Mikhail Voskresenskiy

The Malaysian Boeing plane that crashed in eastern Ukraine in mid-July, could have been brought down by an air-to-air missile and a cannon of the Su-25 fighter that had been “shadowing it,” The New Straits Times reported on Wednesday citing experts.

Experts believe that MH17 flight was shot down by an air-to-air missile fired from the fighter that later finished it off with a burst of 30mm cannon fire, the newspaper has reported.

According to the experts, if this hypothesis is true, it would explain the bullet holes in some sections of MH17’s fuselage.

Malaysian Boeing crashes in Ukraine

Malaysian Boeing crashes in Ukraine

“Some showed blast patterns consistent with shrapnel from a proximity-fused weapon while some showed the more precise grouping consistent with that of cannon fire. We’re analyzing this,” said one of the sources, adding that a detailed analysis of the pieces of the jetliner is needed to corroborate this emerging theory.

Under this new version, the heat-seeker would have aimed at the hottest part of the aircraft’s engines. These claims rule out the previous version that the aircraft had been downed by the BUK missile system (NATO SA-11 ‘Gadfly’).

“A BUK-M1, with its 70 kg head, would have been enough bring down the airliner without the need to go in for a guns kill,” the sources said.

The Sukhoi Su-25 close-air support aircraft (NATO Frogfoot) has a maximum service ceiling of about 25,000 feet (7,620 meters). It has an internally mounted 30mm cannon for anti-armor work, the report said.

“The Su-25 would have been operating at the extreme corner of its performance envelope but it’s entirely possible,” the sources added.

Five days after the deadly crash, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the “shadowing” the MH17 was a Russian-manufactured Sukhoi Su-25 close-air support aircraft operated by the Ukrainian Air Force.

The presence of the Ukrainian combat jet can be confirmed by video shots made by the Rostov monitoring center, said Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces.

The ministry’ s analysis of MH17 showed that the Russian air traffic control system picked up a deviation in the flight path of 14 kilometers north from the fixed corridor, well inside Ukrainian airspace, while following its assigned flight level of 33,000 feet.

This deviation in the flight path could have been performed only under the instruction of Ukraine’s air traffic controllers. Russian radar nets also picked up “activity” by the Ukrainian Air Force in the area at the time MH17 was airborne.

The air-to-ground transmission tapes between MH17 and Ukrainian air traffic controllers were seized by the Ukrainian Security Service on the day of the shootdown and have not been made available to investigators.

Media reports said earlier that the information provided by the black boxes from the Boeing plane, which have not been so far unveiled to public, said that the aircraft was damaged by multiple fragments of a missile.

The Enduring Myth of Hiroshima

August 7th, 2014 by John LaForge

The U.S. atomic destruction of 140,000 people at Hiroshima and 70,000 at Nagasaki was never “necessary” because Japan was already smashed, no land invasion was needed and Japan was suing for peace. The official myth that “the bombs saved lives” by hurrying Japan’s surrender can no longer be believed except by those who love to be fooled.

The long-standing fiction has been destroyed by the historical record kept in U.S., Soviet, Japanese and British archives — now mostly declassified — and detailed by Ward Wilson in his book Five Myths about Nuclear Weapons (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013).

The mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

Image: The mushroom cloud from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945.

Greg Mitchell’s Atomic Cover-Up (Sinclair Books, 2011) also helps explain the durability of the “saved lives” ruse. Wartime and occupation censors seized all films and still photos of the two atomic cities, and the U.S. government kept them hidden for decades. Even in 1968, newsreel footage from Hiroshima held in the National Archives was stamped, “SECRET, Not To Be Released Without the Approval of the DOD.” Photos of the atomized cities that did reach the public merely showed burned buildings or mushroom clouds — rarely human victims.

In Hiroshima in America: 50 Years of Denial, (Grosset/Putnam, 1995) Robert Lifton and Mitchell note that Gen. Leslie Groves, head of the Manhattan Project, “left nothing to chance.” Even before Hiroshima, he prohibited U.S. commanders from commenting on the atomic attacks without clearance from the War Department.

“We didn’t want MacArthur and others saying the war could have been won without the bomb,” Groves said.

In fact, MacArthur did not believe the bomb was needed to end the war, but he too established a censorship program as commander of the U.S. occupation of Japan. He banned reporters from visiting Hiroshima or Nagasaki, expelled reporters who defied the ban and later said that those who complained that censorship existed in Japan were engaged in “a maliciously false propaganda campaign.”

That most people in the United States still believe the “saved lives” rationale to be true is because of decades of this censorship and myth-making, begun by President Harry Truman, who said Aug. 6, 1945, “Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. … That was because we wished this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.”

In fact, the city of 350,000 had practically no military value at all and the target was the city, not the base three kilometers away.

Taking President Truman at his word, the 140,000 civilians killed at Hiroshima are the minimum to be expected when exploding a small nuclear weapon on a “military base.” Today’s “small” Cruise missile warheads ¾ which are 12 times the power of Truman’s A-bomb ¾ could kill 1.68 million each.

Official censorship of what the two bombs did to people and the reasons for it has been so successful, that 25 years of debunking hasn’t managed to generally topple the official narrative.

In 1989, historian Gar Alperovitz reported, “American leaders knew well in advance that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was not required to bring about Japan’s surrender;” and later, in his 847-page The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb (Random House, 1995), “I think it can be proven that the bomb was not only unnecessary but known in advance not to be necessary.” The popular myth “didn’t just happen,” Alperovitz says, “it was created.”

Kept hidden for decades was the 1946 U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey’s conclusion that Japan almost certainly would have surrendered in 1945 without the atomic bombs, without a Soviet invasion and without a U.S. invasion. Not long after V-J Day in 1945, Brig. Gen. Bonnie Feller wrote, “Neither the atomic bombing nor the entry of the Soviet Union into the war forced Japan’s unconditional surrender. She was defeated before either of these events took place.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general and the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said in his memoirs he believed “that Japan was already defeated and that dropping the bomb was completely unnecessary.”

Adm. William Leahy, the wartime Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in 1950, “It is my opinion that the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material success in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

Feller’s, Ike’s and Leahy’s opinions were conspicuously left out of or censored by the Smithsonian Institution’s 1995 display of the atomic B-29 bomber “Enola Gay.”

Admiral Leahy’s 1950 myth-busting and censor-busting about the Bomb could be an epitaph for the nuclear age: “I was not taught to make war in that fashion,” he said of Hiroshima’s incineration, “and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.”

John LaForge writes for PeaceVoice, is co-director of Nukewatch—a nuclear watchdog and environmental justice group—and lives at the Plowshares Land Trust out of Luck, Wisconsin.

The US media campaign to smear National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden continues. On August 3, an article appeared in the Washington Post entitled, “As evidence mounts, it’s getting harder to defend Edward Snowden.” Authored by Stewart Baker, the article claims that Snowden’s disclosures aided Al Qaeda. Specifically, Baker writes that a study by a company called Recorded Future proves that “Snowden’s revelations about NSA’s capabilities were followed quickly by a burst of new, robust encryption tools from Al Qaeda and its affiliates.”

“This is hardly a surprise for those who live in the real world,” Baker continues. “But it was an affront to Snowden’s defenders, who’ve long insisted that journalists handled the NSA leaks so responsibly that no one can identify any damage that they have caused.”

The article goes on to denounce at length cyber security expert Bruce Schneier, who defended Snowden against the charge that his disclosures aided Al Qaeda. On June 11, 2013, Schneier wrote in the New York Times: “The argument that exposing these documents helps the terrorists doesn’t even pass the laugh test; there’s nothing here that changes anything any potential terrorist would do or not do.”

Baker’s “mounting evidence” that Snowden’s disclosures helped Al Qaeda consists of a single “study,” released in May of this year, by Recorded Future, a start-up company that produces online data-mining software that it calls “web intelligence.” The company advertises its “capabilities” in “cyber threat intelligence,” “corporate security,” “competitive intelligence” and “defense intelligence.”

The study itself, if it is accurate, simply indicates that in the period after Snowden’s disclosures, various Islamist groups, including Al Qaeda, apparently began using three types of encryption software that had not been previously used. Before Snowden’s disclosures, these groups had already implemented two types of encryption software.

“Of course, this could be random, but it seems unlikely,” wrote Christopher Ahlberg, CEO of Recorded Future, in an email to the New York Times. Despite its flimsy factual foundations, the allegation that Snowden’s disclosures have aided Al Qaeda continues to echo throughout the establishment media.

In any event, whether or not Snowden’s revelations of government crimes against the US Constitution and the American people tipped off Al Qaeda is beside the point. The clear implication of Baker’s argument, which is echoed by virtually all intelligence officials, politicians and media pundits who attack Snowden, is that, in the interests of a supposed “war on terror,” the Bill of Rights should be scrapped and some form of dictatorship established.

In his article, Baker conceals his own background and bias from his readers. What he does not tell his readers—but what one can learn by visiting Wikipedia—is that Baker is a former general counsel of the National Security Agency (1992–1994). He has held various other positions over the years within the military-intelligence apparatus, and was appointed by George W. Bush as assistant secretary to the newly formed Department of Homeland Security.

As far as his accusations that Snowden helped Al Qaeda are concerned, the word “hypocrisy” does not seem strong enough. Snowden is being denounced for aiding Al Qaeda on behalf of a political establishment that, in fact, has a long history of providing weapons, finances, and intelligence to Al Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the world.

In the Syrian civil war, stoked up by Washington, the CIA has operated training camps for Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Turkey and Jordan. Through these countries, the US has funneled weapons and finances to the Islamist fighters (see: ISIS: The jihadist movement stamped “Made in America”).

Thanks to the American “war on terror,” Al Qaeda offshoot ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has established its own sectarian state purporting to be a caliphate stretching across vast swathes of western Iraq and eastern Syria.

If supporting Al Qaeda is a crime, then it is necessary to prosecute not Snowden, but tens of thousands of personnel within the American military-corporate-intelligence complex, beginning with those who helped organize Al Qaeda in the 1980s during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, all the way through to those who built up Al Qaeda and its affiliated forces in Syria, Libya and elsewhere in recent years.

The “study” itself proves nothing. There is absolutely no evidence that Snowden directly or indirectly assisted Al Qaeda in any way. The study merely purports to show that a list of groups (not limited to Al Qaeda) began using different encryption methods in the time period after Snowden’s revelations.

The accusation that Snowden “aided Al Qaeda” mirrors the “aiding the enemy” charges against Bradley Manning (see: US government charges Manning with “aiding the enemy” in court martial). Baker’s article is evidence that this bogus theory would be invoked against Snowden, should he ever find himself in the clutches of the American judicial system.

The media campaign to confuse the issues surrounding Snowden’s disclosures is acquiring a note of hysteria and desperation. The claim that Snowden is growing “harder to defend” turns reality on its head. In fact, it is the US military and intelligence apparatus, caught in countless lies and violations of law, that is being exposed as a criminal operation. Snowden continues to enjoy broad support throughout the world.

The statement that Snowden is “harder to defend” comes on the heels of revelations, derived from documents disclosed by Snowden, concerning the close intelligence relationship between the United States and Israel (see: New Snowden leak highlights collaboration between NSA and Israeli intelligence). In addition, Glenn Greenwald reported this week that over 40 percent of the 680,000 people on the US government’s “Terrorist Screening Database” have “no recognized terrorist affiliation” (see: US terror list ensnares hundreds of thousands).

The online comments on Baker’s article are overwhelmingly hostile. One commenter observes that Baker’s article “is obviously just propaganda designed to defend his criminal gang that is still running the government today.”

Documents disclosed to journalists in May of last year by Edward Snowden exposed a massive conspiracy on the part of the National Security Agency against the US Constitution and against the world’s population. Snowden lifted the lid on unrestrained and illegal mass surveillance, caught president Obama and senior officials in lies, and exposed the so-called “war on terror” as a fraud. In doing so, he performed an invaluable service to working people in the US and around the world.

While the American political establishment and media claimed that its spying activities were limited to terrorist groups seeking to harm ordinary Americans, Snowden revealed that the NSA’s own “collection procedure” is: “Collect it All,” “Process it All,” “Exploit it All,” “Partner it All,” “Sniff it All,” and “Know it All.”

Snowden exposed as a lie Obama’s claim that “nobody is listening to your phone calls.” Snowden also revealed that Director of National Security James Clapper had committed perjury while testifying under oath before Congress. Clapper was asked, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?” He replied, “No, sir.”

In the upside-down world of establishment America, it is Snowden (who became trapped in Russia when the US unilaterally revoked his passport) who is being hounded and threatened with prosecution. The actual criminals that Snowden exposed remain at large.

On August 5, a watchdog computer program that monitors the activity of the Internet addresses on Capitol Hill caught someone with an anonymous address in the US House of Representatives editing Wikipedia to smear Snowden. A Wikipedia article was edited to refer to Snowden as “the American traitor who defected to Russia.”

As hundreds of thousands flee to Russia to escape the bloody offensive of the Western-backed Ukrainian regime against pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine, the risk of an all-out war between Ukraine and Russia that could involve the Western powers is rapidly rising.

NATO accused Russia yesterday of preparing to invade east Ukraine to crush the Ukrainian offensive. “We’re not going to guess what’s on Russia’s mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground—and that is of great concern. Russia has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine’s eastern border,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu announced yesterday.

Moscow could use “the pretext of a humanitarian or peace-keeping mission as an excuse to send troops into Eastern Ukraine,” she added.

NATO’s remarks were echoed yesterday by US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who told reporters at the US European Command in Stuttgart, Germany that the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine was “a reality, of course it is.”

Russian defense ministry spokesmen dismissed these accusations, pointing to similar unsubstantiated allegations from NATO that Russia was massing troops along the border with Ukraine earlier this year: “We’ve been hearing this for three months already.”

US officials demanded that Moscow cut off all aid to pro-Russian forces in east Ukraine, allowing the Western-backed, far-right regime that came to power in this February’s fascist-led putsch in Kiev to seize control of the entire country.

“When addressing the humanitarian situation, we cannot lose sight of one underlying fact: Russia can stop this. The surest way to end the violence is for Russia to stop the flow of fighters, weapons, and money from Russia into eastern Ukraine,” said US Deputy Ambassador to the UN Rosemary Di Carlo.

“Russia can end it all,” DiCarlo added. “The violence ends the day Russia suspends aid to the insurgents.”

DiCarlo’s remark indicates the political dynamic underlying the Western imperialist powers’ intervention in Ukraine. NATO is backing a violent, far-right regime waging war against the Ukrainian population, aiming to force Russia to publicly disavow pro-Russian sentiment in east Ukraine in a humiliating climbdown, or to invade east Ukraine and launch a major land war in Europe. This underscores the utterly reckless and reactionary policy of the Western powers, which are driving the crisis in Ukraine to the brink of world war.

The Ukrainian military is proceeding with enormous brutality against east Ukrainian areas held by separatist rebels. On Tuesday evening, the air force conducted bombing raids for the first time against the city of Donetsk with its one million inhabitants. The city is controlled by pro-Russian separatists. According to local residents, at least two civilians were killed, and the city administration reported heavy artillery shelling of houses.

Russian investigators have reported evidence for the use of phosphorus bombs by the Ukrainian military. “A soil sample showed that the army has used prohibited incendiary bullets near Slavyansk,” declared a spokesman for an investigating agency in Moscow. Phosphorus bombs are outlawed by the Geneva Convention of 1949.

At a meeting of the UN Security Council called by Russia, representatives of the country accused Ukraine of using cluster bombs against civilian targets. “It is real war,” Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said. “Despite international agreements, Kiev is continuing its military operations. Residential areas are being shot at, and there is even the use of cluster bombs.”

The barbaric actions of the Ukrainian army are being accompanied by the fierce repression of opponents of the war throughout Ukraine. The fascist gangs of the Svoboda Party, which were represented in government up until the end of last month, and the paramilitary Right Sector, play a crucial role.

Already one month ago, President Petro Poroshenko ratified a law punishing supporters of the insurgency in the Donetsk Basin (Donbas) with prison sentences of between five to seven years. According to reports by opposition figures, this law is now being used against striking workers in the north and east of the country. Often, just a critical remark criticizing the government on Facebook is sufficient for prosecution proceedings.

According to the German daily Junge Welt, five police officers were dismissed last weekend after they sought to protect a pop concert against an assault by right-wing thugs in the port city of Odessa. In May, Odessa was the scene of a fascist massacre of opposition protesters. The right-wing thugs last weekend were allowed to operate without hindrance. The police refused to initiate any investigation against them.

Particularly vicious forms of cooperation are taking place between the state apparatus with fascist gangs in the territories reconquered by the Ukrainian armed forces.

The pro-Western Internet newspaper Pravda Ukrainskaya, has reported that units of the National Guard and the fascist Right Sector have abducted a large number of suspected collaborators. Mid-level officials often disappear for weeks in secret cellars. The National Guard announced on their website that its forces would shoot at all cars that do not stop at roadside controls.

The terror conducted against the population is part of a broad government campaign to stabilize the Kiev regime through dictatorial measures. On Friday, Poroshenko declared that he planned elections on October 12 after the fascist Svoboda and the pro-Western UDAR party quit the government on 24 July, leaving Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk without a majority. If he is unable to assemble a new coalition by August 24 then, according to the constitution, Poroshenko can dissolve parliament and call new elections.

Poroschenko’s announcement of the dissolution of Parliament was accompanied by angry threats against his political opponents. “I don’t know how to work with parliament where the majority of people represent a ‘fifth column’ which is controlled from abroad, whole factions. And the danger of this is only rising,” he said. He cited the fact that half of the deputies refused to classify the rebels in the east as terrorists.

Although many deputies have already been forced to leave the country or have changed fraction, representatives of the Party of Regions remain in Parliament. The Party of Regions’ government led by former President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed by a fascist coup in February. Together with members of the Communist Party of Ukraine, they maintain an orientation towards Moscow and are critical of the new regime.

The designation of these deputies as a “fifth column” is equivalent to accusing them of collaboration with the insurgents in the east and opens them up to criminal proceedings. Already, opposition parties are being dismantled step by step.

Two weeks ago, a deputy of the Party of Regions, Nikolai Levchenko, was excluded from parliamentary sessions after he criticized the government’s actions in the Donbas. The head of the Communist Party, Petro Simonenko, was physically attacked in parliament by representatives of Svoboda.

In February, the central office of the Communist Party was occupied by fascist militias and then eventually burned down in April. Last month, the Communist Party was denied fraction status in parliament, and the Department of Justice submitted a petition to ban the party, which had received more than 13 percent of the vote in the last election.

Under these conditions, the elections in October are aimed at providing a false veneer of democratic legitimacy for war and deep social austerity. In his war against the Ukrainian people, Poroshenko is not only intent on pursuing his military offensive against the east but also enforcing the comprehensive attacks on social rights prepared following the coup in February by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Last week the parliament in Kiev passed a war tax of 1.5 percent on all taxable income together with a massive increase in general tax rates.

“War is no reason to delay reforms,” Poroshenko said in a television interview. A few weeks ago, the Treasury announced that it would cut subsidies to the country’s mines and an already agreed increase in the minimum wage (currently 45 cents per hour), was withdrawn, as was the proposed linking of pension rates to wages.

Paternalism is rarely a pretty thing. In many cases, it is fair to say it is a downside grotesque feature of human relations. One person, or entity, extends a hand that does not so much help the individual in trouble as slap the person in question across a grieving face. When it comes to international relations, the image gets even uglier. Here, states can assert the ultimate entitlement to assert control over a regime, or a state, which has fallen foul of appropriate conventions.  The modern dress code of the humanitarian interventionist is simple in its absurdity: the Responsibility to Protect.

Matthew Waxman[1], writing for CNN World, writes to the tune of lamentation.  “The 2011 international coalition intervention in Libya was supposed to be a step forward for the Responsibility to Protect doctrine – the notion that if a state fails to protect its citizens from mass atrocities, it becomes the international community’s responsibility to do so.”  Then, a description of the bloody mess that has become the Libya of 2014 (a bit of face slapping rather than hand helping here).  “Tragically, the current collapse of governance and bloody infighting among factional militias there will instead result in a step backwards for this important principle.”

It is good to see that Waxman is inhabiting a space of debate that is vaguely terrestrial by admitting that the 2011 attack on Libya by NATO-led forces did much to propel R2P to a grave. In a sense, it never left the morgue it was conceived in – the idea that humanitarian intervention had to be reshaped not as a case of violating sovereignty but undertaking an obligation to do good.  Terrible things are always done by those who claim a duty to do so, notably if such a mission is seen as a noble one.  It is particularly so when humanitarianism is jammed down the barrel of a gun, and unleashed with the full ferocity that only zeal commands.

Libya remains the true acid test of what went wrong, with the imperial sabre rattling that was only made to look good because of the philosophising treacle of French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy.  When a pampered philosopher mans the barricades with teenage lust, even from a distance, you know a cause is in trouble.  It becomes even uglier with vague UN Security Council Resolutions such as UNSCR 1973, which speak about such nominally vacuous terms as protecting civilians while attempting regime change in the process.  Civilians are the footnotes – the text lies in traditional power dynamics.  While the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 is still whitewashed by a few caring fanatics as the product of a genuine humanitarian impulse, the role by the US, France and the UK in 2011 hardly stands up.

In the wake of the overthrow of Qaddafi’s regime, the militias are rejoicing in their killing and policing of factional havens. An Islamic emirate has been declared in Benghazi.  While factional fighting was initially limited to Benghazi, it has well and truly spread to Tripoli.  According to Libya Body Count, an unfortunately grim choice of name, July this year saw 469 fatalities across the country.  The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL)[2] has gone so far as to claim that “mass crimes” have taken place in Tripoli and Benghazi.  There are mutterings in Algeria and Egypt about intervention for another round of good old fashioned policing.

As of this writing, the health sector of the country is heading for total collapse.  This is largely due to the terror that has seeped into the Filipino working population in the country.  The Philippines on July 31st began evacuating 13,000[3] of its nationals after one of its workers was kidnapped and beheaded.  As workers from the Philippines make up 60 per cent of the country’s hospital staff, with personnel from India coming in at 20 per cent, the situation is grave.

Dr. Naima al-Fitouri gave one truly dampening example.  “Al-Joumhouria Hospital’s maternity ward is now facing an acute shortage of medical staff, with only five doctors, instead of 12, working at the night shift given the bad conditions at the hospital and despite the increased number of patients.”  This is all the more severe for the fact that the hospital services much of eastern Libya.

Other countries have begun evacuating their citizens with urgency.  The ship is sinking fast, and they know it.  Given Libya’s rich history of using foreign labour in its industries, the situation is calamitous.  Some 50,000 Egyptians have left.  Tunisia has been getting busy trying to get its 60,000 or so nationals out of the country.  Added to all this the fact that a million Libyans have already found their residence in Tunisia since 2011, and we have the true handiwork of the intervention.  R2P, a crime by any other name.

Then comes the prize jewel – the country’s oil sector.  While ISIS runs amok in Iraq, and a brief lull takes place in the Gaza slaughter house, Libya has seen the destruction of Tripoli’s airport and some of the most vicious fighting since 2011.  Its oil production has not only petered out, but fallen, despite holding up in 2012 when it accounted for 10 per cent of oil exports to Europe’s Organisation for Economic Corporation and Development.  From January to April 2014, that value of that share had fallen to a mere 3 per cent.[1]  The number of barrels produced in 2014 will have declined by 400,000.

The onus has always been on advocates of such adventurist projects to show that knocking off a tyrant and railroading the development of an outlaw state has benefits that exceed that of internal solutions. The record is miserably bleak, and suggests that the R2P doctrine should be either scrapped, or stripped bare for what it really is: an attempt at good old invasion and intrusion in the affairs of another state.  Inside every humanitarian is a criminal waiting to get out.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

Notes:

We are bringing to the attention of GR readers this important 2009 article by the late Michael Mandel, distinguished law professor, focusing on the legal dimensions. Under Nuremberg, “the aggressor cannot rely upon self-defence to justify violence against resistance to its own aggression.”

Did self-defence justify Israel’s war on Gaza? [reference to 2008-2009 war on Gaza]

Objections have been raised to this claim on grounds of a lack of both proportionality and necessity. To kill over 1000 Palestinians in 3 weeks, hundreds of them children, and wound thousands more, in order to deter a threat from rockets that did not kill or injure anybody in Israel for the six months the truce was declared by both sides, or even before Israel launched its attack on December 27, is so disproportionate as to be intolerable in any ethical system that holds Palestinian lives equal in value to Israeli lives. It is also so disproportionate as to defy belief that defence against these rockets was the real motive of the war. To ignore the many diplomatic avenues available to avoid even this threat, such as lifting the suffocating 18-month siege, suggests the same thing.

A more fundamental objection, however, is the self-evident legal and moral principle that an aggressor cannot rely upon self-defence to justify violence against resistance to its own aggression. You can find this principle in domestic law and in the judgments of the Nuremberg tribunals.

To quote one Nuremberg judge:

On of the most amazing phenomena of this case which does not lack in startling features is the manner in which the aggressive war conducted by Germany against Russia has been treated by the defense as if it were the other way around. …If it is assumed that some of the resistance units in Russia or members of the population did commit acts which were in themselves unlawful under the rules of war, it would still have to be shown that these acts were not in legitimate defense against wrongs perpetrated upon them by the invader. Under International Law, as in Domestic Law, there can be no reprisal against reprisal. The assassin who is being repulsed by his intended victim may not slay him and then, in turn, plead self defense. (Trial of Otto Ohlendorf and others, Military Tribunal II-A, April 8, 1948)

So who was the aggressor here?

There would have been no question as to who was the aggressor had this attack taken place before Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza strip in 2005. At that point Israel had been committing a continuous aggression against Gaza for 38 years, in its illegal and violent occupation of it, along with the rest of the Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, after its conquest in 1967.

By 2005, the occupation had been condemned as illegal by the highest organs with jurisdiction over international law, most notably the International Court of Justice in its 2004 opinion on the separation barrier. A central illegality of the occupation for the International Court lay in Israel’s settlements, which violate the law against colonization, and which are central to the occupation. The fifteen judges of the International Court were unanimously of the opinion that the settlements were illegal and the wall itself was held by a majority of 13-2 to be illegal, partly because it was there to defend the settlements, and not Israel itself, and thus could not qualify as self-defence.

The rocket attacks from Gaza started in 2001 and took their first Israeli victim in 2004. Since then, there had been 14 Israeli victims prior to the current war. Tragic, indeed, but obviously paling in comparison to the 1700 Palestinians killed in Gaza during the same period. One death is indeed a tragedy, but many deaths are not just “a statistic”, as Stalin had it; they are the tragedy multiplied many times over. Given Israel’s illegal, aggressive and violent occupation, prior to the withdrawal, Gaza rockets could only be regarded as necessary and proportionate self-defence, or as reprisals against Israel’s aggression.

Did Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 change the situation?

It has been forcefully argued that the 18-month siege of Gaza, a major reason for Hamas’ refusal to extend the truce, was itself an act of aggression, giving rise to a right of self-defence.

But even more important, though usually ignored, is Israel’s continued illegal and aggressive occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem after the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Indeed, the withdrawal from Gaza was intended to strengthen the hold on the other territories and was accompanied by a greater increase in the number of settlers there than those removed from Gaza.

The occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem figured equally with Gaza in the condemnations of the World Court and the Security Council. Furthermore, in the Oslo Accords, Israel and the Palestinians agreed that “The two sides view the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single territorial unit, the integrity and status of which will be preserved during the interim period.” Indeed, when Hamas won the elections in 2006, elections declared impeccably fair and civil by all international observers, it won them for the whole of the Palestinian Authority, including the West Bank (it was not allowed by Israel to campaign in East Jerusalem). Many Hamas West Bank legislators remain in Israeli jails.

And the basic fact is that the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza are one people, however separated they are by walls and fences and check-points. Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from one part of that people’s land cannot turn that people into aggressors when they resist the illegal occupation of the rest.

So self-defense cannot justify this attack, or the siege that preceded it. What can? That Hamas is a “terrorist organization”? But terrorism is about deliberately killing civilians for illegal political ends, and in that enterprise, Israel has topped Hamas by many multiples. That Hamas does not recognize Israel’s “right to exist”? But Hamas has offered many times to make a long-term truce with Israel on the basis of the legal international borders, something it is clearly entitled to insist upon. Israel says that’s not good enough, that Hamas first has to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, in other words, it has to concede the legitimacy of the Jewish state and all it has meant to the Palestinians. In other words, as one Israeli journalist ironized, Israel is insisting that Hamas embrace Zionism as a condition of even talking peace with it.

These are not justifications for violence on this or any scale. Indeed, they point to the most plausible reason Israel is fighting Hamas (and the PLO before it): self-defence, if you will, not against rockets and mortars, but against having to make peace with the Palestinians on the basis of the pre-1967 borders as required by international law.

The late Michael Mandel was Professor of Law at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, where he taught the Law of War. He is the author of How America Gets Away with Murder. He was powerful legal voice in the battle for World Peace. 

Egypt Complicit in Israeli Siege on Gaza

August 7th, 2014 by Sara Flounders

Some of the fiercest attacks on Gaza have been Israeli attacks on the Egyptian-Gaza border crossing at Rafah. More than 100 Palestinians were killed in Rafah between Aug. 1 and 3, including 10 children at a well-marked school.
Even U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has been supportive of Israel’s fraudulent claims of self-defense, was forced to denounce the latest Israeli attack on the school, which sheltered 3,000 civilians, as a “moral outrage” and a “criminal act.” Calling on those responsible for the “gross violation of international humanitarian law” to be held accountable, he noted that the “Israel Defense Forces have been repeatedly informed of the location of these sites.” (The Guardian, Aug. 3)

The military dictatorship of Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt is in every way complicit in the criminal Zionist war on Gaza and is heavily involved. Egypt’s alliance with Israel was a major calculation in the Zionists’ opening the war on Gaza. Israel assumed that because Hamas and all the resistance forces in Gaza had been politically isolated in the region, the elected Hamas government would collapse.

Egypt’s cooperation with Zionism, especially the military operations on the border at Rafah, thoroughly exposes the dictatorship’s unwillingness and inability to defend any form of Egyptian national sovereignty.

Egypt has aided Israel’s military offensive on Gaza since Israel began the attack on July 8, claiming that Israel’s military onslaught was to destroy tunnels. The Cairo coup government has poured troops into the Sinai Peninsula, and its security operation is openly involved in the destruction of the tunnels that are the lifeblood of Gaza. Through these tunnels food, essential supplies, fuel and weapons for the resistance are smuggled into the blockaded coastal enclave.

 On July 27 AFP reported, “Egypt’s army said [July 27] that it has destroyed 13 more tunnels connecting the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip, taking to 1,639 the overall number it has laid waste to.”

 The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said 520,000 people have been displaced by the fighting — more than a quarter of Gaza’s population. Yet the Egyptian-controlled Rafah border has remained closed throughout the military operation, leaving the population of Gaza with its back to the sea.

Egypt has stopped several convoys carrying medical aid from entering Gaza, where the U.N. has warned that a severe humanitarian crisis is growing. Hospitals are struggling with more than 9,450 people injured by Israel’s assault. But Egypt has permitted only 11 injured Palestinians to exit Gaza for hospital treatment. (Middle East Eye, July 25)

 Six Israeli warships crossed the Suez Canal from Aug. 1 to 3, an Egyptian official in the Suez Canal Authority revealed. The warships were loaded with 19 tons of military equipment. (occupiedpalestine.wordpress.com, Aug. 3)

Gaza means resistance

Through Egypt’s dictatorship and the absolute monarchies in the Gulf, especially Saudi Arabia, the U.S. is working hand in hand with Israel because Gaza represents resistance. The survival of the heroic resistance in Gaza to national oppression, enormous poverty and outright theft of resources is considered a threat to the established order.

 The lockdown in Egypt today is in sharp contrast to the mass mood after the revolutionary overthrow of the Mubarak dictatorship in February 2011, when millions of people were in the streets.

 In September 2011, the Israeli ambassador to Cairo was forced out of Egypt after thousands of outraged Egyptian protesters attempted to storm the Israeli embassy headquarters following the killing of Egyptian soldiers at the border with Israel.

In November 2012, Egyptians held explosive mass rallies in cities across Egypt in the first days of another Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. Many activists were able to get into Gaza with emergency aid during the eight-day “Pillar of Defense” offensive. The offensive ended after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was able to broker a truce between Israel and Palestinians.

 But now, under the Gen. Sisi military dictatorship, all demonstrations are stopped with live ammunition and heavy prison sentences.

 Coup crushed mass movement

On July 3, 2013, claiming that the Egyptian military was taking temporary action to restore order, Gen. Sisi overthrew the democratically elected Morsi government in a military coup and suspended the Egyptian constitution. The elected government, the cabinet, elected members of Parliament, and hundreds of officials and popular leaders were rounded up. Thousands were killed in the opening weeks of the crackdown.

Almost a year ago on Aug. 14, Egyptian security forces raided two encampments of thousands of protesters, primarily from the Muslim Brotherhood, who were opposed to the coup and were supporters of ousted President Morsi. In a surprise attack, the two encampments, one at al-Nahda Square and a larger one at Rabaa al-Adawiya Mosque, which had existed for six weeks, were raided and set on fire by the military.

Videos and photos from the encampments showed horrific scenes of tents and bodies in flames. The mosque was burned with hundreds trapped inside. More than 2,600 died in the heavy assault.

Many forces in Egypt who had their own grievances with the Morsi government initially applauded the coup. But the Egyptian military has been for decades since the Camp David Accords a thoroughly corrupt collaborator with U.S. imperialism and Israel. The military has no interest in any form of democracy.

 The Sisi dictatorship shut down all opposition. Since the coup, over 40,000 people have been arrested. All forms of protest are violently suppressed. More than 1,200 people have since been sentenced to death in fraudulent, speedy, mass trials.

The U.S. government knew beforehand of Gen. Sisi’s coup plans and approved of them. Afterward Washington continued military and economic aid, and the credits and loans since the coup are a signal of its approval and a way of strengthening the new regime. The absolute monarchies of the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia, have also committed new funds to the coup government.

 The Morsi government had attempted at every juncture to stay within the narrow confines of the Egyptian state structure. It did not put forth a radical program. Why then were Washington and the Egyptian military so opposed to its very existence that they would take such a drastic step as a violent coup against the overwhelmingly popular elected government?

 The Muslim Brotherhood had deep roots among the poorest in Egypt, based on decades of providing basic social programs such as schools, food and health programs. More than 80 percent of the population lives in dire poverty.

With the overthrow of the Mubarak dictatorship and the opportunity to elect a democratic government, the expectations of the masses of people were aroused. Wall Street, the reactionary Saudi monarchy and the Egyptian military remained fearful that the mass support of the Brotherhood as a movement would always be a form of mass pressure on the government, pushing it in a progressive direction and away from accommodation with Wall Street’s demands for cuts in subsidies and improvements in social programs and away from accommodation with Israel and its war on the Palestinian people.

 Corporate power in the U.S. is suspicious of and fears any and every democratically elected government, whether in Latin America, Asia or Africa. This is not a calculation based on ideology. Again and again, the U.S. has aligned with the most corrupt absolute monarchies, such as in the Gulf States, and with thinly veiled military rule in Egypt or Colombia.

 Despite a much less favorable regional and international situation than in past Zionist offensives, the entire resistance movement in Gaza, although massively outgunned, remains confident of their ultimate victory.

Hamas’ bloc in the Palestinian parliament said in a statement that any unilateral pullout by Israel would mean that “it has failed to achieve any of its goals and would be a clear defeat for the occupation army and for its leaders. Gaza resisted, endured and will achieve victory.” (Mail & Guardian, Aug. 3)

Break the siege on Gaza!

If Palestinians Were Human Beings

August 7th, 2014 by Shourideh C. Molavi

Today the struggle for people of conscience appears to be less about convincing people that Israel is committing war crimes against Palestinians or grossly violating international law. Instead the struggle has become about convincing the world that Palestinians are human beings too. The ongoing televised genocidal attack of Palestinians in Gaza by the Israeli army makes one wonder what the situation would have been like if global powers and mainstream voices saw Palestinians as human beings.

Palestinian children in bombed Shuja’iya district, 26 July 2014. [Photo: Middle East Eye:Mohammed Asad]

If Palestinians were human beings, they would not lay scattered in the hundreds on the grounds of a crowded marketplace in Shuja’iya after IDF shelling during a four-hour ceasefire declared by Israel.

If Palestinians were human beings, the corpses of those killed in Khuza’a, with skins melted from the intensity of U.S.-made Israeli bombs, would not have been found piled on top of one another in the corner of the bathroom of a house. Many of them have not been identified as their bodies were completely burnt.

If Palestinians were human beings, the medical crews would not have been denied access by Israeli tanks to the dozens of civilian casualties in Khuza’a. These victims of missiles fired from Israeli drones would have been buried instead of scattered in the streets and reportedly eaten by nearby animals.

If Palestinians were human beings, Israel would not have launched a massive campaign with artillery shelling in Rafah with explosions everywhere, cars flying up in flames, and a barrage of bombs killing entire families prevented from evacuating their villages, only to be literally crushed to death by their collapsing homes.

If Palestinians were human beings, they would not have been bombed to death by Israel while taking shelter in one of the seven UN schools attacked thus far, including in Beit Hanoun, in Jabaliya as families lay sleeping on the floor of a classroom, and most recently in Rafah as children queued for sweets and biscuits.

If Palestinians were human beings, then their cities, villages and towns, including Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, Shuja’iya, Khuza’a, and Zanaa would not have been razed and flattened by the Israeli army, with buildings pulverized into sand and pieces of bodies visible beneath the rubble.

If Palestinians were human beings, whole portions of single families would not have been erased by targeted Israeli military strikes, while sitting together in their homes. There would not be a globally institutionalized disregard for their lives.

If Palestinian parents were human beings, they wouldn’t have to experience searching for, collecting, and carrying in plastic bags the remaining pieces of their children’s bodies blown up by Israeli shells.

If Palestinian children were human beings, they would not lose their entire families to Israeli bombs while suffering shrapnel wounds at 2-years old, or be prematurely born as orphans like Shaymaa al-Sheikh only to be buried next to her dead mother at a mere one week-old. If they were human beings Palestinian children would not be killed by airstrikes while playing on the beach, sleeping, eating, or even while undergoing surgery in a hospital. They would not be the main targets of Israel’s ‘precision war’.

If Palestinians were human beings, Israeli leaders and public figures would not publicly fantasize for years about their mass extermination and concentration camps, or to extinguish them en masse by having Gaza grazed, painted red, turned into rubble and flattened, reformatted and wiped clean, and sent back to the Middle Ages.

If Palestinians were human beings in the eyes of Israel and global powers, their killers in the IDF would be held accountable under international law. They would be allowed to flee a war zone contained by concrete walls where thousands of tons of Israeli bombs rain down on them, be protected in UN schools, and access clean water, electricity and basic medicine. They would be able to watch their children grow up in peace and live with dignity. We would know their names, what they did, what they liked and what they dreamed.

If Palestinians were seen as human beings, the world would follow in the footsteps of their extreme resilience, care and compassion, with which they refuse to give in to their utterly inhumane conditions. •

Shourideh C. Molavi is a Ph.D. student and writer based in Toronto, Canada. She is author of Stateless Citizenship: The Palestinian-Arab Citizens of Israel (Brill, 2013), which explores the dynamics of Israel’s multifaceted legal, political and structural system of control through the lens of citizenship. Thanks to Justin Podur and Fabian Voegeli for their comments.

Blasting Gaza into rubble has affected the average American in ways that U.S. politicians will learn to regret.  The result will be more than simply bleeding hearts for dead Palestinian children (430 at last count).  There is a deeper political effect happening, as young and old alike realize for the first time the cancerous lies coursing through the veins of the U.S. media and political system.  

The U.S. government’s support of Israel—which includes Obama and all 100 senators— further exposes the gigantic clash between the unpopular foreign policy of the U.S. versus the wishes of its residents.  The government will be further pushed by corporate interests to pursue these unpopular yet profitable overseas policies, which are teaching millions of people about the reality of their government, consequently undermining the future basis for an elite-driven foreign policy.

Merely glancing at the casualty statistics was enough for most Americans to know their T.V. was lying to them: 1900 Palestinians have died, 10,0000 have been injured— 80% of them civilians.  Meanwhile, 3 Israeli citizens have died, zero injured.  There is typically more damage from a Super Bowl victory party than Israel has suffered from Hamas’ fireworks.

Americans reacted in horror to Israel’s massively disproportionate violence— an obvious war crime as defined by the Geneva Convention.  And even more obvious war crimes were committed: the high profile Israeli missile attacks on Gaza hospitals, schools and UN bomb shelters.

During this carnage American viewers were endlessly told by ‘experts’ that “Israel has a right to defend itself”, a completely meaningless phrase when entire Gaza neighborhoods were obliterated while the U.S. media searched in vain for ANY damage caused by the “terrifying” Hamas rockets.

Obama’s disgraceful acting job throughout the conflict showcased another big lie for American viewers: he pretended that the enormous American influence over Israel didn’t exist, as if the $3 billion plus in annual U.S. aid wasn’t “leverage” that Obama could have used to stop Israel’s blitzkrieg.   The U.S. is literally the only strong ally of importance to Israel.  And the world’s sole super-power— however fading—pretended to be impotent in order for Israel to continue the killing.

Worse still was when millions of Americans watched Obama blather about a ceasefire while simultaneously re-supplying Israel with weapons in the middle of the conflict, which Jon Stewart mocked to his mostly-young viewing audience of millions.

The obscene U.S. media behavior was possible during past conflicts because there was nowhere else to go, but now the U.S. media monopoly stands busted, with truth leaking out from a thousand pores.  Millions of Americans get their news from Facebook or other social media outlets, which allows those passionate about an issue to share their perspective with hundreds or even thousands of their FB “friends”, who in turn “share” the news with their friends.

Furthermore, cable and internet providers now put Americans in direct contact with the new state-sponsored media outlets of other countries, who’ve copied the U.S. media’s flashy professionalism and now provide competing English speaking news with wildly clashing perspectives that often expose the U.S. media’s incompetence.   Some examples include Russian Television (RT), Press TV (Iranian), al-Jazeera (Qatari), and Venezuela recently created an English speaking news service from its Telesur network.

 The consequence of all the pro-Israeli propaganda is that millions of Americans are learning quite a lot, simply by comparing what they see on Facebook versus the garbage spewed on CNN or MSNBC.

 A pew research poll showed that younger Americans, aged 18-29, were more likely to blame Israel for the violence in Gaza than Hamas.  This is astonishing given the media spin onslaught, and proves that younger folks simply don’t believe CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or President Obama anymore.  The younger generation prefers truth.

 This distrust in media and government is more consequential than first appears. Realizing that your government and media are lying is a huge political step to take; especially when it’s the entire Congress who are voting to support Israel—including so-called “progressive” Democrats Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

 This radical skepticism removes a mental dam that allows new ideas to flow in, while spotting the stupid propaganda that previously went unnoticed.   This is how political consciousness is born, and thousands of people will remember the invasion of Gaza as ‘the moment’ they became politically aware, if not also the first protest they attended.   As Obama stands by his “close ally” Israel in the face of Nazi-like atrocities, his is giving birth to thousands of newly-conscious people every day, undermining the base of support for future military adventures abroad.

 And there can be no doubt that new U.S. military campaigns are on the horizon.   As Obama ignores Israel’s obvious war crimes he’d like us to pay particular attention to Russia, and China, or push us back onto the war path with Syria.

The snowballing unpopularity of U.S. foreign policy will not stop the corporate-influenced U.S. government in attempting to lie its way into a new war, since the ultra-rich rightfully fear their profits are threatened by the rising economic powers of China, Russia, and other countries.

As political consciousness rises among new layers of Americans they will become less susceptible to the lie that there is “ no money” for jobs, schools, health care, and social services in the U.S., since they are watching hundreds of billions of their tax dollars find expression in the Israeli demolishing of Gazan’s homes, with families buried under the debris.  This U.S. sponsored war—as well as future ones—are laying the foundation for the end of wars, based on the political awakening and consequent action of the next generation.

 Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).  He can be reached at [email protected]  

On July 22nd, zerohedge bannered sarcastically, “Flight MH-17 Black Boxes To Be Analyzed In ‘Impartial’ London,” and reported that they would be analyzed by the U.S.-allied, anti-Russian, pro-Ukrainian, British Government.

A mere four days later, on the 26th, CBS News  headlined the results, “Black box findings consistent with missile blast,” but they declined to report who, or even what country’s government, had actually done the analysis. CBS reported merely: “Unreleased data from a black box retrieved from the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in Ukraine show findings consistent with the plane’s fuselage being hit multiple times by shrapnel from a missile explosion. ‘It did what it was designed to do,’ a European air safety official told CBS News, ‘bring down airplanes.’ The official described the finding as ‘massive explosive decompression.’” That’s all. Nothing more.

However, this “explosive decompression” would have happened with bullets too, if the pressurized airliner were punctured by bullets instead of shrapnel. Why did that person (whomever it was) assume that the plane had been hit by a missile’s shrapnel, instead of by hails of bullets fired by machine-guns from a fighter-plane flying alongside it? Maybe because Britain is allied with the Obama-installed Ukrainian Government, against the anti-Government rebels who have no airplanes at all and thus cannot get gunmen 33,000 feet up into the air to shoot directly at the Malaysian airliner’s pilot, and that that’s what actually brought this plane down. We’ll show that the latter scenario is, indeed, correct.

Only idiots would trust Britain to interpret these black boxes to determine what and who brought down that plane. But, fortunately, the physical evidence lying on the ground at the site in Ukraine was photographed very quickly by locals there and uploaded to the Internet sometimes before any fighters and any governments were able to tamper with anything; and there happened to be one modest-looking item found at the site that tells a remarkably complete and entirely credible and convincing account of how this plane came down.

It tells that the Ukrainian Government itself did this airliner-downing, with bullets, not with shrapnel. You’ll see the evidence laid out before you here; you won’t need to rely upon the British Government to tell you how this event happened. The evidence will tell you that.

On July 30th, the retired Lufthansa pilot and published historian Peter Haisenko issued his “Shocking Analysis of the ‘Shooting Down’ of Malaysian MH17,” in which an extremely close-in photo of the most important piece of physical evidence regarding this event is shown — it’s the side-panel on the left-hand side of the cockpit directly where the downed plane’s pilot was seated — and this photo shocked me, too.

Here, first, is that side-panel shown inserted back onto its airliner, so that you can see precisely what and where this piece of the wreckage was on the plane. You will immediately notice the big gaping hole that had been shot through the side-panel where the pilot sits — in other words, targeting directly  at the plane’s pilot.

This is incredibly precise targeting, of a specific person, and not merely  of the far larger body of an airliner. A ground-based missile-shot fired from 33,000 feet below cannot achieve that gaping hole precisely where the pilot sits. A fighter jet plane that’s escorting the airliner into the conflict-zone can. This is how:

Here is that side-panel shown close-up, from Haisenko. Some of the projectiles that pierced it, as you can see, were inbound into the plane (or bent inward), and some of them were coming out of the plane (or bent outward). In other words, going back again to the full-cockpit photo, and if there were two fighter jets escorting this plane into the conflict-zone, and if one of them was below the pilot and cockpit to the left, and the other was below them to the right, and if both of those fighter-planes then suddenly fired machine-gun magazines directly into the pilot, so that the bullets that were coming from his right exited outward from this left-side cockpit-panel, while the bullets that were coming into the pilot from his left entered into and through this cockpit-panel and bent the panel inward to the cabin, then the evidence would be able to look exactly like what we see it as being here — but otherwise, probably not (and we’ll get to that in a moment).

Here is the entirety  of the side-panel piece that so struck Haisenko.

Haisenko further managed to post to the Web an astoundingly clear and detailed photo of this cockpit-panel, so that even individual screws and their deformations can be seen and examined now by the general public. Looking at that, some of the holes to the aluminum-layer on the plane’s outside are splayed outward as if the projectile were outbound, while the plastic layer toward the plane’s inside is obviously splayed inward, and this divergence there, between the inward-folding plastic layer and the outward-folding aluminum layer, can indicate that the aluminum layer was getting pulled back either by the wind on the descent downward to the ground, or else by the ground itself as the panel impacted with the ground — that aluminum outer-layer didn’t always have to be ripped into an outward-folding position by a projectile’s actually coming  outward. It could sometimes result instead from the wind-impact and/or the ground-impact. Moreover (and this is very important here), since a bullet has a sharp point going into an object, even an inbound bullet can peel outward  in a rush the relatively brittle aluminum outer layer, by the mere fact of its own impact, violently throwing that aluminum layer sideways  as the point pierces and forces that aluminum outward, while the more-yielding inner plastic layer simply yields into the direction that the bullet is traveling, and is pushed and then pulled by that bullet inward into the plane, as the bullet thence proceeds onward into the plane. A shrapnel projectile, by contrast, doesn’t have a bullet’s sharp front, and so would not produce such outward flares in the aluminum layer  while penetrating into the plane from the plane’s outside.

So, what is seen in this photo is 100% consistent with the projectiles going in both directions (inbound and outbound), and with the projectiles being bullets instead of  shrapnel.

Haisenko examined the many online photos of this wreckage, and he saw nothing like the concentration of projectiles that were focusing on that pilot, such as is displayed by this side-panel: it’s unique. His article says, “This aircraft was not hit by a missile in the central portion.” He’s a retired airline pilot, and so he knows how missile-shrapnel-punctures are splayed over a rather broad surface-area of a plane, and all of them are inbound into the plane; a shrapnel-spray onto a plane isn’t  bi-directional. Here is a photo of such a plane that was hit by missile-shrapnel in Iraq.

In my article on August 5th, I noted, regarding that photo:

As you can see there, a plane that’s hit by a ground-fired missile, instead of by bullets fired from an attack-plane only a few yards away, has the damage spread rather widely over its body, not concentrated into a tiny area, such as to where the plane’s pilot is seated. Certainly, the contrast between that photo and this one is enormous.

Furthermore, note also that the shrapnel damage to that plane comes from above it, which is where missiles usually hit a plane from, releasing their shrapnel from above, down onto the plane. By contrast, the hail of bullets to the Malaysian plane’s pilot came from below the plane, aiming upward at the cockpit, from both sides of the cockpit.

Furthermore, note also that all of the holes appear to be inbound into the plane, none outbound.

It’s radically different: what hit the Malaysian airliner wasn’t  missile-shrapnel.

What, then, could have been the military planes that actually did this?

On 17 July 2014 the pro-junta Kiev Post  headlined “Russian military plane shot down Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft in Ukraine,” and reported that, “The Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) has said that a Russian military aircraft launched a missile strike against a Su-25 aircraft of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over Ukrainian territory on Wednesday, July 16.” So, even the Ukrainian military admitted that they had Su-25 jets flying in the conflict-zone. But Su-25s are designed only for low-altitude combat and bombing; so, Su-25s would be the type of planes that the rebels would likeliest succeed at bringing down (and did on July 16th), as opposed to the higher-flying Su-27s, which are far less likely to be hit by the rebels’ ground-based fire. (There’s no independent confirmation that “Russian military aircraft” had actually been involved in the incident reported in the Kiev Post;  and there have been numerous instances when the Ukrainian Government charged that there was such direct Russian involvement and it was subsequently established that there hadn’t been any at all. Obama and the Ukrainian Government want a pretext to extend their war into Russia, but Russia has not  been cooperating with their desire. Thus, “(NSDC) has said that a Russian military aircraft launched a missile strike” there was probably reporting a lie.)

During the very late afternoon in Ukraine on July 17th — the same day as the headline “Russian military plane shot down Ukrainian Su-25 aircraft in Ukraine” — the Malaysian airliner, MH-17, went down. The most-thorough article on the plane’s flight-path and timeline was published by Twenty First Century Wire on July 25th here. Two of the fighter jets it notes to be in the Ukrainian Government’s air force are:

“Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ fighter – Ceiling: 23,000 ft/ 7,000 m, or up to 32,800 ft/ 10,000 m(depending aircraft modifications)

Su-27 ‘Flanker’ fighter – Ceiling: 64,000 ft/ 19,000 m”

Su-25s could barely have escorted the Malaysian airliner into the conflict-zone at around 33,000 feet where it was hit, but Su-27s definitely could easily have done that job.

On July 21st, The Aviationist  bannered “All flights, including Malaysian B777, were being escorted by Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker jets over Eastern Ukraine” and (though in language that’s cumbersome to understand) reported that, “Six fully armed Flankers [or Su-27s] have always been in the sky especially when the other Ukrainian Air Force airplanes such as transporters and attackers like Fulcrums and Rooks were in the East of Ukraine,” and that, “Provided the Su-27s were really escorting or (more likely) watching from their CAP station,” the Malaysian airliner could have been hit by a Buk missile 33,000 feet below from the ground, just as the Ukrainian Government was saying, notwithstanding its “escorting or (more likely) watching from their CAP station.” The speculation continued on like that, stenographcally following the Ukrainian Government’s line (that ground-fired Buks did it, via rebels, not via the Government), by asserting that, “in the wake of the downing of the Su-25 [on July 16th], the operators inside the Buk [what Buk? – The Aviationist  was merely assuming this] may have mistaken the Boeing 777 shadowed by/near two Flankers for a high-value plane of the Ukrainian Air Force. On their radar screens, the sight of a large plane with two accompanying (or circling in CAP not too far away) fighter jets was completely new and may only mean the Ukrainians were escorting an important plane. And that would be the reason why they downed it.” If  ”they” downed it.

The Twenty First Century Wire article also noted that, “The BBC reported on July 17th:

‘Ukraine’s SBU security service has confiscated recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic control officers and the crew of the doomed airliner, a source in Kiev has told Interfax news agency.’”

However, the BBC subsequently removed from their online article the statement that was quoted there, perhaps as part of their cleansing history of things that are subsequently determined by the managers to be inappropriate for readers to know. However, that quoted assertion does appear also in a web-search (quoted at other sites), where it is also attributed to the BBC. Perhaps, then, after the Snowden affair, more-ironclad means of whitewashing “history” will become established, so as to cleanse “history” of the sorts of things that aren’t supposed to be known by the wrong people (such as are you and I). It’s not just the Ukrainian Government that retrospectively removes what it wishes the public not to know (such as radar-records).

The Twenty First Century Wire article also mentioned that, “On June 4, 2014, Janes Defense reported that Kiev have recently returned to service two other higher performance fighters, including the Su-27 ‘Flanker’ and the MiG-29 ‘Fulcrum’ fighters.” Moreover: “According to IHS Jane’s World Air Forces data, Ukraine still possesses a fleet of 24 Su-24Ms, 36 Su-25s, 45 Su-27s, 20 An-26s and 140 MiG-29s,” but regarding the MIGs, “39 of these were captured” by Russia when Crimea broke away from Ukraine and rejoined Russia, of which it had been a part between 1783 and 1954. Obama and his regime demand that Crimea be returned to Ukraine, which the Crimeans never ever voted to become part of. He supports the Ukrainian Government’s promise to seize it by military means.

Some readers have objected that it’s difficult to bring down a plane by air-to-air fire. One person cited the shooter’s need to take into account the other plane’s evasive maneuvers, and to aim at where the target-plane will be when the bullets are expected to get there. This is a valid point, if the targeted plane is an enemy’s fighter-jet. That’s called a “dogfight in the air.” However, if the target-plane isn’t military, and if the pilot in the target-plane has been given to understand that the fighter jets that are accompanying him are friendly, he’s just a sitting duck for those “escorts,” and the targeters can align themselves exactly where they want to be, and coordinate when they will jointly commence firing at him. The result will be like this side-panel is.

There was another expert who happened to be shocked by this side-panel and who concluded from it what Haisenko does. As I have previously noted and explained in detail, the first member of the international investigating team to arrive on the scene in order to negotiate with the locals the safety of the entire team that was to come into this civil war area, was immediately struck by the fact that, “There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine-gun fire, very very strong machine-gun fire.” However, he didn’t examine it then as closely as Haisenko has now done, to such a fine point as to have noticed that some of those bullet-holes came from the plane’s right, and some came from the plane’s left. That fact is even more remarkable than that the projectiles were probably bullets, because this fact confirms that they actually had to be.

I also made note in that article that:

The latest report from the intelligence community was headlined on August 3rd by Robert Parry, “Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts,” and he revealed there that, “Contrary to the Obama administration’s public claims blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, some U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings. This judgment — at odds with what President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have expressed publicly – is based largely on the absence of U.S. government evidence that Russia supplied the rebels with a Buk anti-aircraft missile system that would be needed to hit a civilian jetliner flying at 33,000 feet, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

It’s actually based on lots more than that; it’s based not on an absence of evidence, but on positive proof that the Ukrainian Government shot the plane down, and even proving how it was done.

Unlike what Parry’s source alleged, there does exist powerful and convincing evidence of how this plane was downed, and it’s that side-panel.

What, then, of the possibility that the inbound and outbound bullet-holes might have been produced by just a single Su-27? That scenario has been proposed, but it fails to account for the event, and here is why: The very moment when that gunman poured his hale of bullets into the pilot and thereby pulverized and blew open that huge gaping hole where the pilot was sitting, the plane’s pressurized air would have immediately rushed out that hole. It might have broken into pieces within seconds. As Haisenko said, due to the air-pressure-shock to the plane, “The largely intact fragments of the rear sections broke in mid air at the weaker points of contstruction [sp],” thereby producing “the widely scattered field of debris.”

I shall close with what I think is the most important fact of all:

No matter whom the trigger-pullers at the bottom of any power-and-authority hierarchy are who actually did this (gunmen or else missilemen), and regardless of whether they even did it intentionally at all, or else entirely by mistake, a far deeper and indisputable reality is that “Obama Definitely Caused the Malaysian Airliner to Be Downed.” That’s true in the same sense that Adolf Hitler definitely caused the Holocaust to happen: It wouldn’t have happened but for him and the decisions and choices that that person at the very top of the power-structure made, which were merely being carried out by his subordinates.

He is the one person who should be held accountable the most of all. Obama intends the ethnic-cleansing campaign that is occurring in southeastern Ukraine to get rid of the people who live in the areas that overwhelmingly elected as Ukraine’s President in 2010 the man whom Obama’s February 2014 coup in Ukraine overthrew. Without that ethnic-cleansing campaign and the consequent need of the residents there to shoot down the Government’s planes, even the Obama-team’s explanation — that the aircraft-downing was a case of the residents there firing upon what they thought to be a Government bomber — wouldn’t have existed at all, because there wouldn’t then have been the ethnic-cleansing campaign for them to be protecting themselves from. So: even if the downing of that airliner hadn’t  been done intentionally by the Ukrainian Government as a “false flag event” to blame the victims in order to get the EU to go along with stiffened sanctions against Russia for helping the rebels, those sanctions would still  be an outrage: morally, practically, and also violations of international law: aggression that’s based on lies. The fact that this was a false-flag event by Obama’s people only makes it, and the current U.S. President, an outrage squared:  an outrage upon an outrage.

There need to be EU sanctions now against the United States — my own country — or else the EU itself is as rotten as the U.S. has become. Instead, the EU has joined Obama’s sanctions against Russia. America under Clinton, Bush, and Obama, has performed fine for its aristocracy (which control them all), but abominably for everyone else. Is that the kind of model the EU wishes to copy? If so, it should end, because the EU’s leadership then seeks to go the way of the U.S., aristocratically controlled, against the public, a model that’s shameful — scandalous, in fact: something not to be perpetrated against anyone, neither the victims in Obama’s MH-17 downing, nor the victims in his ongoing ethnic-cleansing campaign against the residents in Ukraine’s southeast. Obama’s crimes are much bigger than just the downing of that single airliner.

There is a subordinate fact that extends from this central fact of Obama’s clear guilt — his guilt that would apply regardless of whether some Buk missile system had been fired by rebels to protect themselves and their families from being bombed by planes of the Kiev government: Even if that were the case, the rebels’ measure in that matter was purely defensive. Contrast that with the situation that has been described here: The situation that has been described here is that the Kiev government intentionally brought this airliner down. That’s not an innocent error; it is instead an enormous intentional war crime, planned as such. If the rebels made a tragic error, by falling for a trap in which the Kiev government had escorted the Malaysian airliner into the war-zone hoping that the rebels would make such an error, then who is the actual guilty party? Is it Obama and the Kiev regime that he installed in order to do this ethnic cleansing so that Ukraine in the future will have only anti-Russian Presidents? Or is it the victims of that ethnic cleansing?

No matter how one looks at this, the guilt is clear and damning against Barack Obama: first, by his installing this ethnic-cleansing regime into power in Ukraine; and then, by his continued support of those bloody psychopaths whom he had empowered there.

No matter what, Barack Obama has massive innocent blood on his hands. And the victims of the MH-17 disaster are only a relatively small part of that much bigger picture.

Thus far, the penalties have fallen on Russia and Vladimir Putin, not on the Ukrainian Government and Barack Obama.

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.

More evidence, about which I hope to write at length, is piling up that Europe has acquiesced to Washington’s drive to war with Russia, a war that is likely to be the final war for humanity.  By Russia’s low key and unthreatening response to Washington’s aggression, thereby giving the West the mistaken signal that Russia is weak and fearful, the Russian government has encouraged Washington’s drive to war.

It appears that the Russians’ greatest weakness is that capitalism has raised enough Russians to a comfortable living standard that the war that Washington is bringing to them is scary, and they want to avoid it in order to continue living like decadent Western Europeans.

The same thing happened to the once fierce Vandals in North Africa in the 6th century when the Vandals were exterminated by a small force from the Eastern Roman Empire.The Vandals had lost the valor that had given them a rich chunk of the Roman Empire.

Russia needs to save the world from war, but the avoidance of war requires Russia to make the costs clear to Europeans.

Faced with economic sanctions, essentially illegal and warlike actions, applied to various Russian individuals and businesses by Washington and Washington’s EU puppets and by Switzerland, a country taught to be more fearful of Washington than of Moscow, Russian President Putin has asked the Russian government to come up with countermeasures to be implemented in response to the gratuitous sanctions imposed against Russia.

But, Putin says, Russia must hold back: “Obviously we need to do it cautiously in order to support domestic manufacturers, but not hurt consumers.”

In other words, Putin wants to impose sanctions that are not really sanctions, but something that looks like tit for tat.

The amazing thing about Russia finding herself on the defensive about sanctions is that Russia, not Washington or the impotent EU, holds all the cards.  Putin can bring down the economies of Europe and throw all of Europe into political and economic chaos simply by turning off the energy supply.

Putin would not have to turn off the energy supply for very long before Europe tells Washington good-bye and comes to terms with Russia. The longer Putin waits, the longer Europe has to prepare against Russia’s best weapon that can be used to peacefully resolve the conflict that Washington has orchestrated.

Washington’s aggressive moves against Russia will not stop until Putin realizes that he, not Washington, holds the cards, and plays them.

The world has had enough of Washington, its constant lies, its constant wars, and its bullying.  Putin would do well to spend a few hours with Belisarius, Justinian the Great’s great general.

“When I treat with my enemies,” Belisarius said, “I am more accustomed to give than to receive counsel; but I hold in one hand inevitable ruin, in the other peace and freedom.”

That is precisely the position that Vladimir Putin is in with regard to Europe.  In one hand he holds the ruin of Europe.  In the other peace and freedom in the relations between Russia and Europe.

He needs to call up the dumbshit European “leaders” and tell them.

If Putin does not put his foot down hard and make clear to the Europeans what the stakes are, Washington will succeed in its determination to drive the world to war, and “exceptional and indispensable” Americans will die along with all the rest.

Even before a short-lived ceasefire allowed journalists to enter the besieged southern Gaza strip town of Khuzaa on 1 August, desperate reports of an Israeli massacre — including execution-style shootings — had emerged from survivors who had escaped to nearby Khan Younis.

Once journalists were able to enter the choked-off village, they found slain bodies and the stench of decay. Journalist Jesse Rosenfeld described one scene, among several, that appeared to be the site of a summary execution:

Blood and blackened remnants are caked on the bathroom floor. The walls have been drenched in blood and they are pocked with scores of bullet holes that look as if they were fired from an automatic weapon at waist level. Some of the bullet holes are in line, as if the gun were sweeping across its targets. There is also soot staining the tiles, suggesting the bodies were burned or there had been a small blast. Several tiles have fallen away from the wall. The house is filled with casings from the bullets used in assault rifles. They are marked on the bottom as “IMI” (Israel Military Industries)

.

People recovering the last body from the room where villagers say
the mass execution has taken place. Lazar Simeonov for The Daily Beast ()

Fifty-one bodies were recovered on 1 August.

Deliberately firing on civilians

On Saturday, Ali Abunimah reported on a video apparently made by Israeli soldiers from the Givati brigade on 30 July, recording their dedication of the destruction of a mosque in Khuzaa to fallen Israeli soldiers.

Now, after conducting its own investigations into the events between 23 and 25 July, Human Rights Watch has accused the Israeli army of deliberately firing on and killing civilians in the southern Gaza town of Khuzaa, violating several laws of war.

After interviewing surviving witnesses in Khan Younis, Human Rights Watch was able to chronicle the war crimes committed by the Israeli army. Such crimes include firing on civilians carrying white flags in an attempt to flee the village; shooting at medical workers attending to a mortally wounded Red Crescent paramedic volunteer; denying medical care to Palestinians in Israeli custody; and shooting at civilians after they were ordered to exit their homes.

This is not the first time such crimes have been committed in Khuzaa. As both Human Rights Watch and the Goldstone Report documented, during Israel’s 2008-2009 offensive on Gaza Israeli soldiers shot at several Palestinians in Khuzaa carrying white flags, killing at least one and injuring more.

“Large craters”

Khuzaa has a population of around 10,000 and lies between Khan Younis and Gaza’s eastern boundary with Israel. Employees of Human Rights Watch have yet to be able to enter Khuzaa, saying that all four roads leading to the town have been replaced by “large bomb craters.”

For weeks, Khuzaa was completely isolated from ambulance services and much of the media as Israeli forces fired on its residents by air and ground assault.

The one exception was on 24 July, when the Israeli military allowed the Red Cross to enter Khuzaa for just one hour to retrieve the injured and collect dead bodies. The next day, on 25 July, Israeli forces granted a request submitted by the International Committee of the Red Cross to permit the Palestine Red Crescent Society to do the same.

But still, the Red Crescent was unable to reach many families. Furthermore, as reported by the International Committee of the Red Cross, Israel attacked a volunteer with the Red Crescent while he was attempted to treat the wounded. Paramedics tried to rush him to a hospital, but were also targeted by Israel. The volunteer died.

Unable to escape

Human Rights Watch reports that Israel gave advanced warnings to the residents of Khuzaa prior to 21 July, but notes that civilians’ failure to evacuate an area that has been given an advanced warning does not make them lawful targets.

Instead, as the investigation makes clear, Israel deliberately shot at Palestinians as they tried to flee their homes and village.

In one incident described by Human Rights Watch that took place on 25 July, an Israeli airstrike shelled a home that was sheltering 120 people in its basement, killing three civilians: five-year-old Motassem al-Najjar, 70-year-old Salim Qdeih, and 62-year-old Kamel al-Najjar. Fifteen were injured.

When the survivors of the strike tried to flee, carrying white flags over their heads, another Israeli missile struck the group, killing one man and injuring another.

While many towns located on the eastern border with Israel fled following Israel’s ground assault on 18 July, residents of Khuzaa were unable to escape. Speaking from Khan Younis, Akram al-Najjar, 15, told Human Rights Watch that Israel began shelling the village on 18 July, and his family ran “from house to house seeking shelter.”

Al-Najjar added that he and about 100 others had gathered in one house on 23 July. Once the Israelis found them and ordered them to leave, al-Najjar said: “The first one to walk out of the house was Shahid al-Najjar. He had his hands up, but the soldiers shot him. He was shot in the jaw and badly injured, but he survived.”

The army then ordered the rest of the men to take off their clothes before exiting the house. Everyone was then separated by age and gender; women and boys under 14 were ordered to leave the village by foot, while the men were shuffled between houses after putting on their clothes.

Palestinians walk past houses destroyed by Israeli airstrikes and shelling in Khuzaa, 3 August. (Ramadan El-Agha / APA images)

“He was shot”

Akram al-Najjar was put in a group with boys ages 14 to 19. He reported: “We had walked from the dunes and had reached the mosque. We got 50 meters past it, and soldiers started shooting at us. The shooting injured three of us. One of them died. He was shot in the stomach.”

According to Akram’s grandfather, 75-year-old Mohammad al-Najjar, Israel detained all the men between the ages of 16 and 50 and “let the rest of us go.” He believes that his three sons are still in Israeli custody, along with hundreds of others that have been detained in Gaza.

The full Human Rights Watch report documents several of the laws of war Israel violated in Khuzaa — yet still only a partial picture of what occurred in Khuzaa is illuminated.

In the report, Human Rights Watch urges the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to seek International Criminal Court jurisdiction over crimes committed on and from Palestinian territory as a means to achieve accountability and deter war crimes.

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist in San Francisco, formerly based in the West Bank. She tweets @CharESilver

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The Ukrainian government has admitted redeploying Short-Range Ballistic Missile Tochka-U (NATO classification: SS-21 Scarab) units within firing range of Donetsk and Lugansk. There is already evidence of either this terrifying weapon or something very similar having been used in a Ukrainian strike on Shakhtyorsk.

The strike targeted civilians – no militiaman was anywhere close. Provided for you below is video evidence of the aftermath of this event and the scars it left behind.

Video: Village of Shakhtyorsk, August 4, 2014 Scherbakov Street
Translated by Valentina Lisitsa / Subtitles by Marcel Sardo

Slavyangrad.org

Why Won’t Obama Just Leave Ukraine Alone?

August 6th, 2014 by Rep. Ron Paul

President Obama announced last week that he was imposing yet another round of sanctions on Russia, this time targeting financial, arms, and energy sectors. The European Union, as it has done each time, quickly followed suit. 

These sanctions will not produce the results Washington demands, but they will hurt the economies of the US and EU, as well as Russia.

These sanctions are, according to the Obama administration, punishment for what it claims is Russia’s role in the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, and for what the president claims is Russia’s continued arming of separatists in eastern Ukraine. Neither of these reasons makes much sense because neither case has been proven.

The administration began blaming Russia for the downing of the plane just hours after the crash, before an investigation had even begun. The administration claimed it had evidence of Russia’s involvement but refused to show it. Later, the Obama administration arranged a briefing by “senior intelligence officials” who told the media that “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality,” of who brought down the aircraft.

So Obama then claimed Russian culpability because Russia’s “support” for the separatists in east Ukraine “created the conditions” for the shoot-down of the aircraft. That is a dangerous measure of culpability considering US support for separatist groups in Syria and elsewhere.

Similarly, the US government claimed that Russia is providing weapons, including heavy weapons, to the rebels in Ukraine and shooting across the border into Ukrainian territory. It may be true, but again the US refuses to provide any evidence and the Russian government denies the charge. It’s like Iraq’s WMDs all over again.

Obama has argued that the Ukrainians should solve this problem themselves and therefore Russia should butt out.

I agree with the president on this. Outside countries should leave Ukraine to resolve the conflict itself. However, even as the US demands that the Russians de-escalate, the United States is busy escalating!

In June, Washington sent a team of military advisors to help Ukraine fight the separatists in the eastern part of the country. Such teams of “advisors” often include special forces and are usually a slippery slope to direct US military involvement.

On Friday, President Obama requested Congressional approval to send US troops into Ukraine to train and equip its national guard. This even though in March, the president promised no US boots on the ground in Ukraine. The deployment will be funded with $19 million from a fund designated to fight global terrorism, signaling that the US considers the secessionists in Ukraine to be “terrorists.”

Are US drone strikes against these “terrorists” and the “associated forces” who support them that far off?

The US has already provided the Ukrainian military with $23 million for defense security, $5 million in body armor, $8 million to help secure Ukraine’s borders, several hundred thousand ready-to-eat meals as well as an array of communications equipment. Congress is urging the president to send lethal military aid and the administration is reportedly considering sending real-time intelligence to help target rebel positions.

But let’s not forget that this whole crisis started with the US-sponsored coup against Ukraine’s elected president back in February. The US escalates while it demands that Russia de-escalate. How about all sides de-escalate?

Even when the goals are clear, sanctions have a lousy track record. Sanctions are acts of war. These sanctions will most definitely have a negative effect on the US economy as well as the Russian economy. Why is “winning” Ukraine so important to Washington? Why are they risking a major war with Russia to deny people in Ukraine the right to self-determination? Let’s just leave Ukraine alone!

Press Release

Gaza Ministry of Health, Palestine

The Ministry of Health Gaza insists that any ceasefire agreement must guarantee the human rights of our people, most importantly, the right to health.

We therefore stress that any agreement arising out of the talks in Cairo must be based on international law, not self-interest.

We emphasise that international law is something that is applied without fear or favour, not negotiated.

The right of our people to health is a right that is interdependent with, and indivisible from, every other universal human right, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and reasserted in the Vienna Declaration.

The devastation wreaked by the Israeli war criminals in Gaza, the widespread destruction of the most basic human needs such as water and shelter, the attacks on our hospitals, clinics and ambulances, the death and injury of scores of our health workers, the senseless annihilation of our electricity and sanitation infrastructure, our places of worship and our schools  leave us confronting the challenge of preventing ill-health, promoting well-being and providing health services in circumstances in which even the barest essentials are absent.

The right to health is indivisible from the right to housing, the right to employment, the right to freedom of movement, the right to freedom of political and religious belief, the right to self-determination – and most importantly, the right to freedom from occupation.

These are rights guaranteed under international law – they require only that the law be applied.

They are NOT NEGOTIABLE.

The Ministry of Health Gaza views with incredulity the statement from Ban Ki-moon and US Secretary of State John Kerry counting on “…a continued collaborative international effort to assist Egypt and the parties reach a durable ceasefire as soon as possible.”

The international community has had 47 years to “assist the parties to reach a durable ceasefire,” through implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.

 The international community has had four years since the siege of Gaza was declared illegal by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay to “assist the parties to reach a durable ceasefire.”

 There is no absence of support in international law either for the conditions, or the legal basis, that would ensure a durable ceasefire.

 There is merely an absence of real commitment by both the United Nations and the United States to enforce one that is based on, and accords with, international law.

 The Ministry of Health Gaza considers that the process currently underway in Cairo is best served by considering the issues within the framework of legitimacy, rather than hypocritical platitudes about peace processes with no basis in either law or justice – peace processes that have, and will continue to, perpetuate abuses of, not promote, Palestinians’ enjoyment of human rights.

 Either the rule of law is applied without fear or favour, or the United Nations, its instruments and its organisations, risk becoming not only an irrelevance, but complicit in the abuses of the very rights they purport to uphold.

We ask – no, we demand – that the international community shoulder its responsibilities to the Palestinian people, in Gaza and elsewhere, and insist on the implementation of international law.

 We demand that 47 years of stalling, hedging, filibustering and prevaricating end, and end now.

 We demand the international community support our just demands for an end of the illegal Israeli occupation that breaches our right to our own territory and our right to self-determination, and an end to the illegal siege of Gaza  that breaches our right to freedom of movement and to development.

 We demand that any agreement coming out of Cairo guarantees Palestinians in Gaza – and everywhere – the enjoyment of our right to life and to health, rights which are indivisible from and interdependent with all human rights.

Anything less is not only a threat to a durable and just ceasefire in Gaza, but also a threat to the rights of all people, everywhere.

Contacts:

Dr Yousef AbuAlrish, Deputy  Minister of Health                                +972 597 918 339

Dr Medhat Abbas, Director General, Ministry of Health                     +972 599 403 547

After nearly a month of inflicting death and destruction on Gaza, the Israeli occupation forces withdrew on August 5, as part of 72-hour ceasefire agreement. Negotiations are now underway in Cairo over the terms of a more long-range truce. After subverting previous ceasefires, it is clear that Israeli leaders wanted the latest agreement.

Gaza, whose population of 1.8 million is 80% refugees from other parts of Palestine crowded into an area of just 139 square miles, has suffered more than 1,860 killed and over 9,600 wounded since the Israeli military assault began on July 8. The vast majority of the casualties on the Palestinian side were civilian victims of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing and shelling.

On the Israel side, 67 were killed, all but three soldiers. At least 640 Israel soldiers were wounded. Although the Palestinian losses were exponentially greater, the Israel losses were five times those in the last ground invasion of Gaza in 2008-9.

The U.S.-funded and armed Israeli military deployed a wide range of high-tech air, land and sea weaponry. The Palestinian side has no air force, navy, armored units or air defense system. Thousands of homes were destroyed, schools, hospitals, mosques and Gaza’s only power plant were repeatedly hit. Entire neighborhoods, like Shejaiya in Gaza City were turned into rubble. Most of Gaza has little or no electricity and there are acute shortages of water and other necessities.

The cost to rebuild Gaza is estimated at this point at $4-6 billion, three to four times Gaza’s annual gross domestic product.

While proclaiming their supposed “concern” about civilian casualties, there can be no doubt that Netanyahu and his generals waged a deliberate campaign of terror directed against the population of Gaza as a whole. The repeated bombing and shelling of UN-run facilities in which tens of thousands had taken refuge was neither accident nor mistake. Those attacks were meant to send the message that there was nowhere to run and nowhere to hide, that resistance to Israeli domination was futile and surrender the only option.

It was a campaign of terror carried out by a terrorist state.

It’s the same message that repeated Israeli massacres from Deir Yassin in 1948, to Sabra and Shatila in 1982, to Jenin in 2002, to Gaza in 2014 were meant to convey. But despite the indescribable suffering they have been subjected to over the past century at the hands of imperialism and Zionism, the Palestinians continue to resist.

Why a ceasefire now?

While the Israeli military has once again inflicted unspeakable death and destruction on Gaza, it did not achieve victory, as evidenced by the disarray today inside the Israeli political establishment over the announcement that Israel troops were being withdrawn. A military spokesperson announced that it had “achieved its objective” by destroying 32 military tunnels.

Extreme right wing politicians howled about “not finishing the job.” Typical was Uzi Landau, tourism minister from the Yisrael Beiteinu party, who said “the operation ended with no achievement that ensures quiet.”

The real objective – destroying the Palestinian resistance forces in Gaza – was clearly not achieved.

There were several factors that brought pressure on Israel to claim “success,” announce it was withdrawing its troops, and seek a ceasefire.

1)  Failure to achieve military victory, significant army casualties killed and wounded, and the prospects of a protracted and debilitating campaign.

2)  Intensifying clashes in the West Bank with at least 10 Palestinians killed and hundreds wounded in protests supporting Gaza. On Aug. 4, one Israeli was killed and soldier wounded in attacks in Jerusalem. The Israeli government feared that continuation of the assault on Gaza could lead to a new intifada or uprising in the West Bank, and possibly extending to the Palestinian population inside the 1948 borders of Israel.

3)  Israel’s rapidly deepening international isolation, with many governments condemning the Gaza operation and withdrawing ambassadors, and a worldwide protest movement that brought millions of people into the streets of countries around the world.

4)  Growing criticism by the U.S. government, Israel’s principal funder, armor and protector, of Israel’s blatant attacks on civilians. While the U.S. continued its political and military support – including an emergency re-supply of ammunition – the Obama administration was increasingly concerned about being so closely identified with the Israel’s terror campaign, and the prospect of new mass upheavals in the region. In an unusually strong criticism, on August 4 White House spokesperson Josh Earnest described the latest Israeli shelling of a UN school housing 3,000 refugees as “appalling” and “disgraceful,” labels usually reserved for enemy governments.

His thuggish “no one can tell us what to do” rhetoric aside, Netanyahu is no more immune to objective forces than any other political leader or regime. The combination of facts on the ground in Gaza, in Occupied Palestine as a whole, and in the world compelled the Israeli government to take a step back, at least for the time being.

There is no guarantee that a longer term ceasefire will be reached. All those who stand for justice for the Palestinian people must remain on alert, and continue the struggle to immediately end the blockade of Gaza and force the U.S. and Israel to provide reparations. In the long run, real self-determination demands the right of return for all Palestinian refugees, and an end to the Israeli apartheid system.

For most of the last five decades, it has been assumed that the Tonkin Gulf incident was a deception by Lyndon Johnson to justify war in Vietnam. But the U.S. bombing of North Vietnam on Aug. 4, 1964, in retaliation for an alleged naval attack that never happened — and the Tonkin Gulf Resolution that followed was not a move by LBJ to get the American people to support a U.S. war in Vietnam.

The real deception on that day was that Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara’s misled LBJ by withholding from him the information that the U.S. commander in the Gulf — who had initially reported an attack by North Vietnamese patrol boats on U.S. warships — had later expressed serious doubts about the initial report and was calling for a full investigation by daylight. That withholding of information from LBJ represented a brazen move to usurp the President’s constitutional power of decision on the use of military force.

Dean Rusk, Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert McNamara in Cabinet Room meeting February 1968. (Photo credit: Yoichi R. Okamoto, White House Press Office)

Image: Dean Rusk, Lyndon B. Johnson and Robert McNamara in Cabinet Room meeting February 1968. (Photo credit: Yoichi R. Okamoto, White House Press Office)

McNamara’s deception is documented in the declassified files on the Tonkin Gulf episode in the Lyndon Johnson library, which this writer used to piece together the untold story of the Tonkin Gulf episode in a 2005 book on the U.S. entry into war in Vietnam. It is a key element of a wider story of how the national security state, including both military and civilian officials, tried repeatedly to pressure LBJ to commit the United States to a wider  war in Vietnam.

Johnson had refused to retaliate two days earlier for a North Vietnamese attack on U.S. naval vessels carrying out electronic surveillance operations. But he accepted McNamara’s recommendation for retaliatory strikes on Aug. 4 based on reports of a second attack. But after that decision, the U.S. task force commander in the Gulf, Capt. John Herrick, began to send messages expressing doubt about the initial reports and suggested a “complete evaluation” before any action was taken in response.

McNamara had read Herrick’s message by mid-afternoon, and when he called the Pacific Commander, Admiral U.S. Grant Sharp Jr., he learned that Herrick had expressed further doubt about the incident based on conversations with the crew of the Maddox. Sharp specifically recommended that McNamara “hold this execute” of the U.S. airstrikes planned for the evening while he sought to confirm that the attack had taken place.

But McNamara told Sharp he preferred to “continue the execute order in effect” while he waited for “a definite fix” from Sharp about what had actually happened.

McNamara then proceeded to issue the strike execute order without consulting with LBJ about what he had learned from Sharp, thus depriving him of the choice of cancelling the retaliatory strike before an investigation could reveal the truth.

At the White House meeting that night, McNamara again asserted flatly that U.S. ships had been attacked in the Gulf.  When questioned about the evidence, McNamara said, “Only highly classified information nails down the incident.” But the NSA intercept of a North Vietnamese message that McNamara cited as confirmation could not possibly have been related to the Aug. 4 incident, as intelligence analysts quickly determined based from the time-date group of the message.

LBJ began to suspect that McNamara had kept vital information from him, and immediately ordered national security adviser McGeorge Bundy to find out whether the alleged attack had actually taken place and required McNamara’s office to submit a complete chronology of McNamara’s contacts with the military on Aug. 4 for the White House indicating what had transpired in each of them.

But that chronology shows that McNamara continued to hide the substance of the conversation with Admiral Sharp from LBJ. It omitted Sharp’s revelation that Capt. Herrick considered the “whole situation” to be “in doubt” and was calling for a “daylight recce [reconnaissance]” before any decision to retaliate, as well as Sharp’s agreement with Herrick’s recommendation. It also falsely portrayed McNamara as having agreed with Sharp that the execute order should be delayed until confirming evidence was found.

Contrary to the assumption that LBJ used the Tonkin Gulf incident to move U.S. policy firmly onto a track for military intervention, it actually widened the differences between Johnson and his national security advisers over Vietnam policy. Within days after the episode Johnson had learned enough to be convinced that the alleged attack had not occurred and he responded by halting both the CIA-managed commando raids on the North Vietnamese coast U.S. and the U.S. naval patrols near the coast.

In fact, McNamara’s deception on Aug. 4 was just one of 12 distinct episodes in which top U.S. national security officials attempted to press a reluctant LBJ to begin a bombing campaign against North Vietnam.

In September 1964, McNamara and other top officials tried to get LBJ to approve a deliberately provocative policy of naval patrols running much closer to the North Vietnamese coast and at the same time as the commando raids. They hoped for another incident that would justify a bombing program. But Johnson insisted that the naval patrols stay at least 20 miles away from the coast and stopped the commando operations.

Six weeks after the Tonkin Gulf bombing, on Sept. 18, 1964, McNamara and Secretary of State Dean Rusk claimed yet another North Vietnamese attack on a U.S. destroyer in Gulf and tried to get LBJ to approve another retaliatory strike. But a skeptical LBJ told McNamara, “You just came in a few weeks ago and said they’re launching an attack on us – they’re firing at us, and we got through with the firing and concluded maybe they hadn’t fired at all.”

After LBJ was elected in November 1964, he continued to resist a unanimous formal policy recommendation of his advisers that he should begin the systematic bombing of North Vietnam. He stubbornly argued for three more months that there was no point in bombing the North as long as the South was divided and unstable.

Johnson also refused to oppose the demoralized South Vietnamese government negotiating a neutralist agreement with the Communists, much to his advisers’ chagrin. McGeorge Bundy later recalled in an oral history interview that he concluded that Johnson was “coming to a decision … to lose” in South Vietnam.

LBJ only capitulated to the pressure from his advisers after McNamara and Bundy wrote a joint letter to him in late January 1965 making it clear that responsibility for U.S. “humiliation” in South Vietnam would rest squarely on his shoulders if he continued his policy of “passivity.” Fearing, with good reason, that his own top national security advisers would turn on him and blame him for the loss of South Vietnam, LBJ eventually began the bombing of North Vietnam.

He was then sucked into the maelstrom of the Vietnam War, which he defended publicly and privately, leading to the logical but mistaken conclusion that he had been the main force behind the push for war all along.

The deeper lesson of the Tonkin Gulf episode is how a group of senior national security officials can seek determinedly through hardball – and even illicit – tactics to advance a war agenda, even knowing that the President of the United States is resisting it.

Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare, was published Feb. 14.

There’s a wide and mysterious chasm between the stated intentions of the Israeli government as depicted by the U.S. media and what the Israeli government has been doing in Gaza, even as recounted in the U.S. media.

With the morgues full, Gazans are packing freezers with their dead children. Meanwhile, the worst images to be found in Israel depict fear, not death and suffering. Why the contrast? If the Israeli intent is defensive, why are 97% of the deaths Gazan, not Israeli? If the targets are fighters, why are whole families being slaughtered and their houses leveled? Why are schools and hospitals and children playing on the beach targeted? Why target water and electricity if the goal is not to attack an entire population?

The mystery melts away if you look at the stated intentions of the Israeli government as not depicted by the U.S. media but readily available in Israeli media and online. 

On August 1st, the Deputy Speaker of Israel’s Parliament posted on his FaceBook page a plan for the complete destruction of the people of Gaza using concentration camps.  He had laid out a somewhat similar plan in a July 15th column.

Another member of the Israeli Parliament, Ayelet Shaked, called for genocide in Gaza at the start of the current war, writing: “Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

Taking a slightly different approach, Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University has been widely quoted in Israeli media saying, “The only thing that can deter [Gazans] is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.”

The Times of Israel published a column on August 1st, and later unpublished it, with the headline “When Genocide Is Permissible.” The answer turned out to be: now.

On August 5th, Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National Security Council, published a column with the headline “In Gaza, There Is No Such Thing as ‘Innocent Civilians’.”  Eiland wrote:

“We should have declared war against the state of Gaza (rather than against the Hamas organization). . . . [T]he right thing to do is to shut down the crossings, prevent the entry of any goods, including food, and definitely prevent the supply of gas and electricity.”

It’s all part of putting Gaza “on a diet,” in the grotesque wording of an advisor to a former Israeli Prime Minister.

If it were common among members of the Iranian or Russian government to speak in favor of genocide, you’d better believe the U.S. media would notice. Why does this phenomenon go unremarked in the case of Israel? Noticing it is bound to get you called an anti-Semite, but that’s hardly a concern worthy of notice while children are being killed by the hundreds.

Another explanation is U.S. complicity. The weapons Israel is using are given to it, free-of-charge, by the U.S. government, which also leads efforts to provide Israel immunity for its crimes.  Check out this revealing map of which nations recognize the nation of Palestine.

A third explanation is that looking too closely at what Israel’s doing could lead to someone looking closely at what the U.S. has done and is doing. Roughly 97% of the deaths in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq were Iraqi.  Things U.S. soldiers and military leaders said about Iraqis were shameful and genocidal.

War is the biggest U.S. investment, and contemporary war is almost always a one-sided slaughter of civilians.  If seeing the horror of it in Israeli actions allow us to begin seeing the same in U.S. actions, an important step will have been taken toward war’s elimination.

Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

It is amazing how quickly Israel has learned the elements of colonial staying power.  It is even more amazing how the American media has taken up the cause of racism against the Palestinians.

We can start with how the Israelis, and their lobby headquartered in Washington, have managed to demonize Palestinians, with the result that Israel can undertake a massive slaughter and be barely criticized for it both by our media.   We can begin with Israel’s request to the US government a couple of decades ago to label Hamas as a “Terrorist Group,” which our government happily agreed to do.   Other people in other parts of the world have tried this tactic, with some success, but for the most part such rebels are labeled “insurgents.”

Demonization of those you occupy is an essential first step to allow a colonial power to do what it wishes with the people being occupied.  How else can one explain the lack of meaningful protests by Americans, who have furnished the money and the weapons to the maiming and the slaughter by Israel of thousands of Palestinians in the many wars its Army has conducted against the Palestinians.

It is useful to look back at our own colonial experience to understand what our government is doing to abet this slaughter of innocents.

Our government, back in the early days of our country, made it a point to come to the aid of settlers who wanted to steal land abourezkfrom American Indians.  The government would send soldiers to any area where Indians fought against the settlers.  In fact, the Wounded Knee massacre came about when President Harrison, in 1889, sent troops to South Dakota to “protect” white settlers from Ghost Dancing Indians.  The government assisted in the scare tactics that had already been used by certain merchants and others by sending more soldiers to our State to calm the fears of white settlers who believed ghost dancers were a major threat to them.   The Republican party was intent on electing two US Senators from South Dakota, so the fears of Indian massacres became an effective tool for the Republican Party to make that come about.

The extra soldiers then set about hunting down Indians who the army believed were ghost dancing and ultimately “threatening” the lives of white settlers.  The troops ordered to gather up Chief Big Foot’s band of Minneconjou Sioux, who were on a mission to Pine Ridge to offer help to the Oglalas based there.  A devastating mistake while trying to disarm the Indians resulted in a massacre of nearly all of Big Foot’s band at a small village called Wounded Knee, the last massacre of Indians in the state’s history.

Lewis Lapham, interviewed by Bloomberg News, said, in January of this year, that following the Wounded Knee Massacre, General Miles investigated the shooting.  In response to allegations that it was a massacre, soldiers came to the defense of the commander of the unit that had been in charge of guarding the Indians, Col. James Forsyth, saying “they couldn’t tell the men from the women since all were wearing blankets, and that in any case, “A Sioux squaw is as an enemy as a man.”

When the investigation report was sent to the Secretary of War, General John Schofield, who was commander of the Army, attached a note saying the troops had clearly bent over backwards to avoid killing women and children, while also denying that any troops had died in friendly fire.

The final report exonerated the US soldiers and blamed the massacre on the Sioux themselves, with many of the dead women and children supposedly killed by other Indians.

I have been watching Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s spokesman, tell lies for the last three weeks, saying Hamas is the culprit shelling the hospitals and civilians gathered at markets, buying food.

But the demonization of the Indians in general and ghost dancers in particular enabled the Army to do what they did, much as Israel is demonizing Palestinians today, seeking to characterize Hamas as the cause of the fighting, and the culprit in the destruction of institutions and of countless numbers of women and children.

The demonization has been so effective, assisted by our media, that no media person, and certainly no national politician, has hardly raised an eyebrow at the mass slaughter of Palestinians by Israel during the Gaza campaign.  At the time of this writing Israel has deliberately shelled and bombed Palestinian hospitals, UN shelters where Palestinians run to what they believe is a safe haven.  The photos we see of Gaza cities on television show nothing more than a huge pile of rubble.  It is not clear where those Palestinians will live after Israel has finished its dirty work and leaves Gaza.

It is all part of Israel’s strategy of bombing Gaza’s Palestinians into submission—to show them who is boss, and to prevent any Palestinian from raising his or her hand in protest of the eight year blockade of the strip.  Not even the most greedy and cruel Israelis believe they can kill all the Gazans, so they must satisfy themselves that it is necessary to control them.  There is no thought of ending the occupation.  That is the lesson the Israeli government has learned from other colonial powers around the world.  The other lesson, that of the Warsaw Ghetto, quite obviously has been forgotten, except for that part that has shown Israel how to control those they occupy.

We have to be doubly sad by watching our President, Barack Obama, who should know better, continue to send weapons, ammunition and money to Israel during this time of mass bloodshed on Israel’s part.

James Abourezk is a former US senator from South Dakota. He is the author of: Advise and Dissent: Memoirs of an ex-Senator.

Is David Cameron’s refusal to condemn what is apparently a prima facie war crime by the IDF, in Gaza, worrying evidence that the CFI, Conservative Friends of Israel, (AKA the British branch of the Israel lobby) has infiltrated government to the extent that it now influences UK foreign policy in the same way that AIPAC in America determines the US foreign policy agenda?

Yesterday’s resignation of a former Co-Chairman of the Conservative Party, the talented, ex Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Baroness Warsi, would seem to indicate that such a situation does indeed pertain within the Cameron government to the obvious detriment of democracy; the adherence to international law and the Geneva Conventions and the sanctity of human life – in particular, that of the child.

It would appear that David Cameron has made a huge error in allowing an international lobby to cloud his judgement and compromise British values to the extent that not only is he is content to permit the indiscriminate killing of women, children and non-combatants, in times of war, but that he is willing to licence the export of (British) arms knowingly for that very purpose.

The British electorate will not to renew his mandate when it has now become clear that he is prepared to accede to demands from a lobby acting for a foreign state rather than to ensure compliance with international human rights.

An infirmity once characterizing the past century’s most severe totalitarian regimes has now taken root in Western public discourse and practice, a process akin to Orwellian “double think” acting as a form of de facto censorship preempting consideration of major issues and events. This mindset is obliquely shared by a majority of professional journalists, academics, and public office holders—in short, those who represent and lead public opinion. Their collective publicity of the unsaid preserves and perpetuates existing belief systems and power relations. To be sure, there are self-evident injunctions for those straying from such unspoken protocols, including expulsion from this professional class.

Once a state-endorsed narrative of a questionable event has been presented to and conveyed by the mainstream news media, it is almost invariably accepted without question by “Inner Party” members. Such silence is abetted by a mechanical allegiance to prevailing authority figures and institutional power. In possessing such a worldview one reflexively forfeits personal integrity to uphold the collective publicity of the unspeakable and an overarching faith in the given sociopolitical system’s artificial spontaneity. Alternative interpretations of such events by the laity can be dismissed out-of-hand as “conspiracy theories,” thereby further confirming the Party’s creed.

The publicity of the unspeakable ensures that, under penalty of de facto or formal censure, deference to official narratives will increasingly eclipse free inquiry and expression in the West.

The notion that one’s country is becoming a ruthless police state becomes clichéd, particularly with a lack of historical context. Extreme totalitarian regimes based on, for example, Marxist fundamentalism and unquestioning loyalty to the Party famously utilized internment and compulsory psychiatry to quell political dissidents and unorthodox speech. Yet in the US and elsewhere, objectively assessing the facts surrounding events such as the key political assassinations of the 1960s, the Oklahoma City Murrah Federal Building bombing, 9/11, or more recent mass-mediated terror events, is tantamount to political heresy and potential justification for state surveillance, interrogation, obligatory “medical” (psychiatric) treatment, and even a sort of asset confiscation in the form of reputational damage and job loss.

Such informal measures were brought against New Hampshire State Representative Stella Tremblay, who was compelled to resign from public office after she questioned the causes of the Boston Marathon bombing,[1] and similarly played out when this author questioned the official storyline of the Newtown Connecticut shooting in early 2013.[2]

The most recent example is New York state school teacher Adam Heller. Following the suspicious disclosure of his private instant messaging communications to another party where he raised questions regarding the Sandy Hook massacre and other dubious events vis-à-vis the legal purchase of two long guns, Heller was forced by local law enforcement, acting under probable direction of the FBI, to endure a 12-day inpatient psychiatric evaluation. Then, upon the conclusions of another assessment by a “forensic psychiatrist,” Mr. Heller was terminated from his tenured teaching position. The school teacher’s experience is an especially dangerous precedent; one in which the state, with the aid of psychiatry, has imposed forced institutionalization and severe monetary punishment for “thought crimes” in a fashion commonplace to Soviet Russia and similar police states.

“An individual in our country has basic civil rights, and [Heller’s] were fundamentally violated,” the former school teacher’s attorney, Michael Sussman observes. After being visited by the local police, Heller proceeded to the hospital and “thinks he’s getting some sort of physical checkup,” Mr. Sussman continues. After the checkup, hospital personnel direct Heller to the facility’s mental health unit. “For what purpose?” Heller responds. “You’re confused. You seem sick,” they advise.

Sussman maintains that Heller is neither confused nor sick.

This is Siberia in the United States! They keep him in the mental health unit for twelve days, and after twelve days they can find nothing wrong with him. He’s a cogent, bright, well-read, urbane young man. He’s in his mid-thirties. There’s nothing about him that’s peculiar—other than, as you’ll find out—perhaps from somebody’s point of view, some of his beliefs or explorations or considerations; the stuff that we hope people will engage in in their own intellectual curiosity.[3]

In a similar vein, on July 30, 2014 UK blogger Christopher Spivey was arrested on “suspicion of harassment” in a 2AM police raid on his Essex residence. A few days prior to his arrest Spivey posted an article on his site arguing that the May 2013 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby was a deception intended to incite anti-Islamic sentiment. Police refused to disclose what parties were subject to potential harassment. “Among Mr Spivey’s online supporters are David Icke, the former footballer and BBC Grandstand presenter who has become known for his conspiracy theories,” the Daily Mail reports.[4]

There are clear historical antecedents to such state extremism. In his treatise on psychiatry’s political deployment in the Soviet Union, for example, Russian author and political dissident Alexandr Podrabinek points to how a designation of mental illness was an especially effective means for the state to disallow nonconformist thoughts from the public realm while maintaining its own legitimacy. Those “who do not accept the lies and who are prepared to suffer for the sake of the truth … are few,” Podrabinek observes, “but the regime fears them more than all the thieves, murderers, rapists and other criminals combined, for they are armed with the truth. As Shakespeare wrote, ‘Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.’”[5]

Because the truth about the USSR must be suppressed both within and without, and since “trials make too much noise, and execution without a trial is too scandalous,” an ideal “solution” is “declar[ing] political opponents mentally ill. Indeed, who would take a schizophrenic’s resistance seriously?” Not unlike most Western psychiatric practitioners, Soviet doctors generally “designate[d] what they deem[ed] abnormal according to their unprofessional pseudo-standards: ‘mania of justice seeking,’ ‘Marxismomania,’ and the like.”[6]

Dissenters guilty of “agitation or propaganda” aimed at “Soviet authority” or with a like intent to “commit particular, especially dangerous crimes against the state” were routinely diagnosed as criminally insane. State clinicians comprising a “psychiatric commission” then relieved the accused of responsibility for their purportedly illegal acts, historians Sidney Bloch and Peter Reddaway explain. “Almost without exception, the court accepts the recommendation of the commission and the trial becomes a mere formality.” The defendant’s counsel as a matter of course argues for his client’s sanity against the commission’s judgment and without the aid of potentially countervailing evidence and opinion.[7]

In the spirit of such pseudo-scientific procedure, contemporary social scientists are closely aligned with Western countries’ severe police state policies and protocols seeking to address aberrant thought and expression. Alongside Cass Sunstein’s well-known proposal to “cognitively infiltrate” research and social communities harboring non-official narratives on complex events, similar postulations have filtered into the literature that approach “conspiracy theories,”[8] even using terms such as “inoculation” and “metainoculation” against such views.[9]

“Despite the psychological comfort afforded by conspiracy theories,” one recent study asserts, “its attitudes are typically maladaptive. Conspiracies distract public attention from other more pragmatically important political issues and prevent constructive approaches to whatever issues they do address. Additionally,” the paper’s literature review notes, “conspiracy theories ‘can have detrimental consequences: undermining confidence in government, contributing to extreme cynicism about the business and corporate sectors, and fueling dangerous extremist movements’’”[10]

The political assumptions and implications evident in such a preamble are stunning. Most significantly, its authors assume that certain reportage and observations emerging apart from official pronouncements and corporate media reportage–many of which appear in prominent online foreign and alternative news media–are of limited merit and may even be detrimental to the body politic. Like their Soviet counterparts, such social scientists invariably become part and parcel to the enforcement of what the state authorizes as “permissible” thought and discourse.

The state’s resort to psychiatry suggests a desperate move as non-sanctioned reports and analyses receive greater consideration than ever before via the internet. Citing a recent scholarly paper focusing on the contestation of such perspectives, political analyst Kevin Barrett recently observed, “[T]he negative stereotype of the conspiracy theorist–a hostile fanatic wedded to the truth of his own fringe theory–accurately describes the people who defend the official account of 9/11, not those who dispute it.”[11]

Still, as the foundations of civil society further erode to elite prerogatives under state auspices, false narratives remain foregrounded through the publicity of fear and quiescence augmented by corporate media disinformation and scientific authority. When such fictions take up residence in popular consciousness and memory the broader society travels down one way historical trajectories not of its own choosing. The prospect of counterpublics applying reason to known facts and evidence is the Inner Party’s greatest fear–one now being met with police state measures and phony science to subdue.

Notes

[1] John Celock, “Stella Tremblay Resigns From New Hampshire Legislature,” Huffington Post, June 20, 2013.

[2] John Jaschik, “Reprimand for a Blog,” Inside Higher Ed, April 12, 2013.

[3] Michael Sussman interviewed by Jim Fetzer, The Real Deal, June 25, 2014; Jim Fetzer, “1984 Arrives 30 Years Late: Teacher Fired for Questioning Sandy Hook,” Veterans Today, June 26, 2014.

[4] Stephanie Linning,” Blogger Arrested in 2AM Raid on His Home After Claiming Lee Rigby’s Murder Was an Anti-Islam Hoax,” Daily Mail, July 31, 2014.

[5] Alexandr Podrabinek, Punitive Medicine, Ann Arbor MI: Karoma Publishers, 1980, 4.

[6] Ibid., 5.

[7] Sidney Bloch and Peter Reddaway, Russia’s Political Hospitals: The Abuse of Psychiatry in the Soviet Union, London: Victor Gollancz, 1977, 103.

[8] See, for example, Special Issue: The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories, the British Psychological Society’s Psychology Post-Graduate Affairs Group Quarterly, September 2013.

[9] John A. Banas and Gregory Miller, “Inducing Resistance to Conspiracy Theory Propaganda: Testing Inoculation and Metainoculation Strategies,” Human Communication Research 39 (2013): 184-207.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Kevin Barrett, “New Study: Conspiracy Theorists Sane; Government Dupes Crazy, Hostile,” PressTV, July 12, 2014.

I’m still alive.  I don’t know what this means, but I can say that most of the time I can still walk and do some work with people who need help.  It all depends on my luck.  And here, for people living in Gaza, luck means how close to you the bombs fall from Israel’s tanks, planes, or warships. Some hours it’s raining bombs.  Americans say “It’s raining cats and dogs.”  In the new Gaza idiom, we say “It’s raining bombs and shells.”

Today I started my day in the Red Crescent Society’s medical center.  The electricity has stopped, but the X-ray still functions, so we received many patients.  Let me share with you some of what I saw.

First is the story of an unnamed child we called “Number 6.” He was around three years and had identifying stickers on his arms saying “Unknown” and “Number 6.” I was shocked and immediately asked the nurses and ambulance drivers,  “What is his name?” I was told no one knew his name.  They found him in a mass of destroyed houses and he was the only survivor in his family.  He had a head injury and wounds on other parts of his body.  Immediately I asked, “Doesn’t anyone remember where the house was?” They said that in the area where they found him, all the buildings were destroyed and the rubble was mixed up with each other and sometimes the children’s bodies  were thrown from one area to another.  So they didn’t know where he had lived.

And then I realized he’s Number 6, and that means there were five other unknown children before him and many more children after him.

Second, there is the story of Reem Ahmad, six years old. Reem arrived in the X-ray unit also. She has a name and she used to have a family. She is the only survivor of her family. She lost her parents and brothers and sisters. She is injured in the head.

Third is the story of a fifty-two year old woman who arrived at our clinic with her son. Her son is a nurse and he was panicking. His mother had gone outside to her garden to take care of her plants.  Some shrapnel hit her head and her son was crying like crazy and he said in very few words “We are a simple family staying in our home. This shrapnel flew all around the garden and hit my mom. I want my mom to live.”  This woman is named Buthaina el-Izraia.

Fourth is the story of my colleague Afaf Jabar, a nurse on our team. Afaf lost her daughter Leena, who was also a nurse, her two grandchildren and her daughter’s husband when one bomb fell on their house in Bureij refugee camp.

We have gone through a lot in Gaza. But this is a new kind of war. Israel is committing new massacres every day.  In the Red Crescent clinic we receive at least 200 patients a day. And we are not an emergency clinic.  A lot of diseases are appearing in Gaza because of the Israeli destruction of the water systems, the electrical system and ongoing stress and fear from over three weeks of bombings. People are experiencing different illnesses: gastrointestinal problems, diarrhea, breathing and skin problems, and most of the patients are the most vulnerable of all, children.

We have a real crisis now. Thanks to your donations, we managed to get some medicine for several clinics and hospitals in Gaza and to distribute hygiene kits, milk, and food to more than 1000 families.  But right now we are facing a lack of medicine.  I want people to know this and contribute and support us and help us get the proper medicines and supplies so we can treat these people who are suffering.  Please share my message about what I’ve seen in just this one day of the Israeli assault and also let your friends and family know how they can help us to buy more medicine.

This is what I can tell you about today and with luck, I will report more information to you tomorrow.

Dr. Mona El-Farra, Director of Gaza Projects, is a physician by training and a human rights and women’s rights activist by practice in the occupied Gaza Strip.

August 6 and August 9 will mark the anniversaries of the US atomic-bomb attacks on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In Hiroshima, an estimated 80,000 people were killed in a split second. Some 13 square kilometres of the city was obliterated. By December, at least another 70,000 people had died from radiation and injuries.

Three days after Hiroshima’s destruction, the US drooped an A-bomb on Nagasaki, resulting in the deaths of at least 70,000 people before the year was out.

Since 1945, tens of thousands more residents of the two cities have continued to suffer and die from radiation-induced cancers, birth defects and still births.

A tiny group of US rulers met secretly in Washington and callously ordered this indiscriminate annihilation of civilian populations. They gave no explicit warnings. They rejected all alternatives, preferring to inflict the most extreme human carnage possible. They ordered and had carried out the two worst terror acts in human history.

The 60th anniversaries will inevitably be marked by countless mass media commentaries and speeches repeating the 60-year-old mantra that there was no other choice but to use A-bombs in order to avoid a bitter, prolonged invasion of Japan.

On July 21, the British New Scientist magazine undermined this chorus when it reported that two historians had uncovered evidence revealing that “the US decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki … was meant to kick-start the Cold War [against the Soviet Union, Washington's war-time ally] rather than end the Second World War”. Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at the American University in Washington stated that US President Harry Truman’s decision to blast the cities “was not just a war crime, it was a crime against humanity”.

With Mark Selden, a historian from Cornell University in New York, Kuznick studied the diplomatic archives of the US, Japan and the USSR. They found that three days before Hiroshima, Truman agreed at a meeting that Japan was “looking for peace”. His senior generals and political advisers told him there was no need to use the A-bomb. But the bombs were dropped anyway. “Impressing Russia was more important than ending the war”, Selden told the New Scientist.

While the capitalist media immediately dubbed the historians’ “theory” “controversial”, it accords with the testimony of many central US political and military players at the time, including General Dwight Eisenhower, who stated bluntly in a 1963 Newsweek interview that “the Japanese were ready to surrender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing”.

Truman’s chief of staff, Admiral William Leahy, stated in his memoirs that “the use of this barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan. The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender.”

At the time though, Washington cold-bloodedly decided to obliterate the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children to show off the terrible power of its new super weapon and underline the US rulers’ ruthless preparedness to use it.

These terrible acts were intended to warn the leaders of the Soviet Union that their cities would suffer the same fate if the USSR attempted to stand in the way of Washington’s plans to create an “American Century” of US global domination. Nuclear scientist Leo Szilard recounted to his biographers how Truman’s secretary of state, James Byrnes, told him before the Hiroshima attack that “Russia might be more manageable if impressed by American military might and that a demonstration of the bomb may impress Russia”.

Drunk from the success of its nuclear bloodletting in Japan, Washington planned and threatened the use of nuclear weapons on at least 20 occasions in the 1950s and 1960s, only being restrained when the USSR developed enough nuclear-armed rockets to usher in the era of “mutually assured destruction”, and the US rulers’ fear that their use again of nuclear weapons would led to a massive anti-US political revolt by ordinary people around the world.

Washington’s policy of nuclear terror remains intact. The US refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons in a conflict. Its latest Nuclear Posture Review envisages the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear “rogue states” and it is developing a new generation of ‘battlefield” nuclear weapons.

Fear of the political backlash that would be caused in the US and around the globe by the use of nuclear weapons remains the main restraint upon the atomaniacs in Washington. On this 60th anniversary year of history’s worst acts of terror, the most effective thing that peace-loving people around the world can do to keep that fear alive in the minds of the US rulers is to recommit ourselves to defeating Washington’s current “local” wars of terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

From Green Left Weekly, August 3, 2005.

Australia’s Surveillance State

August 6th, 2014 by Binoy Kampmark

Even as an international drive against the data merchants is gathering force and voice (see, for instance, those “nature walks” by Germans from Griesheim to the Dagger Complex, stacked with spooks), the Australian side of the Five Eyes spy arrangement is being shored up.  If there is one place in the Western world that has shown conspicuously little administrative and policy reform on the subject of bulk surveillance and whistleblowing, Australia is it. 

The whistleblowing reform drive has been tardy at best, retarded at worst.  Edward Snowden is more than a nuisance ‘down under’.  He is a treasonous criminal in need of a good chastisement by State and country.  With individuals such as the Australian Attorney-General, George Brandis, you can see why.

Brandis presents the perfect paradox of reactionary conservatism.  A well versed conservative, as opposed to a rabble rousing reactionary one, is happy to consult the rule book and observe the limits of government intervention.  Habeas corpus is not merely a Latin affection.  Brandis is happy to cut back limits on government intervention and unleash the dogs of the surveillance state.  The hollow language of security is very much central to the project.  If a terrorist threat looms around the corner, even a corner that is ten thousand miles away, it must be worth considering.

Data retention might be the bug bear of the pro-Snowden movement, but it is very much the purring feline of the Brandis portfolio.  Ideas on a new data retention scheme have been floated in and around the cabinet, as much so as to stir trouble and cause genuine concern.  Previous suggestions included making telecommunications companies retain data for up to two years. But the Abbott government tends to be so secretive it stumbles over itself from time to time.  Ministers themselves have no one view about the ideas behind such retention, but the terrorist demon is well and truly stalking the tory mindset.

Brandis’ bugbear is that of returning jihadists who will find the peaceful dullness of Australian life poor to their political digestion.  Espionage and counter-terrorism agencies have been promised $600 million for the cause of fighting “home-grown” terrorism (Sydney Morning Herald, Aug 5), and there is a sense that the authorities are readying themselves for some grand show.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in support, has argued that, “We’ve stopped the illegal boats; we will ensure we stop the jihadis as well.”  This will include the granting of powers to authorities to detain and question those who have fought alongside “terrorists” in other theatres of combat.  In what can only be yet another example of premature, and amateurish adjudication, such directions by the authorities will presume, in advance, that if you do come from such countries as Syria and Iraq, you are bound to be a mad jihadi in search of heavenly deliverance.  For Abbott and Brandis, illegality is everywhere, be it those on the sea who dare venture to Australian land, or those who don weapons and ideology to fight in foreign lands.

Interestingly enough, no mention is made of situations where, for instance, a patriotic Australian Ukrainian, keen on bloodying his experience in the conflict with separatists, will be treated.  That is jihadism under a different banner and ideology, but no less relevant. Don’t ever accuse this government of holistic relevance.

Who, then, is pushing it?  The government has the perfect alibi: data mad officials in the intelligence business who have become bone lazy with bulk surveillance.  But it is by no means clear that the intelligence community is at one mind on this. Time and time again, governments have shown themselves willing to make the demands of intelligence communities the basis for their own myopia and spout of paranoia.  If it means netting votes, slanted information and misguided premises can prove invaluable allies.

The report by the joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security (JPCIS), titled “Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation” does push for an enlargement of powers.  But its members have told such publications as The Saturday Paper (Jul 5) that its recommended changes were not designed with the exclusive aim of targeting home bound jihadists.[1]  Other threats also featured, including those posed by the ever expanding capabilities of Chinese hackers. But as this government knows all too well, complex narratives are their greatest enemy.

Brandis’ proposed laws make it clear that the whistleblower, and anyone with information relating to “special intelligence operations”, will be punished for anywhere up to five years.  This sort of material is buried in the National Security Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2014.[2] A closer reading of some of the sections such as the communication of information “acquired or prepared by or on behalf of ONA [Office of National Assessments]” to inappropriate channels comes in at a hefty 10 years. The laws, in their present draft form, also target the making, removal or retention of records of such information across a range of agencies. Speak about it, and be damned.

Even as some countries, however tortuously, attempt to move towards reining in their intelligence services and bringing them within the legal family, the Australian spy and security services are being increasingly placed outside it. This may, in part, be intended to make Australia “fool proof” against the challenges posed by legal advocates, while making it attractive as an espionage outsourcer for Washington.  No gaps, no chances, which is exactly the mindset of any tyrant keen to make good his word.  All the way with the set US president of the day remains holy, and nigh immutable writ for the Canberra establishment.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]

Scotland is on the verge of one of the most critical periods in its ancient history as the referendum on independence approaches in September. Scotland has been part of a union with the Kingdom of England since 1707 and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland since 1801, and next month the people of Scotland will vote on whether to remain part of the UK or break away independently.

Switzerland is the model for an independent Scotland as the Swiss style of government combines a constitutional republic with elements of direct democracy. This is not to say everything the Swiss do is perfect, but many aspects of their style of government should be emulated. Scotland should be a republic ruled by a legal constitution and a bill of individual rights which is voted on by the people, enshrined with innate liberties that are the essential foundation for a free country to be built upon. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to privacy (online or otherwise) and a right to a fair legal trial should all be included, in addition to other basic human rights.

 Referendums are a hallmark of the Swiss system as any change to the law that affects the constitution is required to go to a referendum before being ratified. The Swiss people are legitimately able to directly affect the political decisions of their country, as opposed to allowing aristocratic politicians to make decisions on their behalf. If a petition acquires 50,000 signatures on any subject – out of a population of 8 million – a national referendum is called. Imagine if this was written into the British legal system at the time of the Iraq war, do you think a war crime would have been averted in 2003?

 Switzerland is a very unique country on the European continent as it is not a member of the European Union (EU) or the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), a path that Scotland should follow. Swiss foreign policy has been underpinned for over 500 years by ideas of neutrality, which was crystallised by popular Saint Nicholas of Flue in the 15th century when he advised: “don’t get involved in other people’s affairs”. Instead of bleeding the taxpayer dry with nonsensical wars abroad, Switzerland concentrates on improving the life of its citizens at home resulting in it having one of the highest standards of living in the world, coming 7th in an IMF study on the richest countries in the world (measured on a GDP Per Capita basis), along with having the 8th highest life expectancy at birth.

 An independent Scotland should be open to trade with the EU but not be within the bureaucratic institution. The malign troika – composed of the 3 technocratic institutions; the European Commission (EC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) – have been ravaging Southern Europe for years and are not accountable to the people of any nation. A republic of Scotland should foster closer ties with Norway, Switzerland and potentially Iceland to create a prosperous zone of autonomous nations who trade and cooperate with each other outside of the EU. One of the main reasons for independence is having our own government closer to home and having more accountability in government. But to join the EU would give a large proportion of power to Brussels, surrendering our sovereignty to the EU as oppose to the UK.

 Despite the continuous pro-EU propaganda emanating from the European establishment surrounding the benefits of the union, the reality is often quite different. The Euro has been a disaster since its creation and the economic crisis of 2008 has plunged many EU citizens into a state of pauperism and poverty in recent years, with high levels of unemployment a major epidemic across the continent. Spanish and Greek unemployment sits at 26% this year, with the average rate of people out of work for the entire 28-nation bloc at 10.6% in 2014.

Compared to non-EU member Switzerland’s rate of unemployment – which is at 2.9% in July – it is clear that small autonomous nations can prosper and thrive outside of the EU despite what the popular perception within Europe is. One of Scotland’s main domestic policy goals should be full employment, with wages rising ahead of the rate of inflation each year.  An objective and free press is also a prerequisite for an educated, well-informed public, so a free internet which encourages diversity and competition in media should be celebrated.

 The EU’s Attack on Sovereignty

In today’s Europe, sovereignty is under relentless attack by prominent members of the monolithic EU who oppose any nation who exercises its right to self-government. If Scotland was to remove itself from the EU and become a truly independent country, the people must understand it will come under incessant attack by the EU for its autonomy. A democratic decision in Switzerland to curb mass immigration sparked outrage by many members of the union in April. A new initiative was adopted by the Swiss government which restricts immigration ‘by means of quantitative limits and quotas’, a move which clashes with the free movement of people agreement previously reached with the EU. German President Joachim Gauck denounced the step and attacked the Swiss people’s style of self-government, stating it is “dangerous when citizens vote on highly complex issues”.

 We Must Revoke our NATO Membership

 Control over our own foreign policy is one of the most attractive ideas of an independent country to many Scots. For too long Scotland has been complicit in war crimes conducted by the government in Westminster and supportive of imperious UK allies. End these immoral foreign wars and proxy wars which destabilise nations, ruin homes, and cost the taxpayer a fortune, as well as displacing millions of people who are now looking for safety in other countries due to our foreign policy objectives. Immigration is the pressing issue of today largely due to the belligerent policies of the west which have displaced millions people from their homes. In Syria, the United Nations has estimated that 2.5 million people have been forced from their country due to the attempt by the west to topple Bashar al-Assad. The onslaught is set to continue with the US planning another 500 million dollars to the Syrian mercenaries at the start of this month, in a policy that Britain and France have been supporting for years.

 Whether it is Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan or any of the other nations that are on the hit-list of NATO, an independent Scotland should be neutral on the international stage and revoke its NATO membership immediately. As opposed to funnelling millions into wars which only benefit multi-national corporations and the neo-imperial cabal, Scotland should concentrate on developing our own country into an island of freedom, liberty, creativity, morality and prosperity.

Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of The Analyst Report, who has had articles featured on numerous news sites including Global Research, Truthstream Media, and The Palestine Chronicle.

69 years ago an all-Christian bomber crew dropped “Fat Man”, a plutonium bomb, on Nagasaki, Japan, instantly annihilating tens of thousands of innocent civilians, a disproportionate number of them Japanese Christians, and permanently or mortally wounding uncountable numbers of others.

In 1945, the US was the most Christian nation in the world (that is, if you can label as Christian a nation whose churches overwhelmingly fail to sincerely teach or adhere to the ethics of Jesus as taught in the Sermon on the Mount).

Prior to the bomb exploding over St. Mary’s Urakami Cathedral on 11:02 AM, Nagasaki was the most Christian city in Japan. The Nagasaki cathedral was the largest Christian cathedral in the Orient.

Those baptized and confirmed Christian airmen, following their wartime orders to the letter, did their job efficiently, and they accomplished the mission with military pride, albeit with any number of near-fatal glitches. Most of us Americans in 1945 would have done exactly the same if they had been in the shoes of the Bock’s Car crew, and there would have been very little mental anguish later if we had also been treated as heroes.

Nevertheless, the use of that monstrous weapon of mass destruction to destroy a mainly civilian city like Nagasaki was, as defined later by the Nuremberg Tribunal, an international war crime and a crime against humanity.

Of course, there was no way that the crew members could have known that at the time. Some of the crew did admit that they had had some doubts about what they had participated in when the bomb actually detonated. Of course, none of them actually saw the horrific suffering of the victims up close and personal. “Orders are orders” and, in wartime, disobedience can be, and has been, legally punishable by summary execution of the soldier who might have had a conscience strong enough to convince him that killing another human, especially an unarmed one, was morally wrong.

Making it Hard for Japan to Surrender

It had been only 3 days since the August 6th bomb had decimated Hiroshima. The August 9 bombing occurred amidst massive chaos and confusion in Tokyo, where the fascist military government, who knew – for months already- that they had lost the war, and therefore had been searching for ways to honorably surrender and end the war.

The only obstacle to surrender had been the Allied insistence on unconditional surrender, which meant that the Emperor Hirohito, whom the Japanese regarded as a deity, would be removed from his figurehead position in Japan and possible subjected to war crimes trials. That was a deal-breaker, an intolerable demand for the Japanese that prolonged the war and prevented Japan from giving up months earlier.

The Russian army had declared war against Japan on August 8, hoping to regain territories lost to Japan in the humiliating (for Russia) Russo-Japanese war 40 years earlier, and Stalin’s army was advancing across Manchuria. Russia’s entry into the war represented a powerful incentive for Japan to end the war quickly since they much preferred surrendering to the US rather than to Russia. And, of course, the US did not want to divide any of the spoils of war with Russia, and it wanted to send an early cold war message to Russia that the US was the new planetary superpower.

Aiming at August 1, 1945 as the earliest deployment date for the first bomb, the Target Committee in Washington, D.C.  developed a list of relatively un-damaged Japanese cities that were to be excluded from the conventional USAAF fire-bombing campaigns (that, during the first half of 1945, burned to the ground 60+ major, mostly defenseless Japanese cities).

The list of protected cities included Hiroshima, Niigata, Kokura, Kyoto and Nagasaki. Those five relatively undamaged cities were to be off-limits to the terror bombings. They were to be preserved as potential targets for the new “gimmick” weapon that had been researched and developed all across America during the two years of the Manhattan Project. Ironically, prior to August 6 and 9, the residents of those cities considered themselves lucky for not having been bombed as much as other cities. Little did they know why they were being spared from the carnage.

The Trinity Test

The first and only field test of an atomic bomb had been blasphemously code-named “Trinity” (a distinctly Christian term). It had occurred 3 weeks earlier at Alamogordo, New Mexico, on July 16, 1945. The results were impressive, but the blast had just killed off a few hapless coyotes, rabbits, snakes and other desert varmints; had totally destroyed a bunch of cactuses and sagebrush and had obliterated a family of manikins that had been planted in homes that had been hastily built for the photographic portion of the experiment.

The Trinity test also unexpectedly produced huge amounts of a new test  mineral that was later called “Trinitite”, which was a molten lava rock that had been created from the intense heat (twice the temperature of the sun) of the above ground bomb blast.

At 3 am on the morning of August 9, 1945, a B-29 Superfortress (that had been “christened” Bock’s Car) took off from Tinian Island in the South Pacific, with the prayers and blessings of its Lutheran and Catholic chaplains. Barely making it off the runway before the plane went into the drink (because of the 10,000 bomb in its hold), it headed north for Kokura, the primary target. Bock’s Car’s plutonium bomb was code-named “Fat Man,” after Winston Churchill. Little Boy, first called Thin Man (after President Roosevelt) was the bomb that had incinerated Hiroshima three days earlier.

Bomb Two was Being Delivered While Japan’s War Council was Meeting to Discuss Surrender

The reality of what had happened at Hiroshima was not understood by Japan’s Supreme War Council in Tokyo. So there was no way for Japan’s Supreme War Council to make rational decisions about the issue of surrendering.

But it was already too late, because by the time the War Council was meeting, Bock’s Car – flying under radio silence – was already approaching the southern islands of Japan, hoping to beat the typhoons and clouds that would have caused the mission to be delayed for another week.

The Bock’s Car crew had instructions to drop the bomb only with visual sighting. But Kokura was clouded over. So after making three failed bomb runs over the clouded-over city all the while running dangerously low on fuel, the plane headed for its secondary target, Nagasaki.

The History of Nagasaki Christianity

Nagasaki is famous in the history of Japanese Christianity. Nagasaki had the largest concentration of Christians in all of Japan. The Urakami Cathedral was the megachurch of its time, with 12,000 baptized members.

Nagasaki was where the legendary Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier, established a mission church in 1549. The Catholic community at Nagasaki grew and eventually prospered over the next several generations. However it eventually became clear to the Japanese rulers that the Portuguese and Spanish commercial interests were exploiting Japan; and soon all Europeans – and their foreign religion – were expelled from the country.

From 1600 until 1850, being a Christian was a capital crime in Japan. In the early 1600s, those Japanese Christians who refused to recant of their new faith were subject to unspeakable tortures – including crucifixion. After the reign of terror was over, it appeared to all observers that Japanese Christianity was extinct.

However, 250 years later, after the gunboat diplomacy of Commodore Matthew Perry forced open an offshore island for American trade purposes, it was discovered that there were thousands of baptized Christians in Nagasaki, living their faith in a catacomb existence, completely unknown to the government.

With this humiliating revelation, the Japanese government started another purge; but because of international pressure, the persecutions were stopped, and Nagasaki Christianity came up from the underground. And by 1917, with no help from the government, the re-vitalized Christian community had built the massive St. Mary’s Cathedral, in the Urakami River district of Nagasaki.

So it was the height of irony that the massive Cathedral – one of only two Nagasaki landmarks that could be positively identified from 31,000 feet up (the other one was the Mitsubishi armaments factory complex) became Ground Zero for the infamous bomb. The Bock’s Car bombardier identified the landmarks through a break in the clouds and ordered the drop.

At 11:02 am, during Thursday morning mass, hundreds of Nagasaki Christians were boiled, evaporated, carbonized or otherwise disappeared in a scorching, radioactive fireball that exploded 500 meters above the cathedral. The black rain that soon came down from the mushroom cloud surely contained the mingled remains of many Nagasaki Shintoists, Buddhists and Christians. The theological implications of Nagasaki’s Black Rain surely should boggle the minds of theologians of all denominations.

The Nagasaki Christian Death Count

Most Nagasaki Christians did not survive the blast. 6,000 of them died instantly, including all who were at confession. Of the 12,000 church members, 8,500 of them eventually died as a result of the bomb. Many of the others were seriously sickened.

Three orders of nuns and a Christian girl’s school disappeared into black smoke or became chunks of charcoal. Tens of thousands of non-combatant Shinto and Buddhist Japanese also died instantly, and many more were mortally wounded or incurably damaged. Some of the victim’s progeny are still in the process of dying from the trans-generational malignancies and immune deficiencies caused by the deadly plutonium and other radioactive isotopes produced by the bomb..

And here is one of the important points of this article: What the Japanese Imperial government could not do in over 200 years of persecution (destroy Japanese Christianity) American Christians did in 9 seconds.

Even after a slow revival of Christianity over the decades since WWII, membership in Japanese churches still represent a small fraction of 1% of the general population, and the average attendance at Christian worship services has been reported to be only 30. Surely the decimation of Nagasaki at the end of the war crippled what at one time was a vibrant church.

It is important to know the hidden history of Nagasaki Christianity and the attempted annihilation of it by American Christians. The Bock’s Car bomber crew, as are most soldier grunts in any war, was at the bottom of a long complex anonymous chain of command. They had only “pulled the trigger” of the weapon which was manufactured by corporations, but which was put in their hands by others, none of whom claimed sole responsibility for doing the satanic deed. As in all wars, the WWII grunts and trigger-pullers – and chaplains – at the bottom of the chain of command didn’t know exactly who they were killing – or even why.

George Zabelka, the Catholic Chaplain for the 509th Composite Group

Father George Zabelka was the Catholic chaplain for the 509th Composite Group (the 1500 man United States Army Air Force group whose only mission was to successfully deliver the atomic bombs to their targets). Zabelka was one of the few Christian leaders who eventually came to recognize the contradictions between what his modern church had taught him about war and what the early pacifist church had taught about homicidal violence.

Several decades after Zabelka was discharged from the military chaplaincy, he finally concluded that both he and his church had made serious ethical and theological errors in religiously legitimating the organized mass slaughter that is modern war. He had eventually come to understand that, as he articulated it, the enemies of his nation were not, according to New Testament ethics, the enemies of God, but were rather fellow children of God who were loved by God and who therefore were not to be killed by God’s followers.

Father Zabelka’s conversion away from the standardized violence-tolerant Christianity turned his Detroit, Michigan ministry around 180 degrees. His absolute commitment to the truth of gospel nonviolence – just like Martin Luther King – inspired him to devote the remaining decades of his life to speaking out against violence in all its forms, including the violence of militarism, racism and economic exploitation. Zabelka even travelled to Nagasaki on the 50th anniversary of the bombing, tearfully repenting and asking for forgiveness for the part he had played in the crime.

Likewise, the Lutheran chaplain for the 509th, Pastor William Downey (formerly of Hope Evangelical Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, MN), in his counseling of soldiers who had become troubled by their participation in making murder for the state, later denounced all killing, whether by a single bullet or by weapons of mass destruction.

Why Should Combat Veterans Embrace a Religion that Blessed the Wars that Ruined Their Souls?

In Daniel Hallock’s important book, Hell, Healing and Resistance, the author talks about a 1997 Buddhist retreat led by the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. That retreat attempted to deal with the hellish post-war existence of combat-traumatized Vietnam War veterans. Hallock wrote, “Clearly, Buddhism offers something that cannot be found in institutional Christianity. But then why should veterans embrace a religion that has blessed the wars that ruined their souls? It is no wonder they turn to a gentle Buddhist monk to hear what are, in large part, the truths of Christ.”

The truth of Hallock’s comment should be a sobering wake-up call to Christian leaders who seem to regard as equally important both the recruitment of new members and the retention of old ones. The fact that the US is a highly militarized nation makes the truths of gospel nonviolence difficult to teach and preach, especially to military veterans and their patriotic families (particularly the impoverished and homeless ones) who may have lost their faith because of past events on the battlefield.

I am a retired physician who has dealt with hundreds of psychologically traumatized patients (especially combat-traumatized war veterans), and I know that violence, in all its forms, can irretrievably damage the mind, body, brain, and spirit; but the fact that the combat-traumatized type is totally preventable – as well as, for the most serious cases, virtually impossible to cure – makes prevention work so important. And that is where Christian churches should and could be instrumental. An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.

These traumas are deadly and sometimes even contagious. I have seen violence, neglect, abuse and the resultant traumatic illnesses spread through families – even involving the 3rd and 4th generations after the initial victimization or perpetration, similar to the experience of the progeny of the atomic bomb victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the warrior-perpetrator/victims who trained for and experienced the acts of killing in any war, not just WWII.

What Should be the Christian Church’s Role in the Mass Slaughter of War?

Years ago I saw an unpublished Veteran’s Administration study that showed that, whereas most Vietnam War-era soldiers were active members of Christian churches, if they came home with PTSD, the percentage returning to the faith community approached zero. Daniel Hallock’s sobering message noted above explains why that is so.

Therefore the church seems to be promoting (perhaps inadvertently and/or by its silence on the topic of violence) anti-gospel homicidal violence by failing to teach what the primitive church understood about the ministry of Jesus, who said, in effect, that “violence is forbidden for those who wish to follow me”. Therefore, by refraining from warning their adolescent members about the satanic realities of war (and the faith-destroying combat-induced PTSD) the church is directly undermining the “retention” strategies in which all churches engage.

Hopefully this essay will promote discussions in this so-called “Christian” nation about the ethics of making murder for the state (and its corporations) while simultaneously – and illogically – professing allegiance to the teachings of the nonviolent Jesus.

The early church leaders who knew the teachings of Jesus best rejected the nationalist, racist and militarist agendas of all national security agencies, the military-industrial complex, the war-profiteering corporations and the pre-Christian eye-for-an-eye retaliation doctrines that have, over the past 1700 years, enabled Christians to willingly kill other Christians in the name of Christ.

By the end of the 19th Century, it was recognized by those concerned with human rights that the nation-state was a destructive anachronism. It was an entity that seemed addicted to periodic spasms of mass violence, particularly in the form of war carried out with little or no regard for non-combatants or other restraining factors.

As a consequence, efforts began aimed at creating instruments of international law – treaties, conventions and other agreements – to modify state behavior in such areas as the treatment of prisoners and the victimization of civilian populations.

Progress was spotty until the very end of World War II, when various human rights charters came into existence as a part of the United Nations. Through that institution, provision was made — albeit in very narrowly defined circumstances — for the fielding of UN military forces (the famous Blue Helmets) to try to enforce peace and protect civilian populations. Other institutions, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC), were also eventually brought into existence.

The post-war move to expand international law to cover human rights and provide enforcement measures was all for the good, and in the future it will hopefully prove a powerful precedent that can be built upon. But this period of progress did not last long. It soon gave way to a hypocritical selective application of humanitarian law.

The truth is that today only those nations which are relatively weak and have no great power patronage are in any danger of being called to task for gross violations of human rights. If you are the leader of some small African or Balkan state and you go on some ethnically or religiously inspired rampage, you run a real risk of being charged with crimes against humanity and hauled before the ICC, while the UN Security Council votes to send military forces into your country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 1, 2013. (UN Photo by Evan Schneider)

Image: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to the United Nations General Assembly on Oct. 1, 2013. (UN Photo by Evan Schneider)

On the other hand, if you are a great power or the close ally of one, you can pretty much do what you want, where you want. Great powers hold the concept of their own sovereignty sacrosanct and the us-versus-them mindset that goes along with hubristic nationalism remains unchallenged. That goes for their allies as well who, under the protection of their patron, often commit with impunity the same crimes that land smaller, unprotected powers in deep trouble.

Israel and the U.S. Undermine the Law

The most blatant contemporary example of this disregard for international law as it pertains to human rights can be seen in the actions of Israel. The Zionist state’s present blitzkrieg in Gaza may be the worst of that nation’s ongoing series of violations of International humanitarian law. I would refer the reader to the Center for Constitutional Rights fact sheet outlining Israel’s violation of humanitarian-law statutes.

It is not an exaggeration to say that Israel’s acclaimed “Defense Forces” have become expert in violating human rights: murder and ethnic cleansing, illegal confiscation of occupied land, destruction of civilian housing, destruction of civilian infrastructure (water, electricity, sanitation, etc.), attacking of medical facilities, torture both of adults and children, the use of banned weaponry, the mistreatment of prisoners and more. And they have done it all quite openly.

Official complaints about Israeli behavior come before the UN several times a year but to no avail. Each time Israel is called to task in the UN Security Council for violating international law, the U.S. vetoes the resolution and therefore Israel suffers no consequences. Obviously this only emboldens Israeli leaders to continue acting in a criminal manner.

But the impact goes beyond Israel and its victims, because each time the U.S. casts its veto, international law designed to protect human rights suffers degradation.

The reason for this U.S. behavior has to do with the inflated role of special interests, or lobbies (in this case the infamous Zionist lobby) in the governing structure of democratic societies. For a more detailed discussion of this phenomenon the reader can go to my essay on lobbies (Lobby, Lobbification, Lobbified, April 16, 2011) and how they operate in Washington.

Under the present circumstances in most democratic states, if a special interest has sufficient resources and organization it can, quite legally, manipulate policy so that the very definition of national interest is warped into an expression of the interest of the lobby. This is what the Zionist lobby in Washington has done in the case of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

This regrettable state of affairs has effectively brought to a halt any progress to expand enforcement of international human rights laws. Indeed, international law in general has fallen so far out of favor that, in the case of the United States, many citizens think that this form of law as well as organizations such as the UN are elements of shadowy conspiracies attempting to take over their nation.

Resurgent Tribalism 

What does this tell us about ourselves and our politics? It suggests that at some deep level we are still tribal. The concept of us-versus-them appears deeply ingrained in our psyches and thus influences our actions. If the “us” could get bigger and bigger to the point where it encompasses all of humanity, that would be real progress. But short of an alien invasion that seems unlikely.

In fact, the theory of natural localism — the notion that we all live our lives in localized spatial and temporal environments — suggests that tribalism in its various forms is the social organization most compatible with human nature. Those interested in the notion of natural localism should see the first part of my book Foreign Policy Inc.

The promotion of international humanitarian law, which undermines tribalism by universalizing the application of law, may be felt as a threat by those whose self-concept is tied to the nation-state (or worse, an ethnically or religiously exclusive state) and therefore wrapped up with an us-versus-them worldview. This is certainly the case when it comes to the Israelis and their Zionist supporters.

So, Israeli behavior and U.S. protection of that behavior is a somber message that we have a way to go to overcome our propensity for murder and mayhem.

We have managed to establish standards of humanitarian behavior and even embody them in international humanitarian law. We have managed to create an albeit imperfect prototype for enforcement through the UN. But we have yet to overcome the problem of selective application of that law. This may be a fatal roadblock. If anyone can figure out how to overcome it, he or she will be a truly deserving candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America’s National Interest; America’s Palestine: Popular and Official Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism.

Says Failure to Recognize Hamas Is the Core Problem

Jimmy Carter spent a lot of effort brokering peace in the Middle East. Some of his efforts succeeded. Since retiring from the White House, he has worked to try to broker  peace.    So he knows something about the Israeli-Palestinian situation.

President Carter wrote yesterday:

This tragedy results from the deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza.

Carter says that Israel has committed war crimes:

There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war. Israeli bombs, missiles, and artillery have pulverized large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals. More than 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian noncombatants have been killed. Much of Gaza has lost access to water and electricity completely. This is a humanitarian catastrophe.

There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This is true for both sides. Hamas’s indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians is equally unacceptable. However, three Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets, while an overwhelming majority of the 1,600 Palestinians killed have been civilians, including more than 330 children. The need for international judicial proceedings to investigate and end these violations of international law should be taken very seriously.

Carter also argues that failure to recognize Hamas is the core problem:

First, there must be at least a partial lifting of the 7-year-old sanctions and blockade that isolate the 1.8 million people in Gaza. There must also be an opportunity for the teachers, police, and welfare and health workers on the Hamas payroll to be paid. These necessary requirements for a human standard of living continue to be denied. Instead, Israel blocked Qatar’s offer to provide funds to pay civil servants’ salaries, and access to and from Gaza has been further tightened by Egypt and Israel.

NBC ‘witchhunts’ reporters who don’t convey the “official line”

An anonymous NBC producer described “a top-down intimidation campaign aimed at presenting an Israeli-centric view of the attack on the Gaza Strip,”AlterNet journalist Max Blumenthal reported on July 22.

“The NBC producer told me that MSNBC President Phil Griffin and NBC executives are micromanaging coverage of the crisis, closely monitoring contributors’ social media accounts and engaging in a ‘witch hunt’ against anyone who strays from the official line.”

This follows MSNBC’s dropping its sole Palestinian contributor, Rula Jebreal, after she called the network’s coverage “disgustingly biased” on MSNCB’s “Ronan Farrow Daily” show July 21. She also hit CNN for interviewing “17 Israeli public officials versus one Palestinian.”

NBC ordered veteran reporter Ayman Mohyeldin to leave Gaza after his July 17 story on the Israeli shelling deaths of four Palestinian children playing soccer on a beach, which “NBC Nightly News” did not air. Mohyeldin was reinstated after social media outrage.

NBC is not alone in making sure that all reports toe the line. The corporate media in the U.S. have downplayed or disregarded Israel’s violations of human rights and international law and instead promoted Tel Aviv and Washington’s view that Israel is “defending itself” and that Hamas and Palestinian “terrorism” are the problem.

The real relationship of forces — repeated, unprovoked Israeli aggres­sion versus Palestinian  self-defense measures — if reported at all, is quickly dropped by all the corporate media for a revision of history favoring the Israeli regime and vilifying the Palestinians. This revision is repeated again and again, at all levels of the media.

NBC’s owners sell arms to Israel

Why aren’t the Palestinian people getting fair coverage?

Some say it is because Jewish people or the Israeli lobby “control” or “unduly influence” U.S. media outlets. But this is not the case.

The real force behind this biased reporting is the huge aggregate of U.S. corporations that pull in mind-boggling profits from exploiting Middle East resources, including the media monopolies themselves.

Take the powerful media conglomerate NBC, for example. Why would NBC be so biased? Because NBC is owned by arms manufacturer General Electric, which profits from the war on Gaza.

GE Aviation makes the propulsion systems in the U.S. aircraft sold to Israel, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-4 Phantom, the “Apache” attack helicopter and the Black Hawk utility helicopter, as well as the Israeli-made Kfir fighter plane. GE also makes parts for Hellfire II laser-guided missiles as well as T-700 and 701C jet engines used by the Israeli military.

NBC executives don’t mention that their salaries are paid by a company that makes a mint providing the very weapons that Israel uses. NBC doesn’t make a cent from exposing the murder of four Palestinian children playing on a Gaza beach.

Media’s ‘job’: fool the public

The major media are welded to a corporate network in what has become a military-industrial-media complex. The media’s “job” is to keep the U.S. public from seeing that a few individuals and corporations reap billions of dollars by exploiting the people of the Middle East and bombing and blockading Gaza. These super-rich hate and fear the national liberation struggles, especially the Palestinian struggle, because the Israeli state, which ousted and replaced Palestine, serves U.S. finance capital so well.

The corporate media have a profit motive, too. They get ads and financial sponsorship from giant corporations. They have interlocking directorates with oil, arms and other companies that profit from Middle East occupations and wars. They use their vast conglomerates of newspapers, magazines, books, networks and entertainment companies to promote a political climate that favors profit taking while censoring news that interferes with it. The big media eagerly self-censor if it furthers their burning cause: making more money.

In 2008, ExxonMobil made $1,300 in profits every second. For the military-industrial-media complex, this trumps the truth about Palestine.

ABC: ‘making money our only objective’

“We have no obligation to make history. We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective.”

When Michael Eisner wrote these candid words in what he thought would remain an internal memo, he was CEO of the Walt Disney Co. The quote appears in the documentary “Mickey Mouse Monopoly: Disney, Childhood & Corporate Power.”  The Disney Co. is the second-largest media giant and owns ABC, but it brings in the largest revenue of any media conglomerate in the world.

Only five giant companies — Time Warner (CNN, AOL), Disney (ABC), Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation (FOX), Bertelsmann of Germany (the world’s biggest publisher of English-language books) and Viacom (formerly CBS) — control most of the television, radio, magazines, newspapers, books, movies, videos, music, photo agencies and wire services that people in this country rely on. GE’s NBC is a close sixth. (“The New Media Monopoly” by Ben Bagdikian, Beacon Press, 2004)

The extent of this monopolization is well hidden. But, says Bagdikian, the truth is that “a shrinking number of large media corporations now regard monopoly, oligopoly and historic levels of profit as not only normal, but as their earned right.”

Interlocking directorates with big oil, military

The media monopolies have interlocking directors with Big Oil. GE (NBC) interlocks with Mobil, CNN with Chevron, Knight-Ridder with Phillips Petroleum, the New York Times with Texaco (whose parent company is Chevron). And some “public” television news shows are connected to Big Oil through ad revenues. Chevron is a key funder of the most influential show on PBS, the nightly “News Hour with Jim Lehrer.” (FAIR, Dec. 19, 2007)

This is why the corporate media are not merely reporting on the war against Gaza; they are part of it. Their job is to wage the propaganda war.

Next: The dirty truth behind the “free press” lie.

Some information in this article is excerpted from the book “Gaza; Symbol of Resistance,” which can be ordered at gazaresistancebook.com

“We must expel Arabs and take their place.”– David Ben-Gurion, October 5 1937, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Winter 2012), University of California Press, pp. 245-250.*

-

1980’s

For 30 years, from the War of Independence until today [1981], we [Israel] have been fighting against a population that lives in villages and cities.(1) In South Lebanon we struck the civilian population consciously, because they deserved it… the Israeli Army has always struck civilian populations, purposely and consciously … the Army… has never distinguished civilian [from military] targets … [but] purposely attacked civilian targets when Israeli settlements had not been struck.(2)

There were retaliatory actions against civilian Arab populations; the air force operated against them; the damage was directed against such structures as the canal, bridges and transport.(3)  The picture that emerges is of an Israel wantonly inflicting every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations in a mood reminiscent of regimes which neither Mr. (Prime Minister) Begin nor I would dare to mention by name.(4) There was a rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that afflicted populations [i.e., innocent civilians deliberately bombed] would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities.(5)

We don’t have a solution, and you [Palestinians] will continue living like dogs, and whoever wants to go will go, and will see how this procedure will work out.(23)

2000’s

[After Israel won the Six Day War in June 1967] We enthusiastically chose to become a colonial society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities. Passionately desiring to keep the occupied territories, we developed two judicial systems: one ‑ progressive, liberal ‑ in Israel; and the other ‑ cruel, injurious ‑ in the occupied territories. In effect, we established an apartheid regime in the occupied territories immediately following their capture.

That oppressive regime exists to this day [2002.](6)

Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us. We should remember that we too used very violent terror against foreign rule because we wanted our own state. And the list of victims of terror is quite long and extensive.

We do limit ourselves to denying the [Palestinian] people human rights. We not onlyrob of them of their freedom, land and water. We apply collective punishment to millions of people and even, in revenge‑driven frenzy, destroy the electricity supply for one and half million civilians. Let them “sit in the darkness” and“starve.”

 Through its army, the government of Israel practices a brutal form of Apartheidin the territory it occupies. Its army has turned every Palestinian village and town into a fenced‑in, or blocked‑in, detention camp. All this is done in order to keep an eye on the population’s movements and to make its life difficult. Israel even imposes a total curfew whenever the settlers, who have illegally usurped the Palestinians’ land, celebrate their holidays or conduct their parades.(7)

 The main thing is, first and foremost, to hit them hard. Not just one hit… but many painful [hits], so that the price will be unbearable. The price is not unbearable, now. A total assault on the Palestinian Authority. To bring them to a state of panic that everything is collapsing … fear that everything will collapse… this is what we’ll bring them to…(16)

The troops will be preceded by a ferocious pillar of fire. After the shooting, the warnings, anyone remaining in the area, in one of the most densely populated urban sites in the world is either a terrorist or knows the price to pay.(8)

The commanders and soldiers who were sent to Gaza need to know that they are safe from various tribunals.(21)

The first time we went in, we were given orders to target our machine guns at every suspicious point that could be used to fire upon us. And we shot at anything that moved. The civilians in the area had already been told that we were coming in, so I don’t feel bad for anyone hurt there. If they remained there, they must have been Hamas.(22)

I want aggressiveness – if there’s someone suspicious on the upper floor of a house,we’ll shell it. If we have suspicions about a house, we’ll take it down… There will be no hesitation… Nobody will deliberate – let the mistakes be over their lives, not ours.(20)

The commanders and soldiers who were sent to Gaza need to know that they are safe from various tribunals.(21)

What happened in the Dahiye Quarter of Beirut in 2006, will happen in every village from which shots are fired on IsraelWe will use disproportionate force against it and we will cause immense damage and destruction. From our point of view these are not civilian villages but military bases. This is not a recommendation, this is the plan, and it has already been authorized.(9)

With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes. The strike must be carried out as quickly as possible, and must prioritize damaging assets over seeking out each and every launcher. Punishment must be aimed at decision makers and the power elite… attacks should both aim at Hezbollah’s military capabilities and should target economic interests and the centers of civilian power that support the organization.

This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well.(10)

I’m telling them to stop it. We are stronger; there will be more blood there. We have power, enormous power; we can do things that are devastating.(11)

Our response will be disproportionate. We won’t go back to the rules that the terrorist organisations tried to dictate.(12)

Such a war will lead to the elimination of the Lebanese military, the destruction of the national infrastructure, and intense suffering among the population. There will be no recurrence of the situation where Beirut residents (not including the Dahiye quarter) go to the beach and cafes while Haifa residents sit in bomb shelters. Serious damage to the Republic of Lebanon, the destruction of homes and infrastructure, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people are consequences that can influence Hezbollah’s behavior more than anything else.(13)

This approach is applicable to the Gaza Strip as well.(10)

The people who go into a house despite a warning do not have to be taken into account in terms of injury to civilians, because they are voluntary human shields. From the legal point of view, I do not have to show consideration for them. In the case of people who return to their home in order to protect it, they are taking part in the fighting.(14)

Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation [Cast Lead], which I demanded.(15)

2010’s

We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages destroying all the infrastructure including roads & water.(17)

Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people

They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise,more little snakes will be raised there.(18)

Attack the entire ‘target bank’ throughout Gaza with the IDF’s maximum force (and not a tiny fraction of it) with all the conventional means at its disposal. All the military and infrastructural targets will be attacked with no consideration for ‘human shields’ or ‘environmental damage’. It is enough that we are hitting exact targets and that we gave them advance warning.

Parallel to the above, a total siege on Gaza. Nothing will enter the area…

After the IDF completes the “softening” of the targets with its fire-power, the IDF willconquer the entire Gaza, using all the means necessary to minimize any harm to our soldiers, with no other considerations.

Gaza is part of our Land and we will remain there forever… Subsequent to the elimination of terror from Gaza, it will become part of sovereign Israel and will be populated by Jews. This will also serve to ease the housing crisis in Israel.(19)

(our emphasis)

If these quotes are at all shocking or hard to believe, perhaps consider what former Knesset member and Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery had to say in regards to Israeli reaction to the Goldstone Report, which documented Israel’s war crimes during Operation Cast Lead of 2008-09,

“The instinctive reaction in such a situation is denial. It’s just not true. It never happened. It’s all a pack of lies.

By itself, that is a natural reaction. When a human being is faced with a situation which he cannot handle, denial is the first refuge. If things did not happen, there is no need to cope. Basically, there is no difference between the deniers of the Armenian genocide, the deniers of the annihilation of the Native Americans and the deniers of the atrocities of all wars.

From this point of view, it can be said that denial is almost “normal”. But with us it has been developed into an art form.” (“Those Dastardly Anti‑Semites,” by Uri Avnery, Information Clearing House, September 19, 2009.)

I also want to make it clear that NONE of the above was in an way my own words, none of it was my own analysis of the situation, it was all words of the highest decision making bodies in Israel, save the few words I inserted here and there for continuity.

When people call you a liar, an anti-Semite, a conspiracy theorist, or any of the other names and intimidations they use to vilify you for speaking out about these truths, just remember that these are not your words, but instead the words of the Israeli Prime Ministers, the Major Generals of the IDF, the IDF Colonels, Company Commanders, Foreign Ministers, Knesset members, UN Ambassadors, lawmakers, military analysts, etc., etc.

-Critics of this article will perhaps say, ‘well what about the statements made by Hamas that bear a resemblance to these?’ and to that I have this to say:

These statements I have quoted reflect not only the ideology of Israel’s top officials and military personnel, they as well reflect the policies, behaviors, and approved methods that were used as far back as the 1980’s and that continue to be used to this very day, in Operation Protective Edge.  Similar statements made by Hamas or others can in no way justify, or excuse the Israeli leadership from authorizing and utilizing these policies of brute force that ‘wantonly inflict every possible measure of death and anguish on civilian populations,’ that is inexcusable, and individuals who find themselves attempting to justify and apologize for these methods, I would suggest you take a look at the recent death toll figures, I would suggest that you follow the teenagers on Twitter that are recounting their stories, do your best to expose yourself to the reality being inflicted on them there, and question just what exactly it is that you are justifying and apologizing for.

Let me remind that these findings in this report are not just mere words that some kid researched and found, they are actual bombs being dropped on civilians, they are policies designed specifically to inflict ‘intense suffering among the population,’ to bring about the ‘destruction of homes and infrastructure, and the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people,’ and whose goal is ‘inflicting damage and meting out punishment.’ These are not just words, they are the 7 year old children who know nothing but war- although it is really not a war that they know, of two armies opposing each other in battle, it is actually just ‘a total siege on Gaza,’ designed to ‘send Gaza back to the Middle Ages,’ of which they admit that their ‘response will be disproportionate,’ it will be ‘disproportionate to the enemy’s actions and the threat it poses,’ and where there will be taken ‘no consideration for human shields or environmental damage.’

They are the murder of innocent women, children, teenagers and fathers who ‘do not have to be taken into account in terms of injury to civilians, because they are voluntary human shields,’ it is a policy of doing ‘things that are devastating,’ ‘against civilian Arab populations,’ their families destroyed, ravaged, the survivors and ‘anyone remaining in the area, in one of the most densely populated urban sites in the world’ having their murders and deaths be justified by the reasoning that they ‘[are] either a terrorist,’  or that they knew ‘the price to pay.’

These are atrocities that are inflicted, codified into law, ideologically and religiously justified, apologized for and encouraged, encouraged by the diplomatic, military and economic support of the world’s largest defense spender and only truly global superpower this planet has known; they are the reality that culminates with Israeli’s setting up lawn-chairs on their roofs and hills, celebrating as we would the 4th of July the exploding orchestra that for their enjoyment lights up the night sky, all the while just a few kilometers away the wholesale extermination of an entire group of people is playing out before their eyes, and the eyes of the world… a reality of which most simply fall silent.

Statements made by Hamas have to be understood within their historical context, within the framework of the realities of the original expulsion, ethnic cleansing, and extermination of the indigenous population, and of the subsequent brutal and harsh military occupation that followed and that ‘exists to this day.’  They have to be understood alongside the fact that on top of all of this, as I have documented, Israel has been calling for their destruction and systematically has carried out attacks and terror against their civilian population.  Also important to note is the reality that Hamas has long been calling for a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus and the US and Israel have been constantly blocking it for decades.  (By Netanyahu’s own statements he only paid lip service to the Oslo Accords, and immediately went on to disrupt the peace agreements and aggress further on the Palestinians with a view to destroying their leadership and to inflict pain and punishment.)

Given that, they are wrong, they shouldn’t call for the destruction of Israel and they shouldn’t praise the death of Israeli citizens, but if they shouldn’t, then why should it be any different for Israel?  How come it is that basically everyone seems to instinctively accept Israel’s right to do so given that they have a much weaker case?  They are, in fact, the military occupiers, they are not subject to an extremely brutal and murderous military occupation, one which continuously assaults them with an overpowering military force that openly targets their civilians and commits extreme crimes against them with impunity, nay with diplomatic, military, economic, and propagandistic support from the world’s leading superpower; they are not imprisoned by land, air, and sea- on the contrary, none of this is happening to Israel and still they call for the destruction of Palestine and the murder of its innocent civilian population.  Surely that is much worse then the victims of occupation and subjugation calling for the same- lets just imagine for a moment that the reverse were true, imagine if Palestine and the Arabs subjected Israel and all its civilians to a brutal and harsh military occupation, that they continuously annexed Israeli land for themselves, forced Israeli’s out of their homes, kept their economy on the brink of near collapse, counted their caloric intake, put them on a diet, made them ‘live like dogs,’ and imprisoned them in such a way that the best estimates predict their homes will be unlivable by 2020.  Would Israel not call for retaliation?  Would Israel not in such a situation refer to its oppressor as a terrorist and call for their destruction?  Nay, the opposite is true, in absence of all of this and in addition to the fact that they are the perpetrators, that they continually refer to the Palestinians as terrorists, dehumanize and demonize their entire population, and call for their destruction and much worse implement that destruction, the death and slaughter of innocent Palestinian civilians, with their superior force then vilify their victims when they in turn call for the same.

Neither should be doing this, but honestly why is it that everyone accepts it when Israel does it given that ‘Israel is an occupying power that for 40 years has been oppressing an indigenous people, which is entitled to a sovereign and independent existence while living in peace with us?’  Why is it that no one bats an eye when an oppressor calls for the destruction of its oppressed?

Sources:

*This Ben-Gurion quote (mentioned at the beginning of this article) is the subject of debate.  Self-appointed media watchdog CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America) questioned the veracity of the Journal of Palestine Studies (JPS) original quotation of Ben-Gurion, the quotation I have used was the corrected quotation JPS gave after further investigation following CAMERA’s initial questioning.  JPS’ official response to CAMERA’s call for accuracy in which they produced the corrected quotation that I have used can be found at the link I have given, also linked here.  Following JPS’ response, CAMERA responded again by questioning the corrected JPS quotation, their response can be found here.

(A good number of quotations here I originally found in this great article from DissidentVoice.org, “Israeli Criticism of Zionism and the Treatment of Palestinians: The Politicians” by Edward C. Corrigan, July 30, 2010 – much thanks to Mr. Corrigan and I highly recommend reading his entire piece.

(Also the findings of the November 2009 independent non-profit Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) report which investigated Operation Cast Lead were extensively helpful and contributed a lot to my research, as well as did Amnesty International’s report “Israel/Gaza, Operation ‘Cast Lead’: 22 Days of Death and Destruction.”)

Notes

1.)    Quotation of Israel’s Chief of Staff Mordechai Gur circa 1981 – Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77-78.

2.)   Quotation of Israeli military analyst Zeev Schiff, summarizing General Gur’s comments circa 1981 – Ibid.

3.)   Israel’s Prime Minister Menachm Begin in 1981 – Menahem Begin, letter, Haaretz, August, 4, 1981; translated in Israleft News Service,191, August 20, 1981, cited in Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77.

4.)   Quotation of Israel’s UN Ambassador and Labor Party Foreign Minister Abba Eban in 1981 – Abba Eban, “Morality and warfare,” The Jerusalem Post, August 16, 1981 in cited in Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77.

5.)   Quotation of Abba Eban in 1981 – Edward Herman, The Real Terror Network, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1982), p. 77-78. 

6.)   Quotation of Israel’s Attorney General from 1993-96 Michael Ben-Yair in 2002 – “The Six Day War’s Seventh Day,” by Michael Ben‑Yair, Haaretz, March 3rd, 2002. This article is also reproduced in The Other Israel, Voices of Refusal and Dissent, Foreword by Tom Segev and Introduction by Anthony Lewis, edited by Roane Carey and Jonathan Shainin. (New York: New Press, 2002), p.13-15.

7.)   Quotation of Knesset member Shulamit Aloni in 2006  – “Indeed there is Apartheid in Israel,” by Shulamit Aloni, Yediot Acharonot, May 1, 2006. The article is was published in Israel’s largest circulating newspaper in the Hebrew edition but not in the English‑language YNetNews. It was translated by Sol Salbe, an Israeli-Australian editor and translator, and distributed through the Australian based Middle East News Service sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The Hebrew original is here.

8.)   Israeli Channel 10 news report of March 16, 2009 about how the IDF’s rules of engagement policy were outlined to the Knesset Committee for Foreign and Security Affairs during the time of war – Israel Channel 10 News, Friday with Drucker and Shelach, Two months after Operation Cast Lead the real stories begin to emerge, March 20, 2009:http://news.nana10.co.il/Section/?SectionID=2176&pagenum=1 (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

9.)  Quotation of Commanding Officer of the IDF’s Northern Command, Major General Gadi Eisenkott in 2008 – Yedioth Ahronoth (Hebrew), I have incredible power, I’ll have no excuse, Saturday Supplement, October 3, 2008, by Alex Fishman and Ariela Ringel-Hoffman.

10.) Quotation of Dr. Gabriel Siboni, Colonel in the IDF reserves, in 2008 – INSS Insight No. 74, Disproportionate Force: Israel’s Concept of Response in Light of the Second Lebanon War, Gabriel Siboni, October 2, 2008: http://www.inss.org.il/publications.php?cat=21&incat=&read=2222 (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

11.) Quotation of then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 – Israel Channel 10 News, The Central Edition, December 25, 2008:http://news.nana10.co.il/Section/?SectionID=2174&pagenum=99, accessed on September 28, 2009. (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

12.) Again, quotation from then PM Ehud Olmert, this time in 2009 – Israel Channel 2 news, February 1, 2009. Available at:http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/security/Article-34a141791e03f11004.htm .

13.) Quotation of Major General Giora Eiland in 2008 – INSS Strategic Assessment, Volume 11, No. 2, The Third Lebanon War: Target Lebanon, Giora Eiland, p. 16, November 2008:http://www.inss.org.il/upload/%28FILE%291226472866.pdf . (Originally sourced from PCATI’s report here.)

14.) Quotation of a senior official off the international law division (ILD) of the Israeli Military Advocate General’s Office, made in 2009 – Haaretz, Consent and advise, January 29, 2009: http://www.haaretz.com/consent-and-advise-1.269127.

15.) Quotation of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, responsible for decision making during Operation Cast Lead, statement made in 2009 – Israel Channel 10 news, Livni warns Hamas, January 19, 2009:http://news.nana10.co.il/Section/?SectionID=2174&pagenum=89 , accessed September 28, 2009. (Originally sourced from PCATI’s reporthere.)

16.) Quotation from Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu in 2001, caught on video speaking with what presumably are family members, unawares to the fact that he is being recorded at the time – Redress Information & Analysis, Netanyahu: I deceived US to destroy Oslo accords, July 24, 2012, by Jonathan Cook: http://www.redressonline.com/2010/07/from-the-archives-netanyahu-i-deceived-us-to-destroy-oslo-accords/#trans .

17.)Quotation of Eliyahu “Eli” Yishai, then Israel’s Minister of Internal Affairs, now member of the Knesset, said in 2012 – The Yeshiva World News, LIVE BLOG DAY 4: Operation Pillar of Defense, November 17, 2012:http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/145581/live-blog-day-4-operation-pillar-of-defense-updated-530pm-il.html

18.) Quotation of Ayelet Shaked, Israeli lawmaker and senior figure in the Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, part of Israel’s ruling coalition, posted on her Facebook page in July 2014, preceded by this statement, “This is an article by the late Uri Elitzur, which was written 12 years ago, but remained unpublished.  It is as relevant today as it was at the time.” – The Electronic Intifada, Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians gets thousands of Facebook likes, by Ali Abunhimah, July 7, 2014:http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-lawmakers-call-genocide-palestinians-gets-thousands-facebook-likes .

19.)Quotation of Moshe Feiglin, member of the Knesset and member of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, written as a policy recommendation for Operation Protective Edge published in an op-ed piece for Arutz Sheva 7 IsraelNationalNews.com, on July 2014 – Arutz Sheva 7, Op-Ed: My Outline for a Solution in Gaza, by Moshe Feiglin, July 15, 2014:http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/15326.

20.)Quotation from an Israeli company commander in a security briefing to soldiers during Operation “Cast Lead,” in 2009 – Israeli Channel 10 TV, 21 March 2009: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1072811.html

21.)Quotation of Ehud Olmert, then Prime Minister of Israel, said in 2009:http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1058509.html

22.)Quotation from Ofer, a fighter in the Golani Brigade (an elite combat unit of the Israeli army) who was in the first wave of the ground offensive – 3 The Jewish Chronicle, 5 March 2009: http://www.thejc.com/articles/gaza-soldiers-speak-out .

Israel Speaks (Cont.): “Blow Gaza Back to the Middle Ages… With No Other Considerations”

Steven Chovanec is an independent geopolitical analyst based in Chicago, IL.  He is an undergraduate of International Studies at Roosevelt University and is a regular writer and blogger on geopolitics and important social matters.

Following its reporting of the latest events in the Gaza Strip on Friday, including available details about an IDF soldier captured by Hamas soldiers early in the day, the New York Times was contacted by Israel’s military censor and told that future reporting related to the capture would need to be run through its office before publication.

The Times updated their original story by adding:

“…the military’s censor informed The New York Times that further information related to the soldier would have to be submitted for prior review. Journalists for foreign news organizations must agree in writing to the military censorship system to work in Israel. This was the first censorship notification The Times had received in more than two years.

Israel’s policy of placing ‘gag rules’ over foreign correspondents is well known to reporters who have worked in the country, but rarely acknowledged by U.S. outlets.

In response to the notice given to the Times on Friday, the Freedom of the Press Foundation—which advocates on behalf of journalistic freedoms—tweeted its advice to the newspaper:

Writing on his Pressing Issues blog, freelance journalist and media critic Greg Mitchell notes, “that the Times has been criticized in the past for agreeing to what they call ‘gag orders,’ including by its public editor, when it revealed that it had buckled under to Israeli censorship in the past.  Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren defended that when it was exposed.  “The Times is ‘indeed, bound by gag orders,’ Ms. Rudoren said. She said that the situation is analogous to abiding by traffic rules or any other laws of the land.”

Noting that he had not seen an Israeli objection mentioned by other large outlets that reported on the captured soldier—including an Associated Press article published within a similar time frame—Mitchell wondered:  “Was NYT singled out for this (despite very favorable coverage from Jerusalem bureau in past?) because of its importance?  Or did compliant Times reporters just mention it as explanation to the Israelis that this story had already appeared before the censorship demand?”

The episode comes amid increased criticism of how many U.S.-based news outlets—including outlets like MSNBC and the Times which are often categorized as “liberal” by many—skew and bend their coverage in order to offer a narrative more friendly towards Israeli government and military policy.

In a pointed essay on the Guardian, written by correspondent Chris McGreal on Friday, the veteran journalists asks “if evolving conversations on the ground” in Gaza demand probing questions for U.S. television news audiences, “Why does [American] TV news look like a Netanyahu ad?”

Amongst all the news of the carnage and wreckage in Gaza created by the latest Israeli onslaught, Crimes, Victims and Witnesses is a sadly reflective book.  Mats Svensson has combined stunning and compelling photography with short, quick, sad and often cryptic anecdotes about his experiences as a Swedish UN diplomat in Israel/Palestine. 

The theme is obvious, that of apartheid, and its main barrier is the wall being built by Israel that is slowly twisting and turning through Palestinian land, separating families from families, farmers from their land, capturing the water, the fertile ground, the protected hilltops – separating the people from their freedom and hopes to carry out a normal life.  The other main barrier of course is Gaza itself, the enforced isolation of a small portion of Palestinian land, completely under Israeli control and effectively separated from the West Bank both politically and geographically.

In the forward, Dr. Essop G. Pahad writes,

When South Africans visit Palestine most are shocked at how much worse apartheid is there than that of the old South Africa.  And they comment that it cannot be called anything other than apartheid.

At the end of the work Svensson writes,

Apartheid in South Africa had three starting points.  The first was to divide the population into groups based on race, giving the white race preference in terms of rights, services and privileges.  The second starting point was the division of the country into geographically segregated areas and transferring population into these based on race.  In addition, a person from one area could not access another area.  The third prerequisite was a combination of security laws and rules created to oppress and suppress any resistance, which also strengthened a system of domination based on race.

The authors of the report [UN special rapporteur Prof. John Dugard] consider that the Palestinian people live under a similar system.

In between these basic points, the reality is emphasized with the stories of the everyday people of Palestine.  Of wanting to see a red and white bird one last time, of walking through sewage tunnels not wanting to be photographed – to save one’s dignity.  Knowing the loss of freedom to have a house, a garden, freshwater, olive trees.  The children suffering, not understanding but learning, watching, families being blocked from their dreams by the wall – small dreams – to see the ocean, a bird, a family member, a sunset over a hill.

A smaller theme enters the work from the author’s own line of work as a diplomat.  “Imagine all this knowledge.  Knowledge that is only a click away.  And just think about all this silence while the Westbank burns.”  As a diplomat he acknowledges that everyday the knowledge is there, nothing is done, the powers that be are simply too powerful and, although not stated directly, the feeling is that the diplomats are simply playing a game, unable to truly help.

The photos tell the same story, vibrantly, both revealing the despair and the hope, witness to the steadfastness of a people with nowhere to go.  The pictures of house destruction, with tenants removing all that they can before the jackhammers of Hyundai and Caterpillar destroy their houses.  The village of Lifta haunts a hillside, grand houses crumbling with neglect, the verdant green of the hillside village gradually overcoming the walkways and terraces of a particularly beautiful place, with decaying walls and fruit trees blossoming without care.

Svensson’s work serves as a witness to the crime of apartheid under the colonial-settler mentality of the Israeli state.  Crimes, Victims and Witnesses presents an evocative tale in sad, sometimes enigmatic terms, accompanied by photos that are all too real about the destruction and beauty of Palestinian land and culture.

It is written for the global citizen, and as such should be read by everyone.  In particular it needs to be viewed by the diplomats and politicians who pretend to lead the citizens of the world.  Walls eventually crumble.  Apartheid is a social construct, maintained by geography, force, and human laws – it too needs to crumble.

The Ukrainian state continues its slow-motion collapse, this time with Poroshenko seeking to deal a death blow to the last remnants of the Rada. He has accused “half of the Verkhovna Rada” of being “a ‘fifth column’ which is controlled from abroad, whole factions” after they did not pass a bill labelling Lugansk and Donetsk’s governments as terrorist organizations.

Such an action would have granted pseudo-legitimacy to the US in doing the same, with the ultimate intent of connecting supposed Russian support of these entities with “state sponsor of terrorism” status. By his threatening words, Poroshenko is purposely trying to rile up nationalist voters and intimidate any remaining pragmatic politicians in his quest for near-total control over the state, just as an oligarch holds absolute power of his company. Concurrent with this, the West is wholeheartedly supporting Ukraine’s military, although that institution is on the brink of self-implosion as well. The unstable result of these two trends is the dystopian descent of Ukraine towards military dictatorship, all with the enthusiastic backing of the West in its latest anti-Russian crusade.

Fifth Columns and Filthy Politics

Poroshenko is playing a filthy political game by accusing half of the Rada of being a “fifth column” under Russian influence. In reality, most of the Ukrainian government is a fifth column, albeit of the West, but that’s not the topic at hand here. Poroshenko’s objective is to intimidate the politicians who voted against the “anti-terrorist” bill into thinking that they may suffer the same fate as the recently banned Communist Party, which itself was persecuted because of its supposed “pro-Russian” stance. Not only that, but post-coup Ukraine has an extensive history of human rights abuses and political oppression, so there’s already a discernable track record for what can happen to those who disagree with the regime.

Another of Poroshenko’s pursuits is to split society from the Rada and stoke nationalism ahead of early elections, with the hope that voters will go through the motions of democracy in removing his political adversaries under the guise of ‘patriotism’. Although this deepens the political tumult in the country, it conveniently takes the focus away from the impending IMF crisis (for which the Rada collapsed in the first place) and misleadingly blames the country’s problems on internal enemies. Poroshenko is engaging in a calculated risky move to centralize control over the state in the same way that an oligarch does a company, but he is dangerously faced with a Catch-22. He wants to increase his power on the backs of nationalists, but their power and ambitions only grow along with his and they can likely turn on him in the future and make him their puppet (if they even allow him to stay in power, that is). The West knows this, hence why it is hedging its bets by supporting the military as a fail-safe measure of retaining influence in Ukraine in case this occurs.

Plan B: The Rag-Tag Military

In order to plan for the contingency of Poroshenko losing power against the wish of the West, it has thrown its complete support behind Ukraine’s military. Of course, this is also done for the purpose of crushing the pro-Federalists in the east, but the dual purpose of this support must be examined further. The US has already given nearly $53 million ($5 million and $48 million, respectively) to Ukraine’s military, and if the ‘American Aggression Enabling Act’ passes, the country will become a major non-NATO ally. Even if it doesn’t, the US still plans on going forward with using the California National Guard to train Ukraine’s National Guard next year and will be sending military advisors into the country later this month.

The EU has taken an about-face and unexpectedly lifted its arms ban on Ukraine, opening the door for a tidal wave of weaponry to flood into the conflict-stricken country. The supreme irony is that the EU originally imposed the ban on the Yanukovich government in February to prevent “internal repression”, but the current coup-imposed government has killed over 1000 people and counting during its recent “anti-terrorist” operation. The pro-coup Kyiv Post admits that 90 people died in the run-up to Yanukovich’s overthrow, meaning that the current authorities have been rewarded for killing 10x as many people by gaining access to the latest weaponry that Europe has to offer.

Relatives of Ukrainian soldiers are blocking roads in Western Ukraine in protest against "anti-terrorist operation" in Novorossia claiming thousands of lifes.

Relatives of Ukrainian soldiers are blocking roads in Western Ukraine in protest against “anti-terrorist operation” in Novorossia claiming thousands of lifes.

The logic behind this support is that it is needed to safeguard Ukraine’s economic and political integration with the West via the EU Association Agreement. If Poroshenko is ousted, the military could conceivably run Ukraine and keep Western integration on track, or so the thinking goes. The strategic flaw here is that the military is crumbing almost as fast as the state is, meaning that it is not a reliable proxy ally in any case. Desertions, poor conditions, inadequate supplies and rations, and protests against mobilization all indicate that the military is very unstable at this point. Providing weapons to such an entity risks them falling into the hands of extremists if the armed forces suddenly collapse, per the Libyan scenario, and even worse, these actors would be trained by the US military in how to use them for maximum lethality. The prospect of Neo-Nazi terrorists using American and European weapons to slaughter immigrants and Muslims in Paris or Berlin, for example, suddenly becomes a disturbing reality.

From ‘Democracy’ to Dictatorship

Ukraine’s post-coup nominal ‘democracy’ (as recognized by the West) is rapidly turning into a militarized state centered around a wannabe G.I. Joe. The last remnants of the Rada are being torn apart on purpose by Poroshenko in his perilous pursuit of power. The path from phantom democracy to incontestable dictatorship has four main highlighted attributes:

Political:

Poroshenko wants to permanently cripple the already handicapped Rada and turn it into a nationalist puppet institution. This is fraught with nothing but risks, but in the quest for absolute power, it is ridiculously seen as a gamble to be taken.

Military:

The military is to be strengthened via the ‘Reverse Saakashvili’. The renegade Georgian increased his country’s military spending by 24.5x in a mere four-year period prior to launching a war, but Poroshenko wants to emulate this during and after the actual war, using the ‘Russian threat’ to receive copious Western assistance with this project. However, the West won’t foot the entire bill, hence why scientific funding had to be cut and a new 1.5% military tax imposed.

Militarization is slated to occur on the upper level with the official armed forces and on the lower civil level with Pravy Sektor threats, intimidation, and radical nationalism. The population is to be kept in a siege mentality, with the government playing up the threat of internal enemies (“fifth columns”), “terrorists”, and the ‘Russian threat’ and ‘Crimean occupation’.

British journalist Graham Phillips, 35 was kidnapped on July 23, 2014 by the Ukrainian security service, tortured and expelled from Ukraine for working at the "enemy" RT Channel.

British journalist Graham Phillips, 35 was kidnapped on July 23, 2014 by the Ukrainian security service, tortured and expelled from Ukraine for working at the “enemy” RT Channel.

Information:

The war on journalism will continue unabated, with the country being the most dangerous in the world for this profession so far this year. Journalists that do not toe the official government line will be persecuted and kicked out of the country, much as the examples of Graham Phillips, Alina Eprimian, the LifeNews crew, and others illustrate. The banning of select Russian media has also become a hallmark in a country endeavouring to join the pro-‘Freedom of Speech’ EU.

Normative:

Bringing everything together, Poroshenko wants to maintain external protection (Shadow NATO) and a seal of approval (European ‘legitimacy’ and the EU Association Agreement) to institutionalize his power grab. Thus far, the West is enthusiastically supporting him every step of the way.

Winning the war in the east is not as important to Poroshenko as solidifying internal political gains for him and his clique. One must always remember that he is first and foremost an oligarch and old habits die hard, as the saying goes. The biggest threat here is that Poroshenko will be overthrown by the same nationalist forces that he envisions as helping him deepen his power, and the military may be powerless to stop this (if it isn’t co-opted by the nationalists by that time). What makes the slide into military dictatorship and nationalist destabilization all the more dystopian, however, is that ‘Western values’, which always promote themselves as being holier-than-thou, are firmly behind bringing this nightmare into the heart of the European continent.

Andrew Korybko is the American political correspondent of Voice of Russia who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for ORIENTAL REVIEW.

Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war against Germany, which completed the entry of all the European imperialist powers into World War I.

The British declaration of war was issued on the pretext that the neutrality of Belgium, which it was committed to protect, had been violated by Germany’s declaration of war against France on August 3 and its deployment of troops on Belgian soil.

Germany’s war declaration had been carefully orchestrated to ensure that it took place after the troop mobilisation by France’s ally, Russia. The Russian mobilisation, in turn, had been prompted by Austria’s declaration of war on Serbia on July 28, which Russia pledged to defend in accordance with its expansionist aims in south-eastern Europe.

Over the next four years, the propaganda machines of the imperialist powers were to be honed and developed in order to cover up their real war aims.

Britain, it was claimed, had intervened to counter the atrocities of the “Hun” and defend the “rights of small nations”—notwithstanding the fact that “little Belgium” was an imperialist power in its own right, with considerable colonial holdings in Africa.

France, its political leaders insisted, was fighting the war to uphold the ideals of liberty and democracy against Prussian militarism, despite the fact that it was in alliance with the autocratic and blood-soaked tsarist regime in Russia, supplying it with huge loans that helped sustain the military and the repressive apparatus of the state.

Germany maintained it had been forced into war by the actions of the other European powers and was fighting against Russian barbarism in defence of European culture, as it sought to dominate Europe and achieve its “place in the sun” as a global power.

In fact, the war was not waged for “democracy,” the rights of small nations, or to defeat authoritarianism, but for markets, profits, colonies and spheres of influence. In a rare moment of candour, Winston Churchill, at that time first lord of the admiralty, explained that Britain had an empire, acquired by violence and maintained by force, which others sought to obtain.

While the political superstructure of Europe was very different than what exists today—there was a German kaiser, a Russian tsar and an Austrian emperor—the driving forces of the war were rooted in the capitalist economy.

As Leon Trotsky explained, in words that resonate so powerfully in today’s era of globalised production, the vast economic expansion that had taken place over the preceding 40 years meant that the world—the land, the sea, the interior (and today we could add outer space)—had become a single economic workshop. World economy as a whole had replaced the nation-state as the centre of economic development. But the world remained divided by the nation-state system, dominated by the imperialist powers.

In short, the development of mankind’s productive forces—the basis for the economic advancement of the world’s people—had come into conflict with the nation-state framework in which the capitalist profit system is rooted.

Imperialism, Trotsky wrote, proposed to resolve this contradiction through a bloody struggle of each against all to determine which of the capitalist great powers would become a hegemonic power. War was the method by which capitalism, at the climax of its development, sought to resolve this insoluble contradiction.

The only progressive solution was not the victory of one or another imperialist power, but the overthrow of the capitalist system—the source of the eruption of imperialist violence and destruction. The program of world socialist revolution had become the order of the day.

But if the war laid bare an historic crisis of the capitalist system, it no less powerfully revealed a deep crisis in the workers’ movement. On August 4, 1914, as the guns started to fire, the French and Germany socialist parties—the French Section of the Workers International (SFIO) and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD)—voted to support their own governments.

The Second International, of which they were the two major sections, had pointed to the danger of war over the preceding period. At its congress in Basel in 1912, it had voted to commit its sections to a struggle against war, and, if it proved impossible to prevent, to utilise the crisis created by war to hasten the overthrow of capitalism. That commitment had been torn to shreds. The Second International was dead for the purposes of socialism.

The most far-reaching conclusions were drawn by the then relatively little known Marxist leader Vladimir Lenin. The answer to the question as to why the Second International had betrayed, he explained, was not to be found simply in the political biographies of the individual leaders, important as it was to examine them. It signified, above all, the end of a whole epoch—the peaceful, organic development of capitalism, in which the Second International had been founded and grown—and the dawning of a new one: an epoch of wars and revolutions.

The overriding question for Lenin was not the development of tactical slogans for the mass movement that he was sure would develop against the war, but the question of a perspective to guide it. It was necessary to grasp that the socialist revolution was not some distant event that would one day arrive, but rather a historical process that had to be actively prepared and consciously directed. That was the meaning of his call to “turn the imperialist war into a civil war.”

Furthermore, it was necessary, without waiting for a mass movement to emerge, to found the Third International as the international revolutionary leadership of the working class. That was the essential pre-condition for the taking of political power by the working class when the masses were driven into struggle against the capitalist barbarism of the war.

The building of the Third International, Lenin insisted, took place through the most relentless struggle against all forms of opportunism—not only against the right wing in the Second International that had overtly carried out the betrayal, but against those “lefts” who covered up for them.

It was on this perspective that, under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky, the Bolshevik Party carried through the Russian Revolution in October 1917 as the first shot in the world socialist revolution.

Lenin played a unique role, because his whole struggle to build the Bolshevik Party had been based on an unrelenting struggle against opportunism. What had appeared to his opponents as “sectarianism,” “doctrinarism,” and “tendentious hair-splitting” had a world-historic significance. It was the essential precondition for building a revolutionary party capable of meeting the tasks of the new epoch.

On the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, these lessons acquire a burning actuality, as the imperialist powers threaten to plunge humanity into a third world war. Not only are wars spreading in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and beyond, which threaten to produce a clash with nuclear-armed powers such as Russia and China, but these wars have been embraced by the pseudo-left parties in the imperialist countries. As these wars spread, moreover, tensions grow between the imperialist powers themselves.

The role of building the necessary revolutionary leadership of the international working class in the struggle against capitalism falls to the Fourth International under the leadership of the International Committee, for which its protracted struggle against all forms of national opportunism, stretching back more than six decades, has been the decisive preparation.

Obama Hosts Africa Summit Amid Deepening Global Crises

August 5th, 2014 by Bill Van Auken

The “US Africa Leaders Summit” convened in Washington Monday amid the deepening crises in Gaza, Ukraine and Iraq. The Obama administration has invited some 50 African heads of state and government to the US capital as part of an increasingly desperate bid to compete, particularly with the rising power of China, in the scramble for African markets and resources.

China’s two-way trade with Africa last year stood at $170 billion. It outstripped the US five years ago and now boasts a volume of trade that is more than double that of the US, which has been in decline in recent years. For the first quarter of 2014, total trade between the US and sub-Saharan Africa totaled $11.9 billion, a 27 percent decline from the same period in 2013.

China’s trade with Africa has increased 17-fold from just $10 billion in 2000. The European Union, including the continent’s old colonial powers such as France, Britain and Belgium, remains Africa’s largest trading partner, with a total two-way trade of $200 billion in 2013.

Fully 80 percent of China’s trade with Africa has been in raw materials as the country seeks to lock up supplies of energy and other strategic materials.

With a 5.8 percent growth rate—based in large measure on the rise in commodity prices—Africa’s overall economy is growing faster than that of Latin America, while it includes six of the ten fastest growing national economies.

During his first significant trip to Africa, organized only last year, Obama said, “Our goal is not to counter China; our goal is not to contain China.” In recent weeks US officials have also heatedly denied that the summit in Washington has anything to do with the US attempting to compete with Chinese influence in Africa. The fact is, however, that China has held five such summits since the first one convened in Beijing in 2000.

Beijing’s strategic interest in the continent found expression last year when, shortly after his inauguration, President Xi Jinping made a multi-stop tour of Africa his first overseas trip. Since then, China has disbursed some $10 billion in loans to Africa, half of the $20 billion pledged by 2015. According to the Chinese government, the loans are financing the development of infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture, with only 20 percent going to the energy sector, which along with other extractive industries have been seen as Beijing’s main interest.

The Obama administration is not expected to compete with such outlays. US officials have warned that there will be little in the way of “deliverables” coming out of the summit, which is focused more on organizing meetings between African officials and US corporate executives from companies ranging from General Electric to WalMart. There are reports that some African leaders have taken offense that Obama will not meet with any of them individually.

The Pretoria News, for example, reported

“critics have made other unfavourable comparisons between the US summit and China’s Forum for China-Africa Co-operation. (Focac). One of these criticisms is that Obama evidently has no intention of making a big declaration with the African leaders at the end of the summit, including announcements of large dollops of US money into African projects. The other significant difference with the Chinese model that has been underlined is that Obama has not scheduled any one-on-one meetings with individual African leaders as Beijing does. This has evidently offended some African leaders.”

In advance of the summit, the US administration has highlighted plans to announce a paltry $1 billion in business deals for the continent, a boost in funding for peacekeeping operations and enhanced aid programs involving food and power that are tied to US agricultural and energy interests.

Also high on the agenda is Obama’s pledge to push for Congressional approval of a renewal of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), a trade pact that offers most African countries duty-free access to US markets but mainly benefits US companies. It is set to expire at the end of September.

Washington clearly hopes to offset China’s growing economic power in Africa by military means. Seven years after launching its African Command (AFRICOM), the US military now deploys approximately 5,000 troops in some 38 countries across the continent at any one time and is involved in multiple interventions, military training missions and exercises.

In its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Pentagon makes clear that Africa is an area of strategic concern, declaring that its “potential for rapidly developing threats, particularly in fragile states, including violent public protests and terrorist attacks, could pose acute challenges to US interests.”

Much of these supposed threats are themselves the product of previous US military interventions, particularly in Libya, where the overthrow of the Gaddafi government plunged both that country and neighboring Mali into chaos and sent stockpiles of arms to Islamist insurgents as far south as Nigeria.

Similarly, the US orchestration and backing of an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006 led to the growth of the Islamist al-Shabaab movement and the spread of Islamist unrest into neighboring Kenya.

Meanwhile, US Special Forces troops have been sent into highly promoted operations such as the hunt for the Central African warlord Joseph Kony and the search for the schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram group in Nigeria.

Even in this area, however, China is beginning to take unprecedented moves in asserting its military influence. Beijing sent 170 armed troops from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali recently, dispensing with its previous policy of “no troops on foreign soil.” It has also provided military assistance to African Union peacekeeping forces.

Three African countries—Eritrea, Sudan and Zimbabwe—were not invited to the summit because, US State Department officials said, they were not in “good standing” with Washington.

While the shunning of these three governments was portrayed as a US stand in defense of “human rights,” the reality is that Washington invited a number of leaders who, while carrying out systematic repression, are more closely aligned with US foreign policy and interests on the continent.

These include Equatorial Guinea’s president Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the longest-ruling non-monarch in the world, who is notorious for the jailing and torturing of political opponents.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is expected to attend, in the wake of pushing through legislation known as the “kill the gays” law, which first called for the death penalty for homosexuals, later changed to life in prison. Museveni, whose regime is a close military partner in US interventions in Africa, backed the law—which has been temporarily blocked by the Ugandan high court—in open defiance of pleas from the Obama White House. The Ugandan regime has also shot down scores of anti-government demonstrators.

Human rights groups have noted that the three-day conference has scheduled no session on human rights, though a whole host of other topics are being dealt with, all with the evident aim of promoting US economic interests on the continent. US national security adviser Susan Rice, who forged close ties to Museveni and several other of the continent’s more repressive regimes during her tenure as senior director for African affairs under the Clinton administration, dismissed these concerns.

“You can speak very plainly and very compellingly about things like corruption and female genital mutilation and mistreatment of women without being finger-wagging or condescending or offensive,” Rice said.

The Palestine Committee of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) held an emergency one-day meeting at the ministerial level in Tehran on Monday during which the participating diplomats discussed how to end Israeli atrocities in the Gaza strip.

At the end of the meeting, the NAM Committee on Palestine issued a declaration and strongly condemned the lethal, indiscriminate and excessive use of force by Israel.

The full text of the draft declaration is as follows:

The Ministers of the Committee on Palestine of the Non-Aligned Movement met in Tehran on 4 August 2014 to address the crisis situation being faced by the Palestinian people, particularly brutally military aggression committed by Israel in July and August 2014 against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, which resulted in the killing of more than 1857 Palestinians including hundreds of children and women, and the injury of more than 8500 Palestinians and the wanton destruction of thousands of Palestinians homes; business properties, vital civilian infrastructure; mosques; schools, hospitals, public institutions, farms; and several UN facilities. In this regard, the Ministers paid tribute and expressed their support to the heroic steadfastness and unity of the Palestinian people in the face of this brutal aggression.

The Ministers expressed their appreciations to the people and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for their warm hospitality and timely action in convening the NAM Committee on Palestine. They also commended H.E. Dr. Hassan Rouhani, the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran for his important statement delivered in the meeting.

The Ministers strongly condemned the lethal, indiscriminate and excessive use of force by Israel, the occupying Power, against Palestinian civilians and vital civilian infrastructure, including water and sanitation networks, electrical power plants and numerous hospitals and medical centers, as well as against humanitarian and emergency personnel and journalists.  They deplored the relentless military assaults carried out deliberately and wantonly by the Israeli occupying forces, which have led to the killing and injury of thousands of the defenseless Palestinians, a great majority of them being children and women, in blatant and systematic violation of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights laws.

 

The Ministers demanded the immediate and unconditional cessation of this Israeli military aggression against and collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza as well as throughout the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They called for exertion of serious, collective efforts to ensure an immediate ceasefire, based on the Egyptian initiative on the basis of November 2012 ceasefire in close coordination with the State of Palestine.

 

The Ministers fully endorsed the unified the legitimate demands of the delegation of State of Palestine and in this context demanded also the immediate and full lifting of the Israeli blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip, which constitutes the massive collective punishment of its inhabitants in grave contravention of international humanitarian and human laws and has led to acute shortages of basic necessities and dire humanitarian and healthcare situation in Gaza. They stressed the Israeli responsibility as the occupying power, and therefore the urgency of efforts to immediately and unconditionally open all border crossing points into and from Gaza with a view to allowing the entry of emergency humanitarian assistance and the access of medical and relief workers to those in need. They further stressed the need for an end to all illegal Israeli policies and practices that deprive the Palestinian people of their land, properties and natural resources and have caused widespread distress and deteriorating socio-economic conditions.

 

The Ministers requested all members of the international community, the United Nations and other international organizations and non-governmental organizations to help provide the victims of the Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip with humanitarian assistance on an urgent basis.  They recognized the vital role of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Gaza, including in addressing emergency needs during this period of crisis, and urged the international community to provide the necessary support to the Agency as well as to other United Nations agencies delivering humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people at this time of need, including the more than 180,000 Palestinians displaced in the recent period.

 

The Ministers called upon the Security Council to uphold its Charter duties and live up to the expectation of the international community to act forthwith to address this crisis situation in Occupied Palestine, which clearly constitutes a threat to regional and international peace and security.  They called on the Security Council to adopt measures to compel Israel, the occupying power, to cease its military aggression against the Palestinian people and to comply forthwith with all of its obligations under international law, particularly the 4th Geneva Convention and the relevant United Nations resolutions. They stressed the urgency of serious and credible action by the Security Council toward bringing an end to the impunity Israel has unduly enjoyed, stressing the need to act collectively to hold it accountable for all its breaches of international humanitarian law and human rights violations.

 

The Ministers expressed support to the Algerian initiative to convene an emergency meeting of the UN General Assembly to address the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people and mobilize the international community in this regard.

 

The Ministers requested the International Criminal Court to uphold its mandate to address the war crimes and crimes against humanity that are being committed against the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  They emphasized the centrality of justice in bringing an end to such crimes and impunity.

 

The Ministers expressed their support to the Lebanese initiatives to communicate information to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and demanded that NAM countries parties to the Rome Statute seize the jurisdiction of the Court on war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Palestinian people.

 

The Ministers also expressed grave concern over the plight of the more than 6,000 Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including administrative detainees, held captive by Israel, the occupying Power.  They condemned the abuse and physical and psychological mistreatment, including torture, of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, including children, women and elected officials, among them members of the Palestinian Legislative Council, including more than 800 people detained since 13 June 2014 demanded their immediate and unconditional release;

 

The Ministers further condemned the continuing colonization of the Palestinian land by Israel, the occupying Power.  They demanded a halt of the confiscation of Palestinian property and the construction and expansion of Israeli settlements and the Wall, in grave breach of international humanitarian law and in flagrant disrespect of the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice.  They also expressed grave concern over the frequent acts of violence, terror and incitement against Palestinian civilians and the destruction of the Palestinian properties by Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and called for action to hold the perpetrators accountable for these crimes. They expressed deep concern also in this regard about the provocation and incitement by Jewish extremists against Muslim and Christian holy sites, especially in Occupied East Jerusalem and at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, and warned of the dangerous consequences of such continued provocations and aggressions.

 

The Ministers welcomed the decision by the Human Rights Council to launch an official international, independent inquiry into all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law resulting from the recent Israeli military aggression against the besieged Gaza Strip. They stressed the need to fully investigate all violations by Israel, the occupying Power, of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, towards establishing accountability and justice for the victims of these crimes.

 

The Ministers also supported the request by the State of Palestine for the rapid convening of a Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to examine measures, in accordance with common article 1, to ensure respect and enforce the Convention in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.  They called on Switzerland, in its capacity as Depositary, to undertake the necessary efforts for the timely convening of such an important Conference, with a view to addressing the grave breaches of international humanitarian law being perpetrated by Israel, the occupying Power, and to ensuring protection to the Palestinian people.  Further in this regard, the Ministers supported the call by President Abbas to the Secretary-General Ban K-moon for the United Nations to take all effective measures at its disposal to ensure the protection of the Palestinian civilian population under Israel’s occupation.

 

The Ministers stressed the need to continue meeting and consulting within the NAM Committee on Palestine, as well as within the larger Coordinating Bureau of the Movement, with a view, inter alia, to drafting a plan of action for the NAM in order to follow up on all of these critical issues at the United Nations and in all other appropriate political, legal and judicial forums.  They underscored in this regard the need to compel the necessary international action to resolve the root causes of the conflict and address the question of Palestine in all its aspects according to international law and the relevant United Nations resolutions.  They also called for continued efforts in support of the achievement of the full recognition and membership of the State of Palestine at the United Nations.

 

The Ministers welcomed all initiatives undertaken by several countries to boycott Israeli products and withdraw their ambassadors from Israel, including by many Latin American countries, and encouraged all other member States of the NAM to do so.

 

The Ministers reaffirmed their unwavering support for the just cause of Palestine and solidarity with the Palestinian people. They reaffirmed their principled and longstanding support for the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the achievement of their legitimate national aspirations, including for freedom, independence, justice, peace and dignity in their homeland.

 

An important scientific journal article published today finds that 66% of Earth’s land area must be maintained as natural and agro-ecological ecosystems to sustain a livable environment. Yet about 50% have already been lost, threatening global biosphere collapse. In describing the paper, author Dr. Glen Barry suggests the Ebola epidemic, California drought, and Middle East revolutions indicate planetary boundaries have been exceeded.

New science finds that two-thirds of Earth’s land-based ecosystems must be protected to sustain the biosphere long-term. Yet about one-half of Earth’s natural ecosystems have already been lost. The scientific review article by Dr. Glen Barry – entitled “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse” – was published today in the international journal “Management of Environmental Quality”.

The paper proposes terrestrial ecosystem loss as the tenth ecological planetary boundary (along with climate change, biodiversity loss, and nitrogen deposition which have already been exceeded, and six others nearing the limit). It is proposed that 66% of Earth’s land – 44% as intact natural ecosystems and 22% as agro-ecological buffers – must remain intact to sustain the biosphere. This would require ending industrial primary forest logging and restoring old-growth forests to reconnect fragmented landscapes and bioregions. It is necessary to remain within planetary boundaries to ensure humanity continues to be surrounded by a healthy natural environment adequate to sustain the biosphere as well as local livelihoods and well-being.

“The emerging Ebola epidemic, California drought, and Middle East civil strife are all indicative of what occurs when planetary ecological boundaries remain unrecognized and are surpassed. It is my hope this paper illustrates the absolute necessity of protecting and restoring large, connected old-growth forests and other natural ecosystems, buffered by agro-ecological ecosystems, to ensure Earth remains habitable,” states Dr. Barry.

“For the future of the human family and all life, all necessary actions must be taken to protect natural ecosystems and eliminate fossil fuel emissions, in order to avert biosphere collapse and achieve global ecological sustainability.”

Dr. Barry is an internationally recognized political ecologist, data scientist, and writer living in Madison, and near Green Bay, Wisconsin. He is well-known within the environmental community as a leading global ecological visionary, public intellectual, and environmental policy critic. The abstract can be found, and the paper purchased here:http://www.emeraldinsight.com/fwd.htm?id=aob&ini=aob&doi=10.1108/MEQ-06-2013-0069 (the media can email the author for a copy to report upon).

The paper proposes the first measureable and spatially explicit terrestrial ecosystem loss threshold as part of planetary boundary science. What ecological science knows about biodiversity and old-growth forest loss, abrupt climate change, and ecosystem collapse is reviewed. It is suggested patterns of habitat fragmentation identified in ecosystems and landscapes – that ecological systems “percolate” to a new simplified state and often collapse when ~40% are lost, and noting the critical role of habitat connectivity – also hold true for the biosphere (the sum total of global ecosystems).

Building upon the planetary boundary scientific tradition, the scientific purpose of the journal article “is to propose a measurable terrestrial ecosystem boundary to answer the question: what extent of landscapes, bioregions, continents, and the global Earth System must remain as connected and intact core ecological areas and agro-ecological buffers to sustain local and regional ecosystem services as well as the biosphere commons?”

Dr. Barry proposes a new planetary boundary threshold: “…that across scales 60 percent of terrestrial ecosystems must remain, setting the boundary at 66 percent as a precaution, to maintain key biogeochemical processes that sustain the biosphere and for ecosystems to remain the context for human endeavors. Strict protection is proposed for 44 percent of global land, 22 percent as agro-ecological buffers, and 33 percent as zones of sustainable human use.”

Excerpts of the paper’s conclusion include:

“It is prudent not to dismiss the possibility that the Earth System – the biosphere – could die if critical thresholds are crossed… Humanity’s well-being depends upon complex ecosystems that support life on our planet, yet we are consuming the biophysical foundation of civilization… Scientists need to take greater latitude in proposing solutions that lie outside the current political paradigms and sovereign powers… By not considering revolutionary change, we dismiss all options outside the dominant growth-based oligarchies”. Dr. Barry goes on to propose a revolutionary global carbon tax to “establish and protect large and connected core ecological areas, buffers, and agro-ecological transition zones throughout all of Earth’s bioregions.”

[1] Rockstrom et al (2009a), “A safe operating space for humanity”, Nature, Vol. 461 No. 7263.

For more information and how to support Dr. Glen Barry’s pioneering work in political ecology please visit: http://EcoInternet.org/

August 5, 2014

Contact for Interviews: Dr. Glen Barry, 608 770 0782, [email protected]

Citation: Barry, G. (2014), “Terrestrial ecosystem loss and biosphere collapse”, Management of Environmental Quality, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 542-563. Abstract

EcoInternet, PO Box 2484 , Madison, 53701

Copyright Dr. G Barry, EcoInternet, 2014

Earthquake in Southern China leaves nearly 400 Dead

August 5th, 2014 by Ben McGrath

A devastating earthquake struck southern China on Sunday, leaving towns and villages in ruins in one of the county’s most poverty stricken regions. The area has suffered a number of deadly earthquakes in recent years, including a major quake in 2008, centred in Sichuan Province, that left nearly 90,000 dead or missing.

Sunday’s earthquake left at least 398 people dead and more than 1,800 injured. However, as rescuers search for survivors, the death toll is likely to rise. The quake struck in the southern province of Yunnan around 4.30 p.m. and recorded 6.5 on the Richter scale, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. The US Geological Survey put it at 6.1. The epicenter was located in Ludian county, near Longtouchan town, about 22 kilometers southwest of the county seat of Zhaotong.

Ludian county has a population of about 429,000 people and is located about 366 kilometers from the provincial capital of Kunming. Eyewitnesses described the scenes as resembling a battlefield after bombardment. Up to 230,000 people have been displaced, whether through the loss of their homes or evacuation.

The earthquake struck at the relatively shallow depth of about 10 kilometers. Earthquakes that strike closer to Earth’s surface release more energy and thereby cause greater shaking and more damage. According to the state broadcaster CCTV, Sunday’s quake was the strongest in the region in the past 14 years. A serious of tremors two years ago in the same region killed dozens of people.

In the city of Zhaotong, resident Ma Liya described the impact. “The aftermath is much, much worse than what happened after the quake two years ago,” she said. “I have never felt such strong tremors before. What I can see are all ruins.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for “all-out efforts” to rescue people still trapped under the rubble. According to the official Xinhua newsagency, 11,000 police and firefighters were on the scene, accompanied by 7,000 soldiers. The government sent 2,000 tents, 3,000 folding beds, 3,000 quilts and 3,000 coats to the disaster zone. However, given the number of people affected, this is clearly insufficient. The finance ministry said it would provide 600 million yuan ($97 million) in aid.

As of Monday, Xinhua reported that emergency workers had rescued at least 32 people, including a five-year old boy. However, it is becoming clear that China is not prepared for a major earthquake, despite the 2008 Sichuan catastrophe.

The bodies of the dead were laid out in the streets while those injured were waiting in pouring rain for food and medical care. Supplies were insufficient. Those with severe injuries requiring surgery were unable to get the care they need.

Many of those assisting in the rescue operations were young people and students. Ma Yaoqi, an 18-year-old volunteer, told the Associated Press on Monday: “I saw dead bodies being wrapped in quilts and carried away. Some were wrapped with small quilts. Those must be kids.”

The quake occurred in a remote, mountainous region, where mining and farming are the primary sources of income. The poor have once again been disproportionately affected by the natural disaster. Many of the homes destroyed were old, brick buildings, unable to stand up against the earthquake’s force. Footage of the ruins has shown newer buildings still standing.

Among the buildings destroyed was an elementary school where young students are believed to have been trapped. According to Zhaotong city resident Zhang Fang: “The school buildings here are not of good quality.”

Many schools were destroyed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, provoking a wave of anger among parents who lost their children. Rather than prepare for future earthquakes, however, the government has done nothing to prevent the present tragedy.

Many of the roads leading to the affected areas have been damaged by the quake or become inaccessible due to heavy rain. The area is also at risk of landslides. Xinhua said rescuers “are also battling the continual downpour that has brought down the temperature in the remote area and made shortages of food and medicine even more pernicious.”

There is conflicting information over the number of people affected. Initial estimates indicated that 12,000 homes were destroyed and another 30,000 seriously damaged. However, Agence France-Presse reported that as many as 80,000 homes were destroyed and another 124,000 seriously damaged. Many residents are afraid to go back inside their homes for fear of aftershocks.

Premier Li Keqiang arrived in the affected region on Monday, telling rescue workers: “Saving one more person means saving the happiness of a whole family. Saving lives is the top priority. Don’t stop! Spare no effort!” Li’s arrival and exhortations follow a well-worn pattern of damage control, aimed at deflecting anger among the survivors and preventing the tragedy from becoming a focus for national discontent and opposition to the government.

Li’s predecessor, Wen Jiabao, followed a similar template during the Sichuan earthquake, as well as innumerable other natural and man-made disasters. He would invariably appear on the scene to express concern and urge relief workers to “maximum effort” before returning to Beijing without addressing any of the underlying issues.

The US and European Union are stepping up their campaign against Russia as the Ukrainian army intensifies its attack on the civilian population in the east of the country, unleashing a humanitarian catastrophe. Meanwhile, in leading political and military circles there is increasing talk of a direct military engagement with Russia.

On Sunday NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave an interview to the French newspaper Midi Libre declaring that the military alliance anticipated “Russian aggression” and would respond accordingly. NATO would “intensify its military maneuvers and draw up new defense plans,” Rasmussen said. He also reiterated his call for a substantial increase in the military budgets of NATO member states.

On the same day, the Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov used his blog to call upon the EU and the US not only to supply weapons to the forces controlled by Kiev, but also support the direct intervention of NATO forces to suppress opposition in the east of the country.

A report of the US television network CNN on Sunday made clear how quickly the rationale for a NATO intervention could develop. According to the report, on July 18, just one day after the crash of the Malaysian passenger plane MH17, an American espionage plane was detected by Russian radar and forced to evacuate the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad by a Russian interceptor. The US flight crew apparently thought the situation to be so dangerous that they fled into Swedish airspace without first obtaining permission to do so.

For its part Russia commenced a military maneuver on Monday which in part will take place close to the Ukrainian border, and, according to Russian sources, includes more than 100 combat aircraft. The exercise is due to last until Friday and had been planned some time ago. The Russian military command describes the operation as part of a series of maneuvers aimed at improving the organization of the country’s air force.

The German government has meanwhile expanded its existing economic sanctions against Russia. According to a report in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) has permanently withdrawn approval for the export of a combat training center by the German Rheinmetall defense company. The contract for the construction of the center in the Russian Volga region was valued at 100 million euros. The decision by Gabriel goes well beyond the remit of existing EU sanctions against Russia, which affected future arms exports while protecting existing contracts.

The aggression against Russia is being accompanied by a hysterical media campaign. Since its launch last week by Der Spiegel not a day has passed without a fresh bout of blatant propaganda for war.

On Monday journalist Reinhard Veser outlined a scenario in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung whereby Russia was not only militarily active in eastern Ukraine, but could also annex all of Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Georgia. Given this alleged threat, Veser wrote, the West must “strengthen and also demonstrate its military preparedness.” “What is needed is a new twin track decision,” i.e. a new variant of the decision by NATO members made in December 1979 to deploy nuclear weapons in Western Europe in order to step up military pressure against the Soviet Union.

Last Thursday, Professor Stefan Troebst from the University of Leipzig demanded in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung a policy of containment for Russia, which would include “drawing strict lines, troop relocations and embargoes, even blockades.” Basing himself on similar proposals by the leading Green politician Werner Schulz, Troest suggested cutting off Russia’s Black Sea Fleet from the world’s oceans by blocking the Straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles.

As commentators and journalists outdo one another with their war-mongering, the Ukrainian army is proceeding brutally against the civilian population in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are controlled by pro-Russian separatists. A report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released last week reported that the Ukrainian army was deploying Grad missiles against residential areas. The missiles, dating from the Soviet era, are powerful weapons and also notoriously imprecise. Their use against large cities invariably results in high numbers of victims among the civilian population.

Insurgents are now reporting that modern and even more deadly Uragan missiles are being used. Dozens of Uragan systems are being stationed around Donetsk, according to the rebels. The Russian Foreign Ministry also stated that Tochka ballistic missile systems would be erected near the city. Last week evidence emerged of the use of these heavy duty weapons, which have an enormous destructive power. There has been no confirmation of the reports from the Ukrainian side.

The situation for the civilian population in the two cities of Donetsk and Luhansk besieged by the Kiev regime has worsened dramatically. “Telephone communication is paralyzed, the railway hospital was destroyed by six direct hits, and a clinic and a crèche were severely damaged,” according to the City Council of Luhansk on Saturday. Mayor of Luhansk Sergei Kravchenko warned that the city was on the “brink of a humanitarian catastrophe.” Both the electricity and water supply had collapsed.

On Monday rebel sources reported that 523 people had been killed and more than 3,000 were injured alone in Donetsk since fighting began. “The victims are in the main civilians” said Andrej Rodkin, a representative of the separatists in Moscow. No independent confirmation of these figures is available.

Conditions for the Ukrainian soldiers have also been described as devastating. Many soldiers are often cut off from supplies for weeks at a time and lack basic foodstuffs. Many of the troops mobilized have reportedly refused to train their guns on their fellow countrymen in the East.

On Monday the Russian news agency Ria Novosti reported that 438 Ukrainian soldiers had used a humanitarian corridor to Russia to request asylum at the Russian border. It was later reported that 180 of the soldiers sought to return to Ukraine and had been taken back to the border. The Ukrainian military has disputed the reports, declaring that soldiers had been forced to flee to Russian territory but had not surrendered.

The war and the anti-social actions of the government are aggravating the social situation for workers throughout Ukraine. The hot water supply was cut off in the capital city of Kiev on Monday. Mayor Vitali Klitschko justified the move by invoking the difficult economic situation and the halt of gas supplies from Russia. The hot water system is only to be reconnected in October at the beginning of the heating season. “We have to do without hot water in order to build up the gas depots for the winter,” Klitschko declared.

Meanwhile protests against the war are growing throughout the country. There have been widespread reports of protesting soldiers’ mothers, especially in areas with a strong Romanian minority. Now, more and more reports of protests are emerging from all parts of Ukraine.

The German Stern news magazine reported that barracks and offices in western Ukraine were being occupied to prevent the conscription of more soldiers. In Bogorodchany in Ivano-Frankivsk women demanded “conscription for the children of politicians.” Protests have also been recorded in Kiev, Lviv, Belaya Tserkov, and Nikolayev.

Preface: This is not a partisan issue. As shown below, Democrats are complicit in high crimes as well.

The Government Is Breaking the Law By Failing to Prosecute Torture

President Ronald Reagan signed a treaty legally requiring the U.S. to prosecute everyone who authorizes torture.

Specifically, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (signed by the U.S. under Ronald Reagan) provides:

Article 2

1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture. . . .

Article 4

1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

Article 7

1. The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.

Article 15

Each State Party shall ensure that any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made.

This is not some non-binding, touchy-feeley resolution … it is the law of the land.

Specifically, Article 6 of the United States Constitution dictates:

This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

On May 20, 1988 – as he was transmitting the Treaty to the Senate – Reagan said:

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the Convention. It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called “universal jurisdiction.” Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.

In a 2005 Report to the UN Committee Against Torture 2005 Report to the UN Committee Against Torture, John Bellinger – the Legal Adviser to the George W. Bush State Department – wrote:

Article 6 (Detention and preliminary inquiry in cases of extradition) and Article 7 (Extradite or prosecute)

53.  As described in the Initial Report, federal law and bilateral extradition treaties provide the legal basis by which the United States can either extradite or prosecute individuals alleged to have committed offenses involving torture, as required by Article 7 of the Convention.

Also in 2005, Condoleezza Rice – Bush’s National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State -  said:

Torture, and conspiracy to commit torture, are crimes under U.S. law, wherever they may occur in the world.


In addition, the United States War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal statute set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2441, makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national, whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment. (Torture is – of course – a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which make it illegal to inflict mental or physical torture or inhuman treatment.  )

The statute applies not only to those who carry out the acts, but also to those who ORDER IT, know about it, or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute applies to everyone, no matter how high and mighty.   18 U.S.C. § 2441 has no statute of limitations, which means that a war crimes complaint can be filed at any time.

The penalty may be life imprisonment or — if a single prisoner dies due to torture — death. Given that there are numerous, documented cases of   prisoners being tortured to death by U.S. soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan, that means that the death penalty would be appropriate for anyone found guilty of carrying out, ordering, or sanctioning such conduct.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 limited the applicability of the War Crimes Act, but still made the following unlawful:  torture, cruel or inhumane treatment, murder, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily harm, rape, sexual assault or abuse.

In 2006, 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow – a key member of Bush’s transition team in 2000, and a top assistant to Ms. Rice – noted that the Bush administration’s use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” interrogation techniques like waterboarding were “a felony war crime” … “even if there is a compelling state interest asserted to justify them.”

Zelikow added:

We are unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here … even where the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.”

Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law and a professor of law Lawrence Velvel and many other legal experts say that the torture which was carried out after 9/11 is a war crime.

Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clarke notes:

The U.S. is treaty bound to prosecute all persons, high and low, who have authorized, condoned or committed torture if our word in the international community is to mean anything.

Darrel Vandeveld – former  prosecutor in the Guantanamo military commissions, and current Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve – wrote:

Torture is a crime and the United States engaged in it. Those are two indisputable facts…

The process of self-examination and accountability has been, and remains, the only way to move forward and regain our moral and legal grounding

We have a Department of Justice for a reason, and now it’s up to Attorney General Holder, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, to do his job and appoint an independent prosecutor to follow the evidence where it may lead…

It is critical that we hold accountable those who authorized, those who legally sanctioned and those who implemented the torture policies of one of the darkest periods in our nation’s history. What is at stake is nothing less than our democracy.

Moreover:

General Ricardo Sanchez, the former top coalition commander in Iraq, called for a Truth Commission so we might fully understand the failure of the military and civilian command to honor the pledge of our constitution.

Sanchez . . .stressed that the outcome must embrace a variety of solutions, including prosecution.

Sanchez stated, “When the president made the declaration that the Geneva Conventions no longer apply, we unleashed the hounds of hell and eliminated all the foundations for the training, ethics and structure we had built into our soldiers and our leaders for how to conduct these kinds of operations.”

Sanchez stated many problems could be traced to loyalties to individuals and political parties.

Former President Jimmy Carter is also calling for a truth commission with the possibility of prosecution:

“[I] like to see is a complete examination of what did happen, the identification of any perpetrators of crimes against our own laws or against international law,” said Carter. “And then after all that’s done, decide whether or not there should be any prosecutions.”

Colin Powell’s former chief of staff stated that Dick Cheney is guilty of war crimes for overseeing torture policies.

Matthew Alexander – a former top Air Force interrogator who led the team that tracked down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi – notes that government officials knew they are vulnerable for war crime prosecution:

They have, from the beginning, been trying to prevent an investigation into war crimes.

A Malaysian war crimes commission also found Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and five administration attorneys guilty of war crimes (although but the commission has no power to enforce its judgment).

There Is NO DEFENSE

Former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State argued that : as late as 2009, Rice echoed Richard Nixon (and Nazis during the Nuremberg war crimes trials) by claiming – “if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture”:

Former constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald noted in 2009:

All of the standard excuses being offered by … apologists and our political class (a virtual redundancy) – namely:  our leaders meant well; we were facing a dangerous enemy; government lawyers said this could be done; Congress immunized the torturers; it would be too divisive to prosecute — are explicitly barred by this treaty (i.e., binding law) as a ground for refusing to investigate and prosecute acts of torture.

This is also why the standard argument now being offered by … apologists (such as University of Chicago Law Professor Eric Posner, echoing his dad, Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner in Chicago) as to why prosecutions are unnecessary — namely:  there is “prosecutorial discretion” that should take political factors into account in order not to prosecute — are both frivolous and lawless.  The Convention explicitly bars any such “discretion”:  ”The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall . . . submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.”  The principal purpose of the Convention is to remove the discretion involved in prosecuting acts of torture and to bar the very excuses which every torturing society proffers and which our own torturing society is now attempting to invoke (“we were dealing with real threats; there were ‘exceptional circumstances’ that justified it; we enacted laws legalizing the torture; our leaders meant well; we need to move on”).

International treaties which the U.S. signs and ratifies aren’t cute little left-wing platitudes for tying the hands of America.  They’re binding law according to the explicit mandates of Article VI of our Constitution.  Thus, there simply is no way to (a) argue against investigations and prosecutions for Bush officials and simultaneously (b) claim with a straight face to believe in the rule of law, that no one is above the law, and that the U.S. should adhere to the same rules and values it attempts to impose on the rest of the world.  Last week, Paul Krugman stated about as clearly as possible why this is so:

I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.

Bush and Cheney have both admitted on camera that they ordered waterboarding and “enhanced interrogation”:



(Obama, Attorney General Holder, and all of the experts say waterboarding is torture.)

And both the Senate Intelligence Committee’s torture report – and many other sources – document that the U.S. undertook a systematic and widespread program of torture (of a specific type of torture aimed at producing false confessions).

Yet Daily Kos notes that none of those who authorized or condoned torture have been published in any way, shape or form:

But over five years later, no “patriotic official” has been indicted, no judges have been impeached and no professor has been stripped of his academic tenure—not even the one who defined torture as “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” In June, John Yoo was awarded an endowed faculty chair at the UC Berkeley School of Law. Bush appointee Jay Bybee remains on the federal bench. Cheney’s legal alchemist David Addington is now creating alternative realities at the Heritage Center. Psychologist James Mitchell, one of the consultants who helped the Bush administration render the Geneva Conventions quaint, didn’t lose his professional credentials, even after claiming, “I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country.” Jose Rodriguez, who as head of the CIA’s clandestine service personally ordered the destruction of dozens of interrogation videotapes, is a conservative hero who has smeared the soon-to-be-released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA torture program despite having never read a word of it. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney appears regularly on your television screen to accuse President Obama of treason. As for Cheney’s former Oval Office sock puppet, George W. Bush is free to paint himself in the shower and give speeches to “replenish the ol’ coffers.”

Democrats Are Complicit

It’s not just Republicans … Democrats are complicit.

For example, Nancy Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller all knew about – and covered up – the torture program.

And Obama and Attorney General Holder are also complicit for failing to prosecute those who ordered or covered up torture.  As progressive writer Dan Froomkin reported last year:

The Constitution Project’s Task Force on Detainee Treatment … lays the blame fully at the feet of the current administration, for covering up what happened and stifling any sort of national conversation on the topic — and the media, for splitting the difference between the facts and the plainly specious argument made by torture regime’s architects that what occurred should be defined as something other than what it so obviously was.

The report points out, as I have in the past, that neither Obama nor Congress have done a thing to make sure that, the next time a perceived emergency comes up, some other president or vice president won’t decide to torture again.

***

“The United States cannot be said to have complied,” the report concludes, noting:

No CIA personnel have been convicted or even charged for numerous instances of torture in CIA custody — including cases where interrogators exceeded what was authorized by the Office of Legal Counsel, and cases where detainees were tortured to death. Many acts of unauthorized torture by military forces have also been inadequately investigated or prosecuted.

So it’s not just Bush and Cheney who violated international law; now it’s Obama, too.

The report is blistering about the cover-up. “The high level of secrecy surrounding the rendition and torture of detainees since September 11 cannot continue to be justified on the basis of national security,” it states. “Ongoing classification of these practices serves only to conceal evidence of wrongdoing and make its repetition more likely.”

And Obama appears to be continuing the “extraordinary rendition” type of torture.

It is abundantly clear that a truthful resolution to the tragedy of the downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was never the goal of Washington, London, and Brussels. Citing baseless accusations surrounding the tragedy, the West has leveled a series of incrementally expansive sanctions against Russia while using the tragedy to justify increased military support for Kiev’s military forces even as they wage total war against their own population including the use of ballistic missiles, airstrikes, artillery barrages, and tanks. Clearly the goal then was to exploit the air disaster as long as possible before the truth began to emerge – and when that truth did emerge, to ensure the subject of MH17 altogether faded from the collective consciousness of the general public.Surely if the facts surrounding the disaster tallied with Washington, London, and Brussel’s initial and baseless accusations, it would make the subsequent moves by the West to sanction Russia while propping up the regime in Kiev, Ukraine, all the more poignant. Instead, the West appears to be intentionally playing down the actual investigation and pushing forward its gains made – wrought from the tragedy and hailed as a “game changer” in a conflict the West was decidedly losing.

As the Truth Trickles Out… 

In the propaganda firestorm following the downing of MH17 the West was careful to cherry pick certain aspects of the disaster and spin it relentlessly as it accused Russia and eastern Ukraine. But even amongst the West’s own investigators a story far from conclusive emerged casting serious doubts on the narrative being peddled from behind podiums in Washington. In an interview with Canada’s CBC News, Michael Bociurkiw, a Ukrainian-Canadian monitor with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) claimed to have seen what looked like machine gun holes in the fuselage and no evidence he could see of a missile.

While Bociurkiw would admit he lacks the trained eyes to discern what actually may have downed MH17, his eyewitness account sows doubt among the feigned certainty the West used to push through sanctions and to justify military aid to Kiev. The West has utterly failed to provide any evidence at all to either explain Bociurkiw’s observations, or any aspect of their own official narrative. Bociurkiw’s observations do however corroborate certain aspects of Russia’s rebuttal to the West’s accusations.

Russia disclosed radar information and satellite images that contradicted the West’s accusations. The Russian data would also indicate the presence of a Ukrainian SU-25 jet in the vicinity near MH17 before it went down. The SU-25 possesses a 30 mm cannon that would inflict damage like that observed by Bociurkiw. While far from conclusive, it is a much more viable explanation as to what happened to MH17, based on physical evidence, than what has thus far been put forth by the West.

In addition to Bociurkiw’s account, there are many other witnesses and experts who have suggested an SU-25′s 30 mm cannon as the possible culprit behind the downing of MH17 – and as these accounts and analysis begin to reach a crescendo, the West’s interest in ascertaining the truth behind the disaster appears to be at an all time low. So much emphasis was initially placed on the theory of a surface to air missile downing the aircraft that other possibilities were defacto ruled out. However these alternative possibilities were ruled out without any proper investigation or demonstrable evidence to justify doing so.

Sanctions and War In Lieu of an Investigation 

Just as the West had attempted to rush to war against Syria based on tenuous, suspicious circumstances surrounding the gassing of thousands on the edge of Damascus, the West now seeks to punish Russia economically and edge itself and Europe ever closer to an expanded proxy war with Moscow. It would be later confirmed that the sarin gas attack in Damascus was the work of NATO itself through its terrorist proxies – and similarly as evidence trickles out regarding MH17 – it appears the West and its proxies were not only the greatest benefactors of the tragedy, but the prime suspects as well.

Once again the West has advanced its agenda forward by disingenuously leveraging tragedy to sell otherwise unjustifiable and undesirable measures against a member of the international community. Stronger European sanctions against Russia had just failed in the days prior to the downing of MH17, but in the wake of the disaster, passed with ease. Likewise, providing Kiev with weapons and training was becoming increasingly unthinkable as their human rights record and their affiliations and proclivities toward Nazism became increasingly difficult to cover up or spin.

Now it appears the West has been able to work around these otherwise insurmountable obstacles and move the region closer toward war and further away from a settlement that would have surely left the West in an undesirable position in relation to Moscow. And as the West moves forward toward what it believes is a more desirable outcome, ascertaining the truth behind what downed MH17 will become an inconvenience. While the West used the memories of those lost in the tragedy to portray Russia and eastern Ukraine as heartless and indifferent to the suffering of innocent lives lost – it is the West who is now demonstrably obstructing justice for these people while shamelessly exploiting it to advance their geopolitical agenda both in Ukraine and against Russia.

For all the promises the West made in regards to seeking the truth behind MH17 – what we see today is memories and enthusiasm fading, the victims forgotten, and the tragedy all but buried – leaving us with sanctions against Russia and binding agreements made by the West to arm, fund, and train militants fighting for the regime in Kiev. If one were to believe the West’s rhetoric about Russia being the “bad guy,” what then, considering the current priority of MH17 within the West’s agenda, does that make Washington, London, and Brussels?

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

A recent review carried out by the organization GRAIN revealed that small farms produce most of the world’s food and are more productively efficient than large farms [1].

Facilitated by an appropriate policy framework, small farmers could easily feed the global population. However, small farmers are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland. The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of the rich and powerful. The report concluded that if nothing is done to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.

 One major reason why small farms are disappearing is the rapid growth of monoculture plantations. In the last 50 years, 140 million hectares – well more than all the farmland in China - have been taken over for soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane alone. By definition, peasant agriculture prioritizes food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families, whereas corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritize commodities or export crops for profit and markets far away that cater for the needs of the affluent. 

 This process impoverishes local communities and brings about food insecurity. GRAIN’s Camila Montecinos concludes that the concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day. While industrial farms have enormous power, influence and resources, GRAIN’s data review showed that small farms almost everywhere outperform big farms in terms of productivity.

On the heels of the review by GRAIN is a new report from the policy think tank the Oakland Institute which states that the first years of the 21st century will be remembered for a global land rush of nearly unprecedented scale [2]. An estimated 500 million acres, an area eight times the size of Britain, was reported bought or leased across the developing world between 2000 and 2011, often at the expense of local food security and land rights.

The Oakland Institute indicates how a new generation of institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity, pension funds and university endowments, is eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns, not food security, are what matter.

And this trend is not confined to the much publicized buying up of valuable agricultural land in low-income by foreign concerns [3]. The Institute’s Executive Director, Anuradha Mittal, argues that although media coverage tends to focus on land grabs in these countries, there is also a new rush for US farmland. With rising interest from investors and surging land prices, giant pension funds like TIAA-CREF are committing billions to buy agricultural land.

She states that one industry leader estimates that ten billion dollars in institutional capital is looking for access to US farmland, but that figure could easily rise as investors seek to ride out uncertain financial times by placing their money in the perceived safety of agriculture. The US will experiences an unprecedented crisis of retiring farmers over the next 20 years, leading to ample opportunities for these actors to expand their holdings as an estimated 400 million acres changes generational hands.

Mittal argues that for all their size and ambition, virtually nothing is known about these new investors and their business practices. Who do they buy land from? What do they grow? How do they manage their properties? She concludes that in an industry not known for its transparency, none of these questions have a satisfactory answer.

The corporate consolidation of agriculture is being felt just as strongly in Iowa and California as it is in the Philippines and Mozambique. Mittal notes that some of the most powerful players involved in these major land acquisitions include: UBS Agrivest, a subsidiary of the biggest bank in Switzerland; the Hancock Agricultural Investment Group (HAIG), a subsidiary of the biggest insurance company in Canada; and the Teacher Annuity Insurance Association College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), one of the largest pension funds in the world.

 Mittal argues that this is crucial to look at the motives and pratices of these major players because although institutional investors only currently own an apparently tiny one percent of all US farmland and farmers are still the biggest buyers of farmland across the country, the writing is on the wall in terms of the long-term trends that threaten US agriculture.

Investors believe that there is roughly 1.8 trillion dollars’ worth of farmland across the US. According to the Oakland Institute, of this between 300 and 500 billion dollars is considered to be of “institutional quality,” a combination of factors relating to size, water access, soil quality, and location that determine the investment appeal of a property. This makes domestic farmland a huge and largely untapped asset class. Some of the biggest actors in the financial sector have already sought to exploit this opportunity by making equity investments in farmland. Frequently, these buyers enter the market with so much capital that their funds are practically limitless compared with the resources of most farmers.

Anuradha Mittal notes that they have made an impressive foothold and that this is the beginning, not the end, of a land rush. Not only is there space in the market for institutional investors to expand, but there are also major financial incentives for them to do so. She argues that if action is not taken, then a perfect storm of global and national trends could converge to permanently shift farm ownership from family businesses to institutional investors and other consolidated corporate operations.

A September 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development [4] stated that farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduced use of fertilisers and other inputs, greater support for small-scale farmers and more locally focused production and consumption of food. The report stated that monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed. The system actually causes food poverty, not addresses it, something which people like Vandana Shiva have been saying for some time [5].

 Numerous high level reports from the UN and development agencies have argued in favour of small farmers and agro-ecology. However,the bedrock of food production and food security – the small farmer – faces marginalisation and economic distress. The trends in favour of ‘asset-based’, corporate-dictated agriculture do not bode well, especially for low-income (rural-based) countries. That type of system does not exist to address food security or support local economies. Based on speculation, the ring-fencing of commodities for markets and the control of subsidies, prices and inputs, it exists to satisfy shareholders and investors elsewhere.

Notes

[1] http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4929-hungry-for-land-small-farmers-feed-the-world-with-less-than-a-quarter-of-all-farmland

[2] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/sites/oaklandinstitute.org/files/OI_Report_Down_on_the_Farm.pdf

[3] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/publications

[4] http://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/tdr2013_en.pdf

[5] http://www.globalresearch.ca/our-hunger-games/5302603

The Surrender of the 72nd Brigade

Original: Colonel Cassad LiveJournal
Translated from Russian by Gleb Bazov

Slavyangrad.org   [Cauldron indicates a geographic designaiton of the hotspot of war in South East Ukraine]

Today, the remnants of the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade fled into the territory of the Russian Federation. According to Russia Today:

Four hundred and thirty eight Ukrainian servicemen have requested asylum in Russia and moved into the Russian territory. According to ITAR-TASS, this was announced by the Border Guard department of the Federal Security Service (“FSB”) of Russia.

Map1

Map: Operational information from Colonel Cassad LiveJournal

No agreement with respect to the surrender of all the surrounded has been reached yet (the negotiations that were reported earlier are still ongoing).

BuMtBF6IQAAPmQi.png-large

Accordingly, the Cauldron is starting to break up into parts. The 72nd Brigade for all intents and purposes has ceased to exist due to ammunition and food rations running out. They held on while they still had resources and then began to exit into the territory of the Russian Federation – at first in separate groups, followed by the surviving remnants of the once full-fledged brigade.

The hardware was all abandoned at their positions, which continue to be controlled by Junta troops that have not yet surrendered. When militiamen would drive up on tanks as close as 400 metres away from the positions of the Junta, there was no return fire – there is simply nothing to fire back with. Some of the soldiers of the 72nd Brigade had no rounds left during the surrender; others had 1-2 magazines per automatic rifle.

There is also information that among those who did not surrender there are Polish mercenaries, which essentially explains the stubbornness of the resistance (a serious international scandal is possible).

Those who remain in this part of the Cauldron were given an ultimatum to surrender and exit to Russia and not to touch the hardware.

Otherwise, the Grads will start working again. Strained arguments are ongoing there now; military commanders are reasoning that the potential for resistance has been exhausted and that they must surrender so as not to kill people in vain. Pravoseki [Note: Praviy Sector militants], mercenaries and the political zealots are demanding that the resistance be continued at all cost. As a result, a complete surrender is likely impossible – the majority of the military personnel will surrender and others will be leveled [with Grad MLRS], particularly in view of the fact that they have nothing to respond with.

I expect that this group will cease to exist in the course of 2-3 days, following which the Cauldron will shrink in half, and the Militia will start dealing with the remnants of the 24th and the 79th Brigades.

Map2

Map: Predicted Retreat Routes for the Troops Surrounded in the Southern Cauldron.

In order for you better to understand what has happened, those who surrendered were the remnants of the 72nd Brigade that were driven from Izvarino and Sverdlovsk toward the border with the Russian Federation.

At the same time, the Cauldron continues to exist in the gap between Marinovka and Birukovo, where the remnants of the 79ths Separate Aeromobiles Brigade and the 24th Separate Mechanized Brigade, as well as the various reinforcement units and punitive formations, continue to hold defensive positions.

Overall, the Southern Cauldron now has truly entered the final stages of its existence; the agony of the units deprived of provisions has begun.

Photo3Photograph: Ukrainian Troops After Crossing into the Russian Territory.

And this note by Russia Today is specifically about those who intend to cross the Russian border in the nearest future. They simply face the same problems as the 72nd Separate Mechanized Brigade (“OMBR”).

One more group of Ukrainian servicemen intends to cross the border into Russia after almost 440 soldiers and officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces crossed into the territory of the adjacent country in the night of August 4th. As reported by ITAR-TASS, quoting the head of the press service of the Border Guard department of the FSB in the Rostov region, the exact number of servicemen that intend to cross into the Russian Federation is still unknown.


The Official Junta’s Version  RBK-Ukraine

A group of servicemen of the 72nd Motorized Brigade was forced to retreat into the territory of the Russian Federation because they ran out of ammo during a battle with the terrorists. This was announced to RBK-Ukraine by Alexey Dmitrashkovskiy, a representative of the press-centre of the antiterrorist operation in Donbass.

According to Dmitrashkovskiy:

“Servicemen of the 72nd Brigade divided into two units. The first unit broke through the ring of terrorists, and the second unit covered these servicemen. After that, one of the units had their ammo and provisions run out. Military hardware that was on the battlefield was damaged. After that the personnel was forced to transport into the area of the border crossing checkpoint in Russia. According to latest information, the servicemen are in the territory of Russia. The number of the servicemen is being confirmed.” According to his statements, reinforcements have already arrived to assist the servicemen that covered those who were breaking through the ring of terrorists.

Earlier, the Russian Federal Security Service (“FSB”) stated that more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers have requested asylum in the Russian Federation. As it was clarified, a humanitarian corridor was opened for the Ukrainian military and they were allowed to cross into Russia.

The remnants of the 79th Aeromobile and the 24th Motorized Rifle Brigade and Battalion Shakhter continue to remain in the Southern Cauldron. Just south of this grouping is Battalion Azov.

GR Editor’s Note:

The village of Voloka, which is one among many locations in Ukraine where protests are occurring is in South-Western Ukraine within less than 50km North of Ukraine’s border with Romania. It is located in the Chernivetska (Chernivitsi) oblast. 

The Kiev regime has lost control of its armed forces.

There is a widespread movement against the draft.

Entire units have abandoned the battlefield in Donbass.

Many soldiers are seeking refuge in Russia.

Some have joined the Donbass militia. (M.Ch. Global Research Editor)

by Gleb Bazov

Slavyangrad.org

We don’t want war, we want peace. There is no need for our men to go fighting. For what? We want peace.

We didn’t raise our children for war, we stand only for peace.

 Not at any price we will let them take our children. We will stand up for them now.

Village mayor (Voloka): Do not be afraid, the official stamp shall not be put on people’s applications.
Video: Ukrainian and Russian with English subtitles.

Transcript: Down With the Draft! A Protest in the Village of Voloka

Reporter: A third [draft] mobilization wave has started: in Ukraine officers, sergeants in reserve and private soldiers who have military experience are called up on a mass scale for a military service. Currently tens of call-up papers have reached every village and city. Besides men, women doctors are called up as well. Fifty call-up papers came to Voloka village (Glybotsky region), that made the citizens highly indignant. Mothers and wives tear-stained, husbands and sons angered gathered together in order to find a solution. They said they never wanted war, so they will not let their sons to fight.

Protestor: We don’t want war, we want peace. There is no need for our men to go fighting. For what? We want peace.

Protestor: We didn’t raise our children for war, we stand only for peace.

Protestor: Not at any price we will let take our children. We will stand up for them now.

Protestor: Mister Yatsenyuk bawled: “Put a bullet through a head!” – so let him go, why not?! … Instead he wears a white-collar shirt and a tie.

Protestor: We did not want war. Let those, who were protesting at Maidan, go to fight. We did not seek for war. We all are one village, one big family, and we will let take neither my husband nor other’s ones, neither sons nor fathers for war.

Protestor: They have started, let them sort out themselves and leave us alone. Over our dead bodies, we will lie on their way and not allow taking our children. Let them realize this and stop coming here with call-up papers.

Protestor: The citizens called a mayor to the meeting, but he didn’t appear, and a military commissioner came instead of him. After a half an hour discussion, they agreed to write a petition to the Regional State Administration and to Verkhovna Rada. Everybody signed the petition.

Valentyn Glopin, a village mayor (Voloka): Do not be afraid, the official stamp shall not be put on people’s applications.

Major Ivan Vanzar, a military commissioner of Glybotsky joint commissariat: I hope, that the people will be heard, because it is clear, that nobody wants now to go to the ATO zone, where the fights are held. So, we will see how the Verkhovna Rada and the President will hear them.

Reporter: The citizens of Voloka ensure they will not send their men to the army, and they expect the officials to support them.

by Valery Melnikov

A besieged garrison of Ukrainian soldiers and special forces in the south of the Luhansk region started negotiating conditions of their surrender with local independence supporters, a representative of the militia told RIA Novosti Sunday.

“They have run out of combat rations, water and fuel and they have small arms to last only a couple of days. They have started negotiating. They offer to destroy all their hardware, lay down arms and then we let them out of blockade back to the Ukrainian territory,” the source said adding that the militia did not accept these conditions.

The militia wants the government soldiers to leave their hardware as it is.

According to the source, the negotiations will last up to five days.

Armed clashes in Ukraine’s southeastern regions have not been abating since mid-April, when Kiev announced the beginning of a special military operation to suppress a growing independence movement among local citizens.

The civilian death toll from the running battles between government soldiers and self-defense forces has already surpassed 1,000, according to the recent UN estimates.

Moscow has repeatedly condemned Kiev’s military campaign against the population in the east of the country, advocating a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The Ministry of Health Gaza condemns in the strongest possible terms the Israeli breaking of the humanitarian ceasefire in a murderous attack on the Al-Bakri family home in Al-Shaati refugee camp in west Gaza City, killing an eight-year-old child and injuring 30 other people, mostly women and children.

This attack on a home in one of the most densely populated residential areas on earth only minutes after the commencement of a humanitarian ceasefire can only be seen as a calculated and deliberate attack on civilians.

 This attack can only be seen as calculated and cynical disregard for the ceasefire agreement – the same cynical disregard Israelis have evidenced towards each and every agreement they have ever signed, whether ceasefire, international convention, treaty or peace agreement.

This attack in breach of all legal and humanitarian law can only be seen as yet another example of the complete contempt and disdain in which the Israeli authorities hold all standards of civilised behaviour, organisations and instruments of international law, and humanity itself.

 This attack comes amid the ongoing massacre in Rafah in which at least 170 have already lost their lives, as the death toll continues to rise.

 Since July 7 more than 1,800 Gazans have been killed and almost 10,000 injured, the vast majority of them women, children and the elderly.

 Its own actions in the past four weeks have stripped the thin mask of civility from the Israeli face, and revealed its abject savagery to the world.

 In the name of humanity, the Ministry of Health Gaza demands that the international community act immediately to end the slaughter of innocents in Gaza, and hold the Israeli war criminals to account.

Originally published by WhoWhatWhy

at:  http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/03/the-subprime-economy-is-back-but-it-never-really-left/

Remember the sub-prime economy?

It’s back, but it’s different this time. Well, sorta different. And you may be affected by it in all kinds of ways.

The new sub-prime economy is a direct result of the catastrophic financial ruin caused by the old sub-prime mortgage crisis. Wall Street’s biggest money has figured out how to profit off of people deep in debt and unable to climb out because of the still-limping economy.

So, after pushing people to the margins with exotic financial instruments, Wall Street is now profiting off the increasingly marginal existence of many Americans. With more and more people renting their homes, the median household now 20% poorer today than it was in 1984, and almost half of all Americans now living paycheck to paycheck, the sub-prime economy has shifted away from big-ticket mortgages to profiting off the banalities of everyday life.

The numbers don’t lie: 35% of Americans—roughly 77 million people—have an outstanding debt currently being pursued by a collection agency, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. Although the individual amounts of delinquent debt range from as little as $25 to over $125,000, the national average is a staggering $5,178.

That’s a lot of bad debt in the system, and there are rich pickings in all of it.

If Sisyphus had bills …

Maybe that’s why the study was funded by Encore Capital Group—the country’s largest publicly-traded buyer of defaulted debt—and co-authored by its very own think-tank, the Consumer Credit Research Institute. The latter, founded in 2011, describes its work as a “ground-breaking effort to develop new knowledge about low- and moderate-income consumers” using techniques borrowed from economics, statistics and psychology.

The first go-round on the subprime roulette wheel was fueled primarily by the post-9/11 “go-go” housing boom. The middlemen of Manhattan systematically used predatory lending to ensnare hundreds of thousands of hopeful American Dreamers into an adjustable-rate, no-money-down, balloon-payment nightmare. So they made money handing out subprime mortgages like Halloween candy, bundled that risky, unsustainable debt into exotic financial instruments, and profited again by betting they’d fail.

But that was then, and things are supposed to be different now, right?

Now the financial system is supposed to be chastened. It is, according to its staunchest critics, wholly and restrictively regulated by Dodd-Frank. In fact, Dodd-Frank is so restrictive, they say, that it has impeded the “recovery” and needs to be loosened. That’s despite the fact that many key rules still haven’t been written and despite the omnipresence of corporate banking interests at every step of the rulemaking process.

Things are different now. This new sub-prime bubble is not being inflated by predatory lenders targeting would-be homeowners. Even though the real estate market is improving in places like San Francisco, New York and Washington, D.C., homeownership is at a 19-year low, with more people opting to rent because of tighter finances.

Hedge Funds, Hedge Hogs

Well-positioned hedge funds gobbled up tens of thousands of homes left vacant by the bursting mortgage bubble. Sometimes entire neighborhoods were purchased by those firms, who—unlike Lehman Brothers—were not broken by the crash. Like JP Morgan hoarding the devalued financial assets of its failed competitors, hedge funds saw the sudden surge in low-cost real estate as a buying opportunity.

The Blackstone Group—one of the world’s largest hedge funds—went on a two-year buying spree that transformed it into “America’s largest landlord” with over 40,000 houses in its profitable inventory.

And that’s where bad debt is accumulating—in the day-to-day struggle to make ends meet.

To wit, the Urban Institute’s study focused on collections of non-mortgage bills. These include credit card bills, medical bills, and utility bills that are “more than 180 days past due and have been placed in collections.”

A good example of the financial jeopardy many face is in Detroit. That’s where the median household income is less than half the national average—and where tens of thousands couldn’t afford to pay their water bills.

Detroit Goes Dry

Detroit Goes Dry

The bankrupted city decided to do something about chronic delinquencies—they began shutting off people’s water. As the pace of the shut-offs sped up, the city paid $6 million to a private contractor to make sure the taps ran dry. So far, some 100,000 have been without water at times.

This is exactly the sort of compromised position many find themselves in with this new economy. And it’s where predatory lending is taking its toll, targeting the desperate with high-risk, high-interest and, therefore, high-reward loans that epitomize Wall Street’s unending “search for yield.”

Bad Credit? We Can Help You Make It Worse

And what a yield lending to subprime customers earns. The “Payday Loan” industry still gets away with interest rates as high as 700 percent, a story WhoWhatWhy reported in March. That kind of loan puts many people into a modern form of sharecropping, accruing debt faster than they can pay it off.

The $3 billion-a-year industry is finally being scrutinized by federal regulators at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Even so, the underlying business model is being profitably recycled.

Take, for example, the entry of banks and private equity firms into the used car business.

They identify distressed and marginal candidates for risky, high-interest loans on cars that all too often end up being lemons, according to the New York Times. After searching for potential customers with low credit scores, banks like Capital One and Wells Fargo work with dealers who send them “certificates” redeemable for a “no credit, no problem” loan. That traps the less financially savvy customers into long-term loans that eventually triple or quadruple the cost of the car—or worse.

New victim targeted: rank and file of the U.S. Military New victim targeted: rank and file of the U.S. Military

A little-known company called USA Discounters has opened another front of the high-interest assault, targeting the rank and file of the U.S. military.

USA Discounters leverages the low-wage position of active-duty military families into high-yield loans for mundane household items like TVs and washers and dryers. Despite their name, the company sometimes charges double the normal retail price for items, and gives customers credit on terms that can quickly turn unfavorable.

And that’s really what the subprime economy is now—easy money at the lowerend of America’s wealth gap. And the lower end is growing.

See more at: http://whowhatwhy.com/2014/08/03/the-subprime-economy-is-back-but-it-never-really-left/#sthash.h9qhdhUw.dpuf

A global outbreak of deadly Ebola is underway and has crossed national borders. One infected victim of the horrifying disease flew on international flights, vomiting on board and exposing hundreds of people to the deadly virus which can be transmitted through airborne particles. Ebola has an 8-10 day incubation period, meaning thousands of people could be carrying it right now and spreading it across the cities of the world without even knowing it.

Passengers in Hong Kong and the UK have already shown symptoms of the disease and are being tested, reports USA Today. (2) The Peace Corps has evacuated its volunteers from the region after two were exposed to Ebola. (3)

Expert claims panic over death of U.S. man in Nigeria is ‘justified’” reports the Daily Mail. (1) “He warned the spread of Ebola could become a global pandemic.”

Ebola is the closest thing to real-life zombie infections

With apologies to those victims who have suffered the horrible fate of Ebola, I’m offering a medically accurate description here as a warning to everybody else. Believe me when I say you do NOT want to contract Ebola. Warning: Graphic language below.

Ebola is a gruesome disease that causes cells in the body to self-destruct, resulting in massive internal and external bleeding. In its late stages, Ebola can cause the victim to experience convulsions, vomiting and bleeding from the eyes and ears while convulsing, flinging blood all over the room and anyone standing nearby, thereby infecting those people as well. This gruesome ending is the reason Ebola spreads so effectively. The virus “weaponizes” the blood, then causes the victim to fling it around on everyone else almost like you might see depicted in some horror zombie flick.

“Haemorrhaging symptoms begin 4 – 5 days after onset, which includes hemorrhagic conjunctivitis, pharyngitis, bleeding gums, oral/lip ulceration, hematemesis, melena, hematuria, epistaxis, and vaginal bleeding,” reports the Pathogen Safety Data Sheet from the Public Health Agency of Canada. (8) That same publication also explains, “There are no known antiviral treatments available for human infections.”

Read that again: There are NO KNOWN TREATMENTS for human infections.

Sierra Leone’s top Ebola doctor tragically died yesterday from an Ebola infection. Although well trained in infectious disease, even he underestimated the ability of this insidious killer to leap from person to person. Around half of those infected with Ebola die, making it one of the most fatal diseases known to modern medical science. And yet medical staff around the world still aren’t exercising sufficient precautions when interfacing with infected patients.

Monsanto and Department of Defense help fund Pharma company that could earn billions from Ebola treatment

There are some experimental drugs under development by pharma companies that show some promise, but nothing is commercialized yet. (9)

One fascinating development worth investigating further is that TEKMIRA Pharmaceuticals, a company working on an anti-Ebola drug, just received a $1.5 million cash infusion from none other than Monsanto. Click here to read the press release, which states “Tekmira Pharmaceuticals Corporation is a biopharmaceutical company focused on advancing novel RNAi therapeutics and providing its leading lipid nanoparticle (LNP) delivery technology to pharmaceutical partners.”

The money from Monsanto is reportedly related to the company’s developed of RNAi technology used in agriculture. The deal is valued at up to $86.2 million, according to the WSJ. (11)

Another press release about Tekmira reveals a $140 million contract with the U.S. military for Ebola treatment drugs:

TKM-Ebola, an anti-Ebola virus RNAi therapeutic, is being developed under a $140 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense’s Medical Countermeasure Systems BioDefense Therapeutics (MCS-BDTX) Joint Product Management Office.

Additional Tekmira partnership are listed at this Tekmira web page.

Not to invoke any charges of collusion or conspiracy here, but a whole lot of people are going to have raised eyebrows over the fact that Monsanto just happened to be giving a cash infusion to a key pharma company working on an Ebola cure right in the middle of a highly-publicized Ebola outbreak which could create huge market demand for the drugs. The fact that the U.S. Department of Defense is also involved with all this is going to have alternative news websites digging hard for additional links.

Sadly, the history of medicine reveals that drug companies, the CDC and the WHO have repeatedly played up the severity of disease outbreaks in order to promote sales of treatment drugs. I’m not saying this outbreak isn’t very real and very alarming, of course. It is real. But we always have to be suspicious when windfalls profits just happen to line up for certain corporations following global outbreaks of infectious disease. Vaccine manufacturers, remember, made billions off the false swine flu scare, and tens of millions of dollars in stockpiled swine flu vaccines later had to be destroyed by the governments that panicked and purchased them.

Has air travel doomed humanity to a pandemic outbreak?

Air travel creates the “perfect storm” for Ebola to devastate humanity. It all starts with these irrefutable facts about air travel:

1) All passengers are confined to the same enclosed space.

2) All passengers are breathing THE SAME AIR.

3) Ebola can become airborne via very small particles in the air, and just a single Ebola virus riding on a dust particle is sufficient to infect a human being (see below).

4) Following the flight, infected passengers then intermingle with thousands of other people at the airport, each doing to a different unique destination somewhere else across the country or around the world.

5) The speed of air travel vastly out-paces the speed of governments being able to deploy infectious disease prevention teams.

A global pandemic wipeout from Ebola, in other words, could originate from a single person on a single international flight. And it could circle the globe in less than 48 hours.

Just one organism is sufficient to infect a new host

Just how much Ebola virus does it take to infect someone? Alarmingly, as the Public Health Agency of Canada explains, “1 – 10 aerosolized organisms are sufficient to cause infection in humans.” (8)

Read that again: it takes just ONE aerosolized organism (a microscopic virus riding on a dust particle) to cause a full-blown infection in humans. This is why one man vomiting on an international flight can infect dozens or hundreds of other people all at once.

Some experts fear that has already happened. As the Daily Mail reports: (1)

Nigerian health officials are in the process of trying to trace 30,000 people, believed to be at risk of contracting the highly-infectious virus, following the death of Patrick Sawyer in Lagos. It comes as Nigerian actor Jim Lyke sparked outrage, posting a picture of himself wearing an Ebola mask while sitting in a first class airport lounge as he fled Liberia.

Dave Hodges of The Commonsense Show reports: (7)

A desperate search is on to find the hundreds of passengers who flew on the same jets as Sawyer. A total of 59 passengers and crew are estimated to have come into contact with Sawyer and effort is being made to track each individual down. There is an inherent problem with this “track down”. Presumably, some of the passengers connected to other flights, which known to be the case. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that only 20 people, a low estimate given the nature of the airports that Sawyer was traveling in, were connecting to other flights, the spread of the virus would quickly expand beyond any possibility of containment because in less than a half a day, nearly a half a million people would be potentially exposed. Within a matter of a couple of hours, Sawyer’s infected fellow travelers would each have made contact with 200 other passengers and crew. Hours later, these flights would land and these people would go home to the friends, families and coworkers across several continents.

CBS News adds: (4)

“Witnesses say Sawyer, a 40-year-old Liberian Finance Ministry employee en route to a conference in Nigeria, was vomiting and had diarrhea aboard at least one of his flights with some 50 other passengers aboard. Ebola can be contracted from traces of feces or vomit, experts say.”

American family members quarantined in Texas

A U.S. doctor named Dr. Kent Brantly has reportedly contracted Ebola. “Brantly and the couple’s 3- and 5-year-old children left Liberia for a scheduled visit to the United States on July 20. Days later, Kent Brantly quarantined himself in the isolation ward of a hospital where he had been treating Ebola patients after testing positive for the disease,” reports CBS News. (3)

That same story goes on to say, “Amber Brantly and the children are in Abilene, Texas, under a 21-day fever watch,” which is essentially a quarantine. This means the necessary quarantine of American citizens on U.S. soil has already begun.

Nobody is yet talking about what all this might mean if a large U.S. city shows an outbreak of infections. Will the federal government use the military to quarantine an entire city? Ultimately, it must! And make no mistake: this possibility is already written up and on the books for national emergencies. One declaration of martial law is all that’s required to seal off an entire U.S. city at gunpoint.

Another CBS News article reports: (4)

“If it gets into a big city, that’s everybody’s worse nightmare,” said Dr. Tim Geisbert, a professor of microbiology and immunology at University of Texas Medical Branch, in an interview with CBS News. “It gets harder to control then. How do you quarantine a big city?”

The answer, by the way, is by deploying America’s armed forces against its own citizens in a domestic national emergency scenario. Everybody in the federal government already knows that. It’s only the mainstream media that pretends such plans don’t already exist.

Ebola detection kits deployed to all 50 U.S. states

Although the federal government’s official reaction to all this is low-key, in truth the U.S. government is rapidly preparing for the possibility of an Ebola outbreak reaching the continental USA.

As reported above, the U.S. Department of Defense already has a $140 million contract awarded to Tekmira for its Ebola treatment drugs.

Additionally, as SHTFplan.com reports: (5)

The Department of Defense informed Congress that it has deployed biological diagnostic systems to National Guard support teams in all 50 states, according to a report published by the Committee on Armed Services. Some 340 Joint Biological Agent Identification and Diagnostic System (JBAIDS) units have thus far been given to emergency response personnel. The systems are “rapid, reliable, and [provide] simultaneous identification of specific biological agents and pathogens.”

On one hand, we might all applaud the government’s preparedness actions in all this. It’s smart to have diagnostic systems deployed nationwide, of course. But it begs the question: When was the government planning on telling the public about all this? Probably never. There’s no sense in causing a panic when half the people won’t survive an outbreak anyway, they figure.

The perfect bioweapon against humanity?

I also need to make you urgently aware that Ebola is a “perfect” bioweapon. Because of its ability to survive storage and still function many days, weeks or years later, it could be very easily harvested from infected victims and then preserved using nothing more than a common food dehydrator.

As the Public Health Agency of Canada explains: (8)

The virus can survive in liquid or dried material for a number of days (23). Infectivity is found to be stable at room temperature or at 4 (C) for several days, and indefinitely stable at -70 C.

To translate this into laymen’s terms, this means the Ebola virus can be:

• Stored in a liquid vial and easily smuggled across international borders.

• Dehydrated and stored in a dried state, then easily smuggled.

• Frozen at very low temperatures where it remains viable indefinitely.

Once dried, contained or frozen, Ebola pathogens can be smuggled into target countries with ridiculous ease. In the United States, for example, people can literally walk right through our Southern open borders with zero security whatsoever.

Open borders is an open invitation for bioweapons terrorism

Once inside the target country, a bioweapons terrorist could then easily infect people in public transit hubs such as subway stations, airports, bus stations and so on. Unfortunately, spraying a few Ebola particles into people’s faces is ridiculously easy, especially if the terrorist carrying out the activities decides he is on a suicide mission and doesn’t care about self-exposure.

An outbreak of Ebola in a major U.S. city would quite literally threaten the public health of the entire nation. That’s why an “open borders” policy in the middle of a global Ebola outbreak is unconscionable from the point of view of public health. CDC officials must be tearing their hair out over this issue.

Think about it: America is a country where public health officials freak out and go crazy when two children acquire whooping cough in a public school in Maryland. But when tens of thousands of people are streaming into the country, unbounded, with near-zero medical scrutiny in the middle of an international Ebola outbreak, federal officials do almost nothing at all. If there is an Ebola outbreak in the U.S., this is most likely how it will arrive.

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2710…

(2) http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/201…

(3) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/peace-corps-volu…

(4) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ebola-plane-trav…

(5) http://www.shtfplan.com/headline-news/congre…

(7) http://www.thecommonsenseshow.com/2014/07/30…

(8) http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/lab-bio/res/psds-…

(9) http://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/technology/art…

(10) http://finance.yahoo.com/news/tekmira-receiv…

(11) http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB100014…

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/046259_Ebola_outbreak_drug_treatments_Monsanto.html#ixzz39Hx3gXLR

Only 2 of over 40 Congressional Black Caucus members voted against legitimizing the 2009 Israeli massacre of 1400 mostly civilians in Gaza, with seven CBC members abstaining. Last week, with the Gaza death toll climbing toward 1,000 not a single CBC member could be bothered to lift a voice against Israel’s genocidal assault of the moment or its ongoing apartheid state in general. Black America should hang our collective heads in shame.

Back in the 1970s, when the Congressional Black Caucus began calling itself “the conscience of the Congress,” that was almost literally true. CBC members could be relied upon not just to reliably vote for raising wages and expenditures on housing, health care and education, but to keep the issues of full employment and opposition to unjust war near the front of their public agendas.

By the late 1980s, a gaggle of former CBC staffers had moved through the revolving doors of elite affirmative action to become corporate lobbyists, with the same ethics and table manners as their white colleagues, but with black faces. Thanks in large part to their efforts, by 2000 a tsunami of corporate cash began filling up the coffers of incumbent CBC members, their black replacements, or in the cases of Alabama’s Earl Hilliard and Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney, their black opponents.

Only a single member of the CBC, Rep. Barabra Lee opposed President Bush’s blank check for invading anywhere he pleased in Septermber of 2001, and by the 2003 invasion of Iraq, four CBC members, some of them swimming in donations from military contractors, raced down to the White House to have their pictures taken with Bush as the bombs were about to explode over Baghdad.

By the 109th Congress of 2005-2006 the CBC’s political compass had been decisively reset. 2005 was the year of Katrina. For decades there had been predictions that whenever “the big one” hit New Orleans, a city where a majority of residents didn’t even own cars, thousands or tens of thousands would perish. I lived in Chicago and read those predictions in the papers there several times during the 80s and 90s. Katrina ultimately proved to be the excuse for authorities to permanently expel more than a hundred thousand African Americans, mostly renters but also entire neighborhoods of black homeowners and black owned local businesses as well. As the highest ranking black politicians in the nation, the Congressional Black Caucus could have demanded and held federal hearings on every aspect of the Katrina disaster and its aftermath, ensuring a real public debate on how the region would be rebuilt and for whom.

But House Democrats were focused narrowly on winning the 2006 election, and in their political calculus, having Democrats identified as the party of black people was not a winning strategy. Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi forbade the Congressional Black Caucus from demanding or holding hearings. Only Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney defied her, and was forced to partner with House Republicans for the hearings to take place at all. The only CBC member Pelosi allowed to take part in the Katrina hearings was the lazy and corrupt “Dollar Bill” Jefferson who nominally represented black New Orleans. The rest of the supposedly powerful and influential CBC, from its deans Conyers and Rangel on down stayed away.

If they were still the conscience of the Congress the CBC would have called together some of the nation’s black civil engineers, architects, urban planners and others to articulate a vision of a rebuilt Gulf Coast for the people who lived there before. Instead the vision of the Heritage Foundation prevailed. A hundred thousand black New Orleans residents were deported to the four corners of the continental US, their public school system privatized, their rental apartments razed, their health care systems shut down, and the water, electric and gas grids not reactivated for the entire sections of town where they once lived. Thanks to the hands-off attitude of the CBC, President Bush was even able to exclude all journalists from the teams which recovered bodies or the places where remains were assembled, so there is no independent verification of the government’s suspiciously small count of fatalities.

That was when Democrats were still the minority in Congress. We’re always told how important it is for Democrats to gain or maintain control of the House. They got that in the 2006 elections, and Democrats have had the White House since the 2008 election as well, though they handed the House back at the end of 2010. Has all that extra power made them bolder in the pursuit of justice? Sadly, no.

Israel’s vicious apartheid regime celebrated Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration with the massacre of 1400 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, and the destruction of a great part of the enclave’s infrastructure, down to chicken farms and water systems. The new Congress called it righteous self-defense, with 390 yeas, 5 nays and 22 “present”The CBC was 2 of those nays, Gwen Moore (WI) and Maxine Waters (CA), and 7 of the “presents”, Edwards (MD), Ellison (MN), Johnson (GA), Lee (TX), Payne (NJ), Kilpatrick (MI), and Watson (CA).

This month, as the civilian death toll in the latest Israeli criminal orgy of collective punishment mounted toward 1,000, the US House passed a nearly identical resolution, calling this massacre legitimate “self-defense” as well. This time the House vote, including that of the Congressional Black Caucus wasunanimousNot a single member of the CBC, despite their much heralded brand of standing for civil rights and against apartheid here and around the world, bothered to publicly question the racist ethnocracy that is the Israeli state. After signing the blank check with the rest of their colleagues, CBC members Conyers (MI), Lee (CA), Johnson (GA) and Ellison (MN) tried to cover their shame with a letter to Secretary of State Kerry urging a cease-fire, something which Kerry claims to have been doing anyway.

All CBC members absolutely know that Israel is an apartheid society, with one set of laws applying to Jews, a second to Israeli Arabs and a third to Palestinians. Congressional Black Caucus members know that Israel requires different colored license plates for non-Jews so their vehicles can be profiled at a distance, and Jewish-only roads between settlements carved from the villages of Palestinians and watched voer by military garrisons. They know that Israel refuses to recognize mixed marriages, or even marriages between Palestinians in Gaza and those on the West Bank. Black members of Congress know what an ethnocracy is, and even though they claim to have opposed it in South Africa and here at home, they choose to endorse it in Israel, out of greed and subservience.

As we wrote in BAR back in 2012…

Whatever its root cause, the current support of the black political class for Israel’s maintenance of a colonial settler state constitutes a massive, hypocritical hole in their collective souls. Most of the world backed our own struggle against Jim Crow, and we congratulated ourselves for contributing to the downfall of the old regime in South Africa. And now, when our turn comes round again, when the United States is the only government capable of restraining the vicious Israeli onslaught, just by the threat of its disapproval, its non-renewal of loan guarantees or weapons giveways or military contracts —- we are silent.

For African Americans, our hypocrisy goes deeper and further than our leaders. It filters all the way down to ordinary people whose attachment to their First Black President is so uncritical that they decouple their FBP from any responsibility for his policies. Many Obama supporters say they oppose Israeli aggression and wring their hands wishing the president they voted for and hustled others into voting for would do something different. In the eyes of the rest of the world, as Margaret Kimberley points out, they are as guilty of abetting Israeli atrocities as the rabid partisans of AIPAC…”

What would one of our glittering and supposedly powerful members of the Congressional Black Caucus tell a child in Gaza today? What would they tell a parent whose children have been maimed or murdered, with weaponry probably designed and/or manufactured in the US?

Our nation is the armorer, financier and protector of Israel’s savage ethnocracy.  We are all compromised, we are all implicated in its crimes.  It’s time to call our black political class, and each other to account. In the coming week, Black Agenda Report will reach out to our friends and colleagues and try to find some new ways to do exactly that.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a state committee member of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA, and can be reached via this site’s contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

100th Anniversary of International Fellowship of Reconciliation Konstanz, Germany, August 1-3, 2014

Militaries Are Outdated and Should Go, Like Hanging and Flogging

Dear Friends,

I would like to offer my congratulations to IFOR on this its 100thanniversary. I once asked Fr. Dan Berrigan, the great American anti-war activist, for some advice to me in my life as a peace activist. He replied ‘Pray and resist’. The IFOR members will appreciate this advice, coming as they do from their roots in 100 years of building International Fellowship and Reconciliation between peoples of all faiths, traditions (and none), many of whom believe in the need for prayer in order to strengthen their spiritual lives, and many take their prayer, very seriously. Our Muslim brothers and sisters show us great example by their very beautiful lives of prayer, (5 times a day), and fasting at Ramadan.

But I would like to ask how serious are we about Resistance?

What is our Vision?

And how does Resistance fit into this? What do we need to resist? How can we resist effectively?

And what methods are allowed? In resisting, what are our aims and objectives?

I would like to propose that IFOR and the Worlds’ Peace Movement adopt a vision of the total abolition of Militarism. Such a Vision would empower us to know where we are going. It would inspire and energize each of us to pursue our different projects, be it arms trade, nuclear abolition, nonkilling/nonviolence, culture of peace, abolishing arms, drone warfare, human rights, environmental rights, etc.,   We will know as we work towards this vision of a demilitarised, disarmed world, that we are part of an ever growing new ‘consciousness’ of men and women, choosing to uphold human life, the right to individual conscious, loving our enemies, human rights and international law, and solving our problems without killing each other.

Why Resist militarism? We are witnessing the growing militarism of Europe, and its role as a driving force for armaments, and its dangerous path, under the leadership of the USA/NATO towards a new ‘cold’ war and military aggression. The European Union and many of its countries, who used to take initiatives in the UN for peaceful settlements of conflicts, particularly allegedly peaceful countries, like Norway and Sweden, are now one of the US/NATO most important war assets. The EU is a threat to the survival of neutrality, as countries are being asked to join NATO, and forced to end their neutrality and choose (unnecessarily) between West and East.

Many nations have been drawn into being complicit in breaking international law through US/UK/NATO wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and etc., Germany being the third largest exporter of military hardware in the world, continues to increase its military budget and is complicit with NATO, facilitating USA bases, from which drones leave carry out illegal ex judicial killings on the order of the US President, in countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc., Germany has also provided Israel with its nuclear submarine and continues to be complicit under the Geneva Convention, in Israeli war crimes against Gaza and illegal Occupation of Palestine.

I believe we need to abolish NATO and increase our task of dismantling the Military Industrial complex, through nonviolent and civil resistance. The means of resistance are very important.   As a pacifist and person deeply committed to nonkilling/nonviolence as a way to bring about social/cultural/political change, I believe we need to use means consistent with the end, and it is wrong to use violence.

Our message that Militarism and War do not solve our problem of violence, challenges us to use new ways and that is why we need to teach the Science of peace at every level of society. We are all aware there are forces at work that are determined to continue their agenda of the militarization of our societies and there are Gov./Corporate/Media attempts to make violence and war acceptable. The greatest danger to our freedoms being eroded, by Gov., and endangered by ‘armed’ groups, is a fearful, apathetic, civil community, refusing to take a stand for human rights and real democracy, and against violence and war.

We can take hope from the fact that most people want peace not war. However, we are facing a civilization problem. We are facing a Political/Ideological challenge with the growth of what President Eisenhower warned the USA people against – the Military/Industrial complex. He warned it would destroy USA democracy and he has been proven right in this. We know now that a small world group made up of Military/Industrial/Media/Corporate/Academic elite, whose agenda is profit, arms, war and valuable resources, is now holding power and have a stronghold on our elected Governments. We see this in the Gun and Israeli Lobbies, amongst others, who hold great power over American Politics. We have witnessed this, in ongoing wars, invasions, occupations, and proxy war, all allegedly in the name of ‘humanitarian intervention and democracy’. However, in reality they are causing great suffering, especially to the poor, through their policies of arms, war, domination and control of other countries and their resources.

Unmasking this agenda of war and demanding the implementation of Human Rights and International Law is the work of the Peace Movement. We can turn around from this path of destruction by spelling out a clear vision of what kind of a world we want to live in, demanding an end to M/I complex, and insisting our Governments adopt policies of peace, just economics, etc.

We the Peace Movement are the alternative to militarism and war, and as we want a different world, we must be part of building it. We must not be satisfied with improvements and reform to militarism but rather offer an alternative. Militarism is an aberration and a system of dysfunction. Militarism should be outdated and go like hanging and flogging!

I hope that IFOR will join in a Universal Call for peace through the wholesale abolition of militarism.

Mairead Corrigan Maguire is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. She won the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize for her work for peace in Northern Ireland. Her book The Vision of Peace (edited by John Dear, with a foreword by Desmond Tutu and a preface by the Dalai Lama) is available from www.wipfandstock.com. She lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland. See: www.peacepeople.com.

More than 400 Ukrainian troops have been allowed to cross into Russia after requesting sanctuary. It’s the largest, but not the first, case of desertion into Russia by Ukrainian soldiers involved in Kiev’s military crackdown in the east of the country.

According to the Rostov Region’s border guard spokesman Vasily Malaev, a total of 438 soldiers, including 164 Ukrainian border guards, have been allowed into Russia on Sunday night.

One of the Ukrainians was seriously injured on his arrival in Russia. He was taken to the hospital for surgery, the officials added.

The other Ukrainian soldiers have been housed in a tent camp deployed near the checkpoint via which they entered Russian territory. The Russian border guards are providing them with food and bedding.

Footage taken by the Russian media at the scene showed the Ukrainian soldiers being handed ration packs and resting in their temporary shelter. Those who agreed to speak on camera said they were relieved to be in safety for the first time in weeks.

“We were given an order to leave out positions and go to Russia trough a corridor. We were told it would be safe. Of course they, I would say, made us go fast from behind,” 

one of the soldiers, a BMP driver who would not reveal his name or even show his face on camera, said.

“It was so bad back there. Hot, and so many deaths and bad things,” another one, Dmitry, said. 

“Folks can rest here. They gave us a chance to wash, gave us new clothes. We are thankful.”

“We have been in those fields for more than six months and are very tired,” he added.

Another one, Yaroslav, said he wishes to go back to his family in Ukraine. “I want to do something peaceful. My contract expired four months ago,” he explained.

RIA Novosti/Yulia Nasulina
Image: RIA Novosti/Yulia Nasulina

On Sunday, the Ukrainian anti-government militia reported that it was in negotiations with a large contingent of Ukrainian troops they encircled in Lugansk region on a possible surrender. The negotiations were being hampered by the troops’ intention to destroy some 70 armored vehicles in their possession before laying down arms, which the militia wanted to capture intact.

The Gukovo border checkpoint, through which the Ukrainian troops crossed into the Russian territory, is located on Russia’s border with the Lugansk Region of Ukraine, indicating that these are the same troops that were negotiating with the militia. If so, it was not immediately clear whether the vehicles they had were really destroyed.

OSCE monitors and journos come under shelling from Ukraine at Russian border

The flow of deserters from the ranks of Ukrainian Army and National Guard seems to be increasing amid the escalating violence in Donets and Lugansk Regions, where Kiev is fighting against armed anti-government militias.

In late July 41 Ukrainian troops fled to Russia to escape fighting in eastern Ukraine. They are now being prosecuted in Ukraine for deserting in the heat of battle.

RIA Novosti
Image: RIA Novosti

Several Ukrainian units have been reported to recently to be cut off from supply lines after attempted offensive operations, which brought them behind the militia-controlled territories and close to the Russian border.

The Ukrainian troops, while far superior to the militia in terms of heavy weapons, suffer from poor logistics. Many soldiers complain about lacking even basic supplies like food and water on the frontline. The situation is aggravated by cases of apparent negligence from the command, with units being supplied with faulty equipment, coming under friendly fire and simply left behind while retreating from militia counter-attacks.  

A YouTube video allegedly shows a Ukrainian soldier explaining how he has to catch and cook snakes because his unit receives no rations.

Kiev’s National Guard unit mutiny: ‘We’ve been discarded like trash’

This causes serious morale problems in the army, with more critical voices saying the Ukraine de facto has no infantry troops and has no other way to fight but by leveling militia-held cities to the ground with artillery and air strikes.

There is a growing resistance to the military campaign among Ukrainian population, with several cases of mass protests against the latest mobilization drive, as mothers and wives of conscripts took to the streets to demand that their loved once not be drafted into the army.

It’s so crazy that one’s first instinct is that it must be a spoof web site. It reads:

“A Citibank International Personal Bank FX Leveraged Loan Account can help you maximize the most of what you have. It allows you to borrow up to 5 times your deposit balance to trade in foreign currencies, so you may increase your potential investment power.” (The italics on deposit balance are ours.)

It turns out that this is a real Citibank offering, a real Citibank web site, and there is a similar deal being offered in Hong Kong by Citibank – one of Wall Street’s largest banks – a bank that appears hell bent on setting a Guinness World Record for the most screw ups in one decade.

Putting aside the fact that Citigroup, parent of Citibank, is under investigation for potentially helping to rig foreign currency trading with other global banks, there is the fact that Citigroup simply cannot afford another hit to its reputation – like inducing bank depositors to gamble with five times leverage in the highly complex foreign exchange markets.

A quick refresher is in order. Citigroup is the successor to National City Bank, blamed by Senator Carter Glass of Virginia in 1929 as playing a major role in causing the stock market crash which led to the Great Depression. In 2011, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission reported that Citigroup played a pivotal role in the 2008 financial crash, writing further that: “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and other regulators could have clamped down on Citigroup’s excesses in the run-up to the crisis. They did not.”

In 1929, the business model worked like this: National City Bank made bad loans and packaged them up as securities and sold them to unwary investors. Last month, Citigroup paid a $7 billion fine for making bad loans and packaging them up as securities and selling them to unwary investors.

During the 2008 to 2010 financial crash, no other bank required as much financial support from the U.S. taxpayer as did Citigroup. The bank received $45 billion in equity infusions; over $300 billion in asset guarantees, and more than $2 trillion in below-market rate loans from the New York Fed. In addition to selling bad debt to investors, Citigroup pushed what it couldn’t sell into vehicles off its balance sheet. Tens of billions of that bad debt ended up back on its balance sheet, causing its insolvency in 2008.

The Glass-Steagall Act, enacted in 1933 with sponsors Senator Carter Glass and Congressman Henry Steagall, separated insured deposit banking from the speculative excesses of brokerage firms and investment banks. That legislative wall existed from 1933 to 1999 and protected our nation all that time from the kinds of abuses of the late 1920s on Wall Street. Nine years after its repeal, the U.S. financial system collapsed again from the exact same causes as in 1929.

No other bank played as great a role in the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act than Citigroup.

Read complete article

http://wallstreetonparade.com/2014/08/citigroup-offers-five-times-leverage-to-bank-depositors-to-trade-in-foreign-currencies/

Are We Exposing Ourselves to a Black Swan Event?

There’s no cure for Ebola.

Ebola is deadly and contagious.  90% of those who catch it die quickly.

Normally, the extreme lethality of Ebola means that the virus quickly “burns itself out”.  Specifically, if a villager eats an infected fruit bat and comes down with Ebola, it quickly kills the villager and everyone around him … and then the spread stops because it can’t travel to the next village over.

In other words, extreme deadliness of Ebola normally insures that it doesn’t spread very far.

But – for the first time in history – it is now spreading worldwide. As Michael Snyder notes:

#1 As the chart below demonstrates, the spread of Ebola is starting to become exponential…

#2 This is already the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history by far.

#3 The head of the World Health Organization says that this outbreak “is moving faster than our efforts to control it“.

#4 The head of Doctors Without Borders says that this outbreak is “out of control“.

#5 So far, more than 100 health workers that were on the front lines fighting the virus have ended up contracting Ebola themselves.  This is happening despite the fact that they go to extraordinary lengths to keep from getting the disease.

***

As Paul Craig Roberts so aptly put it the other day, all it would take is “one cough, one sneeze, one drop of saliva, and the virus is loose“.

As Dr. Sanjay Gupta notes, there have been lapses in safety at the Centers for Disease Control and U.S. hospitals in treating infectious diseases.

So why is the U.S. flying in Ebola patients to be treated on U.S. soil?

Yes, I feel sorry for the American aid workers who were trying to do good in Africa by helping those infected with Ebola.  But the risk of losing containment of this beast is too high.

In yet another example of the federal government’s war on self-sufficiency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shut down a seed library in Pennsylvania, claiming that a system whereby residents could borrow heirloom seeds and then replace them at harvest time was a violation of the 2004 Seed Act, while a commissioner warned that such behavior could lead to “agri-terrorism.”

When the Cumberland County Library System set up the facility at Mechanicsburg’s Joseph T. Simpson Public Library back in April, they thought it would be a useful way for locals to borrow seeds and replace them at the end of the growing season, encouraging residents to learn more about growing their own food and acquiring key self-sufficiency skills.

Following in the footsteps of similar initiatives across the state, the library system was careful to check that they were doing everything by the book and not breaking any laws as well as meeting with the county extension office.

However, the deadly threat posed by the seed library was soon made clear when the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a letter telling the library system that they were in violation of the 2004 Seed Act, which regulates the selling of seeds (the library was not selling them), under the justification of preventing the growth of invasive plant species, cross-pollination and poisonous plants.

“The commissioners were equally flabbergasted by the change of events, as well as with how the agriculture department handled the investigation — sending a high-ranking official and lawyers to a meeting with the library,” reports the Cumberlink Sentinel.

Feds told the library system that they would have to test each individual seed packet in order for the facility to continue, an impossible task, which meant that the seed library was shut down.

Cumberland County Library System Executive Director Jonelle Darr was told that the USDA would, “continue to crack down on seed libraries that have established themselves in the state.”

Cumberland County Commissioner Barbara Cross applauded the USDA’s decision, warning that allowing residents to borrow seeds could have led to acts of “agri-terrorism.”

The library has abandoned the seed system and instead can only promote events where residents are encouraged to directly swap seeds with each other.

“Gosh, this makes me wonder when they are going to crack down on all of those GMO fields, with their grave concerns about cross-pollination,” writes Daisy Luther. “Look out, Monsanto…oh, wait. This only applies to regular people growing vegetables. GMOs aren’t considered an invasive species.”

While the USDA is busy cracking down on local seed libraries in the name of preventing cross-pollination, many accuse the federal agency of being completely in the pocket of biotech giant Monsanto, which itself has been responsible for cross-pollinating farmers’ crops with genetically modified seeds on an industrial scale.

Monsanto is also responsible for creating Agent Orange and PCBs, neither of which can be considered to have had a positive environmental impact.

David Swanson goes further, arguing that Monsanto is, “responsible for environmental disasters that have destroyed entire towns, and a driving force behind the international waves of suicides among farmers whose lives it has helped ruin,” and that the company, “has monopolized our food system largely by taking over regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

The Obama administration has also appointed numerous former Monsanto executives to key roles within the USDA, leading to accusations that the federal agency is merely a water carrier for Monsanto which acts to eliminate its competition, no matter how small scale.

It seems that while the U.S. government, via USAID, as well as huge corporations like DuPont and the Rockefeller Foundation, fund the creation of monolithic ‘doomsday’ seed vaults in the event of an environmental catastrophe, any attempt by ordinary Americans to become self-sufficient by obtaining their own heirloom seeds will be countered with the full legal force of the federal bureaucracy.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor at large of Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com.

Flight MH17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts

August 4th, 2014 by Robert Parry

Contrary to the Obama administration’s public claims blaming eastern Ukrainian rebels and Russia for the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, some U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame, according to a source briefed on these findings.

This judgment – at odds with what President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have expressed publicly – is based largely on the absence of U.S. government evidence that Russia supplied the rebels with a Buk anti-aircraft missile system that would be needed to hit a civilian jetliner flying at 33,000 feet, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Despite U.S. spy satellites positioned over eastern Ukraine, U.S. intelligence agencies have released no images of a Buk system being transferred by Russians to rebel control, shipped into Ukraine, deployed into firing position and then being taken back to Russia. Though the Obama administration has released other images of Ukraine taken by U.S. spy satellites, the absence of any photos of a rebel-controlled Buk missile battery has been the dog not barking in the strident case that Official Washington has made in blaming the rebels and Russia for the July 17 shoot-down that killed 298 people.

Given the size of these missile batteries – containing four 16-foot-long missiles – the absence of this evidence prompted caution among U.S. intelligence analysts even as senior U.S. officials and the U.S. mainstream media rushed to judgment blaming the rebels and Russians.President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Ukraine, on the South Lawn of the White House, July 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

Image: President Barack Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Ukraine, on the South Lawn of the White House, July 29, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

In making that case, Kerry and other senior officials relied on claims made by the Ukrainian government along with items posted on “social media.” These snippets of “evidence” included ambiguous remarks attributed to rebels who may have initially thought the shoot-down was another of their successful attacks on lower-flying Ukrainian military aircraft but who later insisted that they had not fired on the Malaysian plane and lacked the longer-range Buk missiles needed to reach above 30,000 feet.

If the U.S. intelligence analysts are correct – that the rebels and Russia are likely not responsible – the chief remaining suspect would be the Ukrainian government, which does possess Buk anti-aircraft missiles and reportedly had two fighter jets in the vicinity of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 at the time of the shoot-down.

Some independent analyses of the initial evidence from the crash site suggest the jetliner may have been destroyed by an air-to-air attack, not by an anti-aircraft missile fired from the ground. Yet, the working hypothesis of the U.S. intelligence analysts is that a Ukrainian military Buk battery and the jetfighters may have been operating in collusion as they hunted what they thought was a Russian airliner, possibly even the plane carrying President Vladimir Putin on a return trip from South America, the source said.

The source added that the U.S. intelligence analysis does not implicate top Ukrainian officials, such as President Petro Poroshenko or Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, suggesting that the attack may have been the work of more extremist factions, possibly even one of the Ukrainian oligarchs who have taken an aggressive approach toward prosecuting the war against the ethnic Russian rebels in the east.

Obviously, a successful shoot-down of a Russian plane, especially one carrying Putin, could have been a major coup for the Kiev regime, which ousted Russian ally, President Viktor Yanukovych, last February touching off the civil war. Some prominent Ukrainian politicians, such as ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, have expressed the desire to kill Putin.

“It’s about time we grab our guns and kill, go kill those damn Russians together with their leader,” Tymoshenko said in an intercepted phone call in March, according to a leak published in the Russian press and implicitly confirmed by Tymoshenko.

The Shoot-Down Mystery

The Malaysia Airlines plane, flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was not expected to be over the eastern part of Ukraine on the afternoon of July 17, but was [allegedly] rerouted to avoid bad weather. The plane was nearing Russian airspace when it was shot down.

Some early speculation had been that the Ukrainian military might have mistaken the plane for a Russian spy plane and attacked it in a scenario similar to the Soviet shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 in 1983 after misidentifying it as a U.S. spy plane.

In the two-plus weeks since the Ukrainian air disaster, there have been notable gaps between the more measured approach taken by U.S. intelligence analysts and the U.S. politicians and media personalities who quickly rushed to the judgment blaming the rebels and Russia.

Only three days after the crash, Secretary of State Kerry did the rounds of the Sunday talk shows making what he deemed an “extraordinary circumstantial” case supposedly proving that the rebels carried out the shoot-down with missiles provided by Russia. He acknowledged that the U.S. government was “not drawing the final conclusion here, but there is a lot that points at the need for Russia to be responsible.”

By then, I was already being told that the U.S. intelligence community lacked any satellite imagery supporting Kerry’s allegations and that the only Buk missile system in that part of Ukraine appeared to be under the control of the Ukrainian military. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?”]

On the Tuesday after Kerry’s Sunday declarations, mainstream journalists, including for the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, were given a senior-level briefing about the U.S. intelligence information that supposedly pointed the finger of blame at the rebels and Russia. But, again, much of the “evidence” was derived from postings on “social media.”

The Los Angeles Times article on the briefing took note of the uncertainties: “U.S. intelligence agencies have so far been unable to determine the nationalities or identities of the crew that launched the missile. U.S. officials said it was possible the SA-11 [the Buk anti-aircraft missile] was launched by a defector from the Ukrainian military who was trained to use similar missile systems.”

That reference to a possible “defector” may have been an attempt to reconcile the U.S. government’s narrative with the still-unreleased satellite imagery of the missile battery controlled by soldiers appearing to wear Ukrainian uniforms. But I’m now told that U.S. intelligence analysts have largely dismissed the “defector” possibility and are concentrating on the scenario of a willful Ukrainian shoot-down of the plane, albeit possibly not knowing its actual identity.

A Hardened Conventional Wisdom

Nevertheless, even as the mystery of who shot down Flight 17 deepened, the U.S. conventional wisdom blaming Putin and the rebels hardened. The New York Times has reported Russia’s culpability in the airline disaster as flat-fact.

On July 29, Obama prefaced his announcement of tougher sanctions against Russia by implicitly blaming Putin for the tragedy, too. Reading a prepared statement, Obama said:

“In the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, and countries around the world, families are still in shock over the sudden and tragic loss of nearly 300 loved ones senselessly killed when their civilian airliner was shot down over territory controlled by Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine.  …

“Since the shoot-down, however, Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigation and to take the opportunity to pursue a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine. These Russian-backed separatists … have continued to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft in the region. And because of their actions, scores of Ukrainian civilians continue to die needlessly every day.” [Emphasis added.]

Though one could argue that Obama was rhetorically tip-toeing around a direct accusation that the rebels and Russia were responsible for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down, his intent clearly was to leave that impression. In other words, Obama was pandering to the conventional wisdom about Russian guilt and was misleading the American people about what the latest U.S. intelligence may suggest.

It’s also grotesquely deceptive to blame the Russians and the rebels for the indiscriminate shelling by government forces that have claimed hundreds of lives in eastern Ukraine. The rebels have been resisting what they regard as an illegitimate coup regime that, with the aid of neo-Nazi militias from western Ukraine, overthrew elected President Yanukovych in February and then moved to marginalize and suppress the ethnic Russian population in the east.

By presenting the conflict in a one-sided way, Obama not only misled Americans about the origins of the Ukraine crisis but, in effect, gave the Kiev regime a green light to slaughter more ethnic Russianst. By pointing the finger of blame at Moscow for all the troubles of Ukraine, Obama has created more geopolitical space for Kiev to expand its brutal onslaught that now has included reported use of poorly targeted ballistic missiles against population centers.

Obama’s covering for the Kiev regime is even more outrageous if the U.S. intelligence analysts are right to suspect that Ukrainian forces were behind the Flight 17 shoot-down.

And as for who’s been responsible for destroying evidence of the Flight 17 shoot-down, an assault by the Ukrainian military on the area where the plane crashed not only delayed access by international investigators but appears to have touched off a fire that consumed plane debris that could have helped identify the reasons for the disaster.

On Saturday, the last paragraph of a New York Times story by Andrew E. Kramer reported that “the fighting ignited a fire in a wheat field that burned over fuselage fragments, including one that was potentially relevant to the crash investigation because it had what appeared to be shrapnel holes.” The shrapnel holes have been cited by independent analysts as possible evidence of an attack by Ukrainian jetfighters.

Accepting Reality

Yet, given how far the U.S. political/media establishment has gone in its Flight 17 judgment pinning the blame on the rebels and Russia even before an official investigation was started, it’s not clear how those powerbrokers would respond if the emerging analysis fingering Ukrainian forces turns out to be correct.

The embarrassment to high-level U.S. officials and prominent mainstream U.S. news outlets would be so extreme that it is hard to believe that the reality would ever be acknowledged.  Indeed, there surely will be intense pressure on airline investigators and intelligence analysts to endorse the Putin-is-to-blame narrative.

And, if the investigators and analysts won’t go that far, they might at least avoid a direct contradiction of the conventional wisdom by suggesting that the Flight 17 mystery remains unsolved, something for historians to unravel.

Such has been the pattern in other cases of major mainstream mistakes. For instance, last year, some of the same players, including Secretary Kerry and the New York Times, jumped to conclusions blaming the Syrian government for an Aug. 21 sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of people in a Damascus suburb.

On Aug. 30, Kerry gave a bellicose speech filled with “we knows” but providing no verifiable evidence. A punitive U.S. bombing campaign against the Syrian government was averted at the last minute when President Obama decided to first seek congressional approval and then accepted President Putin’s assistance in working out a deal in which the Syrian government surrendered all its chemical weapons while still denying a role in the Aug. 21 incident.

Only later did much of Kerry’s case fall apart as new evidence pointed to an alternative explanation, that extremist Syrian rebels released the sarin as a provocation to push Obama across his “red line” and into committing the U.S. military to the Syrian civil war on the side of the rebels. But neither U.S. officialdom nor the mainstream U.S. press has acknowledged the dangerous “group think” that almost got the United States into another unnecessary war in the Middle East. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

It may seem cynical to suggest that the powers-that-be in Official Washington are so caught up in their own propaganda that they would prefer the actual killers of innocent people – whether in Syria or Ukraine – to go unpunished, rather than to admit their own mistakes. But that is often how the powerful react. Nothing is more important than their reputations.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon andbarnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Anti-conscription Protests Grow in Ukraine

August 4th, 2014 by World Socialist Web Site

Kiev’s imposition of a “third” wave of military mobilisation has reportedly led to anti-conscription protests in several towns and cities in Ukraine.

The measure, announced by President Petro Poroshenko on July 22, affects mainly young men aged between 18 and 25 years of age.

It was introduced in the Ukrainian Rada by Andriy Parubiy, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council. Puribiy is the founder of the fascist Social National Party of Ukraine. In 2012 he joined the Fatherland party of Yulia Tymoshenko. He functioned as a “commandant” of the Maidan protests, organising right wing thugs to back the pro-Western coup in February.

According to the Ukrainian-based Zik.au, on July 22, angry crowds burned conscription documents and attacked the military registration office in the town of Bohorodchany, southwest Ukraine. In Skobychivka village in the same district, residents formed a human chain to block the road from Ivano-Frankivsk to Bohorodchany, holding placards saying “Stop the bloodshed.”

Residents in seven villages in the neighbouring Bukovina region also blocked roads to protest conscription on July 28. In Chernivtsi, in the same district, a group of women confronted a local military recruitment officer and burned conscription orders. One woman complains that the Kiev authorities “are fleeing like rats from a sinking ship, but they come here to take our sons and send them to death. They made the mess and now they need us to clean it up.”

The protests seem to mainly involve ethnic Romanians, the second largest minority in the region after Russian language speakers. But there are reports of similar demonstrations elsewhere.

On July 25, in the shipbuilding port of Mykolaiv on the Black Sea, east of Odessa, mothers and wives of soldiers in service with the 79th Paratroop Regiment blocked the Varvarovsky Bridge over the Bug River.

Demanding the return of their male relatives from extended tours of duty, they carried placards reading “Save our boys” and blocked traffic. The blockade was eventually broken up by police on July 27 with several arrests.

The main Kiev-Chop highway has been repeatedly blocked by similar protests over the last month—the latest on July 28, near the border of Slovakia and Hungary.

A report by V. Gritsak, head of the Anti-Terrorist Operation on July 9 said that 1,600 pro-government troops have been killed since April and 4,723 wounded.

According to Ukraine’s private International Commercial Television channel, Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has announced that anyone agitating against the regime’s operations in eastern Ukraine will be arrested and face imprisonment.

The Kiev regime is utilising western provocations against Russia over the crash of flight MH17 as the cover for a major military offensive in eastern Ukraine. Reports speak of a developing humanitarian crisis, with 230,000 people internally displaced due to the conflict.

The onslaught comes after Ukraine’s Rada agreed on Thursday to impose an additional 1.5 percent hike in income tax to fund military operations. The across the board tax, which will hit an already impoverished population especially hard, came just a week after the Rada agreed to further expand conscription, following the reinstatement of the military draft in May.

These actions are indicative of the authoritarian character of the regime installed with western backing in February. The tax was approved despite the fact that just the week before, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk had announced his resignation and that of the entire cabinet, bringing down the government.

The billionaire oligarch and President, Petro Poroshenko, in league with extreme-rightists, is using the ensuing instability to press Kiev’s advantage. The objective is not only to suppress pro-Russian separatists, but to intimidate the entire Ukrainian population in advance of new elections, scheduled for October, which they hope will rubber stamp the austerity demands of the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Government forces, including fascist brigands, have reportedly taken control of the towns of Krasnogorovka and Staromikhailovka, just outside Donetsk—the centre of pro-Russian separatist forces.

These towns are close to the area where MH17 crashed on July 17, killing all 293 passengers and crew. Without a shred of evidence, the western powers, led by the US, have blamed Russia for the aircraft’s downing and have imposed sweeping sanctions against Moscow. Yet, more than a fortnight since the tragedy, the results from the official investigation into the crash have still not been released.

Talks in Belarus between Ukraine, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) last week agreed a local cease-fire in the vicinity of the crash site to enable the recovery of bodies.

But even as the team of some 400 investigators began their task, the Ukrainian regime took advantage of the agreement to encircle Donetsk and cut its link with Luhansk, the other main pro-separatist stronghold.

Significant fighting has been reported around Shakhtarsk, just 15 miles from the main crash site. At least ten Ukrainian troops are said to have been killed in their attempt to retake the town, which links Donetsk and Luhansk, from rebel forces on Friday.

Pro-government forces are bombarding Donetsk, home to 1 million people, particularly the outlying suburbs. On Wednesday, 19 people were reported to have been killed in just 24 hours as Ukrainian forces fired heavy artillery shells into a number of apartment blocks in the Vetka district, just one mile from the city centre. Train departures were suspended after rail lines were damaged.

Luhansk, near the Russian border, is said to be completely surrounded by government forces and without electricity and running water. The city, usually home to 400,000 people, has been shelled for more than eight days.

While there are no figures available as to the causalities of this latest onslaught, the United Nations estimates that more than 1,100 were killed in the six weeks leading up to July 26 and 3,500 wounded. Almost 40,000 people have taken refuge in camps in Russia’s Rostov region. The Russian Red Cross described the situation in eastern Ukraine as a humanitarian catastrophe and has urged the evacuation of all children from the war zones.

In a televised statement Ukraine’s Army Chief Valeriy Geletey said, “All those who want to leave Ukrainian towns and villages still have the possibility to run back to Russia.”

“Believe me they are fleeing. We are getting calls saying ‘let us leave the towns’,” he gloated.

Following his appointment by Poroshenko on July 3, Geletey reportedly boasted that “Ukraine will win” the civil war and that its “victory parade is sure to be in Ukrainian Sevastopol.” On March 16, Sevastopol, as part of the Crimea, voted in a referendum to become part of the Russian Federation.

After scenes in mid-April when a regular battalion of the Ukrainian army refused to fire on a crowd near Slavyansk and abandoned their arms, the Kiev regime has established a national guard and is relying on “volunteer” militias—many comprising open fascists—to prosecute its war in eastern Ukraine.

The Financial Times, August 1, reported on “patriotically minded citizens” “mobilising” in support of Kiev. Amongst the “patriots,” it cited the far-right Azov Battalion, which has “just received its first armoured personnel carrier, a donation from a wealthy Kiev businessman.”

Such brigades have been “instrumental” in the Kiev offensive, it noted approvingly.

The Azov Battalion, financed by oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, is led by Andriy Biletsky, head of the extreme right Social National Assembly (SNA). Allied to the fascist Right Sector party, it played a lead role in February’s coup. Comprising open neo-Nazis, its mission is the “liberation of the entire White Race from the domination of the internationalist speculative capital.”

Such is the racist filth on which Kiev and its backers in Washington and Brussels are relying in their geo-strategic offensive against Moscow.

Igor Sutyagin, a military expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, told the FT, “Over the past three months, Ukrainian troops have learnt how to fight. The authorities have untied their hands and they are fighting pitilessly.”

Formerly disused factories in Kiev are reportedly churning out weapons, including 1,000 armoured personal carriers. But, as the FT admits, the Ukrainian regime has “also benefited from international support, with the US providing millions of dollars of food packages, body armour and night-vision goggles. Ukrainian officials say the US has also provided crucial intelligence and advice on strategy.”

On Saturday, Interfax, the Ukrainian news agency, reported that US Vice President Joe Biden had been in contact with Poroshenko and reassured him that the Obama administration was considering “expanding its support for Ukraine.”

Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, it should be noted, has been named director of Burisma Holdings, Ukraine’s largest private natural gas production company.

Simultaneously, the Obama administration announced it will train and arm the Ukrainian national guard from 2015. A statement from the Defense and State Departments said Congress has been notified of the intention to use “$19 million in global security contingency fund authority” to build the capacity of the national guard “for internal defence.”

Washington has also pledged $8 million in new aid to bolster the Ukrainian border guard service.

For its part, the European Union has sent “security advisers” to Kiev to help restore “law and order” in rebel areas. An initial £2 million has been allocated to fund the advisers, which are said to be unarmed.

The EU has also lifted its ban on supplying Ukraine with military technology and equipment. It was imposed earlier this year in support of the pro-western Maidan protests.

In a statement, Russia accused the EU of double standards. While the recent meeting of the Council of Europe in Brussels had overturned the ban to Ukraine “on the quiet,” it said, the same meeting had agreed sweeping sanctions against the Russian defence sector.

Accusing the EU of joining “the side of Washington and Kiev’s fairytales regarding ongoing events in Ukraine,” the Russian Foreign Ministry statement asked, “Do they understand in the capitals of the EU countries what these irresponsible steps could lead to, either in the political or economic spheres?”

438 Ukrainian troops escape to Russia

More than 400 Ukrainian military personnel requested refugee status from Russian border guards on Monday and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has opened a corridor for the soldiers.

“Overnight 438 Ukrainian military personnel turned to Russian border guards with a request for refugee [status],” the head of the FSB’s border control in the southern Russian region of Rostov, Vasily Malaeyev, said.

http://rt.com/files/news/2b/64/c0/00/u-1.jpgBorder control authorities have opened a humanitarian corridor and have allowed refugees into Russia. Among the 438 personnel, 164 are employees of Ukraine’s State Border Service.

Fierce battles in Ukraine’s southeastern regions have not abated since mid-April when Kiev officials announced the beginning of a special operation against local independence supporters. As a result, many Ukrainian servicemen left their military posts to cross into Russia.

On Sunday, 12 soldiers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces made it into Russia and applied for an asylum at Gukovo checkpoint in Russia’s Rostov Region, saying they had run out of food and ammunition.

Last month, another 40 Ukrainian troops abandoned their military units and asked independence supporters to allow them to come to Russia in order not to fight against their own people.

Ukrainian solders said that they have already run out of water, food and fuel. Ammunition is also running out. There is a bad situation with supply which is connected with the large loss of military transport aircraft in Ukrainian armed forces.

RIA Novosti/Yulia Nasulina

Image Source RT

Ukrainian mass media and the leaders of the so-called CTO (counter-terrorist operation) didn’t report about these facts.

Moreover, the Ukrainian press didn’t report about a number of military personnel who have received a humanitarian corridor through Russia and now claim that they do not want to fight anymore.

But when the pawns refuse to play there will be no game.

The power lies not with the plans of the rulers but with the decision of each and every one of us, especially those in the military.

Refuse to fight and reclaim your birthright of living in peace.   http://rt.com/files/news/2b/64/c0/00/u-1.jpg

Image: These Ukrainian soldiers had enough, source

Today it was reported that more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers refused to kill their fellow countrymen in eastern Ukraine. They “defected” across the border to Russia and layed down their arms.

One of them, Yaroslav said: “I want to do something peaceful.

They saw no other option than to flee their own country as they would have been prosecuted as “traitors”.

Some Israeli soldiers are also recognising that it is wrong what they are doing. Dozens refused the summons to service.

They state:

We are more than 50 Israelis who were once soldiers and now declare our refusal to be part of the reserves. We oppose the Israeli Army and the conscription law. , source

World War 1: The Christmas Truce. A game of football between British & German troops, 1914We all know the iconic images of soldiers playing football (soccer) together on the killing fields of World War I during the christmas truce. A photo that touches us and highlights the madness of brothers killing each other.

Heroes and the Traitors

Soldiers that refuse to fight are portrayed generally as traitors. But what they really do is remember who they really are. Sentient, caring, loving and compassionate human beings. And what’s more, they are acting on on it.

The heroes are not those who refuse to kill for nations, ideologies, economic interests or religions. They are those who refuse to be used as weapons against their fellow man. Who refuse to be used as cannon fodder to prolong the existence
of domination, oppression and division.

There are some who think that they can play with human lifes. And they even write books about it. Like this guy Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives). But when the pawns refuse to play there will be no game. The power lies not with the plans of the rulers but with the decision of each and every one of us, especially those in the military. Refuse to fight and reclaim your birthright of living in peace.

 

 About the author:

R. Teichmann is an activist living in West Cork / Ireland. He is an editor with news-beacon-ireland.info and also blogs on War is a crime.

Last week’s government guesstimate that second quarter 2014 real GDP growth will be 4% seems nonsensical on its face.  There is no evidence of increases in real median family incomes or real consumer credit that would lift the economy from a first quarter decline to 4% growth in the second quarter.

Middle class store closings (Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penney) have spread into the Dollar stores used by those with lower incomes. Family Dollar, a chain in the process of closing hundreds of stores is being bought by Dollar Tree, the only one of the three Dollar store chains that is not in trouble.  Wal-Mart’s sales have declined for the past 5 quarters. Declining sales and retail store closings indicate shrinking consumer purchasing power.  Retail facts do not support the claim of a 4% GDP growth rate for the second quarter, and they do not support last Friday’s payroll job claim of 26,700 new retail jobs in July.

What about the housing market? 

Don’t the headlines accompanying last Friday’s payroll jobs report, such as “Hiring Settles Into Steady Gains,” mean more people working and a boost to the economy from a housing recovery?  No.  What the financial press did not report is that the US is in a structural jobs depression.  In the 12-month period from July 2013 through July 2014, 2.3 million Americans of working age were added to the population. Of these 2.3 million only 330 thousand entered the labor force.  My interpretation of this is that the job market is so poor that only 14% of the increase in the working age population entered the labor force.

The decline in the labor force participation rate is bad news for the housing market. The US labor force participation rate peaked at 67.3% in 2000 and has been in a sustained downturn ever since. The rate of decline increased in October 2008 with the bank bailout and Quantitative Easing. From October 2008 to the present, 13.2 million Americans were added to the working age population, but only 818 thousand, or 6%, entered the labor force. http://investmentresearchdynamics.com/americas-structural-job-depression-is-here-to-stay/  Despite government and financial press claims, the Federal Reserve’s multi-year policy of printing money with which to purchase bonds did not restore the housing or job markets.

What about the stock market? 

It has been down in recent days but is still high historically. Isn’t the stock market evidence of a good economy?  Not if stocks are up because corporations are buying back their own stock. Corporations are now the largest buyers of stocks. Recently we learned that from 2006 through 2013 corporations authorized $4.14 trillion in buybacks of their publicly traded stocks.  Moreover, it appears that corporations have been borrowing the money from banks with which to buy back their stocks. Last year there were $754.8 billion in authorized stock buybacks and $782.5 billion in corporate borrowing.  In the first three months of this year, companies purchased $160 billion of their own stocks. http://wallstreetonparade.com/2014/07/another-wall-street-inside-job-stock-buybacks-carried-out-in-dark-pools/

Borrowing to buyback stock leaves a company with debt but without new investment with which to produce revenues to service the debt.  The massive stock buybacks demonstrate that American capitalism is now corrupt. In order to maximize personal short-term financial benefits flowing from bonuses, stock options, and capital gains, CEOs, boards of directors, and shareholders are decapitalizing public companies and loading them up with debt.

Well, isn’t the economy being helped by the return of manufacturing to America?  Apparently not. Data for 1999-2012 indicate that the offshoring of manufacturing increased by 9%.

One economist, Susan Hester, an economist for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, has decided to turn the loss of manufacturing jobs into a virtue. Her argument is that retail employment dwarfs manufacturing employment and that more American jobs can be created by selling more imports than by encouraging manufacturing in order to provide exports.

According to Ms. Hester’s research, the US makes more money from the retail side than from the production side.  She concludes that the value added to a product by offshore labor is a small percentage of the value added by “managing offshored production, handling Customs clearances, managing warehouses and distribution, marketing apparel products, and by millions of people in the retail sector stocking shelves and working cash registers.”

In other words, the US manufacturing jobs moved offshore are just a throwaway. The money is made in selling the imports.

Ms. Hester neglects to recognize that when offshored production is brought to the US to be marketed, it comes in as imports and results in a larger US trade deficit.

Foreigners use dollars paid to them for the products that they make for US firms to purchase ownership of US bonds, stocks, and real assets such as land, buildings, and companies. Consequently, interest, profits, capital gains, and rents associated with the foreign purchases of US assets now flow to foreigners and not to Americans. The current account worsens.

It works like this: The excess of US imports over US exports leaves foreigners with claims on US income and wealth that are settled by foreign purchases of US assets.  The income produced by these assets now flows abroad with the consequence that income earned by foreigners on their US investments exceeds the income earned by the US on its foreign investments.

According to Ms. Hester’s reasoning, Americans would be better off it they produced nothing that they need and in place of manufacturing relied on the incomes of US fashion designers and pattern makers who specify the offshored production for US markets, on the compliance officers and freight agents, on production planning and expediting clerks, and on longshore workers and railroad employees who deliver the foreign-made goods to US consumer markets.

Ms. Hester believes that the value-added by offshored manufacturing is inconsequential. How then did China get rich from it, becoming the second largest economy and employing 100 million people in manufacturing (compared to America’s 12 million), and acquire the largest foreign reserves of any country?

After Ms. Hester answers that question she can explain why US corporations go to the trouble to offshore their manufacturing if the contribution to value-added is so low? The value added is obviously substantial enough for the labor cost savings to pay for transportation costs to the US from Asia, for the cost of set-up and management of foreign based facilities, and for the cost of the adverse publicity from abandoning US communities for Asia and still leave value-added after all costs to enlarge profits and drive up stock prices and executive bonuses.

Ms. Hester fools herself. The low value that she calculates Chinese, Indian, or Vietnamese labor adds to the price of a shirt reflects the low foreign labor cost, not a low value of the shirt in US markets or a low value of an iPhone in European markets.  Marketing, warehousing and distribution are done in the US by more highly paid people, and this is why it looks like the value added comes from sources other than manufacturing. Ms. Hester overlooks that the lower cost of foreign labor does not translate into a less valued product but into higher profits.

Economists assume that the labor cost savings are passed on to the consumers in  lower prices, but I have not experienced declining prices of Nike and Merrell sports shoes, of sheets and towels, of Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren shirts, of Apple computers, or whatever as a result of moving US production offshore.  The labor cost savings go into profits, managerial bonuses, and capital gains for shareholders and is one reason for the extraordinary increase in income and wealth inequality in the US.

Focused on short-term profit, manufacturers and retailers are destroying the US consumer market. The average annual salary of a US apparel manufacturing worker is

$35,000.  The average salary of US retail employees is less than half of that amount and provides no discretionary income with which to boost consumer spending in retail stores.

The American corporate practice of offshoring manufacturing has made it impossible for the Obama regime to keep its promises of creating manufacturing jobs and exports.  Unable to create real jobs and real exports, the US government has proposed to create virtual jobs and virtual exports made by “factoryless goods producers.”  In order to keep his promise of doubling the growth of US exports, the Obama regime wants to redefine foreign output as US output.

A “factoryless goods producer” is a newly invented statistical category. It is a company like Nike or Apple that outsources the production of its products to foreign companies. The Obama regime is proposing to redefine companies such as Apple that own a brand name or a product design as manufacturing companies even though the companies do not manufacture.

In other words, whether or not a US company is a manufacturer does not depend on its activity, but on its ownership of a brand name made for the company by a foreign manufacturer. For example, Apple iPhones made in China and sold in Europe would be reported as US exports of manufactured goods, and iPhones sold in the US would no longer be classified as imports but as US manufacturing output.  Apple’s non-manufacturing employees would be transformed into manufacturing employment.

Clearly, the purpose of this statistical deception is to inflate the number of US manufacturing jobs, US manufacturing output, and US exports and to convert imports into domestic production. It is a scheme that eliminates the large US trade deficit by redefinition.

The reclassification would leave the government’s Office of Statistical Lies with the anomaly that products made in China, India, Indonesia or wherever become US GDP as long as the brand name is owned by a US corporation, but the payments to the Asian workers who produced the products remain as claims on US wealth and can be converted into ownership of US bonds, companies, and real estate.

For example, Chinese workers produced the Apple products, and  China has the claims on US wealth to prove it.  How are these claims accounted for statistically by the Obama regime’s redefinition? The US can add China’s production of the Apple products to US GDP, but how does the US deduct the Chinese-produced Apple products from China’s GDP?  And how does the Obama regime’s redefinition get rid of the payments by Apple to the Chinese labor that produced the products? These payments comprise claims on US wealth.

In other words, the reclassification would double count the output of Apple’s products.  If every country does this, world GDP will rise statistically regardless of the fact that no more goods and services are produced. Perhaps this is the way to define away world poverty.

“Factoryless goods producers” was foreshadowed by Harvard professor Michael Porter’s 2006 competitiveness report, a justification for jobs offshoring.  Defending jobs offshoring, Porter downplayed the rise in the US trade deficit and decline in the US GDP growth rate caused by jobs offshoring. Porter argued, in effect, that ownership of the revenues and products, not the location in which the revenues and products are produced, should determine their classification. As I pointed out in my critique (see The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West), the result would be to raise US GDP by the amount of US production outsourced abroad and by the output of US overseas subsidiaries and to decrease the GDP of the countries in which the manufacturing actually takes place. Consistency would require that the German and Japanese autos, for example, that are produced in the US with US labor would become deductions from US GDP and be reported as German and Japanese GDP.

As I have emphasized for years, the West already lives in the dystopia forecast by George Orwell. Jobs are created by hypothetical add-ons to the reported payroll figures and by inappropriate use of seasonal adjustments.  Inflation is erased by substituting lower priced items in the inflation index for those that rise in price and by redefining rising prices as quality improvements. Real GDP growth is magicked into existence by deflating nominal GDP with the understated measure of inflation. Now corporations without factories are going to produce US manufacturing output, US exports, and US manufacturing jobs!

Every sphere of Western existence is defined by propaganda.  Consequently, we have reached a perfect state of nihilism.  We can believe nothing that we are told by  government, corporations, and the presstitute media.

We live in a lie, and the lie is ever expanding.