Hariri Says Ousted by ‘Foreign Orders’, Not Parliamentary Consultations

Hariri Says Ousted by ‘Foreign Orders’, Not Parliamentary Consultations
Outgoing premier Saad Hariri on Saturday held broad consultations with March 14 leaders and economic and popular figures before presiding over a meeting for Mustaqbal Movement’s politburo that was dedicated to discussing the latest political developments, his press office said.
“The Mustaqbal Movement stresses its commitment to the democratic course,” a statement issued after Mustaqbal’s politburo meeting said, noting that “the parliamentary consultations conducted by the president” were held amid “fierce foreign pressures aimed at changing the rules of the democratic game.”

“Our exit from power was not the immediate result of parliamentary consultations, it rather happened according to foreign orders … executed by domestic tools,” the statement added.

During the meeting, Hariri stressed to the political bureau members that “anything related to the so-called S-S (initiative) belongs to the past now and does not exist for Saad Hariri or the Mustaqbal Movement.”

He denied approving or signing on any paper “related to the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and its ties with the Lebanese State.”

“There is a major difference between discussing certain ideas and approving them,” Hariri added.

He urged the conferees to “protect civil peace and coexistence among all Lebanese.”

“Each official or member in the (Mustaqbal) movement is responsible for implementing this approach,” Hariri added, calling on his movement’s members “not to be dragged into sectarian rhetoric.”

“If street action was one of the means of expressing our political stance, it should not turn at any given moment into a weapon through which we intimidate others,” Hariri went on to say.


Lahore shootings: As the case unfolds, the mystery deepens

Lahore shootings: As the case unfolds, the mystery deepens

US consulate employee Davis is escorted by police and officials after appearing before a judge in Lahore. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: As the US diplomatic machinery moved to calm a brewing storm over Thursday’s shooting incident in Lahore involving an official attached to its consulate, peculiar details are trickling in regarding the exact identity of the man.

US Ambassador Cameron Munter is learnt to have met Foreign Secretary Salman Basheer, requesting the federal government’s intervention in the case of US official Raymond Allen Davis, who gunned down two young motorcyclists near Lahore’s Qurtaba Chowk in apparent self-defence. The case is currently being handled by the Punjab government, and Davis has been remanded into police custody for six days, according to police officials, by a magistrate.

Munter, according to well-placed sources, is said to have brought up the Geneva Convention, under which diplomats are allowed diplomatic immunity. The provincial government has so far refused to bring the international protocol into play. Other diplomats are also learnt to have tried to contact the Punjab government.

The Foreign Office is learnt to have contacted the Punjab government requesting case details. There has also been a meeting between Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik regarding the matter.  Gen. Kayani is said to have advised Malik to handle the matter with ‘extreme care’ given its sensitive nature. He also advised that, aside from the apparent diplomatic links, Davis’ military links should also be kept in mind as the case moves forward.

Also discussed was the law and order situation that could arise if Davis is granted immunity.

Who is Davis?

Meanwhile, intelligence data shows that Davis has visited Pakistan nine times since 2009.

According to records available with The Express Tribune, Allen Davis, aged 37, visited Pakistan for the first time on October 18, 2009, landing in Islamabad. His last entry into Pakistan was on January 20, 2011, when he landed in Lahore’s Allama Iqbal International Airport.

Davis travelled using a regular passport, on which he had regular visit visas. There was no diplomatic passport.

Insiders say that Davis was performing duties as a technical advisor serving in the Intelligence and Security Wings of the US Embassy in Islamabad and the consulate in Lahore. He also made frequent visits to Karachi and Peshawar. The police are said to have recovered an identity card from Davis for the US’ Peshawar consulate.

Pakistani intelligence agencies have so far not reached any conclusion and had not submitted a report regarding the incident till the filing of this report. However, initial data suggests that police or other security/intelligence agencies had no record or intimation of Davis’ movement or participation in official events since he first arrived in Pakistan in 2009.

According to policy guidelines and security advisory issued by the Foreign and Interior Ministries, US officials are, for their own security, not meant to move around without informing security officials due to the terror threat in the country. The vehicle Davis was driving was locally-registered, and did not have diplomatic number plates.

Initial reports revolved around a possible looting attempt by the men on the motorcycles, to which Davis is said to have retaliated. Conversely, some reports rejected the robbery bid. However, it is unclear what would have provoked Davis to open fire.

A new angle to the incident, submitted in a statement by Davis himself, has it that the vehicle he was driving had had a minor collision with a Rickshaw a little before the incident. Therefore, if not a robbery, the two men could have chased the vehicle to argue with the driver.

Tristram Perry, the information officer of the US Consulate in Lahore, did not answer queries regarding Davis’ immunity, saying that he has been requested by Islamabad to not comment on the incident. “We are working with Pakistani authorities to determine the facts and work toward a resolution,” he said

FIRs against the deceased

Meanwhile, though it was initially reported that the two deceased motorcyclists had no criminal record, the police registered FIRs against them posthumously on Friday, police sources told The Express Tribune.

The complainants, Doctor Farzand and Sheharyar Malik, in a written application, state that the two had robbed them of their mobiles and cash just before the incident and were fleeing.

As evidence, the two have referred to phone logs of calls made to Rescue 1-5 about the incident right after it happened. The police say that two mobile phones were recovered from the deceased which matched the description of those the applicants had complained to 1-5 had been stolen.

However, the police had also shown the recovery of foreign currency from the deceased, which they say had also been looted. On the other hand, there is yet to be a complaint regarding the theft of foreign currency on the day of the incident.

In the FIR registered against Davis, the police have also included charges of carrying an illegal weapon – a Glock pistol and two magazines. The police also recovered a digital camera, a phone tracker with a charger.

Conversely, the police so far have no information about the other vehicle that came to rescue Davis and crushed a motorcyclist – Ibadullah – in the process. After killing the man, the vehicle fled from the scene. Davis did not disclose who was heading to his rescue, but did tell the police that, after the incident, he telephoned his Regional Security Officer who might have sent some officials for his rescue.

A police officer, on condition of anonymity, said that they had, through the Lahore Capital City Police Officer, sent a formal request to Pakistan’s foreign office to contact the US Consulate to identify those in the vehicle for their arrest.

The security of the US consulate has meanwhile been increased in light of increasing protests against the incident, The Express Tribunehas learnt.


Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th,  2011.

‘America’: An experiment in terror

‘America’: An experiment in terror


By Larry Pinkney


“To educate a man is to unfit him to be a slave.” –Frederick Douglass

“The [Senate] Committe has not been able to determine with any greater precision the extent to which COINTELPRO may be continuing.” –Book III, Final Report of the Select Committee, 94th Congress, 2d Session, United States Senate

Terror is carried out in many forms by this nation’s corporate government against everyday people both internally and externally, and its most powerful facilitator is apathy.

As the national economy crumbles for everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people, there is in the White House a corporate/military master-president masquerading as the slave, a Congress insatiably feeding from a bottomless corporate trough, and a judiciary that makes an utter mockery of justice, constitutional rights, and human rights. Meanwhile, bloody overt and covert U.S. wars rage on in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere abroad. As contempt grows for the hypocritical and diabolical de facto policies of this nation’s government, it is everyday people at home and abroad whose lives are being torn asunder and who are quite literally dying, as the banksters and other assorted corporate gangsters grow ever richer and even more vicious.

The corporate-stream so-called “news” media of this nation has sunk to its lowest level since the very inception of the United States of America. It is pathetic as it serves as the propaganda arm, of and for, this actual one-party corporatist/military state. The corporate-stream media serves to keep everyday peoplemisinformed (or not relevantly informed at all), apathetic and lethargic, while being simultaneously terrorized. Its role is to omit, distract, confuse, and discredit:Omit – at all costs – delineating the truth and reality of what is actually occurring and why; distract attention away from how everyday people are being emotionally pimped and economically & politically emaciated by the U.S. corporate/military elite while purposely confusing the issues; and discredit – by any means necessary – those who dare to speak truth to power. Indeed, the function of this corporate-stream media is to keep people mindless, confused, and manipulated. There is no such thing in this nation as consistently serious, honest, and hard-hitting, thought-provoking journalism in the corporate-stream media, for such a thing would be absolutely unacceptable to the corporate elite who financially own the corporate-stream “news” media. Thus, the cycle of terror against everyday people in this nation and around the world is maintained and perpetuated.

It is no mere coincidence that as the horrific economic melt-down worsens for everyday people – political repression increases [i.e. de facto terrorism] in this nation. In other words, everyday people are being simultaneously terrorized both economically and politically right here at home. Moreover, the dangerous, absurd, and hypocritical political & military policies abroad, of this nation’s government, virtually guarantees a continuing cycle of blind physical terror against the people of this nation and around the world. But who cares, as long as the blood-lined financial coffers of the tiny avaricious corporate/military elite continue to be filled to the brim?! It’s time for us, everyday people, to care!

On terror, COINTELPRO, the Patriot Act & everyday people

To reiterate: Terror is carried out in many forms, both nationally and internationally.

The most obviously destructive form of terrorism is of course war, and is primarily carried out by governments, most notably our own. Nevertheless, political repression is also a virulent form of terrorism – also, more often than not, carried out by governments.

The United States government has, for many decades, been engaged in a war against its own everyday people. It is a terroristic war of political repression, and presently this form of terrorism is being ratcheted-up to a crescendo level by the U.S. government, under the auspices of the Obama administration.

People are terrorized that they will have their doors kicked in by the FBI et al, or placed on a government no-fly list, or set-up and framed on some well orchestrated bogus offense – all for, in actuality, exercising the right to political dissent against this government’s internal and/or external policies. However, this Orwellian reality, though being continued in the year 2011, by no means just began this year. It is in fact part and parcel of a long, sordid, ignored, often glossed-over and/or hidden chapter(s) of the ‘American’ government’s continuing experiment in terror against its own people.

One such continuing chapter of terror against the people of this nation is the U.S. government’s insidious program to “frame, murder, imprison, discredit and/or [otherwise] neutralize” political dissenters; known as COINTELPRO [i.e. the Counter Intelligence Program]. In point of fact, the political repression of COINTELPRO has been insidiously codified in the so-called ‘Patriot Act’ itself. The Obama/Biden administration, with the complicity of the Congress and the courts, has extended and broadened this ‘American’ experiment in terror against everyday people throughout this nation. Today, even the semblance of political transparency in government has been morphed into a disfigured relic of the past, and those who attempt to pull back the heavy curtain of secrecy and subterfuge permeating this corporate-government become targets to be “neutralize[d].” Nevertheless, an increasing amount of everyday people are becomingfed-up with these amoral, unjust, and secretive, corporate-government intrigues and are increasingly insisting upon speaking truth to power. As in the past, so today, the government invokes the nebulous, omnipresent cloak of “national security” (which really means corporate security for the elite rich) in an attempt to rationalize and defend its secrecy, subterfuge, and wars – at home and abroad.

This corporate-government is in fear of its own people and is resorting to every conceivable dirty trick to keep just plain everyday ordinary Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people uninformed, in disarray, and under control. This is not government “of, by, and for the people.” It is a farce and a sham, and getting worse every day. It’s time to wake up and turn things around!

What we must do

There is no single answer or set of answers for bringing about the real systemic change that the people of this nation and globe need and deserve. There are many answers. However, one thing is certain: Resistance is not futile – it is absolutely essential. In order to develop viable answers for bringing about systemic change, we must be critical thinkers and come up with uncompromising and viable questions. We must stop acting as lethargic corporate drones and regain the human creativity that we have allowed the corporate/military elite to steal from us. We must reconnect with our own humanity and that of peoples globally. We must demand a full accounting from those politicians who allegedly represent us everyday people. We must educate ourselves and each other – in the truest sense of the word; and informed critical thinking and analysis is an integral part of real “education” [not brainwashing]. We must seriously educate our young people. Yes, “educate” ourselves and one another – so that we, all of us women, men, and children, Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow are, in the words of Frederick Douglass, utterly “unfit to be slaves!” Unfit to be drones! We must support, in word and deed, those who stand up for justice and human rights and who speak truth to power – for in so doing we are supporting the very best in ourselves and each other.

No more home foreclosures! No more burgeoning prisons! No more unemployment or under-employment! No more wars abroad or at home! No more corporate greed and domination! No more subterfuge and political repression! No more double-speak rhetoric! It’s time for real change – that is, systemic change.

We must organize locally, nationally, and internationally for justice and human rights. Contrary to the words from the motion picture, The Wizard of Oz; we will and must pay attention to that metaphorical “man behind the curtain.” In fact, we must rip that curtain down! We must educate, organize, and agitate for the good of the planet and the whole of everyday people! Stop looking elsewhere for all the answers when it is you, yourselves, collectively who have them within you. Humanity and Mother Earth call to us. And we must respond. Let’s get busy.

Onward, my sisters and brothers! Onward!

BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS News Hour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker, by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book). Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.

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Who Has Blown Up Moscow Airport?

Who Has Blown Up Moscow Airport?

Andre Fomine –  Oriental Review.

Any terrorist attack immanently pursues a certain political goal. Clear understanding of this goal and an analysis of the whole set of available facts about the horrific explosion in Domodedovo earlier this week may bring us closer to the answer to the key question: who are the perpetrators and who ordered them to commit the barbaric murder of dozens of people in the airport reception hall?

There is no doubt that the ultimate aim was to destabilize Russian political system and trigger the ‘orange scenario’ on the eve of electoral season here. ‘Orange scenario’ means transition of power to the liberal opposition by organizing and funding of a small but extremely motivated and politically active protesting movement that serves as a blind ram at the decisive hour of announcing the results. Therefore the more insecure the people feel and the lower the authority of the central powers is the higher are the chances for opposition to gather a cheated mass storm rise.

Who wants a new Russian revolution? Evidently, the global oligarchic capital seeking to establish (partly restore) their control over Russian resources and other assets. All the claims about ‘lack of democracy’, ‘human rights violations’, ‘war-torn Chechnya’ etc are just a baseless trumpery aimed to hide this simple and plain motive.

Now let us have a look at the political context.

On January 20, 2011 President Medvedev returned from the Middle East, the first ever trip of a Russian leader to Palestine which was not shared with a visit to Israel. Main declaration: heconfirmed Russian support for Palestinian statehood within pre-1967 borders.

On January 23, 2011 Al-Jazeera published ‘revealing’ materials about secret Palestinian concessions to Israel proposed in 2008. So in three days after farewell ceremony with President Medvedev Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas got a ‘punishment’ from Mossad. A ‘punishment’ for the Russian president came one day later…

(for larger image)

The first shocking fact of the explosion in Domodedovo airport on January 24 is the volume of explosive. 7 kg in TNT equivalent! Circle of 30 meters of complete destruction around the epicenter. A hole of 15-20 centimeters deep in the marbled floor (area 1 on photo). The whole floor within the scene is seriously damaged with scratches from metallic filling of the bomb. At the same time, many lamps at the ceiling above the scene are untouched.

Another specific feature is the character of traumas. Almost all victims have their legs significantly damaged or torn away. Both facts indicate that the epicenter was very low and the blast wave was spreading horizontally along the floor.

No need to be an expert in forensics to conclude that apparently the bomb was inside a suitcase or a bag. Should there be a person carrying or pulling it? That is possible but not absolutely pre-conditional. Was it exactly his job to activate the device? I do not see any reason for such modus operandi of the terrorists. The drugs are very costly and for chosen scenario there is no need to waste them to train a suicide zombie. Much easier is to fool somebody with request to hand a luggage to a traveler or just to leave a suitcase among other things. Once the crowd is formed a side observer simply sends a text message with his mobile phone…

Now much more interesting thoughts. For the first time the Russian leaders recognized that this terrorist act doesn’t have any connection to Chechnya. It was crystal clear that the ‘Chechen card’ was played off long ago. So-called jamaats at the North Caucasus do not even take responsibility for the sporadic attacks on the governmental and security agencies as well as Islamic leaders condemning them. The chimerical idea of ‘Caucasian Caliphate’ has been eventually degraded to banal criminal uprising parasitizing on few facts of mismanagement by the local national clans and justified grievances of the population. It is definitely not their job. So who is behind the airport blast?

Last fall I’ve posted an interesting article by Peter Chamberlin ‘Who Is Responsible For Suicide Bomber Academies?”. He describes, among other things, the evidence of several US military veterans who were involved in developing the mind-control research programs after the World War II in the US. He also cites Chechen leader Kadyrov as saying that ‘the captured members of Riyad-us-Saliheen Brigade (a Chechnya-based terrorist organization that was active in Russia in early 2000s – OR) had confessed that Western specialists had given them mind-control drugs, which had the effect of making them like robots, who “do not think.” There are also numerous evidence that terrific ‘suicide truck bombings’ in Iraq and Afghanistan happen mostly after they pass through check-points of the PMCs…

So it is getting more or less obvious that what happened in Domodedovo last Monday was a typical subversive act, a professional special operation against the geopolitical rival. The integral component of such operation is the plausible leaks about possible perpetrators. So we’ve heard about a ‘Chechen girl bomber’ captured by the Russian security forces in December last year who ‘was planning a large-scale attack in Moscow’ and ‘two Palestinians among the victims in Domodedovo’. It very much resembles the story about a Quran and a Pilotage Guidelines left at the back seat of a car used by 9/11 hijackers.

I deliberately will not suggest any specific subversive agency that might operate in Russia and commit this act. After all, the name and location of its HQ doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the false traces they used to impose on public opinion and international counter-terrorism experts in reality have nothing to do with Islam and Islamic values.

So-called ‘Islamic factor’ as a powerful and blind tool for achieving geopolitical goals is not a modern invention. Creation of different ersatz movements on Islamic soil is an old and charming British tradition. Immediately after the definitive collapse of original British dynasty of Stuarts as a result of ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, the real masters of the new Britain who sponsored William of Orange and brought him to power began corrupting both Christian and Islamic faiths. It can hardly be a coincidence that very soon the ideology of Islamic Protestantism preached byMuhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab (1703-1792) gained political leverage and was established in the House of Saud.

By now though, I would say that it is only the most narrow-minded people who do not see that all ‘Caliphate’ and other ‘Heaven-on-the-Earth projects’ are clandestinely controlled and managed by global elites. They need such false dichotomy in order to build up their dominance in the fire of global Chaosistan. Will Muslims be prudent enough to understand it? Hopefully they are and the mankind will avoid the worst scenario. Anyway, Russia is the last country where anti-Islamic hysteria may take any effect.

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Hezbollah is the New Government of Lebanon. Now What?

Hezbollah is the New Government of Lebanon. Now What?



This observer tends to get a haircut about every four months whether I need it or not.  But this morning I got more than a trim from my Hezbollah friend and barber, Abass, named after Abass ibn Ali, the brother of Hussein, both martyrs and heroes of the epic 680 a.d. internecine Muslim battle at Karbala in present day Iraq. The Battle of Karbala, for Hezbollah members and Shia Muslims generally, symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and the willingness to sacrifice one’s life for justice and the greater good of one’s family, community or “Ummah.” The reason for mentioning this is that my barber was ecstatic and claims his party has just experienced a “Karbala moment!”

When I mentioned that his statement could be taken different ways, since all the resistance fighters were killed at Karbala, Abass continued:

“Well, what I mean is that we in Hezbollah are pretty well known for kicking and keeping the Zionists out of Lebanon but our Party also seems to be catching on how to work in Lebanese and regional politics. And our people will benefit as we create social programs and honest government for the first time in Lebanese history. Do you agree that we are beginning to play the Lebanese political game pretty well?”
I do agree.

With a speed that surprised many here, and with equally surprising cross-sectarian acquiescence this morning, Hezbollah and its allies constitutionally toppled Hariri’s government, constitutionally imposed new consultations to form a new government, and constitutionally transformed a minority into a majority and vice versa.

Hezbollah is known for studying political subjects very carefully and being quite flexible when events warrant. Two weeks ago when the Party of God pulled 11 MPs from the pro-US Saad Hariri government, it was thinking about nominating former PM Omar Karami to replace Hariri. The two time former Prime Minister, Karami, is strongly pro-Syrian, supports the Resistance and Hezbollah keeping its weapons. He also has zero use for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon that will likely indict a minimum of four Hezbollah officials. Now in his eighties, Karami is still fairly spry and may have assumed the post, if Hezbollah formally offered. In fact he might have thought the job was his but in the midst of fast moving events, Hezbollah decided to opt for nominating Nigib Mikati  an American educated, Sunni billionaire who made lots of money in telecommunications  and a lot more when a South African firm bought  his company. Moreover, Sayyed Nasrallah said in his last speech that Omar Karami was the favored candidate, but the latter did not offer to take the job due to his old age. So the best thing to do was thought to be to talk to Mikati, as he is known to be a centrist and that his candidacy would have a less negative impact on the Hariri camp. Mikati is not close to Hezbollah and certainly has never been an ally.

In fact, Hezbollah, the Saudis, Europeans, and increasingly the Americans  support Mikati as a World Bank type technocrat along the lines of  former Lebanese PM Fuad Siniora or Salam Fayyad in Palestine but who can hopefully, not just ignore, but help clean up the governments rampant corruption. Hezbollah’s nominee Mikati is known as a pro western moderate who was elected to Parliament in 2009 on the US backed Hariri ticket. The US would publically endorse him except for the fact that Hezbollah nominated him with Iranian, Syrian and Saudi backing.  This hostile reactive US stance may change because Washington will find it difficult to boycott Mikati since the Europeans are endorsing him. Also, the negative international reaction to the Hariri camp violence on 1/27/11 in Tripoli and Beirut is awkward for the Obama administration to justify since the US has accused the Hezbollah led opposition of using “terrorist tactics” when some elements thought to be allied with the party engaged in similar street violence in the past. So the shoe is now on the other foot.

Some of the early winners and losers 48 hours following what the pro-US March 14 team and the US State Department are still calling “the coup”:
Saad Hariri and his US backed Future Movement: Both are big political losers this morning but Saad still has a couple of important options. For the past nearly two years Saad was told by the US Embassy that Washington wanted him to “hang tough” and refuse to compromise on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The US conceived and engineered the STL in the UN Security Council to get Syria out of Lebanon and Bashar Assad out of Damascus following the Valentine Day 2005 murder of PM Rafik Hariri and 22 others.

Saad obediently did as told and consequently lost his premiership. Hezbollah warned him several times that he would  be out if he did not disavow the STL which Hezbollah views as nothing more than a US-Israeli bludgeon to try to destroy it. When the Hezbollah led opposition pulled down his government on January 12, 2011, Saad was ready to fight to keep his job. But his US and Saudi backers “stabbed Saad in the back as did some of his closest political and personal friends,” according to a Future Movement source.
Meanwhile, both Saudi Arabia and the Obama Administration realized that Saad could not secure the 65 votes from Parliament (they were right; he got just 60) so they decided to let Syria name the non-ideologue,  Nigab Mikati, a personal friend of President Bashar Assad. Omar Karami may have been the first choice but he too was dropped because he also could not get 65 votes and had a checkered past including being too cozy with Syria. The US and the KSA decided better to let Syria back into the Lebanese Government than risk Iran taking complete control.

Saad Hariri reportedly feels betrayed by his fellow Sunni billionaire alliance member Mikati, who he got elected MP in 2009 on his personal ticket.  But in reality Mikati’s  87% election results showed that his candidacy helped Hariri’s candidates because Mikati’s name was on the ballot as part of the Hariri list. Nevertheless, their meeting yesterday morning lasted about 6 minutes and was stone cold. The Hariri TV channels including Future TV chose to publish just 30 seconds of the encounter.  When Hariri left the meeting and was asked by a journalist if he would join the Mikati government he said “Lashou.”  ( meaning: “For what?, or what’s the use?” ).

Just hours later, the March 14 alliance informed Makati that it would not participate in his government. But both may still. The Saudi’s are already encouraging Saad to swallow his pride and cooperate with the next government. Eventually the Americans will likely also after they get over their shock and sour grapes and Jeffrey Feltman talks with the French and some Europeans leaders this weekend.
This morning, Saad is said to be still inconsolable by yesterday afternoon’s private session with the US Ambassador, the motherly Maury Connelly, and repeated this morning that he will not join a government “appointed by Hezbollah.” But his March 14 movement leadership is qualifying his rejection and strongly pressing PM designate Makati to put in writing for all to see a commitment that his government will not under any circumstances accept the three Hezbollah no’s. They are:  no STL funding, no STL Lebanese judges working at the STL, and no Lebanese government cooperation with the STL including scrapping the Lebanese-UN Memorandum of Understanding pledging cooperation on such matter as arresting and extraditing those soon to be named by the STL.

March 14, including their leader Hariri, is still insisting on their price for participation, which is that the new government support  the STL and that the Lebanese government control Hezbollah’s arms.  They will lose on both demands as Hezbollah will not budge on either. Yet,  discussions are being held on how to resolve these issues and, unlikely as it may appear at the moment, solutions may be found to dissolve these ‘red lines’.

If Saad stays out of the Mikati government, he will champion the STL but he will lose more March 14th support because some of his closest team members are said to be planning to jump ship and to put politics about their claimed principles in order to grab some well-paid Cabinet chairs. March 14, via Fuad Sinoria, their Parliamentary leader is making lots of noise about Hezbollah weapons but it’s largely as a bargaining chip ploy to get good cabinet posts when the time is right.

This current March14, playing hard to get stance, suits US diplomat Jeffrey Feltman, one of the architects of the 2005 “Cedar Revolution” and who is currently on his 62nd trip to the region to assure anyone listening that he and the US government “respects the sovereignty, freedom, and independence” of Lebanon, whatever any of those words mean anymore, given US actions in the region. In Paris yesterday, Feltman repeated that there persists mutual French-U.S. concern on how the Hariri cabinet was “toppled under threat and intimidation” and he emphasized the need for the US and its allies to press for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1701 (disarm Hezbollah) and 1757 (indict and convict Hezbollah).

Jeff could be forgiven for feeling a little bit like Saeb Erekat when on 10/21/09  the soon to be ex-PA “peace negotiator” complained to George Mitchell that, “The region is slipping away like sand through our hands.” Feltman, not for the first time, is under great pressure from Washington and Tel Aviv to “do something!”

Rampant rumors circulating here include one that the US Embassy could be closed if, as expected, the US and Israel launch the expected massive international defamation and vilification campaign in the coming weeks timed to drive home the expected STL indictments that Washington believes will include key Hezbollah officials.

Hezbollah has the most direct control over the government of Lebanon including the Parliament, the next 30 seat Cabinet, and the government bureaucracy. Contrary to US-Israel claims the party is not thrilled with having the chance to run the government. Hezbollah sees itself as a resistance movement first, last, and always and many in the party do not relish its “pure mandate” being sullied or getting sidetracked by running Lebanon’s really complicated government.

Hezbollah will now push its clean government and anti-corruption agenda and get it enacted into law but the party is quite content to leave it to others to work constantly with all those self-absorbed sects and their leaders. To a large extent, it will operate through MPs who are not Hezbollah party members. It intends to immediately begin work on improving the big Four issues that all Lebanese urgently want addressed: water, electricity, pollution, traffic among others including the environment and jobs creation. Hezbollah wants to be seen as serving the people while it builds its resistance movement. It is preparing to unveil its domestic legislative agenda which will include most of the ten ‘good government’ initiatives that its ally Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri delivered to Mikati yesterday.
Hezbollah’s 12-member bloc told the new Prime Minster that it favored a government of “national partnership,” according to its head MP Mohammad Raad who advised the media: “Hezbollah did not set pre-conditions [on Mikati] and we won’t accept such a thing. We did not ask for specific portfolios and we await the formation process.”

Iran benefited with important political gains as it continues to rise and move in the region in the direction of Palestine.
The United States’ hegemony continues to recede in the region and is increasingly viewed, post Palestine Papers, as the enemy of Arabs and Muslim. Its pariah status grows because Washington continues to prop up, fund and arm the Zionist occupation of Palestine.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon can is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com

If Obama Was Really Serious About Fixing Things…

How do we fix the economy?  That is a question that tens of millions of Americans are asking right now.  Republicans are harshly criticizing the empty economic proposals being put forward by Barack Obama and the Democrats, but the Republicans don’t seem to have any real solutions either.  There is talk of cutting taxes a little bit more, reducing federal spending a little bit and getting rid of a few useless federal regulations but doing any of those things would essentially be like spitting into Niagara Falls – the effect would not really be noticeable at all.  As this column has documented over and over and over, the economic and financial problems that we are facing are so enormous that radical solutions are needed.  In essence, what we need is not an “economic bandage” or two – what we need is major reconstructive surgery.  If dramatic action is not taken, our economy is going to completely collapse.

Is anything that Barack Obama is currently proposing going to help fix the economy?  No, of course not.  As I wrote about the other day, Obama’s address to the nation was packed with empty promises and a whole lot of inspirational nonsense.  There were no real solutions to the very real problems we are facing.

So is there anything that we could do to actually start fixing things?

Yes, but the solutions are radical.  They would cause quite a bit of chaos.  They would not be easy for people to accept.

But the truth is that our economy and our financial system have terminal cancer.  If something radical is not done quickly we are going to lose the patient.

The following are 16 ideas that Barack Obama could have proposed if he actually wanted to fix the economy….

#1 We Must Shut Down The Federal Reserve

If you are not willing to accept this, you may as well not read the rest of the solutions.  The truth is that the U.S. government will never be able to solve the national debt problem until the Federal Reserve is shut down.  The U.S. government should nationalize all Federal Reserve assets and start issuing currency that is completely and totally debt-free.

Under such a system, it is conceivable that U.S. budget deficits could be eliminated entirely and that over time the entire U.S. government debt could be retired.

One of the biggest threats of going to such a system would be inflation, but remember, the United States has only had a major, ongoing problem with inflation since the Federal Reserve was created back in 1913.  The U.S. dollar has lost well over 95 percent of its value since the Federal Reserve was created, and so it is hard to imagine that we would do even worse without the Federal Reserve.

In any event, it is the fundamental right of any sovereign nation to be able to issue and control its own currency.  This right was given to the U.S. government by the U.S. Constitution and it is time for the U.S. government to reclaim that right.

#2 We Must End Trade With All Nations That Allow Their Citizens To Be Paid Slave Labor Wages Or That Do Not Respect Basic Human Rights

This would dramatically reduce the “outsourcing” of our jobs and our industries almost overnight.  The truth is that it was never a good idea to put American workers in direct competition with hundreds of millions of workers that are making slave labor wages on the other side of the globe.

Trading with nations that have a similar wage structure to ours and that respect basic human rights (Canada, for example) is a very good thing.  However, all of the “free trade” agreements that politicians from both parties have been pushing down our throats for decades are literally wrecking the U.S. economy.

Since 2001, over 42,000 factories have been shut down in the United States.  This proposal would go a long way towards stopping the bleeding, and if some of these countries are willing to raise their wage levels significantly then we would be able to resume trade with them in the future on a much more level playing field.

#3 We Must Radically Reduce The Size Of The Federal Government

Our big, fat government is a big, fat drain on our economy.  We have millions of paper pushers that don’t contribute much of anything of real value.

Not only that, but some of the things that the U.S. government wastes money on are absolutely mind blowing.  There is a reason why our founders insisted that we have a very limited government.  It is time to get back to those principles.

The Congressional Budget Office is projecting that the U.S. government budget deficit for this year will be nearly $1.5 trillion.

Talk about ridiculous!

I estimate that we could easily cut the size of government in half without hampering how effective it is.

We could start by abolishing the Department of Education.  After that, there are several dozen other government agencies and institutions which are worthy candidates for elimination.

#4 We Must Provide Temporary Jobs For The American People During The Economic Transition

If the Federal Reserve is shut down and the size of the federal government is cut in half, it would cause quite a bit of economic chaos.  During this transition it will be important to help people survive.

Instead of just passing out a bunch of handouts, a better alternative would be getting the American people working on something constructive.

During this time, the U.S. government could use all of the untapped labor of the unemployed to build massive infrastructure projects.

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, we need to spend approximately $2.2 trillion on infrastructure repairs and upgrades just to bring our existing infrastructure up to “good condition”.

So there is certainly a lot to do.

These jobs would just be temporary until new manufacturing facilities are set up and jobs in private industry are plentiful again.

Having the American people produce something of value is better than just handing them endless unemployment checks.

#5 We Must Ban All Short Selling

When you allow greedy individuals the opportunity to make lots of money by betting against the U.S. economy, it gives those individuals an incentive to make sure that those bets pay off.

Yes, this proposal is controversial, but it just makes sense.  If people want to make money, it should be because a company is doing well and not because someone is failing.

#6 We Must Ban Virtually All Derivatives

Once upon a time, derivatives were for hedging risk, but that is not what they are primarily being used for anymore.

Now derivatives are being used to bet on almost anything that you can possibly imagine.

Our financial markets have been turned into a gigantic financial casino.

The derivatives bubble is somewhere in the neighborhood of one quadrillion dollars and it could burst at any moment.

These weapons of financial mass destruction must be banned.

#7 We Must Break Up The Big Wall Street Banks

The big Wall Street banks have far too much power and far too much control.  They have come to dominate our entire financial system.

In a capitalist system, too much power concentrated in too few hands is not a good thing.  The corruption that has gone on at many of these institutions is absolutely unbelievable.

These banks need to be broken up into much smaller pieces for the good of our country.

#8 We Must Initiate A Massive Law Enforcement Crackdown On Our Financial Markets

As noted above, the corruption that has been going on down on Wall Street has been absolutely sickening.  We need a massive law enforcement crackdown on all of this fraud in order to restore faith in the financial system.

Just one small example of this corruption happened during the recent housing crash.  Goldman Sachs sold mortgage-related securities that were absolute junk to trusting clients at vastly overinflated prices and then made huge profits betting against those exact same securities.

So do you think that Goldman Sachs or any of the other major players on Wall Street will ever receive more than a slap on the wrist for all the things that have gone on in recent years?

Of course they won’t – unless the American people start demanding it.

#9 We Must Order U.S. Oil Companies To Use Untapped Oil Reserves In The United States And We Must Aggressively Develop Alternative Energy Sources

Right now, the price of oil is pushing up towards 100 dollars a barrel.  If oil passes that mark, it is going to put tremendous inflationary pressure on the entire global economy.

Sadly, there is no need for such a high price for oil.  There are vast, vast reserves of oil that are virtually untapped inside the United States.  These are mostly in the western states and up in Alaska.  We have enough to supply very cheap oil to the entire country for decades.

The U.S. government needs to order these oil companies to quit playing games and to start pumping this oil.

However, it is undeniable that we also need to develop alternative energy sources.  In fact, we should set up a “Manhattan Project”-style team to aggressively pursue this goal.

In the past, U.S. oil and car companies have blatantly repressed alternative energy projects.  The U.S. government should tell U.S. corporate executives that if they ever even think of doing such a thing again that they will be locked away so fast that it will make their heads swim.

#10 We Must Stop Paying Farmers Not To Grow Food

Instead of paying farmers not to grow food, we need to find ways to encourage them to grow as much food as possible.  A horrible global food crisis is coming and we are going to need huge stockpiles of everything.

#11 We Must Secure The U.S. border With Mexico

Illegal immigration costs the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars (conservatively) every single year.  We need to secure the border and make sure that all of our immigrants are coming through the “front door”.

#12 We Must Shut Down The IRS

Did you know that the United States has only had an income tax for less than 100 years?  For most of our history, the U.S. government got along just fine without taxing personal income.

The IRS is massive waste of time, energy and resources.  There are many alternatives that could easily replace the income tax and the ridiculous tax code that we have right now.

For example, a flat tax or a national sales tax could both potentially work, although both have their problems.

Personally, I am convinced that we could have a system that would not require any taxation of income by the U.S. government whatsoever.

Just imagine how much time, how much energy and how many resources would be saved!

#13 We Must Slash Red Tape And The Miles Of Ridiculous Regulations

In the United States today, you almost have to be insane to start up a new business.  When you consider all sources of taxation, U.S. businesses face one of the highest overall levels of taxation in the entire world.  Not only that, but U.S. businesses face miles and miles of absolutely ridiculous regulations and red tape.

As I wrote about in a previous article, if you want to do business in the United States today, you better be prepared for a regulatory nightmare….

If you plan to start a business in America today, you better get a hold of a good lawyer.  In fact, if you want to be safe, you better get a small army of lawyers.  You are going to need an expert on the federal regulations that apply to your business, you are going to need an expert on the state regulations that apply to your business and you are going to need an expert on the local regulations that apply to your business.

There are going to literally be thousands of regulations that apply to any business started inside the United States today.  There is no way that you will ever be able to learn them all.  Not only that, but the truth is that your lawyers will only be aware of a small fraction of them.

Until the regulatory environment in this country dramatically changes, companies are going to continue to be motivated to leave the United States.

#14 We Must Conduct A Massive Law Enforcement Crackdown On The Health Care Industry

It should not cost $30,000 for a one day stay in the hospital in this country.

The truth is that the American people are being ripped off big time.

We need to conduct a massive law enforcement crackdown on all the big hospitals and all the big health care companies.

We need to conduct a massive law enforcement crackdown on all the big health insurance companies.

We need to conduct a massive law enforcement crackdown on all the big pharmaceutical companies.

We also need massive medical malpractice reform.

Not only that, we also should end the monopoly of the AMA immediately.  We need to reintroduce honest, legitimate competition back into the medical system.

In addition, we need to make sure that natural health practitioners are able to compete on a fair and equal basis in this country.

As I have written about previously, the health care industry in the United States has become all about making as much money as possible.

That must change.

#15 We Must Stop Trying To Police The World

We will always need a very strong military force, but it is absolutely ridiculous that we have troops stationed in approximately 130 different countries today.

This is a tremendous drain on our national resources and we are spread way too thin militarily.  It is about time that many off these other countries started protecting themselves for a while.

#16 We Must Pull Out Of The United Nations And We Must Dramatically Reduce Foreign Aid

The United Nations is a massive waste of time, energy and resources.  We should have pulled the plug on that ridiculous globalist organization long before now.

In addition, we need to dramatically cut back on foreign aid until we get our own house in order.  We should only help the most desperate nations until we get our own economy back on track.

#17 We Must End All Of The Ridiculous Police State Measures Which Are Chasing Tourists Away From Our Soil

Tourism is a very, very important industry to the United States.  But today, all of the incredibly intrusive police state measures that the past few administrations have introduced are chasing millions of tourists away and are ruining our national reputation.

For example, there are many cultures around the globe where it would be unthinkable to have anonymous security goons feel up the private areas of women and children before they are allowed to get on an airplane.  Rather than put up with such nonsense, millions of tourists are simply going to choose to spend their money somewhere else.

#18 We Must Seize The Assets Of The Ultra-Wealthy Individuals And International Banks That Have Been Committing Fraud Against The U.S. Government For Decades

Once the Federal Reserve is shut down, it will be important to hold those that have been defrauding the U.S. government responsible.  Once a full audit of the Federal Reserve is conducted and evidence of criminal activity is uncovered, those involved should be arrested and all of their assets should be seized and frozen pending trial.

If the things that have been going on inside the Federal Reserve are ever fully exposed, it will make the whole Bernie Madoff scandal look like a nickel and dime operation.

But that is why there has never been a full, comprehensive audit of the Federal Reserve since it was created back in 1913.  The American people are not supposed to see what happens inside that institution.

Unfortunately, even though economic times are a little rough, things are still good enough that the vast majority of Americans are not ready to start demanding the kind of radical changes listed above.

Not only that, but the kind of radical changes listed above would be fought against by the establishment every step of the way.  Those with money and power are not going to step aside just because “justice” demands it.

What is probably going to happen is that the “establishment politicians” that the establishment has bought and paid for are just going to continue to propose half-baked solutions to our problems as this country continues to tumble towards economic oblivion.

So what do all of you readers think?  Is there hope that someday we will see some real economic solutions implemented in this country?