of the most lucrative of the multi-billion-dollar oil contracts went to two countries which bitterly opposed the U.S. invasion — Russia and China — while even Total Oil of France, which led the charge to deny international approval for the war at the U.N. Security Council in 2003, won a bigger stake than the Americans in the most recent auction.

Michael J. Boskin and John F. Cogan

... California’s economy, which used to outperform the rest of the country, now substantially underperforms. The unemployment rate, at 10.9%, is higher than every other state except Nevada and Rhode Island. With 12% of America’s population, California has one third of the nation’s welfare recipients ... Meanwhile, the state lurches from fiscal tragedy to fiscal farce, running deficits in good times as well as bad. The general fund’s spending exceeded its tax revenues in nine of the last ten years (the only exceptions being 2005 at the height of the housing bubble), abetted by creative accounting and temporary IOUs. Now, the bill is coming due.

Terrence McCoy – The Atlantic

... Although a superiority complex has long pervaded the national psyche, the expression "American exceptionalism" only became big a few years ago ... In our secular state, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are as close to sacred relics of an established religion as it gets. Just look at how their air-tight casings in Washington, D.C. mimic saints' reliquaries. Belief in America has taken on the desperate certitude of zealotry, as if the more we express it and the firmer our conviction, the more we might somehow succeed at wishing it true. And that it will stay true forever. Peel a few layers back and the rise of faith in American exceptionalism doesn't evince superiority. It indicates fear.

Ray McGovern -- Consortium News

More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel’s leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful. At this point, to dissuade Israeli leaders from mounting such an attack might require a public statement by President Barack Obama warning Israel not to count on U.S. forces — not even for the “clean-up.” Though Obama has done pretty much everything short of making such a public statement, he clearly wants to avoid a confrontation with Israel in the weeks before the election.

Eric Margolis

... In reality, Iran, in spite of its 71 million population and oil wealth, is militarily quite weak. Islamic Iran has been under punishing US-led military and economic sanctions since its 1979 revolution, joining other sanctions targets North Korea and Cuba. As a result, Iran has been unable to modernize most of its 1960’s/ 1970’s vintage military arsenal, much of which was supplied by the US and Britain to the Shah. Iran’s decrepit civilian aircraft fleet has also been punished by US-led embargos, resulting in numerous crashes due to worn-out equipment and lack of spare parts.

VOA News (Washington, DC)

In Lviv, Western Ukraine nationalists fought last year to block communists from bringing red flags to the city’s World War II Hill of Glory. This year, Lviv banned all public displays of Communist and Nazi symbols. The ban on hammers and sickles and swastikas follows similar bans in the Baltics, in Georgia, and in much of Eastern Europe. Moldova implements its ban on October 1 ... In the latest clash of historical views, the Kremlin financed "The Match," a new Russian-language movie about Soviet resistance in Ukraine to the Nazis. Ukrainian nationalists tried to have it banned in May because all Ukrainian speakers were shown as Nazi collaborators.

JTA (New York)

A public prosecutor in Italy has opened an inquiry after a vacationing Jewish-American couple complained about wine with a picture of Adolf Hitler on the label for sale in a shop near Verona. Verona prosecutor Mario Giulia Schinaia has opened an investigation into whether this constitutes “apology for fascism,” according to the Italian news agency ANSA ... The couple told the news agency that they were “shocked” when they saw the wine on display. They reportedly questioned the store manager, who told them it was only history “like Che Guevara.”

BBC News

A political row has erupted in Italy after a memorial was opened to fascist commander Field Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, a convicted war criminal. Graziani was honoured with a mausoleum and memorial park, built at taxpayers' expense, in a village south of Rome. He was notorious as Benito Mussolini's military commander in colonial wars in Ethiopia and Libya where he carried out massacres and used chemical weapons ... He commanded Italian troops alongside the Germans at the Battle of Garfagnana in December 1944, one of the last military victories of the Axis forces. According to La Repubblica, the mausoleum in Affile cost 127,000 euros ($157,000). About 100 people attended its inauguration, the paper adds.

The Jerusalem Post (Israel)

Romanian Jews expressed outrage on Tuesday after a politician who made comments denying that the Holocaust impacted Jews in the country was appointed to a ministerial position. Jewish parliamentarian Aurel Vainer criticized the government for making Dan Sova its new liaison to parliament, saying the Social Democratic politician’s comments last March that “No Jew suffered on Romanian territory” during World War II made him unsuitable for the job ... Sova drew criticism last March when he said the 1941 Iasi pogrom carried out by fascist forces allied with Nazi Germany resulted in the death of two dozen Jews, rather than an estimated death toll of between 13,000 to 15,000 historians agree upon.

The Guardian (Britain)

The British ambassador to Israel has said international support for the Jewish state among those in the political mainstream is eroding, driven by settlement expansion in the West Bank and continued restrictions on Gaza. There is "growing concern" in the UK over lack of progress towards peace with the Palestinians, and Israel was now being seen as Goliath against the Palestinians as David, said Matthew Gould, in reference to the biblical story. In an unusually forthright interview for Israel's Channel 10 news, Gould said he detected a shift among the middle ground of British members of parliament towards a more critical view of Israel.

The Christian Science Monitor

About 1,500 Palestinians living in the South Hebron Hills will likely be uprooted to make way for an Israeli military firing range. / Khalid Jabareen's tone was frantic as he discussed the future of his village and family ... His village of Jinba is one of eight in the South Hebron Hills, home to about 1,500 Palestinians altogether, that will soon be uprooted to make way for Firing Zone 918, a military training ground. The Israeli Ministry of Defense asked the High Court of Justice to green-light the necessary evictions and demolitions last month, setting in motion the eviction of Palestinian residents who say their roots there go back generations.

Abdullah Mohammad Sindi -- Institute for Historical Review

… The hostility and prejudice against Arabs and Muslims engendered by Hollywood and US television infects not only tens of millions of Americans, but also hundreds of millions of credulous viewers worldwide. Such noxious propaganda over a period of decades inevitably has grave long-term consequences. This flood of ethnic-religious poison understandably produces deep resentment among hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims around the globe -- creating a vast and growing reservoir of resentment and rage that one day will almost certainly erupt with terrible fury.

Antony Charles – Institute for Historical Review

Not only during his lifetime, but also in the decades since his death in 1954, Wilhelm Furtwängler has been globally recognized as one of the greatest musicians of this century, above all as the brilliant primary conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra, which he lead from 1922 to 1945, and again after 1950 … Discussion of his life -- even today -- still provokes heated debate about the role of art and artists under Hitler and, on a more fundamental level, about the relationship of art and politics.

Andrew Gray -- Institute for Historical Review

Conductors in our time fall readily into two categories: Wilhelm Furtwängler and all the others. Among those who recognized this truth early on was Adolf Hitler, possessor of perhaps the best musical ear of any contemporary statesman -- except for Ignaz Paderewski. ... That the next century is likely to appreciate the centrality of Furtwängler to our civilization, or what is left of it, most likely accounts for the recent renewal of attacks upon his memory -- some of which have appeared in the form of reviews of this book.

Video

Wilhelm Furtwängler conducts the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra in a concert for factory workers in Berlin, 1942. The prelude to Wagner’s “Meistersinger” opera is performed. Form the German wartime newsreel, "Die Deutsche Wochenschau," of April 15, 1942. With English subtitles. Runtime: 3:51 mins.

BBC News

A Russian-American writer who died 30 years ago is still selling hundreds of thousands of books a year, and this week one of her former devotees, Paul Ryan, became Mitt Romney's running mate in the US presidential election. So why is Ayn Rand and her most famous work, Atlas Shrugged, so popular? ... Rand's philosophy, which she called objectivism, tapped directly into the American ideals of freedom, hard work and individualism. In novels like Atlas Shrugged, and her non-fiction like The Virtues of Selfishness, Rand argued for the removal of any religious or political controls that hindered the pursuit of self-interest.

Joseph Sobran (2001)

… Obviously, something disastrous happened to the Jews during World War II; even the revisionists don't deny that. But does the word "Holocaust" accurately sum up the Jewish misfortune? Maybe so; maybe the secular Jewish-Zionist thugs and pressure groups are essentially right. But that's a conclusion I'd want to reach as a free man, not because a different conclusion might result in my kneecaps being broken. And in this controversy, I know which side is appealing to my mind, and which is going for my kneecaps.

AFP

Israel is prepared for a 30-day war on multiple fronts should it decide to strike Iran, and is "ready as never before" for such a clash, the outgoing home front defence minister said Wednesday. In an interview with the Maariv newspaper, Matan Vilnai said Israel was ready to face the consequences of a clash with Iran that could be sparked if the Jewish state decides to launch a strike against Tehran's nuclear programme ... "The assessments are for a war that will last 30 days on a number of fronts," he said, repeating the predictions of other senior Israeli officials that the Jewish state would suffer around 500 deaths in such a clash.

BBC News

Richard Silverstein - the American blogger who says he has been given the text of a memo outlining Israel's plans for a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities – is clear about what he thinks it is. He says it came from a senior Israeli politician - a former minister - and he describes it as a "sales pitch", used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak to try to win round sceptical members of Israel's divided inner security cabinet ... The leaked text suggests that an Israeli operation would begin with a massive cyber attack against Iran's infrastructure, to "paralyse the regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders". Ballistic missiles would be fired at Iranian nuclear targets, albeit with conventional non-nuclear warheads. Cruise missiles would be fired from Israeli submarines in the Gulf.

Richard Silverstein

In the past few days, I received an Israeli briefing document outlining Israel’s war plans against Iran. The document was passed to me by a high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officer ... This is Bibi’s sales pitch for war. Its purpose is to be used in meetings with members of the Shminiya, the eight-member security cabinet which currently finds a 4-3 majority opposed to an Iran strike.

Ari Shavit – Haaretz (Israel)

Something quite extraordinary has been happened in recent months: Israeli leaders have taken to openly threatening to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before Christmas 2012 ... In private meetings there is even more direct talk of the need to take military action later this year. The message conveyed by Israeli decision makers is clear and blunt: Time is up. It’s now or never. If the international community doesn’t stop Iran by summer, Israel will soon strike. As the current Israeli leadership is rather isolated, only a handful of journalists have been directly exposed to this somber message.

Eric Margolis

... The Iran crisis has benefitted politicians in the US and Israel by defocusing public anger from the ongoing economic crisis in both nations, and by almost totally obscuring the Palestinian’s quest for recognition and statehood ... The main reason is that Islamic Iran has become the primary champion of the Palestinians now that the Arab states – and notably Syria -- are on the ropes. Iraq, formerly a leading champion of the Palestinians, was crushed by the US. Iran is next on the chopping block if the US American-Israel Public Affairs Committee has its way. A fair Israel-Palestinian deal would end the crisis between Israel and Iran. So would a Mideast nuclear-free zone. But no one dares pose this simple solution.

Reuters

Germany may force sports stars to make a commitment to democracy, a ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, days after a national rower quit the Olympic village following reports that her boyfriend was a neo-Nazi. The case of Nadja Drygalla, whose partner has been a member of the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), has ignited a debate in Germany about extremism in sport, although the rower denies holding far-right views herself ... As part of a regular review of guidelines on sport funding, the Interior Ministry is considering insisting that top clubs and associations make a formal commitment to democratic values.

Daily News (New York)

A German neo-Nazi group has been harnessing 21st-century technology to stage terrifying flash-mob protests that echo the fascist [sic] torch rallies of the 1930s — and then make them go viral. In a demonstration on May 1st in Bautzen, Germany hundreds of black-clad figures with white masks suddenly converged in a street carrying torches and signs with extreme nationalist slogans, then dissipated before a major police presence could arrive, according to Germany's Die Zeit newspaper ... A group calling themselves 'Die Unsterblichen' (The Immortals) has been orchestrating these kinds of flash mobs in cities all over Germany for the past several months, according to CNN.

Daily Mail (Britain)

A German neo-Nazi group is using modern technology to organise and showcase terrifying protests that have a chilling resemblance to the fascist torch rallies of the 1930s. In one, hundreds of black-clad figures with white masks converged without warning on the streets of Bautzen, Germany, carrying torches and placards with extreme nationalist slogans. The march, which took place on May 1, was disturbingly similar to the days of The Third Reich which saw the Nazi SA hold night rallies to honour Hitler.

JTA (New York)

A Hungarian lawyer has urged authorities to charge Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff with making “false statements” against an alleged war criminal. Attorney Futo Barnabas said Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Israel, should be indicted for leveling false allegations against Laszlo Csatary, whom police arrested last month. Zuroff gave testimonies to Budapest prosecutors that Csatary had organized deportations of Hungarian Jews from Kosice in 1941 and 1944. Prosecutors dismissed the 1941 charges last week as “unsubstantiated” but are still investigating those pertaining to 1944.

Haaretz (Israel)

The Australian government will not surrender alleged Nazi war criminal Karoly (Charles) Zentai to his native Hungary on a war crime charge following a High Court ruling that has been slammed by Jewish officials, Holocaust survivors and Israel’s leading Nazi hunter. The long-awaited ruling, handed down in Canberra on Wednesday, dismissed an appeal by the federal government into an earlier Federal Court judgment that Zentai could not be extradited because war crimes was not an offense in Hungary on November 8, 1944 – the date Zentai is accused of helping murder Peter Balazs in Budapest.

Rep. Ron Paul

Last week the House passed yet another bill placing sanctions on Iran and Syria, bringing us closer to another war in the Middle East. We are told that ever harsher sanctions finally will force the targeted nations to bend to our will. Yet the ineffectiveness of previous sanctions teaches us nothing; in truth sanctions lead to war more than they prevent war ... This raises the question of whether the US administration is supporting the same people in Syria that we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan ... The United States has no business at all being involved in the Syrian civil war.

Philip Giraldi

... There is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear-weapons program. It is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, its nuclear sites are regularly inspected by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, none of its low-level enriched uranium has been diverted, it has a legal right to enrich uranium for use in power plants, and its political leadership has declared that it is not seeking a weapon. The CIA and Israel’s Mossad agree that Iran has no program to produce a nuke ... Most Americans believe incorrectly that Iran already has a nuclear weapon. To go to war a second time in ten years over nothing would be shameful, but it is clear that no one in Washington who matters is resisting the stampede.

Bernd Debusmann -- Reuters

The West worries too much about the prospect of Iran going nuclear. If it did get the bomb, the Middle East would probably become a more stable region. So says Kenneth Waltz, a veteran scholar, in an essay in one of America's most influential magazines. "Why Iran Should get the Bomb," says the headline in Foreign Affairs, the house organ of the Council on Foreign Relations ... "Most U.S., European, and Israeli commentators and policymakers warn that a nuclear-armed Iran would be the worst possible outcome of the current standoff," Waltz writes. "In fact, it would probably be the best possible result: the one most likely to restore stability in the Middle East."

Daily New (New York)

If cheery locals are the thing that you look for on holiday, Scandinavia is the place to go to, a new report has suggested. The World Happiness Report, released this week by the United Nations, took a look at the mood in countries around the world to determine which ones were the most content with their lot. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Nordic countries -- with a healthy work/life balance, top-notch healthcare and schools and high average incomes -- came at the top of the list, with Denmark reaching the coveted top place. Finland came in second spot, Norway in third and the Netherlands -- the highest non-Nordic nation to make the list, was placed fourth, just above Canada in fifth place.

CBS News

Is it fair to call the United States the "incarceration nation"? That's what some experts say. And even some veteran law enforcement and correction officials think something's gone wrong ... Nationwide, the numbers are staggering: Nearly 2.4 million people behind bars, even though over the last 20 years the crime rate has actually dropped by more than 40 percent. "The United States has about five percent of the world's population, but we have 25 percent of the world's prisoners - we incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any country on Earth," said Michael Jacobson, director of the non-partisan Vera Institute of Justice.

Chris Hedges

Fraternities, sororities and football, along with other outsized athletic programs, have decimated most major American universities. Scholarship, inquiry, self-criticism, moral autonomy and a search for artistic and esoteric forms of expression — in short, the world of ethics, creativity and ideas — are shouted down by the drunken chants of fans in huge stadiums, the pathetic demands of rich alumni for national championships, and the elitism, racism and rigid definition of gender roles of Greek organizations. These hypermasculine systems perpetuate a culture of conformity and intolerance. They have inverted the traditional values of scholarship to turn four years of college into a mindless quest for collective euphoria and athletic dominance.

Zahi Khouri – The Washington Post

... Romney might be duped into thinking that oranges, falafel and hummus — staples of Palestinian cuisine for generations — are Israeli products. But how dare he claim that a state built at the expense of another people’s history and accomplishments is guided by “the hand of providence”? ... Palestinians have no say in our economic development. Every resource — water, land, soil, minerals, airspace, humans — is controlled and commandeered by Israel, which then deigns to sell us back a small portion ... Palestinians have no control over our borders. This means we cannot import or export without being subject to discriminatory measures by our occupier.

James Zogby

... Most of the United States' major daily newspapers featured articles, commentary and even editorials taking issue with the Romney quote -- highlighting repressive Israeli policies, and not an "inferior culture" as the reason for the poor performance of the Palestinian economy. Most made this point by including citations from the World Bank ("the government of Israel's security restrictions continue to stymie investment") and the C.I.A. World Factbook ("Israeli closure policies continue to disrupt labor and trade flows, industrial capacity, and basic commerce...[and] have resulted in high unemployment, elevated poverty rates, and the near collapse of the private sector").

John Connelly - Forward (New York)

... The Catholics who helped bring the church to recognition of the continuing sanctity of the Jewish people were converts, many of them from Jewish families. ... Without converts to Catholicism, it seems, the Catholic Church would never have “thought its way” out of the challenges of racist anti-Judaism. ... What were the impulses behind their engagement after the war? In a generous review of my book in The New Republic, Peter Gordon suggests that the converts’ willingness to advocate for the other was driven by a concern for the self. They had retained a sense of themselves as Jews even in the Catholic Church.

 
Sixteen striking photographs that have made history.
 

Mark Weber

… The Nuremberg enterprise violated ancient and fundamental principles of justice. The victorious Allies acted as prosecutor, judge and executioner of the German leaders. The charges were created especially for the occasion, and were applied only to the vanquished. Defeated, starving, prostrate Germany was, however, in no position to oppose whatever the Allied occupation powers demanded. As even some leading Allied figures privately acknowledged at the time, the Nuremberg trials were organized not to dispense impartial justice, but for political purposes.

Epoch Times (New York)

Thirty-five years since it opened its doors in SoHo, the Eleanor Ettinger Gallery is a rarity in New York City. It is one of the last bastions of realist and representational art in a market dominated by abstract and pop art. But the gallery says the tide may be turning. “It’s really changed over the last 15 years. There’s a resurgence, and the genre is taking a more substantial role, taking its more rightful place, but it’s still a struggle,” said Frann Bradford, the gallery’s co-owner.

Mark Weber

While Stutthof is not as well known as other wartime German camps, a close look at the history of this important internment center actually tells more about the reality of the Third Reich's "final solution" policy than studies of much better known camps such as Dachau or Buchenwald. In particular, a dispassionate look at the pattern of Jewish deportations to and from this camp, and the treatment of the inmates there, simply cannot be reconciled with a wartime German program or policy to exterminate Jews.

Daily Mail (Britain)

These are the striking black-and-white images which capture America on the cusp of monumental change during the Civil War. But instead of portraying dramatic events such as the bloody Battle of Antietam or Abraham Lincoln’s historic address at Gettysburg, the images reveal day-to-day life for those caught during wartime in Washington DC. Defending the nation’s capital, which was ripe for invasion by Confederate forces that had set their sights on the city, became a top priority for the U.S. government. The war transformed Washington from a modest semi-rural city below the Mason-Dixon line into an urban hub ...

Jonathan Jones -- The Guardian (Britain)

Walt Disney was one of the great American artists of the 20th century. This needs to be recognised. So here I am, Walt, coming to the rescue, aided by an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris that celebrates Disney's films as visual art... What Disney actually achieved was not to diffuse an American banality worldwide but, in a world that was becoming ever more banal and forgetful, to preserve the old oral storytelling of the pre-industrial world. Few artists have done as much as Disney to humanise modernity; the magical proof of this is one of his last films.

Mark Weber

… Because Eisner and the others who run the motion picture and television industries are able to shape the public's barely conscious basic assumptions about life and society, thereby profoundly influencing the thinking and actions of millions, they wield greater power than even our elected lawmakers … Eisner's transformation of Disney parallels, and contributes to, the cultural, social and political transformation of the United States as a whole. Like America's political leaders, Eisner and his Disney colleagues reassuringly display familiar symbols and trademarks from an earlier era, exploiting reputations and good-will painstakingly built up over decades.

Eric Margolis

… In his powerful new book, Churchill, Hitler and the Unnecessary War, veteran politician and author Pat Buchanan challenges many historic taboos by claiming that Winston Churchill plunged Britain and its empire, including Canada, into wars whose outcomes were disastrous for all concerned. Other writers, me included, have made the same point for decades, but Buchanan has marshalled a formidable array of facts and historians to support his case … Buchanan's book strips away lingering war propaganda and shows the cynicism, lust for power and foolishness of the "saintly" Allied war leaders and their "good" war.

Mark Weber

In a secret wartime memorandum, Winston Churchill told his advisers that he wanted to "drench" Germany with poison gas. Churchill's July 1944 memo to his chief of staff Gen. Hastings Ismay was reproduced in the August-September 1985 issue of American Heritage magazine … Churchill's directive bluntly stated: "I want a cold-blooded calculation made as to how it would pay to use poison gas ... One really must not be bound within silly conventions of the mind whether they be those that ruled in the last war or those in reverse which rule in this."

Wikipedia

Of the 44 Presidents of the United States, at least half have displayed proficiency in speaking or writing a language other than English. Four of the earliest Presidents were multi-lingual, with John Adams and Thomas Jefferson demonstrating proficiency in a number of foreign languages. Both Roosevelts spoke French. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke German. Few modern Presidents have spoken a foreign language. Herbert Hoover spoke fluent Mandarin Chinese. Barack Obama has famously admitted to being embarrassed that he does not speak a second language.

Philip Giraldi

The shameful spectacle of American politicians trying to outdo each other in demonstrating their love for Israel played out again last week ... The United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, which originated in Berman’s office, was reportedly drafted in part by AIPAC. The bill signed by Obama basically provides Israel with a blank check drawn on the U.S. taxpayer to maintain its “qualitative military edge” over all of its neighbors combined ... In criticizing the bill, Rep. Ron Paul observed, “This bill states that it is the policy of the United States to ‘reaffirm the enduring commitment of the United States to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish state'." ...

The Economist (Britain)

Judaism is flourishing, both in Israel, where 43% of the world’s Jews now live, and throughout the Jewish diaspora. The Jews as a nation are flourishing too. Israelis, for all their problems, are the 14th-happiest people in the world, happier than the British or the French, according to a recent global happiness report commissioned by the UN. In the diaspora Jewish life has never been so free, so prosperous, so unthreatened ... "Jewish is cool in America,” says J.J. Goldberg, a writer. “Celebrities used to change their names to hide their Jewish identity ... Jewish Orthodoxy has come surging back. Early marriages and high birth rates have produced a demographic explosion among the ultra-Orthodox haredim (God-fearers).

Dave Lindorff

We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world. But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here? ... The US government doesn’t even do what the majority of the citizens want. In fact, these days it flat out ignores what we the people want. Consider the polls, and what they show public sentiment to be on key issues, and then look at what the government, composed of supposedly elected representatives and and an elected president, actually does ...

The Guardian (Britain) – Video

'Without the V2 maybe we wouldn't have gone to the moon,' says Doug Millard of the Science Museum in London. The first long-range ballistic missile was created by Nazi Germany in 1944 to rain destruction on London. But one of the scientists behind the V2, Wernher von Braun, went on to develop the technology in the US to build the first rockets of the space age including the Saturn V rocket of the Apollo programme. Prof Colin Pillinger, a planetary scientist at the Open University and leader of the Beagle 2 Mars mission, talks to Millard about the legacy of the V2 ...

The Associated Press

Iranian state television on Sunday broadcast purported confessions by more than a dozen suspects in connection with the killing of five nuclear scientists since 2010. The broadcast showed some of the suspects re-enacting the assassinations in different districts of the capital Tehran. The 14 suspects shown on TV included eight men and six women. The TV showed pictures from a military garrison it said was a training camp outside Tel Aviv in Israel. It said the suspects took courses there, including how to place magnetic bombs on cars — the method used in the killing of the scientists.

Robert John -- Institute for Historical Review

The Balfour Declaration may be the most extraordinary document produced by any government in world history. It took the form of a letter from the government of His Britannic Majesty King George the Fifth, the Government of the largest empire the world has even known, on which -- once upon a time -- the sun never set; a letter to an international financier of the banking house of Rothschild who had been made a peer of the realm … Malcolm's belief in the Balfour Declaration as a means of bringing the United States into the war was confirmed by Samuel Landman, secretary to the Zionist leaders Weizmann and Sokolow, and later secretary of the World Zionist Organization.

The Associated Press

Hiroshima marked the 67th anniversary of the world's first atomic bomb attack on Monday with a call for the elimination of nuclear arsenals. About 50,000 people gathered in Hiroshima's peace park near the epicenter of the 1945 blast that destroyed most of the city and killed as many as 140,000 people. A second atomic bombing Aug. 9 that year in Nagasaki killed tens of thousands more and prompted Japan to surrender to the World War II Allies. The ceremony, attended by representatives of about 70 countries, began with the ringing of a temple bell and a moment of silence.

Ralph Raico

The most spectacular episode of Truman’s presidency will never be forgotten, but will be forever linked to his name: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later. Probably around two hundred thousand persons were killed in the attacks and through radiation poisoning; the vast majority were civilians … By early summer 1945, the Japanese fully realized that they were beaten. Why did they nonetheless fight on? As Anscombe wrote: "It was the insistence on unconditional surrender that was the root of all evil." That mad formula was coined by Roosevelt at the Casablanca conference, and, with Churchill’s enthusiastic concurrence, it became the Allied shibboleth.

John Pilger

... The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a criminal act on an epic scale. It was premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. For this reason its apologists have sought refuge in the mythology of the ultimate "good war", whose "ethical bath", as Richard Drayton called it, has allowed the west not only to expiate its bloody imperial past but to promote 60 years of rapacious war, always beneath the shadow of The Bomb. The most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and save lives.

The New York Times

Visitors to Disneyland pull off the freeway here and drive along dense rows of palm trees on pristine streets, past dozens of hotels beckoning them to stay. It is, the park’s marketing material says, “the Happiest Place on Earth.” A few blocks away, though, a deep fury has boiled over ... Like much of northern Orange County, Anaheim has changed drastically in the years since Disneyland opened in 1955. It grew rapidly through the 1990s, and as the Latino population nearly doubled, it became one of the largest cities in the state. Today, the city is more than half Latino ... Now, the city has roughly 30 active gangs and all but one are Latino, he said, with about half made up of relatively recent immigrants.

Munib R. Masri

... But ask nine out of ten Palestinians and you will get an identical response: “There is no difference between Obama and Romney.” President Obama brought his clarion call for hope and change to Cairo early in his tenure. He said nice, positive things about respecting the Muslim world and encouraging a true peace between Israel and Palestine. And then he did nothing in slow motion for more than three years ... Our economy has two arms and one foot tied behind us not by culture but by occupation. It’s hard to succeed, Mr. Romney, when roadblocks, checkpoints and draconian restrictions on the movement of goods and people suffocate our business environment.

James Zogby

... Delivering lines that sounded as if they had been prepared in the thick of the Cold War by speechwriters for President Ronald Reagan, Romney affirmed his belief that "our country is the greatest force for good the world has ever known;" that America must have "the strongest military in the world;" and declared his "one overwhelming conviction and passion" that "this must be an American Century" in which "we lead the free world and the free world leads the entire world." ... Beyond the rhetoric, there was little else that was noteworthy in Romney's foreign policy preview. As others have observed, many of his criticisms of the Obama Administration were either wrong on facts, splitting hairs or just plain bad policy.

JTA

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Holocaust denial and Israel criticism that crosses into anti-Semitism require vigilance. On Tuesday, Clinton addressed a symposium at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on preventing genocide. "Let me begin by acknowledging that here in this museum, it’s important to note that every generation produces extremist voices denying that the Holocaust ever happened," she said. "And we must remain vigilant against those deniers and against antisemitism, because when heads of state and religious leaders deny the Holocaust from their bully pulpits, we cannot let their lies go unanswered ... And, yes, when criticism of Israeli government policies crosses over into demonization of Israel and Jews, we must push back."

European Jewish Press

The US State Department revealed a marked rise in anti-Semitism across the world “manifested in Holocaust denial, glorification, and relativism”, with the release of its annual report on International Religious Freedom on Monday … As well as citing anti-Israel sentiment as being used as justification for anti-Semitic activity across the world, the report also reserved criticism for the Israeli administration’s religious policy, identifying that while free religious practice is largely guaranteed, “governmental and legal discrimination against non-Jews and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism continued”. Restrictive policies were most evident in the West Bank, it noted …

The New York Times

... Ms. Drygalla has become the focus of a national debate, her romantic choices dissected in leading newspapers and on television broadcasts. Ms. Drygalla’s boyfriend, Michael Fischer, himself a former competitive rower, was a candidate last year in a regional election for the far-right National Democratic Party and is part of an extremist group known as the Rostock National Socialists. “I have no connection to his circle of friends and this scene, and I reject it completely,” Ms. Drygalla, 23, said in an interview with DPA, a German news agency. She said that his politics were a burden on their relationship and that she had considered breaking up with him over it.

Ray McGovern – Baltimore Sun

... The key question is whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak will interpret the presidential campaign rhetoric as an open invitation to provoke hostilities with Iran, in the expectation that President Obama will feel forced to jump in with both feet in support of our "ally" Israel ... Never mind that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta posed the direct question to himself on Face the Nation on January 8 and then answered it: "Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No." Never mind that ten days later Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barack said essentially the same thing during an interview on Israeli Army Radio. The likelihood of hostilities with Iran before the presidential election in November is increasing. Beware of "fixed" intelligence.

The Associated Press

... Despite inarguable ties between the U.S. and its closest ally in the Middle East and despite statements from U.S. politicians trumpeting the friendship, U.S. national security officials consider Israel to be, at times, a frustrating ally and a genuine counterintelligence threat. In addition to what the former U.S. officials described as intrusions in homes in the past decade, Israel has been implicated in U.S. criminal espionage cases and disciplinary proceedings against CIA officers and blamed in the presumed death of an important spy in Syria for the CIA during the administration of President George W. Bush. The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency's Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials.

Eric Margolis

... While the US hails Pakistan as a key non-NATO ally, the US treats it like a militarily occupied country. The government in Islamabad is left to observe increasing drone attacks and CIA ground operation with deepening embarrassment and helplessness. Average Pakistanis have no doubt about what’s happening. Most believe their nation was more or less occupied by the US after the 2001 attacks on the US ... Anti-American feelings in Pakistan have been soaring. Some polls show over 90% of respondents expressing hatred or anger against the US.

Reuters

The German rower Nadja Drygalla has left the Olympic village following media allegations that her boyfriend is a far-right extremist ... Though German officials did not give the reason for her departure, the German public broadcaster ARD reported the 23-year-old former police officer was suspected of sympathising with right-wing extremist ideology. Media reports said her boyfriend was a leading member of the "Rostock National Socialists" and had fought a state election for the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD).

Daily Mail (Britain)

Conservations are in a race against time to save the abandoned Olympic Village built for the so-called 'Nazi Games' in 1936. The site on the western edge of Berlin is where athletes from all over the world headed 76 years ago to take part in the most infamous Olympic Games in history. But the athlete's accommodation has been largely left to rot since it was abandoned by Soviet forces in 1992 ... Ironically, [Jesse] Owens’s tiny room – No 5, in block 39 – is so far the only athlete’s room that has been renovated. It’s a simple space that reflects the modesty of the humble man who stayed there – a man who, paradoxically, enjoyed more freedom in Nazi Germany at that time that he did in his segregated U.S. homeland.

Video

 
Opening ceremonies of the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin. The large, enthusiastic crowd welcomes the various national teams as they enter the stadium. Hitler formally announces the opening of the games. Excerpts from the Leni Riefenstahl film, “Olympia.” Runtime: 6:09 mins.
 

Rick Shenkman

Everyone knows that at the 1936 Olympics Hitler snubbed Jesse Owens. As the story goes, after Owens won one gold medal, Hitler, incensed, stormed out of Olympic Stadium so he wouldn't have to congratulate Owens on his victory … Several other misconceptions about the 1936 Olympics are prevalent. Not only was Owens not rebuffed by Hitler, Owens wasn't shunned by the German audience at the Berlin stadium either … It is forgotten that Germany managed to pick up more medals than all the other countries combined.

Mark Weber

Jesse Owens, the Black track and field star who won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, died in 1980 at the age of 66. As so often during his lifetime, even this occasion was used by the major television networks and print media to spread slanderous falsehoods which have acquired wide acceptance through repetition over the years … The myths, which are usually asserted as fact, contend that German Chancellor Adolf Hitler was furious when Owens won; that Hitler refused to shake hands with Owens because he was Black; that the Germans were embarrassed because the Owens victory "disproved" German ideas about racial differences …

Inter Press Service

After a fact-finding tour of the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip – and following hearings in Amman and Cairo – a three-member United Nations committee has lambasted Israel for the harsh treatment of Palestinian children held in custody. The Special Committee to Investigate Israeli Practices (facetiously called the Israeli (mal)practices committee) in the Occupied Territories has unleashed a scathing attack on the Jewish state for its continued denial of fundamental human rights of the Palestinians and describing the harshness as totally “unacceptable” ... He also said Israel’s practice of demolishing Palestinian homes continues, and Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has increased.

Uri Avnery (Israel)

... Since then, the term Zionism has been elevated to the status of a state ideology, if not state religion. Everything the state does is justified by the use of this word. Some would say that Zionism is the last refuge of a scoundrel ... Today, Zionism is firmly in the hands of the extreme Right, a mixture of nationalists, religious fanatics and the settlers, supported by very rich Jews in Israel and outside. They govern the news, both directly (they own all the TV networks and the newspapers) and metaphorically. Every day, the news contains many items figuring “Zionism.”

VOA News

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Israeli leaders on Wednesday warned Iran that time is running out to resolve disputes over its controversial nuclear program. Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem with the visiting Pentagon chief, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said international sanctions aren't changing Iran's path toward development of nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear aims are peaceful ... "You yourself said a few months ago that when all else fails, America will act," Netanyahu added. "But these declarations have also not yet convinced the Iranians to stop their program. However forceful our statements, they have not convinced Iran that we are serious about stopping them." Earlier, Panetta said U.S. patience with Iran is running thin.

Haaretz (Israel)

Former Mossad chief and national security adviser Ephraim Halevy was quoted by the New York Times on Thursday saying that if he were Iranian he "would be very fearful of the next 12 weeks". Halevy also told Israel Radio on Thursday that if the Iranians "continue to play their games" in nuclear talks with world powers, they would be underestimating Israel's resolve. "[The Iranians'] math is off if they think they have open-ended immunity" in these talks, he said. His remarks came just after U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's visit to Israel, and amid circulating speculations of possible Israeli plans to strike Iran over its contentious nuclear program.

Haaretz (Israel)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 that he has yet to make a decision on whether or not to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Netanyahu said that "Israel cannot count on anyone else" when it comes to the Iranian threat. During the interview, the prime minister was asked to comment on reports that Israel's entire military top brass, headed by IDF [Israel Defense Forces] chief Benny Gantz, oppose a unilateral Israeli strike on Iran. Netanyahu said that it was "irresponsible reporting."

Glenn Greenwald

... It’s even more notable that political officials whom everyone knows authorized torture are walking around free, respected and prosperous, completely shielded from all criminal accountability. “Torture” has been permanently transformed from an unspeakable taboo into a garden-variety political controversy, where it shall long remain ... Isn’t it amazing that a newspaper editorial even has to say: you know, the President isn’t really supposed to have the power to act as judge, jury and executioner and order American citizens assassinated with no transparency or due process? And isn’t it even more amazing that the current President has actually seized and exercised this power with very little controversy? That presidential power — literally the most tyrannical power a political leader can seize — is also now a barely noticed fixture of our political culture.

Los Angeles Times – Editorial

... Allowing the president of the United States to act as judge, jury and executioner for suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens, on the basis of secret evidence is impossible to reconcile with the Constitution's guarantee that a life will not be taken without due process of law. Under the law, the government must obtain a court order if it seeks to target a U.S. citizen for electronic surveillance, yet there is no comparable judicial review of a decision to kill a citizen. No court is even able to review the general policies for such assassinations.

Walter N. Sanning – Institute for Historical Review

... The measures taken by the Soviet Union between 1940 and 1942 aimed not only at furthering the Soviet war effort, but also at harming the German enemy even at the cost of huge losses of life among Soviet civilians. The Soviet scorched-earth strategy included the deportation of millions of men, women and children; the resettlement and reestablishment of thousands of factories; the withdrawal of almost the entire railway rolling stock; the-annihilation of raw material depots; the removal of most of the agricultural machinery, cattle and grain stocks; the systematic destruction, burning and blowing up of the immovable infrastructure, inventories of all kinds, factory buildings, mines, residential areas, public buildings, public records, and even cultural monuments; and the intentional starvation of the civilian population which remained behind to face German occupation.

Thomas L. Friedman - The New York Times

... The main Israel lobby, Aipac, has made itself the feared arbiter of which lawmakers are “pro” and which are “anti-Israel” and, therefore, who should get donations and who should not — and you have a situation in which there are almost no brakes, no red lights, around Israel coming from America anymore ... Stop making things even worse by telling the most hard-line Israelis everything that they want to hear, just to grovel for Jewish votes and money, while blatantly ignoring the other side. There are real lives at stake out there.

Sanjeev Bhaskar - Video

Every day at sunset large crowds of people, including foreign tourists, gather at the India-Pakistan border crossing at Wagah to watch an elaborate ceremony by colorfully uniformed border security guards of the two nations. The memorable 45-minute ceremony includes a blustering, well-rehearsed parade by soldiers of the two nuclear-armed states, and a simultaneous lowering of the two nations' flags. Runtime: 2:37 mins.

CBS News

For decades Orson Welles' "Citizen Kane" has ruled as the greatest film ever made, according to various critics' polls, the granddaddy of them all being the poll conducted by the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound magazine. Every ten years critics are asked to list their top ten, and since 1962 when "Kane" topped the poll, no other film has been able to dislodge it. The 2012 poll results, announced Tuesday, now name Hitchcock's 1958 thriller "Vertigo" as the greatest film ever made, with "Citizen Kane" slipping to number two.

AFP/ Reuters

Nazi war crimes suspect Laszlo Csatary, who is accused of overseeing the deportation of thousands of Jews during World War II, has denied all allegations against him, his lawyer said. Lawyer Gabor Horvath made the announcement after the 97-year-old appeared at a three-hour closed-door hearing at the prosecutor's office in Budapest. The Nazi-hunting Simon Wiesenthal Centre accuses Csatary of organising the World War II deportation of some 16,000 Jews from the ghetto of Kosice, in present-day Slovakia, to their deaths at the Auschwitz extermination camp.

USA Today

President Obama said today that the United States is giving $70 million more in military aid to Israel, just as Republican opponent Mitt Romney prepares to visit the nation. The money will help Israel speed up production of a missile-defense system known as Iron Dome. "We are standing by our friends in Israel when it comes to these kinds of attacks," Obama said in the Oval Office . The president spoke before signing the United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act, a bipartisan piece of legislation that he said "underscores our unshakable commitment to Israel's security."

Haaretz (Israel)

The U.S. national security adviser has shared with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the United States' contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran. According to a senior American official, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon briefed Netanyahu on the plans during Donilon's visit to Israel two weeks ago. According to the official, who requested anonymity, Netanyahu hosted Donilon at a three-hour dinner. For part of the time, Israel's national security adviser, Yaakov Amidror, was on hand. Donilon sought to make clear that the United States is seriously preparing for the possibility that negotiations will reach a dead end and military action will become necessary.

Patrick J. Buchanan

Has Mitt Romney given Israel a blank check for war? So it seemed from the declaration in Jerusalem by his adviser Dan Senor, who all but flashed Israel a green light for war, signaling the Israelis that, if you go, Mitt's got your back: "If Israel has to take action on its own in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision." "No option would be excluded. Gov. Romney recognizes Israel's right to defend itself and that it is right for America to stand with it."

Juan Cole - The Guardian (Britain)

The trip of US Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to Israel is in bad taste for lots of reasons ... Romney is clearly holding the event in some large part to please casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who first bankrolled Newt Gingrich and now is talking about giving $100 million to elect Romney. Adelson is a huge supporter of rightwing Likud party prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and published a free newspaper in Israel to support all things Bibi all the time. Adelson is under investigation on suspicion of bribing Chinese officials in Macau in reference to his casino empire there ... Romney is promising his donors in Jerusalem a war on Iran ... The fundraiser is being held in the King David Hotel, which was famously blown up by the Zionist terrorist organization Irgun in 1946 ...

VOA News

U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney has closed his trip to Israel by telling donors about the spiritual connection he felt in Jerusalem. The likely Republican Party nominee spoke to a group of about 40 people Monday at Jerusalem's King David Hotel. The breakfast event was expected to bring in more than $1 million for his campaign to defeat President Barack Obama in the November election ... His comments came a day after he declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel. The remarks angered Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. Monday's fundraiser included billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson and other major Republican donors.

The Associated Press

China criticized Mitt Romney on Tuesday, saying the U.S. presidential candidate's statement that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel could worsen an already tense Mideast situation, or even re-ignite a war between Palestinians and Israelis. A commentary Tuesday by the official Xinhua News Agency said Romney's "hawkish remarks" ignored the sensitive nature of Jerusalem. It said the comments disregarded the Palestinians' claim to the war-won eastern sector of the city, which was annexed by Israel in 1967 in a move that is not internationally recognized ... "Romney's remarks totally neglect historical facts and are actually irresponsible if he just meant to appeal to voters at home," Xinhua said ... Xinhua said Romney's "radical words" on Israel were aimed at winning over U.S. Jewish voters in the presidential election in November ...

BBC News

Celebrated author, satirist and political commentator Gore Vidal has died, aged 86. He was famed for his biting political critiques and his acerbic take on American society. Here are some of his best quotes. On US politicians: "The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country - and we haven't seen them since."; On the US electorate: "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half."; On secrets: "When anyone says to me, 'Can you keep a secret?' I say, 'Why should I, if you can't?'"

Doug Casey

... The US government, in particular, is being overrun by the wrong kind of person. It's a trend that's been in motion for many years but has now reached a point of no return. In other words, a type of moral rot has become so prevalent that it's institutional in nature. There is not going to be, therefore, any serious change in the direction in which the US is headed until a genuine crisis topples the existing order. Until then, the trend will accelerate. The reason is that a certain class of people – sociopaths – are now fully in control of major American institutions. Their beliefs and attitudes are insinuated throughout the economic, political, intellectual and psychological/spiritual fabric of the US.

Daily Mail (Britain)

A feud has broken out between members of the Wagner opera family in Germany as the leader of the clan threatens legal action unless they co-operate with a 'moral house cleaning' aimed at de-Nazifying the world's leading opera festival. Katharina Wagner, who now directs the annual Bayreuth Festival of Richard Wagner's operas, wants family members to turn over every document they have in a bid to exorcise the ghosts of the Third Reich - including 'potentially explosive' letters penned by Hitler to Winifred Wagner, the Englishwoman who became head of the family in wartime.

Dr. Eduard Bloch

… What kind of boy was Adolf Hitler? Many biographers have put him down as harsh-voiced, defiant, untidy; as a young ruffian who personified all that is unattractive. This simply is not true. As a youth he was quiet, well-mannered and neatly dressed … In the practice of my profession it is natural that I should have witnessed many scenes such as this one, yet none of them left me with quite the same impression. In all my career I have never seen anyone so prostrate with grief as Adolf Hitler.

Gilbert Blythe (2001)

... On issues related to Israel, many Jews have understandably strong interests that are different from those of non-Jews, but the country as a whole should be careful not to be swept up in such partisan passions. Excessive concern for narrowly Jewish interests could damage broader American interests ... Jewish spokesmen have promoted the view that terrorists attacked the United States because it is a beacon of freedom ... The struggle of good against evil that many American Jews are promoting just happens to be a war against Israel's enemies. Kristol and Kagan want us to destroy the military capacity of Iraq, Syria, and perhaps Iran, and forcibly install pliant governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan.

Matthew Norman -- The Independent (Britain)

... Call it an atrocious strategic misjudgment, a dementedly misguided Neocon experiment, a war crime or whatever, it is perfectly well understood in these child-like terms: Mr Blair did a truly terrible thing, with unspeakably terrible consequences for the people of Iraq, the troops killed and maimed in prosecuting his folly ... In politics, very, very few issues can be reduced to unarguable moral certainties. This is one. Tony Blair is no wrongly dishonoured prophet but a pariah in his own land. He is a pariah because he colluded in an act of abundant wickedness, and untold hundreds of thousands died and millions more suffered monstrously in consequence.