News Release Archive - 2011

* Iran Drone * Russia Protests * Nobel Prize Betrayal

The following analysts are available for a limited number of interviews:

REESE ERLICH, rerlich at pacbell.net
Foreign correspondent Erlich’s books include The Iran Agenda: The Real Story of U.S. Policy and the Middle East Crisis and Conversations with Terrorists: Middle East Leaders on Politics, Violence, and Empire. He said: “The CIA has now acknowledged that a spy drone went down in Iran. Iranian authorities say their military shot it down; the U.S. maintains there were mechanical problems. The incident has forced the U.S. government to admit for the first time that it is conducting regular spying on Iran. Officials claim that the U.S. uses drones to look for an Iranian nuclear weapons program. More likely, the U.S. seeks information about existing conventional weapons and potential responses to a U.S. or Israeli military attack.

“The recent incident reveals that the U.S., not Iran, is the aggressor. The U.S. has used the excuse of a supposed nuclear weapons program to engage in spying, arming of ethnic guerrillas and targeted assassinations against Iranian scientists. Yet even the CIA and other intelligence agencies admit that Iran has no nuclear weapons program and is years away from developing an atomic bomb.”

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, kat at thenation.com
Reuters reports: “Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s opponents hope to bring large numbers of people out onto the streets across Russia on Saturday for rallies that will test their ability to channel outrage over allegations of election fraud into a powerful protest movement.” Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation and co-author of the book “Voices of Glasnost: Conversations With Gorbachev’s Reformers.” She said today: “In many ways, The Dec. 4 election results, despite real voting abuses, show discontent, change in the real political landscape in the country. Perhaps most important, and virtually ignored by the corporate media, is that the Russian Communist Party is now the country’s leading opposition party; many voted for it as a protest vote.

“What hasn’t changed is that Vladimir Putin will (likely) easily be elected president in March. Despite the growing and real public disillusionment with his rule, he remains the most popular politician in the country. And in the time between now and March, the Kremlin will — no doubt learning from its experience with these elections — become more adept at using its ‘administrative resources’ — state and Kremlin oligarchical money and control of state television — more effectively to make sure there are no similar setbacks in the March presidential election.

“In many other ways, though, we are witnessing a changed political and social landscape. The air of infallibility Putin has enjoyed — and counted on –for the past decade is gone. … Russian civil society is engaged and active in ways not seen since the Perestroika period of 1986-1991. (That may be one reason why former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the architect of perestroika, has called for new elections.)

“Corruption, abuse of power by elites and inequality have been fueling citizen protest and anger for many years. (And Western liberals should not avert their eyes from the powerful Nationalist movements — also part of civil society — in today’s Russia.) What’s different this time around is that activists, journalists and ordinary citizens have the ability to spread feisty viral videos on such issues on YouTube, or on ‘Zhivoi Zhurnal’ — Russia’s Facebook equivalent — ‘tvitter’ and on other internet outlets which remain fairly free and open (despite the control of television). The use of the new media was clear during the parliamentary vote as electoral observers, opposition figures and ordinary citizens saw documented abuses for all the world to see.”

FREDRIK HEFFERMEHL, fredpax at online.no
Author of the book The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted, Heffermehl argues that the Nobel committee has violated the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, which established the prize. He said today: “Dec. 10 will be a day for celebration and joy for everyone in this world and at least half the world will have a good personal reason to love the Nobel Committee, since this year the prize celebrates women and their equal rights and role; but, unfortunately, not so much their essential role in the struggle for peace and disarmament.

“The committee chair, Thorbjørn Jagland, said, when he presented the winners on Oct. 7 that the prize was awarded in support of the cause of women and their democratic rights. Why is he so adamantly keeping the purpose Nobel had in mind a secret? Nobel wished to support global disarmament through global law and strong international institutions. The committee consists of retired party hacks, who have during all their political lives supported a strong military force and the NATO alliance — their political leanings are the direct opposite of the peace vision that Nobel wished to support. Friends of the military cannot be the right persons to award a prize for disarmament.”

Climate Disruption Talks and the Global 99%

Global climate talks in Durban, South Africa are now in their final week.

ANDREW BUTLER, campaigner at riseup.net
Butler is executive producer of the new film “Carbon Markets, Trading Our Future“.

He said today: “The same financial institutions who have brought the global economy to its knees, whilst at the same time personally profiting from it, are now poised to seize control of and commodify our atmosphere, forests and soil. Empowered by the reaction to the economic crisis embodied by the global Occupy movement, I wanted a film that would get people angry and motivate them to take action again the vested financial interests who have co-opted the UN climate negotiations and pushed for market-based mechanisms such as CDM [Clean Development Mechanism] and REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation]. These people don’t have any interest whatsoever in halting climate change, in fact they need climate change and continued carbon emissions so that they can trade and make money from them. We cannot and must not allow these greedy bankers to trade with our future. If government negotiators are listening to the corporations and not the people, then we must shout louder. We must be tenacious and not give up in the face of impossible odds. In short, it’s time to listen to the global 99%, the people who are facing the sharp end of climate change, not the 1% who caused it!”

PATRICK BOND, pbond at mail.ngo.za
Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Bond is author and editor of the just-released books Politics of Climate Justice and Durban’s Climate Gamble. Bond recently wrote the piece “Climate Talks: A Dirty Deal Coming Down in Durban.

Bond is an adviser on the film “Carbon Markets, Trading Our Future” and was a guest on Democracy Now this morning, which has been broadcasting live from Durban, South Africa this week.

JANET REDMAN, janet at ips-dc.org
DAPHNE WYSHAM, [in DC] via Lacy MacAuley, Institute for Policy Studies, lacy at ips-dc.org
Redman and Wysham are co-directors of the Sustainable Energy & Economy Network at the Institute for Policy Studies. Redman recently wrote “Durban Diary“.

Wysham has been attending climate summits regularly since 1997. View a recent interview with Wysham on the Durban summit with The Real News.

She said today: “First the bad news: Despite the fact that greenhouse gas emissions spiked by a record 6 percent last year, the U.S. is once again obstructing meaningful action on climate change at international climate negotiations underway now in Durban, South Africa. Now the good news: U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are down 7 percent since 2007, and climate activism has shifted gears in the U.S. with non-violent civil disobedience, grassroots mobilization, and support for strong regulations proving to be effective tools in tackling the climate crisis.”

Analyst Blasts U.S. Negotiator at Climate Talks: Warns of “Eco-Apartheid”

Economic ApartheidMICHAEL DORSEY, michael.dorsey at dartmouth.edu,
“The arrival of lead U.S. negotiator for the United States, Todd Stern, in Durban South Africa spells doom for Africa and the planet,” said Dartmouth College Professor Michael Dorsey, after leaving a closed briefing with U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change Stern and the U.S. Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change Johnathan Pershing.

“The lack of any form of visionary leadership on display was startling.” added Dorsey. “The U.S. government is no longer committed to doing just nothing. Worse than nothing, the U.S. plans to assess its performance in 2015 and maybe consider action in 2020. Such diplomatic delays are a deadly formula that will drive the displacement, wreak havoc, especially on African and other marginalized livelihoods globally. The UN’s latest estimate is that more than 150 million people could become early climate refugees. These people will be early victims of worsening and unfolding climate chaos if countries wait to consider to act until 2015.

“Because of the U.S.’s expressed commitment to delays, the world may indeed see the Durban Climate Summit as the place where a new form of climate injustice and apartheid began: Eco-apartheid against those on the margins of society and ecosystems.”

PATRICK BOND, pbond at mail.ngo.za
Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Bond is author and editor of the just-released books Politics of Climate Justice and Durban’s Climate Gamble.  Bond recently co-wrote the piece “Climate Cash Deals are Killing Us” with Dorsey.

For more on the conference, now in its final week, see: cop17insouthafrica.wordpress.com

Climate Talks: “Africa vs the 1%”

Reuters reports: “Global carbon dioxide emissions from industry rose about three percent in a weak global economy this year, a study released on Monday showed, adding fresh urgency to efforts to control planet-warming gases at U.N. climate talks in South Africa.”

Large protests took place over the weekend outside the global climate talks in Durban, South Africa, now in their final week.

PATRICK BOND, pbond at mail.ngo.za
Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Bond is author and editor of the just-released books “Politics of Climate Justice” and “Durban’s Climate Gamble.” Bond said today: “The United States and other opponents of Kyoto Protocol binding agreements will be joined as Durban saboteurs by Europeans who above all want crisis-ridden carbon markets restarted. While large developing countries dither about how fossil-fuel-addicted their economic models will be, the continent most victimized — Africa — at least has a strong science-based demand: 50 percent greenhouse gas reductions by 2020. It is a sickening fact that Washington’s intransigence will again prevent movement towards the deal the planet so desperately needs, but all the elites here are to blame. This is reminiscent of the 1% versus 99% scenario that the Occupy movement points to in financial markets.”

Bond recently co-wrote the piece “Climate Cash Deals are Killing Us.

Activists Found Guilty in Drone Trial

The New York Times is reporting that President Obama will not apologize for the recent drone strike that killed over 20 Pakistani soldiers earlier this week. [Correction: it was an airstrike, not a drone strike.]

The Syracuse Post-Standard is reporting: “DeWitt Town Justice David Gideon ruled Thursday night that 31 protesters were guilty on two charges of disorderly conduct. But, Gideon said, he spent ‘many a sleepless night’ before making his decision and that he learned a great deal during the five-day nonjury trial, which ended Nov. 5.”

CAROL BAUM, carol at peacecouncil.net
Baum is staff organizer for the Syracuse Peace Council that helped organize the protests. The group released a statement this morning: “On Thursday, December 1, the Hancock 38 drone resisters returned to DeWitt Town Court for the verdict in their case involving a symbolic ‘die-in’ at the main entrance Hancock Air National Guard Base (Mattydale, NY), protesting the piloting and maintenance of the hunter/killer Reaper drones at the Base.

“Early in his decision, Judge David Gideon stated, ‘Many issues were raised that were not heretofore contemplated by this Court on a personal level; for which this Court personally acknowledges a new and different understanding, making the decision now before the Court that much more difficult.’ After much consideration and several sleepless nights, he concluded that the defendants were guilty of both “obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic” and “refusing to comply with a lawful order of the police to disperse.”

“In their sentencing statements, the activists contested the Judge’s decision, stating that they were duty bound by the Nuremberg Principles, International Law and the U.S. Constitution to act against drones – the Principles forbid wars of aggression, attacks on civilians and extrajudicial assassinations, all actions associated with drone warfare. Action is urgent since innocents are being murdered every day by drone attacks. The verdict is indeed in – the drones are illegal.

“Most people received a one year conditional discharge, along with a fine of $250 and $150 court costs and community service. Four people were given jail time, ranging from four to fifteen days. The activists are undeterred, vowing to return to the base, inviting the judge, prosecutor, other court employees to join them.

“The action was sponsored by the Upstate NY Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, consisting of activists from Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Ithaca, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica.”

* Egypt * Burma * Eurozone

SHERIF GABER, sgaber at gmail.com
Gaber recently graduated from law school at the University of Texas at Austin and, back in his native Egypt, has been active with the group No Military Trials for Civilians. He said today: “Tomorrow [Friday] is going to be an important day, a symbolic funeral for the 56 people who have been killed by the army and police in the last week and tribute to the over 3000 wounded. The elections have siphoned off a lot of energy from the movement in the streets, with many if not most political parties and organizations bailing on the movement to pursue a dubious electoral strategy. The vote for the Muslim Brotherhood and businessmen and others who were around during the Mubarak-era and have attempted to re-brand themselves was in the cards for a long time. We have seen a lot of corrupt campaigning and we have also seen a lot of money from the Gulf, funding Salafis and others. There’s been horrific violence by the army and the police the last several months against protesters and others, but the army has nonetheless pushed for these elections, avoiding any responsibility. Regardless of the outcome of the election, the army is still in power and the parliamentary powers are very limited, so it’s all something of a political circus; in the end we still have authoritarianism under a different name. The army is touting the long lines as a show of its legitimacy, but the turnout seems more likely to be 30 or at most 40 percent, quite low given there was no organized boycott. People need to realize that even though we’re seeing elections now, and supposedly entering a democratic era, the real fight of the revolution is still on the streets and those who have fought and died still haven’t received their due.” Last month Gaber was on an IPA news release titled: “Military Trials ‘Crushing Egyptian Revolution.‘”

MICHAEL BEER, michael at nvintl.net
AP reports that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Burma “called for the release of political prisoners and an end to brutal ethnic violence that has ravaged the nation for decades. She also warned the country’s leadership to break suspected illicit military, nuclear and ballistic missile cooperation with North Korea that may violate U.N. sanctions.” Director of Nonviolence International, Beer wrote the chapter “Violent and Nonviolent Struggle in Burma” in the book “Nonviolent Social Movements” and has trained hundreds of Burmese in nonviolent struggle over the past 20 years. He said today: “The U.S. can do many things to encourage the Burmese regime to change its economic, political, military, nuclear, and human rights policies. The U.S. can set an attractive example by: Ending extra-judicial assassinations, closing Guantanamo and Bagram, ending its war on radical Islam, ending its drug wars, reducing wealth inequality, ending police brutality towards nonviolent protesters, reducing the U.S. military budget, honoring native American needs and treaties and abiding by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Encouraging reform with actions would speak louder than words.”

COSTAS PANAYOTAKIS, [in NYC] cpanayotakis at gmail.com
Panayotakis is associate professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology at CUNY and author of the forthcoming book “Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.” He said today: “Another European agreement to address the eurozone crisis is unraveling before even getting implemented. As European leaders insist on austerity policies that do not address the contradictions of the neoliberal model underlying the economic architecture of the eurozone, the collapse of the euro becomes an ever likelier scenario. Simultaneously, demonstrations and strikes become a daily phenomenon inside and outside the eurozone. Days after the general strike in Portugal and a day after a massive public sector strike in Britain, Greek workers are staging the first general strike after the new government, which is headed by a former banker, was formed less than a month ago.” Panayotakis’ latest pieces are “The Greek Crisis Intensifies” and “Debunking the Greek (and European) Crisis Narrative.

Police Strong-Arm, Evict Occupy LA and Philly

Information, including contacts for different occupation cites, is at and video from various cites is featured at.

JODY DODD, jdodd6 at gmail.com
Dodd is part of the Occupy Philly legal collective. The webpage features more information including a video “Eviction – What the Mainstream Media Failed to Show the World.”

ERNESTO ARCE, earce at kpfk.org
Arce is a news producer for KPFK in Los Angeles and is the Southern California Bureau Chief for the Pacifica Evening News. He said today: “Although city officials praised what they called a mostly peaceful action, legal observers say the initial raid was unnecessarily rough. The eviction raised media access issues since only a select group of reporters was allowed to enter City Hall park.

“Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck gave me his word that the department’s action would be carried out in a humane way and without any surprises. This morning’s action seemed to contradict that pledge. Several hundred LAPD officers rushed the south steps of L.A. City Hall literally running over peaceful activists. Some protesters say they were caught by surprise, were corralled into the center of the park and did not hear either an order to disperse or the declaration of an unlawful assembly.

Arce added: “While city leaders lauded the police’s action, it’s clear that LAPD once again resorted to heavy-handed tactics. More than 200 people were arrested early this morning during the eviction of Occupy LA. Hundreds of Los Angeles police officers rushed out from all sides of City Hall shortly after midnight and surrounded protesters. LAPD says more than 1400 officers brought in on 30 metro buses took part in the massive operation.”

See: LA Times “Occupy LA: Protesters vow to make camp at banks, country clubs#mce_temp_url#.”

Biggest Strike in Decades in Britain Against Austerity

The New York Times reports today: “Britons Strike as Government Extends Austerity Measures.”

The British Independent is reporting “The biggest strike for over 30 years got under way today with schools, hospitals, courts, transport and government hit by a walkout involving up to two million workers.” See live coverage.

BRENDAN BARBER, interviews available via Liz Chinchen media at tuc.org.uk,
or Rob Holdsworth, rholdsworth at tuc.org.uk or Elly Gibson, egibson at tuc.org.uk
Barber is general secretary for the Trades Union Congress, which is organizing many of todays actions. He said today: “This is a government that scrapped the tax on bankers’ bonuses. Instead they are asking millions of public sector servants to pay higher contributions that won’t go into their pensions, but will go into paying off the deficit. They have scrapped the bankers’ bonus tax and replaced it with a teachers’, nurses’ and lollipop ladies’ [crossing guard] tax.” Chinchen, Holdsworth and Gibson are part of the TUC’s media team and can handle interview requests.

CHARLES IDELSON, cidelson at calnurses.org
Idelson is with National Nurses United, the largest union and professional association of nurses in the U.S. — with 170,000 members. The group is having solidarity actions in five U.S. cities and has released a statement that reads in part: “The actions come amidst huge corporate cash reserves on both sides of the Atlantic while government officials in both nations push reductions in retirement security and other cuts. In the U.K., some 30 unions representing nurses, teachers, paramedics, civil servants, and other public workers will protest plans by the conservative government to cut public pensions. In the U.S., support rallies will also remind the public of threats to Social Security.”

British Embassy: Iranian Response to Assassinations and Explosions?

ERVAND ABRAHAMIAN, ervand_abrahamian at baruch.cuny.edu
Abrahamian, who was born in Iran, is a distinguished professor of history at City University of New York. His books include A History of Modern Iran. He said today: “Some sectors of the Iranian government — especially the Revolutionary Guards — would have known about the impending attack on the embassy compound and would have turned a blind eye. This is counterproductive since it further isolates Iran from the rest of the world, including potential allies in the Third World. But the critical question is why is it happening now. As some newspapers have reported, it appears to be a tit-for-tat for the British tightening up on sanctions. But in addition to that, there would be some among the Revolutionary Guards who are convinced that Britain — as well as the U.S. and Israel — have had a hand in recent assassinations of nuclear scientists, sabotage of nuclear installations, and explosions in military bases. Although these events have received little coverage in the West, they have been front-page news in Iran. Since the U.S. and Israel do not have embassies in Iran, the British become the obvious targets.”

Lessons for Occupy — Richard Grossman: “Outlaw the Corporation”

RUSSELL MOKHIBER, russellmokhiber at gmail.com
Mokhiber is editor of Corporate Crime Reporter. His books include Corporate Predators: The Hunt for Mega-Profits and the Attack on Democracy. He just wrote the piece “Richard Grossman 1943-2011.”

Mokhiber said today: “When I first met him over 20 years ago, Richard Grossman was making the inside the beltway public interest groups nervous. He was calling them out for supporting ‘regulation’ of corporate wrongdoing. Instead of allowing companies to pollute a certain amount, Grossman would make it a crime to pollute even a little. Instead of regulating the nuclear power or fracking industries, he would brand them criminal enterprises and outlaw them.

“And in the last interview he gave — to Corporate Crime Reporter last month — Grossman proposed outlawing the corporate form itself. In fact, he drafted legislation that would do exactly that.

‘”If people want to go into business, fine,’ Grossman told Corporate Crime Reporter. ‘But this law would strip away 500 years of constitutional protections and privileges. No more limited liability for shareholders. No more perpetual life. No more constitutional protections.’

“In a footnote to the draft law, Grossman writes that ‘in a corporate state, law, culture, contrived celebration and tradition illegitimately clothe directors and executive officers of chartered incorporated businesses in governing authority.’

“‘This is usurpation,’ he writes. ‘A corporate state nurtures, enables and expedites such illegitimate governing authority by violence enforced by courts, jails, police and military force and by historians. Less-overtly ferocious institutions – for profit and nonprofit — routinely reinforce that reality.

“Richard Grossman was a friend to all democratic forces seeking to stand up to the corporate machine.

“We will miss you Richard.

“Thank you for pushing, and challenging, and opening our eyes.” See Mokhiber’s article, which links to Grossman’s last interview.

In the interview, Groosman says: “All existing charters for incorporated business entities would be null and void. Accumulated corporate constitutional privilege — all that illegitimate private governing authority bestowed by legislators and judges — would be purged. States and the United States would be prohibited from creating and privileging new business entities. For starters. And then people would have to get together and figure out what kinds of entities we could design that would not take over like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice.” A previous talk of his, “Challenging Corporate Law and Lore,” is online.

Grossman’s books included Energy, Jobs, and the Economy (1979), Fear At Work: Job Blackmail, Labor and the Environment (1982), Taking Care of Business: Citizenship and the Charter of Incorporation (1993) and Defying Corporations, Defining Democracy (2001).