Jordan Ambassador to Libya Kidnapped

April 15th, 2014 by Global Research News

The Jordanian ambassador to Libya has been kidnapped Tuesday morning after masked gunmen attacked his car and shot his driver, a spokesman for Libya’s foreign ministry said.

It is the latest incident in which Libyan leaders and foreign diplomats have been targeted in the increasingly lawless North African country, three years after NATO-backed rebels ousted autocratic leader Muammer Qaddafi.

“The Jordanian ambassador was kidnapped this morning. His convoy was attacked by a group of hooded men on board two civilian cars,” ministry spokesman Said Lassoued told Agence France-Presse.

The driver survived the attack and was in hospital, Lassoued said. He suffered gunshot wounds during the kidnapping.

The government in Amman confirmed the kidnapping.

“Jordan has initial information that the Jordanian ambassador in Libya, Fawaz Aytan, was kidnapped,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Sabah Rafie said, adding that it was investigating.

The abduction comes two days after Libya’s prime minister Abdullah al-Thani stepped down, saying he and his family had been the victims of a “traitorous” armed attack the previous day.
(With Reuters and AFP)

“Beekeepers nationwide have experienced honey bee losses of over 40 percent over the 2012/2013 winter period —2013/2014 winter losses are likely to be released soon— with some beekeepers reporting losses of over 70 percent, far exceeding the normal rate of 10 to 15 percent. Some have even been driven out of business. Current estimates of the number of surviving hives in the U.S. show that these colonies may not be able to meet the future pollination demands of agricultural crops.”

Flying in the face of recent science demonstrating that pollinator populations are declining, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made the decision to unconditionally register another pesticide that is known to be highly toxic to bees, coming almost one year after EPA registered sulfoxaflor, disregarding concerns from beekeepers and environmental groups. The announcement, posted in the Federal Register on Wednesday, set tolerances for the pesticide cyantraniliprole in foods ranging from almonds and berries, to leafy vegetables, onions, and milk. EPA establishes the allowable limit of the chemical residue, called tolerances, based on what EPA considers ‘acceptable’ risk. EPA’s ruling details that “there is a reasonable certainty that no harm will result from aggregate exposure to the pesticide residue,” despite all evidence that cyantraniliprole is toxic to bees and harmful to mammals.

Ignoring beekeeper warning and concerns on their impacts to bees, EPA has given the green light for cyantraniliprole after recently registering sulfoxaflor.  In July 2013, beekeepers filed suit against EPA for their decision to register sulfoxaflor when it failed to demonstrate that it will not cause any ‘unreasonable adverse effects on the environment’ as required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Several comments were submitted by concerned beekeepers and environmental advocacy groups, like Beyond Pesticides, during the public comment period that stated that approval of a cyantriliprole, pesticide highly toxic to bees would only exacerbate the problems faced by an already tenuous honey bee industry and further decimate bee populations. However, instead of denying or suspending registration in the face of dire pollinator losses, EPA has chosen to register another insecticide that is toxic to bees, dismissing concerns regarding bee health in its response, and setting itself up for further litigation.

EPA’s response to Beyond Pesticides and other commenters can be found here.

Cyantraniliprole is a systemic insecticide that works by impairing the regulation of muscle contractions causing paralysis and eventual death in insects. Beyond its impact to target pests —which include sucking and chewing insects such as whiteflies and thrips— EPA’s most disturbing conclusions relate to the impact of cyantraniliprole on the livers of mammals: “With repeated dosing, consistent findings of mild to moderate increases in liver weights across multiple species (rats, mice, and dogs) are observed. Dogs appear to be more sensitive than rats and mice…show[ing] progressive severity with increased duration of exposure.”

EPA notes that cyantraniliprole also alters the stability of the thyroid as tested on laboratory rats as a result of enhanced metabolism of the thyroid hormones by the liver. Although the agency states that “cyantraniliprole is not a direct thyroid toxicant,” any indirect effects on thyroid function are likely to disrupt the endocrine system. Given that its current endocrine disruptor screening program (EDSP) is currently still in the process of validating tests, EPA’s registration of a new active ingredient that shows a propensity for endocrine disruption is cause for alarm.

In addition to these findings, EPA has registered cyantraniliprole as a seed treatment although it is considered “highly toxic on acute and oral contact basis” for bees. EPA is aware that pesticide-treated seeds directly threaten foraging bees and other non-target organisms, which are exposed to contaminated dust plumes during planting. Studies have documented high bee mortality following seed sowing and exposure to contaminated dust from agricultural fields. Moreover, EPA acknowledges the need to reduce fugitive toxic dust. However, with emerging science increasingly attributing pesticide exposures as one of the major causes of pollinator declines and the recent precautionary measures taken in the European Union to ban the use of pesticides known to impact bees, EPA’s registration of cyantraniliprole raises serious concerns.

Beekeepers nationwide have experienced honey bee losses of over 40 percent over the 2012/2013 winter period —2013/2014 winter losses are likely to be released soon— with some beekeepers reporting losses of over 70 percent, far exceeding the normal rate of 10 to 15 percent. Some have even been driven out of business. Current estimates of the number of surviving hives in the U.S. show that these colonies may not be able to meet the future pollination demands of agricultural crops.

EPA’s approach to registration reinforces the urgent need for a national transition to organic. The takeaway for organic, as it grows beyond its current $35 billion market share, is the need for rigorous  science-based decision making that requires precaution on the allowance of chemical products in the face of hazards and scientific uncertainty. We must keep in mind the underlying standards of the organic rule, which requires that practices “maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances.”

For the most recent action being taken to protect honey bees, see the Beyond Pesticides BEE Protective campaign which works with national and local groups to protect honey bees and other pollinators from pesticides and contaminated landscapes.

Join us April 11-12 for Beyond Pesticides’ 32nd National Pesticide Forum, in Portland, OR on “Advancing Sustainable Communities: People, pollinators, and practices” which will focus on solutions to the decline of pollinators and other beneficials; strengthening organic agriculture; improving farmworker protection and agricultural justice; and creating healthy buildings, schools and homes. Space is limited so register now.

All unattributed positions and opinions in this piece are those of Beyond Pesticides.

Source: Federal Register

Copyright Beyond Pesticides, 2014

The CIA director was sent to Kiev to launch a military suppression of the Russian separatists in the eastern and southern portions of Ukraine, former Russian territories for the most part that were foolishly attached to the Ukraine in the early years of Soviet rule. 

Washington’s plan to grab Ukraine overlooked that the Russian and Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine were not likely to go along with their insertion into the EU and NATO while submitting to the persecution of Russian speaking peoples.  Washington has lost Crimea, from which Washington intended to eject Russia from its Black Sea naval base. Instead of admitting that its plan for grabbing Ukraine has gone amiss, Washington is unable to admit a mistake and, therefore, is pushing the crisis to more dangerous levels.

If Ukraine dissolves into secession with the former Russian territories reverting to Russia, Washington will be embarrassed that the result of its coup in Kiev was to restore the Russian provinces of Ukraine to Russia.  To avoid this embarrassment, Washington is pushing the crisis toward war.

The CIA director instructed Washington’s hand-picked stooge government in Kiev to apply to the United Nations for help in repelling “terrorists” who with alleged Russian help are allegedly attacking Ukraine. In Washington’s vocabulary, self-determination is a sign of Russian interference. As the UN is essentially a Washington-financed organization, Washington will get what it wants.

The Russian government has already made it completely clear some weeks ago that the use of violence against protesters in eastern and southern Ukraine would compel the Russian government to send in the Russian army to protect Russians, just as Russia had to do in South Ossetia when Washington instructed its Georgian puppet ruler to attack Russian peacekeeping troops and Russian residents of South Ossetia.

Washington knows that the Russian government cannot stand aside while one of Washington’s puppet states attacks Russians.  Yet, Washington is pushing the crisis to war.

The danger for Russia is that the Russian government will rely on diplomacy, international organizations, international cooperation, and on the common sense and self-interest of German politicians and politicians in other of Washington’s European puppet states.

For Russia this could be a fatal mistake. There is no good will in Washington, only mendacity. Russian delay provides Washington with time to build up forces on Russia’s borders and in the Black Sea and to demonize Russia with propaganda and whip up the US population into a war frenzy.  The latter is already occurring.

Kerry has made it clear to Lavrov that Washington is not listening to Russia. As Washington pays well, Washington’s European puppets are also not listening to Russia. Money is more important to European politicians than humanity’s survival.

In my opinion, Washington does not want the Ukraine matters settled in a diplomatic and reasonable way. It might be the case that Russia’s best move is immediately to occupy the Russian territories of Ukraine and re-absorb the territories into Russia from whence they came. This should be done before the US and its NATO puppets are prepared for war. It is more difficult for Washington to start a war when the objects of the war have already been lost. Russia will be demonized with endless propaganda from Washington whether or not Russia re-absorbs its traditional territories. If Russia allows these territories to be suppressed by Washington, the prestige and authority of the Russian government will collapse. Perhaps that is what Washington is counting on.

If Putin’s government stands aside while Russian Ukraine is suppressed, Putin’s prestige will plummet, and Washington will finish off the Russian government by putting into action its many hundreds of Washington-financed NGOs that the Russian government has so foolishly tolerated.  Russia is riven with Washington’s Fifth columns.

In my opinion, the Russian and Chinese governments have made serious strategic mistakes by remaining within the US dollar-based international payments system. The BRICS and any others with a brain should instantly desert the dollar system, which is a mechanism for US imperialism. The countries of the BRICS should immediately create their own separate payments system and their own exclusive communications/Internet system.

Russia and China have stupidly made these strategic mistakes, because reeling from communist failures and oppressions, they naively assumed that Washington was pure, that Washington was committed to its propagandistic self-description as the upholder of law, justice, mercy,and  human rights.

In fact, Washington, the “exceptional, indispensable country,” is committed to its hegemony over the world. Russia, China, and Iran are in the way of Washington’s hegemony and are targeted for attack.

The attack on Russia is mounting.

Additional foreign troops are arriving in the troubled Central African Republic (CAR) where 2,000 French soldiers have failed to halt the forced removal and mass murder of Muslims within this mineral-rich state of 4.7 million people.

The European Union’s EUFOR will deploy up to 1,000 personnel to the country where instability and violence have escalated over the last year. In March 2013, the Muslim-dominated Seleka Coalition took control of the capital of Bangui installing interim President Michel Djotodia.

Seleka’s rule was characterized by the abuse of the population and the failure to restore order and national reconciliation. In January Djotodia was summoned along with the entire government of the CAR to a regional summit in Chad where France exerted its authority over the former colonial territories to force the resignation and exile of the interim leader.

Since January and the installation of another interim leader, President Catherine Samba-Panza, the previous mayor of Bangui, it has not improved the security situation. Approximately 8,000 peacekeeping troops have participated in the forced evictions of hundreds of thousands of Muslims out of the country many of whom have fled to neighboring Chad and Cameroon.

Since the fall of Djotodia, Christian-dominated militias known as the Anti-Balaka have carried out reprisals against the Muslim population. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been killed while tens of thousands more are being forced to seek refuge and flee the country.

Muslim communities, mosques and businesses were looted and destroyed. At present most of the remaining Muslims inside the country are waiting for the right conditions to leave and take up residence outside the CAR.

6,000 African troops mandated to patrol the CAR by the African Union and the UN, have been caught up in the internecine conflict while the national economy is being weakened through the loss of jobs, food and consumer goods. Recently Chadian troops withdrew from the CAR due to criticism of their role in the conflict.

Pledges to the UN and other international humanitarian agencies of funds to provide relief have not been forthcoming. The AU’s Peace and Security Council appears to lack the authority to apply political pressure on both the internal political leaders as well as the imperialist states, which are coordinating the peacekeeping operations, to reach an amicable settlement.

With specific reference to the EUFOR troops who have been deployed in the CAR, EU foreign secretary Catherine Ashton said in a statement that “The launch of this operation demonstrates the EU’s determination to take full part in international efforts to restore stability and security in Bangui and right across the Central African Republic. It is vital that there is a return to public order as soon as possible, so that the political transition process can be put back on track.” (April 10)

According to France 24, a Paris-based military spokesman, Francois Guillerment, said that 55 EUFOR soldiers were in Bangui and conducting patrols. The EU foreign office is saying that their presence in the CAR will be temporary. (April 10)

In a statement on the deployment and the special unit being dispatched, the EU reports that “EUFOR RCA is to provide temporary support in achieving a safe and secure environment in the Bangui area, with a view to handing over to African partners. The force will thereby contribute to international efforts to protect the populations most at risk, creating the conditions for providing humanitarian aid.” (eeas.europa.eu website on EUFOR RCA)

Imperialists Escalate African Occupations

The thousands of foreign troops coordinated by imperialist states being deployed to the CAR cannot be viewed solely within the context of humanitarian relief. Africa and the international community have witnessed numerous similar operations which only served to reinforce western-dominance and foster the further disempowerment of the African continent and its regional institutions.

This EUFOR military scheme was announced at the EU-Africa Summit held in early April in Brussels, Belgium. The summit was criticized by several continental states in addition to the AU’s Peace and Security Council, yet it still took place with the attendance of a majority of African governments participating on various levels.

These political factors in the contemporary character of EU-Africa relations cannot be divorced from the reports which indicate that Europe contributes substantial amounts of funds to the AU. In several of the geo-political regions where conflicts are taking place in Africa, the EU as well as the United States is heavily involved through various forms of military and intelligence operations.

In Somalia, where 22,000 African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) troops are deployed, it is the U.S. and EU which provides the training, funding, military consultancies and intelligence coordination. Pentagon and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) drones are in heavy use throughout the Horn of Africa, extending right out into the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean.

Until Africa forms at least a “stand-by force” to intervene within these states where internal conflict is taking place, the continuation and escalation of military deployments by imperialist states and their surrogates will remain a central pillar in the foreign policy of western governments. Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, the first prime minister and then president of the Republic of Ghana, had called for an All-African High Command during the 1960s aimed at rapid decolonization and the prevention of imperialist invasions and occupations.

Such a military force would have to be backed by strong and politically viable African states that are rooted in the social interests of the majority of workers and farmers within the continent. Under such circumstances the regional institutions would have the political authority to resolve internal issues such as the conflicts in the CAR, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt and othe

 

Am 6. April 2014 veröffentlichte die London Review of Books in seiner Onlineausgabe Seymour Hershs “Die Rote Linie und die Rattenlinie” oder “The Red Line and the Rat Line.” Hersh veröffentlicht Details rund um den inszenierten syrischen Giftgasangriff am 21. August, den fast jeder in Washingtons Geheimdienstbürokratie schon bald den Rebellen zuschrieb.

Pulitzerpreisträger Seymour Hersh machte in seiner über 40-jährigen Tätigkeit unter anderem das My-Lai-Massaker und seine Vertuschung publik, ebenso den Skandal um das Gefängnis Abu Ghraib. Im Artikel vom 19. Dezember „Whose Sarin?“ hatte er zuerst den Giftgasangriff als Fälschung entlarvt, wobei er von engen Kontakten zur US-Geheimdienstszene profitierte. Die Washington Post verweigerte die geplante Veröffentlichung und es folgte ein regelrechter Blackout in den amerikanischen Medien. Auch gegenwärtig finden Hershs neue Entdeckungen keine Erwähnung in den US-Mainstreammedien.

Hershs Bericht bestätigt folgendes:

  • Obamas geplanter Angriff auf Syrien wurde in letzter Minute abgeblasen, nachdem allzu klar wurde, dass die syrische Regierung mit den Angriffen vom 21. August nichts zu tun hatte.
  • Es war US-Regierungoffiziellen während des Sommers 2013 sehr wohl bekannt, dass der türkische Premier Erdogan die al-Nusra Front in ihren Bemühungen unterstütze, Sarin herzustellen.
  • US-Militärs wussten schon vom Frühjahr 2013 an auch vom türkischen und saudischen Programm einer umfangreichen Sarinproduktion innerhalb Syriens.
  • UN-Inspektoren wussten ebenfalls seit dem Frühjahr 2013, dass die Rebellen im Gefecht chemische Waffen verwendeten.
  • In der Folge des inszenierten chemischen Angriffs ordnete das Weisse Haus die Bereitschaft für einen “Monsterangriff” auf Syrien an, der ein B-22-Geschwader, 1000 kg-Bomben sowie eine Zielliste beinhaltete, auf der neben militärischen auch zivile Ziele (Infrastruktur, diese wohlgemerkt in dichtbesiedelten Gebieten) standen.
  • Der volle Angriff war für den 2. September geplant.
  • Englische Militärs meldeten ihren amerikanischen Partnern aber im Vorfeld des Angriffs: “Wir wurden auf den Leim geführt”.
  • CIA, MI6, Saudi Arabien, Katar und die Türkei installierten schon 2012 eine „Rattenlinie“, auf der lybische Waffen über die Türkei nach Syrien geschleust wurden, inklusive MANPADs; das US-Konsulat in Benghazi war das Hauptquartier für diese Operation.
  • Obama segnete den türkisch-iranischen Betrug um Goldexport ab, der vom März 2012 bis Juli 2013 stattfand und der die Erdoganregierung beinahe zu Fall gebracht hätte.
  • Die US-Geheimdienste hatten sofort nach dem 21. August schon Zweifel an der syrischen Verantwortung, wollten aber nur ungern dem Präsidenten widersprechen.
  • Die US-Regierung möchte nicht die andauernde türkische Unterstützung von Terrorismus offenlegen, einfach „weil sie Nato-Mitglied sind“.

Zusätzlich brachte die freischaffende Nahostjournalistin Sara Elisabeth Williams die Geschichte eines CIA/US-Militärcamps heraus, in dem syrische Rebellen in der jordanischen Wüste trainiert werden. Das englische VICE brachte ihre Geschichte “I Learned to Fight Like an American at the FSA Training Camp in Jordan”, aber über den grossen Teich in die amerikanischen Medien schaffte sie es nicht, obwohl international Syrienexperten sie sehr wichtig fanden. Top-Syrienexperte Joshua Landis twitterte in den USA: „Sara Williams gelang der grosse Wurf – Geheimes FSA Trainingscamp in Jordanien.“ Diese junge mutige Freelance-Journalistin gewährte auch mit Fotos einen Einblick in diese geheime Einrichtung, doch der Mainstream bewahrte die Amerikaner sorgfältig davor, von diesem explosiven Report Kenntnis zu erhalten.

Im Emailkontakt berichtete Williams mir: „Der Zugang war schwierig, aber es war der Mühe wert. Es scheint mir wichtig, dass die Leute wissen, was ihre Regierung in ihrem Namen und mit ihren Steuern machen.“

Gemäss ihren Enthüllungen gilt:

  • Bestätigt: “US-betriebenes Trainigscamp“ für syrische Rebellen in Nordjordanien
  • Die Rebellen-Rekruten gehen in geheime abgeschottete Trainingscamps.
  • Rebell: “Die Amerikaner, die uns unterrichteten, trugen Militäruniformen, die nicht zuzuordnen waren. Wie sprachen sie mit ihren Vornamen an und sie redeten Englisch mit uns.“
  • Im Camp gab es “amerikanisches Essen und amerikanische Dollar” im Überfluss: die Rekruten essen Kentucky Fried Chicken und wohnen in mobilen Wohneinheiten.
  • Die Rekruten durchlaufen ein intensives 40-Tage-Programm, das Übung und Training in Antipanzerwaffen einschliesst, in einer bootcampartigen Atmosphäre unter dem Kommando der US-Militärausbilder.
  • Nach Abschluss gehen die US-trainierten Aufständischen wieder über Syriens südliche Grenze zurück.
  • Laut Experten gibt es mehrere solcher Camps.
  • Amerikanisch trainierte Rebellen sagen: “Amerika profitiert von der Zerstörung und vom Töten, indem es beide Seiten schwächt.“

Brad Hoff diente als Marine von 2000 – 2004. Nach seinem Militärdienst lebte, studierte und reiste er von 2004 – 2010 in ganz Syrien. Er unterrichtet gegenwärtig in Texas.

Artikel auf Englisch: Media Blackout over Syria

Übersetzung: Stefan Abels

Privatization of the US Prison System

April 14th, 2014 by Global Research News

The following infographic shows us how profitable the US prison industry is. “Between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion” dollars. As reported in The Prison Industry in the United States: Big Business or a New Form of Slavery?, inmates, mostly Blacks and Hispanics, are also being exploited by various industries:

“For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold

They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.”

The_Private_Prison_System_in_USA
Privatization of the US Prison System. An Infographic from ArrestRecords.com

A ruling by Federal Eastern District Bankruptcy Court Judge Steven W. Rhodes has awarded yet another large-scale payment to two banks that are heavily implicated in the financial ruin of Detroit and other cities throughout the United States.

Rhodes ruled on April 11 that the third negotiated attempt to terminate an interest-rate swap agreement involving Bank of America Merrill Lynch and the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) arrived at a “reasonable” plan for the working people of the city who will pay for this decision. The judge said that it was legal to hand over more money to these financial institutions despite the fact that they have been paid over $300 million since 2006.

Two earlier negotiated agreements between the state-imposed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr and the two banks were so outrageous that they were rejected by the court. Another ruling late last year forced the EM to disclose the fees associated with crafting deal which is $4.4 million.

The deal will be financed by Barclay’s Bank which has been targeted in media reports and by regulatory agencies in England and the U.S. Justice Department for rigging interest rates related to inter-bank borrowing. The so-called ‘LIBOR scandal” (London Interbank Offered Rate) exposed even further the role of the finance capital in controlling the terms of lending to ensure that profit margins are maintained at the expense of working people and the poor.

Objections to the deal were presented from other capitalist interests, including  Syncora, a bond insurer which traps Detroit casino tax revenue in order to pay for the usurious debt . The other financial firms and bond-related entities only opposed the deal because it sets a legal precedent for placing a higher priority on pleasing the larger banks such as UBS and BOfA.

Nonetheless, the only real opposition to the deal came from Atty. Jerome Goldberg representing Detroit resident and City retiree David Sole. Goldberg had argued successfully in the previous hearing during December and January that the proposed settlement of initially $230 million and later $165 million were not only excessive but ignored the potential for regaining hundreds of millions in damages which are rightfully owed to the City of Detroit.

Judge Rhodes in his Jan. 16 ruling rejecting the second proposed settlement, clearly stated that the City should not engage in financial arrangements that were disadvantageous and that there was a possibility of suing the banks to regain resources needed for the operations and the maintenance of assets. Goldberg quoted from Rhodes’ ruling on Jan. 16 in his closing arguments on April 3, yet the decision on April 11 appeared to have moved 180 degrees in the opposite direction.

After reading his ruling on April 11 awarding BOfA and UBS the $85 million, Rhodes went on to “commend” the state-imposed EM and the banks for reaching the agreement. The City of Detroit is being tragically represented by Jones Day law firm which was also involved in the Chrysler bankruptcy of 2009.

Kevyn Orr, the EM appointed in March 2013 by multi-millionaire Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, is a former partner at Jones Day and was involved in the disastrous bankruptcy and restructuring at Chrysler which resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of dealerships. Jones Day and the EM have spent nearly $100 million on consultants over the last year which is enough money to hire three thousand city workers at $30,000 plus per year.

What’s at Stake in the Detroit Bankruptcy?

On April 1 retirees, workers, union representatives and community people took over the streets in front of the federal court downtown. They were demanding the preservation of their pensions and the re-instatement of their healthcare plans which were terminated by the EM on March 1.

Hundreds of pensioners, city residents and other interested parties have filed over 500 legal objections to the so-called “Plan of Adjustment” presented by Orr during late February. The EM document is vague about the source of its findings and only presents a series of draconian austerity measures as a method for “restructuring” the City’s finances.

Retirees who have sacrificed decades of service and deferred wages face cuts up to one-third of their monthly checks on the surface, but when the theft of their annuities and healthcare benefits are calculated into the scheme, the reductions amount to over 60 percent. The banks and bond holders are said to be asked to take up to an 80 percent cut, however, a deal reached with “unsecured” creditors involving insurers and other corporate interests provides between 70-80 percent of payments which they claim are owed to them by the working people of the city.

These attacks on unions, pensioners and residents in this majority African American city is setting the stage for a national assault on the deferred wages and benefits of workers. Corporate media editorials and news stories daily publish reports claiming that public pension funds are grossly underfunded and mismanaged.

In Illinois, which is said to have the worst funded pension system in the country, steps were taken by the state legislature in December which lawmakers say will cut $145 billion in public investments for the system over the next three decades. These measures have enhanced bond sales for the state since most capitalist investors favor the lessening and even abandonment of constitutional protections for public pensions. (Bloomberg, April 11)

Bloomberg stated that even though legislation was approved to purportedly remedy the system’s weaknesses, “The passage didn’t bolster the fifth-most-populous-state’s rating, as the credit companies cited legal challenges to the pension overhaul and the expiration at year-end of a temporary personal-income tax increase. “ (April 11)

The California Public Employees Retirement System (Calpers) is also under attack by the bankers, bondholders and rating agencies. Calpers sued the rating agencies in 2009, and in 2012, a California judge ruled that Standard & Poor and Moody’s must answer to claims that they misrepresented actual bond values.

These bond-rating agencies are seeking an appeals court hearing in San Francisco to reverse the previous decision calling to account the role of the firms. According to Karen Gullo, a writer for Bloomberg, the bond-rating agencies are saying in court papers that “At the heart of Calper’s claim is an effort to hold the rating agencies liable for their publicly disseminated opinions on the grounds that these opinions failed accurately to predict the future.” (April 9)

This same article goes on to point out that “S&P is being sued separately for fraud in federal court in Santa Ana, California by the U.S. Justice Department, which accuses the company of lying about its ratings being free of conflicts of interest and may seek as much as $5 billion in penalties. It also faces similar lawsuits by U.S. states, including one by California Attorney General Kamala Harris.”

Another Bloomberg Municipal Market article notes that “New York state and localities including Westchester County borrowed a record $1.4 billion to cover retirement contributions this year, showing how even the wealthiest communities are struggling to make the payments….Even as Standard & Poor’s is poised to raise the state’s grade to its highest since 1972, rating companies have cut some New York City suburbs, citing the loans as a sign of imbalanced budgets.” (April 8)

The Wall Street bankers, bondholders, insurers and rating agencies are attempting to not only eliminate legal protections for public pensions but to also destroy their structures through the dissolution of their boards of directors and trustees which have representation from union officials and politicians. In Detroit at least $5-6 billion in pension funds are up for grabs and the EM is attempting to replace the pension boards of both the General Retirement System as well as the separate one established for Police and Firefighters.

On April 10, representatives for the Police and Firefighters unions held a press conference stating that if the bankers’ “Plan of Adjustment” put forward by Orr and Jones Day was approved by the federal bankruptcy court it would mean “destitution” for their membership. Judge Rhodes in his ruling took a swipe at the massive public opposition to the attacks on workers and retirees saying that now was the time to negotiate.

However, such an assertion does not acknowledge the massive cuts that workers have already endured in Detroit. Prior to the appointment of the EM last year, another “cost-cutting” plan worked out among City officials and unions was totally rejected by Gov. Snyder who then imposed Orr as the city’s dictator where he then unjustifiably placed the municipality in bankruptcy, the largest in the history of the U.S.

Forward to May Day

In response to these ongoing attacks and the failure of the federal courts to acknowledge the criminal role of the banks in destroying both the housing and municipal infrastructure of Detroit, a coalition of organizations are calling for demonstrations on May Day. Under the theme of “No Business As Usual”, activists want people to refrain from shopping and work and to protest against the banks and other centers of power that are putting in place additional mechanism to further exploit and oppress the people of the city.

The event will begin with a gathering at UAW Local 600 at 8:00 a.m. A car caravan will transport people downtown for a series of actions that will protest the undemocratic and racist character of the forced bankruptcy and restructuring of the city.

On July 16 the hearing will begin on the bankers’ “Plan of Adjustment” seeking approval by the federal court. The Moratorium NOW! Coalition based in Detroit is calling for a national demonstration in front of bankruptcy court demanding the preservation of pensions, healthcare, jobs, public assets and democratic rights.

THE PAN-AFRICAN RESEARCH AND DOCUMENTATION PROJECT– E MAIL: [email protected]

Bloomberg reported that the NSA knew about – and exploited – the Heartbleed bug for years.

The NSA has denied it knew about the bug.

And the White House spokesman claims:

This administration takes seriously its responsibility to help maintain an open, interoperable, secure and reliable internet.

***

If the federal government, including the intelligence community, had discovered this vulnerability prior to last week, it would have been disclosed to the community responsible for OpenSSL.

(OpenSSL is the library infected by Heartbleed.)

But the Department of Homeland Security says:

The Federal government’s core citizen-facing websites are not exposed to risks from this cybersecurity threat.

Matt Stoller tweets:

DHS says #Heartbleed didn’t affect government websites. That is… peculiar.

Perhaps there is an innocent explanation … The government doesn’t use OpenSSL on its websites?

Nope …  Security firm Codenomicon – which discovered the Heartbleed virus – reports:

You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly. OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet. Your popular social site, your company’s site, commercial site, hobby site, sites you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL.

Did DHS just unintentionally admit that the government knew about Heartbleed years ago and patched its own websites … without telling the tech community about it?

Mother Jones points out that – whether or not the NSA knew about the bug – the Heartbleed episode makes it look bad:

I’m honestly not sure which would be worse. That the NSA knew about this massive bug that threatened havoc for millions of Americans and did nothing about it for two years. Or that the NSA’s vaunted—and lavishly funded—cybersecurity team was completely in the dark about a gaping and highly-exploitable hole in the operational security of the internet for two years. It’s frankly hard to see any way the NSA comes out of this episode looking good.

Global Research Editors note

Even if this information is not corroborated, it must be taken into consideration. 


From a British diplomatic source I learn that Britain has lobbied the United States against the publication of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on torture and extraordinary rendition.  The lobbying has been carried out “at all levels” – White House, State Department and CIA.  The British have argued that at the very least the report must be emasculated before publication.

The British argument is that in a number of court cases including the Belhadj case, the British government has successfully blocked legal action by victims on the grounds that this would weaken the US/UK intelligence relationship and thus vitally damage national security, by revealing facts the American intelligence service wish hidden.  [We will leave aside for the moment the utter shame of our servile groveling judges accepting such an argument].  The British Government are now pointing out to the Americans that this argument could be fatally weakened if major detail of the full horror and scope of torture and extraordinary rendition is revealed by the Senate Intelligence Committee.  The argument runs that this could in turn lead to further revelations in the courts and block the major defence against prosecutions of Blair, Straw and Dearlove, among others, potentially unleashing a transatlantic wave of judicial activism.

The unabashed collusion of two torturing security states in concealing the truth of their despicable acts – including complicity in the torture of women and minors – and blocking criminal prosecution of the guilty is a sign of how low public ethics have sunk.  Fortunately there are still a few people in the British Foreign Office disgusted enough to leak it.

Russian news agencies reported Sunday that U.S. CIA director John Brennan had a secret meeting with Ukrainian officials in Kiev before they began operations against separatist forces that had taken over buildings in the country’s east.

Brennan landed in Ukraine on Saturday under an assumed name and held a ”series of secret meetings” with the country’s “power bloc” Interfax reported, citing an unidentified official in the Ukrainian parliament. The unidentified official said that there were “unconfirmed reports” that the U.S. security official was behind the decision to use force in eastern Ukraine after pro-Russian separatist forces took control of the city of Slovyansk.

Ukrainian parliament Communist Party deputy Vladimir Golub told RIA Novosti that lawmakers were talking about the visit openly and opined that the Ukrainian Security Service had become a unit of the CIA.

Commenting on the report, deputy chairman for the State Duma’s Defense Committee Frants Klintsevich said that he would view such a visit as a challenge to Russia.

Pro-Kremlin media have spoken of alleged CIA involvement in Ukraine since pro-Western protests against now-ousted President Viktor Yanukovych began last November.

The political crisis in the country following Yanukovych’s flight from Kiev in February has seen an increase in tension between Russia and the U.S., including the two countries’ trading sanctions against each other’s government officials following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea peninsula.

On Saturday U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned of ”additional consequences” against Russia if it did not take steps to deescalate the situation in eastern Ukraine, where separatist sentiment similar to that seen in Crimea led to the takeover of government buildings in several cities by armed Russian forces.

Copypright Moscow Times, 2014

The following translation and notes were made by Sabina C. Becker.

Raúl Capote is a Cuban. But not just any Cuban. In his youth, he was caught up by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). They offered him an infinite amount of money to conspire in Cuba. But then something unexpected for the US happened. Capote, in reality, was working for Cuban national security. From then on, he served as a double agent. Learn his story, by way of an exclusive interview with the Chávez Vive magazine, which he gave in Havana:

Q. What was the process by which you were caught up?

It started with a process of many years, several years of preparation and capture. I was leader of a Cuban student movement which, at that time, gave rise to an organization, the Saiz Brothers Cultural Association, a group of young creators, painters, writers, artists. I worked in a city in southern-central Cuba, Cienfuegos, which had characteristics of great interest to the enemy, because it was a city in which an important industrial pole was being built at the time. They were building an electrical centre, the only one in Cuba, and there were a lot of young people working on it. For that reason, it was also a city that had a lot of young engineers graduated in the Soviet Union. We’re talking of the last years of the 1980s, when there was that process called Perestroika. And many Cuban engineers, who arrived in Cuba at that time, graduated from there, were considered people who had arrived with that idea of Perestroika. For that reason, it was an interesting territory, where there were a lot of young people. And the fact that I was a youth leader of a cultural organization, which dealt with an important sector of the engineers who were interested in the arts, became of interest to the North Americans, and they began to frequent the meetings we attended. They never identified themselves as enemies, or as officials of the CIA.

Q. Were there many of them, or just always the same person?

Several. They never presented themselves as officials of the CIA, nor as people who had come to cause trouble, or anything.

Q. And who do you suppose they were?

They presented themselves as people coming to help us and our project, and who had the ability to finance it. That they had the chance to make it a reality. The proposal, as such, sounded interesting because, okay, a project in the literary world requires that you know a publisher, that you have editorial relations. It’s a very complex market. And they came in the name of publishers. What happened is that, during the process of contact with us, what they really wanted became quite evident. Because once they had made the contact, once they had begun frequenting our meetings, once they began to promise financing, then came the conditions for being financed.

Q. What conditions did they demand?

They told us: We have the ability to put the markets at your disposal, to put you on the markets of books or sculpture or movies or whatever, but we need the truth, because what we’re selling in the market, is the image of Cuba. The image of Cuba has to be a realistic one, of difficulties, of what’s going on in the country. They wanted to smear the reality of Cuba. What they were asking is that you criticize the revolution, based on anti-Cuba propaganda lines, which they provided.

Q. How big was these people’s budget?

They came with an infinite amount of money, because the source of the money, obviously, we found out over time from whence it came. For example, there was USAID, which was the big provider, the overall contractor of this budget, which channeled the money via NGOs, many of them invented just for Cuba. They were NGOs that didn’t exist, created solely for this type of job in Cuba, and we’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars. They weren’t working on small budgets. To give you an example, at one time, they offered me ten thousand dollars, just to include elements of anti-Cuba propaganda, in the novel I was writing.

Q. What year are we talking about?

Around 1988-89.

Q. How many people could have been contacted by these people, or captured?

In reality, their success didn’t last long, because in Cuba there was a culture of total confrontation with this type of thing, and the people knew very well that there was something behind that story of them wanting to “help” us. It was nothing new in the history of the land, and for that reason, it was very hard for them to get to where we were. In a determined moment, around 1992, we held a meeting, all the members of the organization, and we decided to expel them. They weren’t allowed to attend any more of our meetings. Those people, who were already coming in with concrete proposals, and also preconditioned economic aid they were giving us. What happened is that at the moment we did that, and rejected them, we expelled them from the association headquarters, then they started to particularize. They began to visit with me, in particular, and other comrades as well, young people. With some they succeeded, or should I say, they succeeded in getting some of them out of the country as well.

Q. What kind of profile were they looking for, more or less, if any kind of profile could be specified?

They wanted, above all at that time, to present Cuba as a land in chaos. That socialism in Cuba had not managed to satisfy the needs of the population, and that Cuba was a country that socialism had landed in absolute poverty, and which, as a model, no one liked. That was the key to what they were pursuing, above all, at that time.

Q. How long were you an agent of the CIA?

We were in this initial story until 1994. Because in 1994, I went to Havana, I came back to the capital and here, in the capital, I began to work for the Union of Cultural Workers, a union which represented the cultural workers of the capital, and I became more interesting yet to them, because I went on to direct — from being a leader of a youth organization with 4,000 members, to directing a union with 40,000 members, just in the city of Havana. And then, it gets much more interesting. Contacts followed. In that period there appeared a woman professor from a new university who came with the mission of kick-starting the production of my literary work, to become my representative, to organize events.

Q. Can you give her name?

No, because they used pseudonyms. They never used real names. And that type of work, promoting me as a writer, was what they were very interested in, because they wanted to convert me into a personality in that world. Promoting me now, and compromising me with them in an indirect manner. And then, in 2004, there arrived in Havana a person well known in Venezuela, Kelly Keiderling. Kelly came to Havana to work as Chief of the Office of Press and Culture. They set up a meeting. they arranged a cocktail party, and at that party I met with 12 North American functionaries, North Americans and Europeans. They weren’t only North Americans. All of them people with experience, some also inside the Soviet Union, others who had participated in training and preparation of the people in Yugoslavia, in the Color Revolutions, and they were very interested in meeting me. Kelly became very close to me. She began to prepare me. She began to instruct me. I began to receive, from her, a very solid training: The creation of alternative groups, independent groups, the organization and training of youth leaders, who did not participate in the works of our cultural institutions. And that was in 2004-5. Kelly practically vanished from the scene in 2005-6. And when I started to work, she put me in direct contact with officials of the CIA. Supposedly, I was already committed to them, I was ready for the next mission, and they put me in touch with Renee Greenwald, an official of the CIA, who worked with me directly, and with a man named Mark Waterhein, who was, at the time, the head of Project Cuba, of the Pan-American Foundation for Development.

This man, Mark, as well as directing Project Cuba, had a direct link to Cuba, in terms of financing the anti-revolutionary project, as well as being involved in working against Venezuela. That is, he was a man who, along with much of his team of functionaries of that famous project, also worked against Venezuela at that time. They were closely connected. At times it took a lot of work to tell who was working with Cuba, and who was not, because many times they interlocked. For example, there were Venezuelans who came to work with me, who worked in Washington, who were subordinates of the Pan-American Foundation and the CIA, and they came to Cuba to train me as well, and to bring provisions. From there arose the idea of creating a foundation, a project called Genesis.

Genesis is maybe the template, as an idea, of many of the things going on in the world today, because Genesis is a project aimed at the university youth of Cuba. They were doing something similar in Venezuela. Why? The idea was to convert universities — which have always been revolutionary, which have produced revolutionaries, out of those from which many of the revolutionaries of both countries came — and convert them into factories for reactionaries. So, how do you do that? By making leaders. What have they begun to do in Venezuela? They sent students to Yugoslavia, financed by the International Republican Institute (IRI), which was financed by USAID and by the Albert Einstein Institute, and sent them, in groups of ten, with their professors.

Q. Do you have the names of the Venezuelans?

No, we’re talking of hundreds being sent. I spoke with the professor, and watched one group and followed the other. Because they were working long-term. The same plan was also in place against Cuba. Genesis promoted, with in the university, a plan of training scholarships for Cuban student leaders and professors. The plan was very similar. Also, in 2003, they prepared here, in Havana, a course in the US Interests Section, which was called “Deposing a leader, deposing a dictator”, which was based on the experience of OTPOR in removing Slobodan Milosevic from power. And that was the idea, inside the Cuban university, to work long-term, because these projects always take a long time in order to reap a result. For that reason, they also started early in Venezuela. I believe as well — I don’t have proof, but I believe that in Venezuela it began before the Chávez government, because the plan of converting Latin American universities, which were always sources of revolutionary processes, into reactionary universities, is older than the Venezuelan [Bolivarian] process, to reverse the situation and create a new right-wing.

Q. Did the CIA only work in Caracas?

No, throughout Venezuela. Right now, Genesis has a scholarship plan to create leaders in Cuba. They provide scholarships to students to big North American universities, to train them as leaders, with all expenses paid. They pay their costs, they provide complete scholarships. We’re talking 2004-5 here. It was very obvious. Then, those leaders return to university at some time. They’re students. They go to end their careers. Those leaders, when they end their student careers, go on to various jobs, different possibilities, as engineers, as degree-holders in different sectors of Cuban society, but there are others who go on constantly preparing leaders within the university. One of the most important missions of the university leaders was to occupy the leadership of the principal youth organizations of the university. In the case of Cuba, we’re talking about the Union of Communist Youth, and the University Student Federation. That is, it was not to create parallel groups at that time, but to become the leaders of the organizations already existing in Cuba. Also, to form a group of leaders in the strategies of the “soft” coup. That is, training people for the opportune moment to start the famous “color revolutions” or “non-violent wars”, which, as you well know, have nothing to do with non-violence.

Q. What were they looking for in a professor, in order to capture them?

Professors are very easy. Identify university professors discontented with the institution, frustrated people, because they considered that the institution did not guarantee them anything, or didn’t recognize their merits. If they were older, even better. They didn’t specify. Look for older persons, so you can pick them. If you send a scholarship plan, or you send it and, first crack, they receive an invitation to participate in a great international congress of a certain science, they will be eternally grateful to you, because you were the one who discovered their talent, which has never been recognized by the university. Then that man you sent to study abroad, if you’re from his university, and participating in a big event, and publish his works, and constructing him a curriculum. When that person returns to Cuba, he goes back with a tremendous curriculum, because he has participated in a scientific event of the first order, has passed courses from big universities, and his curriculum reaches to the roof, then the influence he could have in the university will be greater, because he could be recognized as a leading figure in his specialty, even though in practice the man could be an ignoramus.

Q. And how effective were these types of captures, that type of missions they came to accomplish here?

In the case of Cuba, they didn’t have much of a result. First, because there was a most important reason, because I was the one directing the project, and I, in reality, was not an agent of the CIA, I was an agent of Cuban security, and so, the whole project passed through my hands, and they thought I was the one who would execute it. And the plan always passed through the work I was able to do, and what we did was slow it down as much as possible, knowing right away what was being planned. But just think, the goal of their plan, they were calculating for the moment in which the historic figures of the Revolution would disappear. They were figuring on a five- or ten-year term, in which Fidel would disappear from the political scene, and Raúl, and the historic leaders of the land. That was the moment they were waiting for, and when that happened, I was to leave university, with all the support of the international press and that of the NGOs, USAID, and all the people working around the CIA’s money, and that there would arise an organization which would present itself before the light of the public, as an alternative to what the Revolution was doing. That is what was to have happened with the Genesis Foundation for Freedom.

Q. What is that Foundation?

The Genesis Foundation for Freedom was to have a discourse, apparently revolutionary, but the idea was to confuse the people. The idea is that they would say they were revolutionaries, that what they wanted was to make changes in the government, but, when it comes to practice, when you get to the essence of the project, when you ask yourself “What is the project?” the discourse was, and the project was, exactly the same as those of the traditional right-wing. Because the changes they promoted, were the same that the right-wing, for a long time, has been promoting in the country. In practice, they almost had their big opportunity, according to their criteria, in 2006, when the news came out on TV that Fidel, for health reasons, was stepping down from his governmental responsibilities, and they have always said that the Cuban Revolution would die when Fidel died. Because the Revolution was Fidel, and on the day Fidel was no longer there, either by dying or leaving government, the next day the Revolution would fall. And they calculated that there would be internal confrontations, that there would be discontent with this or that. Calculations that I don’t know where they got them from, but they believed it. And in that moment, they believed that the time had come to act.

Q. We’re talking about 2006. What was the plan?

They called me automatically. We met, the CIA station chief and I, here in Havana. Diplomatic functionaries also showed up, and one of them said to me, we’re going to organize a provocation. We’re going to organize a popular uprising in a central neighborhood in Havana. There will be a person going there to rise up for democracy, and we’re going to execute a group of provocations, in different locations, in such a way that Cuban security forces will be forced to act against these people, and later we’ll start a big press campaign and start explaining how all of this will function. The interesting part of that, what really caught my attention, was this: How was it possible that a functionary of the US Interests Section could have the power to call upon the principal media, and that those people would obey with such servility? It was really attention-getting. The idea was — and I even told them this — what you’re telling me is just crazy. This man you mentioned to me, called Alci Ferrer — the guy they picked, a young agent, a doctor — they picked him to be the ringleader of the uprising. I told them, that guy won’t budge anyone. No one is going to rise up in the centre of Havana. The date they picked was none other than Fidel’s birthday, and they told me that day! And I said, Look, buddy, if that man, on that day, decides to go make proclamations, or to start some kind of uprising in the middle of Havana, the people are going to respond harshly. It’s even possible that they might kill him. Why, how could you put him in a humble working-class neighborhood to start those things, the locals…And he told me, flat out, the best thing that could happen for us is if they kill that man, it would be perfect, and they explained to me what would happen. All he had to do was provoke. They would go into the street, and there would be a clash there. If that happened, the press would do the rest, and they told me, we’re going to start a huge media campaign to demonstrate that there is chaos in Cuba, that Cuba is ungovernable; that in Cuba, Raúl is unable to hold the reins of government; that the civilian population is being killed; that students are being repressed in the street, and the people in the street, that the police are committing crimes. What a resemblance to Venezuela! It’s not a coincidence. It’s like that.

Q. So, what was supposed to happen in those circumstances?

Once all the opinion matrices were created, and all the media matrices had constructed that image, the whole world was supposed to have the image of Cuba as a great disaster, and that they’re killing the people, that they are killing them all. Then, my organization was to complete the final task.

Q. What was the final task?

Well, to gather the international press, in my capacity as a university professor, and as a writer, and as a leader of that organization, that I go out publicly to ask the government of the United States to intervene in Cuba, to guarantee the lives of the civilians and to bring peace and tranquility to the Cuban people. To speak to the country in the name of the Cuban people. Just imagine that!

That plan fell apart on them. It gave them no result, but as you could see, later, the way the war in Libya went, and the way it was set up. More than 80% of the information we saw, was fabricated. They’re doing the same in Syria, and they’ve done the same in Ukraine. I have had the opportunity to converse with a lot of Ukrainians, since they were in the bases. People in favor of uniting with Europe. I tried to talk with them these days. Trying to find out, what are those processes like? And they were surprised at the images which were transmitted around the world. What happened in Miami, and they themselves said so, but we’ve been protesting there, but those things that appear on TV, that was a group, or rather, there were sectors, there were places where there were right-wing groups, of the very far right, where there were incidents of that type, and where they burned things, but the greater part of the demonstrations didn’t have those characteristics. Or that this is, once more, the repetition of the scheme, using all the communication media.

Q. The relationship between the CIA and the embassies, in the respective lands, are they direct, then?

Yes, completely direct. In every embassy in Latin America, all the US embassies have CIA officials, working within them, using the façade of diplomatic functionaries.

Q. From what you know, is there a greater CIA presence in the region?

Well, at a certain moment, Ecuador was a major power in that, it had a strong concentration of them, and of course, Venezuela, because in 2012, when I attended the Book Fair in Caracas, all those people who had worked with me against Cuba, all the CIA officials, including Kelly Keiderling, were in Caracas at that time. And I was on a TV show, on VTV, where we talked about this subject, being very careful, because we were talking about two countries who have relations. That’s not the case with Cuba, or rather, Cuba has no relations with the United States. That’s a declared enemy. But we were talking about functionaries who had diplomatic relations, and it was very awkward to do it, without having concrete proofs you could present. However, the interview happened, and the denunciation was made of what was going on. Kelly Keiderling is an expert in this type of war. I have not the slightest doubt. When one follows the itinerary she has, in the countries where she’s been, and when I was in that type of conflict.

She has toured a series of countries in the world where very similar situations have occurred, like what she tried to do in Venezuela. And when you analyze Venezuela, and what has happened nowadays and the way in which she has acted, I think that in Venezuela, the characteristic that has been that they are tremendously aggressive in the manipulation of the information. Tremendously aggressive. To the point where you say it’s a blunder, because there are images which are so obviously not from Venezuela. I saw a very famous one, in which a soldier appears with a journalist, with a camera.They are Koreans. It’s an image from Korea. They’re Asian. They don’t look like Venezuelans at all. Also, the uniforms they wear. They’ve been very aggressive with that image which has projected what’s going on in Venezuela to the world. The greater part of the world’s people, this image is the one they’re seeing, of what they’re trying to say.

Q. They control the media. Do you know any case of any journalist which has been, as you have seen, known or unknown, which you have seen in the process of training?

No.

Q. CNN, for example?

No, there was a guy who had a lot of ties to me at the time here, who served as a link for meeting an official from the CIA., Antony Golden, of Reuters. But, all right, he was an element independent of Reuters. CNN has always been very closely linked to all these things. CNN, from its first moments of operation, above all this latest step, and above all, CNN en Español, has been an indispensable tool for these people, but the problem is that you have to understand one thing: to understand what’s going on, and to be able to mount a campaign, you have to understand that nowadays, there is no TV station that acts on its own. There are the conglomerates, and the communications conglomerates — who directs them? Because, for example, Time Warner and AOL, and all those big communications companies — cable TV, movie TV, TV in general — who is the boss, in the end? Here it’s Westinghouse, there it’s General Electric. The same who build warplanes, the same US arms industry, the same people who are the owners of TV networks, movie studios, publications, book publishers. So, the same guys who produce warplanes, the cookie you’ll eat at night, that presents an artist to you, are the same who rule the newspapers of the entire world. Who do these people answer to?

Q. When you see what’s happening in Venezuela, and you compare it with what you did here [in Cuba], what conclusion can you draw?

It’s a new strategy, which they’ve been developing based on the experience they’ve had all over the world, but I see, I’m convinced, that they’ve only gotten results when people in those places don’t support the revolution. They managed it with Milosevic, because Milosevic was a Yugoslavian leader whose image had fallen far, thanks to things that happened in Yugoslavia. The same happened in Ukraine, because Yanukovych was a man with very little popular support, and it has given results in other places where the governments had little support from the people. Wherever they have a legitimate government, a solid government, and people disposed to defend the revolution, the plan has failed on them.

Q. And what phase do they enter when the plan fails?

They’re going to keep on doing it, they’ll go on perfecting it. We are the enemy. That is, Venezuela, Cuba, everything going on in Latin America as an alternative. We are the dissidents of the world. We live in a world dominated by capitalism. Where that new capitalist way of being dominates, so that now one can’t even call it imperialist, it’s something new, something that goes way beyond what students of Marxism wrote in history years ago. It’s something new, novel. It’s a power, practically global, of the big transnationals, of those megalopolies they’ve created. Therefore, we are the enemy. We are presenting an alternative project. The solution that the world proposes to us, is not that. We know how to do it, and Cuba, Venezuela, the ALBA countries, have demonstrated that it can be done, that one or two days more are nothing. The Cuban revolution has been in existence for 55 years, and with political will, it has achieved things that the US government, with all the money in the world, has been unable to do. So that’s a bad example.

And I’ve told my students: Can you imagine that the Indignants in Spain, the thousands and millions of workers out of work in Spain, that the Greeks, that all those people in all the world, know what we’re doing? Can you imagine that these people get to know who Chávez is? Or who Fidel is? Or of the things we’re doing here? Or the things we’re doing with so few resources, only the will to make revolution and share the wealth? What will happen to capitalism? How much longer will capitalism last, which has to spend billions of dollars, every day, to build its image and fool the people? What would happen if the people knew who we really are? What is the Cuban Revolution, really, and what is the Venezuelan Revolution? Because, if you talked to a Spaniard and asked him about Chávez, and he gives you a terrible opinion of Chávez, because it’s what they’ve constructed in his mind/ And you meet an unemployed person who tells you that Chávez is a bad guy, because the media have convinced him of that, but if these people knew how things really were! So they can’t allow that such formidable enemies as ourselves should be there, at the door.

Q. From the viewpoint of the national sovereignty of our people, how can we stop the CIA? We’ve already talked about the consciousness of the people, which is fundamental in these types of actions, but, in the concrete, how does one foresee the CIA’s work? What can be done? What recommendations do you have?

I think of a thing that Chávez said, and that Fidel has always said, that is the key to defeating the empire, and that is unity. It’s not a slogan, it’s a reality. It’s the only way you have of defeating a project like that. A project that comes from the Special Services and from capitalism. One can only do it with the unity of the people.

Q. Are we talking about the civilian-military?

Yes, unity in all senses. Unity based in diversity, in the peoples, but unity as a nation, unity as a project. Wherever the people are divided, there is another reality.

Q. Where do they have to concentrate? In what area must they concentrate forces to defend us from this type of actions, this type of attacks?

The army to defeat that is the people. I believe that the Cuban experience has taught that very well. There are experiences in the world which mark you very clearly. What has happened in the world, when the people have not been protagonists in defence of the Revolution? And when the people have been protagonists, what happened? And there’s the case of Cuba. We have managed to defeat the CIA and the empire millions of times, because the people have been the protagonist.

Q. Does the CIA use the databases of the social networks, and that sort of thing, to define their plans?

They’re the masters. They’re the masters of that. Fine, there are the denunciations of Snowden and all that has come out of Wikileaks, and all those things that are no secret to anyone, because we suspected, but it’s been demonstrated. It’s been demonstrated that the servers, the Internet, are theirs. All the servers in the world, in the end, die in the North Americans’ servers. They are the mother of the Internet, and all the networks and services are controlled by them. They have access to all the information. And they don’t hesitate to record it. Facebook is an extraordinary database. People put everything on Facebook. Who are your friends? What are their tastes, what movies have they seen? What do they consume? And it’s a source of firsthand information.

Q. Have you been in contact with Kelly Keiderling, after what happened in Venezuela?

No, I haven’t had contact with her. I don’t know what was her final destination, after what happened (she was expelled from Venezuela for meeting with and financing terrorists).

Q. With the experience she has, how far was she able to penetrate into Venezuela, and Venezuelan universities?

I am certain that she got quite far. She’s a very intelligent agent, very well prepared, very capable, and very convinced of what she’s doing. Kelly is a person convinced of the job she is doing. She is convinced of the justness, from her point of view, of what she is doing. Because she is an unconditional representative of capitalism. Because she comes from capitalism’s elite. She is organic of the actions she is doing. There is no contradiction of any kind. And, based on the experience of her work, of her capability, I am sure that she managed to get very far, and gave continuity to a job which is not just for now, it’s a job she will go on doing for a long time, to reverse the process in Venezuelan universities. What’s going on is that up to whatever point they can reach, in the long term, that is what will show the Bolivarian process, in the measure of which the people are aware of what could happen. If that fascist right wing becomes uncontrollable, it could get into power again.

Q. What kind of person who has contacts, who could reach the people, such as by being an activist in a movement, could be captured by the CIA?

They will find them, they will try to do it. If it’s a young person and a leader, they will try to capture them for their interests. We have to train our leaders. We can’t leave that to spontaneity, we can’t leave that to the enemy. So, if we leave them to the enemy, those are spaces which the enemy will occupy. Any alternative project that we leave unattended, any alternative project that we don’t realize the necessity of getting close to, that is a project that the enemy will try, by all means, to take advantage of. Using the enormous amount of money they have for that, which has no limits, in terms of resources to be used, because they are playing with the future and, above all, the young are the key.

The good thing is that the young are the present of Latin America. The Latin American revolution which is there, which is everywhere, is of the young. If not, fine, it will never have results, and if you manage to make young people think differently, if you succeed in getting these youngsters to believe that savage capitalism is the solution to all their problems, then there will be no revolution for Latin America. It’s that simple.

 Original interview in Spanish here.

Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Yuval Steinitz has expressed concern over the recent remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry, warning Washington against surrendering to Iran’s growing nuclear capability.

“Kerry’s statements before the Senate on the matter of Iran and the current American objective were worrying, surprising, and unacceptable,” Steinitz said in a Monday interview with Israel Radio.

The minister, who is in charge of Israel’s nuclear affairs, pointed to Iran’s ongoing nuclear talks with the Sextet of world powers, saying, “We watch the negotiations with concern. We are not opposed to a diplomatic solution but we are against a solution which is entirely a surrender to Iran and which leaves it a threshold nuclear state.”

On April 8, Kerry told a Senate briefing that the expansion of Iran’s nuclear capability does not necessarily constitute building atomic bombs

Kerry claimed that Iran’s nuclear breakout capability is about two months away, saying that such a prospect did not mean Iran would have a warhead or other delivery system.

“It’s just having one bomb’s worth, conceivably, of material, but without any necessary capacity to put it in anything, to deliver it, to have any mechanism to do so,” he pointed out.

This is while Iran and the six powers – the US, the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia – wrapped up their latest round of high-level nuclear negotiations on Wednesday in Vienna.

The two sides have agreed to resume their negotiations on May 13.

Negotiators from both sides say a final nuclear agreement can be reached within three months.

Iran and the six world powers sealed an interim deal in Geneva on November 24, 2013, to pave the way for the full resolution of the decade-old dispute with Iran over the country’s nuclear energy program. The deal came into force on January 20.

Israeli State Terrorism

April 14th, 2014 by Stephen Lendman

On Sunday, Israeli security forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. It’s Islam’s third holiest site.

Worshipers were attacked with stun grenades, rubber-coated steel bullet and pepper spray.

Al-Aqsa Mosque director Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani said over 50 Israeli special forces stormed through the Moroccan and Chain Gates.

They attacked worshipers. They “besieged” them. Half a dozen or more injuries were reported. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld lied.

He claimed Israeli security forces reacted to Palestinian provocations. None whatever occurred. Israel bears full responsibility.

Overnight Saturday, worshipers braced for possible right-wing settler attacks. They stayed inside the compound. They did so expecting trouble.

They expect it ahead of Passover. At sunset on April 14, it begins. It runs through April 21.

Hardline Israeli organizations urged Jews to swarm the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the holiday period. Doing so constitutes a gross provocation.

It happened many times before. Worshipers braced for this year. The worst perhaps lies ahead.

Israeli forces regularly escort settlers to the site. Throughout occupied Palestine, they ignore their vandalism and violence. It repeats with disturbing regularity.

On Sunday, Israeli police arrested dozens of nonviolent Palestinians. They claimed they lacked permit permission to enter Israel.

Around 100,000 Palestinians have Israeli jobs. They enter daily to reach work sites. Many do with no documentation. They have no choice.

Permits are hard to get. Palestine’s Central Bureau of Statistics said over 34,000 Palestinians working in Israel lack them.

In January, over 1,400 Palestinians were imprisoned for working without permission. Employers remain unaccountable.

On April 9, Israel demolished several EU-funded humanitarian housing shelters. They did so on land near Jerusalem. It’s located in Jabal al-Baba.

In February, Israel ordered 18 structures destroyed. EU delegates challenged doing so. They demanded financial compensation for housing they funded.

An unnamed source said “(w)e should ask for compensation from Israel whenever EU-funded humanitarian aid projects are destroyed.”

They’re in the so-called E1 area. It’s located between Ma’aleh Adumim and Jerusalem.

Israel plans developing Mevasseret Adumim neighborhood. At issue is establishing territorial contiguity.

It’s creating a greater Jerusalem. It’s doing it by Judaizing Palestinian neighborhoods.

Angela Godfrey-Goldstein is a Jahalin Association advocacy officer. She represents affected Bedouins. She condemned what happened.

She called E1 “Obama’s red line” for Israeli settlement construction. Demolitions were revenge, she believes. They followed Abbas applying to join 15 UN bodies and treaties.

Israeli maliciousness is longstanding. It’s common practice. It repeats across Palestine. It’s part of persecuting Palestinians for praying to the wrong God.

It’s part of Israel’s ethnic cleansing agenda. Displacing Palestinians provides land for Jews.

Since June 1967, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) estimates at least 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures lawlessly destroyed.

On April 13, Haaretz headlined “Israel freezes transfer of tax monies to PA in response to UN move.”

Netanyahu announced it. Israel collects Palestinian tax revenues and customs duties. It’s obligated to return them to PA officials. They provide operating revenues.

They amount to about $100 million monthly. They’re on goods imported into Palestine. Israel froze them earlier. It was during times of heightened security and diplomatic tensions.

Freezing them begins in May. Perhaps policy will change. If implemented, April revenues are affected.

Israeli officials said Netanyahu’s action has declarative value only. It’s politically motivated. It’s for coalition partner hardliners.

They deplore peace. They want no Palestinian prisoners released. They want the worst of occupation harshness continued.

If peace talks continue past an agreed on April 29 cutoff date, PA tax money will be transferred, said Haaretz.

If not, “Israel could be expected to impose far more severe sanctions than holding back” revenues due Palestine, it added.

Israel froze transfers dozens of times before. Releasing them followed. Senior Israeli officials said freezes are self-defeating.

Revenues pay tens of thousands of PA employees. Security personnel Israeli enforcers included.

State Department spokeswoman responded dismissively to Netanyahu’s decision.

“We’ve seen these press reports, but we have not seen an official public announcement,” she said.

“That said, we would regard such a development as unfortunate,” she added.

“We believe that the regular transfer of the Palestinian Authority’s tax revenues and economic cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been beneficial and is important to the well-being of the Palestinian economy.”

On Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon approved stealing more Palestinian land.

He retroactively legalized Gush Etzion’s Netiv Ha’avot outpost. He declared 984 dunums of privately owned Palestinian land state property. He did so unilaterally. He acted extrajudicially.

In 2001, Netiv Ha’avot was built without authorization. It’s home to 50 Jewish families. Palestinian court challenges failed to dislodge them.

Authorizing 984 more dunums around Netiv Ha’avot assures new homes for thousands of settlers.

It means outpost ones will submit their own expansion plans. It means more Palestinian land likely stolen. It assures continued lawless ethnic cleansing.

Dror Etkes monitors settlement policy. He issued a statement saying:

“Declarations of state land became rare after the army declared close to a million dunums state land in the 1980s and 1990s, enough to expand the settlements for the coming century.”

“The present declaration is a faithful reflection of the Netanyahu government’s policy and meant to extinguish the last embers of the negotiations with the Palestinians.”

On Sunday, sham peace talks continued. Abbas agreed to extend past late April. Perhaps into next year.

Why he’ll have to explain. Since last July, they accomplished nothing. Israel demands everything its way. It offers Palestinians virtually nothing.

Chances for peaceful conflict resolution are ZERO. Not according to Haaretz editors.

On April 13, their disappointing editorial headlined ”Netanyahu must curb Bennett and keep the peace talks alive.”

They pretend peace talks are legitimate. They never were before. They’re not now.

Bennett represents the worst of right-wing extremism. He threatened to leave Netanyahu’s coalition government if peace talk dealmaking OK’s further Palestinian prisoner releases.

He calls Palestinian political prisoners “murderers.” He wrote Netanyahu. He wants settlement blocs annexed. He wants them made part of greater Israel.

Combined with military areas, no-go zones, tourist sites, Jews-only roads, checkpoints and barricades, as well as Israeli commercial development, they comprise over 60% of West Bank land.

Bennett wants it all made part of Israel. So do likeminded hardliners. Most West Bank land and East Jerusalem already is de facto Israeli territory.

Bennett cited “floundering” peace talks. He prioritizes sabotaging them, said Haaretz editors. He wants settlements “bolster(ed) and enlarge(d).”

It’s longstanding Israeli policy. Netanyahu prioritizes it. He said so publicly. Haaretz editors didn’t explain.

Bennett is one of many ideological extremists infesting Israel’s government. Netanyahu is a world class thug.

Defrocked/reinstated Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is an ultranationalist extremist. He delegitimizes the office he holds. He uses it ruthlessly.

Haaretz editors support peace process hypocrisy. Why they’ll have to explain. They nonsensically said talks “reached a decisive point.”

Previous ones denied Palestinians rights mattering most. Haaretz editors call current talks “the last chance in the forseeable future to conduct negotiations with the Palestinians.”

No chance existed before. None does now. Talks mock legitimacy. Peaceful conflict resolution with Israel is a convenient illusion.

Haaretz editors didn’t explain. They blame Bennett for longstanding Israeli policy.

He’s one of many in a long line of extremists. More than ever infest Israel’s worst government in history.

Last July, talks began. They were dead on arrival. Haaretz editors failed readers. They didn’t explain.

They pretend talks are legitimate. They never were before. They’re not now. It bears repeating. Chances for peaceful conflict resolution are ZERO. Pretending otherwise is fantasy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

The national minorities of Armenia express their protest against the attack on the Armenian-populated Kessab, Syria, and the violence against national minorities, in general. Representatives of the national minorities of Armenia adopted a statement today, condemning the events in Kessab and demanding to stop the supply of weapons and financial assistance to rebels.

What happened in Kessab on March 21 is the continuation of the policy of 1915, President of the Greek “Patrida” NGO Edward Polatov told reporters today.

“Even as Turks are promising everlasting friendship after 100 years and trying to assure they have nothing to do with the deeds of the predecessors and are not responsible for the crime committed at the turn of the 20th century, they proved yet again that they bear responsibility for the crimes of their ancestors. They have no future, as they are an assassin nation. Only after a full and sincere contrition will it be possible to alleviate the burden of the coming generations,” he said.

Presenting the joint statement, director of the cultural center of the national minorities Razmik Khosroev noted that “Turkey is a great criminal, which has destroyed  civilizations and should stand trial for committing genocides against not only Armenians, but also Greeks, Assyrians, Kurds, Bulgarians, Serbs and other peoples.”

“We view the events in Kessab not as the internal affair of Syria or Turkey, but as an extraordinary case of mass violation of human rights. We urge the heirs of the peoples subjected to genocide and the whole international community to file a suit against today’s Turkey for the crimes committed in the past and demand the return of the seized property, the historical, cultural and other heritage to their rightful owners,” Khosroev said.

The Kurdish Armenian community also condemns the Turkish provokers, who continue their criminal policy even in the 21st century. President of the “Kurdistan Committee” Zhenya Amiryan said the solution of the issue is in unity.

“Only through unity we can counter the Turkish authorities. They are committing new crimes one year before the centenary of the Armenian Genocide,” she said.

Condemning Turkey’s past and present policies, President of the Atur Assyrian Association Arsen Mikhaylov noted that nations that have been subjected to genocide have to raise their voice every day, not on concrete occasions.

Iranian Official: Syria Has Passed the Critical Stage of Danger

April 14th, 2014 by Global Research News

A top Iranian Foreign Ministry official says Syria has left behind the “critical security crisis.”

“Syria has passed the critical security crisis,” Amir Abdollahian, the deputy foreign minister for African and Arab affairs, said in a meeting with German lawmaker Rols Muetzenich representing the German Social Democrats.
Abdollahian said the shipment of arms to Syria and support to terrorists in Syria by certain countries have exacerbated the situation in the Arab country.
‘Iran, Germany can help resolve issues through consultation’
Amirabdollahian also said Iran and Germany, as two countries with great regional and international clout, can help settle crises through “consultation”.
Currently, alleviating the sufferings of people in Syria and pushing for a political settlement to the conflict are vitally important, the senior Iranian diplomat noted.
The diplomat also said it is necessary to push for national dialogue and democratic election in Syria.

‘Germany seeking Iran’s help to settle regional problems’

 Muetzenich said in the light of positive political climate created about Iran at the international stage Germany is seeking to develop its ties with Tehran.
The German MP was indirectly referring to the interim nuclear agreement signed between Iran and the major powers and a rapprochement between Iran and the European Union since Hassan Rouhani won presidential election in Iran last summer.
Muetzenich, the foreign policy spokesperson and deputy parliamentary leader for foreign policy, defense and human rights in his parliamentary faction, said Berlin is also seeking help from Iran for a settlement of important regional problems including the Syrian crisis because Germany is of the opinion that the role of Iran is more important than the outcome of certain conferences about the region.
The fact that the Islamic Republic of Iran insists on political solution to the Syrian crisis is “very important” and similarly Germany is pursuing political solution to the conflict and also putting an end to the humanitarian crisis in the country, the German parliamentarian noted.

At the beginning of this month, Ted McMeekin, the Ontario Minister of Community and Social Services, informed the provincial Legislature that his government will not be merging Ontario Works (OW) with the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). Given that the Liberal’s own 2012 Report of the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario calls for such a merger, this belated statement of intentions is quite significant.

McMeekin also wrote a letter to the members of his Advisory Council on Social Assistance Reform on April 4 that is worth quoting from. In it he states:

“I have heard from many people who are concerned about the possibility of Ontario Works and ODSP being merged into one program. In some cases, they’re responding to irresponsible rumours that our plan is focussed on cuts – bringing everyone down to the lowest common denominator and forcing everybody to look for work, regardless of their disability.

“I hope you’ll help me put an end to these unfounded rumours, which are causing needless anxiety for vulnerable people. That’s not our plan. It never was. It never will be. We are focussed on moving toward adequacy for all, and removing obstacles for those who want and are able to work. I can tell you clearly that having looked at the idea of a merger of these two programs, our government will not be going forward with that recommendation.”

The rather testy comment about “unfounded rumours” is clearly a reference to what the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and others in the Raise the Rates Campaign have been saying. For months now, we have been demanding that the Kathleen Wynne Government publicly state that it will not merge OW with ODSP. That the Liberals have taken so long to take this position and distance themselves from the proposal of their own report is likely evidence of an internal debate within the Liberal Cabinet. They have faced relentless community based opposition on this issue. As recently as March 22, anti poverty organizations joined with trade union allies from CUPE Ontario and OPSEU to march, under the banner of the Raise the Rates Campaign, on the Liberal AGM in Toronto. Kathleen Wynne had to defend her shaky credentials as the ‘Social Justice Premier’ behind a line of cops.

Austerity and the Attack on Ontario Welfare

It is a very significant gain for community action that McMeekin had to make this announcement. I have no doubt that the opposition to the merger that developed and the prospects of a major mobilization if such a step had been taken, was decisive in prompting this tactical retreat. It shows us that the architects of austerity are not invincible and that we can defeat their plans if we fight back. Having said this, however, we would be making a huge mistake if we assumed that the danger to ODSP has passed. The Liberals did come under great pressure over the proposed merger but they also had their options reduced by virtue of the fact that they are a scandal plagued minority regime that must soon present a Budget. Precisely because their political future is so tenuous, McMeekin’s pledge is devalued significantly. A Tory Government would not be bound by his statement and it’s not even certain that the Liberals themselves, should they prevent or survive an election, would rule out putting the merger back on the table.

Even more to the point, however, a joining together of the two programs is not necessarily the form that an attack on ODSP might take. An austerity driven government like that of Kathleen Wynne, could move in thoroughly regressive directions while retaining two distinct programs. Before exploring this further, however, let’s look at how such an attack fits into the prevailing austerity agenda.

During the period they have held office in Ontario, the Liberals have continued with that part of the Mike Harris Conservative Government’s 1990s Common Sense Revolution that sought to undermine income support systems. They have allowed the spending power of social assistance to erode further and have removed or weakened supplementary benefits that people turned to in an effort to compensate for their loss of real income. This has only to a secondary extent been about saving money or reducing deficits. Its main purpose has been to intensify the scramble for the lowest paying and most exploitative jobs. Since the Liberals took over in 2003, the number working for the minimum wage has doubled in Ontario and now comprises 9 per cent of the workforce. Had social assistance rates been restored to pre-Harris levels, this could never have been accomplished. Now, in the context of post-2008 international agenda of hyper-austerity, the dictates this places upon the Government of Ontario is to take this process further. In this regard, the relative adequacy and stability of ODSP is seen as a barrier to be removed.

“More than 10,000 people a year in the UK have died since being deemed ‘fit for work’ by the assessment system, and another 2200 before their assessments were completed.”

Several political jurisdictions are contributing to the attack on disability benefits but it is the Conservative-led David Cameron government in Britain that has led the pack. The reckless and brutal process of social abandonment that it has inflicted on sick and disabled people in that country has shocked observers across the world. Cameron’s Coalition privatized and intensified a measure known as the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) in a way that has led to rampant denial of benefits to even the profoundly disabled and the terminally ill. More than 10,000 people a year in the UK have died since being deemed ‘fit for work’ by the assessment system, and another 2200 before their assessments were completed.

The model created by the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions and its private enforcers, particularly the infamous Atos company, is there for the Ontario Government to aspire to. It already has the experience of implementing very similar measures in its attack on injured workers in this province. The widespread practice of ‘deeming’ that has been adopted by the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is not that far from what is happening in the UK. Injured workers are being declared ready for forms of employment they have no chance of securing or maintaining and are losing their benefits in a fashion that would get high marks in the British House of Commons.

In February of this year, there were 439,553 beneficiaries receiving ODSP in Ontario, only slightly short of the 450,552 on Ontario Works. Perhaps the most important task facing the regressive ‘reform’ initiative that is underway is to massively reduce the numbers on ODSP. Of course, ODSP caseloads have increased precisely because injured workers are being hounded off benefits and other income support options are being squeezed but this does not remove the austerity based imperative to slash these numbers. While Frances Lankin and Munir Sheikh, who wrote the report for the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario, have not been taken up on their merger proposal, it would be wrong to assume that they are merely crying in the wilderness. They propose a redesign of social assistance in which everyone on it, including the disabled, are assessed by the yardstick of employability. Under their model, employers’ councils would be set up to assist in the building of “pathways to employment.” What jobs are actually available, what they pay and what happens to those who fail to keep them are not considerations that are given any particular attention. What is important to Lankin and Sheikh is that the ‘integrity’ of the system of providing sub-poverty payments to disabled people must be protected at all costs. They suggest that there is a backlog of 40,000 cases on ODSP that need to have their eligibility reconsidered, that this should be cleared up and a far more vigorous review process put in place. A more clearly set out blueprint for moving in the direction of the UK Government could not be drawn up.

As I’m writing, I learn that Ontario Works employment programs in at least one part of Ontario are being told to be ready to start receiving ODSP clients soon, and that they will deal with them the same way they presently deal with the spouses and dependents of people on ODSP. It confirms that McMeekin’s Ministry understands very well the measures it needs to take to move toward the prevailing austerity based model of ‘reforming’ disability benefits.

The New Zealand Government of John Key, which has adopted many of the measures being implemented in Britain has described its own regressive ‘welfare reform’ process as being based on an “unrelenting focus on work.” That phrase rather sums it all up. There is no focus, of course, on ensuring living wages or providing the actual supports people need to be able to sustain employment. Rather, the intention is to use abandonment and the threat of destitution as a means of creating a desperate bidding war for a place in the low wage ghetto. The disabled will not be exempt from this process. On the contrary, their participation in the scramble is considered vital to the plot.

Common Front Against Austerity

We must understand the nature of the attack precisely because we intend to defeat it. In the UK, the assessment system that has brought such misery into peoples’ lives has been challenged relentlessly and the model of regressive reform is floundering as a result of that resistance. The Raise the Rates Campaign, initiated by OCAP, backed by anti poverty organizations in a range of communities and supported decisively by CUPE Ontario and other unions, has shown that we don’t have to accept austerity as an inevitability: we can impose defeats on those who seek to implement it.

The threat to ODSP is part of a bigger attack on social benefits in Ontario and throughout Canada and, in turn, the removal of such supports is about undermining the right to a living wage for all workers. For that very reason, we take up the fight to defend the benefit system for disabled people as part of a broader working-class common front against austerity. •

John Clarke is an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

Ukraine: The Anti-Maidan Begins

April 14th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

It was predicted that the regime in Kiev would not last long, and that almost immediately there would be a backlash. First, opposition would come from eastern Ukraine where Ukrainians stand by their nation’s long historical, linguistic, cultural, economic, and strategic ties to Russia. Then opposition would come from western Ukraine, where people, despite their perceived anti-Russian sentiments and initial support for the “Euromaidan” protests, would find the corrupt client regime in Kiev intolerable as it integrated the nation into the EU while imposing IMF-engineered austerity measures already spreading socioeconomic chaos across the rest of Europe.

It was also predicted that the regime in Kiev, backed by the US and EU, would use the pretext of “war with Russia” to arm itself against the inevitable uprising to come.

It now appears that the “anti-Maidan” has begun, and that the military backing by NATO will be mobilized against fellow Ukrainians much sooner than expected.

With Crimea now beginning its integration with Russia, others in eastern Ukraine see a window of opportunity to escape out from beneath the regime in Kiev before it is able to consolidate its power and stamp out resistance to its inevitably disastrous policies. Protesters have been gathering in key cities across eastern Ukraine, while armed militias begin digging in against Kiev’s overt threats and now demonstrably preparations to carry out violence.  CNN would report in their article, “Ukraine unrest will be resolved by force or talks in 48 hours, minister says,” that:

Ukrainian acting Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Wednesday that the separatist protests in Ukraine’s eastern region would be resolved within 48 hours — either through negotiations or the use of force. 

The Guardian in its article, “Armed pro-Russian protesters seize city in eastern Ukraine,” describes multiple cities being taken over by Ukrainians opposed to the regime in Kiev. While the Guardian continues to spin the narrative that Russia is “annexing” eastern Ukraine like it did Crimea – this sidesteps the reality that Crimea voted overwhelmingly (93% according to the BBC) to voluntarily declare independence from Kiev, and integrate with Russia. Claims that Russian troops have “invaded” Ukraine, intentionally omit that Russian troops, per long standing treaties, have been stationed in Ukrainian territory for decades.

Despite the referendum, the Western media still refers to the newly integrated peninsula as “Russian-occupied Crimea.”

Who are Ukrainians Fleeing via Pro-Russian Movement? 

Another crucial aspect omitted or blatantly covered up by the Western media is the very nature of the regime that recently seized power in Kiev at the height of the so-called “Euromaidan” protests. As growing public awareness has highlighted the ultra-right, literal Nazis that led “Euromaidan,” the Western media has succeeded in sowing enough doubt to keep many on the fence regarding the ongoing Ukrainian crisis.

Reports out of Ukraine come either from pro-Western or pro-Russian sources, leaving objective observers with little to work with. However, by examining the political leaders of the current regime in Kiev, through the very Western sources now defending them, one can easily identify the racism, bigotry, Nazism, fascism, and violence that millions of Ukrainians are all too familiar with – familiar with enough to seize the opportunity to seek protection within and forge closer ties to Russia.

When people across the West wring their hands regarding “Russian aggression” against the “Euromaidan” protesters and the resulting, unelected government, this is who they are defending:

1. Svoboda: So prominent was Svoboda during the “Euromaidan” protests, that the United States sent US Senator John McCain to take the stage with Svoboda leaders in Kiev at the height of the unrest. Surely then, one might expect Svoboda to represent values similar to those in America. However, Svoboda has a long history of carrying on the toxic ideology of Adolf Hitler’s Nazis, with party leaders citing Nazi propaganda, espousing hatred toward Jews and homosexuals, and either being involved in violence, or tied to armed militant groups that have been.

In a January 2014 Spiegel Online article titled, “‘Prepared to Die’: The Right Wing’s Role in Ukrainian Protests,” it described Svoboda in no uncertain terms (emphasis added):

The Svoboda party also has excellent ties to Europe, but they are different from the ones that Klischko might prefer. It is allied with France’s right-wing Front National and with the Italian neo-fascist group Fiamma Tricolore. But when it comes to the oppression of homosexuality, representative [Igor] Myroshnychenko is very close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, even if he does all he can to counter Moscow’s influence in his country.

It goes on to state (emphasis added):

Myroshnychenko was press spokesman for the Ukrainian national football team in the lead up to the 2008 European Championships, but he isn’t exactly cosmopolitan. He would even like to see foreign professional football players deported because they “change Ukraine’s ethnic map.”

There have been other, similar incidents. In a 2012 debate over the Ukrainian-born American actress Mila Kunis, he said that she wasn’t Ukrainian, rather she was a “Jewess.”Indeed, anti-Semitism is part of the extremist party’s platform; until 2004, they called themselves the Social-National Party of Ukraine in an intentional reference to Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist party. Just last summer, a prominent leader of party youth was distributing texts from Nazi propaganda head Joseph Goebbels translated into Ukrainian.

While many in the Western media try to portray Svoboda’s ultra-right, Neo-Nazi ideology as a part of its past, just during the “Euromaidan” protests this same Igor Myroshnychenko was an acting Svoboda MP, and very much involved in some of the most notorious incidents of the conflict.

In Channel 4′s (UK), “Ukraine: far-right extremists at core of ‘democracy’ protest,” it mentions both Svoboda MP Myroshnychenko as well as current Svoboda party leader Oleh Tyahnybok (emphasis added):

In December US senator John McCain travelled to Ukraine to offer his support to the opposition, appearing on stage with leaders of the three opposition parties leading the protests – including the far-right Svoboda party.

Svoboda is currently Ukraine’s fourth biggest party and holds 36 seats in parliament. It is also part of the Alliance of European National Movements, along with the BNP and Hungary’s Jobbik.

Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok is one of the faces of the protests, appearing regularly along with opposition leader and former boxer Vitali Klitschko (see picture right) voicing opposition to Putin’s influence over the region.

However, Tyahnybok has provoked controversy in the past with his anti-Semitic claims that a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” controls Ukraine.

In another Channel 4 report titled, “Far-right group at heart of Ukraine protests meet US senator,” it stated (emphasis added):

…in 2004 [Svoboda] leader Oleh Tyahnybok gave a speech attacking what he called “the Moscow-Jewish mafia ruling Ukraine” and in another speech declared: “the Moskali, Germans, Kikes and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.” 

Despite the controversy his statements attracted in the West, Tyahnybok was voted Person of the Year by readers of Ukrainian news magazine Korrespondent last year. 

In another outburst from the party their deputy chief, Ihor Miroshnychenko, wrote an anti-Semitic attack on Mila Kunis on Facebook: “Kunis is not Ukrainian, she is a Yid. She is proud of it, so Star of David be with her.”

While many across the Western media attempt to portray ultra-right, anti-Semitic Neo-Nazi groups as a “small percent” of the Euromaidan movement, it should be noted that Svoboda alone took over 10% of the vote in the 2012 elections, held 36 seats in parliament, is considered Ukraine’s fourth-largest political party, and its leader, Tyahnybok, wasone of three major opposition leaders who in fact led the “Euromaidan” protests in the first place. Since seizing power, Svoboda has received top positions in three of the regime’s ministries.

Surely Svoboda’s central role in the “Euromaidan” protests and the subsequent regime that has resulted, is enough to debase the entire movement. Unfortunately, Svoboda is not the only party with a checkered, ultra-nationalist, Neo-Nazi past.

2. The “Fatherland” Party: Even in name alone, the Fatherland Party echos the disturbing nationalist nomenclature of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. Beneath the rhetorical similarities are disturbing parallels of more substance.

From the Fatherland Party is drawn the current “prime minister” of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Yatsenyuk is a renowned bigot. He would catch the attention of Amnesty International in its 2008 report, “Overview of Lesbian and Gay Rights in Eastern Europe (.pdf), which cited him saying - when his views regarding homosexual marriage were labelled “conservative” – that:

 ”I do not agree. If a man has normal views, then you label him a conservative, but those who use drugs or promote sodomy – you label them a progressive person. All of these are perversions.”

In March 2013 denounced homosexuality as reported by LGBT Weekly’s “Leading Ukraine Opposition figure surprises supporters by denouncing gay marriage.” The report would state:


Leading Ukraine Opposition figure, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, risks disappointing liberal supporters of his All-Ukrainian Union “Fatherland” party, having publicly rejected gay marriage at a recent rally.

Yatsenyuk was confronted by a representative of the Western-Ukrainian Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community who said to him: “Many people live in love, but not in law. Promise me that if you become president, you will legalize same-sex relationships, and I promise that all gays and lesbians will vote for you.”

But Yatsenyuk, who leads “Fatherland” in the absence of jailed leader Yulia Tymoshenko, revealed that he rejects gay marriage because his personal beliefs stand in the way of any political position.

Mention of Yulia Tymoshenko is also important, as she has been at the center of Western pressure on the previous government of Viktor Yushchenko. Her imprisonment was portrayed by the West as “politically motivated,” despite her charges relating to what was rampant, overt corruption. Her recent release from prison was hailed by the West as part of building a “strong, prosperous, unified, and democratic Ukraine.”

However, memory is short in the West. An interesting report in the wake of her failed attempt to take power during 2010′s elections by The Jewish Week titled, “Change For Ukraine, But Likely Not For Jews,” portrayed Ukraine’s Jews in fear of a potential win by Tymoshenko whose “Fatherland Party” was perceived as both nationalist and anti-Semitic. How the anti-Semitic, ultra-right, Hitlerian “Fatherland Party” will help build a “strong, prosperous, unified, and democratic Ukraine” remains to be seen.

It should be noted that the “Fatherland Party” constituted the second largest political party in Ukraine before it seized power at the height of the “Euromaidan” protests. Far from a “small percent” of the “Euromaidan” movement, its intolerable bigotry is the rule, not the exception – a defining characteristic of those who have seized power in Kiev, not an anomaly.

3. Right Sector: It was recently admitted by the BBC, that while Neo-Nazi Svoboda and the ultra-right Fatherland Party led the rhetorical battle in Kiev’s

streets, the armed militants of “Right Sector” formed the fist of the movement. The video report featured visibly armed men sporting Nazi insignias who had forcibly seized and were occupying the headquarters of their political rivals.  These included members of Right Sector – a hardline Neo-Nazi militant movement.

Many across the Western media still continue to portray the “Euromaidan” protesters as either entirely unarmed, or with only a small number of rouge extremists being armed. The BBC has conveniently attempted to claim that Right Sector is an “autonomous organisation with no leaders or formal membership.”

It must have come to the BBC’s surprise when the new regime in Kiev apparently assassinated one of Right Sector’s “nonexistent” leaders. Many believe the killing of Right Sector leader Oleksandr Muzychko was an attempt to eliminate both a dangerous political rival, and a source of constant embarrassment for a regime already struggling to establish much needed legitimacy. With the heavy lifting over, the regime in Kiev decided to clean up its political house. Even the Western press found it difficult to spin what was clearly a repeat of Adolf Hitler’s “Night of the Long Knives” against the armed militant group.

A Reuters report titled, “Ukraine orders disarming of armed groups after shooting,” sheds further light on just how large these militant groups actually are. It stated:

Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday ordered security forces to disarm illegal armed groups as police shut down the Kiev base of a far-right nationalist group prominent in the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich after a shooting incident in which three people were wounded.

Ukraine’s new leaders acted after Monday night’s violence in Kiev city centre, conscious that an increasing criminal climate could discredit the anti-Yanukovich uprising and be used by Moscow’s propaganda machine to show that law and order was breaking down in Ukraine. 

The Reuters report would also claim:

Police on Monday night moved in on a city centre hotel where the far-right group Right Sector had its Kiev base after a man – said by police to be a member of the group – pulled out a gun and shot and wounded three people outside a restaurant.

While Reuters painstakingly attempts to avoid admitting “Euromaidan” protesters were armed, clearly Right Sector was and still is.

Collectively, the Kiev Regime is the Worst of History Repeating Itself  

While Right Sector makes an easy target to attach and subsequently jettison away accusations of ultra-right Neo-Nazi ideology among the “Euromaidan” movement, it is only an overt example of the poorly disguised ultra-right Neo-Nazi ideology that drives Svoboda and the Fatherland Party. The regime in Kiev adheres to Nazism, regardless of the alleged “shade.” Their uncompromising political views are already being translated into policies that threaten millions across Ukraine. This includes legislation targeting Russian-speaking Ukrainians and the censorship of Russian media across the country.

Combined with the inevitable socioeconomic collapse the new regime’s relationship with the IMF has all but guaranteed,  it is not difficult to understand why Ukrainians in both the east, and eventually in the west, will begin rising up against the unelected, Neo-Nazis, bigots, racists, and armed criminals occupying Kiev. It is the horrors of World War II repeating themselves, along with the economic collapse and social chaos that has just recently rocked Greece and is still reverberating across the EU. It is the very worst of history, both distant past and more recently, repeating itself again in Ukraine.

What is difficult to understand for some, is why people across the Western World are still defending the regime in Kiev, when it is so clearly not what it said it was, nor what the West continues to insist it is.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

The U.S. Is Not a Democracy, It Is an Oligarchy

April 14th, 2014 by Eric Zuesse

study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

To put it short: The United States is no democracy, but actually an oligarchy.

The authors of this historically important study are Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, and their article is titled “Testing Theories of American Politics.” The authors clarify that the data available are probably under-representing the actual extent of control of the U.S. by the super-rich:

“Economic Elite Domination theories do rather well in our analysis, even though our findings probably understate the political influence of elites. Our measure of the preferences of wealthy or elite Americans – though useful, and the best we could generate for a large set of policy cases – is probably less consistent with the relevant preferences than are our measures of the views of ordinary citizens or the alignments of engaged interest groups. Yet we found substantial estimated effects even when using this imperfect measure. The real-world impact of elites upon public policy may be still greater.”

Nonetheless, this is the first-ever scientific study of the question of whether the U.S. is a democracy. “Until recently it has not been possible to test these contrasting theoretical predictions [that U.S. policymaking operates as a democracy, versus as an oligarchy, versus as some mixture of the two] against each other within a single statistical model. This paper reports on an effort to do so, using a unique data set that includes measures of the key variables for 1,779 policy issues.” That’s an enormous number of policy-issues studied.

What the authors are able to find, despite the deficiencies of the data, is important: the first-ever scientific analysis of whether the U.S. is a democracy, or is instead an oligarchy, or some combination of the two. The clear finding is that the U.S. is an oligarchy, no democratic country, at all. American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it’s pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation’s “news” media). The U.S., in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious “electoral” “democratic” countries. We weren’t formerly, but we clearly are now. Today, after this exhaustive analysis of the data, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” That’s it, in a nutshell.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Washington Is Humanity’s Worst Enemy

April 14th, 2014 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

How does Washington get away with the claim that the country it rules is a democracy and has freedom? This absurd claim ranks as one of the most unsubstantiated claims in history.

There is no democracy whatsoever. Voting is a mask for rule by a few powerful interest groups. In two 21st century rulings (Citizens United and McCutcheon), the US Supreme Court has ruled that the purchase of the US government by private interest groups is merely the exercise of free speech. These rulings allow powerful corporate and financial interests to use their money-power to elect a government that serves their interests at the expense of the general welfare.

The control private interests exercise over the government is so complete that private interests have immunity to prosecution for crimes. At his retirement party on March 27, Securities and Exchange Commission prosecutor James Kidney stated that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other “banks too big to fail” were blocked by superiors who “were focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service.” The SEC’s top brass, Kidney said, did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.” In his report on Kidney’s retirement speech, Eric Zuesse points out that the Obama regime released false statistics in order to claim prosecutions that did not take place in order to convince a gullible public that Wall Street crooks were being punished.http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/09/65578/

Democracy and freedom require an independent and aggressive media, an independent and aggressive judiciary, and an independent and aggressive Congress. The United States has none of the above.

The US media consistently lies for the government. Reuters continues to report, falsely, that Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. The Washington Post ran an obviously false story planted on the paper by the Obama regime that the massive protests in former Russian territories of Ukraine are “rent-a-mobs” instigated by the Russian government.

Not even Washington’s stooges in Kiev believe that. Officials of the Washington-imposed government in Kiev acknowledged the need for some autonomy for the Russian-speaking regions and for a law permitting referendums, but this realistic response to widespread concerns among Ukrainians has apparently been squelched by Washington and its presstitute media. US Secretary of State John Kerry continues to turn a deaf ear to the Russian Foreign Minister and continues to demand that “Russia must remove its people from the South-East.”

What is happening is very dangerous. Washington misjudged its ability to grab the Ukraine. Opposition to the US grab is almost total in the Russian-speaking areas. Local police and security forces have gone over to the protesters. The corrupt Obama regime and the presstitute media lie through their teeth that the protests are insincere and mere orchestrations by “Putin who wants to restore the Soviet empire.” The Russian government keeps trying to end the conflict and unrest that Washington’s reckless coup in Kiev has caused short of having to reabsorb the former Russian territories as it was forced to do in Crimea. But Washington continues ignoring the Russian government and blaming the unrest on Russia’s not Washington’s, interference. http://rt.com/news/lavrov-kerry-ukraine-talks-200/

See also: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38196.htm

The Russian government knows that Washington does not believe what Washington is saying and that Washington is systematically provoking a continuation and worsening of the problem. The Russian government wonders what agenda Washington is pursuing. Is Washington in its arrogant stupidity and superpower hubris unable to acknowledge that its takeover of the Ukraine has come amiss and to back off? Does Washington not realize that the Russian government is no more able to accept the application of violence against Russian populations in Ukraine than it could accept violence against Russians in South Ossetia? If Washington doesn’t come to its senses, the Russian government will have to send in troops as it had to do in Georgia. http://rt.com/news/ukraine-russia-operation-criminal-288/

As this is clear even to a fool, is it Washington’s goal to start a war? Is that why Washington is massing NATO forces on Russia’s borders and sending missile ships into the Black Sea? Washington is putting the entire world at risk. If Russia concludes that Washington intends to drive the Ukraine crisis to war rather than to resolve the crisis, will Russia sit and wait, or will Russia strike first?

One would think that the Chancellor of Germany, the British Prime Minister, and the President of France would see the danger in the situation. Perhaps they do. However, there is a large difference between the aid that Russia gives countries and the aid given by Washington. Russia provides financial support to governments; Washington gives bagfuls of money to individuals in the government with the knowledge that individuals are more likely to act in their own interest than in the interest of their country. Therefore, European politicians are silent as Washington pushes a crisis toward war. If we don’t get to war, the only reason will be that Putin comes up with a solution that Washington cannot refuse, as Putin did in Syria and Iran.

It is a paradox that Putin is portrayed as the heavy while Washington pretends to be the champion of “freedom and democracy.” In the 21st century Washington has established as its hallmarks every manifestation of tyranny: illegal and unconstitutional execution of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional indefinite detention of citizens without due process of law, illegal and unconstitutional torture, illegal and unconstitutional rendition, illegal and unconstitutional surveillance, and illegal and unconstitutional wars. The executive branch has established that it is unaccountable to law or to the Constitution. An unaccountable government is a tyranny.

Tired of being spied upon and lied to, the Senate Intelligence Committee has produced a thorough investigation of the CIA’s torture programs. The investigation took four years to complete. The Committee found, unequivocally, that the CIA lied about the extent of the torture and kidnappings, that detainees did not undergo some mild form of “enhanced interrogation” but were subjected to brutal and inhumane torture, that the CIA, contrary to its claims, did not get even one piece of useful information from its grave crimes against humanity. The American presstitutes assisted the CIA in inaccurately portraying the effectiveness and mildness of the CIA’s Gestapo practices. During the entirety of the investigation, the CIA illegally spied on the Senate staff conducting the investigation.

Is the public ever to see this report beyond the parts that have been leaked? Not if the CIA and Obama can prevent it. President “change” Obama has decided that it is up to the CIA to decide how much of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation will be made public. In other words, unless someone leaks the entire report, the American public will never know. Yet, “we have freedom and democracy.”

The Senate Intelligence Committee itself has the power to vole to declassify the entire report and to release it. The committee should do so immediately before the members of the committee are browbeat, threatened, and propagandized into believing that they are endangering “national security” and providing those mistreated with grounds for a lawsuit.

The US government is the most corrupt government on earth. There is no independent judiciary or media, and Congress has acquiesced to executive branch encroachments on its powers. Consider the judiciary. Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights represented the father of the American citizen, who Obama said would be murdered by the US government on suspicion that he was associated with terrorism. When Ratner asked the federal courts to block an illegal and unconstitutional execution of an American citizen without due process, the federal judge who heard the case ruled that the father of a son about to be murdered did not have standing to bring a case in behalf of his son.

After several lives were snuffed out by President “I’m good at killing people” Obama, Ratner represented relatives of Obama’s murdered victims in a damage suit. Under US law it was clear as day that damages were due. But the federal judge ruled that “the government must be trusted.”http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38202.htm

Whether or not anyone has standing is entirely up to the government. The IRS takes a completely different position on the matter. Children have standing to have their tax refunds confiscated by the IRS if the IRS thinks the IRS may have overpaid the parents’ Social Security benefits.http://www.cnbc.com/id/101576080

So in “freedom and democracy” Amerika, children are responsible if the IRS “thinks”–no proof required–that it wrote parents too large of a Social Security check, but a father has no legal standing to bring a lawsuit to prevent the US government from the extra-legal murder of his son.

Thanks to the Republican Federalist Society and to the Republican judges the Federalist Society has managed to have appointed to the federal bench, the federal judiciary functions as a protector of executive branch tyranny. Whatever the executive branch asserts and does is permissible, especially if the executive branch invokes “national security.”

In America today, the executive branch claims that “national security” is impaired unless the executive branch can operate illegally and unconstitutionally and unless citizens are willing to give up every constitutional right in order to be made safe in a total police state that spies on and documents every aspect of their lives.

Even the Government Accountability Office has been neutered. In 2013 the Government Accountability Office told the TSA to eliminate its behavior screening program as it is a waste of money and does not work. So what did the TSA do. Why, of course, it expanded the useless intrusion into the privacy of travelers.

This is Amerika today. Yet Washington prances around chanting “freedom and democracy” even as it displaces the greatest tyrannies in human history with its own.

Only gullible Americans expect leaders and elites or voting to do anything about the institutionalization of tyranny. Elites are only interested in money. As long as the system produces more income and wealth for elites, elites don’t give a hoot about tyranny or what happens to the rest of us.

In the Miami Herald, John Zarocostas reports from Geneva that the U.N. Human Rights Council agreed on Friday, despite strong objections from the United States, to study whether American drone strikes comply with international law. Several NATO allies abstained.

The resolution, drafted by Pakistan and co-sponsored by Yemen, both countries where the U.S. has undertaken multiple drone strikes, was adopted on a 27-6 vote, with 14 abstentions.

The resolution urges that all “states” using drones should ensure that they are complying “with their obligations under international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, international human rights law and international humanitarian law, in particular, the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality.”

U.S., Great Britain and Israel

Human Rights Watch, in a letter circulated to the 47-members of the council on Thursday, argued that while currently only the U.S., Great Britain and Israel use armed drones in operations against alleged terrorists,“other states, and non-state actors, may acquire them in the future.”

A report by Ben Emmerson, the U.N. independent expert on the promotion and protection for human rights and fundamental freedoms, found that a U.S. drone strike (initially denied) in October 2006 at a religious seminary in Chenagai in the Bajaur tribal region of Pakistan killed up to 80 people instantly, 69 of whom were children. The report also said that in December, a U.S. drone strike on a convoy of vehicles making their way to a wedding celebration outside the city of Rada in Yemen killed as many as 15, the majority of whom may have been civilians.

Zamir Akram, Pakistan’s ambassador, said Pakistan’s purpose in calling for human rights council involvement was “not to name and shame anyone.” But Paula G. Schriefer, head of the U.S. delegation to the council session, told delegates: “We do not believe that the examination of specific weapons systems is a task for which the Human Rights Council is well suited, and we do not support efforts to take this body in that direction.” Ambassador Karen Pierce of Great Britain made a similar point.

The EU does not have a common position on the use of armed drones, but there is growing political opposition to them. In February, the European Parliament, voted 534 to 49 to declare drone strikes “outside a declared war” to be “a violation of international law and of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of that country.”

Neutral European Union member Ireland and neutral Switzerland voted in support of the motion, along with China, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia, among others.

BP and the Government Decided to Temporarily Hide the Oil by Sinking It with Toxic Chemicals … The Gulf Ecosystem Is Now Paying the Price

As we noted at the time, and on the first (and here), second and third anniversaries of BP’s Gulf oil spill, BP and the government made the spill much worse by dumping toxic dispersant in the water in an attempt to to sink – and so temporarily hide – the oil.

In addition, adding dispersant makes oil 52 times more toxic than it would normally be.

EPA whistleblowers tried to warn us

Gulf toxicologist Susan Shaw told us last year:

Covering up the [Gulf] oil spill with Corexit was a deadly action … what happened in the Gulf was a political act, an act of cowardice and greed.

(60 Minutes did a fantastic exposé on the whole shenanigan.)

And the cover up went beyond adding toxic dispersant.  BP and the government went so far as hiding dead animals and keeping scientists and reporters away from the spill so they couldn’t document what was really happening.

As the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) notes in a new report, the wildlife is still suffering from this toxic cover up.

NWF reports:

Some 900 bottlenose dolphins of all ages—the vast majority of them dead—have been reported stranded in the northern Gulf between April 2010 and March 2014. In 2013, bottlenose dolphins were found dead or stranded at more than three times average rates before the spill. In 2011, dead infant or stillborn dolphins were found at nearly seven times the historical average and these strandings have remained higher than normal in subsequent years. NOAA has been investigating this ongoing wave of bottlenose dolphin strandings across the northern Gulf of Mexico since February 2010, before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded. This is the longest period of above-average strandings in the past two decades and it includes the greatest number of stranded dolphins ever found in the Gulf of Mexico. In December 2013, NOAA published results of a study looking at the health of dolphins in a heavily-oiled section of the Louisiana coast. This researchers found strong evidence that the ill health of the dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay was related to oil exposure.

***

Dolphins in Barataria Bay showed evidence of adrenal problems, as has been previously reported in mammals exposed to oil.4 Barataria Bay dolphins also were five times more likely than dolphins from unoiled areas to have moderate-to-severe lung disease. Nearly half the dolphins studied were very ill; 17% of the dolphins were not expected to survive. The study concludes that health effects seen in Barataria Bay dolphins are significant and likely will lead to reduced survival and ability to reproduce.

NWF found many other species have also been harmed by the dispersant-oil mixture:

Roughly 500 stranded sea turtles have been found in the area affected by the spill every year from 2011 to 2013. This is a dramatic increase over the numbers found before the disaster. Other teams of scientists have reported negative impacts of oil on a number of species of fish, including tuna red snapper and mahi-mahi. As we have learned from previous spills far smaller than the 2010 event, it has taken years to understand the full effects on the environment. In some cases, recovery is not complete even decades later. Twenty-five years after the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound, clams, mussels, and killer whales are still considered “recovering,” and the Pacific herring population, commercially harvested before the spill, is showing few signs of recovery. [One of the main ingredients in Corexit - 2-butoxyethanol - was also used in the Valdez spill] … the full scope of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on the Gulf ecosystem will likely unfold for years or even decades to come.

***

The Atlantic bluefin tuna is one of the largest fish in the Gulf, reaching average lengths of 6.5 feet and weighing about 550 lbs. A single fish can sell for tens of thousands of dollars.… The Deepwater Horizon rig exploded while the April-May breeding season in the northern Gulf was underway. In 2011, NOAA researchers estimated that as many as 20% of larval fish could have been exposed to oil, with a potential reduction in future populations of about 4%.

***

A more recent study shows that a chemical in oil from the spill can cause irregular heartbeats in bluefin and yellowfin tuna that can lead to heart attacks, or even death. The effects are believed to be particularly problematic for fish embryos and larvae, as heartbeat changes could affect development of other organs. The researchers suggest that other vertebrate species in the Gulf of Mexico could have been similarly affected. Scientists found that four additional species of large predatory fish—blackfin tuna, blue marlinmahi-mahi and sailfish—all had fewer larvae in the year of the oil spill than any of the three previous years.

***

The Deepwater Horizon spill occurred during the blue crab spawning season, when female crabs were migrating out of estuaries into deeper waters of the Gulf to release their eggs.

***

[Reports indicate problems with crabs.] Blue crabs provide evidence of oil tainting Gulf food web. 2. Alabama Local News. 2013. Blue crab stock declines are concern for Gulf Coast fishermen. 3. Houma Today. 2013. Locals say blue crab catches plummeting. 4. Louisiana Seafood News. 2013. Lack of Crabs in Pontchartrain Basin Leads to Unanswered Questions. 5. Tampa Bay Times. 2013. Gulf oil spill’s effects still have seafood industry nervous. 6. Presentation at the 2014 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill & Ecosystem Science Conference. The Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Blue Crab Megalopal Settlement: A Field Study.

***

Marine life associated with the deep sea corals also showed visible signs of impact from the oil. In a laboratory study, coral larvae that had been exposed to oil, a chemical dispersant, and an oil/ dispersant mixture all had lower survival rates than the control larvae in clean seawater.

***

According to a recently published federal report, oyster eggs, sperm and larvae were exposed to oil and dispersants during the 2010 oil spill. Oil compounds known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) can be lethal to oyster

***

In the fall of 2010, even after the Macondo well was capped, oyster larvae were rare or absent in many of the water samples collected across the northern Gulf of Mexico.

***

There are nearly 1000 known species of foraminifera in the Gulf of Mexico. These small marine creatures form part of the base of the marine food web, serving as a food source for marine snails, sand dollars and fish. Previous research has shown that these sediment-dwelling microorganisms are sensitive to oil damage. Rapid accumulation of oiled sediment on parts of the Gulf floor between late 2010 and early 2011 contributed to a dramatic die-off of foraminifera. Researchers found a significant difference in community structure and abundance during and after the Deepwater Horizon event at sites located from 100-1200 meters deep in the Desoto Canyon, nearly 100 kilometers south-southwest of Pensacola, Florida. Deep sea foraminifera had not recovered in diversity a year and a half after the spill.

***

Killifish, also known as bull minnows or cockahoe, are prized bait fish and play an important role in the Gulf food web..…This species has been extensively studied in the aftermath of the disaster because of its abundance and its sensitivity to pollution. Oil exposure can alter the killifish’s cellular function in ways that are predictive of developmental abnormalities, decreased hatching success and decreased embryo and larval survival. In 2011, Louisiana State University researchers compared the gill tissue of killifish in an oiled marsh to those in an oil-free marsh. Killifish residing in oiled marshes showed evidence of effects even at low levels of oil exposure which could be significant enough to have an impact at a population level. Additional research has found that four common species of marsh fish, including the Gulf killifish, seem to be avoiding oiled areas. These behaviors, even at small scales, could be significant within marsh communities, leading to changes in food web dynamics.

***

In the aftermath of the spill, a number of fish, including red snapper, caught in Gulf waters between eastern Louisiana and western Florida had unusual lesions or rotting fins. University of South Florida researchers examined red snapper and other fish and determined that their livers contained oil compounds that had a strong “pattern coherence” to oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill.… An analysis of snapper populations in the Gulf that was done between 2011 and 2013 showed an unusual lack of younger snapper. Further research found a significant decline in snapper and other reef fish after the spill. Small plankton-eating fish, such as damselfishes and cardinalfishes, declined most dramatically but red snapper and other larger reef fish also declined.

***

Seaside sparrows live only in coastal marshes, where they are common year-round residents. Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill remains in some marshes, putting seaside sparrows at continued risk from direct oiling, contaminated or reduced food supplies, and continued habitat loss. In 2012 and 2013, seaside sparrows in Louisiana salt marshes were found to have reductions in both overall abundance and likelihood to fledge from the nest. Because these birds are not aquatic, exposure to oil would likely come from incidental contact on the shore or from eating oil or bugs and other creatures that have oil in their systems. Other studies have shown a significant decrease in the insect population in oiled marshes, which could be reducing prey availability for seaside sparrows.

***

Roughly 700 sperm whales live year-round in the Gulf’s deep waters off the continental shelf…. A researcher at the University of Southern Maine has found higher levels of DNA-damaging metals such as chromium and nickel in sperm whales in the Gulf of Mexico compared to sperm whales elsewhere in the world. These metals are present in oil from the spill. Whales closest to the well’s blowout showed the highest levels.

Nothing has changed … indeed, the U.S. has let BP back into the Gulf.  And BP is going to drill even deeper … with an even greater potential for disaster.

It’s not just BP … or the Gulf.  Giant banking and energy companies and the government have a habit of covering up disasters – including not only oil spills, but everything from nuclear accidents to  financial problems – instead of actually fixing the problems so that they won’t happen again.

Torture Is Mainstream Now

April 14th, 2014 by David Swanson

As Rebecca Gordon notes in her new book, Mainstreaming Torture, polls find greater support in the United States for torture now than when Bush was president.  And it’s not hard to see why that would be the case.

Fifteen years ago, it was possible to pretend the U.S. government opposed torture.  Then it became widely known that the government tortured.  And it was believed (with whatever accuracy) that officials had tried to keep the torturing secret.  Next it became clear that nobody would be punished, that in fact top officials responsible for torture would be permitted to openly defend what they had done as good and noble.

The idea was spread around that the torture was stopping, but the cynical could imagine it must be continuing in secret, the partisan could suppose the halt was only temporary, the trusting could assume torture would be brought back as needed, and the attentive could be and have been aware that the government has gone right on torturing to this day with no end in sight.

Anyone who bases their morality on what their government does (or how Hollywood supports it) might be predicted to have moved in the direction of supporting torture.

Gordon’s book, like most others, speaks of torture as being largely in the past — even while admitting that it isn’t really.  “Bush administration-era policies” are acknowledged to be ongoing, and yet somehow they retain the name “Bush administration-era policies,” and discussion of their possible prosecution in a court of law does not consider the control that the current chief perpetrator has over law enforcement and his obvious preference not to see a predecessor prosecuted for something he’s doing.

President Elect Obama made clear in January 2009 that he would not allow torturers to be prosecuted and would be “looking forward” instead of (what all law enforcement outside of science fiction requires) backward.  By February 2009, reports were coming in that torture at Guantanamo was worsening rather than ceasing, and included: “beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.”  In April 2009 a Guantanamo prisoner phoneda media outlet to report being tortured.  As time went by the reports kept coming, as the military’s written policywould lead one to expect.

In May 2009, former vice president Dick Cheney forced into the news the fact that, even though Obama had “banned torture” by executive order (torture being a felony and a treaty violation before and after the “banning”) Obama maintained the power to use torture as needed. Cheney saidthat Obama’s continued claim of the power to torture vindicated his own (Cheney’s) authorization of torture.  David Axelrod, White House Senior Advisor, refused repeatedly, to dispute Cheney’s assertion — also supported by Leon Panetta’s confirmation hearing for CIA director, at which he said the president had the power to torture and noted that rendition would continue.  In fact, it did.  The New York Timesquickly reportedthat the U.S. was now outsourcing more torture to other countries.  The Obama administration announced a new policy on renditions that kept them in place, and a new policy on lawless permanent imprisonment that kept it in place but formalized it, mainstreamed it.  Before long Obama-era rendition victims were alleging torture.

As the Obama White House continued and sought to extend the occupation of Iraq, torture continued to be an Iraqi policy, as it has post-occupation.  It has also remained a U.S. and Afghan policy inAfghanistan, with no end in sight.  The U.S. military has continued to use the same personnel as part of its torture infrastructure.  And secret CIA torture prisons have continued to pop into the news even though the CIA was falsely said to have abandoned that practice.  While the Obama administration has claimed unprecedented powers to block civil suits against torturers, it has also used, in court, testimony produced by torture, something that used to be illegal (and still is if you go by written laws).

“Look at the current situation,” Obama said in 2013, “where we are force-feeding detainees who are being held on a hunger strike . . . Is this who we are?”  Well, it is certainly who some of us have become, including Obama, the senior authority in charge of the soldiers doing the force-feeding, and a human chameleon able to express outrage at his own policies, a trick that is perhaps more central to the mainstreaming of vicious and sadistic practices than we always care to acknowledge.

The mainstreaming of torture in U.S. policy and entertainment has stimulated a burst of torture use around the globe, even as the U.S. State Department has never stopped claiming to oppose torture when it’s engaged in by anyone other than the U.S. government.  If “Bush-era policies” is taken to refer to public relations policies, then there really is something to discuss.  The U.S. government tortured before, during, and after Bush and Cheney ran the show.  But it was during those years that people talked about it, and it is with regard to those years that people still talk about it.

As Rebecca Gordon’s book, Mainstreaming Torture: Ethical Approaches in the Post-9/11 United States, recounts well, torture has been around.  Native Americans and enslaved African Americans were tortured.  The CIA has always tortured.  The School of the Americas has long trained torturers.  The war on Vietnam was a war of mass-murder and mass-torture.  Torture is standard practice in U.S. prisons, where the torture of Muslims began post-9-11, where some techniques originated and some prison guards came from via the National Guard who brought their torturing to an international set of victims for the Bush-Obama era.

One of Gordon’s central points, and an important one, is that torture is not an isolated incident.  Rather it is an institution, a practice, a collective endeavor that requires planning and organization.  Defenders of torture often defend a widespread practice of purely vicious evil by reference to a single imaginary incident in which it would make sense to torture someone.  Imagine, they say, that you knew for certain (as of course you would not) that many people were about to be killed unless a particular person revealed something.  Imagine you were certain (as of course you would not be) that you had found that person.  Imagine that contrary to accumulated wisdom you believed the best way to elicit the information was through torture, and that you were sure (as of course you would not be) that the information would be revealed, that it would be accurate (nobody EVER lies under torture), and that it would prevent the greater tragedy (and not just delay it or move it), with no horrible side-effects or lasting results.  Then, in that impossible scenario, wouldn’t you agree to torture the person?

And doesn’t that fantasy justify having thousands of people prepared to engage in torture even though they’ll inevitably torture in all sorts of other situations that actually exist, and even though many thousands of people will be driven to hate the nation responsible? And doesn’t it justify training a whole culture to support the maintenance of an apparatus of torture, even though uses of torture outside the fantasized scenario will spread like wildfire through local police and individual vigilantes and allied governments?

Of course not.  And that’s why I’m glad Gordon has tackled torture as a matter of ethics, although her books seems a bit weighed down by academic jargon.  I come at this as someone who got a master’s degree in philosophy, focusing on ethics, back before 9-11, back when torture was used as an example of something evil in philosophy classes.  Even then, people sometimes referred to “recreational torture,” although I never imagined they meant that any other type of torture was good, only that it was slightly less evil.  Even today, the polls that show rising — still minority — support for torture, show stronger — majority — support for murder, that is for a president going through a list of men, women, and children, picking which ones to have murdered, and having them murdered, usually with a missile from a drone — as long as nobody tortures them.

While many people would rather be tortured than killed, few people oppose the killing of others as strongly as they oppose torturing them.  In part this may be because of the difficulty of torturing for the torturers.  If foreigners or enemies are valued at little or nothing, and if killing them is easier than torturing them, then why not think of killing as “cleaner” just as the Obama administration does?  That’s one ethical question I’d like to see taken up even more than that of torture alone.  Another is the question of whether we don’t have a duty to put everything we have into opposing the evil of the whole — that being the Nuremberg phrase for war, an institution that brings with it murder, imprisonment, torture, rape, injury, trauma, hatred, and deceit.

If you are going to take on the ethics of torture alone, Mainstreaming Torture provides an excellent summary of how philosophy departments now talk about it.  First they try to decide whether to be consequentialist or deontological or virtue-based.  This is where the jargon takes over.  A consequentialist ethics is one that decides on the propriety of actions based on what their likely consequences will be.  A deontological ethics declares certain actions good or bad apart from their consequences.  And an ethics of virtues looks at the type of life created by someone who behaves in various ways, and whether that person is made more virtuous in terms of any of a long list of possible virtues.

A competition between these types of ethics quickly becomes silly, while an appreciation of them as a collection of insights proves valuable.  A consequentialist or utilitarian ethics is easily parodied and denounced, in particular because supporters of torture volunteer such arguments.  Would you torture one person to save the lives of two people?  Say yes, and you’re a simple-minded consequentialist with no soul.  But say no and you’re demonstrably evil.  The correct answer is of course that it’s a bad question.  You’ll never face such a situation, and fantasizing about it is no guide to whether your government should fund an ongoing torture program the real aim and results of which are to generate war propaganda, scare people, and consolidate power.

A careful consideration of all consequences, short- and long-term, structural and subtle, is harder to parody and tends to encompass much of what is imagined to lie outside the purview of the utilitarian simpleton (or corporate columnist).  The idea of an ethics that is not based on consequences appeals to people who want to base their ethics on obedience to a god or other such delusion, but the discussions of deontological ethicists are quite helpful nonetheless.  In identifying exactly how and why torture is as incredibly offensive as it is, these writers clarify the problem and move people against any support for torture.

The idea of an ethics based entirely on how actions impact the character of the actor is self-indulgent and arbitrary, and yet the discussion of virtues (and their opposite) is terrifically illuminating — in particular as to the level of cowardice being promoted by the policy of employing torture and any other evil practice in hopes of being kept safe.

I think these last two types of ethics, deontological and virtue — that is, ongoing discussion in their terms — have good consequences.  And I think that consequentialism and principled integrity are virtues, while engaging in consequentialism and virtue ethics lead to better deontological talk as well as fulfillment of the better imperatives declared by the deontologists.  So, the question should not be finding the proper ethical theory but finding the proper ethical behavior.  How do you get someone who opposes torturing Americans to oppose torturing human beings?  How do you get someone who wants desperately to believe that torture has in fact saved lives to look at the facts?  How do you get someone who believes that anyone who is tortured deserves it to consider the evidence, and to face the possibility that the torture is used in part to make us see certain people as evil, rather than their evilness actually preceding and justifying the torture?  How do you get Republicans loyal to Bush or Democrats loyal to Obama to put human rights above their loyalty?

As Gordon recounts, torture in reality has generated desired falsehoods to support wars, created lots of enemies rather than eliminating them, encouraged and directly trained more torturers, promoted cowardice rather than courage, degraded our ability to think of others as fully human,  perverted our ideas of justice, and trained us all to pretend not to know something is going on while silently supporting its continued practice.  None of that can help us much in any other ethical pursuit.

Seven weeks after the right-wing coup in Ukraine, evidence is mounting that the Western-backed opposition at the time was responsible for the lethal shootings in Independence Square on February 20. This was suggested by a report on the German public television programme “Monitor” last Thursday evening, and which is available online (in German).

“According to research it appears unlikely that the shots on demonstrators came exclusively from the side of the old regime,” stated a press release made available prior to the program. In its report, “Monitor” raised the question, “Did radical oppositionists end up shooting in order to produce chaos and place the blame on Yanukovitch?” The presented videos, interviews and sound recordings suggest precisely this!

“Monitor” presented an extract of radio traffic from alleged sharp-shooters of the Yanukovitch regime, who were positioned on various rooftops in the centre of Kiev on February 20. The discussion was picked up by a Ukrainian radio amateur. One of the snipers can be heard asking his colleagues, “Hey guys, they are over there, on the right of the hotel Ukrayina. Who is shooting? Our people don’t shoot at unarmed civilians.” Then he calls, “Guys, there is a sniper who is aiming at me. Who is he aiming at from the corner? Look out.” A short time later someone else says, “Someone shot him. But not us. Are there more snipers over there? And who are they?”

On other videos, activists who marched along Institutska Street on February 20, can be seen being shot not only from the front, that is, from the direction of government buildings, but also from behind. Nikola, an eyewitness who is visible on several videos, confirmed, “Yes, on the 20th [February] we were shot from behind, from the Hotel Ukrayina, from the eighth or ninth floor. People were standing up there and shooting at us and we were also shot from the other direction.”

Responding to the question as to who had shot them from the Hotel Ukrayina, he answered, “I don’t know. They were soldiers, certainly professionals.”

On the day of the shootings, the Hotel Ukrayina was firmly under the control of the opposition and was heavily guarded. Numerous witnesses, journalists and oppositionists confirmed this to “Monitor”. On the morning of February 20, the opposition even introduced entry controls. Only those with a room key or identification were allowed into the hotel. The “Monitor” reporters come to the conclusion, “Therefore it would have been very difficult for a sniper to sneak in.”

In addition, the reporters reviewed pictures from Russian television, which allegedly show armed oppositionists firing at demonstrators. “Precisely who is shooting at whom is not possible to confirm,” However, it was determined that “the recording was definitely made in the Hotel Ukrayina.” It was also confirmed that “not only oppositionists, but also the government militias were shot at. And perhaps this was also by the same people.”

A doctor, who treated victims on both sides, confirmed this in an interview. “The injured who we treated had the same type of bullet wounds. I’m speaking about the type of bullets we took out of the bodies in operations. They were identical. I can’t say any more”, he stated.

The explosive report concurs with the intercepted telephone call between Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet and the foreign policy head of the EU, Catherine Ashton, at the beginning of March. Paet also based himself on information from doctors and stated that “the same snipers shot people on both sides.” He warned that “the conclusion that not Yanukovitch, but members of the new coalition were behind the shootings is increasingly reinforced.”

Since then, the transitional government in Kiev and its Western allies have desperately sought to cover up the true course of events. Only last week, Ukrainian general state prosecutor Oleg Machnizki of the fascist Svoboda, arrested 12 members of the now dissolved special Berkut unit and presented them as the main suspects in the shootings.

“Monitor” cites a high-ranking member of the investigative committee, who calls the version of events from the state prosecutor into doubt. “My investigation results do not agree with those presented by the state prosecutor at the press conference,” said the investigator, who wished to remain anonymous, in an interview.

A lawyer for the victims suggested that the entire investigation was a deliberate ploy by the transitional government to bury their own crimes. “None of us are getting any information on the investigation”, he complained. “And if you ask me, there is one simple reason for this: it is not being investigated properly. As a lawyer of the victims I am saying to you that the state prosecutor is not investigating properly. They are covering for their own people. They are partisan as before.”

The European powers, led by Germany, are on a confrontation course with Russia. They are pursuing not only foreign, but also domestic political aims.

The instigation of a crisis and confrontation with Moscow is aimed at unifying a divided European Union and silencing all social opposition. Previously, the identity of the EU was grounded on economic issues, such as the free movement of capital and goods and the common currency. In future, the struggle against a common enemy will replace economics as the basis of the EU’s internal cohesion.

A number of editorials in the German press have spelled this out. The Brussels correspondent of Der Spiegel, Gregor Peter Schmitz, writing on March 20 under the title “Europes Great Opportunity,” said, “As sad as the Crimean crisis is in many respects, it also offers an historic opportunity: To unite a stronger Europe.”

Green Party leader and foreign minister Joschka Fischer stated approvingly in a commentary for the Süddeutsche Zeitung on March 30 that the conflict with Moscow reminded Europeans that “the EU is not merely an economic community, but a political actor” whose “strategic interests” had “powerfully reemerged.”

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag (parliament), Norbert Röttgen, explained in the Financial Times of March 20: “But this conflict is not merely about Crimea or Ukraine… While we often struggled to speak with one voice in the past, the conflict with Russia is forcing Europeans to close ranks. It might become a catalyst for a common foreign and security policy.”

In turning to an aggressive foreign and military policy, the ruling elite is responding to a profound crisis of European capitalism. All of the attempts to unite Europe economically and socially have failed. The austerity measures with which Brussels and Berlin reacted to the 2008 financial crisis have exacerbated the conflicts between EU members and vastly intensified class antagonisms.

Social relations are strained to the breaking point. Within the EU, there are officially more than 26 million unemployed, corresponding to a rate of 11 percent. There is abject poverty in many regions, especially in the Eastern European countries that were incorporated into the EU 10 years ago and in the countries that have had to submit to the austerity programmes dictated by the EU and the International Monetary Fund. But even in supposedly rich Germany, one in three employees is deemed to be working under precarious conditions and 6 million people depend on welfare benefits.

More and more people are turning against the EU and see it for what it is—a tool of the most powerful banks and corporations, directed against working people and creating the conditions not for the progressive unification of Europe, but for the intensification of nationalist conflicts. Parties that oppose the EU are expected to garner record-high votes in next month’s European elections.

Under these circumstances, the war propaganda against Russia serves to divert internal tensions by projecting them outward against an external enemy. This applies especially to Eastern Europe, where corrupt politicians have long exploited Russo-phobia as a means of securing their rule.

The German government, which long sought a cooperative relationship with Moscow, has now embarked upon an anti-Russian course. It considers an aggressive policy towards Russia an appropriate means of welding the EU together and asserting German dominance in Europe. It is implementing in practice its proclamation in February of an end to the “policy of military restraint” and the adoption of a new policy based on “contributing to foreign and security policy earlier, more resolutely and more substantially.”

Germany is prepared to employ every means to this end. NATO has begun to move aircraft, ships and troops toward the Russian border and carry out military manoeuvres.

In Ukraine, the right-wing nationalist and fascist forces brought to power with the support of the West have created such an explosive situation that the smallest incident can escalate into a wider conflict or war. In their efforts to integrate Ukraine into the NATO sphere of influence and isolate Russia, the German government and its allies are willing to countenance the risk of nuclear war.

Their intervention in Ukraine has a further purpose. By collaborating with fascist parties and militia groups, they have created a precedent for all of Europe.

For a long time, among the established parties (officially, at least) the rule was that you did not cooperate with parties that defended the Nazis and their war crimes or spread anti-Semitism. The Svoboda party clearly falls into this category.

But over the past several months, high-level European and American officials have met with Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok and collaborated closely with his organization. Tyahnybok’s anti-Semitic tirades are documented and can be viewed on YouTube. Svoboda’s hero, Stepan Bandera, was a Nazi collaborator, responsible for the mass murder of Jews and Communists. Bandera remained a staunch defender of Mussolini until his death in 1959 in Munich.

What applies to Svoboda applies even more to fascist militia groups such as the Right Sector, on whose services the Western powers relied to drive out the elected Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Not only fascists, but also known criminal elements are to be found in the ranks of the Right Sector.

Cooperation with Svoboda and the Right Sector has opened the door to using such forces against the working class in other European countries. The preparations for this are well advanced.

Panayiotis Baltakos, a close associate of Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, had to resign a few days ago after a video emerged showing his close and friendly relations with the fascist Golden Dawn organization. In France, President Hollande has appointed Manuel Valls as head of government, knowing full well that Valls’ neo-liberal and anti-immigrant politics will give a further boost to the neo-fascist National Front of Marine Le Pen. In Hungary, the fascist Jobbik party has just won more than a fifth of the vote, having been systematically promoted by the ruling party, Fidesz.

European leaders can go down this route because none of the establishment parties opposes them. The official “left” parties and the pseudo-left groups that operate in their orbits support the war policy and collaboration with Ukrainian fascists. They glorify the fascist-led coup in Kiev as a “democratic revolution” and portray Russia as the “aggressor.” The German Left Party has responded to the revival of German militarism by endorsing for the first time the deployment of the Bundeswehr (armed forces) outside Germany, with five of its members of parliament voting to support a deployment in the Mediterranean.

Only the unification of Europe on a socialist basis can prevent the relapse of the continent into nationalism and war.

At least two people have been killed in the town of Kafr Zita in Syria’s central province of Hama in what appears to be a chemical attack.

Syrian television said on Saturday that more than 100 people were also injured in the attack carried out by militants from al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front on Friday.

The chemical agent used is believed to have been toxic liquid chlorine.

“There is information that the terrorist al-Nusra Front released toxic chorine…leading to the death of two people and causing more than 100 people to suffer from suffocation,” State TV said, adding, “There is information that al-Nusra Front is preparing to hit Wadi Deif in Idlib Province and Morek in Hama Province with toxic chorine or sarin.”

On August 21, 2013, hundreds of Syrians were killed and scores of others were injured in a chemical attack on militant strongholds in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

The militants operating inside Syria and the foreign-backed Syrian opposition accused the army of being behind the deadly attack.

Damascus, however, vehemently denied the accusations, saying the attack was carried out by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation.

Following the chemical attack, US stepped up its war rhetoric against the Syrian government and called for punitive military action against Damascus.

The Syrian government averted possible US aggression by accepting a Russian plan to put its chemical arsenal under international control and then have them destroyed.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

Over 150,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by Western-backed militants.

On March 21, crossing the Turkish border at Yayladagi, over 1500 mercenaries affiliated with Al-Qaeda attacked the Syrian town of Kassab, which is predominantly populated by Armenians in the province of Latakia. As the armed opposition groups overran the town, most of the residents were forced to flee, taking refuge in the nearby city, Latakia. Three groups were behind the attack: Jabhat al-Nusrah, an Al-Qaeda off-shoot in Syria, Suqour All-Izz brigade of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), an Al-Qaeda splinter group and Ahrar ash-Sham. Reports indicate that the Turkish military was providing support from the Turkish side of the border to these groups by artillery, tank and missile fire directed at the Syrian Arab Army fighting the opposition groups. There are also claims that members of Turkish special forces were fighting alongside the mercenaries, helping direct the artillery. After visiting the Turkish-Syrian border area in Yayladagi, Mehmed Ali Ediboglu, a deputy of the Turkish parliament and a member of the main opposition party CHP, stated that the Turkish military was helping the mercenaries cross the border to and from Syria.

Turkish Air Force shoots down Syrian jet

On March 23, as the fighting continued between the terrorist groups and Syrian Arab Army which intervened to defend the city, the Turkish Air Force shot down a Syrian jet which was engaging terrorists within Syrian territory. After the incident, speaking at an election campaign rally, with his usual arrogant, war-mongering attitude, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the incident to deflect the public attention from the ongoing corruption scandals surrounding his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. He told his supporters: “Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard.”

Contrary to Erdogan’s claim that Turkish airspace had been violated, the Syrian pilot who survived by bailing out from the plane stated that he was carrying out a mission of pursuing terrorists within Syrian territory, more than 7 kilometers from the border, when his plane was hit by a missile fired from a Turkish jet. In a statement released by the Syrian government, the attack was described as unprecedented and unjustifiable, a proof of Turkey’s involvement in the events in Syria from the beginning.
The downing of the Syrian jet by NATO member Turkey is only the last one of many provocations by the AKP government in an attempt to drag Turkey into war with Syria. The Kassab assault is a recent example of how the Turkish border with Syria has served as a shelter and staging area for these groups to launch attacks against Syrian civilians and government forces.

Protests in Turkey and around the world denounce the AKP-backed attack in Kassab

On March 25, a protest was held in Hatay, a Turkish town on the Syrian border, denouncing the AKP-backed attack in Kassab, the ongoing AKP aggression towards the people of Syria and provocation for war. Attended by people of both Turkish and Arabic origin, some of the slogans in the protest read “Evil Tayyip!” “Murderer U.S., collaborator AKP!” Protesters also staged a sit-in to block the paths of ambulances that were carrying Al-Qaeda militants wounded in the fighting in Kassab. In a statement read, it was said, “The scent of blood has now reached our homes. The people who are being killed over there are our brothers. This is not an issue of Sunni and Alawite.”

In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, a protest was held in front of the UN office, demanding an end to persecution of ethnic minorities in Syria. Karen Andreassian, human rights ombudsman of the Republic of Armenia, issued a message to the human rights organizations around the world calling on them to end the human rights violations by Turkey.
Demonstrations in Paris were also held in front of the Turkish Embassy. The protestors demanded an end to the aggression against the Armenians in Kassab, shouting “Erdogan, Al-Qaeda terrorists!”

Syria and Russia denounce attack on Kassab while UN silent

Russia denounced the Turkish, western and Gulf Arab backed war on Syria and the recent killing and ethnic cleansing of Armenian Syrians in Kassab.  A statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on April 1 said:  “Moscow strongly denounces the barbaric acts of extremists in Syria expressing belief that the mission of coordinating efforts of the Syrian government and opposition to overcome terrorism and expel terrorist from the country during the current conditions acquire special importance.”

Implying the role of the AKP government in supporting terrorism in Syria, the Russian delegation to the UN reported that the UN Security Council had refused to take a stand on the attack perpetrated against Kassab, thereby unveiling the support of several of its members for the actions of Al-Qaeda.

Condemning the UN’s hypocritical silence on the terrorist violence against the people of Syria, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said: “The massacres of Erdogan government-backed terrorist groups against the residents of Kassab town are still a living example that appeals to every UN official to feel ashamed of having turned into a tool for supporting terrorism”

It is no surprise that the UN keeps ignoring the dirty role played by NATO member Turkey in providing shelter, funding and arms to the terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government since the start of the conflict. After all, the UN is an organization whose agenda is ultimately driven by U.S. imperialism. The aim of U.S. imperialist diplomacy is obviously not to achieve peace but regime change in Syria by any means possible.

Turkish diplomat admits Al-Qaeda behind Reyhanli bombing in Turkey, exposing AKP’s lies

At the meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on March 27, Turkey’s Ambassador Tacan Ildem admitted that the bombing in Reyhanli, Turkey that took place in May 2013, taking the lives of at least 53 people and wounding 143 was carried out by Al-Qaeda.  Until this time, the AKP government had been accusing the Syrian government of the attack.

The Turkish diplomat was responding to a commentary by the Armenian Ambassador Arman Kirakossian who pointed to the role Turkey has played in the attack in Kassab by supporting Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups. Kirakossian called on Turkey to take immediate and effective measures to prevent the use of its territory by terrorist groups to conduct attacks on Kassab. In an effort to deny the allegations against Turkey and to show that Turkey was also coming under attack by Al-Qaeda, the Turkish diplomat ended up admitting Al-Qaeda’s involvement in Reyhanli bombing. “Al-Qaeda elements operating from Syria carried out the attack” were his words.

Until now, AKP had claimed that the Syrian government was behind the bombing. Right after the bombing in May 2013, the Syrian government’s proposal to Turkey to hold a joint investigation into the attack had haughtily been rejected by Erdogan on his way to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Hours after the attack, 13 Turkish citizens allegedly belonging to Acilciler a Marxist group that has been defunct for 30 years, were arrested in connection with the bombing. AKP claimed that Acilciler was collaborating with the Syrian government.

The Syrian government denied any involvement and accused Erdogan of “fabricating evidence” in order to derail the latest U.S.-Russian peace plan and to spark an international intervention ahead of his meeting with Obama.

Leaked tape reveals Turkish officials planning a “false-flag” operation to attack Syria

On March 29, on the eve of the local elections in Turkey, an audio recording of Turkish officials was leaked on YouTube. This exposed for everyone to see that the AKP government will stop at nothing in order to drag Turkey into open war with Syria in the proxy war led by U.S. imperialism.

In a dialogue that took place on March 13 between Ahmet Davutoglu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan, the head of the Turkish Intelligence, Yasar Guler, Deputy Chief of Military and Feridun Siniroglu, undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish officials discuss plans for a “false-flag” operation, a staged attack against the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, a piece of sovereign Turkish territory in Syria under the control of Turkish forces, in order to set the pretext for a military intervention.

The conversation also undeniably reveals that the AKP government is a direct supporter of terrorism in Syria, having shipped arms to the terrorist groups fighting in Syria (2,000 trucks of weapons and ammunition) and that members of the Turkish armed forces have already been deployed in Syria to support these groups.

A full English transcript of the recording can be found here.

Speaking at a campaign rally, the Turkish Prime Minister said: “They even leaked a national security meeting, this is villainous, this is dishonesty…” Speaking to reporters, Foreign Minister Davutoglu said, “A cyber-attack has been carried out against the Turkish Republic, our state and our valued nation. This is a clear declaration of war against the Turkish state and our nation.”

By these statements, AKP officials have essentially admitted that the recordings were authentic. The AKP government quickly censored the recording by banning access to YouTube.

The Turkish and international mainstream media chose to focus on how YouTube was banned by the prime minister, avoiding the content of the dialogue captured in the recording. Most of the coverage by the news outlets glossed over the content of the tape as “plans for Turkish intervention in Syria,” shamelessly hiding the true nature of the dialogue’s content: an undisputable violation of international law as well as evidence of war crimes by the AKP government against the people of Syria.

It is not easy to pinpoint who leaked the tapes. It could be U.S. intelligence in an attempt to rein in an out of control Turkish prime minister who is ready to do anything to hold onto power as his government is haunted by recent corruption scandals and the popular uprising of June 2013.

The tapes could also have been leaked by Russia in order to stop the AKP in its tracks heading for open war with Syria.

US imperialism is split on how to deal with the current situation in Syria

As the Syrian conflict is nearing its fourth year, the Syrian government has gained the clear upper hand against the NATO backed opposition groups and is likely within a year of final victory. The U.S. ruling class is split on how to approach the current situation in Syria. While the more hawkish Secretary of State John Kerry and Samantha Power, the U.S ambassador to the U.N advocate direct military intervention, the Pentagon camp led by Minister of Defense Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff push back against a direct military intervention pointing to the risk of an open-ended foreign entanglement. Both sides however agree on the need to expand the arms and training support given to the groups fighting in Syria.

Was AKP behind the chemical attack in Ghouta last year?

In a report published on April 6, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that the chemical attack on August 21, 2013 that took place in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, was carried out by the opposition groups controlled by the AKP government of Erdogan in an effort to set the stage for a NATO led attack on Syria. Soon after the incident, the U.S. government started beating the war drums for an all-out attack on Syria, blaming the Syrian government for the attack which had killed hundreds. The mainstream media delivered to the U.S. public the usual propaganda necessary for setting up the public hysteria for war. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the United Nations to act decisively adding that “all red lines” had been crossed and that the U.N. “can’t assume an indecisive attitude about chemical weapon attacks in Syria”.

According to Hersh’s article, while the U.S. President Obama was busy finalizing with the Pentagon the plans for a massive attack in Syria, U. S. intelligence was having serious doubts as to whether the Syrian government was really behind the attack. Their doubts increased after the findings of British intelligence were made available. Having obtained a sample of the Sarin gas used in the attack, the British analysis proved that the gas used in the attack didn’t match the batches in Syrian Army’s chemical weapons arsenal. According to the same report which cites various U.S. military and intelligence officials, the belief by the U.S. officials that the Turkish government was behind the gas attack in Ghouta resulted in the cancelation of the U.S. strike at the very last minute.

Turkey’s link to the chemical attack in Ghouta can be traced back to an incident that took place in Turkey in May of the same year. On May 30, after a search carried out by the Turkish Security forces in the Turkish city of Adana which is close to the Syrian border, Sarin gas was found in the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra front. Five militants were detained. The government and the mainstream media quietly dropped the whole issue in a few days and the militants were quietly released. Details on the events that led to the chemical attack in Ghouta and the AKP’s potential role in planning the chemical attack in Ghouta can be found in this article published by the Turkish daily soL in August 2013.

Syria’s UN Ambassador warns of armed gangs in Syria planning to stage a chemical attack in Damascus

Eerily reminiscent of the Ghouta attack, on March 27, Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, wrote a letter addressed to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council, warning that armed groups in Syria were conspiring to stage another chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus. According to the letter which was published on the UN web site , the Syrian authorities intercepted wireless communications confirming that there were plans to use toxic gas in the Jawbar quarter and other areas in Damascus with the aim of accusing the Syrian government afterwards.

US imperialism and its lackeys in the region: The common enemy of the people

The recent Kassab assault that displaced hundreds of Armenians from their homes, the Al-Qaeda bombing in Reyhanli that killed over 50 and wounded hundreds of Turkish, the chemical attack in Ghouta, Syria that killed over 400 Syrians and the recent leaked recording of Turkish officials planning a “false-flag” attack are clear evidence of the horrendous war crimes committed by U.S. imperialism, its junior partners in the region, like the AKP government of Turkey as well as their henchmen on the ground in Syria: the armed opposition groups.  The people of Syria as well as other peoples in the region have suffered immensely at the hands of all these criminals. These crimes should serve as a reminder to all the peoples in the region that whether they are Arab, Armenian, Turkish or Kurdish, their enemy is common: U.S. imperialism and its lackeys in the region.

On March 21, crossing the Turkish border at Yayladagi, over 1500 mercenaries affiliated with Al-Qaeda attacked the Syrian town of Kassab, which is predominantly populated by Armenians in the province of Latakia. As the armed opposition groups overran the town, most of the residents were forced to flee, taking refuge in the nearby city, Latakia. Three groups were behind the attack: Jabhat al-Nusrah, an Al-Qaeda off-shoot in Syria, Suqour All-Izz brigade of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), an Al-Qaeda splinter group and Ahrar ash-Sham. Reports indicate that the Turkish military was providing support from the Turkish side of the border to these groups by artillery, tank and missile fire directed at the Syrian Arab Army fighting the opposition groups. There are also claims that members of Turkish special forces were fighting alongside the mercenaries, helping direct the artillery. After visiting the Turkish-Syrian border area in Yayladagi, Mehmed Ali Ediboglu, a deputy of the Turkish parliament and a member of the main opposition party CHP, stated that the Turkish military was helping the mercenaries cross the border to and from Syria.

Turkish Air Force shoots down Syrian jet

On March 23, as the fighting continued between the terrorist groups and Syrian Arab Army which intervened to defend the city, the Turkish Air Force shot down a Syrian jet which was engaging terrorists within Syrian territory. After the incident, speaking at an election campaign rally, with his usual arrogant, war-mongering attitude, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the incident to deflect the public attention from the ongoing corruption scandals surrounding his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. He told his supporters: “Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard.”

Contrary to Erdogan’s claim that Turkish airspace had been violated, the Syrian pilot who survived by bailing out from the plane stated that he was carrying out a mission of pursuing terrorists within Syrian territory, more than 7 kilometers from the border, when his plane was hit by a missile fired from a Turkish jet. In a statement released by the Syrian government, the attack was described as unprecedented and unjustifiable, a proof of Turkey’s involvement in the events in Syria from the beginning.
The downing of the Syrian jet by NATO member Turkey is only the last one of many provocations by the AKP government in an attempt to drag Turkey into war with Syria. The Kassab assault is a recent example of how the Turkish border with Syria has served as a shelter and staging area for these groups to launch attacks against Syrian civilians and government forces.

Protests in Turkey and around the world denounce the AKP-backed attack in Kassab

On March 25, a protest was held in Hatay, a Turkish town on the Syrian border, denouncing the AKP-backed attack in Kassab, the ongoing AKP aggression towards the people of Syria and provocation for war. Attended by people of both Turkish and Arabic origin, some of the slogans in the protest read “Evil Tayyip!” “Murderer U.S., collaborator AKP!” Protesters also staged a sit-in to block the paths of ambulances that were carrying Al-Qaeda militants wounded in the fighting in Kassab. In a statement read, it was said, “The scent of blood has now reached our homes. The people who are being killed over there are our brothers. This is not an issue of Sunni and Alawite.”

In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, a protest was held in front of the UN office, demanding an end to persecution of ethnic minorities in Syria. Karen Andreassian, human rights ombudsman of the Republic of Armenia, issued a message to the human rights organizations around the world calling on them to end the human rights violations by Turkey.
Demonstrations in Paris were also held in front of the Turkish Embassy. The protestors demanded an end to the aggression against the Armenians in Kassab, shouting “Erdogan, Al-Qaeda terrorists!”

Syria and Russia denounce attack on Kassab while UN silent

Russia denounced the Turkish, western and Gulf Arab backed war on Syria and the recent killing and ethnic cleansing of Armenian Syrians in Kassab.  A statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on April 1 said:  “Moscow strongly denounces the barbaric acts of extremists in Syria expressing belief that the mission of coordinating efforts of the Syrian government and opposition to overcome terrorism and expel terrorist from the country during the current conditions acquire special importance.”

Implying the role of the AKP government in supporting terrorism in Syria, the Russian delegation to the UN reported that the UN Security Council had refused to take a stand on the attack perpetrated against Kassab, thereby unveiling the support of several of its members for the actions of Al-Qaeda.

Condemning the UN’s hypocritical silence on the terrorist violence against the people of Syria, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said: “The massacres of Erdogan government-backed terrorist groups against the residents of Kassab town are still a living example that appeals to every UN official to feel ashamed of having turned into a tool for supporting terrorism”

It is no surprise that the UN keeps ignoring the dirty role played by NATO member Turkey in providing shelter, funding and arms to the terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government since the start of the conflict. After all, the UN is an organization whose agenda is ultimately driven by U.S. imperialism. The aim of U.S. imperialist diplomacy is obviously not to achieve peace but regime change in Syria by any means possible.

Turkish diplomat admits Al-Qaeda behind Reyhanli bombing in Turkey, exposing AKP’s lies

At the meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on March 27, Turkey’s Ambassador Tacan Ildem admitted that the bombing in Reyhanli, Turkey that took place in May 2013, taking the lives of at least 53 people and wounding 143 was carried out by Al-Qaeda.  Until this time, the AKP government had been accusing the Syrian government of the attack.

The Turkish diplomat was responding to a commentary by the Armenian Ambassador Arman Kirakossian who pointed to the role Turkey has played in the attack in Kassab by supporting Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups. Kirakossian called on Turkey to take immediate and effective measures to prevent the use of its territory by terrorist groups to conduct attacks on Kassab. In an effort to deny the allegations against Turkey and to show that Turkey was also coming under attack by Al-Qaeda, the Turkish diplomat ended up admitting Al-Qaeda’s involvement in Reyhanli bombing. “Al-Qaeda elements operating from Syria carried out the attack” were his words.

Until now, AKP had claimed that the Syrian government was behind the bombing. Right after the bombing in May 2013, the Syrian government’s proposal to Turkey to hold a joint investigation into the attack had haughtily been rejected by Erdogan on his way to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Hours after the attack, 13 Turkish citizens allegedly belonging to Acilciler a Marxist group that has been defunct for 30 years, were arrested in connection with the bombing. AKP claimed that Acilciler was collaborating with the Syrian government.

The Syrian government denied any involvement and accused Erdogan of “fabricating evidence” in order to derail the latest U.S.-Russian peace plan and to spark an international intervention ahead of his meeting with Obama.

Leaked tape reveals Turkish officials planning a “false-flag” operation to attack Syria

On March 29, on the eve of the local elections in Turkey, an audio recording of Turkish officials was leaked on YouTube. This exposed for everyone to see that the AKP government will stop at nothing in order to drag Turkey into open war with Syria in the proxy war led by U.S. imperialism.

In a dialogue that took place on March 13 between Ahmet Davutoglu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan, the head of the Turkish Intelligence, Yasar Guler, Deputy Chief of Military and Feridun Siniroglu, undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish officials discuss plans for a “false-flag” operation, a staged attack against the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, a piece of sovereign Turkish territory in Syria under the control of Turkish forces, in order to set the pretext for a military intervention.

The conversation also undeniably reveals that the AKP government is a direct supporter of terrorism in Syria, having shipped arms to the terrorist groups fighting in Syria (2,000 trucks of weapons and ammunition) and that members of the Turkish armed forces have already been deployed in Syria to support these groups.

A full English transcript of the recording can be found here.

Speaking at a campaign rally, the Turkish Prime Minister said: “They even leaked a national security meeting, this is villainous, this is dishonesty…” Speaking to reporters, Foreign Minister Davutoglu said, “A cyber-attack has been carried out against the Turkish Republic, our state and our valued nation. This is a clear declaration of war against the Turkish state and our nation.”

By these statements, AKP officials have essentially admitted that the recordings were authentic. The AKP government quickly censored the recording by banning access to YouTube.

The Turkish and international mainstream media chose to focus on how YouTube was banned by the prime minister, avoiding the content of the dialogue captured in the recording. Most of the coverage by the news outlets glossed over the content of the tape as “plans for Turkish intervention in Syria,” shamelessly hiding the true nature of the dialogue’s content: an undisputable violation of international law as well as evidence of war crimes by the AKP government against the people of Syria.

It is not easy to pinpoint who leaked the tapes. It could be U.S. intelligence in an attempt to rein in an out of control Turkish prime minister who is ready to do anything to hold onto power as his government is haunted by recent corruption scandals and the popular uprising of June 2013.

The tapes could also have been leaked by Russia in order to stop the AKP in its tracks heading for open war with Syria.

US imperialism is split on how to deal with the current situation in Syria

As the Syrian conflict is nearing its fourth year, the Syrian government has gained the clear upper hand against the NATO backed opposition groups and is likely within a year of final victory. The U.S. ruling class is split on how to approach the current situation in Syria. While the more hawkish Secretary of State John Kerry and Samantha Power, the U.S ambassador to the U.N advocate direct military intervention, the Pentagon camp led by Minister of Defense Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff push back against a direct military intervention pointing to the risk of an open-ended foreign entanglement. Both sides however agree on the need to expand the arms and training support given to the groups fighting in Syria.

Was AKP behind the chemical attack in Ghouta last year?

In a report published on April 6, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that the chemical attack on August 21, 2013 that took place in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, was carried out by the opposition groups controlled by the AKP government of Erdogan in an effort to set the stage for a NATO led attack on Syria. Soon after the incident, the U.S. government started beating the war drums for an all-out attack on Syria, blaming the Syrian government for the attack which had killed hundreds. The mainstream media delivered to the U.S. public the usual propaganda necessary for setting up the public hysteria for war. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the United Nations to act decisively adding that “all red lines” had been crossed and that the U.N. “can’t assume an indecisive attitude about chemical weapon attacks in Syria”.

According to Hersh’s article, while the U.S. President Obama was busy finalizing with the Pentagon the plans for a massive attack in Syria, U. S. intelligence was having serious doubts as to whether the Syrian government was really behind the attack. Their doubts increased after the findings of British intelligence were made available. Having obtained a sample of the Sarin gas used in the attack, the British analysis proved that the gas used in the attack didn’t match the batches in Syrian Army’s chemical weapons arsenal. According to the same report which cites various U.S. military and intelligence officials, the belief by the U.S. officials that the Turkish government was behind the gas attack in Ghouta resulted in the cancelation of the U.S. strike at the very last minute.

Turkey’s link to the chemical attack in Ghouta can be traced back to an incident that took place in Turkey in May of the same year. On May 30, after a search carried out by the Turkish Security forces in the Turkish city of Adana which is close to the Syrian border, Sarin gas was found in the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra front. Five militants were detained. The government and the mainstream media quietly dropped the whole issue in a few days and the militants were quietly released. Details on the events that led to the chemical attack in Ghouta and the AKP’s potential role in planning the chemical attack in Ghouta can be found in this article published by the Turkish daily soL in August 2013.

Syria’s UN Ambassador warns of armed gangs in Syria planning to stage a chemical attack in Damascus

Eerily reminiscent of the Ghouta attack, on March 27, Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, wrote a letter addressed to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council, warning that armed groups in Syria were conspiring to stage another chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus. According to the letter which was published on the UN web site , the Syrian authorities intercepted wireless communications confirming that there were plans to use toxic gas in the Jawbar quarter and other areas in Damascus with the aim of accusing the Syrian government afterwards.

US imperialism and its lackeys in the region: The common enemy of the people

The recent Kassab assault that displaced hundreds of Armenians from their homes, the Al-Qaeda bombing in Reyhanli that killed over 50 and wounded hundreds of Turkish, the chemical attack in Ghouta, Syria that killed over 400 Syrians and the recent leaked recording of Turkish officials planning a “false-flag” attack are clear evidence of the horrendous war crimes committed by U.S. imperialism, its junior partners in the region, like the AKP government of Turkey as well as their henchmen on the ground in Syria: the armed opposition groups.  The people of Syria as well as other peoples in the region have suffered immensely at the hands of all these criminals. These crimes should serve as a reminder to all the peoples in the region that whether they are Arab, Armenian, Turkish or Kurdish, their enemy is common: U.S. imperialism and its lackeys in the region.

On March 21, crossing the Turkish border at Yayladagi, over 1500 mercenaries affiliated with Al-Qaeda attacked the Syrian town of Kassab, which is predominantly populated by Armenians in the province of Latakia. As the armed opposition groups overran the town, most of the residents were forced to flee, taking refuge in the nearby city, Latakia. Three groups were behind the attack: Jabhat al-Nusrah, an Al-Qaeda off-shoot in Syria, Suqour All-Izz brigade of ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), an Al-Qaeda splinter group and Ahrar ash-Sham. Reports indicate that the Turkish military was providing support from the Turkish side of the border to these groups by artillery, tank and missile fire directed at the Syrian Arab Army fighting the opposition groups. There are also claims that members of Turkish special forces were fighting alongside the mercenaries, helping direct the artillery. After visiting the Turkish-Syrian border area in Yayladagi, Mehmed Ali Ediboglu, a deputy of the Turkish parliament and a member of the main opposition party CHP, stated that the Turkish military was helping the mercenaries cross the border to and from Syria.

Turkish Air Force shoots down Syrian jet

On March 23, as the fighting continued between the terrorist groups and Syrian Arab Army which intervened to defend the city, the Turkish Air Force shot down a Syrian jet which was engaging terrorists within Syrian territory. After the incident, speaking at an election campaign rally, with his usual arrogant, war-mongering attitude, the Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the incident to deflect the public attention from the ongoing corruption scandals surrounding his Justice and Development Party (AKP) government. He told his supporters: “Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard.”

Contrary to Erdogan’s claim that Turkish airspace had been violated, the Syrian pilot who survived by bailing out from the plane stated that he was carrying out a mission of pursuing terrorists within Syrian territory, more than 7 kilometers from the border, when his plane was hit by a missile fired from a Turkish jet. In a statement released by the Syrian government, the attack was described as unprecedented and unjustifiable, a proof of Turkey’s involvement in the events in Syria from the beginning.
The downing of the Syrian jet by NATO member Turkey is only the last one of many provocations by the AKP government in an attempt to drag Turkey into war with Syria. The Kassab assault is a recent example of how the Turkish border with Syria has served as a shelter and staging area for these groups to launch attacks against Syrian civilians and government forces.

Protests in Turkey and around the world denounce the AKP-backed attack in Kassab

On March 25, a protest was held in Hatay, a Turkish town on the Syrian border, denouncing the AKP-backed attack in Kassab, the ongoing AKP aggression towards the people of Syria and provocation for war. Attended by people of both Turkish and Arabic origin, some of the slogans in the protest read “Evil Tayyip!” “Murderer U.S., collaborator AKP!” Protesters also staged a sit-in to block the paths of ambulances that were carrying Al-Qaeda militants wounded in the fighting in Kassab. In a statement read, it was said, “The scent of blood has now reached our homes. The people who are being killed over there are our brothers. This is not an issue of Sunni and Alawite.”

In Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, a protest was held in front of the UN office, demanding an end to persecution of ethnic minorities in Syria. Karen Andreassian, human rights ombudsman of the Republic of Armenia, issued a message to the human rights organizations around the world calling on them to end the human rights violations by Turkey.
Demonstrations in Paris were also held in front of the Turkish Embassy. The protestors demanded an end to the aggression against the Armenians in Kassab, shouting “Erdogan, Al-Qaeda terrorists!”

Syria and Russia denounce attack on Kassab while UN silent

Russia denounced the Turkish, western and Gulf Arab backed war on Syria and the recent killing and ethnic cleansing of Armenian Syrians in Kassab.  A statement released by the Russian Foreign Ministry on April 1 said:  “Moscow strongly denounces the barbaric acts of extremists in Syria expressing belief that the mission of coordinating efforts of the Syrian government and opposition to overcome terrorism and expel terrorist from the country during the current conditions acquire special importance.”

Implying the role of the AKP government in supporting terrorism in Syria, the Russian delegation to the UN reported that the UN Security Council had refused to take a stand on the attack perpetrated against Kassab, thereby unveiling the support of several of its members for the actions of Al-Qaeda.

Condemning the UN’s hypocritical silence on the terrorist violence against the people of Syria, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said: “The massacres of Erdogan government-backed terrorist groups against the residents of Kassab town are still a living example that appeals to every UN official to feel ashamed of having turned into a tool for supporting terrorism”

It is no surprise that the UN keeps ignoring the dirty role played by NATO member Turkey in providing shelter, funding and arms to the terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government since the start of the conflict. After all, the UN is an organization whose agenda is ultimately driven by U.S. imperialism. The aim of U.S. imperialist diplomacy is obviously not to achieve peace but regime change in Syria by any means possible.

Turkish diplomat admits Al-Qaeda behind Reyhanli bombing in Turkey, exposing AKP’s lies

At the meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on March 27, Turkey’s Ambassador Tacan Ildem admitted that the bombing in Reyhanli, Turkey that took place in May 2013, taking the lives of at least 53 people and wounding 143 was carried out by Al-Qaeda.  Until this time, the AKP government had been accusing the Syrian government of the attack.

The Turkish diplomat was responding to a commentary by the Armenian Ambassador Arman Kirakossian who pointed to the role Turkey has played in the attack in Kassab by supporting Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist groups. Kirakossian called on Turkey to take immediate and effective measures to prevent the use of its territory by terrorist groups to conduct attacks on Kassab. In an effort to deny the allegations against Turkey and to show that Turkey was also coming under attack by Al-Qaeda, the Turkish diplomat ended up admitting Al-Qaeda’s involvement in Reyhanli bombing. “Al-Qaeda elements operating from Syria carried out the attack” were his words.

Until now, AKP had claimed that the Syrian government was behind the bombing. Right after the bombing in May 2013, the Syrian government’s proposal to Turkey to hold a joint investigation into the attack had haughtily been rejected by Erdogan on his way to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Hours after the attack, 13 Turkish citizens allegedly belonging to Acilciler a Marxist group that has been defunct for 30 years, were arrested in connection with the bombing. AKP claimed that Acilciler was collaborating with the Syrian government.

The Syrian government denied any involvement and accused Erdogan of “fabricating evidence” in order to derail the latest U.S.-Russian peace plan and to spark an international intervention ahead of his meeting with Obama.

Leaked tape reveals Turkish officials planning a “false-flag” operation to attack Syria

On March 29, on the eve of the local elections in Turkey, an audio recording of Turkish officials was leaked on YouTube. This exposed for everyone to see that the AKP government will stop at nothing in order to drag Turkey into open war with Syria in the proxy war led by U.S. imperialism.

In a dialogue that took place on March 13 between Ahmet Davutoglu, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hakan Fidan, the head of the Turkish Intelligence, Yasar Guler, Deputy Chief of Military and Feridun Siniroglu, undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Turkish officials discuss plans for a “false-flag” operation, a staged attack against the Tomb of Suleiman Shah, a piece of sovereign Turkish territory in Syria under the control of Turkish forces, in order to set the pretext for a military intervention.

The conversation also undeniably reveals that the AKP government is a direct supporter of terrorism in Syria, having shipped arms to the terrorist groups fighting in Syria (2,000 trucks of weapons and ammunition) and that members of the Turkish armed forces have already been deployed in Syria to support these groups.

A full English transcript of the recording can be found here.

Speaking at a campaign rally, the Turkish Prime Minister said: “They even leaked a national security meeting, this is villainous, this is dishonesty…” Speaking to reporters, Foreign Minister Davutoglu said, “A cyber-attack has been carried out against the Turkish Republic, our state and our valued nation. This is a clear declaration of war against the Turkish state and our nation.”

By these statements, AKP officials have essentially admitted that the recordings were authentic. The AKP government quickly censored the recording by banning access to YouTube.

The Turkish and international mainstream media chose to focus on how YouTube was banned by the prime minister, avoiding the content of the dialogue captured in the recording. Most of the coverage by the news outlets glossed over the content of the tape as “plans for Turkish intervention in Syria,” shamelessly hiding the true nature of the dialogue’s content: an undisputable violation of international law as well as evidence of war crimes by the AKP government against the people of Syria.

It is not easy to pinpoint who leaked the tapes. It could be U.S. intelligence in an attempt to rein in an out of control Turkish prime minister who is ready to do anything to hold onto power as his government is haunted by recent corruption scandals and the popular uprising of June 2013.

The tapes could also have been leaked by Russia in order to stop the AKP in its tracks heading for open war with Syria.

US imperialism is split on how to deal with the current situation in Syria

As the Syrian conflict is nearing its fourth year, the Syrian government has gained the clear upper hand against the NATO backed opposition groups and is likely within a year of final victory. The U.S. ruling class is split on how to approach the current situation in Syria. While the more hawkish Secretary of State John Kerry and Samantha Power, the U.S ambassador to the U.N advocate direct military intervention, the Pentagon camp led by Minister of Defense Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff push back against a direct military intervention pointing to the risk of an open-ended foreign entanglement. Both sides however agree on the need to expand the arms and training support given to the groups fighting in Syria.

Was AKP behind the chemical attack in Ghouta last year?

In a report published on April 6, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that the chemical attack on August 21, 2013 that took place in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, was carried out by the opposition groups controlled by the AKP government of Erdogan in an effort to set the stage for a NATO led attack on Syria. Soon after the incident, the U.S. government started beating the war drums for an all-out attack on Syria, blaming the Syrian government for the attack which had killed hundreds. The mainstream media delivered to the U.S. public the usual propaganda necessary for setting up the public hysteria for war. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called on the United Nations to act decisively adding that “all red lines” had been crossed and that the U.N. “can’t assume an indecisive attitude about chemical weapon attacks in Syria”.

According to Hersh’s article, while the U.S. President Obama was busy finalizing with the Pentagon the plans for a massive attack in Syria, U. S. intelligence was having serious doubts as to whether the Syrian government was really behind the attack. Their doubts increased after the findings of British intelligence were made available. Having obtained a sample of the Sarin gas used in the attack, the British analysis proved that the gas used in the attack didn’t match the batches in Syrian Army’s chemical weapons arsenal. According to the same report which cites various U.S. military and intelligence officials, the belief by the U.S. officials that the Turkish government was behind the gas attack in Ghouta resulted in the cancelation of the U.S. strike at the very last minute.

Turkey’s link to the chemical attack in Ghouta can be traced back to an incident that took place in Turkey in May of the same year. On May 30, after a search carried out by the Turkish Security forces in the Turkish city of Adana which is close to the Syrian border, Sarin gas was found in the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra front. Five militants were detained. The government and the mainstream media quietly dropped the whole issue in a few days and the militants were quietly released. Details on the events that led to the chemical attack in Ghouta and the AKP’s potential role in planning the chemical attack in Ghouta can be found in this article published by the Turkish daily soL in August 2013.

Syria’s UN Ambassador warns of armed gangs in Syria planning to stage a chemical attack in Damascus

Eerily reminiscent of the Ghouta attack, on March 27, Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Bashar Jaafari, wrote a letter addressed to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council, warning that armed groups in Syria were conspiring to stage another chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus. According to the letter which was published on the UN web site , the Syrian authorities intercepted wireless communications confirming that there were plans to use toxic gas in the Jawbar quarter and other areas in Damascus with the aim of accusing the Syrian government afterwards.

US imperialism and its lackeys in the region: The common enemy of the people

The recent Kassab assault that displaced hundreds of Armenians from their homes, the Al-Qaeda bombing in Reyhanli that killed over 50 and wounded hundreds of Turkish, the chemical attack in Ghouta, Syria that killed over 400 Syrians and the recent leaked recording of Turkish officials planning a “false-flag” attack are clear evidence of the horrendous war crimes committed by U.S. imperialism, its junior partners in the region, like the AKP government of Turkey as well as their henchmen on the ground in Syria: the armed opposition groups.  The people of Syria as well as other peoples in the region have suffered immensely at the hands of all these criminals. These crimes should serve as a reminder to all the peoples in the region that whether they are Arab, Armenian, Turkish or Kurdish, their enemy is common: U.S. imperialism and its lackeys in the region.

Tony Blair, George W. Bush and David Cameron: Hi-jacking God?

April 13th, 2014 by Felicity Arbuthnot

There must be something in the water at No 10 Downing Street, currently inhabited by Prime Minister David Cameron.

When Tony Blair was in residence, according to the diaries of his former communications director, Alastair Campbell, before the illegal invasion of Iraq, for which Blair’s Downing Street offices produced fantasy, fictional, false justifications, the then Prime Minister was guided by his faith and regularly spoke to “his Maker.” Blair may have “spoken” – but, as ever, he clearly didn’t listen.

Proverbs (6:16-19) rules on six personality traits his “Maker” abhors and seven that are an abomination to Him: “Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord …” Blair ticks every box, shattering any claim to his trumpeted Christian principles.

False witness is also slammed by King Solomon and in Matthew (15:18-20) Jesus condemns false testimony as defiling to any person.

No, this is not a treatise on religion, but a reminder of the most false of believers.

An early statement from David Cameron seeking votes from, clearly, only the delusional, since Blair left office not so much under a cloud but under a black thundercloud of duplicity and deception, was that he was “heir to Blair.”

Later he decided he was more in the mould of Margaret Thatcher.

Judgement is clearly not his strong point. For a swathe of the British electorate he might as well have cited Vlad the Impaler and Ivan the Terrible as role models.

However, last year it emerged that David Cameron has been seeking advice from Tony Blair of whom: “he is very admiring … he regards as a nice person and has conviction.”

There have been formal meetings, seemingly telephone calls on policy issues and cosy dinners in the elegant Downing Street living quarters: “Mr Cameron has been keen to get inside the mind of Labour’s triple-election-winning Prime Minister from the start of his leadership.”(1)

All a bit worrying, since according to a book written by Blair’s political agent of twenty four years, John Burton, his decision to enjoin the attacks in both the Balkans and Iraq were part of a “Christian battle.”

“It’s very simple to explain the idea of Blair the Warrior”, Burton has said: “It was part of Tony living out his faith.” Blair’s: “Christian faith is part of him, down to his cotton socks. He believed strongly … that intervention in Kosovo, Sierra Leone – Iraq too – was all part of the Christian battle; good should triumph over evil …” Also according to Burton, he viewed George W. Bush’s unhinged “War on Terror” as a “moral cause” in fighting evil.(2)

Now, as the rhetoric from No 10 becomes increasingly hawkish and beligerant towards Syria, Russia and where ever the US has set it sights, it has to be wondered if Cameron has been stricken with this deviant, extremist, fundamentalist Blair-pox version of religion.

Warning bells might have rung for some, when as leader of the opposition in 2009 Cameron, in a: “set-piece speech … borrowed the structure of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.”(Bloomberg,10thApril2014.)

By May 2011 he was recruiting Jesus to his vision of a “Big Society.” This is, in fact, a swathe of public service cuts possibly going further than even Thatcher who became dubbed the “milk snatcher” when her fiscal slash and burn even included halting free school milk at State run schools.

Cameron’s regime immediately embarked on privatizing education; Britain’s one remaining public service treasure, the National Health Service is targeted, as is welfare, even for those with learning disabilities and mental illness – which have resulted in suicides –  with unemployment benefits even in areas with no jobs or transport to travel to them.  Those rushed to hospital in critical condition have had their benefits stopped – there have even been cases of the dead receiving threatening letters for not turning up for interviews at the Employment Service.

Ironically, the mega-rich Cameron claimed the State Disability Living Allowance for his disabled son Ivan and said that without the National Health Service, involving often twenty four hours a day professionals of numerous disciplines, they could not have coped. The Health Service would be safe in his hands he stated before becoming Prime Minister.

Yet at a meeting with Christians in Downing Street he lectured that Jesus had founded the Big Society 2,000 years ago and that: “I’m not saying we’ve invented some great new idea here.”

Clearly pitching for churches and charities to pick up the State services he  was trashing, he added: “One of the best things about our country is that people step forward as individuals, as families, as communities, as organizations, as churches and do extraordinary things… helping to build a bigger, richer, more prosperous, more generous society …”

The Christian think tank Ekklesia’s Director, Jonathan Bartley spoke for many present when he said the brutal cuts affected the poor and the weak -and would not have had Jesus’s support. “Jesus’s harshest words were reserved for those who had wealth and power and who failed to protect the most vulnerable”, he said of multi-millionaire Cameron’s policy.

Clearly putting Cameron in the George W. Bush and Blair camp, the Daily Mirror called the policy “Cameron’s Big Society Crusade.”

‘A senior Labour source added: “We know politicians like a big-name endorsement but this seems to be going a bit far.” (3)

Last Wednesday (9th April 2014) at his Easter reception at Downing Street for Christian leaders, Cameron reportedly again claimed divine inspiration when he drafted his key concept for the Conservative Party – he was doing God’s work.

After a soprano sang Ave Maria the Prime Minister’s address included that: “It is the case that Christians are now the most persecuted religion around the world. We should stand up against persecution of Christians and other faith groups wherever and whenever we can.”(4)

No mention of the years of Western-led attacks on majority Muslim countries, where both and all faiths have lived together, shared feasts and grief together for millennia. No mention of divide and rule. But maybe a whiff of a subliminal message, Syria is still on the radar.

Blair produced the blueprint for the excuse for the destruction of Iraq, the country, for believers, where the father of Islam, Christianity and Judaism, Abraham was born at Ur. Cameron surely still has his eyes on the road to Damascus. And Blair, hell bent on a Syria attack is apparently a trusted mentor. One can only speculate, but the increasingly messianic Cameron-speak certainly has a chillingly Blair-like ring.

George W. Bush and Blair, of course shared the same zealot-like brand of Christianity. Four months after the 2003 Iraq invasion, at an Israeli-Palestinian summit in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh resort, Nabil Shaath, then Palestinian Foreign Minister, related: “President Bush said to all of us: ‘I am driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan’. And I did. And then God would tell me ‘George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq’, and I did.”(5)

Former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also played the God card. During the Iraq invasion it fell to him to prepare the top secret Worldwide Intelligence Update: “circulated only among a handful of Pentagon leaders and the President.” The: “cover sheet generally featured triumphant, color images from the previous day’s war efforts.”

On the day after the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Firdos Square on 9th April 2003, the shameful pictures were also accompanied by a quote just below his “Secretary of Defence” cover title. From the book of Psalms was: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him…To deliver their soul from death.”

Rumsfeld’s biblical quotes which hallmarked the cover sheets: “were the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a Director for Intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defence …”

“This mixing of Crusades-like messaging with war imagery, which until now has not been revealed, had become routine. On March 31 (2003) a U.S. tank roared through the desert beneath a quote from Ephesians: ‘Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.’ On April 7th, Saddam Hussein struck a dictatorial pose (on the cover) under this passage from the First Epistle of Peter: ‘It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.’ “(6)

Rumsfeld and his ilk still stalk the corridors of power in Washington where Blair has numerous connections. David Cameron is now singing their song.

I write as a non-believer, but with huge respect for those with a true faith of all denominations, for the beautiful words and buildings created in love and reverence, in the architecture of the inspired or the simple meeting places, with the reverence palpable within.

To warp the spirit of that wonder, create enemies and a religious “other” at worse and bitter resentment at a lowly best, then whinge: “Why do they hate us?” is not belief, but deviance. Cameron would have been more apt in citing Judas as inspiration than Jesus.

“Beware false prophets”, there are some very powerful ones around and these are dangerous times.

Notes

1. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/meet-my-nbf-david-cameron-and-tony-blair-become-chums-8478494.html

2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/5373525/Tony-Blair-believed-God-wanted-him-to-go-to-war-to-fight-evil-claims-his-mentor.html

3. http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fury-as-david-cameron-claims-jesus-129922#ixzz2ygKRHZ8Z

4. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/david-cameron-claims-jesus-invented-the-big-society–he-is-just-continuing-gods-work-9250449.html

5. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/oct/07/iraq.usa

6. http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmakers/200905/donald-rumsfeld-administration-peers-detractors

Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars for a swindle pulled off by the world’s biggest banks, using a form of derivative called interest-rate swaps; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has now joined a chorus of litigants suing over it. According to an SEIU report:

Derivatives . . . have turned into a windfall for banks and a nightmare for taxpayers. . . . While banks are still collecting fixed rates of 3 to 6 percent, they are now regularly paying public entities as little as a tenth of one percent on the outstanding bonds, with rates expected to remain low in the future. Over the life of the deals, banks are now projected to collect billions more than they pay state and local governments – an outcome which amounts to a second bailout for banks, this one paid directly out of state and local budgets.

It is not just that local governments, universities and pension funds made a bad bet on these swaps. The game itself was rigged, as explained below. The FDIC is now suing in civil court for damages and punitive damages, a lead that other injured local governments and agencies would be well-advised to follow. But they need to hurry, because time on the statute of limitations is running out.

The Largest Cartel in World History

On March 14, 2014, the FDIC filed suit for LIBOR-rigging against sixteen of the world’s largest banks – including the three largest USbanks (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup), the three largest UKbanks, the largest German bank, the largest Japanese bank, and several of the largest Swiss banks. Bill Black, professor of law and economics and a former bank fraud investigator, calls them “the largest cartel in world history, by at least three and probably four orders of magnitude.”

LIBOR (the London Interbank Offering Rate) is the benchmark rate by which banks themselves can borrow. It is a crucial rate involved in hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivative trades, and it is set by these sixteen megabanks privately and in secret.

Interest rate swaps are now a $426 trillion business. That’s trillion with a “t” – about seven times the gross domestic product of all the countries in the world combined. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in 2012 US banks held $183.7 trillion in interest-rate contracts, with only four firms representing 93% of total derivative holdings; and three of the four were JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America, the US banks being sued by the FDIC over manipulation of LIBOR.

Lawsuits over LIBOR-rigging have been in the works for years, and regulators have scored some very impressive regulatory settlements. But so far, civil actions for damages have been unproductive for the plaintiffs. The FDIC is therefore pursuing another tack.

But before getting into all that, we need to look at how interest-rate swaps work. It has been argued that the counterparties stung by these swaps got what they bargained for – a fixed interest rate. But that is not actually what they got. The game was rigged from the start.

The Sting

Interest-rate swaps are sold to parties who have taken out loans at variable interest rates, as insurance against rising rates. The most common swap is one where counterparty A (a university, municipal government, etc.) pays a fixed rate to counterparty B (the bank), while receiving from B a floating rate indexed to a reference rate such as LIBOR. If interest rates go up, the municipality gets paid more on the swap contract, offsetting its rising borrowing costs. If interest rates go down, the municipality owes money to the bank on the swap, but that extra charge is offset by the falling interest rate on its variable rate loan. The result is to fix borrowing costs at the lower variable rate.

At least, that is how it’s supposed to work. The catch is that the swap is a separate financial agreement – essentially an ongoing bet on interest rates. The borrower owes both the interest on its variable rate loan and what it must pay out on this separate swap deal. And the benchmarks for the two rates don’t necessarily track each other. As explained by Stephen Gandel on CNN Money:

The rates on the debt were based on something called the Sifma municipal bond index, which is named after the industry group that maintains the index and tracks muni bonds. And that’s what municipalities should have bought swaps based on.

Instead, Wall Street sold municipalities Libor swaps, which were easier to trade and [were] quickly becoming a gravy train for the banks.

Historically, Sifma and LIBOR moved together. But that was before the greatest-ever global banking cartel got into the game of manipulating LIBOR. Gandel writes:

In 2008 and 2009, Libor rates, in general, fell much faster than the Sifma rate. At times, the rates even went in different directions. During the height of the financial crisis, Sifma rates spiked. Libor rates, though, continued to drop. The result was that the cost of the swaps that municipalities had taken out jumped in price at the same time that their borrowing costs went up, which was exactly the opposite of how the swaps were supposed to work.

The two rates had decoupled, and it was chiefly due to manipulation. As noted in the SEUI report:

[T]here is . . . mounting evidence that it is no accident that these deals have gone so badly, so quickly for state and local governments. Ongoing investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and theCalifornia,Florida, and Connecticut Attorneys General implicate nearly every major bank in a nationwide conspiracy to rig bids and drive up the fixed rates state and local governments pay on their derivative contracts.

Changing the Focus to Fraud

Suits to recover damages for collusion, antitrust violations and racketeering (RICO), however, have so far failed. In March 2013, SDNY Judge Naomi Reece Buchwald dismissed antitrust and RICO claims brought by investors and traders in actions consolidated in her court, on the ground that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the claims. She held that the rate-setting banks’ actions did not affect competition, because those banks were not in competition with one another with respect to LIBOR rate-setting; and that “the alleged collusion occurred in an arena in which defendants never did and never were intended to compete.”

Okay, the defendants weren’t competing with each other. They were colluding with each other, in order to unfairly compete with the rest of the financial world – local banks, credit unions, and the state and local governments they lured into being counterparties to their rigged swaps. The SDNY ruling is on appeal to the Second Circuit.

In the meantime, the FDIC is taking another approach. Its 24-count complaint does include antitrust claims, but the emphasis is on damages for fraud and conspiring to keep the LIBOR rate low to enrich the banks. The FDIC is not the first to bring such claims, but its massive suit adds considerable weight to the approach.

Why would keeping interest rates low enrich the rate-setting banks? Don’t they make more money if interest rates are high?

The answer is no. Unlike most banks, they make most of their money not from ordinary commercial loans but from interest rate swaps. The FDIC suit seeks to recover losses caused to 38USbanking institutions that did make their profits from ordinary business and consumer loans – banks that failed during the financial crisis and were taken over by the FDIC. They include Washington Mutual, the largest bank failure inUShistory. Since the FDIC had to cover the deposits of these failed banks, it clearly has standing to recover damages, and maybe punitive damages, if intentional fraud is proved.

The Key Role of the Federal Reserve

The rate-rigging banks have been caught red-handed, but the greater manipulation of interest rates was done by the Federal Reserve itself. The Fed aggressively drove down interest rates to save the big banks and spur economic recovery after the financial collapse. In the fall of 2008, it dropped the prime rate (the rate at which banks borrow from each other) nearly to zero.

This gross manipulation of interest rates was a giant windfall for the major derivative banks. Indeed, the Fed has been called a tool of the global banking cartel. It is composed of 12 branches, all of which are 100% owned by the private banks in their districts; and the Federal Reserve Bank of New Yorkhas always been the most important by far of these regional Fed banks.New York, of course is where Wall Street is located.

LIBOR is set in London; but as Simon Johnson observed in a New York Times article titled The Federal Reserve and the LIBOR Scandal, the Fed has jurisdiction whenever the “safety and soundness” of the US financial system is at stake. The scandal, he writes, “involves egregious, flagrant criminal conduct, with traders caught red-handed in e-mails and on tape.” He concludes:

This could even become a “tobacco moment,” in which an industry is forced to acknowledge its practices have been harmful – and enters into a long-term agreement that changes those practices and provides continuing financial compensation.

Bill Black concurs, stating, “Our system is completely rotten. All of the largest banks are involved—eagerly engaged in this fraud for years, covering it up.” The system needs a complete overhaul.

In the meantime, if the FDIC can bring a civil action for breach of contract and fraud, so can state and local governments, universities, and pension funds. The possibilities this opens up forCalifornia(where I’m currently running for State Treasurer) are huge. Fraud is grounds for rescission (terminating the contract) without paying penalties, potentially saving taxpayers enormous sums in fees for swap deals that are crippling cities, universities and other public entities across the state. Fraud is also grounds for punitive damages, something an outraged jury might be inclined to impose. My next post will explore the possibilities forCaliforniain more detail. Stay tuned.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

Crimea Approves New Constitution

April 13th, 2014 by Global Research News

The Crimean Parliament adopted the new constitution of the republic on Friday. All 88 deputies present in the auditorium voted for the constitution, Interfax reports. In total, there are 100 deputies in the State Council of the Crimea.

The approval of the Constitution of the Crimea by Russian central authorities is not required. The fundamental law of the republic will come into force after it has been published in the parliamentary newspaper “Crimean News.” The speaker of the State Council of the Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov, said earlier that the constitution could be published and effected on Saturday, April 12.

According to the Constitution, the Republic of Crimea is a legal and democratic state within the Russian Federation. The relations between of the Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation are regulated by the agreement.

The territory of the Republic of Crimea shall be an inseparable part of the territory of the Russian Federation. The highest official in the Crimea shall be the head of the republic, who shall be elected by deputies of the State Council for a term of five years. The head of the republic shall not hold office for more than two consecutive terms.

The head of the republic shall form the Council of Ministers and make decisions about resignation of the government. The head of the republic shall also have the power to dissolve the parliament of the Crimea in cases stipulated by the federal law and the Constitution of the entity of the Russian Federation.

The head of the Crimea can combine his position with the position of the chairman of the Council of Ministers.

Under the Constitution, the State Council of the Crimea is entitled to enact the laws that will be in effect on the territory of the republic. The State Council also receives the right for a legislative initiative in the State Duma of the Russian Federation.

The Constitution envisions a reduction in the number of MPs of the republic by a quarter – from 100 to 75. The rule will become effective only after the elections to the State Council of the Crimea. Speaker of the State Council of the Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov, said earlier that the early elections of deputies of the State Council can be conducted in September this year. The form of the elections to the Parliament – majority, party system, or mixed – has not been specified in the Constitution. It will be determined by the law of the Republic of Crimea “On Elections”, which the State Council shall approve.

The Crimea State Council will have to take about 300 laws to streamline all aspects of life of the republic after the new constitution comes into force. This includes the election law, the law of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea, the law on the status of deputies of the State Council, the Law on the Government of the Republic of Crimea, etc.

Today, on April 11, the Republic of the Crimea, as well as the city of federal significance – Sevastopol – were included on the list of subjects of the Russian Federation in the Russian Constitution. The new edition of the document was published on the official web portal of legal information. The new entities were included on the list in Article 65 of Chapter III of the Constitution of Russia – “The Federal Structure.”

The footnotes indicate that the names of the new regions – the Republic of the Crimea and the city of federal significance, Sevastopol, were given in accordance with the federal constitutional law from March 21, 2014 “On the adoption of the Republic of the Crimea in the Russian Federation and the formation of new subjects in the Russian Federation – the Republic of the Crimea and the city of federal significance, Sevastopol.”

On March 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal constitutional law about the incorporation of the Crimea in the structure of the Russian Federation and the formation of two new entities of the country. The law clearly formulates the reasons for the adoption of the Crimea to Russia. These are the results of the Crimean referendum held on March 16, the Declaration of Independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the Treaty between Russia and the Crimea about the formation of new entities and appeals from the Crimea and Sevastopol to become a part of Russia.

The document was adopted by the State Duma on March 20 and approved by the Federation Council the next day. Together with the law, Putin approved the ratification of the Treaty “On the incorporation of the Republic of Crimea into the Russian Federation and the formation of new subjects within the Russian Federation.”

The propaganda hype regarding Russia’s creation of military bases in Latin American and the Caribbean is not dying down. At the instigation of ‘cold war’ centres in the US, lies about ‘secret’ Russian naval and air force bases operating in Nicaragua, Venezuela and even Argentina regularly appear in the media. More often than not, these types of reports are accompanied by photographs of Tu-160 (‘White Swan’) and Tu-160MS strategic bombers, the nuclear-powered battlecruiser Petr Velikiy (‘Peter the Great’), and the large anti-submarine destroyer Admiral Chabanenko, which laid the foundations for guest visits by Russia’s naval and air forces to the American continent in 2008. The most recent example of this kind is the docking of the Russian intelligence collection ship Viktor Leonov in the Port of Havana.

In November 2013, the National Assembly of Nicaragua ratified the government’s decision allowing Russian military units, ships and aircraft to visit the republic in the first half of 2014. Their crews have also been given permission to take part in the professional training of Nicaraguan military personnel and to share with them their expertise. The approved document also mentions the naval ships and military aircraft of Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico and the US. In June of this year, Daniel Ortega’s government will reapply to parliament to extend this document for a further six months.

Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu recently announced plans to increase the number of bases abroad. He also mentioned that talks were being held with Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Singapore and the Seychelles. Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov explained the situation thus: «When we talk about enhancing the Russian navy’s presence in Latin America, we primarily mean creating the conditions for a simplified procedure for our Russian ships to visit Latin American ports. Given their considerable distance from Russian shores, it stands to reason that we would be interested in replenishing our food and water supplies, as well as organising recreation for our sailors. In certain circumstances, we must also be sure we will be able to carry out small and medium repairs to our ships.»

President Daniel Ortega referred to the prospects of Russia’s ‘presence’ on Latin America’s friendly shores in a speech to the Nicaraguan military on 6 April. He said that after the Sandinista government returned to power in 2007, it was willing to cooperate with any country that would help strengthen and modernise the army. The US has not offered the country any kind of hope. Despite the previously close ties between Washington and Nicaragua’s right-wing governments, the Pentagon has not made any real attempts to equip the Nicaraguan army with modern weapons. The US has always seen the ideology of the Sandinistas as hostile. This is the reason why the Nicaraguan government turned to Russia. Far-reaching agreements in the sphere of military and technical cooperation have been signed. According to Ortega, Russia’s contribution to the military rearmament process was «steady, reliable and extremely important», and was accompanied by the unconditional provision of social and economic help to the Nicaraguan people. Supplies of wheat, agricultural equipment, buses and passengers cars were provided. A considerable amount of money was also allocated for humanitarian and other purposes, including to eliminate the consequences of natural disasters.

Analysing the content of Ortega’s speech to the military, the conservative newspaper La Prensa, published in Managua, observed that Ortega is «justifying the possible creation of Russian bases in Nicaragua». Here is a quote from Ortega’s speech: «How many US military ships visited (our ports) between 2007 and 2012? How many US ships have spent months in our Caribbean and Pacific Ocean ports? Military vessels that have shown up on peacekeeping missions! And how many American soldiers and officers have landed in our country to deploy their bases?… (Foreign) bases are forbidden by the Constitution, but (in reality) bases have still been deployed».

For Ortega, strengthening the security of the country remains a strategic objective. The more powerful the army, the more significant its contribution will be in protecting every region of the country, and the calmer life will be for the Nicaraguan people in our troubled times. Ortega places particular emphasis on the need to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking, bearing in mind that Nicaragua is located ‘at the crossroads’ of cocaine deliveries and other hallucinogenics from Colombia, Peru and Bolivia to the US. Nicaragua’s armed forces need to have modern operational capabilities to seize and destroy consignments of drugs on the ground, in the air and at sea. One would think that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which has long been operating in the country, might have helped modernise its weaponry. But the Agency is developing the bilateral cooperation exclusively in its own interests, which is to expand America’s military presence in the country.

The authoritarian methods practised by the DEA are increasingly alienating Latin American leaders. This is why the appropriate structures in Nicaragua and other Central American countries have reacted so positively to Russia’s project for training anti-drug officers in a special school opened in Managua. Professionals from the Federal Narcotics Service of Russia (FSKN) teach at the school, and those attending the school are from Nicaragua, Salvador, Panama, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and other countries in the region. The first batch of operatives has already graduated. The US is jealous of the success of the FSKN’s work in Nicaragua and in Latin America generally. It is for this reason that Viktor Ivanov, chairman of the State Anti-Narcotics Сommittee and director of FSKN, has been put on a US government blacklist.

Plans for a collaboration between Russia and Nicaragua to explore and use space is also being regarded by the Pentagon as «quite suspicious» in terms of its «military component». Among other things, the agreement provides for the building of a GLONASS satellite monitoring system in Nicaragua. Through the country’s media under its ‘wardship’, the US Embassy is waging a hostile campaign against the project, placing emphasis on its ‘probable’ use by Russia for the purposes of espionage. This concern of the Embassy, an embassy in which the majority of its 200 diplomats are US intelligence agency employees who are intentionally working against the Ortega regime, is nothing but ironic.

Russia is approaching the development of military ties with Venezuela and Cuba in a similar vein. It seems that in the foreseeable future, the problem of creating permanent Russian military bases there with a large-scale infrastructure and military personnel deployed for long periods of time will no longer be an issue.

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called reports on Russia’s creation of military bases in Argentina a ‘provocative duck’. The only foreign base off the coast of Argentina is located on the Falkland Islands, which is occupied by the British. Argentine President Cristina Fernández has called the island NATO’s «nuclear base», «the largest existing base to the south of the 50th parallel».

NATO strategists are planning on getting Colombia’s armed forces involved in the activities of the military alliance. In June 2013, Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombia’s Minister of National Defence, signed an agreement in Brussels on cooperation and the exchange of information with NATO members. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said in this regard that the agreement had been entered into «with the further aim» of joining the organisation.

One of the articles on the website aporrea.org commented that sooner or later, there will be an adequate response to the global military expansion of the US and NATO: «If the US has a countless number of bases in the world, then it is logical to suppose that other powers will begin to create their own strongholds. If the US has filled Europe with missiles aimed at Russia, then it stands to reason that Russia may respond appropriately. The United States is to blame for spreading violence across the world in its desire to preserve its hegemony. Following their defeat in Afghanistan, the Americans are being forced to withdraw from the country without having managed to set up any strongholds with missiles aimed primarily at Russia, China, India and Iran. But the message is clear: after the Second World War, the only aggressor on the planet was the USA».

On the Brink of Economic Calamity

We are witnessing unprecedented low points in American economic history as 50 million Americans—17 million of them children—are living below the poverty line[i],[ii] while 47 million citizens rely on food stamps[iii].  All told, the 2008 economic collapse cost over $20 trillion globally[iv]. Millions of people lost their homes and jobs, while many of our nation’s children fell deeper into hunger. According to some figures, 53 million people entered the poverty ranks.[v] In the US and other developed nations, suicide rates skyrocketed due to financial stress and disruption of families. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has listed unemployment at 7.5% — a rate that is irreconcilable with reality. The more reliable figure, calculated by economist John Williams from Shadow Government Statistics, places unemployment at 22%. If we are to believe the analyses of Tyler Cowen at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, we might be looking at an unemployment rate as high as 41%, since 33% of Americans are not working and no longer have the desire to find jobs.[vi]  This group is categorically removed from the government’s labor radar and is absent from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ fudged data. 

 The Global Money Matrix

In the midst of this economic turmoil there is one group that still manages to flourish: the global elite. With more than $32 trillion stashed in offshore banks around the world, the wealth of the so-called “1%” is staggeringly obscene and grows by the day.[vii]  Their aggregate wealth, larger than the US GDP and national debt combined, is a testament to the tremendous influence and lobbying power held by a coterie of private interests that dominate nearly every sector of society.

Instead of reining in the inordinate control exercised by the elite, most of our elected officials have become little more than shills for these corporate overlords, creating policies that favor their campaign donors instead of the American people. Hundreds of millions of dollars were funneled into Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign by donors whose business affiliations run the gamut from real estate and finance to media and law firms. According to Opensecrets.org, “Together, 769 elites are directing at least $186,500,000 for Obama’s re-election efforts — money that has gone into the coffers of his campaign as well as the Democratic National Committee.”[viii] This figure doesn’t even account for the massive contributions to Obama’s reelection by corporate-driven SuperPACs. Obama is just one example of how our politicians are beholden to the elite agenda. A quick glance at the campaign donation figures presented at Opensecrets.org reveals just how much special interests control Washington’s policymakers.

Given the corporatist influence that infects our halls of power, it is little wonder that our tax dollars continue to fund unconstitutional spying, perpetual war, and neoliberal policies that extend the powers of the world’s richest individuals and organizations. As Americans struggle financially, our social safety nets are increasingly losing priority to military and security expenditures that are historically unmatched anywhere in the world. Increasingly, the actions taken by the world’s most powerful corporations and governments seem to be at odds with public perception and wellbeing. Here are a few examples of how this combined influence has increased at the expense of the average American:

ALEC – This conservative group, funded by donors like the Koch brothers and Exxon Mobil and fueled by politicians including Ohio Governor John Kasich and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker,[ix] writes model legislation calling to “privatize education, break unions, deregulate major industries, pass voter ID laws, and more.”[x] They do so with the stated aim to “form formal internal Task Forces to develop policy covering virtually every responsibility of state government.”[xi] ALEC’s website claims, “Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20% become law.”[xii]

Federal Taxes and Expenditures – In 2014, President Obama plans to spend 57% of his discretionary budget on military, with 6% going to education, 3% to science, and 1% to food and agriculture.[xiii] And while the federal corporate tax rate is 35% in America, a variety of loopholes means that the average rate paid by corporations is 25%, with some companies paying as low as 10%.[xiv]

Citizens United – This US Supreme Court case set the legal precedent for unlimited campaign donations in US elections, qualifying corporate donations as a form a free speech. Since this case concluded, campaign expenditures have tripled.[xv]

TARP, or “the Bailout” – Following the economic crisis of 2008, US taxpayers handed $700 billion to major players in the automotive, financial, and insurance industries[xvi]. According to The New York Times, “Treasury…provided the money to banks with no effective policy or effort to compel the extension of credit. There were no strings attached: no requirement or even incentive to increase lending to home buyers, and…not even a request that banks report how they used TARP funds.”[xvii]  The Huffington Post reports, “Twenty-five top recipients of government bailout funds spent more than $71 million on lobbying in the year since they were rescued.”

In the Name of Security

The most concerning imbalance of power, however, may lie in the ‘security state’. In 2010, there were over 1900 private corporations with government contracts working for Homeland Security and NSA intelligence projects. Just one of these firms, Booz Allen Hamilton, where Edward Snowden was employed, has over 25,000 employees, nearly half of whom have security clearance of “top secret or higher”.[xviii]  Overall, there are an estimated half million individuals in private firms with access to intelligence secrets.[xix]  The federal intelligence agencies only employ 107,000 individuals; therefore, the bulk of intelligence and surveillance operations are conducted by private workforces.[xx] For fiscal year 2013, the country’s budget for intelligence, across 16 agencies, was approximately $52.6 billion, with 70% going to private contractors.[xxi]

Recent revelations by Edward Snowden unearthed the breadth and scope of this surveillance network. The National Security Agency has collected vast amounts of data to spy upon American citizens, elected legislators in Congress, leaders and populations of other nations, multilateral and international administrations, non profit organizations, and a variety of public and environmental advocacy groups. This defines the current trajectory of the US as a failed republic degenerating into a fascist regime.  For both corporate Republicans and Democrats, the rise of surreptitious surveillance on citizens, in direct violation of the Constitution, is perceived as a matter of national security to protect both the country’s domestic and foreign interests.

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander claimed publicly that intelligence surveillance of the American public “foiled” 54 terrorist attacks by extremists. Independent research confirmed that in fact only one, and a possible second attack, could be directly associated with the war on terrorism.  Speaking on the matter, Vermont Senator Patrick J. Leahy stated,

“There is no evidence that [bulk] phone records collection helped to thwart dozens or even several terrorist plots….These weren’t all plots and they weren’t all foiled.”.[xxii]

The Washington Times reported that “Keith B. Alexander admitted that the number of terrorist plots foiled by the NSA’s huge database of every phone call made in or to America was only one or perhaps two—far smaller than the 54 originally claimed by the administration.” General Alexander, under the questioning of Senator Leahy, also admitted that only 13 of the 54 cases were in any way connected to the U.S.  As the Washington Times clarifies,

“The [NSA phone records] database contains so-called metadata—the numbers dialing and dialed, time and duration of call—for every phone call made in or to the U.S.”[xxiii] 

This is but one example highlighting how the consolidation of corporate and political power comes at the cost of human rights and personal liberties for the average citizen.

 Obama has lied to the American people repeatedly about the extent of the security state and its infiltration into the lives of average citizens, including massive data collection of private phone calls, emails, and internet activity. The NSA revelations of Edward Snowden provide documented proof that intelligence surveillance is far more extensive than ever believed. The activities of the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, FISA courts, USDA and FDA, and the Justice Department contribute to the deterioration of citizens’ privacy and freedom. And a recent report by Essential Information entitled Spooky Business describes how some of America’s largest corporations have engaged in corporate espionage to spy on non-profit organizations. Ralph Nader writes, “In effect, big corporations have been able to hire portions of the national security apparatus, and train their tools of spycraft on the citizen groups of our country.”[xxiv] Thus, the powers of government and corporations are fostered and increased by one another, while those of the average American continue to dwindle

Groupthink and the 15%

It is unrealistic to frame the problem of control and socio-economic manipulation as a war between the 1 and the 99.  The 1 percent cannot achieve its goals without support from armies of technocrats and workforces willing to sacrifice moral values to secure careers in corporations and political parties, regardless of the inhumane ruthlessness behind their undemocratic agendas. The private industrial complexes of Too Big to Fail corporations require minions of technocrats and employees—as well as a large network of contracted small businesses, advisors, and consultants—to exert control over the population.  Therefore, we should realistically be speaking of a 15 versus 85 percent in the war on inequality, control, and power.

 When this additional 45 million people, or 15 percent of the population, are added to the formula for who controls the major stakes of power, wealth, influence and policymaking today, we can more easily understand how the psychology of “group think” creates a protective shield around the power brokers calling the shots.  When the psychologist Irving Janis first used the term “groupthink”, he referred to a collective weakening of individuals’ “mental efficiency, reality testing and moral judgment” through pressure to stick with the corporate plan.[xxv]  Among the characteristics common to groupthink, which enables the privileged elite to exert compliance to their mission without dissent, is a false belief in the inherent morality of their jobs. For example, the neoliberal free-market ideology posits that trickle down economics from the top will create more jobs and raise families’ personal income—a persistent myth that has no historical example to prove it as fact.  

The actual facts, according to the 2012 Global Wealth Data Book, show that since the implementation of neoliberal economics in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the financial health of America’s middle class has fallen to 27th globally, behind Qatar, Taiwan, Cyprus and Kuwait. Simultaneously, the US has the most millionaires and billionaires of any other nation.[xxvi]  Groupthink also generates an “illusion of invulnerability,” an insincere and narrow confidence that enables workers to take extreme risks and a distorted group rationalization to deny facts to the contrary of their optimism.  Other characteristics include stereotyping enemies, managerial pressure on nonconformists, and self-censorship of doubts within the organization.  An illusion of unanimity is sustained whereby the image is created and perpetuated that the majority agree with organization’s purpose and mission.[xxvii]

Without the possibility of groupthink and this additional 15 percent passively serving the most powerful 1 percent’s destructive acts, life in the US would be far more democratic, just, and free today. Unfortunately, our society currently necessitates profit for both legitimacy and survival. This unprecedented economic and political atmosphere is giving birth to a new face of fascism.

 The Dominant Culture

When considering the human element in our societal structure, the question arises as to how human beings can act with such blatant disregard for damage incurred. There are varying figures assessing the percent of psychopathology among high level financial and corporate executives. In the general population, approximately 1% can be clinically diagnosed with sociopathic and psychopathic disorders[xxviii]. However, for the wealthy and power elite, estimates are higher.

Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Robert Hare estimates that 4 percent of corporate executives are clinically sociopathic.[xxix] Sherree DeCovny, a former high-powered investment banker now with CFA Financial Magazine, believes it is as high as 10 percent.[xxx] Figures from psychological surveys in the UK place estimates even higher. Psychologist Clive Boddy has argued that the psychopathological behavior of financial executives was a major cause for the 2007 economic collapse. He also notes that individuals with the strongest psychopathic tendencies are those who tend to be promoted fastest.[xxxi]

Research supports this claim. In a survey of 500 senior executives in the US and UK, 26 percent observed firsthand wrongdoing in the workplace and 24 percent believed that it was necessary for professionals in the financial sector to engage in unethical and even illegal conduct in order to be successful. Sixteen percent said they would commit insider trading if they were certain they could get away with it, and 30 percent said that the pressures of compensation plans were an incentive to break the law.[xxxii]

Today, this banking elite owns the lives of millions of Americans by imprisoning them in debt. In the third quarter of 2013, consumer indebtedness reached $11.28 trillion.[xxxiii]  2014 and every year thereafter will see household debt increase. The majority of this debt, in the form of mortgages and outstanding home equity, student loans, auto loans, and credit cards, is money owed to the banking industry. It is by keeping the masses indebted, securing government allegiance and protection to extract money from citizens, that bankers are able to control the economy.

In a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Representative Alan Grayson and three of his Congressional colleagues raised their concern over large investment banks taking over the real economy.  According to their investment relations reports, both banks are engaged in the “production, storage, transportation, marketing and trading of numerous commodities.”[xxxiv] These include crude oil and oil products, natural gas, coal, electric power, agricultural and food products, and precious and rare metals. Additionally, JP Morgan markets electric power and “owns electricity generating facilities in the US and Europe.”[xxxv] Goldman Sachs has entered the uranium mining market.  According to Rep. Grayson, none of these activities have anything to do with the business of banking, and there is no indication that the Fed or any other agency is regulating these irregular business undertakings.[xxxvi]

In early 2013, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich conducted the most thorough analysis of the financial ties between over 43,000 transnational banks and corporations. This was the first empirical study to identify a network where global power and wealth is most heavily concentrated. Their startling results observed that a small faction of 147 super companies controls over 40 percent of the entire transnational network, with an additional 36 million companies below them. 

Predictably, almost all of the 147 super companies were financial institutions, with Barclays, Capital Group, the Vanguard Group, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Bank of New York among the top of the list.[xxxvii]  With financial instruments of speculative trade insufficient to satisfy greed, such companies have every incentive to move into new territory, particularly resources and services that are essential to life. This includes fuel, water, food and minerals. As it stands, at least twenty-five major US companies have more wealth than entire countries.[xxxviii]

The prediction can be suggested that with current trends, the largest global banks will become the world’s most powerful “nations,” acting with complete autonomy outside of international laws that apply to sovereign states.  As corporate groupthink increases and infiltrates the larger civilian community, the transnationalist mind will persist as a breeding ground for psychopathology.

Conclusion

The consequences of today’s cowboy free market culture have sent the US middle class and economic mobility spiraling downward. Laid off workers have nowhere to use their skills to earn a livelihood for themselves and their families. Consequently, the worker is unable to meet expenditures and falls into a lower income bracket or poverty.  Mortgage defaults, credit card payments, and loans drag him further into debt. Without work and hence unable to pay taxes, the state, county and town suffer. In turn, local entities are forced to reduce their workforce and public services. The final result is the decline in the national quality of life, and the gradual deterioration of the US.  The inequality gap widens as the wealthy get richer and more powerful, while growing numbers of families become destitute.

A clear conflict exists between the values that we promote in the home and those values that are rewarded in the workplace. Unless we apply the same moral requirements to governments and corporations as we do to ourselves, friends, and families, the revolving door at the top of society will continue to consolidate power and wealth at any cost.

Notes

[i] Fessler, Pam. “How Many Americans Live In Poverty?” NPR. http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2013/11/06/243498168/how-many-americans-live-in-poverty (accessed December 2, 2013).

[ii] National Center for Children in Poverty. “Child Poverty.” NCCP. http://www.nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html (accessed December 1, 2013).

[iii] Plumer, Brad. “Why are 47 million Americans on food stamps? It’s the recession — mostly.” WashingtonPost.com. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/09/23/why-are-47-million-americans-on-food-stamps-its-the-recession-mostly/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

[iv] Melendez, Eleazar. “Financial Crisis Cost Tops $22 Trillion, GAO Says.” The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/14/financial-crisis-cost-gao_n_2687553.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [v] Moench, Brian. “Death by Corporation, Part II: Companies as Cancer Cells.” Truthout. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17705-death-by-corporation-part-ii-companies-as-cancer-cells (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [vi]  “The real jobs numbers: 41% of America unemployed, 1 in 3 doesn’t want work at all – RT USA.” RT.com. http://rt.com/usa/jobs-us-employment-welfare-749/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [vii] Vellacott, Chris. “Super Rich Hold $32 Trillion in Offshore Havens.” Reuters.com. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/22/us-offshore-wealth-idUSBRE86L03U20120722 (accessed December 13, 2003).

 [viii] “Barack Obama’s Bundlers.” Opensecrets RSS. http://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/bundlers.php

[ix] “What is ALEC?.” ALEC Exposed. http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/What_is_ALEC%3F#Who_funds_ALEC.3F (accessed December 3, 2013).

[x] Nichols, John. “ALEC Exposed.” The Nation. http://www.thenation.com/article/161978/alec-exposed# (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xi] “History.” ALEC American Legislative Exchange Council. http://www.alec.org/about-alec/history/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xii] Ibid.

[xiii] “Where Does the Money Go? Federal Budget 101.” National Priorities Project. http://nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/ (accessed December 2, 2013).

[xiv] The Economist Newspaper. “The Trouble with Tax Reform.” The Economist. http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/02/corporate-tax_reform (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xv] “Daily Kos.” : Buying Elections: Campaign Spending TRIPLES Since Citizens United. If You Can’t Win, Cheat + News!. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/03/11/1193246/-Buying-Elections-Campaign-Spending-TRIPLES-Since-Citizens-United-If-You-Can-t-Win-Cheat# (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xvi] Stein, Sam. “Top Bailout Recipients Spent $71 Million On Lobbying In Year Since Bailout.” The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/05/top-bailout-recipients-sp_n_346877.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xvii] Barofski, Neil. “Where the Bank Bailout Went Wrong.” NYTimes.com. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/30/opinion/30barofsky.html (accessed March 12, 2013).

[xviii] Murphy, Dan. “Booz Allen Hamilton, federal contractor.” Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Security-Watch/Backchannels/2013/0610/Booz-Allen-Hamilton-federal-contractor (accessed December 4, 2013).

[xix] Jonathan Fahey, Adam Goldman. “NSA Leak Highlights Key Role of Private Contractors,”  Huffington Post. June 10, 2013  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/10/nsa-leak-contractors_n_3418876.html

[xx] Barton Gellman, Greg Miller.  “US Spy Network’s Successes, Failures and Objectives Detailed in ‘Black Budget’ Summary,”  Washington Post. August 29. 2013  http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-08-29/world/41709796_1_intelligence-community-intelligence-spending-national-intelligence-program

[xxi] Aubrey Bloomfield. “Booz Allen Hamilton: 70% of the US Intelligence Budget Goes to Private Contractors,”  Policymic.  http://www.policymic.com/articles/48845/booz-allen-hamilton-70-of-the-u-s-intelligence-budget-goes-to-private-contractors

[xxii] Waterman, Shaun. “NSA chief’s admission of misleading numbers adds to Obama administration blunders.” Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/2/nsa-chief-figures-foiled-terror-plots-misleading/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxiii] Ibid.

[xxiv] Nader, Ralph. “Corporate espionage undermines democracy.” The Great Debate RSS. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/11/26/corporate-espionage-undermines-democracy/ (accessed December 2, 2013).

[xxv] “Groupthink in Service of Government.” BATR. http://www.batr.org/wrack/080413.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxvi] “How Does America’s Middle Class Rank Globally?.” A Lightning War for Liberty. http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2013/07/23/how-does-americas-middle-class-rank-globally-27/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xxvii] BATR.  Ibid.

[xxviii] Hare, Robert. “Focus on Psychopathy.” FBI. http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/law-enforcement-bulletin/july-2012/focus-on-psychopathy (accessed December 1, 2013).

 [xxix] Bercovici, Jeff. “Why (Some) Psychopaths Make Great CEOs.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2011/06/14/why-some-psychopaths-make-great-ceos/ (accessed December 2, 2013).

[xxx] Decovny, Sherree. “The Financial Psychopath Next Door.” CFA Magazine, Mar. – Apr. 2012. http://www.cfapubs.org/doi/pdf/10.2469/cfm.v23.n2.20 (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxxi] Boddy, Clive R.. “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory Of The Global Financial Crisis.” Journal of Business Ethics 102, no. 2 (2011): 255-259.

  [xxxii] LaCapra, Lauren Tara, and Leslie Adler. “Many Wall Street Executives Say Wrongdoing is Necessary: Survey.” Reuters. http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/07/10/business-us-wallstreet-survey-idUKBRE86906G20120710 (accessed December 3, 2013).

[xxxiii] Salas Gage, Caroline. “Household Debt in US Climbed 1.1% in Third Quarter, Fed Says.” Bloomberg.com. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-14/household-debt-in-u-s-climbed-1-1-in-third-quarter-fed-says.html (Accessed December 4, 2013.)

 [xxxiv]“Giant Banks Take Over Real Economy As Well As Financial System … Enabling Manipulation On a Vast Scale.” Washingtons Blog. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/giant-banks-take-over-real-economy-as-well-as-financial-system-enabling-manipulation-on-a-vast-scale.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

  [xxxv] Hopkins, Cheyenne. “Fed Said to Review Commodities at Goldman, Morgan Stanley.” Bloomberg.com. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-01/fed-said-to-review-commodities-at-goldman-morgan-stanley.html (accessed December 3, 2013). 

[xxxvi] “Giant Banks Take Over Real Economy As Well As Financial System … Enabling Manipulation On a Vast Scale.” Washingtons Blog. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2013/07/giant-banks-take-over-real-economy-as-well-as-financial-system-enabling-manipulation-on-a-vast-scale.html (accessed December 3, 2013).

 [xxxvii] Upbin, Bruce. “The 147 Companies That Control Everything.” Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceupbin/2011/10/22/the-147-companies-that-control-everything/ (accessed December 3, 2013).

Krosbi Quintero, a Venezuelan, spent 60 days in a migrant prison in Spain, he told Clarin last year. Before that, he had been detained ten other times for not having identity documents. In prison he and other inmates were given Alprazolam, normally prescribed for panic attacks, so they wouldn’t “create problems”. Quintero said migrants were blamed for “stealing jobs”, and police hunted for undocumented migrants in the train stations, stepping the hunt up when Spain’s economic situation got worse. Quintero claimed the police focused on darker skinned people such as himself.

While most first world and imperialist countries criminalise refugees and undocumented migrants, scapegoating them, promoting racism, and mistreating them, Venezuela welcomes migrants; and provides them with the same rights as Venezuelan citizens. The Chavez and Maduro governments have never blamed the millions of migrants here for any of the problems the country is facing; rather, migrants -documented or not- are welcomed and receive health care, education, and other benefits.

Meanwhile, Venezuelans and other Latin Americans, as well as migrants from Africa and Asia, are locked up, shot at, and demonised, when they try to migrate to and even vacation in first world countries. Every year the US expels almost 400,000 people who don’t have migration documents. According to a Telesurreport, border patrol agents even teach children near the border with Mexico to fire at cut outs of dark skinned migrants. The Oaxacan Institute of Migrant Attention said that in the January this year ten people were killed when trying to cross the border to the US, and in 2013 a total of 214 people were killed.

Spanish security forces have fired rubber bullets at migrants trying to swim to Spanish soil, seeing nine people from African countries drown in the attempt in February, according to rights groups and migrants. In Italy, undocumented migrants are needed for the cheap labour they provide to the agriculture industry (super exploitation the government turns a blind eye to), but are also demonised and degraded, with some forced to live in sewers. In England, the Home Office gives its workers vouches to expensive clothing shops as an incentive when to meet the target of rejecting 70% of asylum seekers.

And in Australia, a wealthy country with one of the lowest population densities and migration rates, refugees (heroes) are locked up and regularly commit suicide, while British backpackers who overstay visas are usually left alone. The Australian government’s immigration page says in huge bold red text, “No way, you will not make Australia home”. There, it announces that the Australian government will not process any temporary or permanent protection visas to anyone arriving by boat without a visa.

Every household “has at least one Colombian in it” – Venezuela’s migration history

Flor Gomez (Tamara Pearson /Venezuelanalysis.com)

Flor Alba Gomez Yepez migrated to Venezuela from Colombia nearly forty years ago, but only recently received citizenship. She described how the treatment of migrants has changed over time in Venezuela to Venezuelanalysis.

“I came here in 1973 after one of my brothers came here looking for a better quality of life. In Colombia the economic situation is always difficult. When we arrived here we started to work in a jumper factory – it’s still there, on the Avenue Americas, it’s called Azil, owned by some Italians. The housing situation back then was very bad. No one wanted to rent to Colombians, there was a lot of discrimination and racism because back then Colombians had a bad reputation. One woman would say that Colombians are thieves and prostitutes – they’d generalise like that about us, but then they’d get to know us. Now things have changed, Colombians are seen well. We’ve shown that we work hard, as time has passed we’ve become known for that,” Gomez said.

“This country is characterised by having people from all over the world; the biggest percentage [of migrants] are from Colombia, but there are also Italians, who often own bread shops, people from the Middle East, who often own clothing shops, many shops are owned by foreigners, and the Venezuelans are often professionals; doctors, teachers,” she said.

“Venezuelans and Colombians get married, and I’d say most households have at least one Colombian in them,” Gomez added.

Venezuela has the third highest number of migrants in Latin America, according to El Carabobeno. A 2011 World Bank study also put Venezuela in second place in the region for number of refugees, though the line between migrants and refugees is sometimes hard to draw, as many Colombians flee a range of factors, from violence to political repression, to economic hardship.

Venezuela also has more migrants than emigrants. A 2011 study by Ivan de la Vega for the Central University of Venezuela (UCV) estimated the number of Venezuelans living overseas to be 1.2 million, while the World Bank in 2010 only registered 521,620. Either way, the number is well below the number of foreigners living in Venezuela, with an estimated 4.5 million Colombians.

Venezuelans who move to the US tend to be young, with 55.26% under the age of 34, according to the US Homeland Security Department. The UCV study claimed that most people migrating to the US do so because of the crime levels in Venezuela, though perhaps the Hollywood myth of the US lifestyle is to blame, as crime rights in the US are not much better than Venezuela, and Latinos, migrants, and African-Americans are most frequently the victims. Further, historically in Venezuela, as in most third world countries, those who are educated here as professionals often end up working overseas – for lack of employment opportunities, or seeking a higher wage. According to Carlos Lage, of the Cuban state council, by 1999 one million scientists and professionals educated in Latin America “at a cost of some 30 billion dollars moved to developed countries, and now we have to pay in order to benefit from their scientific contributions”.

In the other direction, many Colombians migrate to Venezuela, or visit it in order to benefit from the free health care and higher education. Women crossing the border in order to give birth is very common.

“My first child was born in the HULA (University of Los Andes Hospital), and the care was very good; three doctors, two nurses, cleaners three times a day, we got towels. That was very different to when I had one of my boys, Cesar, in 1989, the second period of CAP (Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez). That same hospital was a disaster, it was totally deteriorated, and then the prices of things tripled. They said in the newspaper that the petroleum had run out- I saved a copy. There was a lot of poverty,” Gomez said.

“The year I migrated here, Carlos Andres Perez was a candidate. I remember that there was a lot of wasteful spending on the campaign. They handed out hats, cups; it was a very dishonest campaign. That first period of CAP things were quite affordable. It was known that there was a lot of petroleum, but people weren’t educated or informed about how it was sold, we weren’t told anything, and they held those beauty contests to distract people,” she explained.

Under the dictatorship of Marcos Perez Jimenez, until 1958, Venezuela had an open door policy, which was then revoked by the Punto Fijo government which followed. However, with the development of the oil industry from 1963, South Americans, especially Colombians, began to migrate to Venezuela. In the next few decades, others came here fleeing military dictatorships in Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia and Chile. As petroleum prices rose, investment and employment was concentrated in the main cities. Then, in the 1980s the prices dropped, and with IMF adjustment packages, unemployment increased, seeing more people emigrating out.

In Venezuela all human beings have the same rights

Under the Bolivarian government, migrants’ rights have significantly improved. “Foreigners in the territory of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela will have the same rights as nationals, without any limitations,” reads article 13 of the migration law, passed by the Chavez government in 2003.

Further, in February 2004, Chavez issued Presidential Decree 2,823, which began a national campaign to pay what he called “Venezuela’s historical debt to migrants”. Foreigners residing in Venezuela without documents could legalise their stay and become “indefinite residents”. They had to obtain a certificate of legalisation and an ID card, and were then granted the resident visa for five years. A few people had bureaucratic problems though with the process and in 2009 the identification and migration office, SAIME, renewed the process, seeing many of those last people finally able to get their visa. That year, every Monday- the day assigned to the process-, hundreds of people were seen queuing up outside the various SAIME offices.

“I married a Venezuelan after five years here, and that’s how I eventually got citizenship. But I didn’t get it until 2004, when I was naturalised, thanks to Chavez. I’d been living here 31 years. Before that it was very complicated, they didn’t give out citizenship,” Gomez said.

“Colombians are now attended to in hospitals, schools, there’s no problems studying. A lot of Colombians also work on farms; in the Sur del Lago area, in Caño Amarillo, and things have improved for them since Chavez came to power, especially as the land relationships have changed. Colombians without documents were exploited; they lived in informal housing and were paid badly. It used to be common, now it still happens, but not as much. I recently met a young woman who was working on a farm, she was treated very well and she was happy. She was paid Bs 4,000 every fortnight,” she explained.

“Before, the police would harass the youth, and if they didn’t have documents, they were sent to jail. It was very repressive, but now with Chavez it’s not like that,” Gomez added.

Now, having documentation and identification is a right, with the SAIME holding mobile cedulacion (ID card) stalls around the country, and police obliged to help children without documents to get identification. The few cases of undocumented or documented migrants being expelled from Venezuela over the last decade involve US diplomats allegedly conspiring against the government, people wanted with red alerts by Interpol, and in 2009, some people who were illegally extracting national resources, specifically gold and coltan.

Venezuelanalysis also talked to Alejandro Carrizo, an Argentinean who came to Venezuela 4.5 years ago.

Alejandro Carrizo (Tamara Pearson /Venezuelanalysis.com)

“I first came here for a cultural activity, and now I’m doing expositions. I fell in love here and I wanted to live and work here and also do research with rural workers and their organisations, ones aimed at re-taking land. There are some important laws for rural workers that don’t exist anywhere else on the continent – there are a lot of Ecuadorian and Colombian farmers, and the Chavez policies favour legality for them and provide them with lots of possibilities for work, credits, financing,” Carrizo explained.

“I came here on a tourist visa, and then just stayed on. I thought we all talked the same, but I discovered that I don’t talk very well and some of the words are different. That’s about all the difficulty I’ve had really, and it has been interesting to discover the new language. As a foreigner without documents, I have everything, I even have a bank account. I’ve got work, I’ve studied. I’ve worked in institutions and sometimes I’ve faced some obstacles with the payment, but with studying I haven’t had any problems. The bureaucracy is a bit annoying but it’s also natural in changing processes, there’s always some disorder. I’ve never really felt like a foreigner, I’ve been accepted by this society,” he said.

Gomez argued that Colombians were better off in Venezuela, even without documents, than in Colombia, “There’s no freedom in Colombia and the people don’t count, aren’t taken into account in politics. The transnationals there…one in Putamayo, near the Pacific sea, destroyed the rivers for gold and didn’t ask the people there. There’s lots of exploitation, the wages are barely liveable, water, gas and electricity are all privatised, and education is almost totally privatised too, it’s very expensive. If a family has five children, two at the most will study. Here on the other hand, the gas is given away basically, studying is free, anyone who needs a medical exam, an x-ray, can just get one,” Gomez said.

Even people migrating here from non Latin American countries tend to face few problems. Venezuelanalysis talked to Carlos Furtado, who works in a shop owned by Chinese people. As the owners spoke little Spanish, they preferred that I talk to Furtado. He explained, “For cultural and language reasons, sometimes it can be difficult, sometimes there’s some rejection, but it’s easier for their children who are born here and speak Spanish. Sometimes laws aren’t applied, but entering the country is normal. There’s no discrimination here, no exploitation because someone was born somewhere else. That’s why there’s a saying, ‘Venezuela is the mother of all the countries’”.

Venezuela’s new police university, the UNES, which is focused on human rights, is currently running courses in migration, “to promote ethics in public attention and respect for human rights”. Forty SAIME workers started a course called the National Program for Training Civil Servants in the Area of Migration last September.

Ruben Dario, a general director at the UNES, told press during the start of the course that Venezuela’s migration policy “is distinguished for being tolerant, without any kind of discrimination, solidarious, with complete respect for all migrant human rights, and for not criminalising migration”.

The UN agency for refugees, Acnur, has also been able to work in Venezuela, saying it has trained around 10,000 people in ten years, among them military, police, civil servants, students, and NGOs attending to refugees. Acnur states that one of its aims in Venezuela is to strengthen refugees’ self sufficiency, and that while it started by handing out micro credits, now the state “has taken the reigns of this strategy of protection for many families who find it hard to earn a living”.

Institutional bureaucracy is the main difficulty for migrants in Venezuela

Despite the passing of the Law for the Simplification of Administration (2008), which declares that all bureaucratic processes should be free or affordable (they are) and as simple as possible,  there are still serious bureaucratic problems here– of inconsistent requirements, unnecessary paperwork, insufficient information about requirements, and processing of requests can take too long. These problems affect all people here, but they disproportionately affect migrants, at times leaving them vulnerable.

Though having legal documents like a visa is not a prerequisite for any social services such as health, subsidised food, political participation, education, and so on, visas help with leaving and returning to Venezuela. Not having a working visa can also leave people more susceptible to work place abuse, exploitation, and to having their worker rights, such as to pensioner savings, denied. The work law states that foreigners have the same rights as citizens, but employers can use the lack of a visa to intimidate workers anyway. Psychologically, people without visas may feel insecure, and they can also be more vulnerable to police harassment and extortion, though instances of such cases have drastically reduced over the last seven years.

While obtaining a working visa, a business visa, or a family visa, and eventually residency, is much easier and affordable here than in Australia or the US, for example, the requirements for a working visa are still next to impossible; applicants have to obtain the work in Venezuela, have the ministry of labour approve the visa (one of the hardest things), then return to their country of birth to apply for the visa. Over the last seven years there have been serious improvements, with more SAIME offices around the country, processing time drastically reduced, and more consistent information about requirements.

I remember first trying to get a legal visa in 2008. I had to travel to Caracas (16 hours in a bus). Then, literally dozens of people were swarming outside the SAIME building (then known as Onidex) trying to sell “stamps” that no one actually needed. Inside the building I tried to find out the requirements for a visa, and was sent from one office to another, to the point where I came full circle, still with no information. Now, there is a huge office in Merida. It takes just a morning to get a cedula (ID card), instead of a few weeks, and there are signs everywhere warning people that they do not have to pay for forms, and that stamps can only be obtained from certain registered shops. There is an information desk, and the national guard at SAIME are really helpful. Nevertheless, the process for becoming “documented” could be simplified much more.

“I haven’t witnessed much discrimination, though yes, there are bureaucratic obstacles,” Carrizo said. “Some Colombians have been here for twenty years, and they [the government] should make it easier to processes all the paperwork much more quickly”.

Latin America rejects borders

“My family are indigenous, the Comechingones people, and I feel like I identify more with that. Our borders are different, we’re all brothers; Spain divided up the territory, such bureaucratic things aren’t part of our language. Mercosur is an advance towards a single and free territory, free of imperialism. We’d save a lot of paper,” Carrizo said. People from member countries of Mercosur don’t need a passport to visit other member countries as tourists.

“Latin America is one country, you see that when you travel,” Gomez concluded.

Leading and pushing regional blocs such as ALBA, Petrocaribe, and the CELAC, Venezuela has been taking concrete, though slow and small steps, towards a united Latin America based on cooperation between regions, and where borders either don’t exist, or are less prohibitive, and where no one is “illegal”.

A CELAC statement coming out of a meeting for the protection of migrants held in June 2011 reaffirmed the member countries’ concerns “for the vulnerable situation of migrants and their families facing human rights violations and a lack of protection, something which urges states to increase their efforts … to continue advancing in strengthening full economic and social development in our region, free of all the factors that force international migration, as that should be a free decision”.

In this sense, the CELAC and Venezuela are setting an example for first world countries: showing that humane treatment of all migrants, documented or not, is easy and possible. Further, that the most important thing is to not force migration: to remove borders, to have cooperative trade policies (rather than the US’s trade policies which impoverish people in Mexico, Haiti, and so on), and to not support the invasion and destruction of other countries, such as Iraq, thereby creating the refugees that countries like Australia and the US refuse to look after.

“How lovely that you and I are two immigrants talking about this,” Carrizo said as the interview concluded.

“Between your town and mine, there’s a dot and a dash. The dash says, “You can’t get through” and the dot says, “Closed road”. Like that… with so many dots and dashes, the map is a telegram. Walking in the world one sees rivers and mountains, one sees deserts and jungles, but not dots or dashes. Because these things don’t exist, rather they were imposed so that my hunger and yours would always be separated,” – Aguiles Nazoa, 20th century Venezuelan writer.

The weeklong official commemoration of the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has featured speeches at the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas by President Obama and ex-presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. These ceremonies, and particularly Obama’s keynote speech Thursday afternoon, have served to cover up rather than illuminate the historical importance of the struggle against segregation and racial discrimination.

None of the four presidential speakers has any genuine connection to the mass movement of millions of African American workers and youth—broadly supported by working people of all races—that first shook and ultimately shattered the legal semi-apartheid of the American South known as Jim Crow. All four presidents represent, in different ways, the efforts of the American ruling class to reverse the gains made by working people in the 1960s and make ever-greater inroads against their living standards, social conditions and democratic rights.

Carter was the first Democrat elected after Johnson, who was virtually driven out of office by the mass popular movement against the Vietnam War, which compelled him to abandon any effort to win a second full presidential term. Carter campaigned for the presidency as the most right-wing of the Democratic candidates, committed to curbing rather than expanding the welfare state measures enacted under Johnson. His administration featured one confrontation after another with the working class, including the 111-day strike by coal miners who defied his presidential back-to-work order.

Clinton campaigned for the presidency in 1992 as a “New Democrat,” one who personified the rejection of the policies of expanded social programs and concessions to the working class once associated with the Democratic Party. Working with an ultra-right Republican Congress, Clinton carried through “welfare reform,” the abolition, for the first time in US history, of one of the basic social safety net programs established by the New Deal and Great Society reforms of the 1930s and the 1960s.

As for Bush, his attempt to associate himself with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is an obscenity. He personifies the transformation of the Republican Party—which in 1964 provided heavier congressional support for the bill than the Democrats—into the party of the most racist and reactionary component of the American political establishment, with its main political base in the Southern states.

Nor is Obama, the first African-American president, an heir to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, as he claimed in his keynote speech. He is rather the end product of the measures adopted by the US ruling class to tame, neuter and destroy the mass movement of the 1960s. The civil rights struggles represented a genuine egalitarian impulse, a fight to improve the living standards and expand the democratic rights of the most oppressed sections of the working class, to the benefit of all working people.

Substituted for this was the cultivation of special privileges for a select few through programs such as affirmative action, first proposed by President Richard Nixon as a way of co-opting the civil rights movement, under the slogan “black capitalism.” The goal was to elevate a layer of more privileged African Americans, then women and Hispanics, and later gays and lesbians, into positions of power and influence, while leaving the fundamental social structure of American capitalism unchanged. Identity politics was promoted as the cover for this process and became the political basis of the Democratic Party, in particular.

Obama was part of that layer of African Americans cultivated by the talent-spotters for corporate America and the military-intelligence apparatus. His first job after graduating from college was for Business International, a front company for CIA ventures overseas. He was later recruited to Harvard Law School before being plugged into a political career in Southside Chicago, then elevated improbably, first to the US Senate, then the White House.

Once in office, he has displayed unwavering loyalty to the interests of the American ruling elite, from the bailout of Wall Street to the buildup of the police-state apparatus of spying, to the promotion of imperialist military operations and political provocations in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, East Asia and now Ukraine. Poverty is at the highest level since the 1960s, food stamp usage at an all-time high. One figure sums up the class character of the Obama administration: during his first term in office, the richest one percent of the US population captured 95 percent of all increases in income.

Media commentaries on the civil rights anniversary have noted the wide scope of the reforms associated with that period: in addition to the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Voting Rights Act (1965), these included the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid (1965), federal aid to elementary and secondary schools (1965), the Fair Housing Act (1966), and the first environmental and consumer protection laws.

But there is no serious assessment of the eventual failure of these efforts. This was not just the outcome of the Vietnam War, which became the sinkhole for the resources that Johnson had initially proposed to devote to the “War on Poverty.” In the final analysis, it represented the failure of American capitalism.

In the richest country in the world, at the height of the post-World War II boom, it proved impossible, within the framework of the profit system, to alleviate poverty significantly or make any long-term improvement in the conditions of life for the broad masses of working people. On the contrary, the five decades that followed have seen the growth of economic inequality to unheard-of dimensions.

Obama’s pretense of social reformism will be hailed by liberal publications such as the Nation as a turn to the left, and given credibility by pseudo-left organizations such as the International Socialist Organization. This is a fraud.

Obama seeks to associate himself with the civil rights struggles of the 1960s only to provide a political cover for a discredited right-wing administration and a Democratic Party facing mass disaffection at the polls in the upcoming congressional elections.

There is one striking similarity between Lyndon Johnson and Obama. LBJ notoriously pored over maps of North Vietnam, personally selecting targets for pulverization by US B-52s. Obama’s equivalent is his “Terror Tuesdays,” when he sits down with intelligence aides to determine whom the CIA and Pentagon will exterminate with drone-fired cruise missiles.

Johnson sought to combine social reform and imperialist war, leading to his political debacle. Obama combines imperialist war and reaction all down the line: the dismantling of social benefits, the bankruptcy of major cities like Detroit, wage cutting spearheaded by the federal government, police-state spying on a gigantic scale.

The real lesson of this historical epoch is that the perspective of creating a more democratic and egalitarian capitalism failed and was doomed to do so. The profit system is incompatible with genuine democracy and equality. It must be overthrown through the independent political struggle of the working class and replaced by a socialist system, in which the stranglehold of the financial aristocracy is broken, its criminally obtained wealth is expropriated, and economic life is placed under the democratic control of the entire people.

Protesters in Athens.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew to Athens Friday to bolster the prospects of the right-wing government of Antonis Samaras in the forthcoming European elections. Important regional and municipal elections are scheduled in Greece for the same week.

Following her support for the ultra-nationalists and fascists represented in the Ukrainian transitional government, Merkel is now seeking to prop up the Samaras regime, which has close ties to similar forces in Greece.

The Greek government has been thrown into tumult in the past few weeks after the release of a video which revealed the intimate links between one of Samaras’ closest advisors, Panagiotis Baltakos, and the fascist Golden Dawn party. The video records Baltakos having a friendly conversation with Ilias Kassidiaris, a spokesman for Golden Dawn, who is currently facing prosecution on charges of membership in a criminal organization. Baltakos was Samaras’ legal and political adviser for the past 20 years, since the latter founded New Democracy in the 1990s.

The affair demonstrated that repeated claims by Samaras and other government spokesmen that they oppose Golden Dawn and its racist policies are so much hot air. Samaras was subsequently forced to accept the resignation of his longtime political ally. An immediate consequence of the scandal was a further fall in the polls for Samaras’ New Democracy party, which has a slender one deputy majority in the Greek parliament. According to one of the latest opinion polls, ND now stands three points behind the main opposition party, SYRIZA.

Greek security forces were put on high alert for the German chancellor’s visit, with the police announcing a ban on any rallies in large parts of the Athens city centre between 11:30 until 21:30, with 5,000 heavily armed riot police deployed to quell any protests.

Merkel’s visit comes two years after her last trip to Greece in 2012. At that time, her visit was accompanied by extensive demonstrations directed against the European leader regarded by most Greeks as the prime mover of the austerity policies which have wreaked such havoc on the lives of millions of workers and their families.

In 2012, Merkel was ridiculed by demonstrators who portrayed the chancellor wearing a Nazi uniform. The caricature was aimed at recalling the fateful consequences of Nazi Germany’s invasion of Greece during the Second World War. This time Merkel returned as public supporter of a government with proven links to the fascists.

Police spokesmen sought to justify the massive security operation in the city with the explosion of a car bomb on Thursday. The bomb went off in front of the Greek Central Bank in central Athens, causing some material damage but no casualties. The bombing had all the hallmarks of a state provocation aimed at diverting attention from the links of the government to the fascists and justifying the build-up of state and security forces.

For their part, the Greek trade union movement sought to defuse opposition to Merkel’s visit by holding small token demonstrations on Wednesday.

Merkel’s visit was accompanied by a barrage of propaganda in the European press implying that, after years of austerity which have slashed economic output in Greece by a quarter, the Greek economy and also the euro zone, were finally turning the corner.

On Thursday, the Greek government announced that its attempt to re-enter the bond markets had been successful. The sale of Greek government bonds was the first since the European Union and International Monetary Fund effectively assumed economic control of the country in 2010.

In the run-up to the sale of the Greek bonds the German Der Spiegelmagazine hailed the return of Greece to the markets as a “dubious miracle”. After the sale the Greek financial newspaper Imerisia headlined “The great comeback”, while the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, declared that the bond sale was “an indication that Greece is heading in the right direction”.

In fact, as was the case with all of the financial measures imposed by the EU and IMF on Greece during the past five years, Thursday’s bond sale was yet another bonanza for Western banks. Reports of the sale relayed that hedge funds and other major financial institutions were queuing up for the bonds which, according to a Greek government spokesman, were eight times oversubscribed.

The 4.75 percent interest rate on the Greek bonds is the highest among euro-denominated sovereign bond issues and more than double the rate Greece currently pays to its official creditors of around 2 percent.

Investors were so eager to pick the five-year bonds because their creditworthiness is virtually guaranteed by existing euro zone finance mechanisms. The total raised by the Greek government in the sale—€3 billion—is a drop in the ocean compared to the €240 billion Greece owes to Western banks following a succession of EU-IMF bail outs. German and French banks are expected to be the main beneficiaries after the European Central Bank (ECB) barred Greek banks from participating in the sale.

Once again, it will be the Greek population which will pick up the tab for the sale in the form of interest repayments estimated at between €125 million and €150 million due in the not-so distant future

For her part, the German chancellor made clear there would be no let-up in the implementation of austerity policies. She addressed a meeting of small businessmen in Athens on Friday and promised a small contribution by Germany to a so-called “Institution for Growth”.

Before departing for Greece, however, she declared: “We have some difficult years behind us when it comes to the debt crisis, but we can see first successes. We should not trivialize these successes, even though we certainly haven’t reached the end of the road”.

What Merkel describes as “successes” are measures which have devastated the Greek economy. Well over a quarter of the workforce is unemployed, with youth unemployment over 60 percent. The country’s debt burden has reached an historic high of 175 percent of GDP, and a 1.5 percent drop in consumer prices, year on year, indicates that the economy is stagnant and confronts outright deflation.

In its recent (April 8) economic report on Greece, Citigroup Inc. concluded: “A failure of the economy to show further signs of recovery may reignite political instability, which remains the main source of risk” to investors.

Merkel ruled out any meeting during her visit with the head of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). For his part, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras criticized the visit of the German chancellor and EU policy in order to appeal to his domestic audience.

For his international audience, however, Tsipras plays a different tune. At the end of March, George Tzogopoulos, a researcher at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), reported: “In Greece, it [SYRIZA] is condemning the bailout for obvious political reasons, but in Europe it is ‘more friendly’ towards the European economic policy”.

Tzogopoulos went on to note that, in relation to European policy, SYRIZA would now be prepared to negotiate and even apply the same bailout terms that it openly condemns at home.

GMO and Monsanto

April 13th, 2014 by Global Research News

After a series of headline-grabbing statements about the possibility of “switching” European consumers over to American gas, the US media hastened to announce the launch of Obama’s oil and gas offensive against Russia. In reality the EU is not currently prepared, neither technically nor in terms of price, to buy its energy resources from the US.  It would take at least ten years to adapt even the technically advanced German energy system to work with American gas supply. In a crisis, when it is particularly urgent to see a quick return on an investment, such projects are unrealistic.

Whether German industry is ready to pay more for gas from overseas just for the dubious pleasure of “punishing” someone is a big question. Unlike EU officials, the German government is not publicly calling into question either its long-term contracts with Russia or the future of the South Stream pipeline. On March 13, 2014, the chairman of the board of Gazprom, Alexei Miller, attended a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor and Minister of Economics and Energy of Germany Sigmar Gabriel. “Germany is Russia’s number one partner in Europe’s gas and energy market,” Miller stated. “Russian gas accounts for 40% of all German imports. And we’re also noting an upwards tick in the quantity of gas supplies coming from Russia.  Last year, shipments totaled more than 40 billion cubic meters and we’ve seen a 20% annual increase.” Looking at these statistics, it’s clear that all the talk about Atlantic solidarity is having zero effect on the German government’s rational decision making. “We don’t need conflict escalation”, said Sigmar Gabriel during an expert roundtable on energy policy later in March. “Russia met its obligations under the gas contracts even in the darkest years of the Cold War”.

Sigmar Gabriel knows what he’s talking about. For Europe to be able to fully utilize gas supplies from the US, it will be necessary to build expensive facilities to decompress and store the gas. Moreover, in order to incorporate the “American” gas into the existing local energy systems, the European countries would need to construct new pumping stations. The associated infrastructure will further add to the price for the end consumer. Neither the bosses of the German industry nor the responsible political leaders will support such policy.

So who’s behind the demands that Russia be punished?

Barack Obama continues to look outside of Europe for ways to pressure Moscow. It is no coincidence that the US president’s recent statements on energy policy coincided with his visit to Saudi Arabia. President Obama came to Riyadh to bring down prices in exchange for the development of Saudi Arabian facilities to extract and liquefy gas for delivery to Europe. It’s unlikely that even Charles Maurice de Talleyrand himself could have persuaded the Saudis to dump as many resources as possible onto the market in exchange for the nebulous promise of American help to obtain new gas facilities at some unspecified date in the future.

Qatar’s position needs to be kept in mind too. There are serious personal disagreements between the Saudis and the hypersensitive former emir of Qatar as no one in the Middle East needs a new competitor in the gas industry. Obama’s attempt to repeat Ronald Reagan’s oil trick in the Middle East and “shake down” global prices will face many obstacles. A hike in oil prices below $80 would expose yet another issue that was a real controversy during Obama’s reelection campaign, namely – what to do about Iraq. Even a 10% drop in oil prices would finish off the Iraqi economy, still reeling from the US invasion. And Israel is closely monitoring the White House’s attempts to initiate a rapprochement with Iran. If Uncle Sam tries to levy energy sanctions against Russia using his political positions in the Middle East, he will quickly find he has loaded a gun only to shoot himself in the foot.

The US Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, an Obama appointee and shale enthusiast, has jumped right into the discussion of “punishing” Russia. He promised to consider new efforts to ship LNG from the USA to Europe. In this particular case his verbal intervention is unlikely to reflect the position of the CEOs of the oil majors. They know very well that the industry’s real break-even points are nowhere near where they were 30 years ago due to inflation and higher operation costs. Today one facility—Cheniere’s $10 billion Sabine Pass terminal in Cameron Parish—has the required approvals from the Energy Department and U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

In early March, the American economist Philip Verleger, who worked in the White House and the US Treasury in the 1970s, spoke as an expert on the issue of using energy as way to “punish” Russia. In the March 3, 2014 newsletter that he publishes for his clients, Verleger wrote that the US has a tool it can use to influence Russia – its Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR). US Reserve currently contains almost 700 million barrels of oil, five million of which were unloaded onto the market during the Washington visit of the interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. “It almost defies logic to think there isn’t a link,” noted John Kingston, the director of Platts’ news division. Tapping the SPR to manipulate the global market would be a highly extraordinary decision. The only way to exert any real pressure on global oil prices would be to open up at least 50% of the entire SPR and grant export licenses to anyone who wanted one. The American DoE is obviously not ready for such draconian measures.

Looking at the 2014 report written by the DoE analysts who are known for their almost religious faith in alternative energy, the minimum price for oil in 2015 will be $89.75/barr. The Russian national budget in 2014, which was saddled with expenses related to the Olympics, was drawn up based on an average price of $93 per barrel. Ergo, even $80-90 would hardly spell disaster for Moscow, much less $100 a barrel. In addition, the “nonmarket” pressure by the US could be balanced by the exporter nations. For example, the idea of “energy currency” has long been a hot topic within OPEC and the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF).

For the first time ever in the history of US-Russian relations we are seeing a public debate about a threat of economic sanctions that may have a long-range negative effect on global energy security. The Obama administration acts as if it is guided by a chapter out of an old Soviet textbook on political economy. At the moment, apparently, the sacred dogma of the free market, from Samuelson to Friedman, can be conveniently overlooked for the sake of punishing a sovereign nation. When the head of the most influential state in the world talks about manipulating market prices to punish recalcitrant players, what kind of “global free market” and fair play are we really talking about?

Korea and the “Axis of Evil”

April 13th, 2014 by Brian S. Willson

Armistice Day, July 27, 2013

This article by Vietnam War Veteran, author and peace activist Brian Willson was first published by Global Research in 2002. It outlines, what most people in America do not know  and which is particularly relevant in assessing the alleged “threats” of North Korea to global security. 

North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of US led bombings in the 1950s. US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s  population was killed off over a three period of intensive bombings:

“After destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, [General] LeMay remarked,“Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”6 It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.”

During The Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89% and the US lost 0.32%. During the Korean war, North Korea lost 30 % of its population.

These figures of civilian deaths in North Korea should also be compared to those compiled for Iraq  by the Lancet Study (John Hopkins School of Public Health). The Lancet study estimates a total of 655,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, following the US led invasion (March 2003- June 2006).

Michel Chossudovsky,  Global Research, April 14,  2014 


The demonization of North Korea by the United States government continues unrelentlessly. The wealthy oil and baseball man who claims to be president of the United States, used his first State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 to brand perennial enemy North Korea, along with former allies Iran and Iraq, as “the world’s most dangerous regimes” who now now form a threatening “axis of evil.” Unbeknown to the public, because it was intended to have remained a secret (whoops!), was the fact that this claimed president presented a “Nuclear Posture Review” report to Congress only three weeks earlier, on January 8, which ordered the Pentagon to prepare contingency plans for use of nuclear weapons. The first designated targets for nuclear attack were his newly identified members of the “axis of evil,” along with four other lucky nations as well – Syria, Libya, Russia, and China. That this is nothing short of a policy of ultimate terror remains unaddressed in the U.S. media.

That Koreans are deeply concerned is an understatement. However, they understand the context in which their “evil” is being portrayed, not an altogether new threat levelled at them. However, the dangerous escalation of policy rhetoric following the 9-11 tragedy now boldly warns the world of virtual total war. Vice-president Richard Cheney, another oil man from Texas, declares that the U.S. is now considering military actions against forty to fifty nations, and that the war “may never end” and “become a permanent part of the way we live.”1 The Pentagon has declared that the widening gap between the “Haves” and “Have-nots” poses a serious challenge to the U.S., requiring a doctrine of “full spectrum dominance.” Thus, the U.S. demands total capacity to conquer every place and its inhabitants in and around the Earth, from deep underground bunkers, including those in North Korea and Iraq, through land, sea, and air, to outer space. All options for achieving global and spatial hegemony are now on the table. Already, the U.S. military is deployed in 100 different countries.2 Total war, permanent war. Terror!

Addiction to use of terror by the United States is nothing new. The civilization was founded and has been sustained by use of terror as a primary policy. For example, in 1779, General George Washington ordered destruction of the “merciless Indian savages” of upstate New York, instructing his generals to “chastize” them with “terror.” The generals dutifully carried out these orders. In 1866, General William Tecumseh Sherman ordered “extermination” with vindictive earnestness of the Sioux. They were virtually exterminated. Secretary of War Elihu Root (1899-1904) under President’s McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, justified the ruthless U.S. military conduct in the Philippines that savagely killed a half-million citizens by citing “precedents of the highest authority:” Washington’s and Sherman’s earlier orders.3

War against nations around the world is not new either. The U.S., over its history, has militarily intervened over 400 times, covertly thousands of times, in over one hundred nations.4 Virtually all these interventions have been lawless. It has bombed at least eighteen nations since it dropped Atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. It has used chemical warfare against Southeast Asia, and has provided chemical warfare agents for use by other nations such as Iraq. It has used biological warfare against China, North Korea, and Cuba. The Koreans are quite aware of most of this history. Most U.S. Americans are not. But now the U.S. has declared a unilateral terrorist war on the whole world.5

Two of the interventions in the Nineteenth Century were inflicted against Korea, the first in 1866. The second, larger one, in 1871, witnessed the landing of over 700 marines and sailors on Kanghwa beach on the west side of Korea seeking to establish the first phases of colonization. Destroying several forts while inflicting over 600 casualties on the defending Korean natives, the U.S. withdrew realizing that in order to assure hegemonic success, a much larger, permanent military presence would be necessary. The North Korean people regularly remark about this U.S. invasion, even though most in South Korea do not know of it due to historic censorship. Most in the U.S. don’t know about it either, for similar reasons, even though in all of the Nineteenth Century, this was the largest U.S. military force to land on foreign soil outside of Mexico and Canada until the “Spanish American War” in 1898.

I believe it important for U.S. Americans to place themselves in the position of people living in targeted countries. That North Korea, a nation of 24 million people, i.e., one-twentieth the population of the U.S., many of them poor, a land slightly larger in area than the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, continues to be one of the most demonized nations and least understood, totally perplexes the Korean people. It is worthwhile to seek an understanding of their perspective.

I recently visited that nation and talked with a number of her citizens. I travelled 900 ground miles through six of North Korea’s nine provinces, as well as spending time in Pyongyang, the capital, and several other cities. I talked with dozens of people from all walks of life. Though times have been hard for North Koreans, especially in the 1990s, they long ago proudly rebuilt all of their dozens of cities, thousands of villages, and hundreds of dykes and dams destroyed during the war.

U.S. interference into the sovereign life of Korea immediately upon the 1945 surrender of the hated Japanese, who had occupied the Korean Peninsula for forty years, is one of the major crimes of the Twentieth Century, from which the Korean people have never recovered. (SEE “United States Government War Crimes,” Spring 2002 – issue # 1 of Global Outlook). From a North Korean’s perspective they (1) have vigorously opposed the unlawful and egregious division of their country from day one to the present, (2) were blamed for starting the “Korean War” which in fact had been a struggle between a minority of wealthy Koreans supporting continued colonization in collaboration with the U.S. and those majority Koreans who opposed it, (3) proudly and courageously held the U.S. and its “crony U.N. allies” to a stalemate during the “War,” and (4) have been tragically and unfairly considered a hostile nation ever since. They have not forgotten the forty years of Japanese occupation that preceded the U.S. imposed division and subsequent occupation that continues in the South. They deeply yearn for reunification of their historically unified culture.

Everyone I talked with, dozens and dozens of folks, lost one if not many more family members during the war, especially from the continuous bombing, much of it incendiary and napalm, deliberately dropped on virtually every space in the country. “Every means of communication, every installation, factory, city, and village” was ordered bombed by General MacArthur in the fall of 1950. It never stopped until the day of the armistice on July 27, 1953. The pained memories of people are still obvious, and their anger at “America” is often expressed, though they were very welcoming and gracious to me. Ten million Korean families remain permanently separated from each other due to the military patrolled and fenced dividing line spanning 150 miles across the entire Peninsula.

Let us make it very clear here for western readers. North Korea was virtually totally destroyed during the “Korean War.” U.S. General Douglas MacArthur’s architect for the criminal air campaign was Strategic Air Command head General Curtis LeMay who had proudly conducted the earlier March 10 – August 15, 1945 continuous incendiary bombings of Japan that had destroyed 63 major cities and murdered a million citizens. (The deadly Atomic bombings actually killed far fewer people.) Eight years later, after destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, LeMay remarked, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”6 It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.

Virtually every person wanted to know what I thought of Bush’s recent accusation of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil.” Each of the three governments comprising Bush’s “axis of evil” of course immediately condemned the remarks, North Korea being no exception. I shared with them my own outrage and fears, and they seemed relieved to know that not all “Americans” are so cruel and bellicose. As with people in so many other nations with whom the U.S. has treated with hostility, they simply cannot understand why the U.S. is so obsessed with them.

Koreans were relieved to learn that a recent poll had indicated eighty percent of South Koreans were against the U.S. belligerant stance against their northern neighbors. The North Korean government described Bush as a “typical rogue and a kingpin of terrorism” as he was visiting the South in February, only three weeks after presenting his threatening State of the Union address.7 It was also encouraging that the two Koreas resumed quiet diplomatic talks in March just as the U.S. and South Korea were once again conducting their regular, large-scale, joint military exercises so enraging to the North, and to an increasing number of people in the South among the growing reunification movement there.8

In the English-language newspaper, The Pyongyang Times, (February 23, 2002) there were articles entitled “US Is Empire of the Devil,” Korea Will Never Be a Threat to the US,” and “Bush’s Remarks Stand Condemned.” Quite frankly, all three of these articles relate a truth about the U.S. that would draw a consensus from many quarters around the world.

While in country, together we listened to Bush’s March 14 Voice of America (VOA) radio chastizement of North Korea. First, he stated that the North’s 200,000 prisoner population was proof of terrible repression. Though I had no way of knowing the number of prisoners in the North, any more than Bush did, I do know that the United States has 2 million prisoners which is similar in per-capita detention rate to that of North Korea if the 200,000 figure is accurate. Furthermore, the U.S. has a minimum of 3 million persons, mostly minority and poor, under state supervision of parole and probation. The U.S. sweeps its class and race problems into prison.

Second, Bush declared that half the population was considered unreliable and, as a result, received less monthly food rations. The Koreans are a proud people living in a Confucian tradition, having rebuilt their nation from virtual total destruction during the Korean war. I did not notice any obvious display of dissent. That some Koreans are desperate due to lack of food, water, and heat, especially in some rural areas, does not necessarily translate into dissent, though some are seeking relief by travel to neighboring countries.9

Third, Bush claimed that Koreans who listen to foreign radio are targeted for execution. Together we regularly listened to U.S.VOA radio broadcasts and they freely discussed the content of the broadcasts without fear of reprisals.

Fourth, Bush condemned the DPRK for spending too much on its military, causing food shortages for the people. Note: Again it must be remembered that it was the U.S. that unilaterally divided Korea following the Japanese surrender in August 1945, and subsequently ruled with a military occupation government in the south, overseeing the elimination of virtually the entire popular movement of (majority) opposition to U.S. occupation, murdering hundreds of thousands of people. The consequent Korean civil war that openly raged in 1948-1950 was completely ignored when the U.S. defined the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. The U.S. remains at war with the DPRK, never having signed a peace treaty with her. The war has left a deep scar in the Korean character with a memory that is regularly provoked by continued belligerance directed at the DPRK. The U.S. regularly holds joint military exercises with South Korean military forces aimed at the DPRK. The U.S. retains 37,000 military troops at 100 installations south of the 38th parallel. The U.S. has its largest Asian bombing range where it practices bombs five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, despite opposition from many South Koreans. And now Bush has identified North Korea as part of an “axis of evil” targeted for nuclear attack. This is no remote idea to North Koreans. The U.S. possesses nuclear weapons on ships and planes in the Pacific region surrounding North Korea. Virtually every nation in this perilous position would be concerned about their defense.

It is worth noting that the United States is the leading military spender in the world resulting in substantial underfunding of its own indispensable social programs.

Fifth, Bush accused the DPRK of selling weapons to other nations. That is like the pot calling the kettle black. The U.S. is by far the largest manufacturer of conventional, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in the world. It is also the largest seller of these weapons, and has used conventional (against dozens of nations), biological (Cuba, China, Korea, perhaps others), chemical (Southeast Asia), and nuclear (Japan, and threatened to use them on at least 20 other occasions) weapons. In addition it has armed other nations with these weapons of mass destruction, including Iraq, one of those countries now identified as part of the “axis of evil.” In the year 2000, international arms sales were nearly $37 billion, with the U.S. being directly responsible for just over half of those sales. South Korea was the third largest buyer of weapons from the United States with $3.2 worth of military hardware.10 And in January 2002, South Korea was seriously contemplating purchasing an additional $3.2 billion worth of 40 F-X fighter jets from U.S. arms giant Boeing.

At the conclusion of this VOA radio broadcast, Koreans and I looked at each other in disbelief. But we also knew that we were in solidarity with each other as part of the human family. When I said goodbye to my new friends we embraced knowing that we live in a single world made up of a rich diversity of ideas and species. We know that we are going to live or die together, and hope that the arrogant and dangerous rhetoric and militarism of the United States will soon end so we can all live in peace. However, for that to happen, there will need to be a dramatic awakening among the people and a corresponding expression of massive nonviolent opposition that will make such threatening behavior impossible to carry out.

 

S. Brian Willlson is a Vietnam veteran, long-time peace activist, and writer. He has visited a number of countries studying the impacts of U.S. policy. His essays are posted on his website, www.brianwillson.com. He published a small autobiography, On Third World Legs (Charles Kerr, 1992), which describes his ordeal of having been intentionally run over by a U.S. Government munitions train accelerating to over three times the 5 mph legal speed limit during a peaceful protest in California in 1987. He now walks on two prostheses after losing each leg below the knee. Brian Willson possesses two honorary Ph.D.s and a Juris Doctor degree.

Copyright © B. Willson 2002.

Notes

1. Bob Woodward, “CIA Told To Do ‘Whatever Necessary’ to Kill Bin Laden,” The Washington Post, October 21, 2001.

2. Bradley Graham, “Pentagon Plans New Command For U.S. Four Star Officer, Would Over See Homeland Defense,” The Washington Post, January 26, 2002.

3. Richard Drinnon, Facing West: The Metaphysics of Indian Hating and Empire Building. New York: Schocken Books, 1990, p. 329.

4. B.M. Blechman and S.S. Kaplan, Force Without War: U.S. Armed Forces As A Political Instrument. Wash., D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1978, Appendix B; Congressional Research Service (Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division), Instances of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-1993. Wash., D.C.: Congressional Research Service, 1993; William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Intervention Since World War II. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1995; John Stockwell, The Praetorian Guard. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1991.

5. William Blum, Rogue State. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 2000; Stephan Endicott and Edward Hagerman, The United States and Biological Warfare: Secrets From the Early Cold War and Korea. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998.

6. Richard Rhodes, “The General and World War III,” The New Yorker, June 19, 1995, p. 53.

7.”North Korea Calls Bush ‘Kingpin of Terrorism,” Reuters wire story, February 23, 2002.

8.”South Korea Envoy to Travel North,” BBC News Online: World: Asia-Pacific, March 25, 2002. Retrieved March 26, 2002, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/low/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_1891000/1891457.stm

9. Ji-Yeon Yuh, “North Korean Enemy Should Be Made Friend,” The Baltimore Sun, February 27, 2002.

10. Thom Shanker, “Global Arms Sales Rise Again, and the U.S. Leads the Pack, ” The New York Times, August 20, 2001.

The Troubling Truth Behind the Ebola Outbreak

April 13th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

In the Guardian’s article, “Panic as deadly Ebola virus spreads across West Africa,” it reports:

Since the outbreak of the deadly strain of Zaire Ebola in Guinea in February, around 90 people have died as the disease has travelled to neighbouring Sierra Leone, Liberia and Mali. The outbreak has sent shock waves through communities who know little of the disease or how it is transmitted. The cases in Mali have added to fears that it is spreading through West Africa.

The Guardian also reported that  Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known in English as Doctors Without Borders, had established treatment centers in Guinea, one of which came under attack as locals accused the foreign aid group of bringing the disease into the country. Also under fire is the government of Guinea itself, which has proved incapable of handling the crisis.

4563This latest outbreak, which has yet to be contained and is being considered by Doctors Without Borders as an “unprecedented epidemic,” illustrates several troubling truths about global health care, emergency response to outbreaks, and the perception many have of a West subjecting the developing world to a “medical tyranny.”

Failure to Prepare

In 2012, when Doctors Without Borders concluded its response to an Ebola outbreak in Uganda, it claimed in its post, “MSF Concludes Emergency Ebola Response in Uganda,” that:

The Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) emergency response to an outbreak of Ebola in Uganda has come to an end. The MSF team handed over the Ebola treatment center it set up in Uganda’s western Kibaale district to the Ugandan Ministry of Health (MoH).

The statement also claimed:

As part of a preparation plan for future outbreaks, MSF also restored a treatment unit in Mulago hospital, located in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. “Uganda has developed the capacity to respond to Ebola emergencies,” said MSF emergency coordinator Olimpia de la Rosa. “We can rely on the capability of Ministry of Health staff to take over and manage Ebola cases with all safety guarantees.”

One must wonder then, if MSF and other global health agencies can train Ugandan medical staff and hand over responsibilities to prevent a future outbreak to the government of Uganda, why haven’t similar provisions been undertaken in nations like Guinea, Liberia, Mali, and Sierra Leone. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ebola outbreaks occur “primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests.” Why then have nations in Central and West Africa not been prepared for such outbreaks – particularly when the many of the nations that back MSF are already heavily involved in the internal affairs of many of these nations?

France alone has expended hundreds of millions of euros during its ongoing military operations in Mali, reported by France 24 in 2013 to be costing the European nation approximately 2.7 million euros a day. Money spent on costly military operations designed to project Western hegemony across Northern and Western Africa, an extension of the West’s intervention in Libya, would lead one to believe that funds should also be available to prevent “unprecedented epidemics” of deadly diseases like Ebola, but apparently the same preparations made in Uganda have been neglected in French-occupied Mali, as well as other Ebola-prone nations.

While the West poses as chief arbiter of humanity and through its international organizations, intervening when crises strike, its failure to prepare other nations prone to Ebola outbreaks with a management formula already perfected in Uganda at the very least shakes public confidence and trust. When it intervenes in these very nations for geopolitical ambitions under the pretenses of “democracy,” “development,” and “human rights” but utterly fails to address the dire needs of the very people it claims to be rushing to the aid of, such confidence and trust is only further shaken.

Distrust Leads to Suspicion

While MSF and the government of Guinea claim mobs that attacked MSF workers were simply panicking, there exists troubling truths regarding the West and their use of chemical and biological agents for both experiments and as part of advancing their geopolitical ambitions that may have led to real genuine fears among locals that the Ebola outbreak was intentional.

The devastation left in the wake of Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War, and the ongoing tragedy unfolding as a result from America’s use of depleted uranium in Iraq are two extreme examples of how the West subjected entire populations to mutagenic agents that have sown horrific birth defects, fatal degenerative conditions, and maladies that will reverberate down through generations to come. Of particular concern is the role that supposedly neutral international agencies played in attempting to cover up these atrocities.

45332The Guardian’s article, “How the World Health Organisation covered up Iraq’s nuclear nightmare,” illustrates how the WHO’s conclusions were manipulated by politicized science, and offers the world a cautionary tale of how organizations like the UN and WHO cannot be entrusted to oversee issues of human health, our environment, or anything else upon which humanity’s existence hinges.

Beyond Agent Orange and depleted uranium, the UN and US stand accused of hundreds of thousands of forced sterilizations in Peru from 1995 to 1997.  There was also the NBC News report titled, “U.S. apologizes for Guatemala STD experiments,” that stated:

U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

More troubling still are the words from Western policy makers and politicians themselves. The prospect of using genospecific bioweapons was mentioned in the Neo-Conservative Project for a New American Century’s (PNAC) 2000 report titled, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” (.pdf) which stated:

The proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles and long-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will make it much easier to project military power around the globe.  Munitions themselves will become increasingly accurate, while new methods of attack – electronic, “non-lethal,” biological – will be more widely available. (p.71 of .pdf)

Although it may take several decade for the process of transformation to unfold, in time, the art of warfare on air, land, and sea will be vastly different than it is today, and  “combat” likely will take place in new dimensions: in space, “cyber-space,” and perhaps the world of microbes.  (p.72 of .pdf)

And advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool. (p.72 of .pdf)

When Western policy makers regard “forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes” as “politically useful tools,” and with their proven track record of using chemical and biological agents on populations in both experiments and during protracted conflicts, it is not mere “panic” that creates the anger that led to violence aimed at MSF workers in Guinea.

Those None Can Trust, Can Help No One

Whether the latest outbreak of Ebola is part of some conspiracy or not may never be known. The central issue is the lack of trust Western agencies have when they attempt to respond to a crisis. Wrought not from irrational fears but from decades of abuse, atrocities, and exploitation, this lack of trust has rendered much of what the West does beyond its borders today increasingly impotent, and even at times counterproductive.

Those in the MSF that are truly attempting to help are unable to because of the misdeeds of those in the Western governments that back the organization. When MSF played a central role in aiding and abetting terrorists operating in Syria, including propping up fabrications regarding the August 2013 chemical weapons attack in Damascus, it only further undermined the trust and confidence required to allow genuine members and affiliates of their organization to do their jobs elsewhere around the world.

And if the West fails in its function as sole arbiter of humanity, what then should nations around the world do? That answer is quite simple.They must subscribe to a multipolar world with multipolar agencies that collaborate and cooperate rather than exist in constant and precarious dependence on the West and their “international organizations.” For the nations of North and Western Africa that face potential Ebola outbreaks – or for nations across Asia facing similar fears regarding severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), they themselves must find international partners, not to depend on in a time of crisis, but to train and prepare them nations’ health workers to be self-sufficient and capable of handling outbreaks before they occur.

Part of what some perceive as the West’s “medical tyranny,” is its creation of circumstances in which subject nations constantly rely on them for aid, expertise, and assistance. Such dependence is contrary to national sovereignty and endangers the freedom and security of individuals within that nation. In Guinea, the government’s inability to handle the crisis has allowed it to grow to dangerous proportions, while necessitating the inclusion of foreign agencies the public simply doesn’t trust. It is an indictment against so-called “international health” organizations, including WHO, and the many Western-backed agencies that work in the field on its behalf.

Nations must begin taking responsibility themselves for dealing with outbreaks, and partner nations should guide them in doing so, not holding their hand each time a crisis develops. The latest outbreak of Ebola across Western Africa illustrates how sorely ill-suited the West’s “international” agencies are in protecting the global population, and how the global population would be better served by finding ways to protect themselves.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

Who Was Behind the Rwandan Genocide?

April 13th, 2014 by Michael Welch

“The genocide in Rwanda was one hundred percent the responsibility of the Americans.” -Former UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali as cited by Robin Philpot.

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On April 6, 1994, a plane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and president Cyprien Ntaryamira of Burundi was shot down by a missile. An estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered in the 100 days that followed.

The official narrative is that the killings were carried out by members of the Rwandan army, the National Police, government-backed militias and the Hutu civilian population. The genocide stopped when the Rwandan Patriotic Front led by TUTSI-Expatriate and Ugandan official Paul Kagame seized control of northern regions of the country eventually capturing the capital Kigali.

The Rwandan tragedy helped pave the way for the creation of the “Responsibility to Protect Doctrine” which authorizes military intervention in violation of national sovereignty in the name of preventing a humanitarian catastrophe.

It is also one of only five genocides recognized as such by the Canadian government,

What if the official narrative of Rwandan atrocities is incorrect?

According to some observers, this is a false depiction of events. Western complicity in the atrocities went well beyond standing idly by while innocent men, women and children were slaughtered. Alternative narratives point to the war Rwanda fought from 1990 to 1994 with the Uganda-based Rwandan Patriotic Front. They also point to the erosion of Rwandan State suthorities ability to cope with the slaughters while fighting an unrelenting war with a US equipped RPF.

This week’s Global Research News Hour commemorates the twentieth anniversary of the slayings in Rwanda with an exploration of this alternative account.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, Professor of Economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, and Founder and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization. In 1996 he together with Belgian Economist and Senator Pierre Galand conducted field work in Rwanda to determine the role of international financial institutions donors and creditors in the etgnic massacres of 1994.

Robin Philpot is a Montreal-based writer, translator and publisher. He is the author of Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa: From Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction, the English version of which was recently printed by Baraka Books. In an extensive interview he outlines his argument that the Rwandan killings were initiated by the Tutsi-dominated RPF, that they were responsible for the deaths of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents, how the media and political entities have successfully covered up the truth, and what that suggests about Western attitudes toward Africans.

 

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Fridays at 1pm CDT. The programme is also broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

In a sad commentary on America’s war-like nature, President Carter points out:

The rest of the world, almost unanimously, looks at America as the No. 1 warmonger. That we revert to armed conflict almost at the drop of a hat — and quite often it’s not only desired by the leaders of our country, but it’s also supported by the people of America.

Indeed, continuous war is a feature – not a bug – of U.S. policy.  (As a patriotic American who was born in the U.S. and lived here my whole life, I am sad that so many Americans still fall for the myths of “American exceptionalism” and “world’s policeman”.)

Other hard-hitting Carter quotes from the last year:

  • Snowden’s revelations do not harm our national security, but are “useful”

It’s not just Carter. Conservative Justices Souter and O’Connor, intelligence agency heads and congressmen all warn that America is in real trouble.

A renewed dribble of media lies is sweeping through the British mainstream press.

Syria, a country which has been the victim of US-NATO aggression is now singled out as a threat to the U.K.  

The returning Al Qaeda jihadist rebels, who were recruited and sent to Syria by NATO are now coming home. They are a “threat to Britain” and Her Majesty’s illustrious government.

The hidden agenda is to uphold the “war on terrorism” on the domestic front, create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation as well as encourage racism and xenophobia throughout Britain and the European Union.

“The danger faced by Britain and other countries from jihadist fighters returning from Syria is “unprecedented” and a terror attack on British soil “inevitable”, experts warned last night. [...]“

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Daily Telegraph, 11 April 2014

excerpt from:  Biggest threat to UK comes from Syria  (*)

Returning fighters from the Syrian civil war now pose greater threat than al-Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan and Afghanistan

by Christopher Hope and Tom Whitehead, Daily Telegraph, 11 April 2014

(*) title of the print edition

The crisis in Syria has emerged as the biggest threat to Britain’s security, The [Daily] Telegraph can disclose.The threat to the UK from returning fighters from the Syrian civil war is now the same as that from al-Qaeda terrorists in the borderlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.The increased risk will refocus attention on the decision by David Cameron – backed by MPs in the House of Commons – not to intervene as the Syrian conflict worsened last August.

excerpts from:  Terror training in Syria makes attack on UK ‘inevitable’

by Jonathan Owen, The Independent on Sunday, 6 April 2014
The danger faced by Britain and other countries from jihadist fighters returning from Syria is “unprecedented” and a terror attack on British soil “inevitable”, experts warned last night. [...]

The threat posed by veterans from Syria is “unprecedented”, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator. [...]  The EU counter-terror chief praises Britain for having developed “one of the best communication campaigns, which not only raises awareness of the phenomenon and the possible risks related to it, but also offers an alternative to those who want to go to Syria for humanitarian reasons”. [...]

Raffaello Pantucci, senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said: “It seems almost inevitable that some sort of a threat back to the UK will come off the battlefield in Syria, something supported by the fact that security services in the UK believe they have already disrupted at least one plot with links to Syria.”

From the archives:Inline images 1
London Evening Standard, 25 February 2014

excerpts from:  Security chief warns of 9/11 Syria threat  (*)

London Evening Standard, 25 February 2014

(*)  title of the print edition

The terrorist threat caused by the war in Syriais unlike any Britain has faced since the 9/11 attacks, [...] top security official [of the British government Charles Farr] warned today. [...]“Syria is different from any other counter-terrorism challenge that we have faced since 9/11 — because of the number of terrorist groups now engaged in the fighting, their size and scale, the number of people from this country who are joining them, ease of travel, availability of weapons and the intensity of the conflict.”

From the archives:

Should David Cameron be prosecuted for recruiting Brits to fight in Al Qaeda ranks in Syria?

by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, 5 February 2014

Former French Minister of Foreign Affairs: “…Britain had been preparing gunmen to invade Syria two years before the crisis there flared up in 2011…”

Text of open advisory by renowned British Peace Activist Babs Tucker

by Parliament Square Peace Campaign, Global Research, 16 June 2013

“Human Rights” as an Instrument of Coercion

April 12th, 2014 by Kourosh Ziabari

Only a few weeks after the UN Human Rights Council endorsed a resolution in condemning the alleged violations of human rights in Iran on March 28, the European Parliament also took action to do its share of attacking the Islamic Republic for its “human rights violations” in what was introduced as the “European Parliament resolution on the EU strategy towards Iran.”

 The two U.S.-allied bodies, in line with their customary and conventional policies of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and sowing the seeds of discord and strife across the globe, expressed serious concern over the “alarming level” of rights violation in Iran and called on the Iranian government to respect the rights of its citizens!

 It’s a very praiseworthy and significant idea to protect the essential and fundamental rights of all people around the world, regardless of their nationality, age, gender, religion, race, color or place of residence, and raise voices to protest any infringement upon these rights. However, what is disturbing is that those who usually raise their voice in protest and accuse others of violating the human rights are those who violate these rights the most and blatantly disrespect the internationally-recognized conventions and agreements that ensure the protection of the rights, life and dignity of the humankind.

 USA

At the first glance, for those who are not familiar with the West-engineered hostility toward Iran, it sounds like the accusations of rights violation and condemnatory resolutions are purely aimed at improving the status of human rights in Iran and intended by those who really care about the welfare and interests of the Iranian people. But a deeper look at the course of developments in the Iran-West relations prove that it’s not the case and that the idea of human rights is being used as a leverage and an instrument of coercion to overdue an independent nation that has resisted unrelenting international economic and political pressures for more than 3 decades.

So, what are these human rights that have turned to be so controversial and problematic? Different entities give different definitions for human rights. But there are some elements and concepts which can be unanimously found in all of these definitions. For example, according to Amnesty International, “Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty and freedom of expression; and social, cultural and economic rights including the right to participate in culture, the right to food, and the right to work and receive an education.  Human rights are protected and upheld by international and national laws and treaties.”

Just consider the first example the AI gives, that is the “civil and political rights, such as the right to life,” and rest assured that the United States, which habitually and more often than not accuses Iran and other nations of violating the human rights, is the biggest machinery of stripping the people in different countries of this basic, rudimentary and essential right to life. People in Asia, Africa and Latin America have experienced the taste of the American-style human rights. The U.S. government decides to invade a distant country overnight, and as a result of its invasion, thousands of lives perish away and millions of hopes evaporate. The United States gives its own justifications for its endless military expeditions and increases its enormous military budget every year, but for the innocent children in Iraq and Afghanistan who should inhale the Sarin gas and other nerve agents when the U.S. Army bombards their cities, or successive generations of fathers and mothers in Hiroshima and Nagasaki who should give birth to defected babies as a result of exposure to the nuclear materials dropped on the heads of their parents some 50 years ago, these justifications are irrelevant and senseless.

It’s good to be attentive to the status of human rights in the world, but not when you are simply unable to meet the demands of your own people, the racial and religious minorities living under your rule and those vulnerable people needing your support.

A clear example is discrimination against the Muslims and the colored people in the United States and Europe. Islamophobia is a growing phenomenon in the West as the Muslims face greater restrictions in practicing their religious rituals, observing their special dressing code and having equal job and education opportunities with the other citizens. When a lunatic pastor decides to burn a holy book which some 1.5 billion people hold to be sacred, the U.S. government shows no reaction in protest, unless asking the pastor to abandon his plan simply because it may endanger the lives of the Americans in uniform, not because the burning of holy books is a devilish and loathsome act. Of course you remember what I’m referring to; the 2011 plan by the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center Terry Jones who set several copies of the Holy Quran ablaze on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

The blacks are also under different kinds of pressure because of the color of their skin, and although the Jim Crow laws that stipulated segregation in public places in the United States based on race and color were abolished around 5 decades ago in 1965, there are still traces of racial discrimination, racial profiling and anti-black prejudice in the American and other Western societies. The black athletes are usually booed and scoffed at in the sport stadiums, and this kind of bigotry is really a disgrace for the societies that boast of being highly civilized and developed. The African-Americans are still facing difficulties finding jobs in the United States, are deprived of certain voting rights in such states as Iowa, and should pay more expenses for healthcare services. These are realities which the U.S. mainstream media don’t talk about too much, but they exist.

The same goes for the freedom of speech and expression. The United States and its European allies frequently accuse Iran and other non-aligned nations of restricting the freedom of speech, while knowing that following the 9/11 attacks, a bunch of laws, acts and legislations which restrict the freedom of speech, press and the civil liberties of the ordinary citizens were introduced by the Congress and signed into law by the U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama after him.

Simple examples are the Patriot Act of 2001 and other regulations foreseen in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, 2013 and 2014 including the extrajudicial and indefinite detention of any American or foreign citizen traveling in the States who is seen to pose a threat to the U.S. national security. By virtue of the Patriot Act, the U.S. government is allowed to monitor and overhear the phone calls and email correspondences of any citizen whom it considers dangerous and threatening.

We may not also forget the barbaric and horrendous mental, sexual and corporal abuse and torture of the prisoners held in the Guantanamo bay detention facility and the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq; prisoners who are kept there for more than 10 years without any trial or specific charge.

The conscious minds haven’t also forgotten the unjustified imprisonment of the critics of the Israeli regime in the West who were jailed because of criticizing Israel and questioning the veracity of the official accounts of Holocaust: David Irving, Fredrick Toben, Ernst Zundel, Gremar Rudolf, Robert Faurisson and many others.

If detaining people without a court warrant is a human rights violation, then the United States and its Western partners are human rights violators and should be held accountable.

If persecuting the religious minorities and depriving them of their basic rights is a human rights violation, then the West has perpetrated serious violations and should justify its crimes.

 If killing innocent civilians en masse is a human rights violation, then the United States military-industrial complex is the biggest culprit and should be tried.

If restricting the freedom of speech of the citizens and mass media is a crime, then the U.S. government should be equally responsible for restricting the alternative, progressive media and silencing the critics.

 These are only simple instances of rights violation by those who claim to be the harbingers of freedom and human rights. It’s only a fair and balanced investigation of their crimes which will ensure the comprehensive and inclusive protection of human rights around the world, not directing baseless accusations against the political rivals and those whom they want to use the pretext of human rights as an instrument of coercion to put pressure on.

  Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian journalist and media correspondent whose writings have appeared on Tehran Times, Press TV, Global Research, Foreign Policy Journal, International Policy Digest, Your Middle East, Turkish Weekly Journal, Compass Culture and Strategic Culture Foundation.

 

Yesterday afternoon the Federal Aviation Administration designated the airspace above Bundy Ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada a “no-fly zone” with altitude restrictions that effectively ban news helicopters.

The “temporary flight restrictions,” revealed by a contributor to the Free Republic, bans all air traffic under an altitude of 3,000 feet in the vicinity of the ranch except for aircraft operating under the direction of the Bureau of Land Management.

The restrictions in full:

FDC 4/1687 ZLA NV..AIRSPACE MESQUITE, NV..TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS WITHIN AREA DEFINED AS 3NM RADIUS OF 364624N/1141113W (MMM71 RADIAL AT 4.3NM) SFC-3000FT AGL LAW ENFORCEMENT INVESTIGATION. PURSUANT TO 14 CFR SECTION 91.137(A)(1) TEMPORARY FLIGHT RESTRICTIONS ARE IN EFFECT. ONLY RELIEF AIRCRAFT OPERATIONS UNDER DIRECTION OF BLM ARE AUTHORIZED IN THE AIRSPACE. BLM TELEPHONE 702-335-3191 IS IN CHARGE OF ON SCENE EMERGENCY RESPONSE ACTIVITY. LOS ANGELES /ZLA/ ARTCC TELEPHONE 661-265-8205 IS THE FAA COORDINATION FACILITY. 1404112140-1405111434

A map of the no-fly zone is available here.

Undoubtedly these flight restrictions are in response to the intense media presence now surrounding Bundy Ranch.

“Keeps the media choppers away so the BLM can do what it wants,” a contributor named SkyDancer pointed out on the Free Republic.

It’s quite obvious that this is the case considering that news helicopters routinely fly at an altitude under 3,000 feet in order to capture the best footage.

Recently, cowboys who are supportive of Cliven Bundy have been successful at rounding up Bundy’s cattle before the BLM could impound them, so it certainly appears that the agency is using the flight restrictions as a cover to target these cowboys without any fear of potential brutality being leaked to the media.

BLM agents have already assaulted several protestors, including a pregnant woman and a cancer victim, which was fortunately caught on tape.

The feds are attempting to regain control of the narrative surrounding the standoff, especially since it is now known that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is behind the land grab for the future development of solar farms with Chinese energy companies.

It is also concerning that by interpreting the no-fly zone to the letter, the BLM could even delay medical helicopters from flying into the area to evacuate individuals who are severely injured.

Although air ambulances are typically exempt from temporary flight restrictions, pilots are still supposed to gain clearance before taking off, which in the past has kept medical pilots grounded until permission was granted.

This scenario is especially frightening considering Clark Co. Commissioner Tom Collins’ recent statement that those traveling to Bunkerville to support Bundy in his standoff against the feds “better have funeral plans.”

NSA: Making Us All Less Safe

Top computer and internet experts say that NSA spying breaks the functionality of our computers and of the Internet. It reduces functionality and reduces security by – for example – creating backdoors that malicious hackers can get through.

Remember, American and British spy agencies have intentionally weakened security for many decades. And it’s getting worse and worse. For example, they plan to use automated programs to infect millions of computers.

NSA also encourages large internet companies to delay patching vulnerabilities, to allow the NSA time to exploit them. See this and this.  In other words, the NSA encourages companies to allow vulnerabilities to remain unfixed.

You’ve heard of the scary new “Heartbleed” computer vulnerability?

The NSA has exploited it – and kept it hidden from consumers and security experts – for years.  Bloomberg reports:

The U.S. National Security Agency knew for at least two years about a flaw in the way that many websites send sensitive information, now dubbed the Heartbleed bug, and regularly used it to gather critical intelligence, two people familiar with the matter said.

***

Heartbleed appears to be one of the biggest glitches in the Internet’s history, a flaw in the basic security of as many as two-thirds of the world’s websites.

***

Putting the Heartbleed bug in its arsenal, the NSA was able to obtain passwords and other basic data that are the building blocks of the sophisticated hacking operations at the core of its mission, but at a cost. Millions of ordinary users were left vulnerable to attack from other nations’ intelligence arms and criminal hackers.

“It flies in the face of the agency’s comments that defense comes first,” said Jason Healey, director of the cyber statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council and a former Air Force cyber officer. “They are going to be completely shredded by the computer security community for this.”

Yes, they will.

It’s Torture–but Let’s Not Call It That

April 12th, 2014 by Peter Hart

The Washington Post (3/31/14) got a big scoop on the massive Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the CIA’s Bush-era torture program. But they wouldn’t call it.

Under the headline “CIA Misled on Interrogation Program, Senate Report Says,” reporters Greg Miller, Adam Goldman and Ellen Nakashima explain that the still-classified, 6,000-plus page report finds that the CIA misled lawmakers and the public about the effectiveness of torture.

But the piece doesn’t call it torture. Readers learn about a “brutal interrogation program,” “harsh techniques,” “excruciating interrogation methods,” “brutal measures,” “harsh interrogation techniques,” “coercive techniques,” “previously undisclosed cases of abuse,” “harsh treatment” and “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

The descriptions were at times quite vivid. Readers learn of the treatment of one prisoner:

CIA interrogators forcibly kept his head under the water while he struggled to breathe and beat him repeatedly, hitting him with a truncheon-like object and smashing his head against a wall.

But they still won’t call that “torture.” The only time that word was used was in reference to critics: “methods that Obama and others later labeled torture.”

It’s important to understand that, as many critics have pointed out, that these kinds of tactics would be labeled as torture if they were happening in another country (Extra!6/08). The media’s role in endorsing and excusing torture has been an issue as long as the US torture program has been public (Extra!,6/04). The press has done its part to justify torture, even pushing the false idea that torture was key to finding Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden (FAIR Media Advisory, 5/4/11).

So while it’s not new that some media outlets are still hesitant to call torture “torture,” it’s still revealing–and probably not an accident. Post reporter Miller appeared on the PBS Newshour (4/1/14) to talk about his piece. Host Judy Woodruff referred to “harsh techniques,” and Miller explained that there was

very little evidence that these enhanced techniques, as they’re called–we’re referring to water-boarding, sleep deprivation, things like that–delivered any significant intelligence in the aftermath of 9/11.

What reporters call torture is important–even when they’re reporting illuminating and very useful information about the scope of the program.

The Post isn’t done covering the issue; today (4/2/14), columnist David Ignatius makes it sound like the Senate report is shocking–it “includes gruesome new details about interrogation practices in the first year after September 11, 2001, before the CIA’s program was formally established with the misplaced approval of President George W. Bush’s Justice Department.”

Ignatius uses the “T-word,” and suggests that some of the details “will shock the conscience in the same way that the Abu Ghraib and waterboarding revelations did.”

He also writes: “The heart of the dispute isn’t whether torture is immoral–nobody would argue that question today–but whether it was ever effective.”

Of course, there are still people who would argue that torture is, in some cases, perfectly moral. Like his Post colleague Charles Krauthammer, who wrote this a few years ago (5/15/09):

Our jurisprudence has the “reasonable man” standard. A jury is asked to consider what a reasonable person would do under certain urgent circumstances.

On the morality of waterboarding and other “torture,” Pelosi and other senior and expert members of Congress represented their colleagues, and indeed the entire American people, in rendering the reasonable person verdict. What did they do? They gave tacit approval. In fact, according to Goss, they offered encouragement. Given the circumstances, they clearly deemed the interrogations warranted.

Perhaps Ignatius thinks Krauthammer has changed his mind. I suspect not.

Hat tip: Alice Chan.

Rising Tensions: Pentagon Threatens Russia and China

April 12th, 2014 by Peter Symonds

Amid sharpening tensions and a US-led military build-up in Europe over the Ukraine crisis, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a menacing warning to China this week that, like Russia, it could face diplomatic isolation and threats of war if it did not bow to the demands of Washington and its allies in Asia.

Hagel explicitly compared Russia’s annexation of Crimea to China’s territorial disputes with its neighbours in the South and East China seas. “You cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation, whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or in large nations in Europe,” he said.

The hypocrisy of Hagel’s remarks is staggering. The Obama administration is directly responsible for fuelling both the crisis in Ukraine and the rising tensions in Asia. The US engineered the fascist-led coup in Kiev on February 22 that pushed Russia to annex Crimea in order to protect its Black Sea fleet. Likewise, the US has, over the past three years, backed Japan and the Philippines in taking a far more aggressive stance in their territorial disputes with China, as a means of isolating Beijing.

Nominally, Washington claims to be neutral in the territorial dispute between Japan and China over the uninhabited Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea. Yet, standing alongside the Japanese defence minister on April 6, Hagel harangued China for attempting to “redefine boundaries” and “violate territorial integrity” by force.

Hagel’s provocative remarks in Tokyo led to a sharp verbal exchange with Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan in Beijing at a joint press conference on Wednesday. Hagel made clear that the US would back up its threats with military force. He reaffirmed the longstanding US alliances with Japan and the Philippines, then added, wagging his finger, that the US was “fully committed to those treaty obligations”—that is, to go to war against China should fighting break out between it and Washington’s allies.

Hagel bluntly accused China of inflaming tensions last November by declaring an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. While acknowledging Beijing’s right to an ADIZ, he warned that the lack of consultation could lead to “tensions, misunderstandings … and eventually get to dangerous conflict.” In fact, it was the Pentagon that threatened to set off a powder keg in the East China Sea by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into the zone unannounced.

Hagel’s trip has been an emphatic declaration by the Obama administration that there will be no backing away from the “pivot to Asia” against China, even as the US intensifies its confrontation with Russia in Europe. Obama’s “pivot” is an aggressive diplomatic, economic and military strategy aimed at undermining Chinese influence throughout the region and encircling the country militarily.

Washington’s anti-Chinese “pivot” is closely linked to the escalating US confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. The Obama administration is proceeding with US imperialism’s long-held ambition to dominate the vast Eurasian landmass—stretching from China through to Eastern Europe—which, in turn, is central to its strategy for global hegemony.

The capitalist regimes in Beijing and Moscow are obstacles that the US is no longer prepared to tolerate. Amid a deepening economic crisis of global capitalism, the US and its allies are engaged in a reckless drive to subordinate China and Russia, along with their markets and resources, to their direct exploitation. The whipping up of reactionary ethnic and linguistic divisions in Ukraine is a warning that the same methods will be used to fragment Russia and China and transform them into semi-colonies.

Since the beginning of the year, the US and its allies have been stoking up regional tensions to intensify the pressure on China. In February, Philippine President Benigno Aquino gave an inflammatory interview to the New York Times in which he compared China to Nazi Germany and its claims in the South China Sea to Hitler’s 1938 annexation of Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland.

The Philippine government, with Washington’s tacit backing, is currently mounting a case against China at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. President Obama is due to arrive in Manila later this month and is expected to sign a military basing agreement that will place US forces directly adjacent to the South China Sea.

Over the past two months, the US and South Korea have proceeded with their huge annual military exercises, involving 12,700 US troops and 200,000 South Korean military personnel, despite objections from China’s ally, North Korea. The war games included the largest ever amphibious landing exercises, involving 9,500 US military personnel and 3,000 South Korean Marines, backed by 20 warships and 60 military aircraft.

Just as it is encouraging German rearmament in Europe, the US is pressing for the remilitarisation of Japan. Washington has given its full support to the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as it increased military spending, moved to end constitutional restrictions on the armed forces, established a National Security Council, and shifted Japan’s strategic orientation to “island defence”—that is, against China.

The US “pivot to Asia” has already transformed the Indo-Pacific into a dangerous cauldron of geo-political rivalries. By comparing the territorial disputes in the South and East China seas to the confrontation with Russia over Crimea, Hagel is underscoring Washington’s determination to pursue its ambition for hegemony in Asia, even at the risk of triggering an all-out war with China.

Workers throughout Asia and the world face great dangers. The only means for halting the slide towards a global conflagration is a unified movement of the working class in China, Japan, the United States and internationally to put an end to capitalism and its outmoded nation state system, which is the root cause of war. The crisis-ridden profit system must be replaced by a planned socialist economy and the restructuring of society to meet the pressing needs of humanity, not the profit requirements the ultra-wealthy few.

The dangers of a civil war and a US-provoked war with Russia still hang over the people of Ukraine, despite the Western-backed regime in Kiev backing away from a 48-hour deadline for a violent crackdown on protesters occupying government offices in eastern Ukraine.

Just after the deadline expired, the pro-US regime’s interim prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, attempted to undercut the protests by pledging to push through a constitutional change allowing referenda for regional autonomy in the country.

Two days earlier, Ukraine’s interim interior minister, Arsen Avakov, gave protesters in the key eastern cities of Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lugansk 48 hours to quit the buildings. Andrei Senchenko, the deputy head of the presidential administration in Kiev, declared that the regime’s security forces would “shoot to kill.”

Yesterday, Yatsenyuk only partially backed away from this ultimatum, saying he was “against forceful scenarios,” but adding, “everything has a limit.”

By threatening a bloodbath, the far-right regime in Kiev revealed the blatant hypocrisy and double standards in the US- and European Union-orchestrated regime-change operation in Ukraine. Just weeks after using neo-fascist forces as shock troops in overthrowing the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych—claiming Yanukovych had lost his legitimacy by deploying security forces to attack anti-government demonstrators—the unelected, Western-installed regime declared its intent to massacre people opposing the coup.

The fraud of the Western powers’ claims to be championing democracy has not been lost on people in eastern Ukraine. Interviewed by Russian Television, Aleksey, a Kharkiv student, commented: “In Crimea, people voted, overwhelmingly, to return to Russia … But the West calls it unconstitutional and undemocratic. In Ukraine itself, the democratically-elected government has been overthrown and policies that nobody really wants are being pushed down our throats. And … this is called democracy!”

The regime’s deadline was dropped amid mounting evidence of widespread working class resistance in eastern Ukraine, the country’s industrial and mining heartland, fuelled by outrage over the regime’s savage austerity measures, dictated by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, as well as deep-seated hostility to the fascist forces embedded in Kiev and opposition to the suppression of the Russian language and access to Russian media across the region, where the vast majority of the population speaks Russian.

When Yatsenyuk and other officials travelled to Donetsk yesterday, they did not meet with the protesters, but instead met with the eastern Ukrainian governors and mayors imposed by the regime, as well as major business figures, notably tycoon Rinat Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man. Those in the talks included the appointed regional governor, a billionaire metals tycoon, Sergey A. Taruta, whose offices remain occupied by the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.

Echoing the demands of the EU and IMF, Yatsenyuk laid out what he described as a recipe for national unity: “We must tell people that we know it’s tough, but we know how in the future to secure jobs, increase salaries, attract investors, distribute more authority, and what to do so people are content with life.”

The reality of the “tough” measures required by the IMF in return for a $27 billion loan is already being spelt out by a 120 percent hike in gas and heating prices, the cutting of social benefits, including free medical assistance, and the closure of several hospitals.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that there is also “an already lingering sense of injustice” over the inevitable requirements of the IMF for the closure of many of the region’s state-supported heavy industries. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, tens of thousands of jobs have already been destroyed in these industries, and wages have been driven down to near-starvation levels.

There is also popular alarm over the Kiev regime’s inclusion of several figures from the neo-Nazi Svoboda party and its reliance on the fascist Right Sector militia. Fascist thugs have been integrated into the regime’s new National Guard, contingents of which were deployed to eastern Ukraine to carry out the planned crackdown. Protesters in Donetsk carried placards saying, “We are afraid of fascism in Ukraine.”

The AP noted that the regime was being denounced as a “fascist junta,” adding that “references are often made to the legacy of Nazi collaboration among Ukrainian nationalists in the west during World War II.” The AP continued: “The name of the leading Ukrainian nationalist insurgent, Stepan Bandera, who aided Nazis invading the Soviet Union, is used as a curse word by opponents of the government in the capital, Kiev.”

According to local media reports, Ukraine’s elite Alpha unit refused to obey an order to besiege protester-held buildings in Donetsk. A commander reportedly told officials that his men were a force intended for rescuing hostages and fighting terrorism and would act only in accordance with the law. Similarly, in Kharkiv, a local police chief quit, saying he had been deceived by the Kiev authorities into besieging a building held by protesters and arresting dozens of occupants on the pretext that it was held by dangerous armed bandits.

Despite this evidence of a groundswell of popular resistance, Washington has ratcheted up its drumbeat of threats against Russia, accusing Russian President Vladimir Putin of stage-managing the protests and preparing to annex eastern Ukraine.

Claiming, without any substantiation, that there was “overwhelming evidence” of Moscow’s involvement, US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told a congressional panel on Wednesday that the building seizures in eastern Ukraine were “very carefully orchestrated, well-planned, well-targeted” moves. She warned of consequences if the “aggressive actions” went unchecked.

On Thursday, NATO’s supreme commander, General Philip Breedlove, published a set of commercial satellite photos purporting to show an estimated 40,000 Russian troops and long lines of tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and aircraft massed along Russia’s border with Ukraine. On his Twitter feed he wrote: “Russian forces around Ukraine fully equipped/capable to invade. Public denial undermines progress. Images tell story.”

However, an official on the Russian military general staff said Thursday that the images were taken in August 2013 and showed no unusual military movements.

While accusing Russia of mobilising its military, US-led NATO forces are continuing a buildup in the region. In the latest move, on Friday the USS Donald Cook, a destroyer equipped with Aegis missiles, entered the Black Sea, the home of a key Russian naval base. Within the next week, it will be joined by the French reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome and the destroyer Dupleix.

Far from having “carefully orchestrated” the protests in eastern Ukraine, the Putin government has responded to the upsurge by urging the demonstrators to drop demands for secession, while at the same time moving toward recognising the Kiev junta.

Yesterday, it was confirmed that four-way talks on the crisis between the US, EU, Russia and the Ukrainian regime will be held in Geneva on April 17. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov phoned US Secretary of State John Kerry to encourage the Kiev regime “to have a dialogue with representatives of the (Ukrainian) regions to create conditions allowing for comprehensive constitutional reform.”

Also yesterday, Putin said Russia would fulfil its obligations to European gas clients and had no plans to halt deliveries to Ukraine—a day after warning that supplies to Europe could be disrupted by Ukraine’s failure to pay its $2.2 billion debt for Russian gas.

Even so, the Obama administration continued its bellicose rhetoric, and Assistant Secretary Nuland played down, in advance, any prospect of ending the confrontation. “I have to say that we don’t have high expectations for these talks,” she stated.

Thousands of foreign-backed militants have entered Aleppo city in Northern Syria via Turkish borders, informed sources disclosed on Saturday.

“We have witnessed the arrival of around 5,000 foreign-backed terrorists fully equipped with various types of military equipment, including heavy weaponry, in the city of Aleppo after crossing the border at Bab Al-Hava crossing in the Northern parts of Aleppo province,” an informed military source told FNA today.

He said according to the intelligence gained by the Syrian army, the militants have received trainings and then dispatched to Aleppo from a military base in Turkey near the borders with Syria.

 The source added that a total number of 3,000 militants have also entered Al-Rashedin region in Al-Atareb town.

Last week, Syrian troops repelled repeated attempts by the terrorist groups to infiltrate into the old city of Aleppo from the Eastern part of Umayyad Mosque, and killed a large number of anti-government fighters.

 A military source said that apart from militants’ heavy death toll due to Army’s Sunday operations, a large convoy of weapons and ammunitions were also destroyed in the Aleppo’s battlefields.

 The source added that Syrian soldiers attacked the rebels’ dens and gatherings in Kafar Hamra, al-Shwiehneh, Icarda, Babis, Injara, Kafarnaha, Atareb, Khan Tuman and Jub Ghabsha in Aleppo countryside, adding that too many insurgents were killed, so many were wounded and the rest fled the battlefields.

The source went on to say that other army forces targeted militants’ gatherings in the vicinities of the Central Prison, Khan al-Assal, Maaret al-Artiq, Anadan, Handarat, Bishqatin, Kafar Saghir and al-Lairamon and killed scores of terrorists.

Army units clashed with rebel groups in the old city of Aleppo, al-Mashad, Dahrat Abd-Rabbu, al-Mansourieh, Sheikh Said, the industrial city and al-Kastilo whose people witnessed army’s might and power in the battle fronts.

Leave Ukraine Alone!

April 12th, 2014 by Rep. Ron Paul

Note: first published February 23, 2014

Last week Ukraine saw its worst violence since the break-up of the Soviet Union over 20 years ago. Protesters occupying the main square in the capitol city, Kiev, clashed with police leaving many protesters and police dead and many more wounded. It is an ongoing tragedy and it looks like there is no end in sight.

The current conflict stems from a divide between western Ukraine, which seeks a closer association with the European Union, and the eastern part of the country, which has closer historic ties to Russia.

The usual interventionists in the US have long meddled in the internal affairs of Ukraine. In 2004 it was US government money that helped finance the Orange Revolution, as US-funded NGOs favoring one political group over the other were able to change the regime. These same people have not given up on Ukraine. They keep pushing their own agenda for Ukraine behind the scenes, even as they ridicule anyone who claims US involvement.

A recent leaked telephone conversation between two senior government officials made it clear that not only was the US involved in the Ukrainian unrest, the US was actually seeking to determine who should make up the next Ukrainian government!

Senator John McCain, who has made several trips to Ukraine recently to meet with the opposition, wrote last week that the US must stand up to support the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea.

Why are US government officials so eager to tell the Ukrainians what they should do? Has anyone bothered to ask the Ukrainians? Perhaps the ongoing violence could be alleviated if Ukrainians decided to re-make the country as a looser confederation of regions. Perhaps Ukraine engaged in peaceful trade with countries both to the west and east would benefit all sides. But outside powers seem to be fighting a proxy war, with Ukraine suffering the most because of it.

If you asked most Americans how they feel, my bet is that you would discover they are sick and tired of the US government getting involved in every crisis that arises. Certainly the American people want none of of this intervention in Ukraine. They understand, as recent polls have shown, that our interventionist foreign policy is only creating more enemies overseas. And they also understand that we are out of money. We could not afford to be the policemen of world even if we wanted to be.

And I bet if we asked the Ukrainians, a vast majority of them would prefer that the US — and Russia and the European Union — stay out their affairs and respect their sovereignty. Is it so difficult to understand why people resent being lectured and bribed by foreign governments? All we need to do is put ourselves in the place of the Ukrainians and ask ourselves how we would feel if we were in the middle of a tug-of-war between a very strong Canada on one side and a very strong Mexico on the other. We would resent it as well. So let’s keep our hands off of Ukraine and let them solve their own problems!

 

UN Accepts Palestinians’ Bid to Join 13 International Bodies

April 12th, 2014 by Global Research News

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon waves as he arrives for the 4th EU-Africa summit on April 2, 2014 at the EU Headquarters in Brussels.

A bid by Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas to join international conventions for supporting Palestinians’ rights against Israel violations has been accepted by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On Thursday, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Ban had verified that the PA’s applications to join 13 international conventions were made “in due and proper form.”

Ban also informed all 193 UN member states of his decision to accept the Palestinian applications, according to the UN official.

The Israeli-PA talks reached a new deadlock when the Tel Aviv regime refused to free the last tranche of 104 Palestinian prisoners in late March according to a deal for the resumption of US-sponsored negotiations.

Regime’s defiance to halt its illegal settlement activities in occupied lands were also another cause of the talks’ failure.

The move prompted acting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas to respond by signing letters of accession to 15 international conventions on April 1. Thirteen of the letters were deposited at the UN, one in Geneva and one in the Netherlands.

On April 8, Riyad Mansour, the PA ambassador to the UN, said Palestine would officially become a state party to 13 of the 15 conventions on May 2.

Mansour also said that the Palestinian Authority is ready to submit more applications to join UN agencies, conventions and treaties in response to  the Israeli regime’s actions.

Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv regime has imposed fresh economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority following its decision to join the international conventions.

On Thursday, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Tel Aviv would deduct debt payments from tax transfers which the PA routinely receives, and limit its bank deposits in Israel.

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, has lashed out at the Israeli regime for the imposition of economic sanctions, saying the move is tantamount to “theft.”

Earlier this week, Mohammed Shtayyeh, an aide to the PA chief, said that the Authority’s letters of accession to the UN agencies would not be withdrawn and that the step is irreversible, stressing that Palestinians were ready to widen their bid.

With Nelson Mandela’s death, news from South Africa seemed to have diedalong with the world’s most famous ex-political prisoner turned president.  It was as if the people there don’t deserve to be covered unless there is a larger than life celebrity or scandal to focus on. 

Happily for the media industry there is a now an anti-Mandela in the public eye—famous not for what he achieved, but infamous for killing his girlfriend, mistaking her for an intruder who he gunned down. It was either a tragic accident or the work of mad man.

 Oscar Pistorius’ trial is now getting far more coverage than the one that Mandela and his co-defendents went through in 1962 leading to his life sentence.  That’s partly because his late live-in lover, Reeva Steenkamp,  was a stunning blonde beauty known to local media, while he was a medal winning athlete dubbed the “blade runner” because he had been a double amputee since childhood and overcame adversityto won raceswearing prosthetic devices.

This story of white on white violence—although, note, it is never, described that way—is being given the fulltabloid treatment with cover stories in People Magazine and lots of hype by the networks.

Unlike the days of apartheid, a black judge is hearing this case with race rarely alluded to. Oscar had lived in a pricey gated community where fear of black burglers is legion, all an unstated reflection of the dramatic inequality that remains in that country, and another dimension of the back story about his fears and guilt that gets less press attention.

 If Pistorius had killed an unknown black intruder, instead of his celebrityparamour, this trial wouldn’t be news.

 The coverage of him as been mosty negative althoughhe has fought back with his own communications team with a Twitter feed, @OscarHardTruth, designed to give “factual updates” on the trial. Its profile reads, “Truth Shall Prevail. Innocent until Proven Guilty.” http://www.oscarpistorius.com . In just 24 hours, it had over 16 400 followers, but only follows 28 – mostly international media outlets.

South Africa’s Media Monitor, Media Tenor, said that the local media is trying him as well as the court. According to researcher, Minnette Nieuwoudt, “my instinct tells me the media likes a damsel-in-distress type of story. The outright victim is something that resonates with a lot of people. The fact that she was very beautiful, it made her a bit of an icon.

 Pistorius, on the other hand, started getting increasingly negative coverage over the months after the shooting.

“There seemed to be a slight change in the tonality. Also, with regards to Oscar, he was initially compared to fallen sport heroes — then this changed to a more the general criminal comparison. First, he was an athlete who stumbled. Now, he’s a criminal, who used to be an athlete,” said Nieuwoudt.”

But even as the world focuses on his courtroom tears and the aggressive and often bungled prosecution that aims to show the dark side of this Olympic hero, other issues of perhaps worst crimes in South Africa draw little interest from the global media machine.

 2014 is the twentieth anniversary of South Africa’s “freedom” and the coming of democracy. It is an election year with national campaign underway pitting President Jacob Zuma, who was once part of the African National Congress’s armed struggle, and a popular if controversial/detested politician seeking reelection  against a number of challengers.

 Zuma is carrying lots of baggage because of a current theft of public monies for private use scandal involving lavish improvements on his home compound, and an earlier rape case.

The ANC has a serious political challenge as well.

On the Center right, there’s the DA—the Democratic Alliance, now transitioning from its roots in all white politics into a multi-racial Party that holds power in the Western Cape Province with Cape Town as its capital.

 And, then there are two new outfits, among other players, contesting for seats in this Parliamentary democracy.  Businesswoman and educator Mamphela Ramphele, best known as the anti-apartheid icon Steve Biko’s girl friend and her Agang Party is focusing on corruption and attracting women, while former ANC Youth League Leader, Julius Malema has set up a militant radical sounding youth-oriented party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, and says the ANC died with Mandela.

South Africa’s powerful labor unions that have been in an alliance with the ANC for decades were expected to organize a worker’s party but they have been persuaded not to. None of these political divisions fall on strict left-right differences.

 Many on all sides have strong disagreements with the ANC’s neo-liberal economic policies, and complain about pervasive poverty and low growth.

Outside the traditional political party structure, dissent is heard daily in noisy press stories exposing corruption and the ‘politics of concealment’ by the ruling ANC party.

Long time activists and ANC members are incensed by the lack of transparency and arrogance in a political elite that seems more focused on enriching themselves than serving the public.

Now, a former Minister, Ronnie Kasrils, and supporters have launched a new Vote No campaign to put the issues of the ANC’s betrayal and corruption on the agenda.  They have just issued this release:

A one-time minister and a deputy minister in ANC governments are among a group of former anti-apartheid activists who are backing a campaign calling on voters to come out and vote by either spoiling their ballots or to voting tactically in protest against corruption and current government policies.

 Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge are among a number of prominent figures who have endorsed a statement headed:  Sidikiwe! (We are fed up) Vukani! (Arise/Wake up),Vote ‘NO’ that will be released at the Press conference.”

It criticises the economic policies of “both the ANC and the main opposition the DA for supporting a system that has caused such alienation.

 Many are struggle veterans and most of the signatories have supported the ANC throughout the years since the 1994 transition, but are appealing to the wider range of disillusioned voters.  Their statement concludes:  

 “The ANC needs to know that it can no longer take for granted its traditional support and we would be failing South Africa and our democracy by not voting. After the elections efforts will be intensified to build an inclusive and transformative political program premised on social justice, redistribution, clean governance and democratic principles.”

All of this textured opposition politics does not meet the celebrity smell test that seems to motivate international media to pay attention.

 Corruption stories in Africa are widely covered although the focus is rarelyever on the corruptor, just the corruptee. It is virtually never on the disasterousimpact of  western corporations, banks and international financial institutions.

 Years ago the anti-government song “Marching on Pretoria” was well-known. Today, with the media “marching on Pistorius,” the  deeper and critical issues of a deepening economic and political crisis have been supplanted by another distraction–what looks to all the world as another OJ Simpson trial focused on personal pain for audiences relishing more newstainment.

 News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel.org and blogs at newsdissector.net. His latest book is Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Madibabook.com). Comments to [email protected]

A recent TIME Magazine article featured the “US NGO” Roots for Peace, which it portrayed as a victim of a regrouping Taliban bent on subjugating a newly “democratized” Afghanistan. This organization, funded by the US State Department and USAID, claims to be turning “battlefields into bountiful orchards.” But a lack of transparency makes it unclear as to just how they are doing this. With USAID using “aid” to usher in the corporate colonization of Afghanistan through other “NGOs,” its involvement with Roots for Peace raises warranted suspicions.

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Already, the War in Afghanistan has given agricultural monopolies like Monsanto a multi-million dollar foothold in the landlocked Central Asian country. As part of efforts to eradicate poppy cultivation across the country, the United States insisted that Kabul sidestep health studies and sign off on an unpopular plan to spray millions of dollars worth of Monsanto’s “RoundUp” glyphosate herbicide across Afghanistan’s countryside. It should be noted that before NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan in 2001, poppy cultivation was nearly eradicated under the Taliban.

In addition to fears that the mass spraying of Afghanistan’s countryside could negatively impact the health of the Afghan people, there were also fears that licit crops could also be destroyed, leaving farmers with failed harvests, anger, and a willingness to further align themselves with armed tribesmen, including the Taliban.

For America’s overarching plan, the eradication of licit crops alongside poppy was ideal. That is because while Monsanto RoundUp herbicide was to be sprayed indiscriminately over the heads of Afghans, its genetically modified, RoundUp Ready terminator seeds were to be sown beneath their feet. The Nutrition and Education International (NEI), a front set up by Western agricultural monopolies, set out to replace Afghanistan’s traditional crops with both Monsanto’s genetically engineered RoundUp Ready soybeans, as well as copious amounts of RoundUp ready herbicide.

The NEI boasts nearly a decade of “accomplishments” having reached every province while establishing a “soy seed market” in Afghanistan, a market that will be dominated by foreign corporations holding the intellectual property rights to a crop the NEI and its corporate sponsors, with the help of USAID, have intentionally made the Afghan people dependent on.

Roots for Peace hasn’t been the only USAID “NGO” attacked in Afghanistan. Also helping in the agricultural reordering of Afghanistan was Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI).

NPR reported in “Attack On USAID Compound In Afghanistan Kills 4,” that, “Multiple suicide bombers stormed a USAID compound in northern Afghanistan before dawn Friday, killing at least four people and wounding several others, officials said.  The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault on a compound in Kunduz province used by Development Alternatives, a Washington, D.C.-based contractor working for the U.S. Agency for International Development.”

DAI’s efforts to use “poppy eradication” and “economic development” to invite in foreign corporate monopolies are backed substantially by a large list of “clients” including Cargill and Monsanto, two giants of big-agriculture.

These corporations and their “NGO” fronts, along with the US government through agencies like USAID, are attempting to use “the eradication of poppies” and “malnutrition” to force upon the Afghan people an agricultural monopoly controlled by foreign corporations who will retain the “intellectual property” rights on each and every plant growing in Afghanistan, as well as the production, control, distribution, and sale of the chemicals required to sustain them.

Food being one of the most basic necessities of human survival, controlled entirely by foreign corporations, is not only dangerous, it is exploitative and usurps both the dignity and freedom of those found under this form of “corporate colonization.”

It will take years and careful observation to tell whether or not Afghanistan will succumb to this modern form of corporate subjugation. As NATO troops leave the country and its pro-Western government in Kabul faces what appears to be inevitable extinction, the efforts made by the West’s big-agricultural giants, while profitable in the short-term, may not last. Afghanistan’s status as a “client state” of Western interests will be judged in part by Kabul’s efforts to either rollback or push forward big-ag’s agenda in the Central Asian country. 

Globally, the success of corporations in places like Iraq and Afghanistan will validate both the effectiveness of modern Western imperialism, as well as the strength and vitality of the empire it seeks to build. 

Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

On my wall in London is my favourite photograph from South Africa. Always thrilling to behold, it is Paul Weinberg’s image of a lone woman standing between two armoured vehicles, the infamous “hippos”, as they rolled into Soweto. Her arms are raised, fists clenched, her thin body both beckoning and defiant of the enemy.

It was May Day 1985; the last great uprising against apartheid had begun. Twelve years later, with my thirty-year banning from South Africa  lifted, there was a pinch-me moment as I flew into Jan Smuts and handed my passport to a black immigration officer. “Welcome to our country,” she said.

I quickly discovered that much of the spirit of resistance embodied in the courageous woman in Soweto had survived, together with a vibrant ubuntu that drew together African humanity, generosity and political ingenuity — for example, in the dignified resolve of those I watched form a human wall around the house of a widow threatened with disconnection of her electricity, and in people’s rejection of demeaning “RDP houses” they called “kennels”; and in the pulsating mass demonstrations of social movements that are among the most sophisticated and dynamic in the world.

On the twentieth anniversary of the first democratic vote on 27 April 1994, it is this resistance, this force for justice and real democratic progress, that should be celebrated, while its betrayal and squandering should be understood and acted upon.

On 11 February, 1990, Nelson Mandela stepped out on the balcony of Cape Town City Hall with the miners’ leader Cyril Ramaphosa supporting him. Free at last, he spoke to millions in South Africa and around the world. This was the moment, an historic split-second as rare and potent as any in the universal struggle for freedom. Moral power and the power for justice could triumph over anything, any orthodoxy, it seemed. “Now is the time to intensify the struggle,” said Mandela in a proud and angry speech, perhaps his best, or the last of his best.

The next day he appeared to correct himself. Majority rule would not make blacks “dominant”. The retreat quickened. There would be no public ownership of the mines, banks and rapacious monopoly industries, no economic democracy, as he had pledged with the words: “a change or modification of our views in this regard is inconceivable”. Reassuring the white establishment and its foreign business allies — the very orthodoxy and cronyism that had built, maintained and reinforced fascist apartheid — became the political agenda of the “new” South Africa.

Secret deals facilitated this.  In 1985, apartheid had suffered two disasters: the Johannesburg stock market crashed and the regime defaulted on its mounting foreign debt. In September that year, a group led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo-American Corporation, met Oliver Tambo, the ANC president, and other liberation officials in Mfuwe, Zambia.

The Relly message was that a “transition” from apartheid to a black-governed electoral democracy was possible only if “order” and “stability” were guaranteed. These was liberal code for a capitalist state in which social and economic democracy would never be a priority. The aim was to split the ANC between the “moderates” they could “do business with” (Tambo, Mandela and Thabo Mbeki) and the majority who made up the United Democratic Front and were fighting in the streets.

The betrayal of the UDF and its most effective components, such as the National Civic Organisation, is today poignant, secret history.

 In 1987 and 1990, ANC officials led by Mbeki met twenty prominent members of the Afrikaner elite at a stately home near Bath, in England. Around the fireplace at Mells Park House, they drank vintage wine and malt whisky. They joked about eating “illegal” South African grapes, then subject to a worldwide boycott, “It’s a civilised world there,” recalled Mof Terreblanche, a stockbroker and pal of F.W. De Klerk. “If you have a drink with somebody … and have another drink, it brings understanding. Really, we became friends.”

So secret were these convivial meetings that none but a select few in the ANC knew about them. The prime movers were those who had profited from apartheid , such as the British mining giant Consolidated Goldfields, which picked up the tab at Mells Park House. The most important item around the fireplace was who would control the economic system behind the facade of “democracy”.

At the same time, Mandela was conducting his own secret negotiations in Pollsmoor Prison. His principal contact was Neil Barnard, an apartheid true believer who headed the National Intelligence Service. Confidences were exchanged; reassurances were sought. Mandela phoned P.W. Botha on the his birthday; the Groot Krokodil invited him to tea and, as Mandela noted, even poured the tea for his prisoner. “I came out feeling,” said Mandela, “that I had met a creative, warm head of state who treated me with all the respect and dignity I could expect.”

This was the man who, like Verwoerd and Vorster before him, had sent a whole African nation to a vicious gulag that was hidden from the rest of the world. Most of the victims were denied justice and restitution for this epic crime of apartheid. Almost all the verkramptes — extremists like the “creative, warm” Botha — escaped justice.

How ironic that it was Botha in the 1980s — well ahead of the ANC a decade later — who dismantled the scaffolding of racial apartheid and, crucially, promoted a rich black class that would play the role of which Frantz Fanon had warned — as a “transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged”.

In the 1980s, magazines like Ebony, Tribute and Enterprise celebrated the “aspirations” of a black bourgeoisie whose two-garage Soweto homes were included on tours for foreigners the regime sought to impress. “This is our black middle class,” the guides would say; but there was no middle: merely a buffer class being prepared, as Fanon wrote, for “its historic mission”. This is unchanged today.

The Botha regime even offered black businessmen generous loans from the Industrial Development Corporation. This allowed them to set up companies outside the “bantustans”. In this way, a black company such as New Africa Investments could buy part of Metropolitan Life. Within a decade, Cyril Ramaphosa was deputy chairman of what was effectively a creation of apartheid. He is today one of the richest men in the world.

The transition was, in a sense, seamless. “You can put any label on it you like,” President Mandela told me at Groote Schur. “You can call it Thatcherite, but for this country, privatisation is the fundamental policy.”

“That’s the opposite of what you said before the first elections, in 1994,” I said.

“There is a process,” was his uncertain reply, “and every process incorporates change.”

Mandela was merely reflecting the ANC’s mantra — which seemed to take on the obsessions of a supercult. There were all those ANC pilgrimages to the World Bank and the IMF in Washington, all those “presentations” at Davos, all those ingratiations at the G-8, all those foreign advisers and consultants coming and going, all those pseudo-academic reports with their “neo-liberal” jargon and acronyms. To borrow from the comic writer Larry David, “a babbling brook of bullshit” engulfed the first ANC governments, especially its finance ministries.

Putting aside for a moment the well-documented self-enrichment of ANC notables and suckering of arms deals, the Africa analyst Peter Robbins had an interesting view on this. “I think the ANC leadership [was] ashamed that most of their people live in the third world,” he wrote. “They don’t like to think of themselves as being mostly an African-style economy. So economic apartheid has replaced legal apartheid with the same consequences for the same people, yet it is greeted as one of the greatest achievements in world history.”

Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission brushed this reality, ever so briefly, when business corporations were called to the confessional. These “institutional” hearings were among the most important, yet were all but dismissed. Representing the most voracious, ruthless, profitable and lethal industry in the world, the South African Chamber of Mines summed up a century of exploitation in six and a half derisory pages. There was no apology for the swathes of South Africa turned into the equivalent of Chernobyl. There was no pledge of compensation for the countless men and their families stricken with occupational diseases such as silicosis and mesothelioma. Many could not afford an oxygen tank; many families could not afford a funeral. 

 In an accent from the era of pith helmets, Julian Ogilvie-Thompson, the former chairman of Anglo-American, told the TRC: “Surely, no one wants to penalise success.” Listening to him were ex miners who could barely breathe.

Liberation governments can point to real and enduring achievements since 1994. But the most basic freedom, to survive and to survive decently, has been withheld from the majority of South Africans, who are aware that had the ANC invested in them and in their “informal economy”, it could have actually transformed the lives of millions. Land could have been purchased and reclaimed for small-scale farming by the dispossessed, run in the co-operative spirit of African agriculture. Millions of houses could have been built, better health and education would have been possible. A small-scale credit system could have opened the way for affordable goods and services for the majority. None of this would have required the import of equipment or raw materials, and the investment would have created millions of jobs. As they grew more prosperous, communities would have developed their own industries and an independent national economy.

A pipe dream? The violent inequality that now stalks South Africa is no dream. It was Mandela, after all, who said, “If the ANC does not deliver the goods, the people must do what they have done to the apartheid regime.”

This article originally appeared in the Sunday Times, Johannesburg. John Pilger is the author of Freedom Next Time. His 1998 film, Apartheid Did Not Die, is on his website www.johnpilger.com

Russia has to stop gas subsidies to Ukraine as it cannot keep supporting the bankrupt anti-Russian regime in Kiev, energy asset manager Eric Kraus told RT, adding that it will be the EU’s problem if Ukraine eventually starts stealing their transit gas.

RT: Ukraine says it wants heavily discounted gas from Russia. Does it have grounds to ask for that?

Eric Kraus: I think it is fairly absurd considering that you have a strongly anti-Russian regime which has been brought into place by the Europeans and by the Americans in Kiev. You can’t really ask the Russians to fund this regime, can you?

RT: On the other hand, Russia has doubled prices in the span of just a few months, perhaps some calling that too harsh?

EK: It is harsh, but basically what they did is not double prices. What they did is they removed subsidies.

Russia has been very heavily subsidizing Ukraine, since Ukraine became independent, because they needed a friendly, at least a neutral state at their border. Now if Ukraine wants to align itself with NATO and basically anti-Russian countries, then they are going to have to pay their own way.

RT: The US says Russia’s blackmailing Ukraine and Europe and says Moscow should not use gas as a political weapon. And president Putin reacted to the statements joking, it is bad to read other people’s correspondence. What is your reaction?

EK: First of all for the Americans to accuse anyone of using economic blackmail is a major case of the pot calling the kettle black. They have been threatening illegal sanctions against Russia for weeks. So, who is using the blackmail here? And secondly, yes, the letter was not addressed to the American president.

 

Reuters/Stringer

Reuters/Stringer

RT: Ukraine hasn’t paid for gas in three months. What are Russia’s options now?

EK: Try not paying your gas bill for three months and then see what happens. Basically at some point Russia says it sells gas for money and at some point if the client does not pay, they have to close it off.

The problem is then, the danger is that Ukraine will start siphoning off the Russian gas which is being provided to Europe. And the Europeans brought this upon themselves. It is a European problem. They’re going to have to solve it. They can simply pay for Ukraine’s gas if they wish.

RT: There have been reports that several petroleum companies have allegedly discovered a mother lode of shale gas in Western Ukraine, near the European border. What kind of implications could that bring to the table?

EK: We have been hearing about the Ukrainian shale gas for a long time. All of the attempts to produce thus far have been failures, as has been the case for Polish shale gas. The geology is somewhat different. I don’t know if this time it is for real, but it will have major implications for the European, at least for Ukrainian gas supply. But I would be very skeptical until we see this confirmed.

RT: Who do you think is to blame at the end of the day for the crisis in Ukraine?

EK: I think it has started as a democratic movement against particularly corrupt and incompetent president who was never Mr. Putin’s choice by the way. Mr. Putin never liked Yanukovich.

Unfortunately as the revolutionary movement progressed, it was replaced by a vanguard of neo-fascists of far right wing parties which then took power by violence ,and are now complaining of eastern Ukrainians seeking to take power by that same violence.

The problem has been that the Europeans and the Americans have been attempting to use this. They are not concerned with the interests of the Ukrainian people. There is a game of power politics here and they are trying to push Russia into a corner and Ukraine provides convenient means of doing so.

Comments (13)

 

Anna Charles 12.04.2014 13:21

Energy debs are called priority debts here in the UK because if you dont ay they have the power to disconnect you. Many people, especially those on benefits have been migrated across to pre-payment meters so that no debt ever arises and arrears can be clawed back incrementally.

 

browndirtusunum 12.04.2014 11:18

I see NATO using the pipeline to the EU as a way into securing and bordering Russia even more than ever. NATO will protect the EU’s interests by protecting the pipeline to ensure that the EU will not pay for gas siphoned from the pipeline somewhere in the Ukraine by Ukrainians. Soon thousands maybe 10′s of thousands of NATO soldiers will be opening a whole new saga into the future of Ukraine.

 

Dunbal 12.04.2014 10:26

BRICSIAN 12.04.2014 05:27

” I think it is fairly absurd considering that you have a strongly anti-Russian regime…..”

The Ukrainians , for some reason, believe getting subsidised gas from Russia is their birth-right.

  

Ty pical of any spoiled person. Take for example someone living on government aid. Or a rich trust fund baby. They moan like crazy if for some reason you take the money away and make them get a job. It’s no different on an aggregate scale.

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“The new feudalism reverses the trend of the past thousand years toward the assumption by the government of basic public amenities like policing, public roads and transport networks, and public schools. In the United States—to a degree unmatched in any other industrial democracy—these things are once again becoming private luxuries, accessible only to the affluent few.”Michael Lind 

“The privatization of schooling would produce a new, highly active and profitable industry.”—Milton Friedman

American schools are in crisis. This is especially palpable in the inner cities. Although stemming from larger social and societal problems—coupled with a federal policy that facilitates school disruption—the cause of the crisis has been leveled solely on teachers. On a largely bipartisan basis, the solution has been to fire teachers en masse, coupling this with a massive wave of school closings. Subsequently, these public schools are massively privatized, mostly in the form of charter schools. This chain of events, far from unconnected phenomena, are part of the overall project for privatizing public schools. It is an attempt, inter alia, at windfall profits and to overturn the centuries-long commitment of the state to free compulsory education. In other words, neo-feudalism.
Originally focusing on the advocacy of private school vouchers, the architects of school privatization have redirected their energies to the adoption of private charter schools. Since this crucial pivot, the movement has evolved into a much larger coalition, bringing together the forces of right-wing corporatism and Wall Street Democrats, the ostensible allies of labor. It is this convergence that existentially threatens the very notion of public education in America.
Couched in terms of genuine concern for children and through demagogic sloganeering such as “school choice” or even in terms as innocuous as “school reform,” proponents of privatization have presented themselves as the saviors of children. [1] Facing largely failing schools—again, due to larger societal factors and lack of school funding in many cases, sometimes deliberately withheld—many parents look favorably at the prospect of sending their children to private voucher or charter schools in the hopes it will provide a more viable alternative. But as the Black Agenda Report observes, “The charter school racket is the perfect Trojan Horse for corporate domination of the classroom, at public expense, opening up a new, wholly subsidized educational ‘market’ valued at hundreds of billions of dollars a year, in which the public pays and private parties profit.” Under the guise of empowering parents and communities, it transfers public assets into private hands.

Behind the scenes of the movement for the replacement of public schools with for-profit charter schools, we find legions of billionaire hedge-fund hyenas, Wall Street—the same rapacious forces that brought us the world economic depression—and cynically opportunistic political operatives working at the behest of corporate and conservative foundations. These are flanked by neoliberal Wall Street Democrats and Republicans, the strongest allies of corporate America. Wall Street wants charter schools. It wants privatization because corporate America sees a potential bonanza in profits, a multibillion dollar opportunity to loot American schools at public expense. Indeed, as Glen Ford notes, “Anyone who believes that the Lords of Capital would finance anything that puts real power in the hands of poor parents, is in need of remedial education.”

In addition to profits, it also affords a further opportunity to smash the remnants of labor unions in America. In a country where labor unions have been in a continual rout for the past four decades—under both Republican and Democratic administrations—teachers unions have become one of the last bastions of militant trade unionism. Privatizing or charterizing public schools continues the attenuation of labor because their proliferation eliminates teachers unions. In fact, the original project to privatize schools, as we shall see, held as paramount the goal of breaking the historic relationship between Black America—the most consistently progressive constituency in America—and labor unions, where blacks were represented disproportionately with respect to their percentage of the overall American population.

Right-Wing Corporate Agenda to Co-Opt Black America

The project for national school privatization largely began as a parochial right-wing initiative focusing primarily on vouchers for private schools. This was a project that, if adopted, would have exacerbated American class separation in addition to reversing the historic commitment to public education. Elite private schools could have—unlike public schools—raised tuition to price out all but the wealthiest students. This would work to cement already increasingly oligarchic tendencies in America.

Moving away from this narrow right-wing initiative, the project for school privatization undertook a dramatic shift beginning in the late 1990s. For years Republicans had tried unsuccessfully to gain legitimacy within the Black community. Republicans had manifold methods for attempting to penetrate the Black community—from running token Black Republicans to bankrolling faux Black intellectuals—all of which were ultimately unsuccessful. Hitherto, not one Black Republican had been elected to a black district since 1939. Eventually, the Right had an epiphany. It realized the cynical use of education was a method by which it could penetrate into the Black community. American Blacks, descendants of enslaved people—who in their plight faced its criminalization—consider education indispensable for social mobility.
Rather than directly attempt to co-opt Blacks through the Republican Party, it would make inroads by working through the Democratic Party itself, where Black America resides politically. School privatization could also potentially drive a wedge between labor and blacks. Towards this end, it would foster and bankroll Black political operatives and opportunists in favor of school privatization. To bring this to fruition the right-wing corporate forces created a synthetic movement for school privatization within the Black community, where hitherto such a demand never existed. This was because, in a paradoxical irony, the progenitors of privatization, by way of school vouchers, were white racists who opposed the integration of schools by the federal government. They wanted segregation academies. Because of this, Blacks, with good reason, associated vouchers with white racists. To make privatization palatable to the Black community would be an arduous task indeed. But the right-wing operatives were awash with money and a newfangled strategy to inveigle the Black community.

This newfangled right-wing strategy was best elucidated by Glen Ford in the pages of the Black Commentator in his exposé of then Newark mayoral candidate Cory Booker, who was an integral part of these efforts. In retrospect, the advent of Booker on the national scene is a historic watershed in American politics. It was an ominous harbinger of what was to come for Black American politics; henceforth Black politicians would come increasingly into the orbit of the corporate embrace. Ford’s article “Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right’s Plan to Capture Newark, NJ” thoroughly documents Booker as the willing front man of the Hard Right’s twofold plan to infiltrate Black Democratic politics and to implement school privatization via vouchers. The incisive article also tells a larger story. It traces the new strategy’s very origins.

Those origins ideologically and financially lie in the Bradley Foundation, a wellspring of ultra-conservative political causes, located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Bradley is the ultra-conservative foundation par excellence—an organization that Republican President George W. Bush described as his “favorite” foundation. Bradley had between 1985 and 1999, according to one count, distributed $365 million to a myriad of right-wing organizations. School privatization was among the causes that it championed. For example, around 2002 it pledged $20 million for private schools in Milwaukee for the next decade, while giving a paltry $60,000 to the public school system in 2000.

The brainchild of the new strategy for co-opting Blacks via an education gambit at Bradley was Michael Joyce, its then president. Far from being interested in genuinely empowering Blacks, Joyce was a man who could care less about the plight of Blacks ill-served by the public education system. In fact, Joyce lauded Charles Murray, author of the infamous American Enterprise Institute (AEI) supported “Bell Curve” theory which posits the dubious notion that Blacks have inferior intelligence. Joyce once asserted “Charles Murray, in my opinion, is one of the foremost social thinkers in this country.” AEI, a favorite think tank of Bradley, was a recipient of $825,000 of Bradley money in 2000.
Bradley Foundation Creates Its Vessel: Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO)

For Michael Joyce, his efforts might have not succeeded were it not for his partner in privatization Dr. Howard Fuller, a Milwaukee based self-styled Black nationalist. [2] During the late 1960s and early 1970s Fuller had been part of an effort to create “Malcolm X Liberation University” in Greensboro, North Carolina. For financial reasons this effort proved abortive, with the institution lasting a mere four years. This lesson was not lost on Fuller though; to turn his quixotic Black nationalist desires into a viable movement, he would need money. Being from Milwaukee, he knew where that money resided. What resulted was a paradoxical alliance in which two forces who should be diametrically opposed to each other, worked in tandem. Without qualms, Fuller turned to the Bradley Foundation of Michael Joyce. In Milwaukee, his connections afforded him the opportunity to become superintendent of Milwaukee public schools. In close association with Bradley, he worked to establish seven of the first inner-city voucher private schools. His efforts were frustrated when he faced the Milwaukee school board, where four out of five candidates backed by teachers unions were elected.

 

After resigning from his position in consternation, Fuller redoubles his Bradley-backed privatization efforts. Fuller was promptly set up at Marquette University—a favorite campus of Bradley and its sister organization the Walton Family Foundation, the philanthropic arm of retail juggernaut Wal-Mart. Operating his own “non-profit” on a $900, 000 annual salary, training and indoctrinating cadre to promote what they sophistically call “school choice” in the Black community.

 

The Bradley-Walton-Fuller effort to promote voucher and later charter schools crested with the establishment of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO). This group, according to one estimate, received $1.7 million from June 2001 to early 2002, while the Walton Foundation provided $900,000 for seed money. Such a gilded entrance on the political scene belies any notion of being a grassroots organization. As Glen Ford concludes: “The Black Alliance for Educational Options has no life independent of Bradley and its wicked sister, the Walton Foundation… In a December 2001, report, the liberal People for the American Way (PFAW) asked, rhetorically, is the BAEO a ‘Community Voice or Captive of the Right?’ Transparency in Media, which keeps track of right-wing foundations, describes the BAEO as ‘a project’ of the Bradley Foundation.”

 

As a testament to the true ideological underpinnings of Cory Booker, Fuller, and their ilk, a BAEO symposium attended by Cory Booker, received $30,000 from Milton Friedman—the intellectual patron saint of privatization and favored economist of Ronald Reagan, the hero of conservatives. Friedman had his own foundation follow up with $230,000 for ads promoting school vouchers. The subsequent media blitz which included TV, radio, and print ads was valued at $3 million, according to one estimate. Plainly, this was no grass roots phenomena of Black folks seeking “school choice”; it was a full-fledged ultra-conservative-backed bacchanalia. Indeed, once the BAEO was well-established, it would achieve a quasi-governmental status under the Republican regime of George W. Bush, becoming a recipient of millions in federal grant money during his tenure as part of Bush’s pro-voucher outreach to the Black community.

Cory Booker: The Corporate Right’s Great Black Hope

Cory Booker, the focus of Glen Ford’s exposé, represented the hopes and aspirations of the new right-wing strategy. The prospect of Booker in a solidly Democratic mayoralty would settle the question of whether or not the Hard Right’s newfangled strategy was a viable option to penetrate the Black political scene. As Ford framed it at the time:

The billionaires who fund the American Hard Right are salivating over the prospect of seizing control of City Hall in Newark, New Jersey, May 14.

They have found their champion: Cory Booker, Black mayoral candidate from the city’s Central Ward, a cynical pretender who attempts to position himself as the common people’s defender while locked in the deep embrace of institutes and foundations that bankroll virtually every assault on social and economic justice in America…

Booker owes his growing national prominence to this crowd, whose influence has provided the 32 year-old with a campaign war chest rivaling that of four-term incumbent Sharp James. Never has a Newark election been more closely watched by the super-rich and their political network. Booker is their Black Hope for electoral legitimacy. Although only a first-term councilman from a medium-sized city, the former Rhodes Scholar is already at the top of the Right’s list of New Black Leaders.

Booker’s anointment as a prince in the Hard Right’s pantheon is based on his support of public vouchers for private schools. This “movement,” the creation of right-wing paymasters like the Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, and the Walton Family Foundation, Bentonville, Arkansas, hopes to drive a wedge between urban Blacks and the teachers unions. Without amicable relations between these two Democratic pillars, the Party, as we know it, is finished….

 

Booker is the Right’s eager ally. He is adored in the corridors of the Heritage, Hoover, Manhattan and American Enterprise Institutes, think tanks that handle publicity and publication for the Bradley and Walton moneybags.

Normally, that Booker was allied with the fringes of Hard Right in support of school private vouchers might be received with alarm in the Black community. But Booker, much like Obama, ran on vague terms, with no mention of vouchers in his candidacy announcement speech. Instead, he portrayed his opponent, the incumbent mayor Sharpe James, as a tool of downtown business interests; Booker promised a “renaissance for the rest of us.”

If his true intentions were not sufficient to raise red flags, his tight partnerships with some of the most reactionary Republicans should have. Booker found good company with former Jersey City Mayor and failed GOP gubernatorial candidate Bret Schundler, another champion of private school vouchers. Along with wealthy Republican businessman Peter Denton, Booker and Schundler founded the non-profit Excellent Education for Everyone. Schundler had earlier received a $500,000 grant from the Walton Foundation for his “Scholarships for Jersey City Children” non-profit, a large part of which he merely used for his election campaign. Booker and Schundler were also notably present at the creation of the BAEO, making a pilgrimage to Milwaukee for a Bradley funded symposium. Booker would soon join the board of BAEO—along with a catalogue of other right-wing operatives and opportunists such as former congressman Floyd Flake of Queens, the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to openly endorse private school vouchers at the time. [3]

Most importantly for the fortunes of the young opportunist Booker as a servant of right-wing circles, his standing was his solidified when he delivered a speech to the Manhattan institute—a sort of New York media affiliate of Bradley for which it gave $250,000 in 2000. Here Booker obsequiously delivered on many of the ultra-right’s litany of key demands, inveighing against what he called the “old paradigm,” which Booker opined was about “race-based machines” securing “big entitlements.” A chorus of right-wing voices—spearheaded by noted conservative columnist George F. Will, champion of privatization—soon proceeded to trumpet the cause of Booker. A column by Will about what he called Booker’s ”renaissance” for Newark explained that Booker’s plans are “drawn from thinkers at the Democratic Leadership Council and Manhattan Institute think tank, and from the experiences of others such as Stephan Goldsmith, former Republican mayor of Indianapolis, a pioneer of privatization and faith-based delivery of some government services, and John Norquist, current Democratic mayor of Milwaukee, which has one of the nation’s most successful school-choice programs.”

 

What Will’s somewhat disingenuous column omitted was the role of Bradley in Milwaukee’s dubiously termed “successful” “school-choice” programs, and that the Democratic Leadership Council was the southern based conservative arm of the Democratic Party. Through Booker’s access to the right-wing moneybags, he was able to raise $3 million in contrast to the $2.5 million of incumbent Sharpe James. Will noted that Booker had raised his millions mostly via “reform-minded” (read exponents of privatization) “supporters in New York financial circles.” In truth, these are the same forces that fund corporate right-wing think tanks such as AEI, the Manhattan Institute.

Booker, in a later revelatory Freudian slip, again demonstrated where his true allegiances lie. During the 2012 presidential election season, Booker defended the “good” works done by GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, a predatory firm that had engaged in all manner of asset stripping and jobs destruction. Booker was “nauseated” by “unfair” attacks leveled at Romney and Wall Street. That same year, Booker, still the abject servant of the right-wing elements, delivered a speech on education “reform” (right-speak for privatization) in Jersey City. This big luncheon was paid for by ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) a political arm of the much-dreaded billionaire Koch brothers who fostered the obstructionist Tea Party. Booker was pari passu with Republican Governors Chris Christie of New Jersey (a close ally of Booker with whom he agrees with on many issues) and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana at the ultra-conservative luncheon. Booker’s rousing speech was laden with anti-union and anti-public school rhetoric, with some accounts stating it was even more ultra-conservative than those given by Jindal or Christie. To be sure, Booker was well in his right-wing element. Booker’s actions demonstrated that not only could a Democrat—albeit a nominal one—attack the institution of public schools and unions, but he could also partake in right-wing circles and defend Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, one of the most predatory moneyed interests in America.

 

 Obama Regime: A New Emphasis on Private Charter Schools

The school privatization effort has today reached its apex under the Obama regime. Since developing their early privatization agenda focusing on private school vouchers, the corporate and moneyed interests—the milieu which brought Cory Booker to power—changed their emphasis to “charter schools.” From their perspective it is a more viable proposition. Working inside the public school system, these are private institutions for which the public fits the bill. Thus, financially, it is a no lose proposition for their proponents. Charter schools are the faster route to wrest control of public schooling to privatizers than vouchers. The pace at which private voucher schools can be created—which is a one by one basis—is slower than the speed that charter schools can enter the public school system. The term ‘charter school,’ in truth, a misnomer, also avoids using the word “privatization” which is widely unpopular. Additionally, in terms of targeting the Black community, it obviates the stigma associated with vouchers. Lastly, but certainly not least among considerations, the ranks of the pro-privatization crowd have been bolstered after Wall Street and the Internet rich joined their ranks. As we shall see, Obama, a Democratic president heavily tied to Wall Street banking interests, has served as the front man for privatization via charter schools on the national level, making more strides toward this end than Bush could ever have dreamed of.

The only discernable difference between the Bush II regime and that of Obama vis-à-vis education is in their emphasis. With Bush, Republicans were committed to creating private school vouchers. Their second choice was the charter school, which is now the favored initiative of the Obama regime. Obama has facilitated the firings of teachers en masse in numbers beyond what Bush could have done. By virtue of him being a Democratic president, any potential backlash—that doubtless would have befallen a Republican regime—against his anti-teacher, anti-union and mass school closing polices is muffled. The national level teachers unions ill-served by his policies continue to provide support to him. To add insult to injury, his Teach for America Program uses what are, in effect, “scabs” to replace experienced unionized teachers. These professionalized teachers are replaced by less-paid young, mostly white, teachers, who graduate from a 5 week teacher program with a higher turnover rate than the teachers they replace.

The primary tool of the Obama regime to enact privatization is the “Race to the Top” initiative, its signature education policy. Taking Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” program as his starting point, Obama’s “Race to the Top” program at its core is an instrument of coercion for privatization. It relies on the acquiescence of the states for privatization via charters. The “Race to the Top” awards federal education dollars based on the testing regime, how many teachers are fired, how many schools are closed. This incentivizing of school closings has resulted in an unmitigated wave of school closings involving perhaps hundreds—from Philadelphia to Chicago—in the inner cities. In order to make room for charter schools, there needs to be a rubble for them to replace. Towards this end, the charter school scam continues unabated.

 Chris Macavel is an independent political analyst based in Harlem, NY. He writes for the blog “The Nation-State” at thenationalstate.wordpress.com. He seeks to enlighten about the growing dangers of NATO imperialist ambitions and Wall Street domination in American political life. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Imperialism in the ‘Arab Spring’: How The West Guided the MENA Uprisings” 

Notes: 

 

[1] One propagandist film Waiting For Superman plays on this very notion.[2] Fuller also appears in the propagandist film Waiting For Superman to promote the privatization movement he helped to create. His ties and backing from ultra-conservatives is omitted completely from the narrative.[3] Floyd Flake would later create the Edison Schools private school network. Ford also profiles the catalogue of BAEO members in his exposé.

Sources:
“Arne Duncan at ED: Year One
“Cory Booker: Sellout or Dumbbell?” 
“Conflicts of Interests and the Race to the Top”
“Fruit of the Poisoned Tree: The Hard Right’s Plan to Capture Newark, NJ”
Newark: The First Domino? The Hard Right Tests Its National Black Strategy” 
“Glen Ford: Corporate Assault on Public Education”

NATO wants to justify it’s existence and what better way than to show a big build up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border. Fact is that the pictures are from August 2013. The military adventures of recent years by NATO, shows that it likes to use fake pictures and videos in order to justify invasions and gaining support at home for unpopular wars

Russian troops on Ukraine's border in 2013

copyright NATO

“Satellite imagery of Russian troops allegedly amassed at present on the border with Ukraine dates back to August 2013, a high-ranking source in Russia,” General Staff said Thursday.NATO’s Headquarters of Allied Command Operations released earlier on Thursday a series of satellite photos showing large contingents of tanks, artillery, attack helicopters and war planes purportedly being observed by the Alliance in specific locations along the Ukrainian border.

“In reality, the images released by NATO show units of Russia’s Southern Military District taking part in various exercises last summer, including near the borders with Ukraine,” the source said.

The Southern Military District hosted a number of military drills last summer, including parts of large-scale Combat Commonwealth-2013 air defense exercise, which involved units from a joint air defense system of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

NATO is actively building its naval presence in the Black Sea in view of sharp aggravation of the Ukraine crisis, a Russian Defence Ministry source told the Russian news agency TASS on Thursday.

“Destroyer USS Donald Cook equipped with the Aegis combat missile defense system has just entered the Black Sea. According to our information, it is going to be joined by French reconnaissance ship Dupuy de Lome by April 11. French Navy’s destroyer Dupleix is expected to enter the Black Sea on April 14,” the source went on to say.

“Considering the presence of the French Navy’s rescue vessel Alize in the south-eastern part of the Black Sea since late March, we can say that NATO is building a naval grouping in the Black Sea in the vicinity of the Russian border for the first time since 2008,” the Russian Defence Ministry source said.

Every year in the first week of April Western media venues are flooded with stories that begin with statements about the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, “where at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus died at the hands of Hutu extremists.”

Such stories recount the official narrative about the ‘Genocide in Rwanda’, a narrative that has five or six key elements that have been almost canonized and are repeated robotically by Western English-speaking news consumers from all walks of life, economic classes, and political leanings.

1. At least 800,000 people killed;
2. Mostly ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus;
3. Slaughtered with machetes (and picks, hoes, adzes, other crude tools);
4. It was meaningless tribal savagery;
5. Committed by Hutu extremists;
6. In 100 days of genocide;
7. We (Westerners) were ‘bystanders’ and did nothing.

These jingoistic phrases have been systematically cemented into the minds of Westerners through more than 20 years of insidious Western media propaganda, including the printed word, radio programs, still photographs, video and film, and they are generally reproduced ad nauseum by emergent ‘social’ media.

There is little truth to the official narrative.

‘Tutsis as victims, Hutus as oppressors?’

Twenty years after the pivotal events of 1994, it is time that Western media ‘news’ consumers – scholars, peace workers, academics, clergy, politicians, humanitarian aid workers, everyone – took responsibility for their own participation in the ‘Rwanda Genocide’ hysteria or, as it is, industry.

Let’s set the stage for the so-called ‘100 days of Genocide’ that purportedly began April 6, 1994, and purportedly ended July 15, 1994, in Rwanda. We can offer some critical facts that anyone who wants to mourn and sob about life and death in Rwanda ought to understand before they open their mouths and display sheer ignorance.

To begin with, ‘Hutu’ and ‘Tutsi’ are socio-economic and socio-political categories: these are not ‘tribes’. Most of the ‘Rwanda Genocide’ narrative is mythology relying on simplifications, stereotypes and reductionisms about Hutus and Tutsis as tribal savages. This stuff is right out of Tarzan movies.

Prior to the imperial occupation that began after 1890, ‘Tutsi’ kings ruled Ruanda-Urundi. ‘Tutsi’ cattle herders comprised some 20 percent of the population, ruling over the 80 percent ‘Hutu’ majority with egregious violence. First the Germans (to 1916) then the Belgians (to 1960) ruled ‘their’ colony by nurturing a ‘Tutsi’ power structure to exploit the ‘Hutu’ masses. The ‘Tutsi’ comprador class served the colonial occupation, where brutality, slavery and terrorism were used to keep the ‘Hutu’ masses in the fields. A ‘Tutsi’ could lose all his cattle and descend into the ranks of the peasant ‘Hutu’ agriculturalists and, though far less likely, a ‘Hutu’ could gain cattle and join the Tutsi elites. The colonial fathers issued ID cards, measured noses and cranial dimensions, and duly clarified who be ‘Hutu’ and who be ‘Tutsi’. There was, of course, much money to be made.

 

A Rwandan woman carries a Swiss family's baby 09 April 1994 at Butare on the Rwanda-Burundi border where numerous foreigners were fleeing the civil clashes in Rwanda. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

A Rwandan woman carries a Swiss family’s baby 09 April 1994 at Butare on the Rwanda-Burundi border where numerous foreigners were fleeing the civil clashes in Rwanda. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

Witnessing the global ‘Third World’ independence (sic) movements of the 1950s, and supported by the Belgian Catholic priests, the ‘Hutus’ in Rwanda overthrew the ‘Tutsi’ monarchy in the ‘revolution’ of 1959-1960. Some people died, some people fled, some people stayed, and the next 30 years saw majority ‘Hutu’ rule, with Rwanda under constant attack by elite ‘Tutsi’ guerrillas.

Noting the winds of change, Belgium quickly swapped their support to the Hutu majority, established a comprador class of ‘Hutu’ elites, and protected their interests. There was, of course, much money to be made. Thousands of elite ‘Tutsis’ connected to the former power structure fled to Uganda, Tanzania, Europe and North America.

At the height of the Cold War, the elite ‘Tutsi’ refugees (sic) influenced the Non-Aligned Movement – newly-independent (sic) states like Brazil, India, Malaysia, etc. – screaming bloody murder and “We are the victims of imperial aggression!” all the while. This is the falsified history of ‘Tutsis’ as ‘victims’ inculcated by the arrogant elite ‘Tutsi’ rulers. These facts are key to the official narrative: Tutsis as victims, Hutus as oppressors.

Like any monarchy, the ‘Tutsi’ elites believe(d) they are God’s Chosen People, the Jews of Africa, the natural-born rulers over millions of Hutu (and Tutsi) peasants.

Adopted by the Non-Aligned Movement – funded, armed, trained outside Rwanda – the elite ‘Tutsi’ guerrillas attacked Rwanda throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, sowing the most egregious terrorism, usually under cover of night. Every time the ‘Tutsi’ guerrillas attacked Rwanda – whether from outside during the 1960s or from inside during the 1990s – the in-country French-speaking ‘Tutsis’ suffered reprisals. The ‘Tutsis as victims’ narrative continued to expand, and while the Hutus were blamed for atrocities, usually retaliatory, the ‘Tutsi’ were coddled and protected.

Guerrilla incursions involved bombings of cafes, nightclubs, bars, restaurants and buses. The very real suffering of the French-speaking ‘Tutsi’ people inside Rwanda – those who ‘stayed behind’ – was written off by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF, a ‘Tutsi’ political party created in 1987 by the Tutsi refugee diaspora in Uganda, now the ruling party in Rwanda) as collateral damage. The English-speaking Ugandans, the elite ‘Tutsi’ refugees (sic), who had Ugandan citizenship and high posts in the Ugandan military, defined them as Hutu collaborators. The RPF didn’t care whether they lived or died.

The foreign element

Enter, by coup d’etat, the Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana, who ruled Rwanda from 1973 to April 6, 1994, backed by France. Historically, France was to Africa what the United States was to Latin America. Britain and Portugal controlled a few protectorates, Belgium plundered the Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, but Francophone power in Africa was vast, deeply entrenched and militarily brutal.

Habyarimana ran a one-party dictatorship, but French-speaking Tutsis who stayed behind were able to achieve some economic status, though they were kept in check, given their small numbers. Of course, this wasn’t good enough for the elite ‘Tutsis’ outside Rwanda. The United States, Canada, Britain and Israel wanted more of the African pie, and Paul Kagame was the man to get it for them.

 

Rwandan refugees walk on the Byumba road as they flee from Kigali on May 11, 1994. (AFP Photo)

Rwandan refugees walk on the Byumba road as they flee from Kigali on May 11, 1994. (AFP Photo)

English-speaking ‘Tutsis’ who grew up in Uganda – Paul Kagame, James Kabarebe, Fred Rwigyema, Patrick Karegeya, Laurent Nkundabatware, and thousands of others – were the soldiers of Yoweri Museveni’s guerrilla army. They committed massive atrocities in Uganda, (1980-1985), where absolute terrorism was used to remove a socialist government run by an ungrateful Hutu. The victims in Uganda were also blamed for genocide, turning the truth upside-down. This is how Museveni and Kagame – his director of military intelligence – brought Uganda back in line with the geopolitical dictates of the West: aka disaster capitalism. There was, of course, a lot of money to be made.

They burned entire villages. The RPF deceived peasants into coming to meetings only to obliterate them coldly. The RPF even created crematoriums to ‘disappear’ the skeletons and skulls, until they realized the efficacy of the model of the Jewish Holocaust death camp memorials: pile up shoes, clothing, skeletons and skulls; create an industry whose currency is the moral outrage and psychological terror of ‘genocide’. And please do not be confused: nothing is more terrifying to the Western psyche. (Of course, the same ‘device’ was created and used by the Museveni terror apparatus in the Lowero Triangle of Uganda, but it was preceded by Cambodia, where Pol Pot was the preeminent demon of the day, and the carpet-bombing, napalm strikes, or terror operations like Project Phoenix are dismissed.)

Media war

The New York Times led the charge into Rwanda, and the Western media continued to beat the ‘Tutsis as victims’ drum roll. There was, after all, a lot of money to be made. Wall Street vultures began drooling. Military and intelligence operatives like David Kimche (Israel) and Roger Winter (USA) jockeyed for position – organizing logistics, maintaining supply chains, arranging weapons shipments – to support ‘our’ man Kagame and our proxy guerrilla army, the RPF. The Washington Post, Boston Globe, CNN, the Observer all described the RPF guerrillas as a highly ‘disciplined’ army: if any woman was raped or civilian massacred, it was an accident, a rogue soldier, and said soldier would be duly punished (of course, they never were).

Paul Kagame put into practice what his teachers, the military strategists at the US Army Command and Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (USA), taught him: psychological operations and how to overthrow a country.

As the English-speaking ‘Tutsis’ marched into Rwanda they conscripted and lured ‘Tutsi’ youth to the ‘freedom’ cause. These were young French-speaking Tutsis who were also subjected to Kagame’s ruthless modus operandi: many of them were tortured, killed, disappeared, but many survived the initiation into the RPF. Kagame and his elite Ugandan comrades didn’t trust Tutsis who had stayed behind, and they clearly sacrificed the French-speaking Tutsis of Rwanda for the cause of absolute military power.

 

Rwandan women and children are gathered 27 May 1994 at an International Red Cross center in Kabgayi. (AFP Photo)

Rwandan women and children are gathered 27 May 1994 at an International Red Cross center in Kabgayi. (AFP Photo)

While the power of the Rwandan Patriotic Army grew day by day, supplied from Uganda, funded by World Bank loans to Museveni, the Habyarimana government was attacked on all fronts, shackled with debt, weapons blockades, demonized by the international press, the humanitarians (sic) and world opinion.

Meanwhile, next door in Burundi, the elite ‘Tutsi’-dominated regime committed a genocide in 1972: some 200,000 to 300,000 mostly Hutu people were raped, tortured, and massacred, while hundreds of thousands more fled to neighboring countries, including Rwanda. The preeminent Africa scholar Rene Lemarchand describes this as a genocide ‘denied and forgotten’.

Instead of punishing the invading ‘Tutsi’ Ugandan forces, led by Kagame, the world punished the Habyarimana regime: political pluralism, multiparty elections, peace accords assuring power-sharing for the RPF: no diplomatic or political sacrifice was enough. Meanwhile, Kagame and the RPF grew in strength and numbers, better equipped, better trained, striking under cover of night like cockroaches – Inyenzi – the term that Tutsi guerrillas of the 1960s proudly self-identified with.

Just as Museveni had infiltrated, massacred and terrorized Uganda (1980-1985), the RPF infiltrated soldiers disguised as civilians into Hutu villages, Hutu political parties, even into Hutu youth groups organized to defend Rwanda from the invading terrorist guerrillas. While the RPF used the airwaves to terrorize the people, scapegoat and stereotype enemies real and perceived, and whip up fear of ‘Hutu power’ – the same kinds of nasty propaganda, often sexualized, used by the Kagame regime to demonize its detractors from the West even today – we only even hear about ‘Hutu power’ hate radio.

April 6, 1994, President Habyarimana, his chief of staff, the president of Burundi, the French pilots – all murdered over Kigali in the surface-to-air missile attack on the presidential jet. Here is another pivotal world event that should be commemorated and remembered: the RPF assassination of two presidents.

The Western media soon began describing this terrorist action as ‘a mysterious plane crash’ and, using the now-entrenched upside-down narrative that defined ‘Tutsis’ the victims and ‘Hutus’ as killers, the double-presidential assassinations were blamed on Hutu ‘extremists’.

The United States blocked every attempt to investigate the ‘plane crash’ and the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda (ICTR) suppressed any evidence that emerged, even removing officials who touched the truth too closely. Kagame, all the while was crying crocodile tears, screaming “We are the victims of genocide,” confronting the West with its blatant ‘moral failure’ to abide the slogan ‘never again’.

Real Hutu extremists

What is a Hutu extremist? According to the official mythology, a ‘Hutu extremist’ is a Hutu who ruthlessly and coldly set out to wipe every Tutsi off the face of the earth. In reality, a Hutu ‘extremist’ was any Hutu who saw total war coming at the hands of their erstwhile elite Tutsi oppressors. A Hutu ‘extremist’ was someone who understood only too well that the elite ‘Tutsis’ invading from Uganda, the elite ‘Tutsis’ massacring thousands of people, the elite ‘Tutsis’ (read RPF) infiltrating of social, economic, military and political institutions in Rwanda, the elite ‘Tutsi’ Inyenzi bombings of public places and their assassinations of countless political figures and pesky Rwandan journalists, or the elite ‘Tutsis’ slaughtering of thousands of innocent Hutu men, women and children and wiping entire Hutu villages off the map, that these were very real certainties that Hutu’s had a right and necessity to defend themselves against.

What is a Hutu ‘moderate’? Any Hutu who believed that the RPF offered a democratic alternative to one-party dictatorship, that Paul Kagame was sincere in his proclamations of political pluralism, freedom and brotherhood. These were empty promises.

 

Rwandan Tutsi refugee camp pictured on April 30, 1994, in Niashishi, in south Rwanda, where more than eight thousands Tutsi are gathered under the protection of French soldiers. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

Rwandan Tutsi refugee camp pictured on April 30, 1994, in Niashishi, in south Rwanda, where more than eight thousands Tutsi are gathered under the protection of French soldiers. (AFP Photo / Pascal Guyot)

The genocide of the majority Hutu people, launched October 1, 1990, proceeded unabated during the RPF march to power in Rwanda, and it was even more clearly executed during the RPF hunting and slaughtering of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children – mostly Hutus – in the Congo. These were organized campaigns of genocide, with intent to rape, murder and disappear Hutu people because they were Hutu people, and the perpetrators were the elite ‘Tutsis’ from Uganda.

No such planning or organization of genocidal intent has been proven against the Hutu government of Juvenal Habyarimana – which, in any case, was decapitated on April 6, 1994 – or against the Interim Hutu government that briefly held sway after April 6, 1994, and the judges at the ICTR have found as such. There were indeed hundreds of thousands of French-speaking Tutsis raped, brutalized and massacred in what amount to very real acts of genocide in Rwanda, and these occurred over the now sacred ‘100 days of genocide’. But there were also hundreds of thousands of Hutus killed, and far more Hutu than Tutsi.

Hutu lands were cleared of their owners, taken by foreign ‘Tutsi’ who flooded in on the heels of the RPF. And by the way, practically everyone in Rwanda owns a machete; there were massive imports in January of 1994, by a British citizen; purchases of machetes occurred using World Bank funds, for agricultural use, not for an evil genocide conspiracy. Anyway, the RPF routinely killed people with machetes, to save on bullets, and disguise the perpetrators.

And today, terror reigns silently in Rwanda.

Facts don’t seem to matter however, because Western hysteria has been whipped up by the media, the Pentagon, the intelligence sector, and by the Kagame regime. The Western psyche has been indoctrinated to believe exactly what Kagame and his benefactors want us to believe. We stood by, we did nothing, we should have stopped ‘the genocide’.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

There was a coup d’etat in Rwanda. The victors, the oppressors, the killers have been applauded, shielded, and/or hidden from the eyes of the world. A proxy army of elite ‘Tutsis’ murdered with abandon in Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and Congo, where they are still murdering with abandon.

The real coup d’etat has been the brainwashing of the Western mind and psyche, transforming rational discerning individuals into hysterical self-congratulatory humanitarians (sic), unable to separate truth from lie, and certain of their conclusions, no matter how erroneous. Just show them a machete, or a skull, or a weeping ‘Tutsi’ ‘survivor’ of ‘genocide’ and you can count on their compliance in commemorating the anniversary of ‘Genocide’ in Rwanda, and bowing at the feet of Paul Kagame. There is, of course, much money to be made.

Keith Harmon Snow, for RT

Keith Harmon Snow is a war correspondent and photographer who has worked in 16 African countries, including conflict areas in Congo, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda and Sudan. A former genocide and war crimes investigator for Genocide Watch, Survivor’s Rights International and the United Nations, who has worked at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, testified at numerous US immigration asylum hearings for Rwandan and Congolese refugees and testified at the Audiencia Nacionale in Madrid, Spain, in support of the war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide indictments issued against the top 40 Rwandan Patriotic Front officers. He is persona non grata in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Syrian army’s gains against foreign-backed militant groups along Lebanon borders has left the insurgents with so little space to enter more forces and weapons through Lebanon supply routes, a new report says.

Head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul Rahman, has told the Saudi daily al-Sharq al-Owsat that with Hezbollah’s activities in securing the border, “They [the militants] are now facing difficulties moving forces [across the border]”.

He said, increased security on the Syrian side of the border would lead to greater security in neighboring Lebanon, which has been adversely impacted by the three-year-long charged-war in Syria.

Retired Lebanese Army Brig. Gen. Amin Hoteit, an expert on Lebanese military and strategic affairs, told the paper: “Lebanon has now been separated from the Syrian crisis. This comes after the rebels withdrew from Qalamoun, and before this Al-Qusayr, Homs and Al-Zarah.”

Regaining Qusayr from the militants in May 2013, was Syrian army’s first major victory against the foreign-backed militants which used the town as their most important bastion for entering backup.

Hoteit says, some 90 percent of the approximately 365 kilometers of the common borders between Syria and Lebanon is now under the control of the Syrian army.

He added the Syrian army is seeking to create a “buffer zone” along the Lebanese border, securing its presence in the border area in order to “separate Lebanon from the Syrian crisis.”

Lebanon is linked to Syria via five legal crossings, along with approximately 18 illegal crossing points and 15 difficult-to-traverse tertiary crossing points, he said adding that with latest changes the militants are only able to cross mainly via three mountainous passageways that vehicles cannot navigate.

Syrian army has been fighting numerous multi-national militant groups for three years, each one of them with their own foreign-supporters.
Turkey which is an open supporter of war in Syria, has widely been criticized by the Syrian government for leaving its borders open to terrorist groups and foreign militants to enter Syria and join the insurgency.

Jordan’s common borders with Syria are another route for the militant groups, mostly used by CIA-backed militants who are trained in US training camps to come and fight against the Syrian army.

Improvements in blocking foreign supply routes have been considerable along Lebanon borders, with the help of Hezbollah resistance group which stepped in to help secure Lebanon form infiltrating terrorist groups.

 

Monsanto didn’t achieve $11.8 billion in sales and 404 facilities in 66 countries all on its own.

The company is valued at $60 billion in the marketplace with 525 million shares outstanding, but the three largest mutual fund shareholders, Vanguard, Fidelity and State Street, own nearly 16 percent of Monsanto stock. By comparison, the seed giant’s CEO Hugh Grant owns less than 1 percent.

This all means there’s a solid chance that the toxic law manipulator may be nestled somewhere in your mutual fund or 401(k) plan. Those findings are part of a six-month investigation by Food Democracy Now! that results in the launch of a global divestment campaign against Monsanto.

Whether it’s by contacting a financial advisor to dump Monsanto investments or strategically opting into funds that aren’t linked to Monsanto or other chemical or biotech companies, the organization is encouraging people around the world to divest.

“Monsanto is a ruthless corporation that operates beyond the ethical boundaries of what is acceptable for a healthy democratic society, said Dave Murphy, founder and Executive Director of Food Democracy Now!, said in a statement. “For decades its executives lied about the harm of its toxic chemicals, intimidated scientists and bullied farmers to put profits over human health and public safety.

“It’s time to broaden socially responsible investing to confront the significant harms that Monsanto has caused.”

The organization likens Monsanto to tobacco corporations like Philip Morris and RJR Reynolds that most never knowingly invest in.

Last year, Monsanto spent $4.5 million in opposition of a Washington State bill to require mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. In February, an International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health study linked Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer to a fatal chronic kidney disease impacting poor farming areas around the world.

Food Democracy bills its campaign as a way for people to stop unknowingly profiting from such activities and stop “financing them as they poison the planet, contaminate our food supply and corrupt our democracy.” Here’s an excerpt from the letter to executives at Fidelity, Vanguard and Street State that the organization is asking people to sign:

“As the manufacturers of Agent OrangeDDT, and PCBs, Monsanto’s corporate executives intentionally ignored the warning of their own scientists for decades regarding the harmful and even deadly effects these products had on their workers, communities where the chemicals were manufactured and even America’s veterans …

Remove Monsanto’s stock from any open-ended fund under your management.

I urge you to take this important step for people and the planet. 

It’s time to take a stand for future generations.”

The Weaponization of Western “Aid” for Syria

April 11th, 2014 by Tony Cartalucci

The UN and the United States have laid blame squarely on the Syrian government for blocking international aid convoys from reaching victims of Syria’s ongoing conflict. The BBC in its article, “Syria crisis: UN says no aid improvement despite vote,” claimed:

The UN has said that there has been no humanitarian improvement for millions of Syrians since the Security Council passed a resolution last month to increase aid deliveries.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said that much of the blame lay with President Bashar al-Assad’s government. She accused it of an arbitrary and unjustified refusal to grant aid convoys access to remoter areas. Baroness Amos said violence, including sexual violence, continued to increase.The Syrian government has yet to respond to her allegations but has consistently argued that it is doing its utmost to get food and medical supplies to people in less accessible areas. In February, the Security Council called on all parties to allow aid to cross conflict lines and borders.

However, what the UN and the US have both failed to mention is the disingenuous intentions, means, and methods behind these so-called “aid convoys” attempting to reach “people in less accessible areas.” These would be areas held by foreign-backed militants, including members of the US State Department designated terrorist organization, Jabhat Al Nusra – Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise and guilty of some of the worst atrocities carried out during the conflict real or imagined on either side.

To see how “arbitrary and unjustified” the Syrian government’s refusals are to grant access to remote areas controlled by terrorists by Western “aid convoys,” one must consider emerging evidence regarding the nature of these so-called convoys and the general practice of the West sending relief into a conflict of their own design.

Aid as “Trojan Horses”  

It was in confirmed leaked e-mails exposed by the Syrian Electronic Army that first established the use of Western “aid” ships to ferry militants to and from battlefields in both Libya and Syria. American contractor Matthew Van Dyke, while speaking to Western journalists, admitted that he was preparing to take a “free” aid ship from Libya to Turkey where militants have been staging, receiving cash and arms, and being transported to the Syrian border by NATO for 3 years now. Van Dyke and his company – being armed militants – traveling by way of aid ships should (and has) raise serious concern among the international community regarding the abuse of what are supposed to be humanitarian missions.

Other stories like Alakhbar English’s “Qatar Red Crescent Funds Syrian Rebel Arms,” also raises alarm regarding so-called “aid” flowing into Syria specifically to help those fighting the government.

The article reports:

Sources in the investigation team said that Mahmoud confessed to receiving around $2.2 million from Khaled Diab, a Qatar Red Crescent official. He was then to hand the money over to a Lebanese cleric identified as O.O., born in 1983 and affiliated with Muslims Without Borders, in the Bekaa village of Bar Elias.

“Through the cleric, Mahmoud was able to acquire 30 RPG launchers for $900,000 and 300 shells for $300,000, which were then transferred to Syria by a smuggler known as Anwar or his nom de guerre Abu Salah.” The smuggler then handed over the weapons to the Syrian national known as Abu Abdullah in the Damascus countryside.

Mahmoud also bought 100 Kalashnikovs and an ammunitions cache for $40,000 from the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in southern Lebanon. The source added that Mahmoud entered the refugee camp with the Syrian national Mohammad Abdullah, known as Abu Hamza, under the guise of distributing humanitarian aid to refugees from Syria.

Both Russia’s Pravda and Iran’s Press TV carried similar stories involving Turkish ambulances being used to smuggle weapons into Syria. And while many will question the veracity of these claims considering both Russia and Iran’s relationship with Syria, together with Van Dyke’s leaked e-mails and more recent stories emanating from Western sources, it appears that systematic abuse of humanitarian aid destined for Syria is indeed a reality.

Most recently, the UK’s official Charity Commission warned in a post titled, “Syria and aid convoys – regulatory alert,” that:

The Charity Commission, the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales, is issuing this alert to charities as regulatory advice under section 15(2) of the Charities Act 2011 – it is particularly relevant for trustees of charities and charitable appeals which are organising or participating in humanitarian aid convoys to assist those affected by the Syria Crisis (“the Crisis”).

Recent media coverage has reported that a suspected British suicide bomber in Syria had travelled there as part of a humanitarian convoy. The Commission has and continues to be alert to the potential abuse of humanitarian aid efforts through facilitating travel for individuals for other purposes particularly to conflict zones where terrorist groups are known to operate or exert control.

There is a risk that charitable aid convoys to Syria may be abused for non-charitable purposes and facilitating travel for British foreign fighters.  This is of serious regulatory concern to the Commission and impacts on public trust and confidence in those charities responding to the Crisis and the charitable sector more generally.

Trustees of charities and charitable appeals providing humanitarian support need to carefully consider whether organising and/or participating in a convoy is really the most effective way to deliver aid to those in need.

Despite the candor of the Charity Commission – otherwise nonexistent across the rest of the UK’s political landscape – the Western media has chosen to remain silent on an issue that the Commission itself recognizes as a threat to both public trust and confidence. Russia’s RT would go on to cover the Commission’s well-warranted concerns in a video short titled, “Trojan Horses: Aid convoys help young Islamist fighters go to Syrian warzone.”

It appears that both the Syrian government and the UK’s Charity Commission are in agreement regarding whether “organising and/or participating in a convoy is really the most effective way to deliver aid to those in need,” – particularly convoys originating in nations that have created and are intentionally perpetuating the crisis in Syria in the first place.

The West Has Created Syria’s Catastrophe and is Using Aid as a Weapon 

It was in Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” that prophetically stated (emphasis added):

“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

In 2011, these efforts aimed at arming and enabling sectarian militants to overthrow the Syrian government would begin in earnest. The corporate-funded think tanks that have engineered this geopolitical campaign have openly stated their desire to “bleed” Syria with protracted violence. The United States has admittedly been arming militants along Syria’s borders since at least 2012 according to the New York Times in their article, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition.”

Alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people was never the West’s goal. Since at least as early as 2007, the goal was regime change, and even then, apparently at any cost considering their stated willingness to arm militants tied to Al Qaeda. The goal to this day remains regime change – and to that end, “humanitarian aid,” in addition to being used as cover to smuggle in weapons and fighters, will also be used as a weapon against the Syrian government.

By applying sanctions to the Syrian government, the West has only succeeded in harming the Syrian people, leaving the government it was supposedly targeting relatively unscathed. This was demonstrated earlier in Iraq during the many years it was sanctioned, leaving both the military and the leadership strong and prepared for war while literally half a million children died of disease or malnutrition.

The effect in Syria is similar. The LA Times appeared to revel in the effects of biting sanctions imposed upon the Syrian people. In its report, “Sanctions against Syria hurting, Assad regime concedes,” it stated:

In an unusual acknowledgement of the pain inflicted by Western sanctions, Syria’s oil minister said Wednesday that U.S. and European curbs on its oil trade have cost the regime $4 billion and caused widespread shortages of cooking fuel and other essentials.

The concession by Oil Minister Sufian Allaw that “oppressive European and U.S. sanctions” were taking their toll surprised Middle East analysts. The government of embattled President Bashar Assad has sought to downplay the 15-month-old uprising as an annoyance provoked by outside forces.

The sanctions are designed specifically to reduce or eliminate the ability of the government to provide for its people. The “humanitarian aid,” funneled through opposition groups and into opposition held territory is designed specifically to allow the opposition to provide for people purposefully reduced to desperation and dependence via devastating conflict and accompanying sanctions.

This is revealed in the West’s own think tank policy papers and in editorial columns found across the Western media. In particular, in a Boston Herald’s op-ed titled, “Rubin: U.S. must arm rebels to save besieged Syrians,” it states (emphasis added):

During talks in Geneva in January and February, the regime let some food in, letting thousands of residents return. But as soon as the talks ended, Assad stopped the humanitarian aid convoys.

“I know the United States is one of the main donors,” Zakaria told me, “but the aid is going to organizations that work under the regime, which gives him (Assad) more cards to force civilians or rebels to surrender. They should find a way to get the aid into besieged towns.”

Qusai Zakarya is of course, a public relations officer working directly for the so-called “Syrian opposition and his comments represent the basic principles of wresting control of a country away from an established political order and handing it over to another - covered in depth by various US counterinsurgency manuals. The idea is clearly to use aid as a means of taking those “cards” mentioned by Zakarya from the Syrian government, and handing them to the opposition – not the immediate alleviation of human suffering, but the use of that pretext to further the geopolitical agenda of the West in Syria.

What’s Next For Syrians?  

Syria itself, its allies, and activists around the world must shine more light on the suffering the Syrian people are enduring through the intentional destruction of their economy. This destruction has been exacted through both the West’s premeditated and intentionally perpetuated attempt to violently overthrow the Syrian government, and the sanctions they have imposed upon the Syrian people. They have done this to intentionally create a desperate, dependent population that they hope will submit to a new pro-Western client regime.

While the West has created a torrent of propaganda fronts to justify its ongoing, full spectrum assault on Syria, including economic warfare, Syria and its allies must counter this with truthful reports and media projects that will have a stronger appeal to an increasingly distrustful public that has grown weary of the West’s extraterritorial adventures.

For independent activists and humanitarian aid workers worldwide, the West’s abuse of aid to augment its foreign meddling should be a cause for great alarm. The UK’s Charity Commission should not stand alone in its concern regarding the abuse of humanitarian aid. Such abuse does indeed stands to threaten the public’s trust and confidence in all humanitarian endeavors. A distrustful public that has no confidence in the traditional brokers of humanitarian aid will search elsewhere to invest their time, energy, and income – leaving aid organizations in perpetual decline. Restoring that trust and confidence will require both the exposure of abuse, and steps taken to rectify it.

Approaching the Syrian government directly with aid, and providing oversight on the ground to assess efforts to distribute it would be a positive first step. Working with nations that have demonstrably shown a desire to end the conflict, rather than perpetuate or even expand it until their desired “political transitions” take place would also be necessary.

While many humanitarian aid groups feel “tied” to the West – as the West’s designs unravel in Syria and irreversible decline begins, those “tied” to these special interests will be dragged with them. Sorting out the abuses of humantarian aid destined for Syria is therefore not just a literal matter of survival for the Syrian people, but also an organizational matter of survival for the aid groups involved.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.