United States News Digest
A Pentagon Provocation Against Italy?
On April 19, the Army Combat Studies Institute [CSI] demonstrated for reporters at the Pentagon a new educational tool it is developing called "the virtual staff ride," and chose to demonstrate it with the shooting of Italian intelligence official Nicolà Calipari. Calipari was killed at a U.S-manned checkpoint on Baghdad's airport road in March, 2005 after he had successfully liberated Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena from kidnappers. Furthermore, they chose to do it on the same week an Italian court put the U.S. soldier who fired the fatal shots, on trial in absentia for murder.
The Army officials did not explain why they chose to demonstrate this tool using this particular scenario at this time. They said the information the scenario is based on came entirely from the Army's own investigations, which concluded that the gunner acted appropriately in trying to stop the vehicle carrying the Italians, given the threat level and the mission. In any case, even though there was no hint of arrogance from the Army briefers, the presenting of this training tool, using this scenario, so soon after a political crisis over Italian involvement in Afghanistan nearly brought down the government of Romano Prodi, certainly appears provocative.
European Parliamentarians Brief Congress on Renditions
Three Members of the European Parliament (EP), briefed members of the U.S. House or Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee April 17 on the EP report on "Extraordinary Renditions," the practice in which the United States has abducted terrorist suspects and held them in secret prisons without trial, often subjecting them to torture and abuse. The three, from Italy and the UK, were accompanied at the hearing by at least seven other MEPs from France, Greece, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, and Finland.
In opening the hearing, Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.), chairman of the Subcommittee on International Organizations and Human Rights, called the Administration's practice of renditions "torture by proxy," adding that this has contributed greatly to world opinion turning against the U.S., despite the overwhelming international support for the U.S. that existed in the immediate wake of the 9/11 attacks.
The MEPs said that the practice of extraordinary rendition violated the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties, and also the European Convention on Human Rights.
LaRouche's Perspective Brought to Los Angeles's Chinatown
EIR's China correspondent, Leni Rubinstein, and Lyndon LaRouche's West Coast spokesman Harley Schlanger brought LaRouche's optimistic and polemical perspective to a potentially enormous Chinese audience at a press conference April 16 in Los Angeles' Chinatown.
The press in attendance included the Chinese Daily News (North America's largest-circulation Chinese-language newspaper), an executive for EDI Media Inc. (a large media conglomerate), an editor from Shanghai's XINMIN Evening News (with a readership of over a million), as well as the Los Angeles Bureau Chief of Xinhua (a Chinese government press agency). Translation was provided by long-term supporter of LaRouche's ideas within the Chinese community.
FDR Legacy Club Educates California Democratic Officials
On April 12, the Los Angeles LaRouche Youth Movement held its monthly Franklin Roosevelt Legacy Democratic Club (FRLDC) meeting, continuing the process of bringing key elected officials of the California Democratic Party over to the LaRouche faction. With guests like the chair of the Los Angeles County Central Committee (LACCC), and the secretary of the state party, the FRLDC is becoming the most vibrant aspect of the LACCC, bringing the crucial issues to the floor, as demonstrated in the recent fight within the party erupting around Gore and global warming.
The two main speakers at the meeting were LaRouche representative Mark Calney, and Paul Koretz, former State Representative and leader of the progressive Democratic caucus in the California State Assembly.
Behind Soros' Fight with AIPAC
The April 12, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books contains a lengthy article by mega-speculator and Democratic Party moneybags George Soros, attacking the Bush Administration, the neoconservatives, and AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) for sabotaging opportunities for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and the broader Middle East peace accord. Soros blames AIPAC for the U.S. government's refusal to recognize the new Palestinian Authority national unity government, and for blocking a Congressional demand that the President come to Congress before launching any attack on Iran.
Soros's carefully worded article focussed on the urgent need to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: "I believe that a much-needed self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can't make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Some leaders of the Democratic Party have promised to bring about a change of direction but they cannot deliver on that promise until they are able to resist the dictates of AIPAC. Palestine is a place of critical importance," Soros continued, "where positive change is still possible. Iraq is largely beyond our control; but if we succeeded in settling the Palestinian problem we would be in a much better position to engage in negotiations with Iran and extricate ourselves from Iraq. The need for a peace settlement in Palestine is greater than ever. Both for the sake of Israel and the United States, it is highly desirable that the Saudi peace initiative should succeed; but AIPAC stands in the way. It continues to oppose dealing with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas."
Soros concludes with a fervent pitch for a debate within the American Jewish community on the future of the Middle East. "Whether the Democratic Party can liberate itself from AIPAC's influence is highly doubtful," he wrote. "Any politician who dares to expose AIPAC's influence would incur its wrath; so very few can be expected to do so. It is up to the American Jewish community itself to rein in the organization that claims to represent it. But this is not possible without first disposing of the most insidious argument put forward by the defenders of the current policies; that the critics of Israel's policies of occupation, control, and repression on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and Gaza engender anti-Semitism. The opposite is the case.... A debate within the Jewish community, instead of fomenting anti-Semitism, would only help diminish it."
Sources familiar with the Soros-AIPAC controversy report that AIPAC has been involved in a smear campaign against Soros because, among other reasons, Soros' Open Society Fund has bankrolled the revival of Jewish communities in many areas of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, whereas AIPAC's backers believe that all of world Jewry should be living in Israel. Soros' views, expressed in the New York Review of Books piece, are also shared by a significant segment of the Israeli political establishment, and reflect a debate that is raging behind the scenes in the European Jewish community, according to the sources.