Thursday, July 22, 2010
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is continuing to divide the Middle East. RT sat down with journalist and author Jonathan Cook who says that Israel actually benefits from the division.
“The Jewish population in Tehran is at least 20,000, maybe 30,000 people, and when they talk about their lives there, they seem very comfortable. If Iran had a kind of racial hatred against Jews, if the Iranian regime was just a symbol of a ‘new Hitler regime’, the Nazis, why would they not be starting with their own population?” Jonathan Cook says.
“The reason why Israel can’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons is because if Iran developed its own nuclear arsenal, it would totally change the balance of power in the Middle East,” he says. “At the moment Israel is the regional bully, it has its own nuclear weapons, it can pull them out as it has done several times in the past, most notably during the 1973 war when it threatened the US that it might use those weapons if it wasn’t rearmed and that is why the Americans had to come in and intervene. It has that kind of ability to pressure America and terrorize the rest of the neighborhood, if you like, because it has nuclear weapons.”
Jonathan Cook says that if Iran had nuclear weapons, there would be a balance of power.
“There would be this mutually assured destruction principle, which may not be an ideal principle, but at least it’s something in terms of counteracting the benefits that Israel has as the only nuclear power [in the region],” he says.
As for the possible solution to the conflict, Jonathan Cook says he would support anything that brought peace and gave Palestinians and Israeli Jews the right to live happy, contented lives.
“The question now is how you achieve that. Some people say a two-state solution could do that. I don’t actually think that it is even technically possible any longer, if it ever was,” he says. “We are talking about very small areas of land that would be left to the Palestinians. Nobody is talking about it being a militarized state that would control the borders – I mean all sorts of questions that nobody really wants to look at in any kind of depth at the moment because everybody knows the answers, that this wouldn’t really be a proper state. I don’t think it would end the conflict, I think it might postpone it very briefly, but we would just end up with the same kind of conflict.”
Thursday, July 15, 2010
A New York police officer has escaped a prison sentence after he was caught on camera pushing a cyclist from his bicycle during a demonstration in Times Square.
The clash between Patrick Pogan, the officer, and the bike-riding activist happened in an instant, however, the fallout lasted for almost two years after video of the confrontation that became a YouTube hit.
It ended on Wednesday when the officer's criminal case was closed without jail time or probation after he was convicted of lying about the 2008 incident.
Pogan, 24, fought back tears, hugged relatives and thanked his lawyer and police union after hearing his sentence, technically known as a conditional discharge.
He had gone to a Manhattan court facing the possibility of up to four years in prison, but a judge did not jail him and instead gave him a conditional discharge.
Jurors in April acquitted Pogan of assault and harassment in his 2008 encounter with pro-cycling activist Christopher Long, however, Pogan was convicted of lying after a witness's video contradicted his account in a court document.
Ryan Connors, Assistant District Attorney, pressed for jail time for Pogan, saying "the entire fairness of the criminal justice system was called into question" by his falsehoods. Pogan's misleading account led to attempted assault and other charges against Mr Long; the charges ultimately were dropped.
But defence lawyer Stuart London portrayed Pogan as a novice who "made an isolated mistake on paperwork."
Pogan, then about 10 days out of the police academy, was assigned to keep order and watch out for traffic violations as a loosely knit bike protest called Critical Mass passed through Times Square on July 25, 2008.
Participants and police have had a rocky relationship since more than 260 cyclists were arrested during what authorities saw as a chaotic Critical Mass ride shortly before the Republican National Convention in 2004.
The Pogan case stoked the tensions, with the president of the Police Benevolent Association union decrying it as the result of "anarchists" who "were looking for a confrontation with police." The group that organises the group ride, Time's Up, said it was disappointed with Pogan's sentence but hoped the incident and aftermath would ultimately improve relations between officers and cyclists.
Pogan said he told Mr Long to stop to get ticketed for such infractions as taking his hands off his handlebars. Mr Long kept going, and he testified he never heard any instruction to stop.
Pogan initially reported that Mr Long steered into him and knocked him down, but a tourist's video showed the officer striding over to Mr Long and shoving him off his bike. The video has garnered more than 2 million YouTube views.
Pogan testified that he was trying to protect himself and never meant to misrepresent what happened.
State Supreme Court Justice Maxwell Wiley said he found incarceration and further court supervision unwarranted in Pogan's case. A conditional discharge usually involves conditions a defendant must meet for the case to be closed, but Wiley didn't set any.
Long, a sometime farmer and farmer's market worker, wasn't seriously hurt. He got a $65,000 settlement after suing the city.
Pogan resigned last year from the New York Police Department and has been working construction jobs. His felony conviction will bar him from police work.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Check out this excellent recent documentary, which has just been posted on the Internet, about Nato’s secret armies that were set up across Western Europe after the Second World War. While these “stay-behind” armies were supposedly intended to help put together a resistance if the Soviet Union invaded their countries, they went on to commit terrorist attacks against their own populations, so as to influence domestic politics.
The documentary describes how, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s, Western intelligence agencies collaborated with right-wing extremist groups to commit false flag terrorist attacks, which would often be falsely blamed on left-wing groups. It features interviews with, among others, Daniele Ganser, author of NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe.