Saturday, June 5, 2010

“No citizenship without loyalty!”

Neve Gordon detects a disturbing trend in Israeli society, manifested recently in the way pro-government demonstrators reacted to protests by Israeli Jews and Arabs against the murder of peace activists on the Gaza-bound international aid flotilla.

In Israel, almost all of the protests against the navy’s assault on the relief flotilla took place in Palestinian space. Palestinian citizens in almost every major town and city, from Nazareth to Sakhnin and from Arabe to Shfaram, demonstrated against the assault that left nine people dead and many more wounded. The one-day general strike called for by the Palestinian leadership within Israel was, for the most part, adhered to only by Arab citizens.

In Jewish space, by contrast, business continued as usual. Except for a demonstration in front of the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, which brought together a few hundred activists, the only site where there was some sign of a grassroots protest against the raid was on Israeli university campuses. While numerically these protests were also insignificant – there were fewer than 2,000 demonstrators from all the different campuses, out of a student body of more than 200,000 – they were extremely important both because they took place within Jewish space and because the protestors were Jews and Palestinians standing side by side.
“… opposition students … prepared a big banner … near their off-campus apartment... Their neighbours spat on them and called them ‘cunts’, ‘whores’ and ‘traitors who love Arabs’…”

Perhaps because of the widespread international condemnation of the attack on the flotilla, the Israeli police were relatively careful when handling these protests. Their caution is particularly striking when compared with the police reaction during the war on Gaza. Twelve students from the Technion and Haifa University were nonetheless arrested, and one at Ben-Gurion University was detained by undercover agents.

There was a visceral response to these campus protests, however, from pro-government students. Counter-demonstrations were immediately organized, bringing together much larger crowds that rallied around the flag. While demonstrations and counter-demonstrations are usually a sign of a healthy politics, in this case the pro-government demos revealed an extremely disturbing trend in Israeli society.

A group of opposition students from Ben-Gurion University prepared a big banner on the street near their off-campus apartment: “15 Dead. The Israeli government, as usual, has its reasons, and the Zionist majority, as usual, extends its support.” Their neighbours spat on them and called them “cunts”, “whores” and “traitors who love Arabs” until the students fled.

The following morning these students and their friends rolled the same banner down from the administration building, initiating a third wave of protests on campus. Both those opposing and those supporting the Israeli government use Facebook to tell their friends about these spontaneous demonstrations, and so within minutes a couple of hundred students from both sides of the fray had gathered and were shouting chants in the middle of campus.

A Palestinian student with a Palestinian flag was shoved and had his flag torn from him by some of the pro-government protesters, who were chanting: “No citizenship without loyalty!” In response, the Jewish and Palestinian oppositionists shouted: “No, no, it will not come, fascism will not come!” and “Peace is not achieved on the bodies of those killed!”

“A Facebook group was created to call for my resignation: by the end of the day more than 1,000 people had joined. As well as hoping that I die and demanding that my family be stripped of our citizenship and exiled from Israel, members of this Facebook group offer more pragmatic suggestions…”

At one point a Jewish provocateur, who is not a member of any group (and could even be a police agent), raised his hand in the air: “Heil Lieberman!” The response of the pro-government students was immediate: “Death to the Arabs!” Luckily, the university security managed to create a wedge between the protesters, and in this way prevented the incident from becoming even more violent.

Pro-government students interviewed in the press said they were “shocked to see faculty members, together with students from the left and Arab students shouting slogans against Israel”. Their classmates posted pictures of the protests on Facebook, asking likeminded students to “identify their classroom ‘friends’’.

A Facebook group was created to call for my resignation: by the end of the day more than 1000 people had joined. As well as hoping that I die and demanding that my family be stripped of our citizenship and exiled from Israel, members of this Facebook group offer more pragmatic suggestions, such as the need to concentrate efforts on getting rid of teaching assistants who are critical of the government, since it is more difficult to have me – as a tenured professor – fired.

What is troubling about these pro-government students is not that they are pro-government, but the way they attack anyone who thinks differently from them, along with their total lack of self-criticism or restraint. If this is how students at Israel’s best universities respond, what can we expect from the rest of the population?

After Greece now Hungary Admits: We Cooked The Books

There's a saying I've heard from accountants: recessions uncover what auditors can't. When a company has reasonable cash flow and access to credit, dodgy practices can be hidden for quite some time. But when sales dry up and banks tighten the purse strings, eventually companies are forced to admit that there is no money in the till.

That's why recessions always seem to be accompanied by revelations of terrible accounting practices, which makes a lot of people think that an epidemic of dishonest accounting must have brought the economy to its knees. But there's not much evidence that accounting practices actually get worse at the end of booms; it's just that companies who might have gotten away with it and eventually made enough money to repair the hole in their balance sheets, instead are forced to disclose what they've done.

I supect that this is also the case with the emerging epidemic of governments who cooked the books. Hungary is the latest culprit, and its official pronouncements are starting to sound, well, worryingly Greek:
The previous government, which pledged to narrow the budget gap to 3.8 percent of gross domestic product this year, "manipulated" figures and "lied" about the state of the economy, Szijjarto said. A fact-finding panel appointed by Orban's government will probably present preliminary figures on the state of the economy this weekend, Szijjarto said. The government will publish an action plan within 72 hours after the committee reports its findings, he said.

"We need a clean slate to formulate our economic action plan, and the fact-finding committee will provide just that."
Thankfully, Hungary's debt-load is not as high as it was in Greece. But we can't rule out the possibility that more of these "earnings restatements" may be coming down the road, as governments run out of creative ways to fudge their figures.
Source: The Atlantic

Pennsylvania: Tax Revenue Falls Short

Tax revenue for the state was $125 million short of projections for May, leaving the state with a $1.2 billion shortfall for the budget year ending June 30, the State Department of Revenue said. Through 11 months of the fiscal year, Pennsylvania has collected $24.6 billion, or 4.8 percent less than expected for that period in Gov. Edward G. Rendell’s $27.8 billion budget. Mr. Rendell has identified about $700 million of cuts and additional revenue to make up part of the gap.

Business tax revenue below projections

AUSTIN, Texas — The state's business tax is coming in short of budgeted projections.

New revenue figures from the Texas comptroller's office show $3.6 billion has been collected from the business tax as of the mid-May payment deadline. The Austin American-Statesman reported the figures in its online edition Wednesday.

State budget estimates projected the total collection for the 2010 fiscal year would be $4.3 billion. More business tax revenue will roll in through August, but the experience over the past two years indicates about 95 percent of the total collection arrives in May.

If that trend continues, Texas would be down another $500 million in revenue for the current budget.

State faces $563M budget shortfall

Oregon lawmakers need to trim $563 million from the state budget in the next year, according to a state revenue forecast released Tuesday.

State Economist Tom Potiowsky predicts the state will collect $511 million less in revenue this fiscal biennium than he predicted two months ago.

The revenue forecast is $900 million lower than the state's original 2009-11 budget, which runs from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2011.

Kulongoski immediately unveiled a plan that would reduce state agency and schools spending by 9 percent. The plan would effectively address the $563 million shortfall, he said.

Kulongoski’s plan exercises an “allotment authority” that reduces spending equally among the state’s agencies and schools.

Among his strategies:

  • He’ll extend the salary freeze for executive service, management and unrepresented employees through June 2011, when the current biennium ends. The move would save $7.9 million.
  • He’ll ask union employees to accept freezes that would save another $12 million.
  • Public employee benefits changes could save another $30 million.

“We could gamble and hope that the next forecast in September delivers a rebound and the hole is diminished, but the longer we wait, the deeper the cuts that will be needed to rebalance the budget in the remaining months of the biennium if that does not occur,” Kulongoski said in a statement.

The agencies must present their reduction list to Kulongoski’s office within two weeks. He’s also asked the agencies to meet with their union representatives to explore alternatives to layoffs.

Sen. Ted Ferrioli, a John Day Republican and the state Senate’s minority leader, noted that a Kulongoski committee had already warned that the big deficit was coming.

“(Kulongoski’s) ‘Reset Cabinet’ has confirmed what Republicans have long been saying, that unsustainable spending will result in decades of deficits no matter how much the revenue forecast decreases,” Ferrioli said in a statement. “Oregon’s rate of spending is simply impossible to maintain, regardless of the revenue forecast. The way government budgets is so badly broken that the revenue forecast has become just another talking point for the next government-sponsored tax increase.”

Potiowsky’s report did offer some bright news. The first quarter marked Oregon’s first positive quarterly job growth since 2008’s first quarter.

Even that news came with a caveat.

“We are hesitant to conclude that this is the turning point we have all been waiting for,” Potiowsky said in his report. “Given this is an initial estimate of jobs and a seasonally adjusted measurement, we believe this latest quarter is further evidence of bottoming out of the recession as it relates to the job market.”

The state's primary sources of revenue are personal income taxes and corporate income taxes.

Read the complete forecast here.

A Plague Upon The World: The USA is a "Failed State"

Interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary US Treasury, Associate Editor Wall Street Journal, Professor of Political Economy Center for Strategic and International Studies Georgetown University Washington DC.

Question: Dr. Roberts, the United States is regarded as the most successful state in the world today. What is responsible for American success?

Dr. Roberts: Propaganda. If truth be known, the US is a failed state. More about that later. The US owes its image of success to: (1) the vast lands and mineral resources that the US “liberated” with violence from the native inhabitants, (2) Europe’s, especially Great Britain’s, self-destruction in World War I and World War II, and (3) the economic destruction of Russia and most of Asia by communism or socialism.

After World War II, the US took the reserve currency role from Great Britain. This made the US dollar the world money and permitted the US to pay its import bills in its own currency. World War II’s destruction of the other industrialized countries left the US as the only country capable of supplying products to world markets. This historical happenstance created among Americans the impression that they were a favored people. Today the militarist neoconservatives speak of the United States as “the indispensable nation.” In other words, Americans are above all others, except, of course, Israelis.

To American eyes a vague “terrorist threat,” a creation of their own government, is sufficient justification for naked aggression against Muslim peoples and for an agenda of world hegemony.

This hubristic attitude explains why among most Americans there is no remorse over the one million Iraqis killed and the four million Iraqis displaced by a US invasion and occupation that were based entirely on lies and deception. It explains why there is no remorse among most Americans for the countless numbers of Afghans who have been cavalierly murdered by the US military, or for the Pakistani civilians murdered by US drones and “soldiers” sitting in front of video screens. It explains why there is no outrage among Americans when the Israelis bomb Lebanese civilians and Gaza civilians. No one in the world will believe that Israel’s latest act of barbarity, the murderous attack on the international aid flotilla to Gaza, was not cleared with Israel’s American enabler.


Question: You said that the US was a failed state. How can that be? What do you mean?

Roberts: The war on terror, invented by the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney regime, destroyed the US Constitution and the civil liberties that the Constitution embodies. The Bill of Rights has been eviscerated. The Obama regime has institutionalized the Bush/Cheney assault on American liberty. Today, no American has any rights if he or she is accused of “terrorist” activity. The Obama regime has expanded the vague definition of “terrorist activity” to include “domestic extremist,” another undefined and vague category subject to the government’s discretion. In short, a “terrorist” or a “domestic extremist” is anyone who dissents from a policy or a practice that the US government regards as necessary for its agenda of world hegemony.

Unlike some countries, the US is not an ethic group. It is a collection of diverse peoples united under the Constitution. When the Constitution was destroyed, the US ceased to exist. What exists today are power centers that are unaccountable. Elections mean nothing, as both parties are dependent on the same powerful interest groups for campaign funds. The most powerful interest groups are the military/security complex, which includes the Pentagon, the CIA, and the corporations that service them, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the oil industry that is destroying the Gulf of Mexico, Wall Street (investment banks and hedge funds), the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and the agri-companies that produce food of questionable content.

These corporate powers comprise an oligarchy that cannot be dislodged by voting. Ever since “globalism” was enacted into law, the Democrats have been dependent on the same corporate sources of income as the Republicans, because globalism destroyed the labor unions. Consequently, there is no difference between the Republicans and Democrats, or no meaningful difference.

The “war on terror” completed the constitutional/legal failure of the US. The US has also failed economically. Under Wall Street pressure for short-term profits, US corporations have moved offshore their production for US consumer markets. The result has been to move US GDP and millions of well-paid US jobs to countries, such as China and India, where labor and professional expertise are cheap. This practice has been going on since about 1990.

After 20 years of offshoring US production, which destroyed American jobs and federal, state and local tax base, the US unemployment rate, as measured by US government methodology in 1980, is over 20 percent. The ladders of upward mobility have been dismantled. Millions of young Americans with university degrees are employed as waitresses and bartenders. Foreign enrollment comprises a larger and larger percentage of US universities as the American population finds that a university degree has been negated by the offshoring of the jobs that the graduates expected.

When US offshored production re-enters the US as imports, the trade balance deteriorates. Foreigners use their surplus dollars to purchase existing US assets.

Consequently, dividends, interest, capital gains, tolls from toll roads, rents, and profits, now flow abroad to foreign owners, thus increasing the pressure on the US dollar. The US has been able to survive the mounting claims of foreigners against US GDP because the US dollar is the reserve currency. However, the large US budget and trade deficits will put pressures on the dollar that will become too extreme for the dollar to be able to sustain this role. When the dollar fails, the US population will be impoverished.

The US is heavily indebted, both the government and the citizens. Over the last decade there has been no growth in family income. The US economy was kept going through the expansion of consumer debt. Now consumers are so heavily indebted that they cannot borrow more. This means that the main driving force of the US economy, consumer demand, cannot increase. As consumer demand comprises 70% of the economy, when consumer demand cannot increase, there can be no economic recovery.

The US is a failed state also because there is no accountability to the people by corporations or by government at any level, whether state, local, or federal. British Petroleum is destroying the Gulf of Mexico. The US government has done nothing. The Obama regime’s response to the crisis is more irresponsible than the Bush regime’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Wetlands and fisheries are being destroyed by unregulated capitalist greed and by a government that treats the environment with contempt. The tourist economy of Florida is being destroyed. The external costs of drilling in deep waters exceeds the net worth of the oil industry. As a result of the failure of the American state, the oil industry is destroying one of the world’s most valuable ecological systems.

Question: What can be done?

Roberts: The American people are lost in la-la land. They have no idea that their civil liberties have been forfeited. They are only gradually learning that their economic future is compromised. They have little idea of the world’s growing hatred of Americans for their destruction of other peoples. In short, Americans are full of themselves. They have no idea of the disasters that their ignorance and inhumanity have brought upon themselves and upon the world.

Much of the world, looking at a country that appears both stupid and inhumane, wonders at Americans’ fine opinion of themselves. Is America the virtuous “indispensable nation” of neoconservative propaganda, or is America a plague upon the world?

US-South Korea exercises may wait for UN diplomacy: Gates

Federal officials and the oil giant BP effectively conspired to keep the worst images of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico from the public, according to a report Thursday.

The US Coast Guard, which is coordinating response efforts to the spill on behalf of the government, had hours of video showing the extent of the spill within nine days after the spill began. But by that point, they'd released only a single fuzzy still image.

"But inside the unified command center, where BP and federal agencies were orchestrating the spill response, video monitors had already displayed hours of footage they did not make public," ABC News' veteran investigative reporter Brian Ross reports. "The images showed a far more dire situation unfolding underwater. The footage filmed by submarines showed three separate leaks, including one that was unleashing a torrent of oil into the Gulf."

BP told the network they'd turned the video over to the Feds, and the decision to release the video was on the Feds alone.

"The video has been available to the unified command from the very beginning," BP spokesman Mark Proegle was quoted as saying. "It's always been here from the beginning. They had it."

Coast Guard officials contested BP's assertion, saying the oil firm had claimed the video of the spill was "proprietary."

Still, Federal officials made statements that suggested the spill was smaller than it was, even though they had devastating video of the leak.

"I would caution you not to get fixated on an estimate of how much is out there," the top Coast Guard Admiral said of the spill.

"This fixation on the number of barrels is a little bit misleading," said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano remarked.

BP and federal officials have also faced accusations that they've tried to keep reporters from covering the extent of the spill.

On Saturday, AP reported:

Media organizations say they are being allowed only limited access to areas impacted by the Gulf oil spill through restrictions on plane and boat traffic that are making it difficult to document the worst spill in U.S. history.

The Associated Press, CBS and others have reported coverage problems because of the restrictions, which officials say are needed to protect wildlife and ensure safe air traffic.

Ted Jackson, a photographer for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, said Saturday that access to the spill "is slowly being strangled off."...

Coast Guard officials also said there was no intent to conceal the scope of the disaster. Rather, they said, the spill's complexity had made it difficult to allow the open access sought by the media.

Coast Guard Lt. Commander Rob Wyman said personnel involved in [a] CBS dispute said no one was threatened with arrest. "If we see anybody impeding operations, we're going to ask you to move. We're going to ask you to back up and move away," he said.

On May 24, BP's CEO, Tony Hayward, was caught on tape ordering reporters off a beach that had been affected.

BP's CEO appeared to motion toward a cameraman who was standing next to a large puddle of toxic sludge. Pointing at the man, he said sternly: "Hey! Get outta there. Get outta there!"

After an inaudible exchange with nearby subordinates, the CEO then gestured toward other reporters and said softly, "Get 'em out. Get 'em out. Get 'em out." He was wearing a wireless mic.

Having given the order, Hayward began walking to the site of a planned press conference some "hundreds of yards away," according to one report, drawing the camera crews along with him.

Covering the scene live was CNN's Rick Sanchez, who appeared aghast at the comments.

"There have been some questions as to whether BP has been transparent enough and allowed media to go in and take pictures that they probably don't want you to see," the anchor said. "Um, but, you and I both heard the 'Get 'em outta there,' not on one occasion but it seemed like two occasions."

CEO: BP will make good on $10 billion in profit payouts to shareholders, despite spill

BP's shareholders may receive more this year from the company's coffers than those affected by the spill in the Gulf of Mexico will receive in their lifetime.

BP CEO Tony Hayward has indicated that he will go ahead with massive dividend payouts to shareholders in the aftermath of the worst oil spill in US history. $10 billion in payouts are scheduled for this year. The cost of the spill has been estimated in the tens of billions, but ExxonMobil only ended up paying a $507 million settlement for the 1994 Exxon Valdez spill after 20 years of appeals.

BP's dividend ratio is now at 7.4 percent per year, more than twice the average payout of companies listed in the S&P 500. This means that US investors who hold BP stock effectively earn 7.4% interest on their shares -- more when US tax law is taken into account -- in addition to any gains or losses as a result of price shifts in the stock's value.

Democratic senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to BP's CEO on Wednesday asking them to delay dividend payments until a reasonable estimate can be reached for the cost of the spill's cleanup.

“We find it unfathomable that BP would pay out a dividend to shareholders before the total cost of BP’s oil spill clean-up is estimated,” the senators wrote.

“While we understand the need to reassure shareholders that the disaster in the Gulf will not substantially impact BP’s long term financial health, we are concerned that such action to move money off of the company’s books and into investors pockets will make it much more difficult to repay the U.S. government and American communities that are working around the clock to stem the damage caused by this devastating oil spill,” they added.

On the opposing side are some British cities and British pension funds, which depend on dividends like BP to pay retirees.

"BP's dividend is of crucial importance to the City and to the pensions of millions who depend on payouts from profitable companies to boost their retirement funds," the Guardian noted Friday. "Together with rival Shell, BP accounted for 25% of the total dividends of £50bn paid in the UK market last year. Any cut in the dividend could result in investors selling BP shares, further weakening the company, which has lost nearly 30% of its value since the disaster began."

If BP cuts its dividend, its share price would almost certainly fall further. The company has lost nearly 30% of its market value since the spill occurred Apr. 20. The decline has shaved tens of billions of the firm's market capitalization.

As of Friday morning, BP shares traded slightly higher in premarket trading on news that Hayward planned to keep the dividend intact.

ADL Rewrites New Testament

Every ten years since 1635, the small alpine town of Oberammergau, Germany has produced a six-hour Passion Play memorializing the final hours of Jesus Christ. About half the town's citizens help produce the play. Amateur actors fill the stage. The citizens are fulfilling their ancestors' 375-year-old vow to God to produce the play every decade since He delivered them from the bubonic plague.
Over the past two decades, the town has been the stage for a different kind of passion play. Few places in the world more perfectly present the drama of Jewish power and aggressive intent to deny public expressions of Christianity.
For the past two decades, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League-ever-ready to stifle any virile expression of Christianity-has taken its editing scissors to the play's script. Jewish crimes have been expunged. Today, the Jews play a bleached and sanitized role in the death of Christ. (What did Jesus say of the Pharisees? Whitewashed tombs?) Romans now stand guard outside Jesus' first entrance to Jerusalem, "making it clear who is really in control." The Jewish high priests debate theology, many siding for Jesus. The infamous blood oath-"His blood be upon us and our children"-has been axed from the script. Even Judas, incredibly, is pure at heart. He wants "to facilitate dialogue with the priesthood and is duped into betraying Jesus. It is one of the best roles in the play. When Judas understands that he has been manipulated, he storms the Temple, demanding Jesus' release." ADL even wrote in a new scene in which Jesus stands outside the Temple, holds up a Torah scroll and leads His followers in reciting in Hebrew " the major Jewish prayer known as "Sh'ma Yisroel" ­ "Hear O Israel, the Lord is God the Lord is One.""
AJ Goldman in Forward says the play has become a lovely and moving piece of art, now " less about Jesus and more a rare chance to experience a legendary tradition." He protests that it is no longer anti-Semitic.
Yet for ADL, even the censoring and trashing has not been enough. Its experts attended a preview May 8 and reported, " the play continues to depict damaging stereotypes of Judaism and presents Jewish leadership as deceitful, legalistic, vindictive and xenophobic." Goldman's Forward article explains the locus of the conflict: Jewish leaders hate the Gospels, basically. Before the 2000 production, the play's dramatic advisor tried to convince ADL head Abe Foxman that the play was about love and redemption. Foxman bitingly replied, "If you want to give me love and understanding, there are a lot of other Christian subjects. Give me another play; if it's about a Crucifixion in which the Jews kill Christ, you can never clean it up enough."
For Foxman, the Gospel itself is anti-Semitic and dangerous, as is Christian evangelism to Jews. His book, Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, alleges that "with every annual reading or reenactment of the story of the death of Jesus in Christian churches, millions of Christians imbibed the notion that the Jews had been guilty of the worst crime in history. Into our own time, the deicide libel has been used to justify hatred of Jews and violence against them, including from Christian pulpits." Violence from Christian pulpits even includes the commission to witness to Jews, according to Foxman, which is seen as attempted genocide of their souls!
Jewish leaders, captained by Foxman, have been radically successful in their assault. In Oberammergau, the gospel has been stripped. Its testimony is unspeakable in public. A 375-year-old religious tradition-vowed by a city, to thank God for deliverance-has been knifed of its content. (What happened to the sovereignty of old culture? What happened to the sanctity of traditions?) Nothing could more clearly state unbelieving Jewry's intent to make the New Testament itself unspeakable, unacceptableillegal.
And still, it is not enough. This year the ADL led a 16-page report from interfaith experts, denouncing the play. They want it decimated completely. The report, "supported by the American Jewish Committee, B'nai B'rith International and the National Council of Synagogues," calls for "a totally new script using contemporary biblical studies and historical research in order to eliminate continuing damaging negative stereotypes of Jews and Judaism."
This is about the Bible, plain and simple. The original passion play was lifted from the pages of the Christian Scriptures. The text was taken to the stage. Germans simply dramatized the Pharisees' vengeful, unrelenting persecution from the book of John; Judas' ugly, searing betrayal which Matthew witnessed; the Jewish masses' homicidal contempt, retold by Mark; the agony of Christ, gut-wrenchingly recorded by Luke. History proves what happened. After Jesus' return to the Father, Christians were persecuted relentlessly. The Jewish Talmud, to this day, records Christ as an evil bastard, now in hell, writhing in boiling semen. (Gittin 56b-57a)
What happened is really not debatable. But it is unacceptable to speak. Anti-Christian Jews can be blamed for nothing. Their leaders must be portrayed as always wise, balanced, good and moderate. As a people, they were never xenophobic or legalistic. And they had nothing, nothing, to do with Jesus' death. The nails went through His hands and feet as if by magic. There was no murder.
Isn't it interesting? Jewish leaders allow others no such exoneration.
In Germany, there is no such convenient bleaching of history. A radically different situation prevails. There, no one can be free from their ancestral guilt. No reparations can be enough. It is actually illegal to deny German blood guilt, their culture of hate, their cries through complicity of "Gas them! Gas them!" Under Germany's Holocaust denial laws, only Jews may revise German history (as in Oberammergau). A person who even questions the Holocaust can go to prison. It is illegal to deny the intentional, mechanized murder of six million Jews. It is illegal even to question the methods used by the Nazis. In Germany, the streets themselves are painted with the memories. Black tulips are grown in memorial sites. Every year on Holocaust Memorial Day the whole of Europe grieves for its guilt and vows it will never be repeated. A timeline of some of the billions spent on Holocaust memorials can be seen here:
History, we know, is written by the conquerors. There can be no remaining doubt about Jewish power in the western world today. Jewish leaders are the scripters of history and Christians are silent and cowed, submitting our sacred Gospels and traditions to Jewish scissors as if they mean nothing.
The world would look vastly different if this weren't true-if Jews enjoyed less power, if they mourned or even admitted what they did to Jesus and then to Christians. Picture it.
If Jerusalem were Germany, there would be monuments on every corner. In the concrete graven words would say, "This is where Jewish crowds jeered Christ up the streetThis is where Jews cried, "Crucify Him." Plaques and columns would stand between black tulips to announce, "This is where Steven was stoned because he was a Christ-followerLet us never forgetNever againNever again."
If such awareness were alive in the world-if Christians themselves were vigilant to Jewish antagonism, to the cosmic conflict-perhaps hate crime laws would not have passed. Perhaps we would not be so far down the road to criminalizing Christianity. That day is coming fast, largely because Christians meekly submit to Jewish leaders' powerful agenda, always defended by the myth of Jewish innocence and victimhood against the ever-present and irrational "anti-Semitism" of Christians and Gentiles. We have submitted to this myth. We have refused to expose the Talmud. Also ADL. We have surrendered the Gospels to Jewish excising. We have signed contracts when entering Israel, promising not to evangelize. We have underwritten the Jewish state with tax donations and religious offerings. We have lionized the Jewish tradition. We have drunk the Kool-Aid. Even before Jewish activists took scissors to the crucifixion stories, we ourselves used White-out on the words of Christ.
We ignored His timeless warnings,
Be careful, be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:6)
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are (Matthew 23)
We ignored Paul,
Beware of the concision [the Jews].... For we are the circumcision which worship God in the Spirit(Philippians 3:2-3)
The problem is that it can't be had both ways. Stand behind the Bible or don't. Accept its warnings-all of them-or admit you are an unbeliever.
Evangelical Christians hold to Biblical literalism yet ignore its most vibrantly relevant truths when they reflect adversely on Judaism. The Bible explains why Oberammergau has been butchered. It explains why Germany is lined with blood yet Jerusalem can continue, without censure, its vendetta against Christianity. Yet Christian leaders themselves need no coaching to ignore these verses.
Unless they stop this willful blindness, Jewish power will continue to grow and someday soon the Bible itself will be replaced-like the Oberammergau script-with the tradition of those who nailed Jesus to the cross.
Harmony Daws is a staff writer and researcher for the National Prayer Network, a Christian/conservative watchdog organization. Rev. Ted Pike is the director of the National Prayer Network.
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WHO overstated H1N1 threat

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A joint report into the handling of the H1N1 outbreak has found that some scientists who advised governments to stockpile drugs, had previously been on the payroll of big drug companies.

The report, published in the British Medical Journal, found World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on the use of medicine to treat the virus were prepared by experts who had received consulting fees from the top two manufacturers of the drugs - Roche and GlaxoSmithKline.

The WHO's decision to name the flu a "pandemic" is also coming under scrutiny from European investigators, and stands accused of exaggerating the dangers of the H1N1 outbreak, which emerged in April last year.

Laboratory tests have confirmed more than 18,000 deaths from H1N1 infection, according to WHO figures, but the virus has turned out to be less deadly than feared.

Also, symptoms suffered by most people infected with the virus have been mild.

'Exaggerated scare story'

A report by the Council of Europe, also released on Friday, accused the WHO of a lack of transparency over the pandemic announcement - saying it wasted huge sums of money and provoked "unjustified fears".

Paul Flynn, the author of the report, told Al Jazeera that the WHO warnings were "exaggeration on stilts".

"The WHO changed the definition of the most serious pandemic for one that would include the possibility of a tremendous amount of deaths to one that wouldn't include that severity ... and this is extraordinary.

"[The] announcement caused the world press to go into hysteria and tell people that we're going to see a plague like the 1918 one.

"There was never any scientific evidence to justify this exaggerated scare story.

"They frightened the world witless about this and caused this vast expense and disruption of health services," he said.

'Saving lives'

But Gregory Hartl, a WHO spokesman in Geneva, said the organisation does not believe any undue influence was exerted on its work.

"In April 2009, we knew very little about [this new virus] and our duty was a duty of care to save lives," he told Al Jazeera.

"So we were helping member states prepare for outcomes that were unknown at the time. We were lucky that afterwards the virus showed itself to be much milder than it was initially thought it could have been.

"Remember what would have happened had WHO and the world done nothing, and it turned out to be a virus on the scale of mortality of bird flu."

The WHO initially urged rapid development of treatments and vaccines, fearing the virus had the potential to kill millions.

As a result wealthy countries spent billions on medicines which many believe are now unnecessary.

Across Europe, governments are now trying to resell their stockpiles of swine flu vaccine.

Emergency committee

An emergency committee of the WHO has been waiting for signs of how the virus is developing in the southern hemisphere winter before making a full pronouncement on its state.

WHO have confirmed more than 18,000 deaths from H1N1 infection [GALLO/GETTY]

The committee, composed of 15 external advisers, believes it is critical for countries to maintain vigilance concerning the pandemic, including necessary public-health measures for disease control and surveillance, Margaret Chan, the WHO director-general, has said in a statement.

Chan said that pandemic flu activity was expected to continue, and the committee would meet again by mid-July to review the status of the outbreak once more data from the winter influenza season in the southern hemisphere was available.

The panel met on Tuesday, but Chan delayed any announcement until Thursday as the committee, whose members were spread around the world for the meeting by teleconference, put the final touches to the wording of their recommendation.

Chan's decision, based on the committee's recommendation, means that the outbreak, widely known as swine flu, remains at phase six on the WHO's pandemic scale, which has been at the top level of six since June 2009.

'Profound misjudment'

WHO experts say the virus remains a threat to some vulnerable people, notably pregnant women, young children and those with respiratory problems, and such groups would continue to need vaccinations.

Fiona Godlee, the editor-in-chief of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), told Al Jazeera the findings were "not surprising" but that the public should be "shocked by this".

"This was a major decision that affected governments around the world, vast sums of public money and private profit, and we need to really understand exactly the extent to which WHO's advice was influenced by the pharmaceutical industry," she said.

"The investigation by the BMJ suggests that there was substantial influence at a number of key stages in the declaration of the pandemic, the definition of the pandemic, the triggering of vaccine contracts around the world and advice to government to stockpile large numbers of expensive antiviral drugs.

"The extent of misjudgment was really very profound in this case."

But WHO experts maintain that the HIN1 virus could spread easily among people if it were to mutate into a more dangerous or lethal form.

The virus is currently most active in parts of the Caribbean and Southeast Asia, and activity in Africa is low or sporadic.

Lawyers Claim Google Wi-Fi Sniffing ‘Is Not an Accident’

Lawyers suing Google claimed Thursday they have discovered evidence in a patent application that Google deliberately programmed its Street View cars to collect private data from open Wi-Fi networks, despite claims to the contrary.

“At this point, it is our belief that it is not an accident,” said Brooks Cooper, an Oregon attorney suing Google in one of several class actions lawsuits around the country arising from Google’s disclosure that its Street View cars intercepted Wi-Fi traffic around the world. Google has described the sniffing as a coding error.

The evidence, the relevance of which Google disputed Thursday, is a 2008 Google patent application (.pdf) describing a method to increase the accuracy of location-based services — services that would allow advertisers or others to know almost the exact location of a mobile phone or other computing device. The patent application involves intercepting data and analyzing the timing of transmission as part of the method for pinpointing user locations.

The so-called “776″ patent application, published by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in January, describes “one or more of the methods” by which Google collects information for its Street View program, Cooper’s legal team said in court documents filed late Wednesday in federal court in Oregon.

Google spokeswoman Christine Chen said in an e-mail that the patent in question “is entirely unrelated to the software code used to collect Wi-Fi information with Street View cars.” In a follow up e-mail, Chen added that Google files “patent applications on a variety of ideas that our engineers come up with. Some of them mature into real products or services, and some of them don’t.”

Chen did not immediately respond to an e-mail asking whether Google has performed the “776″ method in practice.

Whether Google willfully sniffed out internet traffic on unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots in dozens of countries is an enormous public relations headache. It also carries huge legal and monetary ramifications in the United States, where the Mountain View, California, internet giant is being sued for privacy violations in multiple federal courthouses.

Among other reasons, Google might escape liability if it accidentally collected and never divulged the data, which includes web pages users visited or pieces of e-mail, video, audio and document files.

Google must turn over the U.S. data it siphoned to a federal judge in Oregon by Friday. The data will remain under lock and key.

Street View is part of Google Maps and Google Earth, and provides panoramic pictures of streets and their surroundings across the globe.

The internet giant has maintained the collection of data was inadvertent –- the result of a programming error with code written for an early experimental project that wound up on the Street View code. Google said it didn’t realize it was sniffing packets of data on unsecured Wi-Fi networks in dozens of countries for the last three years, until German privacy authorities began questioning what data Google’s Street View cameras were collecting.

21 Miles Off The Coast of Palestine

Here is a strange echo from history.

It is a documentary made by the BBC in 1973 about the story of the ship, the Exodus.

It was the ship full of Jewish refugees - many of them survivors of the Holocaust - that tried to break the British blockade of Palestine in 1947. The participants from both sides appear and describe in detail how British soldiers boarded the ship 21 miles off the coast of Palestine killing 3 of the refugees and wounding others.

It caused an international scandal and was a PR disaster for the British government. It is seen in Israel today as one of the most significant events that led to the founding of the modern Israeli state.

The shock was compounded when the British took most of the refugees back to Germany and put them on trains and sent them to internment camps.

Here is a still of the ship after it was captured by the British.

exodus1947x.jpgAs you watch the film - it raises complex reactions and thoughts in your mind. But it is ironic that, although the two events are in many ways completely different, the Israelis are now preventing Palestinians and supporters of Hamas from doing what the Israeli defence organisation - the Haganah - tried to do over 60 years ago. From 1945 the Haganah, along with the Irgun, had been carrying out a terror campaign against British soldiers in Palestine. Then in 1947 they organised the Exodus operation as an attempt to break the British blockade.

It is full of all the central characters in the story - including the captain of the Exodus, and the commander of the British warship. He uses little models of ships to demonstrate how he came alongside and British soldiers jumped from special platforms onto the roof of the Exodus - and took over the wheelhouse.

For some unknown reason the film starts in colour - then goes to black and white and finally comes back into colour. I'm sorry about this - but it is fascinating.

Caught in the oil

A short entry - AP Photographer Charlie Riedel just filed the following images of seabirds caught in the oil slick on a beach on Louisiana's East Grand Terre Island. As BP engineers continue their efforts to cap the underwater flow of oil, landfall is becoming more frequent, and the effects more evident. (8 photos total)

A bird is mired in oil on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

A Brown Pelican sits in heavy oil on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

A pair of Brown Pelicans, covered in oil, sit on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast, Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

A sea bird soaked in oil sits in the surf at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

A Brown Pelican is seen on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

A bird covered in oil flails in the surf at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

A Brown Pelican is mired in heavy oil on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

A Brown Pelican covered in oil sits on the beach at East Grand Terre Island along the Louisiana coast on Thursday, June 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) #

Report condemns swine flu experts' ties to big pharma

Trio of scientists who urged stockpiling had previously been paid, says report

Scientists who drew up the key World Health Organisation guidelines advising governments to stockpile drugs in the event of a flu pandemic had previously been paid by drug companies which stood to profit, according to a report out today.

An investigation by the British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the not-for-profit reporting unit, shows that WHO guidance issued in 2004 was authored by three scientists who had previously received payment for other work from Roche, which makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), manufacturer of Relenza.

City analysts say that pharmaceutical companies banked more than $7bn (£4.8bn) as governments stockpiled drugs. The issue of transparency has risen to the forefront of public health debate after dramatic predictions last year about a swine flu pandemic did not come true.

Some countries, notably Poland, declined to join the panic-buying of vaccines and antivirals triggered when the WHO declared the swine flu outbreak a pandemic a year ago this week. The UK, which warned that 65,000 could die as a result of the virus, spent an estimated £1bn stockpiling drugs and vaccines; officials are now attempting to unpick expensive drug contracts.

The cabinet office has launched an inquiry into the cost to the taxpayer of the panic-buying of drugs.

Today, the Council of Europe, produces a damning report into how a lack of openness around "decision making" has bedevilled planning for pandemics.

"The tentacles of drug company influence are in all levels in the decision-making process," said Paul Flynn, the Labour MP who sits on the council's health committee. "It must be right that the WHO is transparent because there has been distortion of priorities of public health services all over Europe, waste of huge sums of public money and provocation of unjustified fear."

Although the experts consulted made no secret of industry ties in other settings, declaring them in research papers and at universities, the WHO itself did not publicly disclose any of these in its seminal 2004 guidance. In its note, the WHO advised: "Countries that are considering the use of antivirals as part of their pandemic response will need to stockpile in advance."

Many nations would adopt this guidance, including Britain. In 2005, the government said it had begun bulk-buying the drug Tamiflu, initially ordering 14.6m doses after bird flu killed 40 in Asia.

The specific guidance on antivirals was written by Professor Fred Hayden. He has confirmed in an email that he was being paid by Roche for lectures and consultancy work at the time the guidance was produced and published. He received payments from GSK for consultancy and lecturing until 2002. He said "[declaration of interest] forms were filled out for the 2002 consultation".

The previous year Hayden was also one of the main authors of a Roche-sponsored study that asserted what was to become a main Tamiflu selling point – its claim of a 60% reduction in flu hospitalisations.

Dr Arnold Monto was the author of the WHO annex dealing with vaccine usage in pandemics. Between 2000 and 2004, and at the time of writing the annex, Monto had openly declared consultancy fees and research support from Roche and GSK. No conflict of interest statement was included in the annex published by the WHO.

When asked if he had signed a declaration of interest form for WHO, Dr Monto said "conflict of interest forms are requested before participation in any WHO meeting".

The third scientist, Professor Karl Nicholson, is credited with the WHO's influential work Pandemic Influenza. According to declarations he made in the BMJ and Lancet in 2003, he had received sponsorship from GSK and Roche.

Even though the previous year these declarations had been openly made, no conflict of interest statement was included in the annex. Nicholson said he last had "financial relations" with Roche in 2001.

When asked if he had signed a declaration of interest form for WHO, he replied: "The WHO does require attendees of meetings, such as those held in 2002 and 2004, to complete declarations of interest."

A WHO official told the BMJ it had to balance an individual's privacy with the robustness of guidelines, which were subject to a wide external review process.

Swiss take next step to end bank secrecy

Switzerland moved a step closer to ending its centuries-old laws which have protected the secrecy of the country's banks on Thursday after a key parliamentary vote.
The upper house of the Swiss parliament ratified an agreement made by the Swiss government to hand over the names of thousands of UBS clients to the US.

The vote is seen as a major step forward in the US taxman's attempts to get his hands on the names of 4,450 of UBS's American clients as part of a wider investigation into tax avoidance.
However, in a separate vote, the lower house of the Swiss parliament – the Federal Assembly - will next week have to approve the Swiss-US deal, signed in August 2009 as part of a deal to drop tax evasion charges against the Swiss bank.

As part of that deal, the names of approximately 250 of the wealthiest people on UBS's US offshore client list have already been handed over. August 19, 2010 is the deadline for the remaining names under the agreement signed with the Internal Revenue Service and the US Department of Justice.

Prior to the deal, the US was accusing UBS of assisting wealthy Americans in hiding almost $20bn (£13.7bn) of assets in offshore accounts. As part of the settlement, UBS paid a fine of $780m in order to avoid criminal charges.

Obama 'furious' at oil spill as gov't sends bill to BP

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) - President Barack Obama said he was "furious" about the US oil disaster on the eve of his third visit to Louisiana as the government sent BP a 69-million-dollar bill for its efforts to curb the 45-day-old leak.

Obama said "yelling" would be pointless as aides rejected claims the president had shown insufficient emotion over the crisis, and disputed a media narrative that political trauma over America's worst environmental catastrophe would crimp his agenda.

Fresh, graphic images emerged of helpless coastal birds writhing in thick oil along Louisiana's coast -- likely to sharpen anguish after BP's repeated failures to halt the gushing oil.

"I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people, but that is not what I was hired to do -- my job is to solve this problem," Obama told CNN, adding he was "furious at this entire situation."

In the latest move to demonstrate engagement with the ever-growing disaster, the White House said Obama would make his third visit to oil response efforts on Gulf of Mexico coast on Friday.

At the start of the estimated five-hour visit, Obama will meet with Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen as well as state and local elected officials, the White House said in a statement.

His spokesman Robert Gibbs said earlier that the federal government was invoicing BP "for 69 million dollars of expenses incurred up to this point."

Gibbs said the bill was to reimburse American taxpayers for the government's costs so far in battling the worst oil spill in US history, with thousands of barrels of oil pouring into the Gulf every day.

In a ray of good news, BP engineers managed to slice off the rig's fractured riser pipe with a pair of giant shears and were trying to cover the jagged hole with a cap topped with a siphon and linked to a surface ship.

"We have cleared the riser from the top of the wellhead, and the team is currently working to complete the cleanup operation before we put the cap onto top of the well," under-fire BP chief executive Tony Hayward said.

"It's an important milestone," he added.

But he warned it could take 12 to 24 hours after the cap is put in place to know if it is managing to contain the worst of the spill, amid warnings that with the broken pipe cut off, the oil flow would increase initially.

"In some senses... it's just the beginning. It's been an extraordinary endeavor on the part of many, many people," Hayward said.

BP has battled unsuccessfully to cap or contain the disastrous leak since an April 20 explosion tore through the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig just off the Louisiana coast.

Hayward acknowledged earlier in an interview with the Financial Times that the British energy giant had been unprepared for the disaster and "did not have the tools you would want in your tool kit."

The US government has estimated the flow of oil before the riser was cut away at 12,000 to 19,000 barrels a day -- meaning between 22 million and almost 36 million gallons have already poured into the Gulf.

By comparison, Alaska's 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster saw an 11-million-gallon spill.

BP's operation to drill two relief wells -- seen as the only way to permanently cap the failed wellhead -- is on target to be completed in mid-August, US officials said.

The slick, floating along in a myriad of oily ribbons, is now threatening Alabama, Mississippi and Florida after contaminating more than 125 miles (200 kilometers) of Louisiana coastline.

With the slick expected to arrive within days in the Florida panhandle, Coast Guard investigators were also probing unconfirmed reports that tar balls and an oily substance had been found in the tourist-heavy Florida Keys.

Allen, who is coordinating the government's response to the spill, said nearly one million gallons of dispersants have been used to break up the oil in the Gulf.

"We're approaching the million gallon mark and it's a milestone and there are concerns about that and we will continue to work the dispersants very, very closely."

Many environmentalists have voiced concern over the unprecedented use of so much dispersant, warning its long-term effect on wildlife -- already threatened by the huge oil spill -- is unknown.

Experts also warn the majority of the oil is contained in vast underwater plumes that cannot be measured from above.

US officials have closed more than a third of Gulf of Mexico waters, extending a fishing ban to 88,502 square miles (229,219 square kilometers) -- about 37 percent of the Gulf's federal waters

McDonald's pulls Shrek glasses in U.S.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - McDonald's in the U.S. is recalling 12 million "Shrek"-themed drinking glasses because of cadmium in the painted design.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission warned consumers early Friday to immediately stop using the glasses. It was not yet clear if the recall extended to McDonald's in Canada.

The 16-ounce glasses being sold as part of a promotional campaign for the movie "Shrek Forever After," were available in four designs depicting the characters Shrek, Princess Fiona, Puss in Boots and Donkey.

The recall notice states "long-term exposure to cadmium can cause adverse health effects." Cadmium is a known carcinogen that research shows also can cause bone softening and severe kidney problems.

In the case of the Shrek-themed glassware, the potential danger would be long-term exposure to low levels of cadmium, which could leach from the paint onto a child's hand, then enter the body if the child puts that unwashed hand to his or her mouth.

Cadmium can be used to create reds and yellows in paint. McDonald's USA spokesman Bill Whitman said a pigment in paint on the glasses contained cadmium.

"A very small amount of cadmium can come to the surface of the glass, and in order to be as protective as possible of children, CPSC and McDonald's worked together on this recall," said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson. He would not specify the amounts of cadmium that leached from the paint in tests, but said the amounts were "slightly above the protective level currently being developed by the agency."

Wolfson said the glasses have "far less cadmium than the children's metal jewelry that CPSC has previously recalled."

Concerns about cadmium exposure emerged in January, when The Associated Press reported that some items of children's jewelry sold at major national chains contained up to 91 per cent of the metal. Federal regulators worry that kids could ingest cadmium by biting, sucking or even swallowing contaminated pendants and bracelets.

The consumer protection agency has issued three recalls this spring for jewelry highlighted in the AP stories, including products sold at Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer; at Claire's, a major jewelry and accessories chain in North America and Europe; and at discount and dollar stores.

Those recalls all involved children's metal jewelry — and all of that jewelry was made in China.

Manufactured by ARC International of Millville, N.J., the glasses were to be sold from May 21 into June. Roughly seven million of the glasses had been sold; another approximately five million are in stores or have not yet been shipped, said Whitman.

Associated Press reporters tried unsuccessfully to buy the glasses late Thursday at McDonald's in New York, Los Angeles and northern New Jersey but were alternately told the merchandise was sold out, no longer available or "there'll be more tomorrow."

Emails sent after business hours to two spokesmen for ARC International seeking comment were not immediately returned.

McDonald's said it was asking customers to stop using the glasses "out of an abundance of caution."

"We believe the Shrek glassware is safe for consumer use," Whitman said. "However, again to ensure that our customers receive safe products from us, we made the decision to stop selling them and voluntarily recall these products effective immediately."

Whitman said that as the CPSC develops new protocols and standards for cadmium in consumer products, "we adjust as necessary to ensure that our customers can continue to trust what they receive from McDonald's."

The moment Jupiter is hit by mysterious new object AGAIN as Nasa reveals planet's 'bruise' was caused by rogue asteroid

An amateur astronomer has spotted an object crashing into the surface of Jupiter for the first time.

Anthony Wesley, an Australian computer programmer, spotted a bright flash and alerted professional and amateur sky-gazers to the unique collision.

'When I saw the flash, I couldn't believe it,' said Mr Wesley. 'The fireball lasted about two seconds and was very bright.'

And it comes just as Nasa announced that it had solved the mystery behind a strange 'bruise' on Jupiter which had also been spotted by Mr Wesley.

Mr Wesley gained fame last year when he spotted the scar the size of the Pacific Ocean on Jupiter which is believed to have been caused by an asteroid smacking into the gas giant planet.

Scroll down to watch video of the historic collision

Anthony Wesley

The bright flash of the asteroid crashing into the planet's surface is clearly visible in the top left of the image taken by Anthony Wesley

The latest hit near the equator has not left any visible mark so far, but astronomers are on the lookout.

The absence of a detectable gash and the short impact time have led scientists to believe Jupiter was likely struck by a meteor.

'We've never seen a meteor slam into Jupiter,' said Glenn Orton of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The latest collision should give astronomers a better idea of the size of debris floating in the outer solar system.

The mystery object struck the planet on July 19 last year, leaving a dark scar the size of the Pacific Ocean.

Astronomers have used images from Nasa's Hubble Space Telescope to compare the blemish on Jupiter with similar scar caused by a 1994 comet, and believe a 1,600ft wide asteroid is responsible for the mark.

Mystery: Images from Nasa's Hubble telescope show how the dark scar discovered in July last year faded over time

Mystery: Images from Nasa's Hubble telescope show how the dark scar discovered in July last year faded over time

Bizarrely, the most recent collision occurred exactly 15 years after more than 20 pieces from the Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL9) plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere.

Nasa released its analysis of the Hubble images this week, and said the impact of the asteroid would have been similar to several thousand nuclear bombs.

Astronomers believe the culprit was an asteroid about 1,600ft wide and that the 'bruise' shows for the first time the immediate aftermath of an asteroid, rather than a comet striking another planet.

Mr Wesley was using a home-made telescope in the yard of his rural home in Murrumbateman, near Canberra, when he spotted the dark scar last year.

He said that he had discovered the scar in between running inside to watch the final rounds of the British Open golf on television.

'I couldn’t believe it. I thought "That wasn’t there before" and then I realised Jupiter had actually been hit by something,' he said at the time.

The 2009 strike was equal to a few thousand nuclear bombs exploding.

Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, led a team that took pictures of the impact sites using the Hubble.

'This solitary event caught us by surprise, and we can only see the aftermath of the impact, but fortunately we do have the 1994 Hubble observations that captured the full range of impact phenomena, including the nature of the objects from pre-impact observations' she said.

And she said the 2009 impact showed how important work was still being performed by amateur astronomers.

'This event beautifully illustrates how amateur and professional astronomers can work together,' she said.

Nasa said the Jupiter bombardments revealed that the solar system was a 'rambunctious' place.

The gap between the 1994 and 2009 was particularly a surprise as Jupiter impacts were only expected to occur every few hundred to few thousand years.

Watch video of last night's collision taken by Wesley's fellow astronomer Christopher Go, based in the Philippines

Impact on Jupiter, June 3, 2010 from Ars Technica on Vimeo.

Justin Raimondo : This Says It All

What is US foreign policy in the Middle East all about – and for whose benefit is it being conducted? In two short paragraphs, this news story says it all:

“The U.S. confirmed that an American citizen, identified as 19-year-old Furkan Dogan, was killed by multiple gunshots during the Israeli raid on a flotilla carrying activists attempting to run a blockade of the Gaza Strip.

“State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said the U.S. has made no decision on a response to Dogan’s death.”

Apparently official Washington is torn between issuing a mild protest, and thanking them.

“Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental responsibility of our government,” Hillary Clinton assured the media, “and one that we take very seriously” – but not seriously enough to issue an official protest. “We are in constant contact with the Israeli government attempting to obtain more information about our citizens.” Do they want to know how many holes the IDF put in Furkan Dogan’s head before they make a decision on a response?

In reality, the US already made a response in the form of Vice President Joe “Loose Cannon” Biden, who, when asked about the attack on the flotilla, said: “So what’s the big deal here?”

At the time he said it, the odds were fair that an American citizen – out of nine with the flotilla — was among the dead. Now that it’s been confirmed, I wonder if it’s dawned on our dim-witted Vice President that it is indeed a very big deal.

In a brazen act of international piracy, the Israelis boarded a ship in international waters and killed an American citizen – so what is the American government going to do about it?

The answer is: nothing, zero, nada, zilch. Israel refuses to let an international investigation look into the matter, and Biden is cool with that, as he told Charlie Rose:

“Biden: We passed a resolution in the UN saying we need a transparent and open investigation of what happened. It looks like things are…

“Rose: International investigation?

“Biden: Well, an investigation run by the Israelis, but we’re open to international participation.”

That’s certainly impartial, fair, and transparent – let the Israelis investigate themselves! No, Biden isn’t stupid: he’s smart enough to know the Israelis will never be held accountable by our government, and that any attempt to do so would be aborted before it ever became known.

The reason for this peculiar passivity is because, contra Hillary, protecting the welfare of American citizens is not considered a fundamental responsibility of our government insofar as it means protecting their welfare against the government of Israel. In any conflict between American and Israeli interests, Washington’s instinctive response is to uphold the latter and ignore the former. Under the Bush administration, such a conflict of interests was considered impossible: the very idea that there could be daylight between Washington and Tel Aviv on any given issue was considered heretical. Even under the Bushies, however, there was still some vague stirrings of American independence, especially toward the end of the second term. And they never had to face a situation like this, in which an American citizen in transit was murdered by our faithful “allies.” That kind of thing hasn’t happened since the sinking of the USS Liberty – and it may be a sign of what’s to come that a survivor of that heinous assault was traveling with the flotilla, too.

In the case of the USS Liberty, the whole thing was covered up in a shameful act of official suppression: against the testimony of the sailors on that ship, 34 of whom were killed, the US government ruled that the savage Israeli assault was a tragic “accident.” Yet US government officials knew the truth. As then secretary of state Dean Rusk later put it:

“I was never satisfied with the Israeli explanation. Their sustained attack to disable and sink Liberty precluded an assault by accident or some trigger-happy local commander. Through diplomatic channels we refused to accept their explanations. I didn’t believe them then, and I don’t believe them to this day. The attack was outrageous.”

So is this attack outrageous, but if the US government can whitewash the Israeli murder of 34 American sailors, it can overlook the murder of a single American in nearly identical circumstances.

Of course, this is not 1967: the news of an American’s death at the hands of the IDF is being transmitted around the world, even as I write this, and all the details are coming out: the pitilessness of the Israelis, young Furkan’s idealism, and the horrific circumstances of his death.

What is being transmitted, above all, is the braying arrogance of the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his media shills, as they deride the dead as “terrorists looking for trouble.” Bizarrely, the Vice President of the United States is joining right in, declaring that Israel had a “right” to board the ships and detain the passengers because it has a “right” to ensure its own “security” – yet the ships were inspected by the Turkish government in Cyprus before they left, and found to contain only items such as building material and children’s toys. The Israelis, as part of their serio-comic propaganda offensive, are triumphantly showing off a cache of “weapons” found on the ship – which looks like nothing more than a collection of old kitchen knives and a couple of metal poles.

An American is killed as heavily armed soldiers of a foreign nation board a ship in international waters, firing live ammunition at the passengers as they rappel onto the deck. Among those passengers: a former US ambassador, a former US colonel and Pentagon official, several members of the European parliament, a member of the Israeli Knesset, and members of parliament from several Arab countries.

Imagine if Iran had done this. Washington would have reverberated with the sound of thunder emanating from the White House, and the attack fleet would already be steaming toward the Gulf, taking up position. That the culprit was Israel, however, puts a whole different face on the matter, at least as far as our government is concerned: they’re content to let the Israelis “investigate,” and let the matter drop.

For years, some of us have been saying that the government of Israel and its partisans in this country exercise a decisive – and unhealthy – influence on the making and execution of US foreign policy. We’ve been accused of everything from anti-Semitism to pushing “conspiracy theories,” and yet the Mediterranean Massacre – and our government’s non-response – underscores that, if anything, we’ve been underestimating the extent to which the US takes its orders directly from Tel Aviv.

The Israel Lobby controls official Washington: Congress is, as Pat Buchanan trenchantly observed, “Israeli-occupied territory.” Yet one would think that, in spite of these circumstances, the wanton murder of an American on the high seas by Israeli commandos would provoke an angry response from Washington. Unfortunately, one would be wrong.

Instead, what we have is the grotesque spectacle of our Vice President commending the Israelis, and the US and Israel scrambling to come up with a “joint response.” What more proof do we need that the US government is the political equivalent of occupied Palestine, where truth and justice are under blockade?

For years, they’ve been spying on us, collaborating with our enemies, stealing our secrets, manipulating our politicians, and now they’ve gone so far as to murder one of our citizens on neutral ground – and still our government cannot manage even a peep of protest. A more disgusting display of cowardice would be hard to imagine.

We attacked Iraq in large part due to the influence of the Lobby, and we are gearing up for an armed conflict with Iran in response to the same sort of pressure: will we now countenance the execution of one of our own citizens in order to appease Tel Aviv?

This was no “accident.” The Israeli government knew precisely what it was doing, it knew there were Americans on those ships, and chose to go in guns blazing: it was the equivalent of spitting in Uncle Sam’s face.

After all, how dare those Americans try to freeze the building of settlements in what is “Greater Israel”? How dare Obama tell us what we can and cannot do?! We’ll show them! Let’s kill a few. Don’t worry – they won’t retaliate. We own them: and they know it.

In view of the Obama administration’s shameful crawling, one can hardly disagree. Which raises a question: how many American lives are to be sacrificed on the altar of the “special relationship”? It’s a question to which one doesn’t really want to know the answer.

Erdogan: Israel in danger of losing its “best friend” in the Region NATO HQ Seething

As funerals were held in Turkey on Thursday for 7 Turks and 1 US citizen, a new wave of anger swept over Turkey at Israel. The popular emotions have potential implications for Turkey and NATO in the Middle East, and therefore for the United States and the Obama administration.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara on Thursday that Israel must review its policies lest it lose its best friend in the region, i.e. Turkey.

He added, “We have made an effort to keep our friendship. But the Israeli government couldn’t maintain it and made a historic mistake. And it did not do so only against Turkey but against the people of 32 countries. There were no weapons on the ships, just humanitarian aid …”

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said that “Turkey will never forgive this kind of attack in international waters …”

Turkey has recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv, and canceled, for now, a joint research project on energy issues. It is even planning legal action against Israel in Turkish courts. But Israeli arms sales to Turkey are are still on track, and despite a temporary fall in Israeli tourism, Turkey does $2.6 billion in trade with Israel annually, about on percent of its total.

ITN has a video report on the funerals and the anger:

Former UK ambassador Craig Murray, who was forced out of the Foreign Ministry when he blew the whistle on torture in Uzbekistan, reports the extreme unease felt in the halls of NATO in Brussels over the Israeli assault on a vessel from a NATO member nation. The blithely pro-Israeli attitude of Americans at NATO HQ only added to the tensions already obtaining between the US and its NATO allies over Afghanistan policy. The Obama administration has put enormous pressure on its NATO allies to increase their troop strength in Afghanistan, which many deeply resent.

Turkey is a country of about 73 million and is therefore more populous than France or the UK. It is the 18th most populous country in the world, after Germany, Ethiopia, Egypt and Iran. It has been ranked by some analysts as the tenth most powerful country in the world with regard to conventional military strength, just ahead of Israel itself. It is a NATO member and therefore a formal ally of the United States, which is bound to defend Turkey from attack, and it has preferential access to sophisticated US weaponry.

Economically, Turkey ranks 17 in the world for nominal gross domestic product. Turkey was not hurt as badly by the economic downturn in 2008-2009 as some others, and it is on track to grow over 6 % this year on exports. It may be this year’s fastest growing economy. It has been growing at a rapid clip during the past decade, and has attracted billions in foreign investment.

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party is tinged with Muslim ideas, in contrast to the old officer corps elite of militant secularists. As Turkey has democratized, the Muslim and populist commitments of the people who live in towns and the smaller cities have become more salient. The JDP (AK Partisi) has also helped authorize a freer and more public role for Muslim fundamentalist NGOs such as IHH, the charity that helped sponsor the Gaza aid flotilla.