Sunday, October 02, 2011

UK: Poverty-stricken families join a lengthening queue for food handouts

English assistance programs princely compared to U.S.; experts say real poverty for middle class just beginning

The Guardian
By Jay Rainer

Stuck around the walls of the church hall at St Paul's in the heart of Leicester is a series of green laminated signs. There's one for the Centre Project and another for The Bridge. There's the Welcome Project, the Leicester Aids Support Service, the St Paul's over-60s group and more besides. Stacked up tidily in front of each one, awaiting collection, is food. Lots of it.

    Boxes of fresh vegetables sit alongside bags of freshly baked bread; jars of seafood pasta sauce, still under plastic wrap, are tucked in alongside sacks of rice. Each one of these heaps, obtained by the Leicester branch of the food waste charity FareShare, is a marker for chronic hunger; a profound hunger that, as the economic forecasts worsen and the Conservative party meets in Manchester this weekend to argue over what can be done about it, is only deepening.

Unemployment skyrocketing, riots in London
"There's a big increase in demand," says John Russell of the Centre Project, a drop-in project in the heart of Leicester supporting people in need. "We used to feed 30 or 40 people a week. Now it's 70 or 80."

Housing provision and benefit rules have changed, he says, and that's creating need.

    Keith Harrold of Project 5000 in Loughborough, which runs a hot food service once a week from a local church, agrees. "People are struggling. Supermarket prices are shooting up and they aren't coping."

    Yvonne Welford, who runs the over-60s group for St Paul's, is seeing the same picture. "There's been a major increase in demand, especially in the last six months, and I'm afraid it's only going to get worse."

    Poverty has al ways been a fact of life, even in good times. But FareShare is now seeing a serious growth in the number of people without the resources to feed themselves properly that is, experts say, without precedent in modern Britain.

    All of the organisations in Leicester that are supplied by FareShare describe themselves as being dependent on the charity, which obtains food from manufacturers and supermarkets that might otherwise end up rotting in landfill sites, and supplies it to groups helping those in need.

    Founded in 2004, the charity works from 17 sites in the UK and shifts 3,600 tonnes of food a year, worth more than £8m. In the past 12 months the number of people it feeds has risen from 29,000 to 35,500. The number of organisations signed up to receive food has risen from 600 to 700. And 42% of those organisations are recording increases of up to 50% in demand for their services.

    John Willetts, a former NHS trust chief executive and now the volunteer project director for FareShare in Leicester, said: "It's a constant ramping up in demand all the time. The volume of food we're distributing has risen from 41 tonnes a year three years ago to 98 tonnes now, and that's to the same number of organisations."

    He takes me to meet Diana Cank of the community action social project (Casp) in the deprived Northfields district of the city. Much of the food FareShare distributes goes to drop-in centres and homelessness hostels that cook meals on site, but Casp distributes food bags directly to those in need.

    "The demand has always been there," says Cank, a sturdy, cheerful woman who has worked in community care for 25 years. "But that demand has escalated. At the beginning of this year I suddenly realised there were just more people coming. To be honest, I think most people would be shocked by the growing need for basic food."

As always, it's the children who suffer most
Three grandmothers from the estate admit that times are indeed tough. "We'd be lost without the food from here," says Joan. "It's the fresh fruit and vegetables that are so good," says Julie. "The benefits are just not enough to get us through." Each of them is the matriarch of a family blighted by unemployment and need. "The food from FareShare helps us to make things go further."

    The Joseph's Storehouse project in Loughborough, run out of a pub that's been converted into a homelessness hostel, has also seen more and more people coming to its doors for food parcels. "We've gone from about a dozen a week to over 100," says project manager Judith Spence. The main change, she says, is the type of people coming. It used mostly to be single men; now she is seeing many more families.

    Bruce Bateson, who acts as carer for his wife and for his young child, knows the pressures families are under. 

    "We're all unemployed in our household and simply didn't have enough to feed ourselves," he says, as though it is a blunt fact of life. So how important is the food? "What I can get here saves me £15 or £20 a week, and that enables me to get other bills paid."

    I ask Spence if there's been a very recent increase in demand. At first she says no, but then she begins flicking through the list of registered users. Every user of the service has to show they are on benefits to register. Once every three months, she says, she goes through the list and takes off those who haven't come to them for food in the previous three months.

   She squints at the list. "I take it back. In the past three months I haven't taken anybody off the list, but another 200 have come on. The number of users has doubled."

    The FareShare headquarters is on a light industrial estate in Bermondsey, south London. Here, major food manufacturers and supermarkets deliver their leftovers to an airy warehouse filled with industrial-scale fridges.
Some of it is the result of poor forecasting of demand, resulting in oversupply. Some of it is too close to the use-by date to go on sale, or has a misprint on the labelling or damage to the packaging. The warehouse is stacked with pallets of instant gravy granules and jars of pickled cucumbers. The fridges are filled with boxes of apples and tomatoes, with fresh milk, and a curious amount of jarlsberg cheese.

    Because they are there to make use of what the food industry does not want, they can be a repository for anything from the most banal to foie gras parfait and rib-eye steaks.

    Lindsay Boswell, the charity's chief executive, makes no secret of the fact that the original motive was making better use of the environment. "We started out purely interested in liberating waste," he says. "We are an environmental charity that gets bloody angry about food being wasted."

    Hence much of the early effort lay in getting the supermarkets to admit they were wasting food, and to make use of the surplus rather than use landfill sites to get rid of it.

    Despite FareShare's efforts, it estimates that it only handles 1% of the three million tonnes of food that goes to waste every year. Now, though, the work of the charity has moved on. "We're clear that alleviation of poverty has become the side that leads. I think most people in this country would assume that generally people can feed themselves. But they can't." If all FareShare was concerned with was waste, he says, it could just give food away to commuters. "But that's not what we're about. Demand for our food is going up faster than we can source it."

   Its findings are backed by the experiences of the Trussell Trust, a Salisbury-based charity that runs around 100 food banks all over the country, providing emergency supplies to people referred by frontline social services and care agencies. In the past year, it has seen a 50% increase in the number of people the food banks are feeding, from 41,000 a year to 61,500. Part of that, the trust says, is simply due to the expansion of the charity's work.

    "But there is also a definite increase in need," says Jeremy Ravn, the charity's food bank network director. 

    "We're seeing a larger number of younger people who are unable to find work. But there's also an increase in those who were, for want of a better term, normal working people. Those who have lost jobs or who were running their own businesses and still need to feed their families."

Tent city U.S.:  Brits simply wouldn't make it
The problem, he says, is a failure by the welfare state to react quickly enough to need. "There can be a terrible lag between an application for benefits being accepted and the money coming on stream."

    Martin Caraher, professor of food policy at City University London, says recent research confirms what both the Trussell Trust and FareShare are seeing. "There are around 13 million people in Britain living in poverty, which is defined as earnings of 60% of the national average. Of those, four million are suffering nutritionally related consequences. And the big new group who are really suffering are working families."

    FareShare is dependent on volunteers, to help get deliveries in, catalogue them, and then make up the packages for distribution. Each delivery day, community food members are phoned up, told what's on offer and asked what they would like. Organisations pay a small weekly fee for the service, which is a tiny portion of the cost of the food they receive.

    For a day I join the volunteers in London. Out in the van we travel from homeless hostel to drop-in centre to homeless hostel and across to the Refugee Council. At each place the story is the same. More and more people are coming to them for the hot meal service. There are more and more people who need to be fed.

    "We couldn't live without the FareShare deliveries," says Grant, a resident at an Emmaus community, a halfway house for homeless people coming off the streets. Grant used to be a chef and now helps to cook the meals for his fellow residents. "It makes a serious difference," he says.

    Cecilia Mpamugo, chef at the Refugee Council's drop-in centre in Brixton, south London, cooks food for at least 100 people a day, many of whom have no other way to get a hot meal. "It's shameful that the food would otherwise go to waste. And the quality is very, very good."

    So is FareShare part of the solution to Britain's growing food poverty crisis? Lindsay Boswell thinks not. 

    "We're in the business of addressing the symptoms without addressing the disease. We are simply part of the alarm system."

    And the warning bells are ringing very loudly indeed. Food poverty is on the rise. The question remains: as politicians and lobbyists wine and dine each other around Manchester this weekend, is anyone listening?

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The 5th Estate is making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Briefing: Six months into the Syrian uprising

Assad clings to power at the cost of thousands of civilian casualties; Anti-government protests in Syria are being ruthlessly quelled


Thousands of people in Syria have been killed, injured, displaced or detained in a series of protests against the Syrian government since mid-March which have been ruthlessly quelled by the government. How is this uprising different and where are we now?

    Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, Syria is composed of a complicated mix of sects and minority groups. Its ruling elite belongs to the minority Alawi branch of Shia Islam, while most of the population are Sunni Arab Muslims. It is also home to Kurds, Christians, Druze and other Shias.
Whereas what happens in Libya may have relatively little political spillover in the Arab world, much more is at stake in Syria in which numerous foreign entities - from Hezbollah to the USA - stand to be affected.

The crackdown has been more brutal than in Egypt and Tunisia. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says security services have killed more than 2,700 people, using tactics that may amount to crimes against humanity.
    Activists and human rights groups put that number as high as 5,300. The government says many of those who died were members of the security forces, and Al Jazeera reports a number as high as 700. But violence is not as widespread as it may appear on TV. The capital Damascus, and Syria’s second largest city, Aleppo, remain calm, with little sign of instability.
    In those cities, “life continues as normal,” said Ben Negus, a programme officer at the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) who participated in a UN mission to Syria in late August. 
    “Shops are open. Cars are on the street. Kids are going to school. Hospitals are dealing with patients. Life goes on.”

    Nationwide, there are roadblocks on the main arteries into cities and travel between cities is difficult. But within towns or cities, movement is fairly free.

    “It’s easy to assume the problems are widespread,” Negus told IRIN, but “the violence that has been carried out is… more targeted.” Still, he said it is difficult to ascertain the level of insecurity across the country.

    The protests are much more localized than they were in Egypt or Tunisia, often composed of just a few hundred people and lasting less than an hour before fizzling out, said one aid worker in Damascus who preferred anonymity.

    “I have seen videos that were shot in certain places that I know did not last for 10 minutes,” he said. This may be in an effort by protesters to evade security services.

The Syrian government

    President al-Assad was popular when he came to power in 2000, replacing his father, Hafez, who had ruled Syria for three decades. Their Alawi roots are from small villages in the mountains - and when Hafez al-Assad first came to power, he challenged the urban elite of the Ottoman era and the French colonial mandate, representing the marginalized countryside. (Under Ottoman rule, Alawis - like the Druze and the Christians - were rarely given positions of power or influence). But Bashar al-Assad grew up in Damascus and became part of a new, increasingly sectarian urban elite. Still, he seemed to genuinely want reform.

    It’s easy to assume the problems are widespread but the violence that has been carried out is… more targeted Even as recently as January, he described the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia as being the result of decades of stagnation in the Middle East. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he said: “We have to keep up with this change, as a state and as institutions... When you close your mind as an official you cannot upgrade.”
One Syrian government official told the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) in February: “We have been strong in politics but weak on the rule of law, fighting corruption and so on. Many already are opposed to any change, arguing that it would send a signal of weakness. I disagree: it sends a signal of strength. In our meetings, there has been a tendency to merely insist that we are very different from Egypt. But if it is a wake-up call in the region, why not be awoken by it?”
    There are two camps within al-Assad’s government - reformists and conservatives, and analysts say early in his tenure the president became beholden to the conservatives. “People around him with entrenched interests were apprehensive and prevailed upon him and clamped down on [reform],” Jubin Goodarzi, professor of international relations at Webster University in Geneva, told IRIN.

    The mostly Alawi security services have been the driving force of the current crackdown. But the ICG said in a July report that even among this elite group, there was frustration with the status quo.

    “There’s been a generalization that because an Alawi elite is in power, all Alawis have done very well for themselves,” Chris Phillips, a Syria analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit, who lived in Syria for several years, told IRIN. “There are large segments of very poor Alawis in villages in the mountains near Latakia and Banyas who have seen no benefits from 40 years of an Alawi president.”

    The government has not deployed the army to the same extent, probably because it cannot trust the mostly Sunni soldiers’ loyalties.

The opposition

    Initially inspired by events in Egypt and Tunisia, protesters wanted reforms that would increase political freedom and move the country towards democracy. The government eventually introduced small reforms, but they were too little too late, and its violent response to the demonstrations galvanized more people to join the protesters, whose goal now appears to be complete regime change.

    Frustration also stemmed from a liberalization process begun by al-Assad that increasingly shifted Syria’s economy away from the socialist model and created an elite class, mostly linked to the regime, which Phillips said began to benefit from cronyism - “people related to the regime would get all the contracts.”

    Most of the opposition are peaceful protesters - mainly young, lower-class Sunni Arab men (about 60 percent of the population are Sunni Arabs, while another 15 percent are Sunni Kurds), though the organizers tend to be better educated and middle class. The opposition has crossed lines of religion, sect and ideology, but for the most part Christians reportedly fear the kind of regime that could replace al-Assad; the Druze are on the fence; while the Kurds support the uprising.
Most protesters average citizens, middle class organizers
There are several different opposition groups, from “local coordination committees” and the Syrian Revolution General Commission organizing protests within Syria, to diaspora organizations. But the various groups are not yet united. The Syrian National Council, recently formed in Turkey, is the first major attempt to bring all the opposition under one umbrella, but it has faced some resistance from the grassroots organizations on the ground. Currently, protests in different parts of the country are not coordinated by any central body, though there is communication among activists in different cities and national committees.

    There are large segments of very poor Alawis in villages in the mountains near Latakia and Banyas who have seen no benefits from 40 years of an Alawi president Analysts say government allegations about the opposition - that armed Islamists, criminal traffickers and groups backed by other countries are among the forces opposing al-Assad - are not necessarily false. Others argue the violence is not organized, but rather “locals who were just fed up with the violence being meted out to them by the regime picked up guns that they had stored for years and started shooting back,” as Phillips put it. Part of the armed element is the defectors, but many of them do not have weapons.

    Either way, “there’s more to it than meets the eye,” said Goodarzi. “One cannot just dismiss reports about armed elements… engaging and killing security forces and personnel.”

    Activists say soldiers who died were killed by security forces because they refused to shoot protesters - not by armed gangs, as the government alleges. But according to the ICG, many Syrians still mistrust the opposition, which is not growing as fast as it did in Egypt and Tunisia.

    “The number of people participating in the uprising is rather exaggerated,” said Khair El-Din Haseeb, executive committee chairman of the Beirut-based Centre for Arab Unity Studies.
Some Syrian solders killed for refusing to shoot civilians
“The opposition lies sometimes even more than the government, which lies all the time," the aid worker in Damascus who preferred anonymity said, adding that the alleged shelling of the western coastal city of Latakia in August from the sea - trumpeted by the opposition as an example of the regime’s ongoing brutality - “was a pile of rubbish. It never really happened.”

    He said people set tyres on fire on top of buildings to create smoke that would suggest a bombing. OCHA’s Negus said there were no craters in Latakia when he visited the city. Other UN officials, including the UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said there were conflicting reports, but that he himself did not see any evidence of the event having taken place. One UN official suggested the opposition’s version of events could be part of “the whole media side to conflict”.

Outside forces

    In April, Washington said Tehran had been helping Damascus put down the Syrian uprising and has placed sanctions on members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards for their role in the crackdown.

    “The government in Tehran is going to do ********** it can to help support and prop up the Assad regime,” said Goodarzi, author of Syria and Iran: Diplomatic Alliance and Power Politics in the Middle East. That help includes things like riot gear and advice on how to monitor the internet, but nothing more than a few advisers on the ground, he added.

    Activists have similar convictions that Hezbollah, the influential Shia militant group in Lebanon, is supporting the Syrian government, on whom it depends for weapons.

    Other analysts discount this: “Why would the Syrians need snipers from Hezbollah? They trained Hezbollah snipers,” said Timur Goksel, who was a senior adviser to the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon for many years, before joining the American University of Beirut as an instructor in Middle East conflict.
    Without ruling out the possibility that Israel could be arming the opposition, some analysts argue that the West is actually ambivalent about the situation in Syria.

    “I don’t think the main outside countries, like the US and Israel, would like the fall of the Syrian regime, because they are not sure of the alternative, and they are unduly concerned that it might be an Islamic regime,” said the Beirut-based academic Haseeb. “But at the same time, they want to weaken the present regime so that they can more easily deal with Bashar al-Assad.”
    Radwan Ziadeh, executive director of the Syrian Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and a visiting scholar at The Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University, sees the status quo as in Israel’s interest. “The border between Syria and Israel is very peaceful and they don’t want to see any change in Damascus.”

    Regional powers, like Turkey and Saudi Arabia, also have stakes in this conflict, preferring a Sunni government in Syria. Syrian communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq and even the Gulf could be involved in funnelling weapons or money into the country to support the opposition, the aid worker said. But both Saudi Arabia and Turkey will be weary to be seen as the cause of a civil war.  


    The current situation is a bit of a stalemate, and could last for several months. “The opposition cannot bring down the regime and the regime cannot silence the opposition,” Haseeb said.

    What turned the tide in Egypt was the army’s support for the protesters. So far, there have only been low-level individual defections in Syria, and there are no concrete signs of a split in the security services. The regime, at this point, remains firmly in control.
International intervention

    Major powers, like the US, France and Britain, have so far shown no interest in another military intervention. According to the ICG, such intervention “could unleash the very sectarian civil war the international community wishes to avoid, provoke further instability in an already unstable neighbourhood and be a gift to a regime that repeatedly has depicted the uprising as the work of foreign conspirators.”
Both sides weary from battle but refuse to give in
Besides, “what would be the nature of the intervention? A no fly zone? There is nothing flying anyway,” said Goksel. “Troops into Syria would be war. I don’t think anyone will do that now.”
Turkey could be the exception, the EIU’s Phillips said. “If Turkey felt there was a civil war on its doorstep, it might be willing to deploy its military to encourage a swift resolution to any conflict.”
  Activists are increasingly calling for international observers. The Syrian Revolution General Commission has asked the UN Security Council to “take all necessary measures to protect the civilian population under threat of attack including the installation, as a matter of urgency, of a UN monitoring mission.”

    The number of people participating in the uprising is rather exaggerated More sanctions

    The West has instead opted for more sanctions, which according to Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the top UN official in Syria, are contributing to an already poor economic situation in the country.

    So far, sanctions have not had much impact on the government’s actions. But if the economic situation keeps deteriorating, and better-off communities in Damascus and Aleppo feel they are affected, they could start supporting the uprising. “And then it’s a totally new game after that,” Goksel said.

    Phillips agreed: “The economy is what can crack the regime,” he said, suggesting that an internal coup - backed by a business community that may eventually see al-Assad as an obstruction to a return to normality - is one of the possible scenarios.
    The UN says that despite “pockets of need”, there is no country-wide humanitarian crisis in Syria. However, the conflict has displaced tens of thousands of people, affected livelihoods, and reduced access to health care. Ould Cheikh Ahmed said he was concerned that the humanitarian situation would worsen as the conflict continued.

Civil war

    Analysts say the risk of civil war is increasing. “The people are struggling to keep the peacefulness of their revolution,” Mousab Azzawi, a Syrian human rights activist with the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told IRIN.

    Ould Cheikh Ahmed warned, in an interview with IRIN, that civil war was now a real possibility.

    Fears that religious extremists could take over in the event of al-Assad’s fall are likely overblown, according to Haseeb. “The Muslim Brotherhood, at the present moment, is very weak inside Syria.” But the movement is part of the political landscape in Syria and will likely have some role in any new government.
Spillover in Lebanon

    Within Lebanon, there are political parties and armed groups with affiliations to Syria, many of whom are not accountable to any central leadership that can control them.

    The UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, urged Lebanese factions earlier this month not to let events in Syria affect Lebanon. But some on the other side of the border are already preparing for civil war, unsure of how various parties will react to the unfolding events in Syria.
Lebanese Salafists, angry over the crackdown against fellow Sunnis in Lebanon, could attack Syrian interests in Lebanon, for example, in support of their brethren.

Weakened by the loss of its ally, al-Assad, Hezbollah could start a civil war or another war with Israel, “as a diversionary move to legitimize itself and to protect its own weapons”, Thanassi Cambanis, author of A Privilege to Die: Inside Hezbollah's Legions and Their Endless War against Israel, told the BBC.

    But the days of small border skirmishes are long over, Goksel said. Hezbollah is well-aware that a war with Israel would be very destructive, and that it would be the “biggest loser”.

    More likely, Goksel said, Lebanon will stay quiet, and the Syrian uprising could eventually fizzle out, overwhelmed by the raw power of the regime.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The 5th Estate is making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

What Is The Legal Process For Targeted Killings Like Al-Awlaki's?

Despite the best efforts of Obama's legal crooks, it appears there isn't one

By Josh Gerstein

The Obama Administration, which just Wednesday reasserted its claim to be "the most transparent administration in history," is being notably opaque about the legal process used to add someone like Anwar al-Awlaki to a so-called "kill or capture list" so he can be taken out with a U.S. drone like the one that reportedly killed the New Mexico-born Muslim cleric and Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsual front-man on Friday in Yemen.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney rebuffed more than a dozen questions on Friday about the evidence against al-Awlaki, as well as the legal process used and the key issue of whether American citizens are entitled to any greater process or higher standard of proof.

Death from above:  Predator drone
However, Bush Justice Department official Jack Goldsmith offered this description of the legal process Saturday in a New York Times op-ed:
There is an extraordinary process inside the government...Before someone like Mr. Awlaki is targeted, multiple intelligence sources support the conclusion that he is a dangerous threat, top lawyers from many agencies scrutinize the action, policy makers at the highest levels of government approve the action after assessing its legal and political risks, and the Congressional intelligence committees are informed about the intelligence community’s role in the operations.

    Goldsmith's description may offer reassurance to some, but it is really just an assertion as long as current government officials refuse to publicly describe the process in any detail. Precisely why they cannot do so is unclear, though their reluctance to do so Friday in connection with a secret drone strike is understandable. (State Department legal adviser Harold Koh made some highly general comments about targeting procedures last year and then-Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair said "specific permission" was needed to target an American.)

    Though I can't find an executive branch official willing to explain how the process works, I did ask incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers late last year whether he was comfortable with the government's reported decision to use deadly force against al-Awlaki and whether he had received whatever due process he was entitled to. Here's what Rogers said:

    You have special circumstances here: somebody who has renounced his US citizenship, who has pledged his relationship to and his active particpaiton in an organziaiton that has declared war against the United States, who has clearly, in the operational sense, conducted combat operations…military operations against the United States. He continutes to recruit, train, finance and conduct military- type operations towards the United States. That is an enemy combatant by any standard and so we have to be careful lumping it all together....

    Due process? That’s the problem when you confuse Al Qaeda which is an organization banded together to commit acts of violence against the United States for its further political gains, like a nation-state might do. So, yes, should we watch it? Absolutely. Do we watch it? Absolutely, it's something we should be engaged in. I meet with the people who do targeting packages there and, in my role as chairman, I’ll continue to do that, but we also have to get the policy set right. If we want to treat him like a shoplifter, well, that’s a whole new set of problems. If we want to treat him like an enemy combatant who is sending trained soldiers of Al Qaeda here to kill us, that, I think, clears up that confusion in a hurry.

Obama:  "If the president does it, it's legal"
Asked if he was satisfied with the targeting process, Rogers said:
Yes, as I understand it, yes. Obviously, that's my job to understand it…Given the process and the length and the concern and the vetting that this goes through, I do believe that Americans, even the skeptical ones, would have a sense of relief about the whole vetting process that goes through even for somebody we pre-identify as an enemy combatant…It is very exhaustive, very extensive. The amounts of information are voluminous, the degree of certainty that they have to have to get there is big....It's not four people in a room saying, 'Hey, let’s get Bob.' That just doesn't happen.

One other note: The American Civil Liberties Union got some information on the Pentagon's targeting process for drones and other weapons through a Freedom of Information Act request last year. This legal filing contains some fascinating flow charts describing the DoD's process, but they focus mostly on collateral-damage issues and don't say anything about how the Central Intelligence Agency handles its drones. The CIA categorically refused to release any information in response to the ACLU request. A judge recently upheld that decision.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. The 5th Estate is making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Obama can now kill at will; murdering for better poll numbers; no judicial review of any kind

Obama is a power-mad sociopath worse than Bush; now targeting Americans for death without trial or even formal charges

The Nation
By Robert Dreyfuss

Now we know what embattled Yemeni President Saleh meant when he cryptically told reporters from the Washington Post and Time yesterday: “We are fighting the al-Qaeda organization in Abyan [in Yemen] in coordination with the Americans and Saudis.” The defiant Saleh, who’s long promoted himself as an asset in America’s seemingly nonstop Long War on Terrorism (LWT), apparently knows what he’s talking about. Hours later, Yemen’s military announced that a missile strike had killed Anwar al-Awlaki, the bombastic, American-born Islamist who’s been linked to Al Qaeda and to recent terrorist attempts against the United States.

Predator Drone:  Americans now in gunsights
 He’s not exactly Osama bin Laden, whose takedown in Pakistan in April helped spark the current U.S.-Pakistan confrontation. But Awlaki’s assassination, and that’s what it was, is a signal that the Obama administration intends to pursue the LWT to the ends of the earth, regardless of the consequences, even if it means an extra-judicial killing of an American citizen.

    Not that killing non-citizens is kosher, but killing an American isn’t. Still, rules are rules, and American citizens are supposed to have legal and civil rights that protect them from political or prosecutorial assassinations, even if they’re bad guys. Apparently, no longer. Still, Awlaki’s killing comes as no surprise, since the Obama administration long ago deemed him kill-worthy. As the Wall Street Journal points out, the CIA tried to kill Awlaki recently: “The U.S. narrowly missed Mr. Awlaki in a failed assassination attempt back in May. U.S. drones fired on a vehicle in the southern Yemen province of Shebwa that the cleric had been driving in earlier the same day.”

   Since then, the United States has vastly expanded its Predator and Reaper drone capability far beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan, setting up bases on Indian Ocean islands and targeting Yemen, Somalia and other countries.

    The killings were first announced by the Yemen defense ministry and its military, ironic in that the entire country of Yemen is perched at the brink of a civil war in which its establishment, including its military command, has divided loyalties. Not only Awlaki, but another American citizen was killed in the U.S.-orchestrated attack, too:

    “Yemen's Defense Ministry said another American militant was killed in the same strike alongside al-Awlaki — Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani heritage who produced ‘Inspire,’ an English-language al-Qaida Web magazine that spread the word on ways to carry out attacks inside the United States.”

    Awlaki was born in New Mexico, and he was linked to the Fort Hood shootings at a military base in Texas and to the attempted Times Square bombing, though his exact in role in those and other cases is unclear, that is, whether he masterminded or organized them or simply served as a kind of spiritual mentor to people who were planning acts of violence anyway. The point is, no judicial case has been made against Awlaki, he hasn’t been formally accused in those events or others, the charges against him have never been proved in court. He was deemed guilty by the CIA and the U.S. national security apparatus, and the sentence of death was carried out.

    Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, a senior U.S. official said: “His death takes a committed terrorist, intent on attacking the United States, off the battlefield. Awlaki and AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] are also responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in Yemen and throughout the region, which have killed scores of Muslims.” Of course, whether Awlaki and AQAP have killed scores of Muslims or not isn’t the point: unless the Obama administration truly wants to arrogate to itself the role of World Policeman, it shouldn’t be in the business of executing, extra-judicially, anyone it wants to, whether they’re guilty of killing Muslims, Hindus, Jews, or Christians.

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The real truth on 9/11 slowly continues to bleed out

Technical experts are mounting major challenges to official U.S. government accounts of how three World Trade Center skyscrapers collapsed in near-freefall after the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago.

Many researchers are focusing especially on the little-known collapse of



The Geopolitics Of The United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

The Empire and the inevitable fall of the Obama criminal regime

STRATFOR Editor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.



Geopolitics Of The United States Part 2: American Identity And The Threats of Tomorrow

A look back at 2011 predictions for the future in order to put events of today into perspective

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We have already discussed in the first part of this analysis how the American geography dooms whoever controls the territory to being a global power, but there are a number of other outcomes that shape what that power will be like. The first and most critical is the impact of that geography on the American mindset.



By Robert S. Finnegan

This e-mail outlines and confirms the acts of espionage against Indonesia and Indonesians by Akiko Makino and the others involved both in Kobe University and in AI Lab at University of Airlangga, Surabaya; Bahasa Indonesia original follows English translation...



UPDATED 01/07/2015 : New Analysis Challenges Tamiflu Efficacy; Hong Kong Corona Virus Outbreak


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Obama criminals now resulting to biowarfare in quest to destroy Chinese and ASEAN economy; "novel virus substrain" points directly to a Kawaoka / Fouchier / Ernala-Ginting Kobe lab virus weaponized and genetically altered to specifically target and infect the Asian population: Ribavirin...



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The 5th Estate has just purchased a library on H5N1 "Novel" virus pandemics, there are dozens of PDF and Exel documents we feel will assist you in saving lives following intentional releases of the H5N1 and now MERS viruses; we will begin by printing those that appear to be extremely relevant here: H5N1 Kobe-Kawaoka-Ernala series continues soon with more "Smoking Gun" e-mails from Teridah Ernala to The 5th Estate . . .



By Robert S. Finnegan

On October 12, 2002 the Indonesian island of Bali experienced a terrorist attack that rocked the world. It was unquestionably well-coordinated and executed, the largest in the country's history.