Plunging retail sales and rising inflation have rocked Japan’s anemic economy and cast doubt on the future of Abenomics. While the US Commerce Department announced that first-quarter growth in the United States had slipped into negative territory for the first time since 2011 (-0.1 percent), the news from Tokyo was even grimmer. Following a tax hike that began on April 1, retail sales have collapsed sabotaging far-right prime minister Shinzo Abe’s hope for a strong recovery and steering the economy towards another slump. According to Bloomberg News: 

“Japan’s retail sales dropped at the fastest pace in at least 14 years… Sales in April declined 13.7% from the previous month, the trade ministry reported today… The drop-off follows a consumer splurge ahead of the April 1 tax increase, and highlights the task Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in steering the nation through a forecast contraction this quarter… The economy is forecast to shrink an annualized 3.4% this quarter.” (Bloomberg)

Economists around the world had cautioned Abe not to raise the consumption tax while the economy was still weak and wages were trending lower. But the urge to shrug more of the costs of government onto working people was too hard to resist. Abe pushed the tax hike through parliament, paving the way for yesterday’s retail meltdown. Check this out from Zero Hedge:

“Following last night’s record plunge in Japanese retail sales… Household Spending cratered 4.6% YoY – its biggest drop since the Tsunami… Industrial Production tumbled 2.5% MoM – also the biggest drop since the Tsunami (topped off by a) surge in Japanese CPI.” (Zero Hedge)

So while retail sales are dropping like a stone and wages continue to stagnate, inflation has suddenly burst onto the scene pushing up food and energy costs and increasing the hardship on Japan’s dwindling workforce. (inflation in April soared 3.4 percent on all items from a year earlier, while goods prices are up 5.2 percent) With debts and deficits piling up at an unprecedented pace and the economy slowing to a crawl, Abenomics is looking like an unmitigated catastrophe. This is from Testosterone Pit:

“Total retail sales in April plunged 19.8% from March and were down 4.4% year over year. (while)… “large retailers,” sales swooned 25.0% from March… At department stores, where people buy jewelry, designer clothing, or French purses, sales fell 10.6% year over year… In short, it was the largest decline in sales since March 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that killed over 19,000 people, brought commerce to a near-standstill.” (Testosterone Pit)

Abe’s retail bloodbath is the result of a class-based economic policy that attempts to shift more of the nation’s wealth to fatcat stock speculators, corporations and establishment elites while the working people shoulder more of the costs of funding the government. Behind the public relations hype about “fighting deflation”, Abenomics so-called “structural reforms” are nothing more than a full-on attack on the meager incomes of Japan’s working people, 37 percent of whom are limited to part-time work with no benefits, retirement, health care or security. For these people–who number in the millions–life has only gotten harder under Abe.

At the same time, corporate bosses and the IMF are encouraging Abe to implement unpopular economic reforms quickly before the economy slides back into recession. The anti-worker “third arrow” of Abenomics will further undermine job security and working conditions while cutting corporate taxes. According to the Japan Times, “The Cabinet is likely to approve this year’s growth strategy on June 27″ which will involve “corporate tax cuts…reforming public funding, utilizing foreign labor, promoting entrepreneurship and more women in the workforce, and revitalizing local economies.” In other words, tax breaks for big business, slashing public spending, more cheap foreign labor, tax incentives for startups, and “special strategic zones” where worker safety and other regulations are jettisoned so corporate kingpins can rake in more dough. Abe’s third arrow is a wish list for voracious CEOs and carpetbagging business tycoons whose only objective is to extract more wealth from the sweat of working people.

Abenomics has been particularly destructive for those living beneath the poverty line, Japan’s down-and-outs. Besides raising the national sales tax, Abe has cut welfare benefits to shore up the governments flagging finances. The policy has triggered a sharp uptick in the number of working poor. According to the Japan Times, “the number of part-time, temporary and other non-regular workers who typically make less than half the average pay has jumped 70 percent from 1997 to 19.7 million today — 38 percent of the labor force.” This is the crux of the problem that you will not read about in the business-friendly, pro-corporate dissembling media, that is, that Japan’s economy suffers from chronic lack of demand due to falling incomes, shitty wages and system that favors the upward distribution of wealth. All of these have gotten worse under the exploitative leadership of Shifty Shinzo, Japan’s all-time worst PM.

Naturally, the perennial squeeze on workers is having an impact on consumer spending and industrial output. Check this out from Reuters:

“Japan’s household spending in April fell at the fastest rate in three years in a sign that consumption could be slow to recover from an increase in the nationwide sales tax, raising questions over the pace of economic recovery.

Industrial production fell more than expected in April as companies cut output to avoid a pile up in inventories in the lull after the sales tax hike took effect…Industrial output fell 2.5 percent in April, more than a median market forecast of a 2.0 percent fall.” (Reuters)

To summarize: Industrial production, down. Manufacturing, Down. Wages, Down. Profits for Japan’s biggest and greediest corporations, Up, Up, Up!

Also, higher inflation coupled with droopy wages (wages dropped 0.1 percent year-over-year) have pushed consumer confidence to its lowest level since 2011. Recent data show that consumer confidence plunged to 37.5 percent, the worst since the right-wing Abe took office. Additionally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is about to drive the so called misery index, “which adds the jobless rate to the level of inflation, to its highest level since June 1981 when Japan was emerging from depression after the oil shocks of the 1970s.” (Bloomberg)

So while the media bimbos and their corporate taskmasters continue to applaud Abe’s willingness to destroy the economy and crush working people in the name of all-out class warfare, the results have been less than spectacular. In fact, the Japan’s economy is skittering headlong into another gigantic slump thanks to excessive monetary flim-flam, targeted tax gouging, and slavish pandering to the loafer class of moocher elites. Check this out from Roger Arnold at The Street:

“The essential policy tools of Abenomics are massive monetary and fiscal stimulus aimed at forcing the yen lower, which should cause exports to rise and domestic production to increase, leading to increased domestic job production and consumption: the virtuous cycle…

But it isn’t working…Abenomics is making the real economic and fiscal situations in Japan worse, not better. They are digging a bigger sovereign debt hole and accelerating the trajectory toward insolvency.” (Arnold: Abenomics’ Failure Is the Global Canary, The Street)

You bet it isn’t working, just like it’s not working in the United States or Europe or Canada or Australia or anywhere else the mercenary bank cartel has extended its hoary tentacles. Abenomics is failing because it was designed to fail. It was designed to do exactly what it does; transfer everything of value to a handful of crafty, self-serving freeloaders who have the political system by the balls and are extracting every last farthing they can before the economy collapses in a heap.

If you’re in the 1 percent, the system works just swell. For everyone else, not so much.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

On March 30, bestselling author Michael Lewis appeared on 60 Minutes to summarize the findings in his newest book, Flash Boys, as follows: “stock market’s rigged.” Michael Lewis was talking about stock market manipulation by high frequency traders.

Increasingly, the U.S. bond market is delivering almost the same message as Michael Lewis. The U.S. Treasury market, which is experiencing a flight to safety (that suggests a slowing economy, lower corporate earnings and thus a lower stock market in the future) is essentially saying that the current composite wisdom of the stock market is either nuts or the market is, indeed, rigged.

Stocks have been setting new highs of late while the yields on the benchmark 10-year and 30-year Treasurys decline. The 10-year Treasury began the year at a yield of approximately 3 percent and closed on Friday at a yield of 2.49. The 30-year Treasury started the year at a yield of approximately 4 percent and closed last week with a yield of 3.33 percent.


The question is, does high frequency trading and stock market rigging have anything to do with this decoupling?

Read the complete article

The United States last week stepped up pressure on South Korea to take part in Washington’s regional anti-ballistic missile system. The South Korean government has in the past been reluctant to take part, rather focusing on its own indigenous program. The incorporation of South Korea into the existing US partnership on so-called “missile defence” with Japan would further inflame regional tensions.

The Wall Street Journal last Tuesday reported that “the US has conducted a site survey in South Korea for possible locations for a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile system.” However, officials told the newspaper that no final decision had been taken.

According to one defense official, Washington could try to convince South Korea to purchase a THAAD system, either directly or by installing it first at a US military base in South Korea and later selling to Seoul. The system is designed to intercept short, medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles up to an altitude of 150 kilometers and comes equipped with the X-band radar system.

The US plans to purchase seven THAAD systems, but as of now, only three are operational. Last year, the US military placed one on Guam, ostensibly in response to the North Korean “threat.”

Last Wednesday Admiral James A. Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, delivered a speech to the Atlantic Council, a Washington think tank, on the necessity of US allies such as South Korea acquiring their own anti-missile systems and strengthening regional cooperation.

“Going forward, we will continue to emphasise the importance of developing regional ballistic missile defence systems,” he said. “This is a very sensitive topic for several of our regional allies, but progress in this area would only increase our confidence in the face of persistent North Korean provocations.”

While Washington routinely uses North Korea to justify its anti-missile build-up, the real target is China. As part of its “pivot to Asia”, the Obama administration is building up military forces and strengthening its alliances throughout the region against China.

Far from being a defensive measure, the Pentagon’s placement of anti-ballistic missile systems in Asia is part of its planning for nuclear war with China. US strategists have been seeking “nuclear primacy”—that is, the ability of a US first strike to wipe out China’s nuclear arsenal. The US anti-missile systems are to knock out any remaining Chinese missiles.

Beijing has reacted negatively to the prospect of an anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang declared: “We believe that the deployment of ant-missile systems in this region will not help maintain stability and strategic balance in this region.”

Until now, South Korea has been reluctant to join the US missile defence partnership. Instead, it has built its own independent anti-missile system, called the Korean Air and Missile Defense System (KAMD), as well as the “Kill Chain” system, which is designed to carry out pre-emptive strikes on missile launch sites in North Korea. The South Korean KAMD system is designed to intercept short-range missiles that reach altitudes of less than 40 kilometers.

In part, South Korea has maintained its own anti-missile system so as not to alienate China, the country’s largest trading partner. At the same time, Seoul is well aware that placing a US anti-ballistic missile system on the peninsula would turn South Korea into a frontline target in the event of war between the US and China.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok last Thursday denied that Seoul’s position on the missile system had changed. “Our Defense Ministry is not aware of the US reviewing deployment of the THAAD system on the Korean Peninsula. The US missile-defense system is a separate system from our Army’s KAMD system.”

South Korean President Park Geun-hye, however, indicated that she was willing to consider a US request. “If there is a new proposal to be tabled by the US, this is something that could be discussed during talks between our defense ministers,” she said.

The US was expected to continue exerting pressure on Seoul during the Asia Security Summit in Singapore this past weekend. On the sidelines of the three-day conference, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with his Korean and Japanese counterparts, Kim Kwan-jin and Itsunori Onodera, on Saturday.

The Wall Street Journal article indicated that the issue of missile defence would be “high on the agenda,” but nothing was announced.

Hagel did secure agreement on military intelligence sharing agreement between the three countries, a longstanding US goal. In 2012, at Washington’s insistence, Seoul and Tokyo nearly completed an intelligence sharing agreement, but it was derailed after former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak attempted to push through the deal without consulting the National Assembly. A trilateral memorandum of understanding is expected to be signed in the near future.

Washington has been frustrated by the state of affairs between its two allies. Relations between Seoul and Tokyo have soured in recent years, particularly over a territorial dispute over the Dokdo/Takeshima Islets in the Sea of Japan. Tensions have worsened after the 2012 election of right-wing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who has sought to whitewash the war crimes of Japanese imperialism in the 1930s and 1940s in Korea and China.

A senior defense official was quoted in the Wall Street Journal  s report saying: “It would be really useful if those nations could set aside their long standing differences. There is enormous utility to having a regionally-knitted together approach to missile defense.”

In March, President Obama personally interceded in the dispute between the two countries and brought President Park and Prime Minister Abe together for the first time on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. Abe, who was elected in December 2012, and Park, who assumed office in February 2013, have yet to propose a bilateral summit.

In a menacing and provocative speech in Singapore on Saturday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel directly accused China of “destabilising, unilateral actions asserting its claims in the South China Sea” and warned that the US “will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.”

Delivered at the Shangri-La Dialogue, the annual Asian defence forum, Hagel’s speech was an open and unequivocal statement that the US intends to maintain its undisputed dominance in Asia and will use its military might to that end. Hagel reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the “pivot” or “rebalance” to Asia—an aggressive strategy aimed at undermining and militarily encircling China. The rebalance, he declared, “is not a goal, not a promise, or a vision—it’s a reality.”

In the course of his speech, Hagel listed the recent steps taken by the Obama administration to strengthen military ties throughout the region, including: new strategic partnerships with Vietnam and Malaysia, the signing of a basing agreement for US forces in the Philippines, the build-up of advanced US military hardware in Japan, expanded anti-ballistic missile systems in Asia, and greater military collaboration with key allies including Japan, South Korea and Australia.

The rapid US military build-up in Asia makes a mockery of the Obama administration’s claims that its “pivot” is purely to maintain peace and stability and is not targeted against China. As Hagel reaffirmed, by 2020, the US will station 60 percent of its air and naval assets in the Asia Pacific. The Pentagon also plans to boost support for its allies and strategic partners by increasing foreign military financing by 35 percent and military education and training by 40 percent by 2016.

Hagel dispensed with customary diplomatic niceties and openly attacked China over its actions in the South China Sea. Accusing Beijing of “intimidation and coercion,” he declared: “It has restricted access to Scarborough Reef, put pressure on the long-standing Philippine presence at the Second Thomas Shoal, begun land reclamation activities at multiple locations, and moved an oil rig into disputed waters [with Vietnam] near the Paracel Islands.”

In reality, the US has deliberately inflamed these longstanding territorial disputes as a means of driving a wedge between China and its neighbours. In 2010, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provocatively declared at an Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) forum that the US had “a national interest” in ensuring “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. Over the past four years, Washington has encouraged ASEAN countries, particularly the Philippines and Vietnam, to press their claims against China. As a result, low-level regional disputes have been transformed into dangerous international flashpoints for war.

Hagel delivered what amounted to an ultimatum to Beijing, declaring that it had a choice: “to unite and recommit to a stable regional order, or walk away from that commitment and risk the peace and security that have benefitted millions of people throughout the Asia Pacific.” In the course of his Asian tour in April, President Obama explicitly declared support for Japan and the Philippines in any war with China over disputed territories.

Hagel’s speech was part of a concerted campaign at the Shangri-La Dialogue to bully and bait China. His remarks were not only echoed by high-level American officials such as Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of the US Pacific Command, but by representatives of key Asian allies including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Defence Minister David Johnston.

In a keynote speech last Friday, Abe announced: “Japan intends to play an even greater and more proactive role” in security affairs in Asia and the world. He declared Japan’s “utmost support for efforts by ASEAN member countries to ensure the security of the seas and the skies and rigorously maintain freedom of navigation and overflight.”

Like the US, Japan is directly intervening in the disputes in the South China Sea, providing patrol boats to the Philippines and Indonesia and pushing for a deal with Vietnam to do the same. Targeting China, Abe declared: “What the world eagerly awaits is for our seas and our skies to be places governed by rules, laws and established dispute resolution procedures.”

Abe’s comments are utterly hypocritical. In the case of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, he refuses to acknowledge that there is even a dispute with China making “dispute resolution procedures” irrelevant. Since coming to power in December 2012, Abe has used the territorial dispute to justify Japan’s remilitarisation, including increased military budgets and the removal of constitutional constraints on the Japanese military.

The speeches by Hagel and Abe at the Shangri-La forum were calculated to goad Chinese officials present. Lieutenant General Wang Guanzhong, the deputy chief of the general staff and head of the Chinese delegation, hit back, branding Hagel’s speech as “full of threats and intimidating language,” “completely non-constructive” and “full of hegemony.”

Hagel and Abe appeared to be “singing in duet,” Wang declared. “In this kind of public space with many people openly criticising China without reason, Secretary Hagel’s speech is full of encouragement, incitement for the Asian region’s instability giving rise to a disturbance,” he said.

The gang-up of US and its allies against China at the Singapore forum is a marked escalation of the Obama administration’s drive to war in Asia. Even as it is engaged in a confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, Hagel’s bellicose language indicates that the US is determined to ramp up pressure on China and continued its military build-up in Asia.

It is no accident that Hagel focused on the South China Sea. A critical component of the Pentagon’s plans for war against China is control of the key sea lanes through South East Asia on which China relies to import energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East. In close collaboration with Japan and Australia, the US is positioning itself to be able to impose a blockade of China aimed at crippling its industry and economy.

The 24-member 9/11 Consensus Panel – which includes physicists, chemists, engineers, commercial pilots, attorneys and lawyers – today announced three new studies confirming the controlled demolition of World Trade Center 7.

The studies scientifically refutes the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) claim that, for the first time in history, fire caused the sudden and complete collapse of a large, fire-protected, steel-framed building on 9/11.

(Note that whereas the Consensus Panel uses a scientific methodology to peer-review its work, the NIST report was not peer-reviewed.)

The first Panel study deals with the NIST computer simulations, which purported to show that fire-induced thermal expansion caused a girder to be pushed off its seat at Column 79, thereby initiating a global collapse of the entire 47-storey building at 5:21 in the afternoon.

However, a recent FOIA request has produced WTC 7 architectural drawings showing that the NIST simulations omitted basic structural supports that would have made this girder failure impossible.

The second Consensus Panel study deals with NIST’s claim that it did not recover any steel from this massive steel-frame skyscraper.

This is extraordinary, given the need to understand why a steel-frame building would have completely collapsed for the first time in history from fire alone, and to thereby prevent a recurrence.

We know now that some of the steel was recovered.  Photographs recently obtained by researchers show the strange curled-up paper-thin WTC 7 steel, with a NIST investigator pointing it out.

The third Panel study shows that on September 11, 2001, many people were told hours in advance that WTC 7 was going to collapse.

MSNBC reporter Ashleigh Banfield said early in the afternoon: “I’ve heard several reports from several different officers now that that is the building that is going to go down next.”

Many members of the New York Fire Department were confidently waiting for the building to come down:

Firefighter Thomas Donato: “We were standing, waiting for seven to come down. We were there for quite a while, a couple hours.”

Assistant Commissioner James Drury: “I must have lingered there. There were hundreds of firefighters waiting to — they were waiting for 7 World Trade Center to come down.”

Chief Thomas McCarthy: “So when I get to the command post, they just had a flood of guys standing there. They were just waiting for 7 to come down.”

In addition, CNN and the BBC made premature announcements.

This foreknowledge corroborates the evidence presented in previous Consensus Points (WTC7-1 to WTC7-5) that WTC 7 was brought down by controlled demolition.


The 9/11 Consensus Panel:  [email protected][email protected]

Contact List:

Co-founders:    David Ray Griffin, Elizabeth Woodworth

Drone Wars: Surveying the Home Front

June 2nd, 2014 by Chris Cole

Today Statewatch and Drone Wars UK are co-publishing a new report into the use of unmanned drones in UK airspace. Back from the Battlefield: Domestic Drones in the UK written by Chris Jones of Statewatch examines the current use of drones in UK airspace by public and private bodies looking in particular at their use by police and border control authorities. The report argues that it is essential for widespread debate, discussion and democratic decision-making on the issue of ‘domestic’ drones in order to establish acceptable limits on their deployment and use by public authorities, private companies and individuals.

Despite strict Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulations that control and limit the use of drones in UK airspace slowly but surely the number of drone operators is increasing. In late 2011 Drone Wars UK revealed that around 50 to 60 annual ‘permissions’ were granted by the CAA to private companies and public institutions to fly drones in UK airspace. According to the CAA’s latest update there are now more than 220 public bodies and private companies that have permission to fly in the UK. However if plans to allow unmanned drones to fly freely in civil airspace are implemented – supposedly in 2016 – that number is likely to rocket.

The first section of the report examines the regulations and law governing the use of drones. The CAA currently tightly regulates the use of drones in the UK due to safety concerns. While this frustrates many would-be drone entrepreneurs, a number of crashes by small drones at public events over the past year has led to death and injuries and show that strict regulation is absolutely necessary (see here andhere and here and here.   In February 2014 the UK industry body representing insurance underwritersargued for significant changes to the way drones are currently being regulated due to “significant hazard, loss and risk” they pose.

In addition the danger posed to other aircraft is causing disquiet. Earlier this month the US equivalent of the CAA, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), revealed that a small drone had nearly collided with an airliner over Florida in March 2014. Such a collision could have “catastrophic results” said the FAA.

The report also addresses the other major concern with regard to the use of drones in civil airspace: privacy.  The government has argued that the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 and a recently adopted Surveillance Camera Code of Practice have to be taken into account should public authorities wish to operate drones. However, both contain numerous shortcomings and neither applies to private companies or individuals.

Considering these inadequacies – and in the light of phone hacking scandals by media organisations, on-going revelations about mass telecommunications surveillance by security agencies and the highly controversial use of undercover police officers in protest movements – there is arguably a need for a thorough revision of the UK’s legal and regulatory framework surrounding all forms of surveillance. As the New York Times wrote recently in an editorial on the opportunities and dangers posed by growing use of drones in civil airspace:

Given the National Security Agency’s widespread spying and efforts by advertisers and Internet companies to track consumers online, another technology capable of conducting mass surveillance could become a serious threat to privacy.

Behind the scenes the UK government has set up a ‘RPAS Cross Government Working Group’ to promote the use of ‘Remotely Piloted Air Systems’ (aka drones). However protecting the civil liberties and privacy of UK citizens does not even rate a cursory mention in the terms of reference for the group obtained by Tom Watson MP last month. In addition, while the European Commission has stated that it will “set tough new standards to regulate the operations of civil drones” details are yet to be seen.

police dronesThe report also looks in some detail at the use of drones by police and border agencies and suggests that the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) may already be using surveillance drones. 12 of Britain’s 51 regional police forces are known to have used drones to some extent over the last five years, but due to CAA restrictions such use has mainly been restricted to trials such as currently being undertaken by Sussex Police at Gatwick airport. Currently only Staffordshire Police and the PSNI are making regular use of drone technology.   Although early steps into drone use by the police have been tentative (and once or twice pretty embarrassing) it is likely to increase in the future.

Finally the report reveals that at least £80 million of public funding from both UK and EU institutions has gone towards the development of drones or the technology and facilities seen as a prerequisite for their use. Far more will likely be spent in the future – a consortium led by BAE Systems has just received an undisclosed amount to investigate “unmanned aviation in the civil market” as part of a £60 million push to “keep Britain at the forefront of the global aerospace market”.

While the developments in the use of civil drones is being backed by numerous public and private interests, there appears to have been relatively little – if any – thought given to the issues raised by the potential widespread introduction of domestic drones. It is essential that a widespread debate on these issues takes place now, before it is too late.

Please note: Additional data annexes available here  and background source materials and responses to Freedom of Information requests are here

Amidst howls of “whitewash” from media commentators and interested observers of all political hues, it seems the findings of the Chilcot Inquiry in to the Iraq war are finally to be published by the end of this year.

The Inquiry, Chaired by Sir John Chilcot ran from autumn 2009 to February 2011. Their Report is expected to run to several thousand pages with the total cost incurred from the date of the establishment of the hearings: “on 15th June 2009 up to 31st March 2012 … £6,129,000.”

As of 16th May this year: “ On the present timetable, the Inquiry may incur further costs of some £2 million.”(1, pdf.)

From June 2013 to November 2013 the Inquiry: “submitted ten requests covering some two hundred Cabinet-level discussions and twenty five Notes” from Tony Blair to President Bush “and more than one hundred and thirty records of conversations between either” Tony Blair or subsequent Prime Minister Gordon Brown and President Bush.(2)

Finally, on the 28th May Sir John published his letter (3,pdf) to Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood recording their:

“agreement on the principles that will underpin disclosure of material from Cabinet level discussions between the (former) UK Prime Minister and the President of the United States which the Inquiry has asked to use in its Report … My colleagues and I judge that this material is vital to the public understanding of the Inquiry’s conclusions.”

In the letter he also recalls some of the hurdles that have been put in the Inquiry’s path by the British government, past and present.

Sir Jeremy (NB: who was Private Secretary to Tony Blair prior to the 2003 invasion) appears to have followed in the footsteps of his predecessor Sir Gus O’Donnell who: “wrote to the Inquiry in January 2011 (making) clear that there was no prospect of reaching agreement that notes from Mr. Blair or records of discussions” (between him and President Bush) “should be disclosed in their entirety, even with redactions. Accordingly, the requests … submitted last summer were for permission to disclose quotes or gists of the content. We have concluded they are sufficient to explain our conclusions.”

In July and August last year: “some potential gaps in the material provided by the government” had been identified which have now been addressed, Sir John further notes in his letter.

Now it is down to “gists and quotes” from the notes, documents and a  hundred and thirty conversations: Consideration will be based on the principle that this material should not reflect President Bush’s views.” Agreement is also: that the use of direct quotations from the documents should be the minimum necessary …”

George W. Bush, with his Administration devised the horror of “Shock and Awe”, planned to attack Iraq two years before 11th September 2001, devising 935 public lies during the planning (4) and who said on 11th November 2002: “… for the sake of protecting our friends and allies, the United States will lead a mighty coalition of freedom-loving nations and disarm Saddam Hussein.

“See, I can’t imagine what was going through the mind of this enemy when they hit us. They probably thought the national religion was materialism, that we were so selfish and so self-absorbed that after 9/11/2001 this mighty nation would take a couple of steps back and file a lawsuit.” (5)

In spite of this:

“the material should not reflect George W. Bush’s views.” In light of the enormity of the breaches of international law and crimes seemingly devised by the Bush and Blair Administrations the level of protection and kid glove handling of the alleged culprits might be near unprecedented.

It should also be remembered that Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5 (2002-2007) told the Chilcot Inquiry that the Bush line that Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida were connected has no “credible intelligence” a view also held by the CIA she said – and that Saddam had “nothing” to do with 9/11. She added: “Arguably, we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad.” The invasion also: “ radicalised young Muslims in Britain (Evidence 20th July 2010.)

However, not all are happy. On the BBC’s “Today” morning news programme, former Prime Minister Sir John Major, normally an unusually quiet and conciliatory man for a politician said:

“I think it is a pity the papers are going to be withheld for several reasons. Firstly, they will leave suspicions unresolved and those suspicions will fester and maybe worsen.

“Secondly, in many ways I think withholding them is going to be very embarrassing for Tony Blair, not least of course because he brought the Freedom of Information Act into law when he was in government.”

He pointed out that “strict rules” prevented the current government from getting involved, but the Labour Party or indeed Mr Blair could contacts the Cabinet Office and clear the full release of the documents.

“Mr Blair could, the previous Labour government could, and maybe in their own interests they should think about that because otherwise, as I say, this will fester and I don’t think anybody wishes to see that”, he stated. Of course for Blair to make such a request would be akin to a multi-millionaire alleged war criminal turkey voting for Christmas.

Former Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay also a previous Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee accused Chilcot of “surrender” adding:

“It is a bad, bad day for democracy and justice. The Establishment of this country, and the security and intelligence services, have won again. Truth has lost out … We were lied to as a country time and time again on Iraq. The lies endure.”(6)

Rose Gentle whose soldier son Gordon was just nineteen when he was killed in Iraq in 2004, feels Blair himself is “behind” the gagging decision. She will not be alone, particularly as current Prime Minister David Cameron has talked of his admiration for him, regarding him as a “mentor” it would seem.

The most prescient and amusing account of the whole outrageous government cover up come from the blog of the most searingly honest and astute of MPs., Paul Flynn. The first three paragraphs of his 30th May blog on the subject are far too good to paraphrase:

“Surprised to hear today that I was lined up to do battle on the Chilcot betrayal with ‘Peter Jay.’  Even more surprised he used the words ‘shits’ three times at noon on the eminently respectable BBC Wales.

“I’ve not heard his name for years. But I remember him as a broadcast journalist son-in-law of Jim Callaghan. There were whispers of nepotism when he was appointed, without diplomatic qualifications, ambassador to the USA. His spell there was distinguished by personal indiscretions – including allegedly fathering a child with his children’s’ nanny. His colourful career afterwards included a spell as Chief of Staff to Robert Maxwell. In company Maxwell always called him ‘Mr Ambassador’.

“From today’s performance on BBC Wales, it’s clear he has now become very righteous and correct. He said that only ‘shits’ would want to publish the whole truth on the Bush-Blair correspondence that led to the Iraq War and the deaths of 179 UK soldiers. Is this how diplomats communicate? The loved ones of the fallen had no right to hear the whole truth, Jay explained. Protocol between the UK and USA was a higher priority.  His is the authentic voice of yesterday’s contemptible establishment arrogance telling the lower orders ‘ Yours not to reason why. Yours, but to do and die.’”

Cameron of course, is still eyeing his very own war in intervening in Syria, surely not coincidentally, a course urged by Blair – so fearful that he is safely guarded by a large armed protection squad at British taxpayers expense where ever he goes. Incidentally, it seems Tony Blair is again currently bidding for another go as EU President.(8) Given the horrors he unleashed as a Prime Minister of a small island off France, imagine the nightmare if he prevails.

In the light of the sustained campaign in high places to render the Chilcot Inquiry impotent, it is perhaps worth concluding with the Freedom of Information Act the then Prime Minster Blair introduced in 2000.

He became Prime Minister in 1997. In 1996 he stated of the proposed legislation:

“It is not some isolated constitutional reform that we are proposing with a Freedom of Information Act. It is a change that is absolutely fundamental to how we see politics developing in this country over the next few years…information is power and any government’s attitude about sharing information with the people actually says a great deal about how it views power itself and how it views the relationship between itself and the people who elected it.”

Further, also when in opposition, that: “Such an act would ‘signal a new relationship between government and people: a relationship which sees the public as legitimate stakeholders in the running of the country.’ “(9)

What a long time thirteen years is in politics and after an invasion or two. In his autobiography “A Journey”, published in 2010 he writes:

“Freedom of Information Act. Three harmless words. I look at those words as I write them, and feel like shaking my head ‘til it drops off. You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.”

Moreover: “Scandals will happen … The problem with FOI is that it can be used to expose them.”  Scandals don’t get much bigger than embarking on an illegal war, destruction of the “Cradle of Civilisation”, manufactured on a pack of lies.

Until, as has been tried on a number of occasions (10,11) someone finally arrests him and delivers him to the International Criminal Court, the least he can do is relieve the British taxpayer of the cost of the Chilcot Inquiry and pay for it out of the millions he has made since the slaughter of an upper estimate of one and a half million Iraqis and his departure from Downing Street.

Perhaps the Court will order his assets stripped, his seven mansions sold and used to compensate, in some small way, the maimed, bereaved, cancer patients resultant from the depleted uranium weapons used in Iraq and Afghanistan under his tenure. Globally, many still dream of international justice that is truly, universally, even handed.

A personal note: I emphatically believed this Inquiry would be yet another whitewash, given the totally establishment figures conducting it. I now believe their eyes and minds were opened to the historic lie-driven horror wrought upon Iraq and that Sir John has stood his ground and done his best against the iron wall of government resistance against this government proclaimed final “Open Inquiry.”













Syria: Dirty Lies and Black Deeds of Barack Obama

June 2nd, 2014 by Viktor Mikhin

American President Barack Obama while delivering a speech at the West Point graduation ceremony on May 28 outlined his foreign policy agenda for the remaining years of his term. In this speech, Obama defended his decision to avoid direct military intervention in Syria and expressed his willingness to increase the aid to the opposition groups that would be willing to attempt a military overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his people”.

Obama affirmed that his administration will be working together with Congress to increase the assistance to the groups that “offer the best alternative to terrorists and a brutal dictator”. Additionally Obama pledged his support to Syria’s neighbours – Jordan and Lebanon; Turkey and Iraq. In addition, Obama promised to allocate up to 5 billion dollars on counter terrorism operations and training of security forces in other countries in order to combat extremism.

While listening to this speech one couldn’t help but feel amazed with this cheap demagoguery, cynicism and a bunch of lies delivered by the highest official in the United States . After all, it is a well known fact that the US initiated the creation of the “Al-Qaeda” organization and its leader Osama bin Laden had been a VIP guest of the financial department of the CIA for over three decades. It is Washington and its faithful European satellites along with the Arab monarchies that is behind the creation of numerous terrorist organizations of today. And now this terrorist scum from all over the world is butchering people in Syria, in an attempt to show “value for the money” provided by Washington and its allies .

Understandably, the US president is planning to increase its support of the Syrian rebels in order to further prolong the civil war in Syria that should result in the eventual destruction of this country, as it has happened before in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya due to a hefty amount of the US “assistance”. Joshua Landis an Associate Professor at the University of Oklahoma believes that, should the rebels prevail, the probability of turning Syria into another Somalia and the further continuation of the conflict between the militants themselves without the involvement of government forces is extremely high. This, in the long, run can significantly increase the number of refuges leaving Syria.

According to the CIA reports there are more than 1500 different terrorist groups operating in Syria now, the better part of them is manned by Americans and Europeans. Earlier, the Syrian government issued a statement about the proportion of foreigners among terrorists and bandits waging war in the country, this proportion exceeds 80%. The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States James Komi told reporters that the flow of US and EU citizens wishing to fight on the side of the Syrian opposition had significantly increased. According to Janis Komi, dozens of Americans are joining the ranks of insurgents in Syria to participate in the conflict, however the number of EU mercenaries arriving in Syria is calculated in thousands.

Unexpectedly, it’s the mercenaries from the US and Europe, fighting in Syria in the ranks of extremist groups, that are largely responsible for the brutal executions. On top of all they’re not simply engaging the security forces of President Bashar al-Assad, but other rebels and civilians alike. This was the statement made by the Free Syrian Army General Abdullah al-Bashir to The Times newspaper. According to this commander, European extremists make up the bulk of all troops fighting in the ranks of a breakaway “Al- Qaeda ” radical group – ” Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “, and those resort to extremely brutal methods in combat.

“The Syrian people are beaten, killed, beheaded, crucified, women are treated improperly, the command is run by archaic methods” – the newspaper quotes the General. According to Abdullah al-Bashir, the majority of those participating in these acts are British subjects. He underlined that that these extremists are kidnapping the men of the Free Syrian Army and attack civilian houses in Raqqa, instead of assaulting a nearby base of the Syrian Air Forces.

A PBS documentary on Syria depicts how Americans are training armed opposition forces on a secret base in Qatar. The future militants are taught, in particular, “how to kill soldiers who are still alive after an attack”. The US military instructors seem to be aiming at developing a particular ferocity in their cadets. The film also features numerous interviews with Syrian militants filmed by a PBS journalist, they say that they were meeting secretly with their “American supervisors” in Turkey to obtain weapons and ammunition from them.

By who is supplying these illegal formations with weapons and thus fanning the flames of the civil war? For instance, the latest reports say that Syrian rebels started receiving TOW antitank missiles systems produced in the US. By now it’s only the trial program aimed at supporting the forces fighting against the Syrian army, the USA Today newspaper reported, citing its own sources. “First they try it, and then we’ll see how it goes (before increasing supplies)” – said a former US senior official in his interview to the newspaper.

Congressman Mike Rogers, in turn, told the newspaper that there is a “limited growth” of support provided to these terrorists. However, he did not specify what was the form of this “support”. Experts interviewed by the USA Today, also refused to specify whether the United States was supplying the anti-tank weapons directly, but they hinted that the supplies of TOWs to Syria must be carried out by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, but “it wouldn’t happen without the consent of the United States”.

But it’s not all that easy with supplying bandits and terrorists. As it was the case with “Al-Qaeda”, Syrian extremists and terrorists have already declared their readiness to attack the British transport infrastructure and financial centers, and they have nothing against arranging terrorist attacks in the United States, for example, like bombing the White House, reports The Daily Mail. A promise to carry out such attacks has already appeared on the Internet. According to the British newspapers, the UK secret services take such threats extremely seriously. In turn, the BBC writes: “Never before has the UK citizens fighting in Syria threatened their own country with such bloody acts”.

According to The Daily Mail, the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is in possession of reports that show that “Al-Qaeda” has organized a training camp in Syria, in which it has been training mercenaries from Western countries. According to the publication, in this camp, foreigners are studying terrorism, and then they should be returning to their respective countries to carry out terrorist attacks there.

Above facts are substantial enough for anyone to admit that Washington and President Obama personally is responsible for all the atrocities and crimes that their mercenaries are carrying out and the US administration will not wash the blood of 150,000 Syrian civilians off their hands. And now Obama is going to allocate another $ 5 billion (incidentally, the same amount that was spent in order to the trigger the bloody events in the Ukraine) on the so-called anti-terrorist activities. In fact, it all turns around, as the facts show, leading to further deterioration of the civil war and more Syrian civilians killed.

When enough is enough? Isn’t it the time to punish those contenders for world domination with their never ending war hysteria? Maybe it’s time to remember the words Lakhdar Brahimi a former UN special envoy to Syria that had unfortunately failed his mission, who said that everyone who is responsible for the situation and can influence it must remember that the question is how many more people must die, how many more buildings must be destroyed, before Syria would become a country we all knew, and at the same time – the new Syria, a country that we all love.

Victor Mikhin, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. 

Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad

Tens of thousands of Palestinian residents in East Jerusalem have spent three months without running water, despite petitions and calls from human rights bodies after an Israeli water utility company stopped supplies in March.

Hagihon, Jerusalem’s water utility company, stopped regular supplies of running water to several neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, such as Shu’fat Refugee Camp, Ras Khamis, Ras Sh’hadeh and Dahiyat a-Salam, said a statement from the website of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

The camps are located inside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and isolated from the rest of the city by the Separation Barrier.

According to B’Tselem, some households in these camps “have been completely cut off from the water supply” while others “receive water intermittently.”

“As for the rest, the water pressure in the pipes is so low that the water does not reach the faucets,”says the statement.

As a result, between 60,000 and 80,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom are permanent Israeli residents, have been left without a regular water supply, adds the organization.

According to B’Tselem, the fact that people have to live without a proper water supply is but “another outcome of the severe and ongoing neglect of the residents in the Jerusalem neighborhoods separated by the Separation Barrier from the rest of East Jerusalem.”

“The construction of the barrier and the isolation of these neighborhoods have led to a state of neglect even more severe than that endured by East Jerusalem neighborhoods for decades,” says the group.

Meanwhile, the local residents continue looking for running water in the camps. Families have no choice but to buy bottled water and limit their consumption – drinking, showering and laundry – to minimum.

AFP Photo / Hazem Bader AFP Photo / Hazem Bader

“Every other week, I take the kids to my family’s home in Ras al-‘Amud [Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem] to shower. We go by bus and it takes us an hour to get there,” Linda Abu Rajeb told B’Tselem.

She said that her husband has to walk over to his brother’s house, which is nearly a kilometer away to get water.

When the running water was stopped back in March, people spent at least three weeks calling the Hagihon Company and the Jerusalem Municipality to restore the water supply in their neighborhoods.

On March 25, local residents, community leaders and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) wrote a petition to the Israeli High Court of Justice over negligence that has cut water supplies to tens of thousands of people.

“This is a humanitarian crisis of the first degree, and infringes on the right to water, dignity and health, especially of children and infants, the elderly, the sick and persons with disabilities,” said the petition.

According to ACRI, the water infrastructure in the affected areas can support only 15, 000 people, while there are more than 80,000 in the camps.

Hagihon in its turn said that “security problems (including employees needing to have a police escort) and frequent attacks against infrastructure,” were preventing the company from carrying out its maintenance work properly in the Palestinian neighborhoods.

On 2 April, 2014, the Court told Israeli officials to give a response to the petition within 60 days. The deadline is set on the first week of June 2014.

White House Purchases Google Key Words to Slam Putin

Russian writer idaltae tweeted the following:

Because she didn’t say what search term she used to pull up that ad – and because we don’t live in Russia – it took some legwork to verify that this is real.

Specifically, we used Keyword Spy – a highly-regarded and widely-used resource in the SEO industry – to see if the White House had purchased keywords for Google using the domain name

Indeed, we did find the ad using Keyword Spy:


 Keyword Spy also told us the keywords which the White House purchased:

Telenor is a huge telecommunications company based in Norway, which provides telecom services in Eastern Europe, and has had a series of legal disputes regarding its sizable ownership stake in Russian and Ukrainian telecoms.

In other words, Telenor Russia is probably a popular Google search term in Russia and Ukraine.  And the White House has purchased Google key words to troll Putin.

The Council on Foreign Relations vs. Global Research

June 2nd, 2014 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

While Global Research operates on a shoe string budget compared to the well-endowed establishment think tanks, it has more readers than the powerful Council on Foreign Relations (CFR at (see graph below).

In late January, however, on the day of Obama’s State of the Union address, the number of CFR readers shot up and then tumbled down again.

One would expect that with ample financial resources and a panoply of “authoritative” authors and analysts, the CFR website would have a broad and diversified readership.

Source: Alexa. Global Research is ranked among the 11,000 most popular websites Worldwide 

Why are people not reading the CFR? Why are they reading GR?

The CFR is a mouthpiece for US foreign policy. It’s in close liaison with Wall Street and the US State Department.

The CFR’s authors go out of their way to “give a human face” to America’s wars and covert military operations in different parts of the World.  originalCountries which do not abide by Washington’s diktats are the object of a carefully orchestrated smear campaign. They are singled out as  “rogue states”.

Political leaders who oppose Washington’s demands are casually tagged as “dictators” or “war criminals”,  not withstanding the fact the US has since the end of World War II committed countless atrocities in the name of “Western democracy”.  More recently,  extensive war crimes have been committed against the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and the former Yugoslavia.

The CFR will justify the deployment of US special forces in the Middle East and Africa as a means to going  after and “taking out” Al Qaeda.

In contrast, GR will reveal, based on carefully documented research that the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) is a Big Lie and that Al Qaeda is not an “outside enemy” which threatens the American Homeland.

Al Qaeda is a CIA intelligence asset going back to the Soviet-Afghan war, which has recently been used to commit terrorist acts with a view to destabilizing countries which are on the Pentagon’s hit list. In this regard, Global Research articles have documented in detail how covert US support and financing has been channeled to Al Qaeda affiliated terrorists in Libya and Syria.

The Crisis in Ukraine

A Coup d’etat supported by Washington has recently taken place in Ukraine leading to the demise of a democratically elected president.

The CFR praises the new regime, without addressing the fact that the protest movement integrated by gunmen and Neo-Nazi Brown Shirts militia was covertly supported by the US, NATO and the EU.  The role of the Neo-Nazi parties including Svoboda and Right Sector in Ukraine’s self-proclaimed coalition government is not mentioned.

The CFR’s objective is to build a legitimacy for the Pentagon’s “long war”, namely to present war as a humanitarian undertaking.

The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a NeoCon Washington-based think tank, with close links to the CFR, calls upon the US to “fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater wars in different regions of the world as well as perform the so-called military “constabulary” duties “associated with shaping the security environment in critical regions”.

Global constabulary implies a worldwide process of military policing and interventionism, including covert operations and “regime change”, all of which are carried out in accordance with a “humanitarian mandate”.

Military actions are implemented simultaneously in different regions of the world (as outlined in the PNAC) as well as sequentially.

originalGR reveals the “Big lie” behind US foreign policy. In an era of media disinformation, our focus has essentially been to center on the “unspoken truth”.  The underlying concept is the “democratization” of research and media reporting, while maintaining high standards of investigation and analysis.

Global Research  –with several hundred committed authors and a large readership in North America and overseas– is involved in the critical analysis of civil rights and the US Surveillance State, the social impacts of the global economic crisis, war crimes and the devastating impacts of US militarization, the destructive nature of biotechnology and genetically modified seeds, the dangers of nuclear radiation, the environmental impacts of shale gas fracking, etc.

Global Research Online StoreGR confronts mainstream media propaganda with carefully documented reports. Truth and honesty in reporting are powerful weapons. GR is committed to 9/11 Truth. Our ultimate objective is to reverse the tide of war and social injustice and create conditions for the development of “real democracy.”

In course of the last month, Global Research had on average more than 140,000 unique readers a day. In the last few days it was up to 190,000. According to Alexa, Global Research is ranked among the 11,000 most popular website Worldwide (all categories) and 4500 in the USA

While the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) describes itself as “an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher” its ultimate goal is to further America’s imperial agenda. This objective is achieved through its links to major financial institutions, asset management companies, private military contractors and leading multinationals, among others. A  quick glance at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) home page is enough to see the obvious, subtle propaganda against whatever stands in the way of  U.S. foreign policy.original

Spreading imperial ideas and setting the foreign policy agenda is undertaken by the CFR by insuring the control of information through its close relations with virtually every single major media outlet in the U.S.

Unlike the independent journalists and researchers at Global Research, the CFR has “high-level discussions with world leaders, U.S. government officials, CEOs”. That’s understandable, since access to the high spheres of finance and politics is not granted to honest independent journalists, but only to those who avoid challenging the prevailing structures of power and who accept to spread lies and half truths on their behalf.

Given its close relation to the powers that be, embodied by the CFR, the mainstream media cannot be viewed as “neutral”. It is nothing but the voice of the corporate and political elites. Carne Ross, a former British official once explained how the media was manipulated:

“We would control access to the foreign secretary as a form of reward to journalists. If they were critical, we would not give them the goodies of trips around the world. We would feed them factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we’d freeze them out.” (Cited in David Cromwell, Bias Towards Power *Is* Corporate Media ‘Objectivity’: Journalism, Floods And Climate Silence, Meida Lens, February 18, 2014)

In a nutshell, to have a successful career in the mainstream media, criticizing power is not an option. And people are starting to see through the smoke screens and mirrors of the mainstream media’s “objectivity”.

However, even though the CFR has access to money and power, its website does not attract a broad readership.

Occasionally, “once in a blue moon” the CFR web site gets more hits than Global Research. And when that happens, it coincides with the President’s State of the Union Address. (See graph above)

Why is that?

The CFR speaks to the elites. Global Research speaks to you. That’s the difference.

But they have the money. We don’t. We operate out of a small office in Montreal.  All our authors as well as the senior GR editors are volunteers, committed to peace, social justice and democracy.

The CFR has Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the Carlyle Group, JPMorgan,  Lockheed Martin, et al.

We rely on our readers,

Our target is to increase our readership from an average of 140,000 a day to 200,000 in the course of the next three months.  We seek your support in this endeavor. We are facing mounting costs.

Our objective is to raise $20,000 over that 3 months period.

Help us maintain and sustain our expansion.

You can also support us by ensuring that GR articles circulate widely on the Internet and social media.

Our intent is to become an effective instrument of counter propaganda which will contribute to restoring a semblance of peace and normality in “foreign affairs“, while also contributing to weakening the clutch of Wall Street’s “too big to jail” financial institutions, which are indelibly contributing –through fraud and market manipulation–to destroying people’s lives and impoverishing large sectors of the World population.

Help us to reach that goal.

Thank you for supporting independent media!


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Star Wars tested for Eastern Europe; US space weapons “unofficial declaration of war”; “soft assassinations” planned for last weekend’s EU election winners.

Seek truth from facts with Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe author and former European MP Richard Cottrell; Stop NATO newslist’s Rick Rozoff; and Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space.

This is a rush transcript. 

RT: US revives plans for a nuclear first strike on Russia. Coming up.

Announcer: “Soft assassinations” of anti-NATO leaders.

Star Wars tested for Eastern Europe.

And US space weapons quote an “unofficial declaration of war.”

RT: Secret clauses of NATO membership state, the US can and will depose Europe’s governments on the orders of the White House.

Giuseppe De Lutiis, NATO author: Even if the electorate were to show a different inclination, secret protocols guarantee alignment by any means.

RT: “By any means” means exactly that. Early NATO whistleblower Hans Otto exposed ‘”kill lists” of leading European politicians that defied investigators’ belief, but were subsequently confirmed by police.

Officers found 15 pages of members of the German Communist Party to be assassinated, and 80 pages on Germany’s Social Democrats, one of the two major parties in the country.

The documents state these assassinations would take place “in case of X”. X may refer, writes NATO scholar Dr. Daniele Ganser, to mass protests against a US-backed government, or an election victory of a genuinely left-wing party.

Instructions for such operations were kept at NATO military headquarters south of Brussels.

Der Spiegel reveals a quote “a strictly secured wing of the building. A grey, steel bank vault door prohibits trespassing to the unauthorized.” Papers on NATO operations in Europe are marked “American eyes only.”

When the EU Parliament officially demanded NATO stop these operations, which have become known by the codename Gladio, the US simply ignored it.

Richard Cottrell is a former Member of the European Parliament. NATO tried to ban his investigation Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe, which reports both so-called “soft assassinations” – smearing non-aligned EU politicians through mainstream media to make them unelectable – and real assassinations of politicians that still got elected.

Richard joins us, really great to see you, what’s going on?

Richard Cottrell, author of Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The United States is not prepared to tolerate governments which are unfavorable to the regime. Let’s give the example of Syriza in Greece at the moment, which has just won, come top of the list in the European elections. This is an example of a government which is not going to be tolerated by the United States of America.

RT: You write a prototype “soft assassination”, British Prime Minister Harold Wilson, whose “blasphemy in American eyes” was to “flirt with nuclear disarmament”.

Cottrell: Yes, it’s become a little bit more difficult to, shall we say, use violent means, than it was in the past. So now you’re going to see more of the Harold Wilson tactics. And they will now increase and I will tell you why – because this weekend the European elections were held. And this has resulted in a very large bloc of anti-Europeans, led by the “Penista”, the National Front of France, which has come out on top in the European elections. Nigel Farage, leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party in the UK, who has come from virtually nowhere to become the leader of the third largest party. This will not be allowed to happen, so there will have to be Harold Wilson-type moves now to remove those leaderships, and those parties in those various countries.

RT: NATO is attempting to supersede and actually replace the United Nations, reveals former Assistant General Hans Sponeck.

Its revised doctrine refuses the UN monopoly on the use of force, reports Global Research News. NATO now promotes itself as the military wing of the UN itself.

The doctrine reserves the right to intervene anywhere in the world where there’s “movements of large numbers of persons.” Its newly formed Partners Across The Globe program’s already incorporated Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Pakistan, and Iraq, and leads the occupation of Afghanistan.

With the expected addition of states like Colombia and El Salvador, NATO will be on all six inhabited continents.

Obama’s foreign policy guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, calls people in countries under US control “vassals,” a medieval term for slaves.

American armed forces are now in over 150 countries. The unofficial figure, including clandestine US forces, is thought to be much higher.

The Pentagon recently formed the United States Africa Command. Since then, NATO’s dispatched the continent’s most developed nation to a “Hobbesian anarchy”, overthrew the Ivory Coast, and chopped Sudan’s oil-rich southern half into a new state, leaving just two and a half countries still outside its military grid.

Leading military analyst, editor of the newslist Stop NATO Rick Rozoff joins us, great to see you. What’ll happen to people when the last countries fall to US control?

Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO newslist: Global enslavement is the answer to that, and we see it manifested for example in ways that may not be immediately obvious, but after certain amount of analysis we can see for example votes that’ve come up in the United Nations General Assembly in the last year and a half, two years, particularly I’m thinking on the question of Syria. We see that the US through a number of factors – economic bribery, diplomatic blackmail, subversion but also through bilateral, multilateral military programs, has been able to secure the overwhelming compliance or servility of other nations. And that’s one of the reasons why there’s no diplomatic and political independence in nations, because they are beholden to the United States and, frankly speaking, they’re fearful of US economic and ultimately military retaliation should they not go along with the US diktat.

Barack Obama: So today, I state clearly, and with conviction, America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons. I’m not naive.

RT: Obama’s duplicity is perhaps historically unparalleled. As soon as he envisioned a planet without nuclear weapons, he mushroomed nuclear weapons spending to levels above the height of the Cold War.

He has expanded the infamous Bush Doctrine of a nuclear strike against any country, regardless of international law.

“Full spectrum dominance” is the official term used by his administration, meaning “control everything, everywhere on sea, land, air, space, and outer space.” US Space Command documents plan to even “deny other nations the use of space.”

The “one remaining power” with the capacity to stop what the Pentagon calls full spectrum dominance, writes intelligence analyst William Engdahl, is Russia.

By design or coincidence, crisis in Ukraine provided the perfect excuse for US military control of the region.

Ten days ago the administration tested its Star Wars system for Eastern Europe, which will now be rolled out starting in Romania. Obama brands his system the “stronger, smarter and swifter” version of Ronald Reagan’s initial Star Wars program.

Under the plan, the US attacks Russia with nuclear weapons, while NATO missile defense in Eastern Europe mops up any attempted response.

NSNBC News writes “it is most likely and understandable” Russia interprets NATO’s Star Wars deployment on its border as an “unofficial declaration of war.”

Aerospace analysts told Global Research that US Space Command is planning a nuclear first strike on Russia, as well as one on China in 2016.

Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons in Space joins us, thank you very much for coming on, what do we know about the first strike plans?

Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons in Space: This is in the planning process today. The US Space Command practicing engaging in a first strike attack and this is the key element here. These are first strike attack planning, these so-called missile defense systems are key elements in US first strike attack planning. The idea is to hit China or Russia first with a first strike, and then when they try to fire their nuclear retaliatory capability, it is then that the so-called missile “defense” systems would be used to pick off any retaliatory strike, so after a first strike sword is thrust into the heart of China or Russia, then the missile defense shield would be used to pick off any retaliation giving the US the a “successful” first strike attack.

It has nothing at all to do with defense, it has nothing to do with freedom or democracy, or any of those words that are used all the time to disguise the true intentions; it’s all about full spectrum dominance.

RT: Several decades ago the first Star Wars initiative faced intense public and industry debate.

Today the US is controlled by just six mainstream media, all totally suborned to the White House. The result is an Orwellian silence on perhaps the most dangerous issue today.

Europeans may decide they want their leaders chosen by NATO, or even that they support nuclear strikes on China and Russia.

Since the US-controlled mainstream’s never even informed the public these apocalyptic plans are on the agenda, the first people may hear of it, would be this. Seek truth from facts. This is The Truthseeker.

While the opposition is responsible for the deadly violence which has plagued the country since February 2014, Western media continue to accuse the democratically elected government of Nicolás Maduro.

Since 1998, the Venezuelan opposition has consistently rejected the results of the country’s democratic elections. There is a single exception: it recognized the legitimacy of its own victory in the constitutional referendum of December 2, 2007, something it won by less than a one percent margin.  The right has been strongly opposed to the legitimately elected governments of Hugo Chávez, in office from 1999 to 2013, and that of Nicolás Maduro, in office since April, 2013. All means have been used in attempts to overthrow them: coups, political assassinations, sabotage of oil installations, economic warfare (since 1999), calls for revolt and media smear campaigns.

Since February 2014, Venezuela has been hit by deadly violence, violence that has killed more than 40 people, including at least five policemen and a government prosecutor. More than 600 people have been injured, including 150 police officers. Property damage exceeds 10 billion dollars and includes buses burned, subway stations vandalized, a university – UNEFA – completely destroyed by fire, dozens of tons of food destined for government-run supermarkets burned to cinders, public buildings and government offices looted, electrical installations sabotaged, medical centers devastated, electoral institutions destroyed, etc.[1]

Faced with destabilization attempts that are clearly intended to provoke a breach in the constitutional order, the Venezuelan authorities mounted a vigorous response and arrested several opposition leaders who had launched appeals for anti-government uprisings or promoted acts of vandalism, as well as arresting nearly a thousand people who had been involved in the violence.[2] Like any state governed by the rule of law, and in strict observance of constitutional guarantees, the Venezuelan justice system indicted the accused and applied sanctions provided for such acts by the penal code.[3]

Western media, which sides with the undemocratic and coup-prone opposition, have been content simply to denounce human rights violations. At the same time, they fail to report the murders committed by the protesters, the seizures of weapons and explosives carried out by police within groups that present themselves as peace-loving[4] and the destruction of public and private properties.

Western media outrage varies with the circumstances and is not applied universally. Indeed, the press maintains a surprising silence when other countries impose draconian measures for considerably less severe disorders than those that have occurred in Venezuela.

The case of France is revealing. On October 27, 2005, following the accidental death of two teenagers pursued by the police, urban riots broke out in certain Paris suburbs and other major cities around the country. The extent of the violence – which did not result in a single death – was less than what has occurred in Venezuela in recent weeks.

However, on November 8, 2005, President Jacques Chirac declared a state of emergency throughout the country and imposed a curfew, both of which remained in force for several months. These were actions permitted under Decree 2005-1386, an April 3, 1955 law that had been adopted during the war in Algeria, legislation that had not been used since 1961. The law allows for the suspension of constitutional guarantees and seriously undermines civil liberties because it “prohibit(s) the movement of people”, “establish(es) protected areas where the security and length of stay of individuals can be regulated” and, “in territorial circumscriptions or specific regions, allows for house arrest of individuals residing in an area established by the decree”.[5]

Similarly, “the Minister of the Interior, for the entire territory in which a state of emergency has been declared, in conjunction with the prefect of the Department, may order the temporary closure of theatres, pubs and bars, indeed of meeting places of any kind as determined by the decree provided for in Article 2.” These authorities are also empowered to “ban meetings that are deemed likely to cause or encourage disorder.”[6]

The law of April 3, 1955 confers to the “administrative authorities referred to in Article 8 the power to order house searches by day or by night” and empowers “the same authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure control of the press and publications of any kind as well as radio broadcasts, film screenings and theatre performances.”[7]

This legislation also empowers military justice to replace the civil justice system. Thus, authorities “may authorize military courts to judge crimes and related offences that otherwise would have been responsibility of the Assize Court of the Department,” thereby undermining the jurisdiction of national common law.[8]

To justify such measures, measures that contravene the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Paris had relied upon Article 15 of the ECHR, which authorizes, “in time of war or public emergency threatening the life of the nation”, the suspension of obligations to which France had subscribed.[9]

At no time has Venezuela – struck by far more serious violence than what occurred in France in 2005 – declared a state of emergency, suspended constitutional guarantees, infringed civil liberties or imposed military justice at the expense of civil justice.

A more recent example is equally illustrative. Following the riots of August 14, 2012 in the city of Amiens, which caused significant property damage (a school and several public buildings were burned) and injured 17 policemen, the French justice system severely punished the perpetrators of these crimes. Six people were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to five years in prison without the possibility of parole.[10] The juvenile court of Amiens sentenced five teenagers, aged 14 to 17, to prison terms ranging up to 30 months.[11]

It would be easy to continue citing examples. When the New York police arbitrarily detained over 700 peaceful demonstrators who had been brutalized by the police, the Western media carefully avoided accusing the Obama administration of violating human rights.[12]

Similarly, when the Brazilian police violently cracked down on peaceful protesters in Sao Paulo, arresting some 262 people in a single day as well as assaulting several journalists, the media did not question the democratic legitimacy of President Dilma Rousseff.[13]

Western media are incapable of being impartial when it comes to interpreting complex Venezuelan reality. The charter of journalistic ethics is systematically flouted by a press that refuses to fulfill its duty to provide truthful information and chooses instead to defend a certain political agenda. This agenda flies in the face of the basic principles of democracy and goes against the will, expressed repeatedly at the polls, of the Venezuelan people.

Original source:

Translated from the French by Larry R. Oberg.

Docteur ès Etudes Ibériques et Latino-américaines at the University of Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani is a Lecturer the University of La Réunion, and a journalist who specializes in relations between Cuba and the United States.

The author’s latest book is The Economic War against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013. (prologue by Wayne S. Smith and preface by Paul Estrade).

Contact : [email protected] ; [email protected]

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[1] Agencia Venezolana de Noticias, « Violencia derechista en Venezuela destruye 12 centros de atención médica y electoral”, March 27, 2014.

[2] Salim Lamrani, « Se a oposiçao venezuelana fosse francesa… », Opera Mundi, April 11, 2014. (website consulted on May 20, 2014).

[3] EFE, « Lilian Tintori expone el caso de Leopoldo López ante autoridades españolas”, May 18, 2014.

[4] Paulo A. Paranagua, « Leopoldo Lopez, prisonnier politique numéro un du président vénézuélien Maduro », Le Monde, April 22, 2014. (website consulted on May 20, 2014).

[5] Loi n°55-385 du 3 avril 1955 relatif à l’état d’urgence. (Website consulted on May 20, 2014).

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Convention européenne des droits de l’homme, article 15. (website consulted on May 20, 2014).

[10] Le Monde, « Emeutes d’Amiens : jusqu’à cinq ans de prison ferme pour les violences », May 16, 2014. website consulted on May 17, 2014).

[11] Le Monde, « Emeutes d’Amiens : jusqu’à 2 ans de prison ferme des mineurs », May 13, 2014. (website consulted on May 17, 2014).

[12] Sandro Pozzi, « La policía detiene a 700 indignados por ocupar el puente de Brooklyn”, El País, October 2, 2011.

[13] María Martin, « Ativistas denunciam brutalidade policial durante o ato contra a Copa de São Paulo”, El País, February 14, 2014. (website consulted on May 17, 2014).

Funding infrastructure through bonds doubles the price or worse. Costs can be cut in half by funding through the state’s own bank.

“The numbers are big. There is sticker shock,” said Jason Peltier, deputy manager of the Westlands Water District, describing Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive water tunnels through the California Delta. “But consider your other scenarios. How much more groundwater can we pump?”

Whether the tunnels are the best way to get water to the Delta is controversial, but the issue here is the cost. The tunnels were billed to voters as a $25 billion project. That estimate, however, omitted interest and fees. Construction itself is estimated at a relatively modest $18 billion. But financing through bonds issued at 5% for 30 years adds $24-40 billion to the tab. Another $9 billion will go to wetlands restoration, monitoring and other costs, bringing the grand total to $51-67 billion – three or four times the cost of construction.

A general rule for government bonds is that they double the cost of projects, once interest has been paid.

The San Francisco Bay Bridge earthquake retrofit was originally slated to cost $6.3 billion, but that was just for salaries and physical materials. With interest and fees, the cost to taxpayers and toll-payers will be over $12 billion.

The bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, another pet project of Jerry Brown and his administration, involves a bond issue approved in 2008 for $10 billion. But when interest and fees are added, $19.5 billion will have to be paid back on this bond, doubling the cost.

And those heavy charges pale in comparison to the financing of “capital appreciation bonds.” As with the “no interest” loans that became notorious in the subprime mortgage crisis, the borrower pays only the principal for the first few years. But interest continues to compound; and after several decades, it can amount to ten times principal or more.

San Diego County taxpayers will pay $1 billion after 40 years for $105 million raised for the Poway Unified School District.

Folsom Cordova used capital appreciation bonds to finance $514,000. The sticker price after interest and fees will be $9.1 million.

In 2013, state lawmakers restricted debt service on capital appreciation bonds to four times principal and limited their term to 25 years. But that still means that financiers receive four times the cost of the project itself – the sort of return considered usurious when we had anti-usury laws with teeth.

Escaping the Interest Trap: The Models of China and North Dakota

California needs $700 billion in infrastructure over the next decade, and the state doesn’t have that sort of money in its general fund. Where will the money come from? Proposals include more private investment, but that means the privatization of what should have been public assets. Infrastructure is touted to investors as the next “fixed income.” But fixed income to investors means perpetual payments by taxpayers and rate-payers for something that should have been public property.

There is another alternative. In the last five years, China has managed to build an impressive 4000 miles of high-speed rail. Where did it get the money? The Chinese government has a hidden funding source: it owns its own banks. That means it gets its financing effectively interest-free.

All banks actually have a hidden funding source. The Bank of England just admitted in its quarterly bulletin that banks don’t lend their deposits. They simply advance credit created on their books. If someone is going to be creating our national money supply and collecting interest on it, it should be we the people, through our own publicly-owned banks.

Models for this approach are not limited to China and other Asian “economic miracles.” The US has its own stellar model, in the state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND). By law, all of North Dakota’s revenues are deposited in the BND, which is set up as a DBA of the state (“North Dakota doing business as the Bank of North Dakota”). That means all of the state’s capital is technically the bank’s capital. The bank uses its copious capital and deposit pool to generate credit for local purposes.

The BND is a major money-maker for the state, returning a sizable dividend annually to the state treasury. Every year since the 2008 banking crisis, it has reported a return on investment of between 17 percent and 26 percent. While California and other states have been slashing services and raising taxes in order to balance their budgets, North Dakota has actually been lowering taxes, something it has done twice in the last five years.

The BND partners with local banks rather than competing with them, strengthening their capital and deposit bases and allowing them to keep loans on their books rather than having to sell them off to investors or farm the loans out to Wall Street. This practice allowed North Dakota to avoid the subprime crisis that destroyed the housing market in other states.

North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest default rate on credit card debt, one of the lowest foreclosure rates, and the most local banks per capita of any state. It is also the only state to escape the credit crisis altogether, boasting a budget surplus every year since 2008.

Consider the Possibilities

 The potential of this public banking model for other states is huge. California’s population is more than 50 times that of North Dakota. California has over $200 billion stashed in a variety of funds identified in its 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), including $58 billion managed by the Treasurer in a Pooled Money Investment Account earning a meager 0.264% annually. California also has over $400 billion in its pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS).

This money is earmarked for specific purposes and cannot be spent on the state budget, but it can be invested. A portion could be invested as equity in a state-owned bank, and a larger portion could be deposited in the bank as interest-bearing certificates of deposit. This huge capital and deposit base could then be leveraged by the bank into credit, something all banks do. Since the state would own the bank, the interest would return to the state. Infrastructure could be had interest-free, knocking 50% or more off the sticker price.

By doing its own financing in-house, the state can massively expand its infrastructure without imposing massive debts on future generations. The Golden State can display the innovation and prosperity that makes it worthy of the name once again.

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

Europe’s New Arc of Instability in the 21st Century

June 1st, 2014 by Michael Werbowski

The old post-cold war order is now forever over. A quarter century after the falloff the Berlin Wall, a new and highly volatile geopolitical landscape is emerging in Europe. Its contours and content are not yet clearly evident, however.

But in this tumultuous year of 2014 (marking a hundred years since the start of the “Great War”, and two hundred years after the Congress of Vienna) global events as in the past, are again(and with a vengeance) re-shaping or determining the way the map of Europe might look likein the coming decades.The extremely violent ructions in Ukraine showcase such a trend.

This “semi-autonomous”and relatively stable former Soviet republic was once known as the “bread basket” of the USSR. It’s today just an impoverished basket case, left for the IMF to pillage and plunder in the name of “freedom and democracy”.  Since declaring its independence in 1991, “The Ukraine” has gone from being a notoriously kleptocractic and corrupt state, to a fragmented and failed state. The incipient civil war there,which the world is now witnessing, disturbingly resembles the post-colonial conflicts(or prolonged proxy wars) of the 1980s fought in Angola and Mozambique.

Whereby its western half is being wrenched away from its eastern half by foreign and a corporatist interest, its eastern half is immersed in a secessionist struggle. The western backed pro-EU and US coup, has resulted in a head on collision with Russia’s traditional or historical (post imperial and post-Soviet) geo-strategic imperatives. Ukraine’s eastern part or its Russo phone“borderlands”(Dnieper Lowlands) are being Balkanized as a result of the US-EU orchestrated “Maidan revolution”,and in the aftermath of Crimea’s re-unification ( or some say “annexation”) with “mother Russia”. This is the first time since the break-up of the former Yugoslavia (followed by a NATO led air war against Moscow’s stanch alley Serbia) in the 1990s, that a territorial implosion of such magnitude is taking place in Europe.

Back to the Future for Europe: spheres of influence and cordon sanitaire are back in style

 The outcome of this Ukrainian territorial tussle is unknown. However, further destabilisation is likely whatever happens. Meanwhile, a buffer zone or cordon sanitaire is being delineated or established between the EU and the US on one side, and a remerging (some say belligerent) Russia on the other. This swathe of land runs from Kaliningrad (the non-contagious Russian enclave) in the Baltics region, along the Crimean peninsula(now once more Russian territory) on the Black sea, and ends down inthe Russian Caucuses or around Georgia. Ukraine is the biggest land mass in the middle of this fractious corridor. It is thus seeing its territory being dismembered, as part of a re-alignment or “great game” being played out by foreign powers vying for influence in the region.

 Amid this shifting of geo-political tectonic plates, the inchoate central government in Kiev is in turmoil.It has neither the military wherewithal in terms of manpower, equipment and intelligence; nor the legitimate authority (despite the recent presidential vote) it needs to control the centrifugal forceswhich are tearing the country apart.

Without doubt, there is an“arc of instability” running across the continent. This developing danger zone is potentially a grave threat to peace and stability for all of Europe.Moreover, much smaller states such as Moldavia and Georgia belong nowhere right now; that is neither to Russia’s sphere of influence nor the west’s.  In view of Ukraine’s plight they are seeking a safe haven for themselves, apparently in western structures such as NATO and the EU. Hence, this week the EU has called on along with Ukraine, for the two aforementioned states to also join its club. The EU’s clear intent is toincrease its overextended membership or shift more to the east, no matter what the costs might be to the trade bloc’s already austerity constrained budget. As for bi-lateral EU- Russia ties, they will likely be negatively impacted by such pronouncements. Washington for its part seems to have put its plans to expand NATO ever closer to Russia’s borders temporarily on hold. A wise move indeed.

 The re-alignment between the US and EU on one side, Euro-Asia and China on the other

As a backdrop to these upheavals, this week the signing in Astana, of a Eurasian Union comprising Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus is another shift in the balance of global power. This economic alliance (modeled on the EU) is obviously meant to counterbalance the rising influence of the European Union, in what Moscow considers to be its “near abroad”. Additionally significant is Russia’s recent pivot towards Asia or more specifically China.  The most obvious example of this is the signing of a major energy (in the oil and gas sector) agreement between Moscow and Beijing. Jointly these two BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) nations are now a formidable compact which forms a significant counterweight to the EU- US duo.Meanwhile, both Brussels and Washington, in the midst of these global re-alignments, are busily finalizing an EU-US free trade deal of their own.  The transatlantic trade pact is most certainly meant to rival the new Euro-Asia and China strategic, military and commercial alliance in the making. In other words, more trade and regional wars will likely fashion or determine the future of Europe in the 21st century.

The author is a Vienna based journalist and world events analyst.

The officially released agenda of the prestigious Bilderberg club meeting is not true, claims RT show host Daniel Estulin, a longtime watcher of the ‘secret world govt’ group. He says he obtained the real agenda for this year’s gathering in Copenhagen.

An insider leaked the list of talking points for the ongoing Bilderberg conference to the investigative journalist last week, he said. The list has nine items, seven of which he shared:

1. Nuclear diplomacy and the deal with Iran currently in the making.

The club has long been cautious of a possible alliance between Russia, China and Iran. The deal that would lift Western pressure from the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program would affect this possibility.

2. Gas deal between Russia and China.

It came amid a serious political crisis in Ukraine, which threatens Russia’s supply of natural gas to European nations. Moscow has diversified its gas trade by sealing a long-term contract with Beijing. Potentially, China may replace the EU as the prime energy trade partner for Russia, a situation which strengthens Moscow’s position in Ukraine by undermining Washington’s effort to isolate Russia and Kiev’s leverage through its control of transit gas pipelines.

3. Rise of nationalist moods in Europe.

The agenda was formed before the latest European Parliament elections, which cast a spotlight on the trend. Populist eurosceptic parties are winning the hearts of Europeans from the UK to Greece to Hungary, dealing a blow to the union’s unity. A nationally driven and divided Europe would be reluctant to take globalization for granted.

4. EU internet privacy regulations.

Edward Snowden’s exposure of the scale of electronic surveillance on the part of the US National Security Agency and its allies worldwide sparked a major protest from privacy-seeking people. European politicians can’t ignore the calls to protect people’s communication from snooping, which potentially makes data collection more difficult. At least not immediately, as indicated by the apparent scaling down of Germany’s investigation into the NSA’s alleged surveillance.

Marriott Copenhagen.(Photo from

Marriott Copenhagen.(Photo from

5. Cyberwarfare and its potential effect on internet freedoms.

The destructive potential of cyber attacks is growing rapidly as reliance on the internet in all aspects of life rises. But the threat of state-sponsored hacker attacks is what some governments may use as a pretext for clamping down on the internet, undermining its role as a medium for the sake of security.

6. From Ukraine to Syria, Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

Critics of the US president blame him for betraying America’s leadership overseas, citing failures to defend American interests in Syria and lately in Ukraine. Obama’s newly announced doctrine calls on scaling down reliance on military force and using diplomacy and collective action instead. Bilderberg members will discuss whether this policy is doomed.

7. Climate change.

This is a regular topic for many high-ranking discussions, not only the Bilderberg conference in Denmark. People suspicious of the elites call climate change a euphemism for the artificial deindustrialization of some nations, with the goal of keeping the global economy under the control of transnational corporations and the expense of potential hubs of economic growth.

The Bilderberg Group is a six-decades-old club for some of the world’s most influential individuals, politicians, officials, businessmen, academics and European royalty, regularly gathering to discuss global policy issues. Critics accuse them of acting as a shadow unelected government, would-be rulers of the world, which take decisions affecting billions of people behind closed doors, with little regard for the needs or wishes of the general population.

In an apparent bid to dissipate these accusations, this time Bilderberg made its official agenda public. Among the 12 topics for this year’s conference were “the new architecture of the Middle East,” “Ukraine” and “The future of democracy and the middle class trap.”

 Screenshot from RUPTLY video

Screenshot from RUPTLY video

Do they know who they are?

Do we know who they are? 

There are “ultra-conservatives” in the Kiev government but “they are not Neo-Nazis.” According to the Western media, its all part of “a relentless Kremlin-driven propaganda offensive that uses World War II-era terms and imagery”.

The alternative media, however, has acknowledged that the Kiev regime is “a loose Centre-Right coalition” integrated by two Neo-Nazi parties (Svoboda and Right Sector)  “but it is not a Neo-Nazi government”. Both Svoboda and Right Sector display Nazi emblems. 

Is it a loose coalition?  If a government were to officially display Nazi emblems, does that not suggest that the government is committed to Nazi ideology? 

When the Kiev regime “officially” displays Nazi emblems to identify entities of their National Security and Military apparatus one would normally assume that it is a Neo-Nazi government.

Below is the Nazi emblem of the National Guard  [Національна гвардія України] which is defined as Reserves of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. They operate under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  The National Guard is part of the so-called “Internal Troops of Ukraine.” The emblem is a stylized swastika (see below).


Imagine what would happen if the US National Guard were to display swastika-like symbols.

Of significance, the National Guard of Ukraine is directly financed by the Obama administration, with a view to protecting American style democracy in Ukraine.

Unknown to the American public, the US government is channeling financial support, weapons and training to a Neo-Nazi entity.

Nobody in America knows about it because the use of the words “Neo-Nazi” and “Fascist” in relation to Ukraine is a taboo. The have been excluded from the lexicon of investigative reporting. In media reports they have been replaced by “Ultra-conservative” “Extreme Right” and “Nationalist”.

Another entity –which is part of The Ukraine National Guard– is The Azov Battalion (Батальйон Азов). The Azov Battalion -which displays the Nazi SS emblem– (below left) is described by the Kiev regime as “a volunteer battalion of territorial defense”. It’s a National Guard battalion under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  Officially based in Berdyank on the Sea of Azov, it was formed by the regime to fight the opposition insurgency in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. It is also financed by the US administration.

 These militia bearing the Nazi SS emblem are sponsored by Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, equivalent to America’s Department of Homeland Security.

They are casually referred to as “Freedom fighters”.

Its all for a good cause. “Democracy is the endgame”.

In the words of the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here [Ukraine] as another flowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” (, March 1, 2014).

It goes without saying that “support” to the formation of a government in the Ukraine with “Neo-Nazi leanings” does not in any way imply the development of “fascist tendencies” within the White House, the State Department and the US Congress.

Scroll down for Selected Images of the Azov Battalion “Freedom Fighters”


Source of images:


The BBC: Masters of Black Propaganda

June 1st, 2014 by Dr. David Halpin

“BBC News is the department of the BBC responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world’s largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output every day, as well as online news coverage at The service maintains 44 foreign news bureaux and has correspondents in almost all the world’s 240 countries.”  (BBC)

The BBC started broadcasting as the British Broadcasting Company in 1922.  Its call sign became ‘London calling’ and London it was with its wealth of colonial wile and the stamp of its military.  Reith, the seventh child of a Presbyterian minister, founded it.  An Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Cosmo Lang told Reith: ‘Whoever holds your job is, or should be, the most influential man in the country.’  The illusion of democracy provided by the House of Commons and the Cabinet depends greatly on the all pervading influence of the BBC.  There follow some examples among the multitude of ways the public mind is kept in ignorance or its prejudice massaged firmly.   

Corporate Power: City of London

 The most recent hot topic was the attempt of Pfizer to take over AstraZeneca, the British and Swedish pharmaceutical company.  £69 billion was offered.  The BBC was not alone in avoiding all mention of Pfizer’s recent criminal record and the record fines in the US. (2)  It was right the discussion was about the potential loss of jobs and scientific expertise.  However, if you were looking at a potential partner for your business this would surely put you off.

Wikipedia “In September 2009, Pfizer pleaded guilty to the illegal marketing of the arthritis drug Bextra for uses unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and agreed to a $2.3 billion settlement, the largest health care fraud settlement at that time.[8] Pfizer also paid the U.S. government $1.3 billion in criminal fines related to the “off-label” marketing of Bextra, the largest monetary penalty ever rendered for any crime.[9] Called a repeat offender, this was Pfizer’s fourth such settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in the previous ten years.[10][11]

 An e-mail to Faisal Islam of C4 asking for this history to be included drew no response.  In the  amoral world of the media, this was of no importance.

The obscene size of bonuses paid to hundreds of traders etc in the city are described but the context is not.  I wrote to the BBC’s Financial Correspondent saying the facts of fractional reserve banking were unknown to a large majority of British citizens.  It would be good if he were to explain it.  He replied in friendly fashion and said he would.  He has not and there was no reply to a reminder.  Thus the BBC listener and viewer are fuddled by the arcane stuff around ‘banking’ but the essence of the trickery and their part in funding the banks for this sleight of hand is withheld.  The BBC and the other broadcast and print media are complicit in keeping people ignorant of the many swindles.

Ask Joseph Bloggs what the ‘leverage’ was in the city (total assets against total loans and investments – one simple definition) during the bursting of the bubble in 2008, and what it is now.  What is leverage Joe asks? (3)  Here Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is saying he wants a ratio of 4%, better than the European Central Banks 3%.  What UK tax payers are not told by the BBC and do not know is that the leverage is not different essentially from that existing when the bubble burst in 2008.  Although the UK taxpayer bailed out four of these banks with £580 million, they are not made aware that collapse is as likely now as then.  The taxpayer is told of the stellar bonuses and anger swells.  But the underlying fault, which is fractional reserve banking, is hidden from him by the BBC and the MSM in general.  The lumpen must lump it, and swallow the austerity with all social safety nets removed.  All is headline ‘news’ and personalities getting in and out of limousines.  Get in line!  The message is ‘we are all in it together’!

 Government Power   

Democracy in this sceptred isle is illusory.  The power is wielded by hidden hands.  The retiring BBC Trust chairman, Lord Patten who was chairman of the Tory party plus much else is one pair. Incestuous structures like the Privy Council advise the Queen.  The ‘Atlantic Alliance’, ethnic agglomeration and much else drive the machine, and mostly for war. These elements remain hidden because the BBC and others decide so.  Ask the man or woman in the British street about the Privy Council.  Few would even know of it but the barbaric ethnic cleansing of the Chagos Islands was twice given the stamp of approval by the archaic and evil Privy Council thus preventing the islanders from returning to their idyllic homeland.  That these islands are leased by the UK to the US so that it might bomb around a large radius from Afghanistan to Somalia in projection of PNAC is unknown to many.  Again the BBC stands guilty for public ignorance of the latter.  The Privy Council is but one fragment of the illusion of British ‘democracy’.

The British public were enjoined to vote in the recent local government and EU elections.  The turnout was 34%.  The 66% who did not turn out did so from mixtures of inertia, from the knowledge that promises made before election to power were seldom kept and from loathing of the present political gang.  The election was ‘won’ by the UK Independence Party, leader Nigel Farage an ex-banker!  In spite of vilification of him and some of his loose cannons by the MSM he won out 

by speaking in an ordinary and often amusing way.  His directness was appealing; the EU project is dead he said.  The BBC, with the MSM in general, gave a full account of this victory but the failure of 66% to vote was not given prominence.  That is because it calls into question the present parliamentary and local democracy.  It has to be ‘steady as she goes’.  The chance of revolution, so small in the UK, must not be alluded to.  Real power in the proletariat to change things radically must be given no wind. 

 For government to have power over the plebs, it must have power over the media.  The main avenue is obvious – choose your friend and choose your cipher.  My Lord Coe ran fast and he makes money. (4)

Coe’s combination of strong Tory credentials and a reputation burnished by the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games have catapulted him into the position of front-runner to succeed Lord Patten.

Coe is said to have the firm support of David Cameron, who will ultimately be responsible for ratifying the appointment, according to ITV News political editor Tom Bradby…

 The kite is flown and Coe will be breasting the finishing tape ‘ere long.

 With the safe pairs of hands at the helm, it is vital to have the broadcasting professionals in the galley cooking the dishes.  The garnish must be good on the eye and tasty.  The BBC is good at that. 

That the insides are poisonous for those many minds is not obvious.  John Humphrys is a most senior journalist who leads the so called ‘flagship’ programme, Today.  It is on from 6 to 9 am each day and it catches the ‘drive to work’ listeners, and many in bed and bathroom.  It is the premier propaganda programme.  It covers all ‘news’ and comment.  A good amount of megawattage is spent

telling us that OUR NHS is so bad that people might conclude it is not worth having.  A ‘Syrian’ rebel leader was on recently.  At one point, Humphrys said words similar to ‘we have to get rid of/depose Assad’.  Some days later a doctor was describing death and injury from alleged Syrian government chlorine attacks.  His voice was disguised to add to the menace of the story.  At the end Humphrys said ‘A good man’.

There must be good connections between the face of power and the MSM.  There is a media unit in Downing Street which I was told once had about 200 staff.  You can imagine the upper ranks are on first name terms with the editors, and especially those of the BBC.  ‘Announcements’ will often be preened and readied for a time which suits best.  A famous example was ‘It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors’ expenses ?’  Jo Moore  (5)  9/11 was the ‘good day’.  The many psychopaths in Westminster are promoted shamelessly by the BBC, and Blair in particular.  This short article by me shows how an announcement by him on Ghaddafi’s disarmament of alleged WMD was planned in advance. (6)  It was, however, inserted into the Friday 10pm ‘News’ as a ‘surprise’ without any mention of it in the headlines.  The message was repeated twice in the half hour.  Afterwards, his co-conspirator and fellow psychopath G Bush came on ‘News’night to spout the same message.  War criminal Blair is often to be seen on the BBC in transit from one gold mine to another.  Just as the badly injured road casualty is referred for rehabilitation, Blair is whisked along to Broadcasting House. 

 The Monarchy

Bloody intrigue might be less evident in the ‘modern’ era but they are still at it.  The Queen is stroked consistently by the BBC; the two strokers are Hunt and Witchell.  The sycophancy is excruciating but it works, especially among the ladies and the WI.  The royals’ wield the sword at the knighting of stars like Jimmy Savile.  All is velvet and modest pride.  The honours system flourishes au Royaume-Uni.  It harms it beyond imagining.  The royals’ part in endless war, which is the BBC’s central mission, is demonstrated at Remembrance Sunday when they all come in war uniforms replete with medals (7)  Only the Queen is in mufti and she, instead, used  to wear her military kit at the Trooping of the Colour riding side saddle.  The Beeb helps the fawning.  All the drilled bearskins, the regimental bands and the golden carriage are promoted by the Corporation and thus is the absolute necessity for endless and aggressive war ingrained in receptive minds.  The stage management of these spectacles is superb, and for a reason.

Pro-Israeli Propaganda

 The BBC’s bias in favour of the entity needs no definition.  It is outrageous.  A good deal of the correspondence on the excellent Media Lens web site is to do with this. (8)  The editors are David Edwards and David Cromwell.  There is vigour, knowledge and scepticism in the postings.  A recent example of egregious bias was in a BBC Panorama programme, ‘Death in the Med’.  The programme presenter was Jane Corben.  She has form.  The focus was on the assassination of 9 ‘activists’ on the Mavi Marmara, which was on its way with other boats to break the blockade of Gaza peacefully.  A tenth man, who has been in a coma since, has died recently.   There was no question that these men were ‘targeted’ by the entity’s commandos who had abseiled down from helicopters.  These valiant men had descriptions and photos of their victims.  Furkan Doğan, who intended to study medicine and who was an US citizen, suffered this according to a Turkish pathologist -

 An autopsy revealed he had suffered five gunshot wounds, to the nose, back, back of the head, left leg, and left ankle, at a distance of 45 centimeters. He was shot when he was filming the events in the ship. (Wikipedia)

There were strong protests to the BBC.  It is no surprise to find that The Editorial Standards Committee of the BBC Trust found that ‘the programme overall was accurate and impartial’ but it upheld 3 out of 51 complaints.  I have written at least 100 letters over 13 years to the BBC or to individual journalists.  Most were in sharp but detailed criticism.  The BBC gave no inch but the stance of at least one journalist softened.  Its prejudice in favour of this one entity is reflected elsewhere in the world but less often.  Those like Chavez and Castro who stood for the oppressed were denigrated.  The powerful, the friends like the Saudis, are sanctified.  The repression, torture and killing of those who resist in Bahrain are not reported in detail or depth by the BBC, nor is the presence there of Saudi forces, with British police and US military officers.  Nation does not Speak Truth to Nation.

*  The word ‘Israel’ is not used because it implies statehood.  It is not a state.  Its borders are not defined, it has rejected almost all SC and UNGA resolutions, it commits crimes against the peace and crimes against the native people who were driven from their land and thus their living by terrorism and force of  superior arms.

 The Promotion of Endless War

I have alluded to the prime part played by the BBC in this.  It is consistent in its neglect of the UN Charter and the Nuremberg Principles.  It does not refer to the laws of war going back to the Hague Conventions at the end of the C19.  It always takes the side of the western aggressor.  It will not have told its captive audience that our transatlantic ‘ally’ has bombed 29 countries since WW2 and usually with the direct help of UK forces or intelligence – as in Cambodia.

The examples of bias for blood, shredding and tears are legion.  Recently, Kevin Connolly who is skilled with many other BBC journalists in the art of propaganda, has been reporting from Baghdad.  He told of the number of humans killed by car bombs in April in the lead up to the elections.  The violence was sectarian in origin he said.  Of course he made no mention of the most draconian sanctions from 1991 to 2003.  Those millions who rely on ‘Nation shall Speak Truth to Nation’ have never been told there was no sectarian rift between Sunni and Shia in Hussein’s Iraq; one would marry the other without comment.  And there were no car bombs in his Iraq.  The picture painted by the BBC and so many western outlets is that this very violent chaos is about the Arab and inbuilt within Islam.  Do not tell the people that Iraq was pluralist, largely secular and educated.  Mr Connolly does know the terrible killing and maiming is down to the coalition of the willing led by the US and its rabid poodle, but stays stuhm.  The division he describes was triggered deliberately by Luciferans like Paul Bremer, the ‘viceroy’.  Disbanding the Iraqi army was one such stroke.  After Iraq, the Beeb joined in the demonisation of Muammar Ghaddafi, and after him Dr Bashar Assad.

The BBC: Conclusion    

 The power and reach of ‘Aunty’ BBC is supreme.  Its intentions remain ostensibly ‘to educate, inform and entertain.’  It can educate well and it entertains a lot.  As to the latter, it stimulated sexual appetites world wide with Celebrity Come Dancing.  A recent series ‘Call the Midwife’ was very popular; it captured the love of caring and the spirit of OUR NHS very well.  This is beguiling.  How could a broadcaster lie,and lie in every hour and on the other hand commission a series which was very well written and acted, and which had a very strong moral base.  This is how trust is engendered and the brand made sterling silver.

Political clout gives power to the BBC by the appointment of its trust chairman.  The status quo is ensured by the ‘great and the good’ who join that board.  The Director General, formerly Thompson and now Hall, run and steer this complex and essentially clever workforce. (9)  Who decides to blacken the Husseins, Ghaddafis and Assad on the way to annihilation against all law?  I suspect the majority of successful applicants for posts as editors and journalists come from Oxbridge and universities like Exeter, the same places where MI5 and 6 recruit.  Their conservatism is obvious and their compliance certain.  Some will stand away like the BBC journalist Hugh Sykes whose humanity is obvious,  but most toe the pro-Western, pro-NATO, pro-Zionist line.  Pensions likely play a part.      

 Craig Murray, erstwhile HM ambassador to Uzbekistan, is noted for his courage in telling HMG in 2002 that Britain was complicit in the most heinous torture in that country.  His has been the only voice about these crimes.  He has continued to use his high intelligence to investigate the sewers of our land.  A vote in Scotland on whether it should be independent of England is due later this year.  It is not surprising that the BBC should help the No vote just a little because the ‘coalition government’ are strongly opposed to devolution.  He has written on the Acanchi PR firm which is promoting VNB – Vote No Borders.  Craig says “But what cannot be forgiven is the BBC’s extraordinary promotion of VNB as a genuine grassroots organization – in total just under 150 minutes were devoted to showing Gavin Esler’s puff piece on the BBC News Channel, not to mention at least 20 minutes on other BBC news programmes.” (10)  That is our BBC.  The ‘truth’ bit, is pumped at our cost northwards to the nation of the Scots.

What can be done to straighten our BBC?  Even the detail is rigged by clever linguists whom Orwell would recognise.  Invasions with tanks and helicopter cover into the remnants of Palestine are ‘incursions’.  During the first 15 minutes of bombardment by the entity after 11am 27 December 2008, 215 persons were annihilated by thermobaric missiles.  Many were children changing shifts at school.  But others were graduating policemen.  These were not brought to Allah in police stations, but in ‘security compounds’.  This is the shallow cunning.

 Very prominent BBC ‘entertainers’ have been accused or found guilty of the sexual abuse of children.  The most evil was SIR Jimmy Savile.  He was a big and very peculiar fish.  In fact he made the circle.  He was very familiar with the royals, Madame Thatcher (he stayed at the country retreat for PMs – Chequers) and the Royal Marines whom he lionised.  He has damaged hundreds of young people.  He escaped the law by death.  One other BBC type has been jailed, and two more are being tried.  Savile, who also entered hospitals, mortuaries and children homes, ‘worked’ for the BBC for many years.  His most vile proclivities were surely common knowledge at the Corporation?  But that is denied and this Teflon TV kingdom has managed, along with the NHS hospitals, to kick Saville’s black corpse into the long grass with multiple inquiries, British style.

John Pilger has subjected our media, and especially the BBC, to withering analysis in superb English.  Type ‘BBC’ on the search engine of his web site and it produces dozens of links.  The last article – “The accessories to war crimes are those paid to keep the record straight” 8th February 2014 must be read. (11)  With great economy and the best words he summarises the arguments within my effort here.  He quotes Carne Ross, formerly of that gilded palace of cunning liars, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office -

“Yes, I agree,” he replied. “I feel ashamed about it…” He described how the Foreign Office manipulated a willing media. “We would control access to the foreign secretary as a form of reward to journalists. If they were critical, we would not give them the goodies of trips around the world. We would feed them factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we’d freeze them out.”  Quite so.

 A revolution of the British mind, leading to overwhelming public pressure, is required to demolish the BBC.  Its beating of the war drums for the massive bombardment and invasion of Iraq requires that its life be taken from it just as its propaganda was central to the destruction of a nation and over one million lives.

 David Halpin FRCS is  a retired orthopaedic and trauma surgeon who pleaded with others for an inquest into the unnatural death of Dr David Kelly.  He has heard the cries in Palestine and joined the people there.  He fights for OUR NHS.













With the National Security Agency (NSA) spying scandal continuing to make news, another secretive U.S. agency is now the subject of its own public humiliation.

 In early April, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC) voted to partially declassify a 6,600-page report on Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) treatment of “terror suspects” during the George W. Bush administration (2000-2008). Only the 480-page executive summary of the report, which investigates the interrogation, detention, rendition and often torture of more than 100 CIA detainees, will be released to the public along with 20 conclusions and findings. The summary will be made public after the CIA has vetted it for declassification, which could take months.

 Senate Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, explained that the report “includes details of each detainee in CIA custody, the conditions under which they were detained, how they were interrogated, the intelligence they actually provided and the accuracy—or inaccuracy—of CIA descriptions about the program to the White House, Department of Justice, Congress and others.”

Feinstein called the report’s findings “shocking” and said the CIA’s behaviour was “in stark contrast to our values as a nation.” The report accuses the CIA of engaging in widespread torture, illegal detentions and kidnappings or “renderings” of suspected terrorists to partner countries, and “then misleading the Bush administration and Congress about its effectiveness in providing good intelligence,” which the Agency was unable to get much of from the detainees. 

Failure and Incompetence

The Senate report is a scathing indictment CIA brutality and incompetence, and of the agency’s failure in the U.S.-led “Global War on Terror,” just as the country’s armed forces are now widely seen to have failed in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Feinstein also accused the CIA of secretly removing classified documents from a computer system used by Congress to compile the torture report, which she warned may have violated “the constitutional principle of congressional oversight, as well as both the Fourth Amendment and a presidential executive order that prohibits the CIA from engaging in domestic search and surveillance.”

 “There’s a couple of stories [in the Senate report] that are so chilling that I can’t repeat them now,” said Republican Senator John McCain. One case he did mention was that of an agent reporting to CIA headquarters that he had “gotten everything we can out of the guy” through waterboarding. The message came back, “Waterboard him some more.” McCain called this “unconscionable.”

 Waterboarding is a form of torture in which a victim is held down on a table with a cloth covering his face while water is poured over the cloth. It causes the person to gag and think that they are drowning. Since gagging can cause the victim to vomit, this form of torture, or “enhanced interrogation technique,” as the CIA refers to waterboarding, can kill a person. McCain pointed out that the U.S. hanged Japanese soldiers accused of waterboarding during the Second World War.

This “excruciating” torture on terror suspects produced little valuable intelligence for the CIA.  One U.S. official who was briefed on the Senate report said: “The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives. Was that actually true? The answer is no.” 

 The high-profile CIA prisoner known as Abu Zubaida was waterboarded 83 times by the agency after his capture in Pakistan in 2002. But according to a U.S. official quoted in the Washington Post, almost all of the important information from Zubaida was obtained by FBI agent Ali Soufan in conversations with the suspect at a hospital in Pakistan. This didn’t stop the CIA from taking credit for getting this information in later communications with other U.S. intelligence agencies, the Justice Department and Congress. 

 “The CIA conflated what was gotten when, which led them to misrepresent the effectiveness of the program,” a second U.S. official told the Post, adding that the “persistence of such misstatements” was among “the most damaging” of the report’s conclusions. In other words, the CIA tortured blatantly and uselessly and then lied about the efficacy of its brutality.

 Rendition and Black Sites

The CIA took another detainee known as Ammar Al-Baluchi from Pakistan to “Salt Pit” –one of several secret prisons, or “black sites,” the agency maintained in Kabul, Afghanistan. CIA torturers submerged Baluchi in a tub of ice water and kept his head underwater while he struggled to breathe. U.S. officials describe how his captors beat him repeatedly with something resembling a truncheon and smashed his head against a wall.

Mohammed Al-Shoroeiya and Khalid Al-Sharif, two other “Salt Pit” detainees from Libya, were tortured in a similar fashion by the agency. Their story came out through witness testimony in a 2012 Human Rights Watch report and is reproduced in the new Senate report. In another case, the CIA’s torture was so vicious that its own employees left a black site prison in Thailand. The Senate report confirms the role of the CIA in the deaths of at least six captives.

The CIA kidnapped 119 men and sent them to black sites, according to the report, which points out that 26 of these people wrongfully detained. Al Jazeera America reports, based on statements from anonymous U.S. officials who have seen the still classified report, that these detainees were: “rendered to other countries on the basis of intelligence obtained from CIA captives under torture and from information shared with CIA officials by other governments, both of which turned out to be false. The report allegedly singles out a top CIA official for botching a handful of renditions and outlines agency efforts to cover up the mistakes.”

The Senate report also allegedly accuses senior CIA officials of “lying during multiple closed-session briefings to members of Congress from 2003 to 2005 about the use of certain enhanced interrogation techniques [torture],” according to the same Al Jazeera article, which adds that “an agency official lied to Congress in 2005 when he insisted the U.S. was adhering to international treaties barring cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners.”

Furthermore, according to U.S. officials quoted by Al Jazeera, the report suggests that in addition to lying to Congress, the CIA manipulated the press as well by sanctioning “leaks to selected journalists about phantom plots supposedly disrupted as a result of information gained through the program in order to craft a narrative of success.”

 The Senate report includes what U.S. officials called “damning new disclosures” about an extensive network of CIA black sites that President Obama claimed to have shut down in 2009 along with banning torture.

Global Reach of CIA Torture

Amrit Singh of the Open Society Justice Initiative describes the global reach of the CIA’s rendition program and black site network in her 2013 report, “Globalizing Torture.” Singh highlights how 54 governments cooperated in the torture network, and that the CIA program would not have been possible without their active involvement. The network implicates governments in 25 European nations, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Greece, Poland and Romania.

 Canada, too, is part of this torture network, as the well-known case of Maher Arar shows. The U.S. detained Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, in New York in 2002 based on incorrect information supplied by the RCMP. He was swiftly deported to Syria where he was jailed and tortured for a year by state security. Arar returned to Canada in 2003.

 Singh identifies 136 “terror suspects” kidnapped by the CIA, emphasizing the arbitrary nature of this definition and the people, like Arar, who have been picked up based on mistaken identity.

 For example, she offers the case of Khaled El-Masri, a German national kidnapped in Macedonia under CIA direction on December 31, 2003 and abused by Macedonian security forces for 23 days. Masri was then given to the CIA, which flew him to Afghanistan for further abuse until May 2004.  In December 2012, the European Court of Human Rights declared that Macedonia had violated El-Masri’s human rights protections under European law. The court added the CIA’s treatment of El-Masri at Skopje airport—he was sodomized with a suppository while Macedonian officials watched—amounted to torture.

Three years after Arar returned to Canada, a federal commission of inquiry into his deportation and torture recommended that the Canadian government not give sensitive information to another state “where there is a credible risk it will cause or contribute to the use of torture.” However, according to a declassified Defence Department memo revealed April 13, this advice has been ignored.

 As reported by The Canadian Press on April 13, in 2011 the federal government secretly ordered five Canadian security agencies to share information with allies even when there is a “substantial risk” that this will lead to torture. As well as the military, the agencies included in this 2011 secret directive are the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), and the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).

 Will the U.S. Administration Act?

U.S. President Obama claims to have shut down CIA black sites but the Washington Post reported in January 2013 that renditions continue. In August 2012, three men of Somali background—Ali Yasin Ahmed, Mohamed Yusuf and Mahdi Hash—were arrested in the east-African nation of Djibouti on what the Post called a “murky pretext.” They were questioned by U.S. interrogators before being secretly indicted by a U.S. grand jury and flown to the United States for trial. The men’s whereabouts were unknown for months before they appeared in a New York courtroom for trial in December 2012.

The Senate report does not seek to prosecute a single CIA official for what are clearly crimes. Singh emphasizes that the 136 victims of CIA kidnapping and torture need to be provided with justice or else countries will continue to torture with impunity.

“Both as a legal matter and a matter of justice it is critical for courts to provide some measure of redress… so that this does not happen again,” she says. “What’s most important to a lot of [the victims] is the acknowledgement because they have been branded as terrorists without basis, and been abused and tortured. It’s appalling that U.S. courts have denied victims of U.S. rendition and torture their day in court – that every single case brought by a rendition victim in a U.S. court has been dismissed without the courts addressing the merits of the issue.”

 The CIA has a long history of involvement in torture as well as military coups, assassinations, invasions, bombings and destabilizations that continues to this day. These interventions are estimated to have killed tens of millions of people in the Global South.  Congressional investigations of CIA activities abroad in 1975, 1987 and 1989 failed to significantly curb the agency’s abuses, though this was admittedly not their intention since Congress is mostly interested in increasing its role in overseeing U.S. imperialism, not in stopping it.

Asad Ismi is the CCPA Monitor’s international affairs correspondent.  He is an expert on U.S. foreign policy and did his Ph.D. on the CIA. He is co-author of the book Informed Dissent: Three Generals and the Vietnam War (1992) which is available from 20 booksellers on the web. For his publications visit  


Is a Russia-Japan Natural Gas Pipeline Next?

June 1st, 2014 by Global Research News

  By Ankit Panda

Following Russia’s historic $400 billion natural gas supply deal with China last week, Japanese lawmakers are looking to revive efforts to tap into Russian natural gas supplies themselves. A Bloomberg report (1)  shows that a group of 33 lawmakers in Japan are backing a 1,350 kilometer pipeline that would run between Russia’s Sakhalin Island and Japan’s Ibaraki prefecture, just northeast of Tokyo. The project is estimated to cost $5.9 billion and could yield as much as 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year (equivalent to 15 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas). The pipeline would make up 17 percent of Japan’s imports.

The Japanese lawmakers backing the proposal belong mostly to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party. The renewed interest in the pipeline is primarily due to Japan’s own energy shortages following the shutdown of all of Japan’s 48 nuclear reactors following the March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Democratic Party of Japan government at the time decided to shut down Japan’s nuclear plants and begin moving the country away from a reliance on nuclear power following a public backlash after the Fukushima crisis.

 Based on current plans, natural gas originating on Russia’s Sakhalin Island would be transported via the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok pipeline where it will be processed into liquefied natural gas for export to Japan.  (2)   Russia has considered additional undersea and land-based pipelines to deliver gas to China, North Korea, and South Korea in the region, including one pipeline that would deliver gas to South Korea via North Korea.

For Russia, a pipeline deal with Japan would be particularly compelling. Japan is the world’s largest LNG importer, having purchased 87.49 million metric tons of LNG in 2013 according to the Japanese finance ministry. Despite being the largest importer worldwide and its proximity to Russia, Japan only imported 9.8 percent of its LNG from Russia. The proposed pipeline would see that number grow substantially, in part because Japan could import natural gas instead of LNG. LNG is costlier to transport. Naokazu Takemoto  (3), the Japanese parliamentarian heading the group in favor of the pipeline, estimates that “the price of natural gas will be two times lower than the export of liquefied natural gas.” Politically, given Russia’s current isolation with the West over its actions in Ukraine, a pipeline deal would also gain Vladimir Putin some vitally needed political currency. Indeed, Russia’s recent deal with China was likely motivated by the Kremlin’s political concerns – China seems to have won a deal at a very favorable price.

If Japan and Russia formally begin negotiations for a pipeline, Tokyo will likely be able to win a favorable price as well. As Europe tries to reduce its dependence on Russia’s natural gas, Russia will lose a certain amount of leverage in negotiations. The group of Japanese lawmakers will propose the deal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who will study the feasibility of the deal in June. It is likely that Abe will propose the deal to Vladimir Putin when he visits Tokyo later this year.



They say that economics is “the dismal science.”  Frankly, I never excelled in math or science in school.  That was my brother’s field and he ended up a university chemist.  But over the past decades, economics has become a crucial element in understanding societies, wealth and national politics.  That holds doubly true in the case of Israel and Palestine.

As with everything concerning this subject, there is a propaganda “line” that Israel-advocates sell the world.  First, there was the pioneer nation that made the desert bloom, turning it into a modern society.  Lately, it’s become the “start-up nation.”  This myth sells an Israel full of technical geniuses coding their hearts out to bring innovation to the world.  It suggests an Israel in tune with the democratic and entrepreneurial spirit of the rest of the world.  Even a nation on the cutting edge of technological discovery.  After all, if Warren Buffett invested $4-billion in one of  Israel’s most profitable companies, doesn’t that prove the case?

israeli poverty

While there is an element of truth to this story, as there are with all myths, it conceals far more than it reveals.  A recent interview with renowned Israeli economist Dan Ben-David, exposes the rest of the sordid picture of an economy rent in two, divided between haves and have-nots, between a secular Jewish elite and all the rest.  It’s worth quoting extensively from this piece since Ben-David offers a probing, even revelatory portrait of a nation, and economy in dire straits.  It’s a picture you’ll almost never see in the mainstream media:

Professor Dan Ben-David, a noted economist, has been observing Israel’s socioeconomic policies and studying their long-term implications with consternation for more than two decades. Over the last six years, serving as the executive director of the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, his insight by which the Zionist project could ”end in tears” has been deepening. He feels that ”the window of opportunity enabling us to save the state from collapse is getting smaller, as we reach the point of no return.”

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Ben-David explains why the path that the State of Israel is following in its 66th year will eventually lead to the system’s collapse.

Keep in mind, this isn’t Norman Finkelstein or Noam Chomsky speaking.  This is a respected Israeli economist who buys into the Zionist dream, albeit with a critical perspective.  When he declares Israel is on the road to ruin, someone ought to sit up and take notice.

Here’s more of his analysis:

When I deal with the socioeconomic aspect of Israel, I have the feeling that we’re letting the country slip through our fingers. It’s ironic. On the one hand, this really is the “startup nation.” We are on the forefront of developments in high-tech and medicine. At the same time, however, there is another country here. What we have, in effect, is two countries. We track productivity rates in Israel, and based on the data, productivity here is among the lowest in the developed world. Obviously, that has implications on growth and quality of life. All the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] states beat us in that.

It is important to understand that this is a trend. It is a process that began in the 1970s, so it is possible to say that we have been in decline for the past 40 years. If, in the 1950s and 1960s, we were able to reduce the gaps between us and the world’s leading countries, the trend has reversed itself since then.

That means that even when there are people who live here and who want to live here, there will also be people who leave because they can get more somewhere else. We are passing the threshold in which more and more people will not want to live here, and that could end in tears. We have to ask ourselves where our children and grandchildren will be. It is true that we are not talking about major calamities in the next year or two. We still have time to make changes and fix the problems, but that time is running out.

The other aspect of the problem is inequality and poverty. Poverty rates in Israel are among the highest in the developed world. Of course, these two things are interconnected. If, in the 1950s and 1960s, we were an example to the West of how a country does things the right way, we have since become one of the least egalitarian countries in the world.

Behind the inequality and low productivity, we find a growing population that did not receive the tools it needed from the state to integrate into the modern workforce. By this, I mostly mean the Arab and ultra-Orthodox sectors. Their situation has a negative impact on productivity. In an economy where productivity is low, it is impossible for wages to be high. When productivity in an entire country is very, very low, it says something about that country’s ability to offer high wages. The population that continues to grow lacks the tools and condition to integrate into the market. What is needed to understand the reasons for this is to take a look at the level of the country’s education in the core subjects. Since the 1990s, the State of Israel’s achievements in international mathematics and reading tests are among the lowest in the developed world, and we can’t seem to overcome that.

…This is true even if we don’t include the ultra-Orthodox, because their children do not participate in international testing. In other words, if they were included in the test results, the situation here would be even more dismal. When we look at the achievements of Arab children, we see that the level of education we provide them in core subjects is beneath what they would get in developing countries. That has enormous implications, because if we consider the demographics, we see that almost half the children in this country are either ultra-Orthodox or Arab. When they will grow older, they will increase the percentage of the population that is unable to participate in the workforce. Productivity will then decrease and existing gaps will expand. It is the responsibility of the state to reach these children and provide them with the tools they need.

First of all, we need a structural reform in the education system. If the education we provide in the periphery is at least as good as the education in the center of the country, and if we connect those places to the center of the country with a rapid, inexpensive, reliable and readily available transportation system, it will mean that almost the entire population will be living within half an hour of the country’s center. That’s a key issue, and it’s hard for people to swallow that.

The main story is that there are gaps among us, among the part of the country that is not ultra-Orthodox or Arab. If we just look at the middle class, we find that the gap between its two extremes is among the highest in the Western world. Gaps in education hint at what will happen once children grow up, because all of this will be expressed later on as gaps in income.

That is actually incorrect [the the Netanyahu government is a major instigator of structural reforms]. We’re riding a wave of marketing. Not every wage agreement is a reform. We are avoiding any dealing with the core problems. We, the Israelis, believe that everything will work itself out. Apparently, it’s part of our nature. There have been some changes in the past decade, and it is all starting to click for quite a few people, but what is happening now is that we are treating the symptoms without treating the actual problems.

What is needed here is systematic treatment of the problems of the kind that the prime minister must lead, together with his Cabinet. What is needed is a comprehensive master plan, because we are in a race against time…And as hard as it is now, once we reach a certain point it will become absolutely impossible to do anything. We will reach the point of no return.

It won’t happen in two years. I’m talking about trends. Take the ultra-Orthodox, for example. They make up 8.5-9% of the total population. What will happen when their children grow up? We won’t be able to manage. That is why we have to reach their school-age children today. There isn’t much time left. Half of those children don’t even get a developing world education, so there is no way that they can maintain a developed world economy. They could only maintain a developing world economy, and a developing world economy can’t maintain a developed world military. At that point, there will be no country left. This is a whole new definition of national security: If we don’t have an economy that can keep everything together, we will not be able to contend with the security challenges we face.

When it comes to the ultra-Orthodox, the main emphasis should be on educating their children. There is no modern country apart from Israel that allows parents to prevent their children from receiving the education they need. There are things that every child must know.

Ben-David expounds upon his ideas in greater detail in this report published by his Taub Center at Tel Aviv University.

Shir Hever, one of Israel’s foremost economists studying the costs of Occupation and maintenance of the national security state, and a former student of Ben David’s, adds his own analysis:

…[Ben-David] doesn’t ask himself why Israel has such a faulty education system…Massive and decade-long cuts in Israel’s education system have been the direct result of unsustainable security costs…Deep discrimination within Israel’s education system has channeled resources to the illegal colonies, drying up the center. Israel’s national education system is geared towards preparing the pupils for the army, a highly militaristic system, in which Arabic, if learnt at all, is mainly seen as a tool to enter into service in a military intelligence unit. In fact, there are entire schools which are sponsored by weapons manufacturing companies.

Ben David has previously shown shocking numbers of educated Israelis who leave Israel, seeking employment elsewhere. Of course, many of those who leave do so because they hope to give their children better education somewhere else, but what about those who wish to raise their children in a less militarized environment?

What Mazal Mualem refers to as the “diplomatic process,” is a code-name for a system of colonization and aparheid. This system was accepted by the majority of the Jewish-Israeli public because it promised to discriminate in their favor, but as Ben-David shows, the discrimination and inequality tends to seep further, and has caused wide gaps even within the hegemonic group.

Also, this article didn’t really talk about what is exactly Israel’s “start-up nation.” The real question is how many of the successful companies which contribute to this image are in fact security and military companies, whose success depends on the continuation of the repression of Palestinians. Such companies are reluctant to hire Palestinian citizens of Israel, and usually ultra-Orthodox Jews as well (unless they happened to have served in the army). Therefore, the issue of occupation and apartheid is not one aspect of this story, but the very root of the problems which Ben-David so aptly describes.

In the past, Israel’s advocates here have claimed that Israel’s economic divisions are somehow not the fault of the State since the have-nots in the Palestinian and ultra-Orthodox sectors opt out of the national educational and social system.  This is simply not an excuse.  As Ben David points out, the responsibility of a government and society is to the good of the whole.  If the greater good includes educating all children so that they may support themselves and their families and contribute to society, then government must both offer a good education for all and obligate parents to participate in the educational system.  There is simply no excuse for accepting half the nation’s children getting no or substandard educational opportunity.  A society that settles for this is one that has failed, despite whatever innovation it may offer in other areas.  Israel is not a nation only of the secular educated elite.  It is a nation of all its citizens (or should be).  If it is any less, it is a failure.  Plain and simple.

Though Shir alludes here to the enormous costs of maintaining Occupation and the national security state, this article elaborates on the issue.

A natural gas deal between Russia and China was in the works for a long time, so why all the fuss over its unveiling?

One has to look beyond the headlines when considering world events. The ballyhoo that is made of many of these events is either newspeak or grossly disjointed by narrow-sighted interpretations. The announcement of the mega energy deal for just over 36.8 billion cubic meters (1.3 trillion cubic feet) of natural gas reached between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China on May 21 is just one example of this.

The natural gas deal struck between Beijing and Moscow does not signal anything new or a shift in Russian economic policies and ties with China, but it’s being touted as such.

In one way or another, most news reports about the energy deal are distorting the nature of the Sino-Russian energy agreement and highlighting this particular deal in purely political terms. The gas deal has actually been — excuse the pun — in the pipeline for quite some time, as Beijing and Moscow have talked about and negotiated some sort of long-term gas export-import formula for about 10 years. Anyone that has been following these important negotiations would know this and immediately recognize the sensationalist and distorted nature of the current reporting on the gas agreement.

Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Alexei Miller, Zhou Jiping

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, background left, and China’s President Xi Jinping, background right, smile during signing ceremony in Shanghai, China. (AP/RIA Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service)

Pundits and media outlets hostile to Moscow are billing the agreement as a sign that Russia plans on tightening the screws on the energy flow to the European Union. They are using this conjecture to argue for a diversification of energy sources to the EU, encourage EU leaders to rollback economic ties with Moscow, and promote the commencement of a U.S.-supported “fracking revolution” to exploit natural gas and oil reserves through the process of hydraulic fracturing.

On the other hand, pundits and media outlets which are overtly supportive of Moscow are portraying the deal between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corporation, or CNPC, as a move by the Kremlin to minimize its economic losses and divert its business Eastward since being confronted with economic sanctions and diplomatic disrespect by the so-called West over Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula.

Rebranding an existing trend

In no uncertain terms, the Sino-Russian gas deal categorically does not mark the start of either a “looking East” policy or a “de-dollarization” policy. Nor is the strategic alliance between Russia and China just germinating as a result of the fallout from the Ukrainian crisis. Anything that makes it sound otherwise is sensationalism projected by media sources and uninformed pundits that overlook the actual facts about Russia and China. Instead, on the part of these outlets and pundits, there is either a deficit in a comprehensive understanding in their reporting of the news and in their analyses of the events shaping the world, or they are trying to frame events through a lens that suits present-day political interests.

In any case, there is nothing new, at all. First, nothing new has been signaled by the deal between Gazprom and CNPC. Second, Russia and China became strategic partners when their leaders announced that they would oppose Washington’s dreams for a unipolar world after the United States and NATO attacked the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1999.

The natural gas deal itself is part of an existing trend and a process that has been well underway for several years. In reality, the Russian Federation has embarked on a path of increasing trade with Asia for over a decade now, and both Moscow and its Chinese partners announced their decisions to embark on the avenue of de-dollarization by trading in local currencies close to a decade ago. In 2007, the governments of China and Russia initiated the framework for the creation of a working group to de-dollarize trade in their bilateral trade transactions through a formal agreement. In 2008, when Vladimir Putin was serving as the prime minister of Russia, he and his Chinese counterpart, then-Premier Wen Jiabao, were even engaged in the process. Both Beijing and Moscow also have similar agreements with their other Eurasian partners.

The natural gas agreement announced in Shanghai was really put together by technocratic negotiators. It is the work of years of sturdy negotiations — not an agreement that was made or concluded in the matter of a few months. Nor was the Sino-Russian deal something that was initiated as an effort on the part of the Russians to circumvent the economic sanctions steadily being ratcheted up against their economy by Washington and its cohorts.

Regardless of the tensions between Moscow and Washington over the simmering crisis in Ukraine, the deal, which is valued at $400 billion, was going to be made and signed one way or another.

Because of the economic sanctions against the Russian Federation, the unveiling of the deal last week during the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia summit in Shanghai has been politically stage-managed and highlighted, with careful consideration paid to the ramifications its announcement would make.

While the deal has been largely technocratic, there is a strong possibility that the Russians could have made a change to the purchase price that they were asking from the Chinese, and both sides could have accelerated the finalization of the agreement on the basis of political considerations. In other words, the economic war that has been unleashed against the Russian Federation may have hastened the deal and introduced political variables or aims to what has largely been a technocratic affair for both sides.

The gas deal and psychological warfare

“Investor confidence” is the key phrase here. What the gas deal definitely marks is that China has Russia’s back in a psychological war over investor confidence. The announcement of the agreement in Shanghai is largely a Sino-Russian retort to the U.S. and its allies, which are strategically trying to undermine investor confidence in the Russian economy.

In her May 8 testimony to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, asserted the following from a prepared statement:

“The Russian economy is already buckling under the pressure of these internationally imposed sanctions. Its credit rating is hovering just above ‘junk’ status. $51 billion in capital has fled Russia since the beginning of the year, approaching the $60 billion figure for all of 2013. Russian bonds are trading at higher yields than any debt in Europe. As the ruble has fallen, the Central Bank has raised interest rates twice and has spent close to $30 billion [US] from its reserves since early March to stabilize it.”

Although Nuland went out of her way to conclude that the Russian people were not the target of, but the collateral damage from the imposed sanctions, it was very clear at the hearing that the main targets of the sanctions were, in fact, the Russian people. During the hearing, Rep. Albio Sires candidly made it clear that the Russian people “have to feel” the sanctions and asked for evidence from the Obama administration that the Russian people were suffering from the punishment of economic sanctions. U.S. State Department and Treasury representatives at the hearing, in turn, made it clear to Sires that the Russian people “will begin to feel” the punishment of economic sanctions with the trade between Russia and the EU being damaged, costs of borrowing going up and inflation expanding.

Nuland’s sentiments were echoed by Daniel Glaser, assistant secretary for terrorist financing in the Treasury Department, at the hearing on Capitol Hill. Both made it clear that the U.S. government is working to impose economic costs against the Russians that will snowball gradually. Glaser also clarified that it takes time for the damage to the economy to be reflected politically — meaning that the creation of an economic recession in Russia is aimed at making the Russian people so miserable that they will demand that the Kremlin surrender to Washington’s demands.

Glaser testified thus:

“Sanctions, and the uncertainty they have created in the market, are having an impact, directly and indirectly, on Russia’s weak economy. And as sanctions increase, the costs will not only increase, but Russia’s ability to mitigate costs will diminish. Already, market analysts are forecasting significant continued outflows of both foreign and domestic capital and a further weakening of growth prospects for the year. The IMF has downgraded Russia’s growth outlook to 0.2 percent this year, and suggested that recession is not out of the question.”

He also made the following points:

● Since the start of 2014, the Russian Federation’s stock market has declined by over 13 percent;

● Heavy capital outflows have started to hurt the Russian economy and have resulted in Standard and Poor’s Financial Services downgrading Russia’s sovereign credit to BBB- — one level above what S&P calls “junk status;”

● Investors now want higher returns from Russian bonds due to the higher risks involved with investing with Russia;

● The Central Bank of the Russian Federation has spent nearly $50 billion, or 10 percent of its total foreign exchange reserves, to defend the value of Russia’s national currency from the financial warfare that Washington has unleashed;

● Despite substantial market intervention by the Russian Central Bank and an interest rate hike, the Russian national currency has depreciated by almost 8 percent since the start of 2014.

What Glaser did not say is that the supposedly bad S&P BBB- status that the Russian Federation’s economy has been reduced to is the same rating as those of two of Russia’s BRICS partners, Brazil and India, which do not seem to be in a state of dread or panic at all. Nor did he mention that S&P’s analyses, like economics itself, are not free of political interests and manipulation. The emphasis on the rating being “one notch above junk status” is pure theatrics aimed at creating alarm and fear.

Washington’s strategy against Moscow clearly involves strategies to create general market uncertainty that will destabilize Russia or, as Nuland put it, “create market conditions that will make Russia increasingly vulnerable to financial” assault. A psychological war to undermine confidence in the Russian Federation’s economy using financial manipulation has been launched, and the timing of the announcement of the Sino-Russian natural gas deal is tied to this.

Although the deal was already in the works and independent of the events in Ukraine, and though Russia is turning to China for economic backing against the economic warfare it faces, the energy deal’s very public unveiling in Shanghai was a counter-move to Washington’s actions against Russia. Not only does the Sino-Russian gas deal indicate that Russia has economic alternatives, its announcement served as a psychological jab aimed at offsetting the financial assaults of the U.S. government on Russia that are aimed at undermining investor confidence in the Russian economy. What the gas deal is supposed to do is secure confidence in the Russian economy by showing that it will have large earnings for the next 30 years.

Time to Listen: How Should We Write and Fight?

June 1st, 2014 by Andre Vltchek

Why are the streets of New York, Washington D.C., London and Paris so orderly, so quiet?

Are we – opposition investigative journalists, philosophers and documentary filmmakers – doing such a terrible job? Are we not providing the North American and European public with enough information, enough proof about the monstrous state of the world? Enough so they – the citizens of the Empire – finally get thoroughly pissed off, detach their backsides from their couches and chairs, and flood the capitals and business centers with their bodies, demanding change, demanding the end to atrocities that are being committed all over the world… the end of this imperialist and neo-con madness?


Are we failing, squarely and patently, to give examples and proof of the pain this world is suffering because of the bestiality of market fundamentalism, because of unchecked neocolonialism and shameless Western supremacy? Are we not providing enough stories and images, enough footage, to convince the citizens of the countries that are ruling the world, that something has gone awfully wrong?

The answer is yes, and also, no.

Yes – we work relentlessly and, frankly; we work well… we fight well, day and night, often 25/8 (overtime, 24/7), forgetting about exhaustion, personal life, even our health and danger.

On the side of reason and decency, on the side of the resistance against the oppressive and murderous Empire, are the brightest minds of this world.

There are great philosophers and thinkers like Eduardo Galeano, Alain Badiou, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, and Noam Chomsky, who clearly and precisely define and critique the essential concepts that govern the world.

There are brave international lawyers like Christopher Black, and celebrated economists, including the Nobel Prize laureate, Joseph Stiglitz.

Almost all the great writers are part of the resistance, including those – the greatest ones – who have just recently departed: Jose Saramago, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Harold Pinter.

And there are, of course, investigative journalists, on all the continents, those who are risking their lives, often with no institutional support, working mostly against all the odds.


So Yes – we are providing plenty of information, plenty of images, plenty of proof, that the world is in flames, that tens of millions are dying, that true democracy everywhere is being raped and the natural resources of poor countries are being plundered, so that Western capitalism can flourish.

But No – we are not managing to improve the world. All those tremendous efforts are failing to ignite even those few millions of educated and concerned citizens in the West, to organize and rebel, to demand the end of the global imperialist onslaught.

All the information mentioned above, about the horrors of imperialism and market fundamentalism, is easily available on-line, “just one click away”, to use corporate language.

But nothing is happening. The majority of Europeans and North Americans appear to be thoroughly apathetic towards the state of the world. They keep stuffing themselves on cheap, subsidized food; they amusing themselves with the latest gadgets (including smart phones, sated with Coltan taken from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where some ten million people have died since 1995). They keep voting in those right-wing governments and they believe, increasingly and blindly, that their societies are an inspiration to the rest of the world as the sole examples of democracy and freedom.

The citizens of the Western Empire are actually so lethargic and indoctrinated, that even when billions are stolen from them (not just from the people in their colonies), when banks get bailed-out after their speculative orgies, or after so-called elections get fully subsidized and manipulated by the corporate mafia, they do nothing; absolute nothing!

Go to a pub in the UK or Germany, and ‘everybody knows everything’. You will hear it repeatedly: ‘politicians are swine’, ‘corporations are controlling elections’. If you stay long enough, after several pints of beer someone will perhaps slam his fist on the table: “We need revolution!” Then everybody agrees and they all go home… and the next day – nothing.

‘Occupy Wall Street’ activists got rouged up by the police… And nothing. Everybody goes home. And shouts at the television.


Is there still anything that will outrage people to the point that ‘they would actually not go home’? That they would stay on those bloody streets, build barricades and fight, as they did in the past, even as recently as in 1968?

How many millions have to die in the Western colonies, before the people in Europe and North America pay attention, recognize the massacres and admit that they are actually citizens of a fascist empire, and that it is their moral obligation to fight it and dissolve it? Is 10 million in the DRC not enough? Is one coup after another that the West openly orchestrates, not a sufficient eye opener?


As President Obama pointed out, honestly, on May 28 2014, at West Point, NY:

“In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government.”

Or, to put this into perspective, to quote The Economist (May 24, 2014):

“Prodded by a fawning reporter to reveal the extent of American plotting in support of the Muslim Brotherhood, a theory much harped on by Egypt’s xenophobic post-coup media, Mr Sisi disarmingly confessed that the only interference he could recall was when the American ambassador requested that last year’s coup should be delayed for a day.”

But it is not just in Egypt, although Egypt as well… It is one coup after another, these days, all over the world. Coups financed and arranged by the US and Europe… and all those countries ruined, bombed or run to the ground. We can see them clearly, as we are shown images (with twisted commentaries) every day: from Egypt to Ukraine to Thailand. Destroyed Libya and crippled Syria. Bleeding Bahrain. Countless attempted coups against any progressive Latin American governments. A multitude of African nations terrorized by the West – from Mali to Somalia, to DRC to Uganda.

France is increasingly behaving like a bandit nation. Entire regions covered by blood and pus, governed by gangsters who are maintained and armed by the Empire, decades after many great leaders had been either assassinated or shamelessly overthrown.

There is plenty of evidence and information about all that I am talking about.

If the West cannot murder or overthrow a government in a powerful country, it risks lives in its client states: I have just left Manila, Philippines, where two leading academics, Eduard and Teresa Tadem, explained to me how the United States is pitching Southeast Asian nations against China; their historic and natural ally.

The country’s press is servile and so, all the terror of European colonialism and of the US extermination campaign against the Philippine people has been miraculously forgotten. Propaganda works. China is the villain! Western propaganda is brilliant, professional, and deadly. Nobody knows anything about the disputed islands; nobody studies history or legal documents. But China is simply wrong. It must be wrong, because that is what has been repeated on television and in the newspapers every day, for years.

The West is antagonizing China, relentlessly, while spreading anti-Chinese propaganda everywhere, totally discounting the country’s enormous achievements and the fact that it is undergoing some profound socialist reforms, related to medical care, education, housing, arts and public transportation, just to mention a few. Of course, any notion that China is a successful socialist state has to be destroyed (it either has to be a failure, or it has to be portrayed as capitalist).

These provocations, many of them of a military nature, are now using the old regional imperialist power, Japan (and its extreme right-wing Prime Minister), which is in sudden need of ‘protection’. Needless to say, all this can easily lead to WWIII.

The same provocations are taking place against Russia – against Latin America…and Zimbabwe, Iran, Eritrea – basically against any country that is unwilling to succumb to intimidation, or to sacrifice its own people and lick the boots of the Empire.

And the Western public is blind and deaf. Or it pretends that it does not know and does not see.

There are two possibilities why: either, as I wrote in my earlier analyses (including “The Indoctrinated West”), the Western public is totally lost and overrun by corporate propaganda (it appears to be the most ignorant and misinformed public I have encountered anywhere in the world). Or it simply pretends to be like that, because the status quo suits its interests – it can take advantage of the looting and plundering done by its governments and companies, while pretending that it is still morally superior to the rest of the world… with hardly any feeling of guilt.


We write and write, film and talk… Huge accusations are made, crimes confirmed… But again: nothing happens!

The most disturbing fact is that no revelation, no discovery of crimes committed by Western governments and companies is upsetting enough, or monstrous enough, for the men and women of the Empire, to demand the immediate resignations of their governments, or of the changing of their entire political and economic system.

Genocides are apparently not sufficient reasons to demand the disbanding of the regime.

The overt nature of thieving, the perverse, nihilist economic and social system controlled by kleptocrats, provokes no major revolutionary actions, no nation-wide rebellions. Even demonstrations are diminishing in size. If there are actually any demonstrations, they tend to be of a pathetic caliber – for higher wages, for instance, but hardly ever for ideological reasons.

How often, do we see huge protests in Europe, against the plundering and murdering of people in Africa or Asia… or against, say, the “French New Wave” of imperialism? Or against the monstrous AFRICOM that sits right in the middle of Europe – in the city of Stuttgart? That monstrosity is, according to its own words: ‘responsible for U.S. military operations and military relations with 53 African nations – an area of responsibility (AOR) covering all of Africa except Egypt’, and it is crammed into the Kelley Barracks, on the outskirts of the city of Stuttgart… which in turn produces all those Mercedes and Porsche cars for the corrupt elites and their children, all over the world.

Nobody protests and nobody gives a damn. I have witnessed some demonstrations against a new train station in Stuttgart, because a few trees had to be cut down in order to build a new terminal… there were demonstrations against the destruction of the ‘historic character of the station’, but I never saw any substantial demonstration against AFRICOM or against the destruction of millions of lives, all over the world, by German companies.

Europeans (and North Americans) appear to be totally ‘bullet-proof’ against any information that could lead to making them feel co-responsible for the plunder and devastation that their Empire is and has been spreading, for years, decades, even centuries, all over the world.

As there is hardly any retrospective feeling of guilt, outrage and horror for colonizing, raping and looting basically the entire planet (including North America, as the killing of native people there was done mainly by the first and second generation of European migrants), there seems to be very little chance that Westerners will now rise and demand an end to the terror they are responsible for having imposed on Africa, Asia, Middle East, Latin America, including Oceania.

Great proof was provided by John Perkins when he wrote, “Confession of an Economic Hit Man”, a book that made it to The New York Times bestseller list. Several million copies were sold in various languages, and… nothing!

I met John at the studios of INN in New York City. He was interviewed about ‘Confession’ and I was interviewed about my documentary film “Terlena – Breaking of a Nation”, which was about the insanity and brutality of the Indonesian regime after the US-sponsored coup of 1965/66.

We exchanged notes. In his book, John wrote a first-hand account about his former activities and duties. Working for the State Department, he used money, sex and alcohol to corrupt governments in places such as Ecuador and Indonesia, so they would accept totally useless and unserviceable loans that would disappear into the deep pockets of the elites, and bring nothing else other than total misery to the poor and middle classes. Why? The answer was simple: Because indebted countries were easier to control.

Of course, in any normal country or society, such a revelation would bring down the government along with the entire political and economic system. There can be no question that this is the pinnacle of ‘immorality’, and a system that produces this kind of global scenarios, should never even be trusted with governing, its own nation.

But nothing has happened in the United States. As far as I am concerned, there were no major demonstrations triggered by Perkin’s book.

In Budapest, much, much less, triggered the ‘uprising’ of 1956 – an uprising that was partially provoked by the West (including by the propaganda arm of the US government – ‘Radio Free Europe’), and later glorified as the fight against Soviet rule in Eastern Europe.

An extremely uncomfortable but definitely honest conclusion is that the citizens of the West are incapable of, or unwilling to fight and defend the lives of those whom their Empire destroys. They cannot be trusted, anymore. They have failed for centuries.

People all over the planet have waited and hoped that opposition will come from within the Empire.

It took China to rise up, in order to stop military attacks against its territory. Russia had to regain its strength and to get rid of all the horrible rot that was turning the nation into yet another “client state” of Washington – from naïve nitwits like Gorbachev to the tyrant and alcoholic, Yeltsin. And it took Latin America several decades of fights and revolutions, and hundreds of thousands of martyrs, to finally forge a huge united front against the colonialists and fascists from the North.


But what I want to ask today is: how, if until now, nothing has worked… how do we deal with the Western public; how do we address it?

Does it really make any sense to speak to them, to appeal to them, even after they had shown such ignorance, such vicious stupidity, indifference and servility?

Would bombarding them – Europeans and North Americans – with facts change anything?

If I show them what they have done in Eastern and Central Africa, would they rebel? We know the answer, and it is: no, they will not.

If we tell them what they are doing to Ukraine, would they demand that all aid to those gangsters who are now holding power there (including that ‘newly elected President’), stops? Definitely not! For most of them, Ukraine is nothing else other than a bit of titillating news they watch in the evening, while stuffing themselves at their dining tables.

Most of them do not pay attention. They do not know and do not want to know… all the while pretending that they are the best-informed part of the world. That’s not good enough for the citizens of the countries that are ruining the world.

I do believe in collective guilt and collective responsibility. The more I see of European culture, its evasiveness and deception; the more I believe, the more I am convinced that it has to be insisted on. They don’t like it, naturally. Tell them about collective guilt and they turn against you like a mad bunch of pit bulls… for very logical reasons. To be a citizen of the continent that is guilty of the destruction of the planet, for many long centuries, is not a joke; it is quite a serious responsibility, and burden… Tell a rapist that he is a rapist, and he breaks your skull. Tell gangster that he is a gangster and just wait and see what will happen.


So what to do? Should we stop writing? Of course not!

There are decent people out there, too. Our readers… For them, and only for them, we write, we labor and risk our lives.

But how and where do we go from here? What is the strategy?

Frankly, I think that facts wrapped in academic writing can change nothing. Absolutely nothing. They can get someone a tenure or even put things ‘on the record’, but do not expect that those facts and ‘records’ could trigger a revolution, real change.

As it is, all the crimes of the Empire are already very well documented. Information can be effortlessly accessed, read and understood. So we can very easily conclude that pure facts are not moving anyone, anymore. Otherwise the whole field, the entire situation would be quite different by now.

‘Facts’ are now effectively used only against Communist countries and parties by the elaborate and pointed Western propaganda machine, and here we are talking about inflated, exaggerated and twisted ‘facts’. They are repeated thousands of times, over and over again, and as in Nazi Germany, they became truth: the globally accepted truth.

But even many left-wing intellectuals, as Badiou confirms, are readily accepting those re-invented and re-conditioned ‘facts’, although they also claim that they also know that the individuals and companies that are spreading them, have a clear interest in perverting the truth through their corporate media and corporate universities, which makes it all one great contradiction.

Working in all those places that are used as examples, as the ‘proof of evilness of Communism’, I can testify that the ‘facts’ presented by the Western propaganda apparatus, range from being inflated, to being absolute lies. That goes for Ukraine (including the ‘famine’ of the 1930’s), Cambodia, and North Korea, the Soviet Union’s gulags, the Chinese famine and the Cultural Revolution. Half-truth is, as we know, much more dangerous than outright falsehood.

To contradict those fabrications in one or two publications is pointless. It would be just you, and couple of those who know what you know, and are ready to risk everything and go public with it, against those hundreds of thousands repetitions and reprinted falsehoods, against their trolls, even their establishment academia and press. You cannot win.

I tried with the Rwanda genocide: that outright complex lie, manufactured by Western propaganda, which I have perfectly documented. You cannot win – trust me, even if you have unlimited evidence.

Then what else?

Would the books of confessions of those Western apparatchiks help? If Perkins failed, who can do better?

Investigative journalism? The same as academic writing: it does not seem to move anybody, anymore. Definitely not to ‘move them to action’…

I personally went through hell, through fire, and few of those sniper attacks, through death sentences and through being tortured, even being “disappeared” once… all this, in order to inform, to fire-up people, to outrage them, to piss them off. So they do their part and help to stop the genocides that I witnessed all over the world. But did I change much? Did I manage to stop Western invasions or to prevent their ‘coups’? I don’t think so…


I am giving up on journalism and on academic writing. I actually gave up on them, totally, at least two years ago.

I am back to where it all used to be, before corporate journalism. I am a left-wing writer and a filmmaker. I do not hide it; do not lie. That is what I am, and proud of it. Tradition is great, and I am honored by our tradition, too: from Hemingway and Orwell, to Ryszard Kapuściński and Wilfred Burchett!

I go to warzones to fight for revolution, to be in the resistance against imperialism. I don’t go there to ‘write objective articles’ (that stuff is total lunacy, ‘objective reports’). Tripods, computers, cameras, recorders – all of them are my weapons; our weapons.

In many of the places where I go, people are dying. Many of them are dying. Women are being ravished, villages and cities bombed and burned.

All of us, including Hemingway, Orwell and Burchett were, of course, artists and poets. And this is how they wrote.

And this is the conclusion to which I am now arriving:

When in war, when defending revolutions, when fighting imperialism: one has to be, and to write as a poet… Each report has to be part of a great novel which will be written in the future, or which is being written right there, as one prepares his or her reports. Otherwise it is all shit, and will touch nobody and change nothing.

This is where our only advantage is, against those corporate whores: we are human and alive and we have a heart that is on the left and blood that is red, and all that we do is because we love this world passionately… we love this humanity… and we fight and are ready to die for it.

Every report should have at least one poem hidden inside it. It has to touch. It has to offer warmth and relief, and it has to outrage and lead people onto the barricades.

We have to learn how to write like that, again. Otherwise everything is really lost!

And then, instead of recycling as those corporate scribes and academia do, we have to listen to the people, and not to the establishment, not to each other.

The greatest Latin American storyteller, Eduardo Galeano, once told me, deep in the wilderness of his old café in Montevideo: “Why do I write like this? Because I am a passionate listener.”

Yes. Human stories are subversive, honest and mostly revolutionary. If a writer truly listens to the people, he knows what to write and how. And he knows how to fight for the people and how to defend them, instead of serving corporations.

I listen, too. Wherever I go, I listen. I don’t watch television. Instead I listen to stories.

I have asked many questions today. I’m not sure I know the answers:

How to be effective? How to move people? How to inspire them, so they join the struggle for a better world, even if it were against their own immediate interests and privileges?

What I write is for you, my readers. I do not write in order to hear myself speak, but to convey to you what others have said, as well as how others are suffering and dreaming.

To quote a great poem and song by the Chilean artist, Violeta Parra:

Thanks to life, which has given me so much
It gave me laughter and it gave me longing
With them I distinguish happiness and pain
The two materials from which my songs are formed
And your song, as well, which is the same song
And everyone’s song, which is my very song

I want you to talk to me, my readers. I have written so much; you have read what I have written, patiently. Now write to me. I want to listen. How do we go forward? You and I, together… What touches you? What makes you cry? What would make you rise up and struggle for a better world? How do we coordinate our steps and walk forward, together?

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

 The Ukrainian civil war driven by the junta of the Kiev thugs and supported with arms and money by Washington, NATO and the European puppets, continues killing their country-men and women in the eastern Donbass area.  The Kiev army and death squads are accompanied by hundreds of Academi (former Blackwater) mercenaries and CIA advisors, mainly to make sure that the Kiev troops will not defect but execute their marching orders, namely fighting and killing their brothers and sisters, lest they risk being shot as traitors.

To be sure, the Kiev criminal army does not take prisoners; they kill them on the spot.

 Not to mention the hundred Ukrainians killed by the infamous Maidan snipers – by now known to be  US paid mercenaries, just a day before the illegal coup d’état of 22 February 2014, that brought to power the current neo-Nazi government.

More and more compassionate people around the world, including from hapless Europe, are becoming restless, asking impatiently – how much longer blood must flow? – When will Russia intervene? – A legitimate question, so it would appear from the outset.  Understandably, as the context is simple: the illegal ‘regime change’ was sponsored, paid for and instigated by the US / CIA / NATO / EU – and prepared during more than ten years at a cost of at least 5 billion dollars – as Madame Nuland boasted on several occasions.

This US / EU organized coup is now turning Ukraine, a once prosperous country, the breadbasket of the Soviet Union and the cradle of Russia into chaos, to become easy prey for the usual western money sharks, the IMF, European Commission (EC) and the European Central Bank (ECB). Behind them are the FED and Wall Street, to make sure they do as told. No mercy. For starters a US$ 17.5 billion IMF loan with the usual killer strings attached, à la Greece – large-scale privatization of the country’s social safety net, i.e. cutting salaries pensions (in half), food and fuel subsidies, increasing taxes – is rapidly becoming a nightmare for the average citizen and especially the poor.

In addition, a US / NATO sledgehammer style killing machine is launched against the ‘pro-Russian opposition’  movement, now also called the Neo-Rossiia Defense Force (NDF).

So – why is Mr. Putin not speaking up – acting up – saving fellow Russian lives? Why does he seemingly accept the sham election that brought the corrupt and corrupted multi-billionaire, chocolate magnate, Petr Poroshenko to power? – The straw in the wind, that bends to where the money flows?

There is a higher agenda at stake.

Ukraine is a mere square on the chessboard of a large-scale and long-term geopolitical game; one that is about to cause a slow but steady tectonic power shift. The symbiotic alliance between the two giants – Russia and China, the world’s largest economy, has been under preparation for the last couple of decades. It came to a sudden head thanks to Washington’s bullying arrogance, thrashing around with empty threats, worthless sanctions, anti-Russia and Putin demonizing lies and propaganda.

The historic signing on 21 May 2014 of the US$ 400 billion equivalent gas deal between Mr. Vladimir Putin and China’s President Xi Jinping had an important symbolic significance. It is a complement to the US$ 270 billion equivalent oil deal, signed in June 2013 between Russia’s Rosneft and China. The treaties are not denominated in dollars but in the two countries’ local currencies.  In a larger context, the – $ 400 billion over 30 years, about $ 13 billion per year – is nothing extraordinary. Russia’s annual trade in hydrocarbons alone is estimated at close to one trillion dollars.

However, the deal signals more than gas. It signals an alliance, a trusting and lasting partnership, beyond the Putin-Jinping generation. In parallel with the gas deal is the solidification of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian political, economic and military union founded in 1996 as the Shanghai Five – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, expanded in 2001 under the leadership of China to also include Uzbekistan.

To further solidify the Oriental pact is the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Created in 1992, it comprised Russia, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In 2012 Uzbekistan withdrew under pressure from the West, aiming to become associated with the EU. The current membership includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, with a rotating Presidency. Iran is a possible candidate to join this alliance of otherwise all former Soviet Republics.

In addition, and based on the idea of the European Union, on 29 May 2014, a day before the signing of the Russia-China gas deal, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) treaty was signed. The initial members include Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Provided the treaty is approved by the parliament of each government, the union will enter into effect on 1 January 2015 under the umbrella of the Eurasian Commission (modelled after the European Commission). It comprises 170 million people with an expected economic output of 2.7 trillion dollars equivalent. Further candidates to join the organization are Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

And then – there is the New Silk Road – recently announced by President Xi Jinping in Duisburg, Germany, inviting Germany to become the western-most link of the road connecting Russia, several of the former Soviet Republics and China.  Interested in joining this new alliance are also Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, all of which were present last week in the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, the Russian counterpart to Davos, when then New Silk Road was one of the priority topics.

The new Silk Road is poised to become a huge magnet for trade, attracting in the West most if not all of the current EU members – whose currently largest trading partner is Germany – and in the East it may reach as far north as Mongolia and as far east as Malaysia.

These alliances and partnerships for trade, security and cooperation are unions of mutual trust. Europe would do well to take a good look at what TRUST means. They would perhaps discover that NATO is but a neo-colonization of Europe, with the purpose of keeping Europe in the Anglo-Zionist sphere as a buffer zone, so to speak, between East and West, preventing them from ‘switching over’ to the rapidly growing Eurasia Economic Union which already now looks more attractive and promising for the future than the economically down-trodden EU in alliance with the US. Not to mention the attraction of the new Silk Road.

 Is it so hard to notice that the Washington – NATO gang are just a bunch of lies and broken promises? – Proven throughout the Cold War which was based on false anti-Soviet propaganda in order to bolster the US military industrial complex, already then the lifeline of the American economy and the basis for its wasteful consumer society.  Lies exacerbated by the broken promise in 1990 by James Baker, then US Secretary of State, to Soviet President Gorbachev that NATO would not expand eastwards? – A promise totally ignored when in 1999 NATO entered Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland, and in 2004 followed Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Besides, who could trust a nation with destabilizing counter-insurgency units deployed in 134 countries? – Last count, according to Joachim Hagopian, former West Point army officer -

The just congealed eastern-oriental union – SCO, CSTO, EEU and the New Silk Road – signify a geopolitical sea-change hard to swallow for Washington and its minion allies. They won’t let go easily. Their world vision, though short-sighted, is on global hegemony, control of the world’s resources, people and economies.

 Now – what if Mr. Putin would just for a moment sidestep from its long-term objective of peace and cooperation – and would intervene in Ukraine to safe lives? – Would he risk US-NATO retaliation, with Europe the cannon-fodder in between?

What are the Kremlin’s options, other than a direct involvement? – (i) an indirect engagement by arming Novorossiia to the teeth, pretty much as the US / NATO is doing with Kiev, or (ii) ride it out until the economic collapse of the dollar-linked Western world pulls with it the US / NATO military might – which might comprise significant collateral damage, including a mounting death toll in Ukraine, or (iii) a combination of both – arming NDF and inducing the economic collapse of the West, by the introduction of a new monetary / economic system, currently being prepared by the BRICS. This might at once reduce casualties in the Ukraine, as well as eliminating the chance of a new Cold War – CW II.

 Why? – Because for a CW II to flourish, the rest of the world needs to have confidence in the dollar, since the US printing machines would run amok churning out worthless greenbacks, flooding the ‘market’ as debt, expected to be absorbed by central banks as reserves. But this trust is gone, by most of the world. And those who still hope to get some ‘crumbs’ from the emperor loot for sticking to him until the very end, become fewer and farther in between. – Europe certainly is no longer solidly behind the White House with Obama’s bully tactics.  

 There is the risk that in last desperation Washington would trigger an all destructive nuclear war. This is doubtful, though, since the banking and corporate elite of the Anglo-Zionist Empire, those who pull the strings on Obama’s actions, are too self-centered to risk auto-destruction.

In the end, and seen with a bird’s eye Big-Picture vision, Ukraine may become the mere square on the chessboard where the arrogant and greedy Queen was lost to a humble but wise peon.

 Peter Koenig is an economist and former World Bank staff. He worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He writes regularly for Global Research,  ICH, the Voice of Russia and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe.

When mass shootings take place in the United States, corporate news media can almost uniformly be counted on to act as stenographers to power. They dutifully report exactly what they’re told by authorities with wholehearted trust and close to no due diligence. This appears to have been the case yet again in the May 23 Isla Vista California mass murder.

The public has been propagandized with a familiar storyline that law enforcement authorities have peppered with lurid details–including a disturbing “manifesto” and YouTube soliloquy from a well-to-do yet alienated man who had trouble forging relationships, so he went on a wild shooting spree then committed suicide.

[Image Credit: WXYZ]

Like numerous other tragic events that cry out for heightened measures against gun ownership, such as the Tucson shooting, the Sikh Temple bloodletting, the Aurora movie theatre massacre, and the Newtown school shooting, initial eyewitness accounts of what took place differ markedly from what news media presented in subsequent reports—those laid out in law enforcement press conferences just hours after the event.

Otto von Bismarck famously remarked, “Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.”

In a society where the Second Amendment and gun violence have been vigorously politicized by powerful “reformists” like billionaire Michael Bloomberg, Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Barack Obama, journalists might be well-served by keeping this dictum in mind.

[Image Credit: YouTube]

What became the acceptable storyline remains dubious given initial reports of the event. For example, Michael Vitak, a University of California Santa Barbara student from the Czech Republic, stated in a live televised interview that he saw more than one gunman–“’guys in a BMW. Maybe they were trying to prove they’re tough.’” Vitak claims to have witnessed the men shooting at two girls; one was shot dead, the other was critically injured. “I heard shots, screams, pain,” says Vitak. ‘All emotions. I hope she is going to be fine.’ Vitak asserts it was too dark to see the suspects’ faces.”[1]

Mr. Vitak was one of many bystanders who saw two men carry out the shootings. “Multiple witnesses say they saw two people inside the suspect’s vehicle,” Santa Barbara television station KEYT reported.[2] Another source conveyed how Santa Barbara County Sheriff public information officer Kelly Hoover confirmed that a second suspect had been apprehended.[3] Still, during an early press conference Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown would neither confirm nor deny whether there was a second suspect, only “that there are multiple scenes and multiple victims and that the situation is fluid.”[4]

Initial reports also describe the event as a series of “drive-by shootings,” including a documented instance of “hit and run … that left someone with major leg and head trauma.”[5] The Santa Barbara Independent also related “[a]necdotal yet unconfirmed reports” of bystanders “suggest[ing] that the vehicle involved was a black BMW with a passenger shooting a handgun.”[6]

Another witness identified as Sierra said “she was approached by two men in a black BMW. The driver flashed a small black handgun and asked ‘Hey, what’s up?’”[7] “Sierra” said at the time she believed it wasn’t a real gun and continued walking. “Seconds later, she could hear real bullets whistling past her. She managed to escape unharmed into a nearby home filled with strangers also seeking safety” reports.[8]

Perhaps in the midst of concerted activity and scant illumination multiple witnesses might of mistaken the number of individuals in a darkly-hued vehicle recklessly speeding by. Yet here is “Sierra”–a witness who claims to have encountered one of the assailants firsthand. One must therefore ask, Why, with such compelling witness accounts, has the ‘investigation’ been short-circuited in lieu of an arguably far less tenable, even sensationalistic storyline? Indeed, much like the estranged Adam Lanza, who similarly never lived to explain his motivations, the Elliot Rodgers motif closely aligns with gun control legislation and mental health protocols that powerful political interests are hell bent on achieving.

When this author contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s offices—Isla Vista’s law enforcement arm and the main agency involved in the inquiry—he was told that only those immediately involved in a crime may have access to an incident report, and with regard to the May 23 shooting such documentation would likely not be forthcoming even to those parties.

Initial witness recollections and those of press agent Hoover are corroborated in police dispatch audio, where officers are first cautious to enter into the immediate vicinity of the shootings. The crime scenes were ostensibly established within the jurisdiction of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff. Yet given the drastic circumstances it is difficult to imagine such parameters would be closely adhered to. In the captured audio an officer clearly states that “two suspects with gunshot wounds [are] in custody.”[9] Following the melee Hoover told the press that resources from throughout the county “were pouring into the neighborhood … to help with the investigation.”[10]

What adds further complexity to the case is that an elaborate “active shooter drill” involving multiple law enforcement agencies was scheduled to occur on May 28th at nearby Santa Barbara City College, where the alleged shooter was a student.[11]

Regardless, in the aftermath of such an event the public is fed what appears to be a ready-made narrative complete with an unusually outspoken parent who, alongside those from the Sandy Hook School massacre, appear to use such events for furthering a specific political agenda. Richard Ross Martinez, father of one of the reportedly slain students, is a practicing attorney. One must therefore ask why he himself hasn’t looked at the available data and seriously questioned what appears to be a botched probe, or perhaps even a coverup.

[Image Credit: University of California]

In the end, journalism today is so perversely craven and devoid of originality that editors happily toss documented facts and testimony down the memory hole, particularly when they are confronted with a surge of official statements supporting yet another “lone nut” storyline.[12] Under ideal circumstances such pronouncements would be met with skepticism and rigorous scrutiny. One is left to ponder whether there would be any difference between the present propagandistic features of news if journalism were subsumed and directly operated by the state.


[1] “Slideshow: Gunman Shoots and Kills Six in Isla Vista,” KEYT News, May 24, 2014.

[2] Ibid.

[3] “California Drive-By Shootings Leave Seven Dead,”, May 24, 2014.

[4] Tyler Hayden and Matt Kettmann, “Seven Dead, Seven Injured in Isla Vista ‘Mass Murder’ Shooting,” Santa Barbara Independent, May 23, 2014.

[5] “Slideshow: Gunman Shoots and Kills Six in Isla Vista.”

[6] Ibid.

[7] “California Drive-By Shootings Leave Seven Dead.”

[8] Chris Geo, “Elliot Rodgers Shooting-Second Shooter Confirmed, Active Shooter Drill at SBCC Scheduled for the Day After,” Truth Frequency Radio, May 26, 2014.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “California Drive-By Shootings Leave Seven Dead.”

[11] “Elliot Rodgers Shooting-Second Shooter Confirmed.”

[12] See James F. Tracy, “Eyewitnesses: Two Shooters Involved in UCSB Massacre,”, May 28, 2014.

 Mary Wells, where are you?

 I need that Motown chanteuse again to bolster my spirits in this month of the missing American Spring of 2014. I am still barely singing along to her “My Guy:”

 I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day

When it’s cold outside

I’ve got the month of May

The month of May is here and will soon be gone, with a May winter every other day here in New York following every occasional outbreak of seasonal warmth. We know the planet is warming, but I have yet to feel it with any regularity in my neighborhood.

Worse that that, the cold outside is not just the zigzagging temperatures, but the sense that we are stuck in a political Ice Age where change of the kind that we will soon be discussing, again and again, ad finitem, at yet another Left forum is more remote than ever. While the Left talks, the Right mobilizes, certainly in Europe, save austerity-devastated Greece.

Here, the Tea Party wing nuts have all but conquered the Repugs, bolstered by new court rulings that allow their funders to buy what’s still on sale in our political oligarchy in this Republic of Fear.

 The Obamanauts are done. They can’t steer the ship of state. They are even website challenged and health care damaged. Their Ukraine adventure boomeranged, leaving only half a country that needs to render unto Putin more than chocolate. They have driven the bear into his own China pivot, far more lucrative than ours, with warning bells now ringing on every front as the president still yearns for an American “exceptionalism” that is anything but, if not a mirage.

Their co-optation was a willing one, part of the game, and no longer even apologized for. Forget the Hopium. There is always a threat from the right to justify their moving right.

Who, among us, still has illusions?

Even as the spying goes on, sucking up and storing all the big data it can find, the corporations are now out-hoovering the NSA, better to manipulate the marketplace, that is, if the consumertariat has any money left to spend.

We have just passed a turning point with student debt pulling past mortgage debt in the race to the bottom.

 Now, even as Snowden boasts he was a spy, not a little guy, and wants to come home, the government is outing its own, beating Wikileaks to the punch.

 You can’t make this up.

Here, meet our super spook station chief.

It’s hard to keep a good conspiracy theory going when the espionage business seems to be having such hard times too, caught up in its own Dante-like circles of paranoia, unable to forecast much and doomed to making old mistakes.

There are more mathematicians on the payroll at Fort Meade spy central than ever but what is it adding up to: more scoops for Glenn Greenwald & Co and more displays of craven collusion by his puffed up critics in the increasingly detestable press?

For a corrective, listen to James Howard Kuntsler, who likes to delve into what he calls the “Deep State:”

“I like to say that I’m allergic to conspiracy theories because human beings are generally too inept to carry out schemes at the grand scale, as well as being poor secret-keepers. Insider knowledge is almost always swapped around, even in secretive organizations, often recklessly so, because doling it out confers status, tactical advantage, and sometimes money for the doler-outer. But the Deep State isn’t a secret. It operates in plain sight…

“It’s worse than ever, especially having engaged in two major fiascos on Asian soil the past decade, pointless escapades that cost the lives of 8,000 soldiers in action, many more maimed for life, and in suicides of servicemen returning home in despair to a spavined economy and the manifold indignities of a cruel and incompetent veterans’ bureaucracy completely unable to care for their needs.”

 Besides wishing I could write like that, I have to acknowledge that he sees how bad it is, and that it is becoming worse, especially when you factor in climate change and planetary peril. What problems are being solved? How many new operating systems do we need for our Iphones? What will Apple’s acquisition of Beats do for our culture except give us new ways to surround our brains with richer sound to keep us from feeling the pain?

Whatever happened to technologies that liberate the human spirit?

I want to feel hopeful, but as I look around, it’s harder and harder to feel optimistic, expert perhaps to cheer on what resistance we see among fast food workers, and others trying to save the internet from the deals that have gone down or are about to go down.

• There is no neutrality in the war to save the net.

• Can the Commissars of Comcast be stopped? I doubt it, given how many lobbyists they have spreading lucre in all the right places.

 • The Afghan war will someday end only to see a new army of contractors replace the uniforms, as they did in Iraq, bringing the world’s first civilization to its lowest point ever.

 A wise man once asked, “What is to be done?” Good question, still.

 We can’t give up. We know the state, deep or not, is cracking, but will it crack before we do?

 We know the ice is melting, and the politricians are lying, while so many of us are sighing, but with plenty of fight still in us.

 As the surveillance state watches us, we have to return the favor and watch it more closely.

 Has the time for a new upsurge come? Or was the Egypt Spring the ultimate warning of how easily the muscle men in the shadows can turn it all around, no matter the cost in lives and possibility?

Sometimes, the fight back doesn’t happen until it’s almost too late, until the obscenity of it all is too much to take, or rationalize.

 I know all this easy for me to say. All I seem to have these days is this keyboard to crank out more condemnations and calls to action, knowing full well, as I do it, that I don’t know what else to do. I am compelled to make media, compelled to do what I can, thinking modestly that perhaps somewhere, in hearts I don’t know, words or images can still stir souls to rise.

 Somehow, even as I age, I’ve still got sunshine on a cloudy day.

 Say goodbye to the month of May.

 News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at He edits, writes books and is making a TV series on spying, Comments to [email protected].

The Battle for Justice in Palestine

May 31st, 2014 by Jim Miles

Obama’s plan: Let Netanyahu and Abbas “stew in their juices”,  Senior White House official tells Haaretz U.S. president hopes that after a few months with no negotiations and less U.S. involvement, both sides will understand it is in their interest to renew talks. 

With the peace talks being dead, what happens in Israel/Palestine?  Settlements will continue to be built, dispossession will continue against Palestinians, slowly the “apartheid” context of Israel will become more and more obvious.

While the peace talks were in process, The Battle for Justice by Ali Abunimah was published and pre-emptively indicated that the peace process is/was essentially over and done with regardless of ongoing talks.  The main context of the book is of the elements of apartheid and the associated boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) that is sending disconcerting messages to all the pro-Israeli/anti-Palestinian two staters.  Not that a two state solution has not been possible in the past, but that it is beyond being a possibility now, leaving essentially two solutions, a single apartheid state (the considered de facto state as it is now) that is proclaimed to be Jewish, or a state with democracy inclusive of equal rights for all its citizens.

In the preface, Abunimah indicates that the Palestinians are winning – not necessarily on the ground where settlements, annexation, blockades, and military rule remains – but winning in the general knowledge of the world from the impact of the BDS movement.  The real indicator to this are the many methods and great amount of money and time that is being used to discredit the BDS movement in particular within the U.S.


As the U.S. is Israel’s largest benefactor, the work starts with a comparison of Israel and the U.S., not the usual demographic statistics (although those are interesting as well), but a comparison based on racial considerations.  Racial profiling, discriminatory laws and courts,  and the disproportionate prison populations that result, the huge industry of security and surveillance, and the training of security forces (for “interoperability”) all play into the comparison.

The underlying basis for it is the colonial-settler mindset:  in the U.S. it is African-american/first nations subject to discrimination; in Israel it is Arabs/Palestinians facing discrimination.  A populist fear factor from this racial bias (crime, drugs, terror, religion) assists with the cowing and manipulation of the colonial-settler population.

Demographics and apartheid

Demographics is the main concern of Israel.  It is the real threat to a “Jewish and democratic state”.  Israel does not want two states as that removes part of Eretz Israel from its domain.  At the same time, a one state solution being Jewish and democratic is not possible with a resident population of Palestinians that is overtaking the Israeli population.  As argued by Abunimah, “The already present reality is a de facto binational state, albeit with apartheid conditions, throughout historic Palestine.”

Two other apartheid states are used as a comparison for Abunimah’s arguments for a one state solution that overcomes apartheid.  South Africa and Northern Ireland provide his case, the former an obvious racial apartheid state, the latter a perhaps not so obvious religious apartheid state.  The main commonalities to sustain the apartheid status are the creation of the ‘other’ as a mortal threat against a superior society, a demographic threat  (obvious in South Africa with its much larger black population), and the creation of a sense of victimhood, that the ‘other’ is the cause of the problems.

The section ends with a return to a comparison within the U.S. of economic apartheid, an awareness of the economic “Jim Crow” that exists in the U.S. and a recognition that South African apartheid was rescinded based on the accession to the Washington consensus economic agenda of neo-liberalism – in other words, the economic status quo of white control would not be interfered with.

Neoliberal Palestine

One of the more interesting parts of the discussion is that of the neoliberal economic patterns that have been imposed on Palestine, especially in the West Bank, although Gaza’s status as a large concentration camp hanging in isolation could be a forewarning of what might come to the U.S. homeland concept of neoliberalism.  Regardless of that speculation on my part, Abunimah examines what he calls Fayyad-ism.  Salam Fayyad has in the meantime resigned as Prime Minister, a position that he was not elected for (as no member of the current Palestinian governance has been elected).

As a digression from reviewing to commentary, the New York Times described Fayyad in very positive terms,

Mr. Fayyad, an American-educated economist, had gained the confidence of the West and of many Israelis, building up the credibility of the Palestinian Authority by introducing transparency, accountability and stability. Since being appointed to the premiership in 2007, he has championed law and order in the West Bank after years of chaos and focused on building the institutions of a future state.

The New York Times comment is typical neoliberal hogwash, extolling the virtues of “transparency, accountability and stability” without any sign of any of them.  And while he has “has championed law and order in the West Bank” it has been for his Israeli masters at the expense of the Palestinians people, other than the select few PA associates who manage the money.

The Guardian provided a bit of a rejoinder to that rhetoric,

A former World Bank economist, Fayyad was appointed by a presidential executive order in 2007 following the collapse of the Palestinian national unity government and Hamas taking control of the Gaza Strip. While he was one of the few senior politicians to frequently visit marginalised communities and ask after their concerns, tax and commodity price hikes repeatedly stoked angry street protests against him.

Palestinian unemployment has risen to almost 25% and real GDP growth is set to fall from an average of 11% in 2010-11 to just 5% in 2013, according to the World Bank.

Apart from the statistics, which coming from the World Bank are presumably rigged as most western economic statistics are rigged, Fayyad was obviously not as popular at home as he was within Israeli circles and international economic circles.

Abunimah provides a clear deconstruction of the economic miracle that was supposedly created in the West Bank.  He describes Fayyadism as “glittering illusions” from a “credit fuelled consumptive binge” that depended on foreign aid and credit plus a  repressive police state apparatus…to suppress and disarm any resistance to Israeli occupation and to crush internal Palestinian dissent and criticism with increasing ferocity.

Should these policies continue, Palestinians “can only look forward to new, more insidious forms of economic and political bondage.”

The poverty, debt, and dependence created by the neoliberal policies is discussed, highlighting the lack of employment , no real development (i.e. of a manufacturing/industrial/agricultural sense), no direct investment, easy credit  creating more debt than income, a high level of inequality, all based on a “construction and consumption binge fueled by easy credit and foreign aid [Qatar and U.S.].”

A new Palestinian settlement of Rawabi highlights the effort to “mask and normalize the worst abuses of occupation.”  Fittingly, U.S. style mortgages are considered a “soft power tool” for “explicitly political goals” that “advances U.S. foreign policy.”  The economic plans demonstrate a “close integration between the aid and NGO industries…and the advance of neoliberal economics and U.S. hegemony” using policies formulated with the PA elites “behind closed doors with no transparency or democratic process.”

Normal Neoliberalism?

Another aspect of economic normalization (recall that “normalization” was a major part of the reason for the first Intifada) in its current status is allowing Israeli companies to operate in the West Bank, “almost all of which are complicit in Israel’s occupation, apartheid, and denial of fundamental human rights.”

It is a form of Shock Doctrine as described by Naomi Klein, wherein a powerful ruling alliance between a few large corporations and a class of wealthy politicians..facilitated by brutal force, a usurpation of democratic rules and torture…a silent partner in the global free market crusades.”

Two final constructs of neoliberalism are presented.  First is the destruction of the economic infrastructure (among other structures) of Gaza, forcing it into a literal underground economy now highly constricted by the new neoliberal order within the Egyptian junta.  Secondly, the creation of industrial zones and free market zones serves as a means of controlling and then annexing more and more Palestinian territory.

All this is done for the benefit of large corporations (beyond the obvious benefits to Israel).  These zones create areas where Israel and corporations “operate in exploitive ways forbidden in their home territories.”  It is time, argues Abunimah, to

abandon the illusion that the formal recognition of a Bantustan-like Palestinian state alongside Israel would do anything to free Palestinians from an exploitative economic system that is already deeply entrenched.

As a final note on the never say die neoliberal order, the U.S. has plans to continue with their neoliberal shock doctrine if the two sides start negotiations anew,

In addition, the White House is pleased both with the plan drawn up by General John Allen, which proposes security arrangements for a two-state reality, and with the plan to restore and upgrade the Palestinian economy – devised by the U.S. administration, the quartet envoy Tony Blair and private sector representatives. These two plans “can be put back in the mix if the parties are willing to come back to the table seriously,” the official said.

I defer to the reader’s intelligence and the above comments when considering that perspective.


It was the South African BDS movement that finally caused the country to make a volte face and get rid of its political apartheid structures, unfortunately replacing them with economic apartheid.  Israel is facing a burgeoning movement that borrows heavily from that success, adapting it as necessary for the slightly different situations.

This is where Abunimah sees the win, the growing awareness of Israeli actions brought about by the BDS movement, and ironically, Israel’s attempts to discredit it.  Israel realized early that it could not argue “the facts” against the BDS as it was the very facts on the ground that provided the support for the campaign.  They have also realized that trying to argue the victim role has had little effect again in consideration of these very facts.  Instead Israel has changed to ideological arguments that attempt to deny the validity of the people supporting BDS and to hasbara, a public relations efforts to disseminate abroad positive information.

Israel sees the BDS movement as “deligitimization”, another “existential threat” that is coalescing with the one state solution by “undermining moral legitimacy…constraining military activities, destroying Israel’s image.”  To counter this they have used a variety of tactics in various situations.

Much of it has to do with rebranding.  This includes ‘pinkwashing’ attempting to present Israel as a liberal haven for the LGBT community.  It also includes ‘greenwashing’, a “propaganda campaign of smoke and mirrors to conceal some of Israel’s most troubling, environmentally destructive and criminal activities, many directly linked to military occupation and colonization.”

One of the largest areas of countering BDS is within the universities of the U.S., the “David Project”.  This program targets teachers and students, it attempts to intimidate institutions, misuses civil rights laws, and attempts to criminalize campus behaviours.  A relatively long comparison is made between these actions and the U.S./Arizona actions with Hispanics, including walls along the Mexican border and the ‘other’ described as ‘terrorists’.


As per Israeli sources, the negative view of Israel is increasing, in a “finding that indicates that public opinion is sharply out of step with official government policy.”  No surprise there. Netanyahu has indicated the “its not about the facts, its about the defamation of Israel,” that it is an “image problem.”  Again very similar to U.S foreign policy.

The Reut Institute, “a nonpartisan and nonprofit policy think tank in Tel Aviv designed to provide real-time, long-term strategic decision-support to Israel,”  “tacitly conceded that resistance to Israel is based on genuine and justifiable grievances and the denial of Palestinian rights.”

In essence, BDS has shifted the focus of debate from that of Israeli victimhood and the virtues of neoliberal democracy to that of the voice of the Palestinian people.

The end of the two state solution’s endless negotiations and the increasing awareness created by the BDS movement highlight problems brought about by Israel onto itself.

The Battle for Justice in Palestine is a well referenced, well written, and well argued presentation on the current state of affairs in Palestine.  It is a strong update to events within that particular sector of global ideological manipulations.

Russia and China are both under attack by a multi-pronged U.S.-led ‘proto-war’ which could erupt into ‘hot war’ or even nuclear war.   ‘Protowar’ or ‘proto-warfare’ is the term I have coined to describe the use of multiple methods intended to weaken, destabilize, and in the limit-case destroy a targeted government without the need to engage in direct military warfare.

Protowar methods include threats against the targeted country; economic sanctions; military encirclement around its borders. cyber-warfare, drone warfare, and use of proxy forces from within or from outside the country for political and/or military action against the local government.

U.S.-led protowars also invariably include propaganda campaigns against the targeted governments. The media campaigns are  waged by the five giant media conglomerates which now control 90% of the U.S. media and which are directly  linked to the U.S. foreign-policy establishment through various means including corporate memberships in the Committee for Foreign Relations.

You can recognize these media campaigns because they frequently employ the words ‘human rights’ or ‘democracy’ as the pretext  for U.S. state protowars against other countries.  Sometimes, of course, these words cannot possibly be applied at all, as in the massive support currently given to the murderous military dictatorship in Egypt or the midevilist kingdom of Saudi Arabia.  In these cases  the U.S. media and government substitute the words ‘U.S. National Interest’ for ‘human rights’ as the pretext for targeting another country.

Proto-warfare often precedes, or leads up to, hot wars, as when a decade of economic sanctions, media demonization, and media-supported lies about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ led up to the Iraq war.   Thousands of young American men and women were sent over to kill and be killed, or to be injured or traumatized, to say nothing of the up to a million Iraqis who died as a result of the war.  However, Iraq did not possess nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction, so there was no danger of a nuclear conflagration.   Matters are much different with respect to Russia and China, both nuclear powers.

The ProtoWar Against Russia and China

U.S.-led proto-warfare against Russia and China has a number of elements.  To begin with, it conforms to two popular doctrines in U.S. foreign policy circles.  The first doctrine states that the U.S. must never allow another super-power to emerge, and must remain the unchallenged dominant force on Earth.  This doctrine is clearly set-out in the original version of the U.S. Defence Department policy document  known as ‘the Wolfowitz doctrine:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

The document containing this statement and similar notions was changed for public consumption after the original provoked an outcry when it was leaked to the press.

The second doctrine underpinning proto-warfare against Russia and China is that U.S. dominance of the planet depends on control of the Eurasian land mass, on which Russia and China occupy key positions.  This doctrine has been heavily  promoted by  former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.  “For America,”  he has written, ” the chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia… Eurasia is the globes largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the worlds’ three most advanced and economically productive regions… Eurasia is thus the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.

In pursuit of Eurasian dominance a whole gamut of protowar tools are now being used by the U.S. in its campaigns against Russia and China.  Militarily, the U.S.-led Nato military alliance has progressively squeezed Russia’s’ strategic space by enlisting one former Russian aligned state in Eastern Europe after another.  Now, with a U.S.-supported coup-imposed government in power in Kiev, there is open talk of Nato also incorporating Ukraine, a country right on Russia’s’ border.

To help U.S.  readers understand the significance of Natos’ movement around Russia, imagine that from South America, up through central America, and up to Mexico and Canada, one country after another was being integrated into a Russian-dominated military system.

Other current protowar actions against Russia include economic sanctions; the use of the Ukraine crisis as a pretext to mobilize more U.S. and other Nato forces in Eastern Europe for purposes of intimidating or threatening Russia; and the publication by the U.S. media conglomerates of an unending series of lies, half-truths, and obscurantism’s regarding the Ukraine, in order to demonize Russia and prepare the U.S. public to accept whatever actions the U.S. state and military chooses to take.  .

On the other side of Eurasia, U.S. military encirclement of China has also recently proceeded apace.   Military bases and transfers of billions of dollars in military equipment have been positioned around China for years in areas such as South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.

Now, with the Obama administrations’ so-called ‘pivot to Asia’, a new more ambitious program called ‘Air-Sea battle plan’ involves deployment of large amounts of very hi-tech military systems and equipment in the pacific area all aimed at China.

At the same time, new U.S. military bases are being opened across the Pacific arena, from the Philippines to Australia, with no other conceivable target but China.

In conjunction with this Pacific military build-up, the U.S.state is attempting to use previously minor disputes over ownership of maritime resources to turn a number of smaller Asian nations into proxies to help it destabilize China.  These nations include Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines.  By offering its support, and in some cases promises of military assistance in any maritime conflict with China, the U.S. has stoked the ambitions and aggressive nationalist tendencies of these smaller nations vis-a-vis China.

Coinciding with the military build-up against China is extensive cyber-penetration of China by the U.S. NSA (National Security Agency), as revealed by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

This penetration includes wholesale capture of hundreds of thousands or millions of Chinese mobile text messages; the monitoring of mobile phone conversations of Chinese leaders; and serious intrusions into the computer network backbone system of Beijings’ Tsinghua university, which is linked to large numbers of Chinese research centers including labs engaged in sensitive military-related work.

The NSA has also penetrated and compromised the server computers made by Chinese Huaweii, a giant telecommunications equipment and networking company, whose equipment is used throughout China and around the world.

It should be noted – and emphasized – that the U.S. government has never apologized or stated that these cyber-attacks on China will stop.

Other U.S.attempts to destabilize China include political and economic support for separatist movements by some members of ethnic minorities in the Chnese provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet.   Since the 1950′s, first the CIA and later the so-called “National Endowment for Democracy’, which is funded by the U.S. government, have transferred millions of dollars to the so-called Tibetan government-in-Exile in India. Both sets of money transfers are in the public domain, due to the U.S. freedom of information act.

At the same time, a so-called ‘East Turkistani Government In Exile’ claiming to represent XInjiang province was formed in Washington DC in 2004.  On his way to the Beijing Olympics in 2008l, then President George W. Bush stopped by the see one of the leaders-in-exile  of the Xinjaing separatist movement.

To put all these U.S. protowar actions against China in perspective, we need to consider who is really the aggressive actor in Asia.  The U.S. has over 650 military bases in other peoples’ countries, including Asia, while China has none.   The U.S. is impinging militarily and politically in China’s backyard; China is not interfering in U.S. relations or military activities in the U.S. backyard.  The U.S. has a doctrine of global supremacy; China has no such doctrine and basically wishes to be left alone to develop economically and to engage in economic trade with other nations.

The danger of the U.S.Eurasian protowar erupting into hot war – or even nuclear war – stems from a single factor:  Previous U.S.-led protowars which erupted into hot wars were against countries like Serbia, Iraq, or Libya.  Those countries did not have nuclear weapons and could not effectively defend themselves against U.S. military and other pressures   Russia and China are in a different category – they are nuclear- armed and can defend themselves.

The U.S. state presumably does not intend to provoke a hot war with Russia and China.. But directing intensive protowar against powerful nuclear-armed states is to risk the possibility of ‘sleep walking’ into the abyss through miscalculation, or through a gradual hightening of conflicts which finally go out of control. . In 1914, with the European powers of the day already on edge, it took just the assassination of a minor duke in a peripheral country to trigger World War I.   As an old adage has it, “If you play with fire, you may get burned.”

 Both NATO and the European Union, respectively, have attempted to unite Europe once again, and for that matter, once and for all.  NATO, however, struggled in the summer of 1997 to decide who belonged to the “West” during the altered political economy of the 1990’s. Given that NATO, a militaristic alliance formed as a counter-force to Warsaw Pact countries—that those Warsaw Pact no longer existed, and the fact post-World War II Europe had supposedly had enough war—political-economic solidarity as exemplified by the European Union seemed inevitable. 

Nonetheless, many claimed that the real risk for an enlarged European Union was not the chasm between old European coordinates and new European coordinates. Instead, some speculated that amid a changing set of shifting alliances across different policy issues, Europe will fail to find strategic direction. Why?  Because it would be naïve to say that the NATO vision and European Union was simply a question of who was in and who was out.

The fate of Europe brings to the forefront three questions that have plagued Europe for thousands of years: ‘who is European, what does it mean to be European, and most importantly, what do Europeans envision themselves to be? At the center of all such inquiry, “European subjectivity,” drenched in a multiplicity of ideological, religious, conceptual, social and economic factors, unflinchingly, ruptures into a series of political moments that are ambiguously correlative to those conditions that provoke them to exist.

Whereas liberal-democratic capitalism, after the fall of Berlin Wall, appears to have “won,” as Fukuyama claimed, in May 2004, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia have all joined “Europe.” But are these Eastern European, former Communist countries, also, also indirectly shaping European subjectivity, if as Rumsfeld claimed “the center of gravity” was moving East, we can only speculate what New Europe will be like and what are the strengths and weaknesses of those speculations.

In his reading of “EU integration,” Peter van Ham argues that even though the task in question could be taken to mean many things—“long term socio-economic convergence among European societies. . . the process of co-operation among European nation-states and regions— that the “different meanings of the European concept “do not necessarily have to develop in a harmonious fashion” (Ham 58).  Ham points out that state-formation and nation-formation have not run parallel. That is, if state-formation is defined as an infrastructure of governance based on law a constitution, “the EU has already made significant progress”(58). In other words, Ham is keenly aware that forming laws and creating an infrastructure for those laws to be carried are already en route, though the question of ‘European identity’ has not.  To definitively demarcate the “non-parallelism” between nation and state formation, Ham writes

 When we define nation-formation as the development of a European culture and consciousness within a ‘cognitive region,’ the EU remains rather backward.  In the history of Europe the consolidation of state and nation has in many cases run parallel, but it has also run out of sync.

The Polish state, for example, did not exist for several centuries, but the Polish nation has always persisted.  The Soviet Union, on the other hand, has survived seven decades without the development of a coherent robust Soviet ‘nation.’  (Ham 58)

Ham, invoking Ferdinand Tönnies, insists the debate about European identity can summed up by understanding two distinct types of social organization, Gemeinshaft and Gesellschaft. That is, Gemeinshaft, or ‘community’ in German,

“relates to a certain sense of belonging based on shared loyalties, norms, and values, kinship or ethnic ties. . . [an] organic association based on a priori unity” (59).  Gesellshaft, ‘society,’ on the other hand, “relates to the idea that people as individuals remain independent of each other, but may decide in a ‘social contract…to group together. . . ‘a convention’” (59).

Applying these definitions to the EU, then, Ham claims that the EU certainly is “no a truly European Gemeinshaft., a community.  “Contemporary Europe shows a diversity of peoples and communities with only marginally overlapping points of references” (59).  In other words, Ham insists that although the two types of social organization are, more or less, sometimes in discord, before envisioning a “European community’ one must primarily read the EU as a political-monetary ‘society.’

Tracking the evolution of ‘European project,’ a project that was the “product of the Cold War, launched by the integrative stimulus of the Marshall plan. . .hatched under the military wings of the US and NATO,”  Ham indicates that Europe recognized that “the nation-state was the main source of the hatred and war among European peoples” (64).  In other words, the vision, so to speak for the creation of such a ‘society’ was initially “founded on the notion that European integration is a means to promote peace, rather than merely an economic program to guarantee prosperity” (64). Ham, however, sees the issue of identity as one that should be problematized. He writes:

But what if this national Self, this national identity, does not really exist, cannot be discovered, and isactually made and continuously remade?  This would render national and European identity more complex and turn into something looser, as a aggregate of methods and policies, of clusters of rulesand regulations that ceaselessly interact in a prosaic process with the uncountable other facts off everyday life.  Identity must not necessarily be considered a gift and an inborn and primordial quality, but as a dynamic process that requires enormous energy to maintain and that will never be fully ‘complete” (65)

Ham points out that what is commonly referred to as ‘identity politics’, therefore, has “been a strategy and compensatory technique to draw attention to underprivileged groups, and it has often led to more fragmentation, divisiveness and continuous lack of unity” (69)  In other words, according to Ham, national identity contradicts the very tenets of the vision for the EU, as outlined by the participants at the Congress of Hague in 1948. Ham, flat-out rejects “static” definitions of identity.  That is, Ham, who draws a distinction between community and society, insists nationality or national identification may be an impasse to European unity, but it is a superficial one, at best.  In other words, even though political-economic ‘society’ of Europe does not be “harmonious” and can run counterpoint to national identity, it must be taken as a given that such an “identity” of is constantly being constructed and rearranged.

‘Identity politics’ as it stands within the European conceptual domain, for Ham, more or less, “creates and perpetuates an understanding of public identity composed of the suffering self: the oppressed are innocent selves defined by the wrongs done to them” (69).  Ham, therefore, understands Gemeinshaft, ‘community,’ that which elucidates national and/or ethnic identity runs into a certain risk within the context of the European Union, because “ it would merely legitimize exclusion based on clear-cut division between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ especially since the social construction of identity is such an indivisible part of the discourse on security” (71).

Whereas Peter von Ham demarcates the distinction between national and/or ethnic identity and political-economic identity, seeing ‘identity politics’ as an impasse to be overcome, other scholars, such as Riva Kastoryano, have focused on such an impasse in its legal dimension. Citizenship, the political construction of the EU, Kastoryano claims, like Ham, runs messily parallel to the nation-state issue  “These two phenomena,” Kastoryano claims, “which are a priori separate, raise the question of the relevance of the nation-state and its constitutive elements. . .as well as that of the relation of nation-states and citizenship to identity (Kastoryano 120).  Kastoryano hones in on France and Germany in particular, underscoring that while France

“is typically represented as an instance of the ideal nation-state. . .on account of its commitment to egalitarian principles. . .national assimilation,” Germany, on the other hand, “is considered ‘exclusivist’ because of the significance accorded to criteria of membership based on ancestry” (121).

A child born to foreign parents, under French citizenship laws, for example, can become “French” at the age of sixteen.  A child born in Germany, on the other hand, after the year 2000 is “automatically German if one of its parents was born in Germany or has resided in the country without interruption during the previous eight years” (121).  Kastoryano, then, unlike Ham, emphasizes that “politics and the rights of citizenship, particularly in relation to the strategies and degree of participation of immigrants, have a vital impact”(120).

In other words, for Kastoryano, because the

“politics of citizenship pertains to agents’ political engagement, to their participation in public space. . .the multiple allegiances resulting from political participation raise the question of an individual’s belonging and loyalty to the national community” (121). 

France and German (Rumsfeld’s old Europe), particularly in those instances which rely on confronting immigration issues and citizenship, have different conceptions of “being French,” of “being German.” Kastoryano, in this vein, claims that the

“triple link between citizenship, nationality, and identity. . .the link between a political community and cultural community, functions as a source of right and legitimacy, and the latter as source of identity” (122).

In short, whereas Ham  employs the Gemeinshaft/Gesellschaft bifurcation, positing the distinction between political-economic and non-political-economic identification, Kastoryano emphasizes legitimacy as one that runs to the political-economic dimension, and “identity’ as not necessarily running into that dimension. Like Ham, Kastoryano, insists the cultural identity is distinct from citizenship, from nationality.  Kastoryano writes:

The separation of three of the nation-state’s constitutive elements—citizenship, nationality, and  identity—(the fourth being territory) is reinforced by the political construction of Europe.  In fact, political participation within the European Union multiplies the memberships and allegiances of individuals and groups and increases the ambiguity between citizenship and nationality, between rights and destiny, and between politics and culture (122)

Like Ham, then, Kastoryano insists that  “European society” and  “European community” are ambiguously concurrent with one another.  That is, the “political construction of Europe,” specifically in those instances where“political participation. . .multiplies the memberships and allegiances of individuals,” according to both scholars, is further problematized, particularly in those instances when citizenship might not entail ethnic belonging, where “legitimacy” might run counterpoint to “destiny,” where political-economic identification might have absolutely nothing to do with ‘identity’ in any “strict” sense of the word.  However, in Kastoryano’s account, there indeed is no clear picture on what this parallelality, between citizenship and identity, signifies, given the various conceptualizations of immigrant status among countries already in the so-called European ‘society.’  Ham claims:

. . .European identity will not have to be modeled on the national identities that we know now.

Instead, it should be focused on a set of shared values that underpin (or at least most) European cultures.  It should be associated with the idea that there is certain ‘European way of life,’ analogous to the ‘American way of life’ that has become one the instrumental myths of the United States’ culture of capitalist individualism. Europe’s identity would than (sic) be molded on the belief that Europe has found a unique balance between ‘market’ and ‘social protection;’a unique balance between ‘commerce’ and ‘culture,’ between ‘capitalism’ and ‘socialism…’

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your perspective, such a ‘European way of life’ does not really exist…the process of Europeanization remains an elite-driven project (73).

In light of these two scholars’ claims, who correctly point out the problems inherent in political-economic, and cultural identifications, stressing how these spheres of identity are not always “harmonious,” are “ambiguous,” it would be difficult to deny that the parallelality between the political-economic apparatus will not, at time butt heads, with ethnicity.  Kantian cosmopolitanism, universalism, European “inclusiveness,” the vision for “a New Europe,” which Ham, correctly points out, remains “elite-driven project,” will never ‘materialize’ unless nationality and ethnicity can be at least loosely reconciled, subsumed, partitioned, so to speak, for the sake of political-economic solidarity.  That is, if “the European way of life” truly does not exist as Ham insists, and ‘identity politics,’ according to Kastoryano, surfaces within respective nation-state contexts—-some which uphold “legitimacy” based on ancestry, others upholding more a more egalitarian approach—perhaps the nationality question needs to be probed all the more.  If in the nation-state context, as Kastoryano points out, identity and citizenship, in respect to one country to another differ, how is one to place the different nation-states into Europe as whole? Has Europe not repeatedly attempted to “unify”—i.e. the Crusades in wake of the Schism of 1054, the Counter-Reformation in wake of the Protestant Reformation, Napoleon in the wake of monarchy?

Moreover, political, religious, secular identifications, in its various forms, however inconsistent or shifty, within the European Union, should look outside “old Europe,” perhaps, to better “see” itself.  In fact, a Eurocentric subject-positioning (creating Others to know what Europe is or represents) might even be indispensable in integrating “Europe.”  Such an irony might only anger much of the financial and academic elites in Europe, who insist they are beyond their Eurocentricism and are transparent to themselves, no longer want to fight, wanting to unify, to talk, negotiate. Philosophers like Habermas, for example, have already began promoting the importance of “communicative action,” a universe of discourse to be opened up for the sake of perpetually defining various dimensions of identification, so there is no confusion among Europeans.  Unfortunately, unless Eurocentric tunnel vision does not become self-critical, the preferred approach, reinforcing Rousseau-esque, Kantian ideals, “shoulds” and “oughts,” “argue as much as you like, but obey” would prove naught save “talk.”  That is, reconciling citizenship, and civic duty, nationality, ethnicity, by applying French and German standards to Europe, to put it bluntly, in affect, coordinates European integration as some kind of Post-Cold War Enlightenment project. Hugh Miall and Robert McKinlay, for example, underscore that:

The European Union now embodies…liberal principles in its treatises: ‘the Union is founded on the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law, principle which are common to the member States.’ No other institution comes so close to Kant’s aspirations for a European confederation of republics with a juridical basis that aims at a state of perpetual peace among its members (243).

In this respect, if “perpetual peace” is the state of the art, and the “confederation of republics” is what European integration entails, perhaps, one should then look to Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Russia as examples.  Was not the Soviet system a single political-economic apparatus, inclusive of nationality and ethnicity?  Does the disintegration of the former-Yugoslavia not elucidate that ethno-nationalism involves “choice” just as much citizenship, rather than the kind of “static” identification that Ham of which directly opposes? Despite “obvious” ideological disparities with Western Europe, some of which, of course, are not stark ones, Eastern Europe and Russia, quite frankly, if anything, are worth exploring to some extent for the purposes of understanding how a political-economic apparatus can very well be (in)compatible between ethnic, cultural, or “community” oriented identifications.  But how does this underscore the hypessentiality found within Eurasian/Slavic peoples in respect to Western temporality and progress? 

Bearing in mind how the Western gaze falls upon these countries, not only for prospective inclusion, but also through Western cultural influence (Coca-Cola, Hollywood, etc.), if anything Western ideology is now subversively  commingling with Eastern European ethnic, religious, political orientations  and such commingling,  invariably, constitutes “New European” conceptual spaces.

Paul Rogov studied Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley and Social Work at USC. His literary work has appeared in Danse Macabre, Exterminating Angel Press, Social Justice Solutions, Femicatio Magazine, Cultural Weekly and others.


Van Ham, Peter.  European Integration and the Postmodern Condition. London: Routledge, 2001.

Kastoryano, Riva. “Citizenship and Belonging: Beyond Blood and Soil” in Hedentoft, Ulf. The Postnational Self. Eds. Hedetoft, Ulf and Hjort, Mette. Minneapolis, MS: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.

EU Expansion to the East: Prospects and Problems. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 2002. pp 245-261.

Cracking the US Economic Blockade of Cuba

May 31st, 2014 by Prof. Tim Anderson

The powerful regional organisations created in Latin America, an important legacy of the late Hugo Chavez, have forced cracks in Washington’s 50- year economic blockade of Cuba. Senior US regime figures have called on President Barack Obama to loosen the blockade.

Obama loosened a few of the additional measures imposed by Bush the Second (lifting some severe restrictions on family member visits) but has mostly maintained the status quo of travel bans on US citizens, ‘trading with the enemy’ sanctions and imposing large fines on companies (with over 10% US shareholding) which trade with Cuba.

  The US economic, commercial, and financial blockade (called an ‘embargo’ in the US) has tried to isolate and lay siege to Cuba since the early years of the revolution. The first version was signed into force by President John F Kennedy, just after he ordered a personal supply of 1,000 fine Cuban cigars.

However, now that Cuba has taken on a leading role in continental organisations such as the CELAC, Washington insiders have been forced to admit that it is the USA (‘America’) that has become ‘increasingly isolated’ in the Americas.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his political mentor, former Cuban President Fidel Castro, in the early 2000s, led the movement against a proposed ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas’ (FTAA) and against the Washington-dominated Organization of American States (OAS). Venezuela and Cuba created the left-bloc ALBA (the Bolivarian Alliance for Our Americas) as a counter to the FTAA. In 2005, at a summit in Argentina, Chavez held a shovel to demonstrate that he had come to ‘bury’ the FTAA; and indeed he did.

 Then in 2008, backed by others including President Lula of Brazil and President Kirchner of Argentina, Chavez led the creation of UNASUR, a South American bloc that has since helped defuse Washington’s destabilisation plans in several countries.

The unification process peaked a little more than year before Chavez died of cancer.  In Caracas, in December 2011, 33 Latin American and Caribbean heads of government confirmed the creation of CELAC (the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). The only countries of the Americas left out were the USA and Canada.  With a population twice the size of the US, CELAC has become a new counter-weight to the Washington-based OAS. This new bloc moved immediately to build new direct relations, for example with the European Union.

  We should see this recent letter to Obama on Cuba, from 50 US establishment figures, in this wider context. Titled ‘Open letter to President Obama: support civil society in Cuba’ (, it calls for relaxation of travel to Cuba by US citizens, increased support for Cuban civil society, ‘principled engagement in areas of mutual interest’ and some relaxation of financial restrictions for ‘authorised’ relations.

This is a very long way from the liberal ideas of free movement and free trade, so often preached by Washington. But while the letter’s proposals are quite modest, and there is a traditional destabilisation agenda, it is the authors that make a difference. There have been many similar proposals from what we might call US ‘official dissidents’, former officials who have disagreed with the bipartisan US policy on Cuba.

This time the proposal comes from figures still deeply embedded in the US security, finance and diplomatic oligarchy. Notably there is John Negroponte, mastermind of death squads (under the Reagan and Bush 2 administrations) in Central America and Iraq, along with several military and business figures and recent heads of the US mission in Havana (called an ‘Office of Interests’, as there is no US Embassy).

The letter admits that US policy on Cuba (embedded in both US law and Presidential decree) has left Washington ‘increasingly isolated’ in the Americas. That policy is unpopular in the US and even more unpopular in Florida, where the anti-Cuban mafia have their main base. An Atlantic Council poll (February 2014) said that 56% of US people and 63% of Florida residents were in favour of a change in US policy towards Cuba.

Nevertheless, given the bizarre, elite politics of the US Congress (a Republican dominated Lower House has just voted to impose sanctions on Venezuela, because of violence initiated in that country by US client groups), the letter recognises that the legislative form of the policy (set in two laws passed under the Clinton administration in the 1990s) cannot be quickly changed. However they suggest Obama can act to make some important changes by presidential decree.

In the imperious language of Washington these changes are said to ‘serve as catalysts for meaningful change in Cuba’; in practice they signal a fear of being left out of a Cuban development process which is slowly but steadily engaging a range of other countries.

The week after the letter was published a high level delegation headed by Thomas J. Donohue, the President of the US Chamber of Commerce, paid a visit to Havana. Their main interest seemed to be in reviewing the economic reforms underway, over the past few years.

Cuba’s ‘updating’ of its economic model (in the Cuban view this is a subset, and not the defining feature, of Cuban socialism) has included changes to the 1995 foreign investment law, which selectively attracts capital to joint ventures in identified priority areas. These areas have been tourism, mining, oil and energy, the health sector, light engineering and infrastructure. Key partners so far have been Venezuela, China, Spain, Canada, Brazil and Russia.

The letter to Obama from 50 US figures proposes an expansion of ‘licensed travel’ for a range of US citizens (professionals, business people, NGOs, academics), including authorising the use of ‘pre-paid’ credit cards. Presently, the US Treasury has to license US citizens and residents to travel to and spend money in Cuba. Non-US citizens are generally not affected by these laws, unless they try to use US-linked banks and credit cards.

Second, the group proposes that Obama authorise finance, scholarship and communications links between ‘civil society’ groups in the two countries. This has been contentious on the Cuban side because the US has for some years used ‘civil society’ groups in attempts at political destabilisation. The Sumate group in Venezuela was one such group. Its former leader Maria Corina Machado, now a leading opposition politician, was recently implicated in a plot to assassinate President Nicolas Maduro. In Cuba US citizen Alan Gross remains in jail for smuggling satellite communications equipment, with which he was trying to set up a US-mentored political network. Similarly, a USAID project to start an alternative twitter network (Zunzuneo) was recently exposed.

  Third, the letter proposes priority for ‘principled engagement in areas of mutual interest’. This is important because issues such as migration, drug control, environmental management and counter-terrorism have all failed because of the poor relations, rooted in the US refusal of diplomatic relations. The failure was best illustrated by the outcome of Cuba’s sharing of intelligence, in the late 1990s, on planned bombings of Cuban tourist hotels. Instead of moving against the Florida-based terrorists, the FBI traced back and arrested some of the sources of that intelligence, five Cuba agents now known as the Cuban Five. Three of these men are still in US jails, political prisoners for more than 15 years, simply because they tried to warn of terrorist attacks planned against their country. Securing their freedom will be at the forefront of any such ‘mutual interest’ dealings.

Finally the US group asks for financial liberalisation to allow all US-authorised activities. This is also important, as the blockade has made many simple, day-to-day transactions difficult.

 A US president can authorise the use of certain forms of credit, but the Congress would have to change the legal basis of wider sanctions, and these have been aimed at bigger targets, in recent years. US citizens are still banned from buying Cuban cigars, for example, but there have been very few fines for such infractions since about 2008. The US Treasury (through its OFAC agency) has shifted its focus to finance companies, resulting in some big fines.

For example, under these anti-Cuban laws the Dutch travel company Carlson Wagonlit Travel was fined nearly $6 million and Despegar, an Argentine travel firm, was fined $2.8m, this year. Back in 2009 the ANZ Bank was fined $5.7m while Credit Suisse was fined $536m, the largest ever US sanctions penalty. These fines underline the point that US laws continue to affect even foreign companies, if they have 10% or more US-based shares.

The US economic blockade of Cuba is truly a dinosaur policy. It is rejected at the UN every year by almost every nation on earth, it is rejected by the US people and it is now rejected by Washington insiders, who have finally discovered that is it they who are isolated. Whether the Obama administration moves on this or not, it is clear that Latin American unity has been the recent driving force for change.

Early polls began for Syria’s presidential election, as the country begins turning the tide against foreign-backed terrorists and restoring order throughout much of the country. It was impossible for the Western media to cover up tens of thousands of Syrians around the world queuing up in impressive numbers to cast their votes in support of both President Bashar al-Assad and other candidates participating in the election. Despite eagerness to vote, the US, UK, EU, and others have decided to condemn the elections and even go as far as obstructing overseas polling.

In Reuters’ article, “Tens of thousands of Syrians abroad vote in early poll,” it reported:

Expatriates and those who have fled the war were casting their ballots at dozens of Syrian embassies abroad ahead of next week’s vote inside the country that opponents have dismissed as a farce as the fighting rages in its fourth year.

Several countries that oppose Assad, including France, have blocked the voting but Syrian government media said people were still able to participate in many countries.

Reuters would continue with anecdotal, unsubstantiated reports to undermine the legitimacy of the elections before reporting: 

The European Union has said holding an election “in the midst of conflict, only in regime-controlled areas and with millions of Syrians displaced from their homes would be a parody of democracy, have no credibility whatsoever, and undermine efforts to reach a political solution”.

“Holding elections in the midst of conflict, only in regime-controlled areas”  being a “parody of democracy” and therefore having “no credibility whatsoever” might have been a credible assessment by the European Union if it hadn’t just fully endorsed as credible, elections in Ukraine held under precisely the same conditions. Indeed, the EU along with the US and rest of NATO, hailed recent elections in Ukraine as a success and immediately recognized pro-Western billionaire oligarch Petro Poroshenko as the new “president” of Ukraine. 

However, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) own report cited as proof that elections were “in line with international commitments and with a respect for fundamental freedoms,” in fact reveals the exact same conditions inside of Ukraine the EU claims make the Syrian elections a “parody.” 

In the report, it admits that elections were not held at all in Crimea and nearly no voting occurred in the eastern most oblasts of Donetsk and Luhansk. In the west where the only semblance of voting took place, the OSCE report admits opposition parties were regularly harassed, assaulted, and even driven from campaigning before the May 25 polls. And even as polls took place, the regime in Kiev was overseeing ongoing military operations in the east of the country that included armored vehicles, helicopters and even air raids.

What the OSCE describes during Ukraine’s recent elections is quite a “parody of democracy.” In fact, the elections in Ukraine are more of a parody in documented reality than what the EU claims are taking place in Syria.

Video: Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleg Tsarev was savagely beaten outside a TV studio after an interview for the Ukrainian talk show, ‘Svoboda Slova.’ Systematic and violent intimidation across the west of Ukraine made it difficult if not impossible for opposition to the Nazi regime in Kiev to campaign. 

In Syria, the legitimate government of the country, which has ruled Syria for decades, is steering the nation back into order after years of deadly destabilization organized from abroad. The victor of the conflict and the territorial integrity of Syria is not in question. In Ukraine, elections were organized by violent usurpers who ousted the elected government in a bloody coup spearheaded by literal Neo-Nazis. They then launched military campaigns against the rest of the country in a bid to consolidate power before organizing rushed elections for the sole purpose of legitimizing their otherwise illegitimate unelected grip on power.

However, the regime in Kiev was unable to consolidate power before May 25 and in fact, the country is so divided, operations in the east look more like a foreign military occupation than internal policing. The EU’s decision to uphold Ukraine’s elections is an attempt to lend Kiev badly needed legitimacy ahead of continued and more intensified efforts to consolidate power. That the EU in turn is not only condemning Syria’s elections, but actively blocking Syrians abroad from voting, illustrates the overall lack of legitimacy of the European Union itself. It also calls into question the myriad of institutions it uses to prop up such self-serving, biased policies.

And while the EU’s hypocrisy swings wildly across the two most extreme ends of the spectrum, there is one common denominator between its position regarding elections in Ukraine and Syria. Both positions, for and against elections, help perpetuate campaigns of mass murder backed by the West in pursuit of its extraterritorial interests. In Ukraine, the Kiev regime’s assault on the nation’s east is fully backed by the West with many members of NATO already providing material support to ongoing operations. In Syria, since 2007, the West conspired to use sectarian extremists both inside Syria’s borders and beyond them, to overthrow the government in Damascus. In 2011, this conspiracy was fully realized in a deadly conflict that has killed tens of thousands and left parts of Syria in ruins. 

By preventing elections from moving ahead in Syria that would grant President Bashar al-Assad a renewed mandate or place into office another candidate who had rejected armed militancy, the West can continue portraying the conflict as a popular uprising, continue destabilizing the country, and perhaps even successfully push forward the “political transition” (read: regime change) it had sought since at least as early as 2007. 

The West has managed to weaponize humanitarian aid in Syria, and now, even the concept of voting as a means to perpetuate bloodshed and geopolitical instability. While the West cites an ever increasing list of threats that endanger global stability it must rise to confront, it is clear that they themselves have become the masters of turning anything and everything into a source of contention and protracted, deadly violence – even elections.   

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

There are No Neo-Nazis in Ukraine

May 31st, 2014 by Global Research News

Global Research Editor’s Note

“According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as another flowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility,, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)

“Flowering Democracy, Revolution”? The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a US-EU-NATO sponsored coup d’Etat in blatant violation of international law.

The forbidden truth is that the West has engineered –through a carefully staged covert operation– the formation of a proxy regime integrated by Neo-Nazis, including Right Sector and Svoboda.

The following full length documentary produced by Ukrainian opposition activists provides detailed evidence, documentation and understanding of the role of Neo-Nazi organizations as well a historical background.

This footage documenting the atrocities committed by the Kiev regime against the people of Ukraine have not been shown by the Western media.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, May 30, 2014


Syria’s Election – No U.S. Intervention

May 30th, 2014 by Global Research News

The Syrian people are holding a presidential election June 3. What makes this election unique is that it can help protect the sovereignty, even the existence of this country. It can help end the bloody war that has drained the lifeblood of the country. It is seen as a essential step toward national reconciliation.

For the past three years, Syria has been under attack by the U.S., NATO and by U.S.-allied absolute monarchies that govern Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates. They are fighting a proxy war with mercenaries and reactionary sectarian forces that Washington itself recognizes are terrorists – when they’re not carrying out U.S. plans.

Washington’s stated goal is “regime change,” that is, to eliminate the government led by Bashir al-Assad. What “regime change” really means is the destruction of Syria. To bring this about, the U.S. and its allies have financed a war that has killed over 150,000 people and displaced one-third of the 23 million Syrians.

Washington claims they want “democracy” in Syria. But U.S. wars have never brought democracy. Just destruction. Think of what U.S. intervention has brought to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the Balkans. Think of the fascists that U.S. intervention put in positions of power in Ukraine. The worst thing that can happen to the Syrians would be for the U.S.-NATO-Saudi forces to win.

Election observers from the U.S. are expected to join observers from Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, (BRICS) Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries representing the overwhelming majority of the people of the world. This election is a national expression that the Syrian people are determined to chart their own future.

U.S. anti-war activists, including from the International Action Center and other anti-war activists are participating as election observers in Syria. They participate knowing that the overwhelming majority of the U.S. population is against another war. Any such war will not only harm the people of Syria, but also the U.S. population. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said in 1967, the bombs that drop on Vietnam – or on Libya or Syria – also drop on the inner cities of the United States. They attack the working people in the U.S.


Self-determination for the Syrian people!

We need jobs, health care and housing, not endless war!

International Action Center 212-633-6646

“In order to improve motivation” (yes, these are the exact words) and in accordance with oligarch Poroshenko’s election promise, Mikhail Koval, the junta’s minister of defense announced that the Kiev regime is increasing the pay for its fighters who see the antifascist and pro-Russian population as “terrorists” to 20,000 hrivnyi a month, which corresponds to some $1,700, which, for Ukraine, is like golden (though bloody) rain. Average salaries are about $100 or so a month, and conscripted soldiers were paid half of that.

This “boosting” of motivation for killing and dying for oligarchs, bandit Banderism and NATO accords with the character and mindset of oligarchs.

I assume that the costs of this increase (incredible for Ukraine devastated by the same oligarchs) is to be paid by the same IMF loans and other Western credits. In other words, the IMF and Western bankers are now openly financing a war against Russia and against millions of people in Ukraine. Needless to say, the unpaid billions for Russian gas have been used not only for the billions in wealth for the anti-Russian and pro-fascist oligarchs in Ukraine (as in the past), but now also, as stated repeatedly by the representatives of the junta, to “exterminate all the terrorists”–whether armed, unarmed, or whether manning a barricade or sitting in a school or in an ambulance.

The difference between the current junta with its new “president” Poroshenko as its formal figurehead and the previous Ukrainian oligarchic governments is the strategic decision of NATO and the oligarchs to give command and control over all the security forces to militant fascists led by the Right Sector (previously and still supported as such by only 1% of the population), while launching a war on anyone who is not buying this new fascist dictatorship and its murderous campaign.


Statements made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden regarding the 9/11 terror attacks were edited out of his NBC Nightly News interview with Brian Williams Wednesday in what appears to be an attempt to bolster legitimacy for the agency’s controversial surveillance programs.

Snowden’s comments surrounding the failure of dragnet surveillance in stopping the 9/11 attacks were censored from the prime time broadcast and instead buried in an hour long clip on NBC’s website.

“You know this is a key question that the 9/11 commission considered, and what they found in the postmortem when they looked at all the classified intelligence from all the different intelligence agencies, they found that we had all of the information we needed as an intelligence community, as a classified sector, as the national defense of the United States, to detect this plot,” Snowden said.

“We actually had records of the phone calls from the United States and out. The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we had.”

NBC’s decision to bury Snowden’s comments are unsurprising given the fact that the 9/11 attacks are exhaustively used by the federal government as the prime justification for surveilling millions of innocent Americans. Snowden remarked on the government’s prior knowledge of the accused Boston bombers as well, also cut from the prime time interview.

‘If we’re missing things like the Boston Marathon bombings where all of these mass-surveillance systems, every domestic dragnet in the world, didn’t reveal guys that the Russian intelligence service told us about by name, is that really the best way to protect our country or are we trying to throw money at a magic solution that’s actually not just costing us our safety, but our rights and our way of life,” Snowden said.

Despite countless government officials pointing to 9/11 foreknowledge, whether missed or ignored, establishment media outlets have continually worked to keep such voices out of relevant reporting.

Former NSA senior executive turned whistleblower Thomas Drake, who revealed unconstitutional surveillance programs targeting Americans in 2005, has repeatedly commented on NSA intelligence that would have “undoubtedly” stopped the 9/11 attacks.

“The NSA had critical intelligence about Al Qaeda and associated movements in particular that had never been properly shared outside of NSA,” Drake said in a recent interview. “They simply did not share critical intelligence although they had it.”

In a January letter to President Obama, Drake and fellow whistleblowers William Binney, Edward Loomis, and Kirk Wiebe not only detailed the agency’s foreknowledge, but the ensuing cover-up as well.

“The sadder reality, Mr. President, is that NSA itself had enough information to prevent 9/11, but chose to sit on it rather than share it with the FBI or CIA. We know; we were there,” the letter reads. “We were witness to the many bureaucratic indignities that made NSA at least as culpable for pre-9/11 failures as are other U.S. intelligence agencies.”

Outside of the NSA, countless intelligence officials have also commented on 9/11 foreknowledge and the federal government’s attempts to stifle any investigation into negligence and wrongdoing.

Former senior intelligence officer Lt. Col Anthony Shaffer, who attempted to inform the government after identifying the two terrorist cells later charged for the 9/11 attacks in 2000 during Operation Able Danger, was attacked and demonized by the Defense Intelligence Agency after informing Congress of the agency’s refusal to act.

“I had no intention of joining the ranks of ‘whistle blowers,’” Shaffer said in 2009. “When I made my disclosure to the 9/11 commission regarding the existence of a pre 9/11 offensive counter-terrorism operation that had discovered several of the 9/11 terrorists a full year before the 9/11 attacks my intention was to simply tell the truth, and fulfill my oath of office.”

Former FBI wiretap translator Sibel Edmonds, who had access to top-secret communications, told reporters in 2004 that the FBI had detailed 9/11 foreknowledge that specifically mentioned a terrorist attack involving airplanes.

“We should have had orange or red-type of alert in June or July of 2001. There was that much information available,” Edmonds told Salon. “There was specific information about use of airplanes, that an attack was on the way two or three months beforehand and that several people were already in the country by May of 2001. They should’ve alerted the people to the threat we’re facing.”

According to Edmonds, after the 9/11 attacks, FBI supervisors ordered translators to “work slowly” in order to ensure that the agency would get larger funding the next year.

The vast number of whistleblowers in the intelligence community not only gives credence to Snowden’s comments, but also exemplifies the NSA’s illegitimate growth since 9/11.

In a desperate attempt to gain the moral high ground, Secretary of State John Kerry claimedSnowden had aided terrorists during an interview on “Good Morning America” Wednesday despite having absolutely no evidence to support his accusation.

Despite the fact that the NSA leaks have proven the agency to be involved in issues unrelated to national security, such as economic espionage, the claim of using mass surveillance to stop terrorism deteriorates even further in light of recent decisions by the Obama Administration.

In 2013, President Obama waived a federal law designed to prevent the US from arming terrorists in order to provide military support to the “Syrian rebels.” Even with Syrian Revolutionary Front leader Jamal Maarouf admitting that his fighters work alongside the Al-Qaeda aligned Jabhat al-Nusra, the Obama Administration has continued its unflinching support.

The president’s support of Al-Qaeda was so transparent during the Libyan overthrow that former Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich publicly questioned why the US-backed “Libyan rebels” had placed an Al Qaeda flag over the top of the courthouse in Benghazi.

Whether it be issuing fake terror alertscreating domestic terror plots or allowing them to take place, the national security state will undoubtedly do whatever it can to continue its unabated growth towards total information awareness.

The highly secretive Bilderberg group is holding its 62nd annual conference in Denmark from May 29 to June 1 at the Copenhagen Marriott Hotel in Denmark. This year’s conference is a mingling of military-intelligence, politicians, finance, oil, media, academia and neocon think tanks. (Click here for the official list of attendees. Note that there are always participants who are not mentioned on the list given to the public.)

While Bilderberg claims its annual conference is “to foster dialogue between Europe and North America”, the Worldwide monetary system as well as the US-NATO global war agenda are slated to be discussed behind closed doors.

According to Bilderberg expert Daniel Estulin, the group went as far as planning the 2008 economic crisis:

According to Estulin’s sources, which have been proven highly accurate in the past, Bilderberg is divided on whether to put into motion, “Either a prolonged, agonizing depression that dooms the world to decades of stagnation, decline and poverty … or an intense-but-shorter depression that paves the way for a new sustainable economic world order, with less sovereignty but more efficiency.”

The information takes on added weight when one considers the fact that Estulin’s previous economic forecasts, which were based on leaks from the same sources, have proven deadly accurate. Estulin correctly predicted the housing crash and the 2008 financial meltdown as a result of what his sources inside Bilderberg told him the elite were planning based on what was said at their 2006 meeting in Canada and the 2007 conference in Turkey.

Details of the economic agenda were contained in a pre-meeting booklet being handed out to Bilderberg members. On a more specific note, Estulin warns  that Bilderberg are fostering a false picture of economic recovery, suckering investors into ploughing their money back into the stock market again only to later unleash another massive downturn which will create “massive losses and searing financial pain in the months ahead,” according to a Canada Free Press report. (Paul Joseph Watson Leaked Agenda: Bilderberg Group Plans Economic Depression, Prison 7 May 2009)

In light of the above, it is important to highlight the presence at the 2014 meeting of the elite banking groups which benefited from the 2008 financial meltdown not to mention the generous bailouts. These include the iconic “too big to fail” bank, Goldman Sachs, the “bank that rules the world”.

Goldman Sachs will be represented by: Peter D. Sutherland, Chairman of Goldman Sachs International, and Robert B. Zoellick, Chairman of the Board of International Advisors of The Goldman Sachs Group. Their presence is by no means accidental. Both Sutherland and Zoellick “in their previous lives” before joining Goldman played key roles in strategic trade negotiations including NAFTA and the WTO. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is on the Bilderberg agenda and Goldman Sachs is intent upon playing a leading role.

“Too big to jail” HSBC will also have representatives, the Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings, Douglas J. Flint, and his senior advisor Sherard Cowper-Coles.  These mega banks have a longstanding record of financial fraud:

“Goldman symbolizes master of the universe of financial manipulation (Reuters April 16, 2011)  It’s been involved in nearly all financial scandals since the 19th century… In 2002, it was largely responsible for Greece’s debt problems. It involved circumventing Eurozone rules in return for mortgaging assets.

Using creative accounting, debt was hidden through off-balance sheet shenanigans. Derivatives called cross-currency swaps were used. Government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euros, then later exchanged back to original currencies.

Debt entrapment followed. Greece was held hostage to repay it. The country’s been raped and pillaged. Paying bankers comes first. Doing it left Greeks impoverished, high and dry. Goldman profited enormously by scamming an entire country and millions in it.”(Stephen Lendman, Goldman Sachs: Making Money by Stealing It,, 17 March 2012)

The leaders of the “Too big to Jail Banks” not only mingle behind closed doors together with Central Bank governors and the Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde, they also exchange pointed views on “War and Economy” with the West’s top military brass, as well as the head of Britain’s Secret Service and NATO Secretary General Anders Fog Rasmussen.

Before the 2008 meltdown, Goldman Sachs made enormous profits out of products it sold knowing it was “crap”.

But Goldman is above the law.  In 2012 the US justice Department issued a statement saying that after an exhaustive investigation, they “concluded that the burden of proof to bring a criminal case (against Goldman) could not be met based on the law and facts as they exist at this time”. James Hall explains:

The Department of Justice functions to discipline the other guy. Goldman Sachs is the hub of the financial pyramid. When partners are installed on the Federal Reserve or are appointed to Treasury, the money elite contain their grip on their control of the fiat money system. This model dominated by bureaucratic technocrats, runs roughshod over the regulators. The mere notion that any Attorney General will enforce statues is naive, when every administration is bought and paid for by the same moneychangers.

Using the distinctive absurdity of legal rationalization, RT reports:

“The Justice Department said that it had conducted an “exhaustive investigation” into allegations of fraud during the crisis from 2008 to 2009. The probe reportedly uncovered email conversations between employees of Goldman Sachs branding mortgage securities sold to investors as “junk” and “crap”.

Moreover, the probe writes that the bank “used net short positions to benefit from the downturn in the mortgage market, and designed, marketed, and sold CDOs [collateralized debt obligations] in ways that created conflicts of interest with the firm’s clients and at times led to the bank’s profiting from the same products that caused substantial losses for its clients.” (James Hall, Goldman Sachs Above the Law,, 15 August 2012)

As for “too big to jail” HSBC, on December 10, 2013 the US Justice Department “announced a settlement with the British-based HSBC bank regarding charges of money laundering Mexican drug funds that allows the bank to admit to wrongdoing and pay a fine without being criminally charged.”

[T]he US authorities decided, despite ample evidence that HSBC had laundered billions of dollars for major drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia, not to press criminal charges against the bank or any of its executives because the bank was “too big to indict.” (Barry Grey, Sweetheart Settlement for HSBC Bank on Drug Money Laundering Charges, World Socialist Web Site, December 13, 2012)

It is worth noting the presence of two major personalities responsible for the 2008 financial meltdown, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, both part of the “Wall Street-Washington consensus”.

Here’s a few interesting facts about Robert Rubin, who, lest we forget, was the one who had the Glass-Steagall Act abolished, a move that paved the way to the Wall Street casino and lead to the 2008 collapse:

Rubin, a 26-year veteran of Goldman Sachs, was rewarded by Citibank for his service to the banks while Treasury Secretary with a $50 million compensation package in 2008 and $126,000,000 between 1999 and 2009. Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, The Money Changers Serenade: A New Bankers’ Plot to Steal Your Deposits,, November 22, 2013)

Robert Rubin was Secretary of the Treasury from 1995 to 1999… Later, hand in hand with the IMF, he enforced shock therapies that actually worsened the crises that occurred in South-East Asia in 1997-98 and in Russia and Latin America in 1999. Never for a moment did Rubin doubt the benefits of liberalisation and he contributed to imposing on the populations of developing countries the very policies which have caused their living conditions to deteriorate and social inequality to deepen. In the United States he insisted on the abrogation of the Glass Steagall Act – officially named the Banking Act – voted in 1933 to ensure that deposit banks and investment banks were not in the same hands. Its abrogation opened the door to all sorts of excesses on the part of finance people greedy for more profits, and eventually led to the current international crisis. To come a full circle, the repeal of Banking Act made it possible for Citicorp to merge with Travelers Group and become the banking giant Citigroup. Rubin was later to become one of the main executive officers of Citigroup… which the US government recently bailed out in November 2008 in that it guaranteed over 300 billion dollars of assets! And in spite of his record, Rubin is one of Obama’s main advisors. (Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint, Economy: Obama chooses those who have a record of failure, Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), December 2, 2008.)

Lawrence Summers, another fan of the IMF-World Bank shock therapy, also played his part in the 2008 financial crash.

Harvard University Economics Professor Lawrence Summers served as Chief Economist for the World Bank (1991–1993). He contributed to shaping the macro-economic reforms imposed on numerous indebted developing countries. The social and economic impact of these reforms under the IMF-World Bank sponsored structural adjustment program (SAP) were devastating, resulting in mass poverty.

Larry Summer’s stint at the World Bank coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the imposition of the IMF-World Bank’s deadly ” economic medicine” on Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics and the Balkans.

In 1993, Summers moved to the US Treasury. He initially held the position of Undersecretary of the Treasury for international affairs and later Deputy Secretary. In liaison with his former colleagues at the IMF and the World Bank, he played a key role in crafting the economic “shock treatment” reform packages imposed at the height of the 1997 Asian crisis on South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia.

Larry Summers became Treasury Secretary in July 1999. He is a protégé of David Rockefeller. He was among the main architects of the infamous Financial Services Modernization Act, which provided legitimacy to inside trading and outright financial manipulation.  (Prof Michel Chossudovsky Who are the Architects of Economic Collapse?, Global Research 9 November 2008)

The Financial Post also reported last August that Summers “collected more than US$2.7-million in speaking fees, including from companies such as Citigroup and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that later received taxpayer funds in the economic bailout, according to his disclosure forms.”

Now here’s a piece of history illustrating the role of Goldman Sachs in the eyes of Summers:

Joseph Stiglitz couldn’t believe his ears.  Here they were in the White House, with President Bill Clinton asking the chiefs of the US Treasury for guidance on the life and death of America’s economy, when the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers turns to his boss, Secretary Robert Rubin, and says, “What would Goldman think of that?”


Then, at another meeting, Summers said it again:  What would Goldman think?

A shocked Stiglitz, then Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors, told me he’d turned to Summers, and asked if Summers thought it appropriate to decide US economic policy based on “what Goldman thought.”  As opposed to say, the facts, or say, the needs of the American public, you know, all that stuff that we heard in Cabinet meetings on The West Wing. (Greg Palast, Larry Summers: Goldman Sacked, Global Research September 16, 2013)

What these various examples portray is the revolving doors between the politicians and banksters. The banking industry is criminalized. But at the same time the judicial system which turns a blind eye to financial fraud is also criminalized.

TARP was designed to bail out the insolvent banks. Goldman Sachs transformed itself into a BANK so that the firm could borrow from the Fed window. The revolving door cycle of government regulators, opting for a promotion as an investment bankster and compensatory profit well earned from previous service, hardly gets the attention of the financial community or government oversight. The entire obscene relationship of crony favoritism inevitably leads to a society where the rule of law only applies to the competition. (Hall, op.cit.)

It comes as no surprise that the derivatives bubble is now twenty percent bigger than it was before the 2008 collapse.

It is a financial bubble far larger than anything the world has ever seen, and when it finally bursts it is going to be a complete and utter nightmare for the financial system of the planet. According to the Bank for International Settlements, the total notional value of derivatives contracts around the world has ballooned to an astounding 710 trillion dollars ($710,000,000,000,000. (Michael Snyder, The Size of the Derivatives Bubble Hanging Over the Global Economy Hits a Record High, Economic Collapse, 27 May 2014)

And guess which banks have “experienced tremendous growth in this area in recent years”? Goldman Sachs and Citibank.

Goldman Sachs has been increasing its derivatives volumes since the crisis, and it had a portfolio of about $48 trillion at the end of 2013. Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that as part of its growth strategy, Goldman plans to sell more derivatives to clients. Citibank, too, has been increasing its derivatives portfolio, despite the numerous capital and regulatory challenges, In fact, its portfolio has risen by over 65 percent since the crisis — the most of any of the four banks — to $62 trillion. (Ibid.)

Also on the Bilderberg guest list this year are very influential figures from the financial press, Martin H. Wolf, The Financial Times’ Chief Economics Commentator and John Micklethwait Editor-in-Chief of The Economist. While they are not allowed to report on what happens behind closed doors, they will no doubt play a key role in sustaining the legitimacy of the Bilderberg elites and their destructive neoliberal agenda.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde will also be attending. She was recently interrogated in France in regards to a corruption case. She allegedly “allowed 270 million pounds Bernard Tapie, a convicted football match-fixer and tax dodger who supported her governing UMP party”. She was then accused by the opposition “of ‘dipping into the taxpayers’ pocket for a private beneficiary.’”

But we might wonder: how could the elite exist without “dipping into taxpayers pockets for private beneficiarie(s)?” The 2008 global economic crisis is probably the most glaring example of this now very well-known scheme: socializing debt and privatizing profits, using taxpayer money to bailout the criminal banks.

Is it a “conspiracy” when financial fraudsters meet behind closed mingling with politicians, oil execs and NATO military strategists? Does Bilderberg bear a responsibility for the 2008 crisis?

Italian Member of the European Parliament Mario Borghezio blamed the organization “for Italy’s economic crisis… causing unemployment, poverty, and high taxes.”

Borghezio is supported by Italian lawyer Alfonso Luigi Marra, who last year requested that the Public Prosecutor of Rome investigate the Bilderberg Group for its role in “criminal activity.” Marra accused the group of plotting to install Mario Monti as Prime Minister of Italy at Bilderberg’s 2011 meeting in Switzerland, labeling the organization a “unique, illegal brotherhood” of elitists who consider themselves to be “above the law.” …

In 2010, former NATO Secretary-General and Bilderberg member Willy Claes admitted that Bilderberg attendees are mandated to implement decisions that are formulated during the annual conference of power brokers. If this is the case, it would violate laws in numerous countries that forbid politicians from being influenced by foreign agents in secret. (Paul Joseph Watson, Italian MP Blames Secretive Bilderberg Group for Wrecking Italy’s Economy, Infowars 19 May 2014)

Bilderberg is a powerful entity compared to the Davos World Economic Forum:

“Those sentences which really matter are being spoken out (at Bilderberg). You learn an incredible amount. Davos in comparison is pure PR talk.” (Paul Joseph Watson, Bilderberg Member Admits Secretive Confab More Powerful than Davos, Infowars, May 22, 2014)

Although we don’t find much information on its web site, Bilderberg acknowledges that the “hospitality costs of the annual meeting are the responsibility of the Steering Committee member(s) of the host country.”

This year, the only member “responsible” for hospitality costs is Ulrik Federspiel, former Foreign Minister (1991-93, 2005-09) and Danish Ambassador to the United States of America (2000-2005). He’s now Haldor Topsøe’s Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer. Haldor Topsøe is a company specialized in catalysts used in various industries and which won the 2014 World XTL award, “given annually to a company that has made an outstanding contribution” to the oil, power and gas industry. This award is given by the CWC Group “world expert in the oil and gas, power and investment sectors, with particular expertise in emerging markets.” It is worth noting that their sponsors include, among others, Shell and BP, two companies which will attend this year’s conference. It’s a small world.

It is hard to imagine how much this kind of event for kings and queens, world state officials and business leaders can cost, but it is very unlikely that Mr. Federspiel will be himself paying the bill  for a four day stay of over 140 elites in a five star hotel under high safety and surveillance.

Where will he get the money? Will his company or the Danish government be paying the costs? We don’t know. But the Danes will most likely and unwillingly be paying part of the bill collectively, at least for the security apparatus of the meeting. This is not a public meeting. The media is not even allowed to report on it.

Last year the security costs for the Bilderberg meeting in Watford England cost over half a million pounds to British taxpayers:

The security operation surrounding the secret Bilderberg meeting in Watford, England, last week cost a whopping £1 million according to police, and British taxpayers are set to foot at least half the bill.

The Watford Observer reports that Hertfordshire Constabulary revealed the figures today, noting that the Bilderberg Group made a “donation” of £500,000 following media scrutiny and complaints from activists and local residents. (Steve Watson, Bilderberg Security Op Cost £1 Million, Prison planet, June 2013)

The irony is that, each and every year, a police security apparatus whose mandate is to protect citizens “against crooks and criminals” is being deployed to ensure the security of the Bilderberg elites, i.e., using public funds to “protect crooks and criminals against citizens”.

War criminal Henry Kissinger, architect of the 1973 Chilean coup that put Pinochet in power, the man “who oversaw the slaughter in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos” leading to millions of civilian deaths, will also be at the Marriott this weekend, to “foster dialogue”. Former CIA Director and US Forces Commander David H. Petraeus, another notable war criminal, who knowingly used drones to bomb Afghan civilians at funerals and civilian rescuers, will be among the distinguished guests.

In a bitter irony, Petraeus, “who now works at the Manhattan-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR)” specialized in leveraged buyouts is now developing ties with the shale gas industry.

In this regard, North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt facilitated a field trip for Petraeus and said to journalists thatthe blurred lines existing between the North Dakota government, the oil industry and private equity firms like KKR (are) ‘not unusual.’” On his trip, Petraeus gave a speech to the National Guard. “In introducing Petraeus at the National Guard event, Schmidt thanked the troops in attendance for fighting in a war ‘over there for the oil we all need.’” (Steve Horn, Red Carpet Rollout for General Petraeus Shale Gas Fracking Field TripDeSmogBlog, May 30, 2013)

The 2014 Bilderberg meeting is another example of those “blurred lines” between government, big oil and the financial sector, the three pillars of war. According to some reports, the topics of discussion at this year’s meeting will include the situation in Ukraine and the Russia-NATO relationship, as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), an agreement which, according to Stop TTIP, “is in fact a corporate coup that will take us to a ‘corporatocracy’, a corporate-run world.”

The list of participants clearly indicates that war and the economy will be key topics discussed by fraudulent bankers and corrupt politicians who are above the law and who have little concern for the rights of ordinary people.

It is scary to say the least.

But for the mainstream media, very influential and powerful criminals meeting for 4 days in a 5 star hotel and vowing secrecy about their discussions does not raise an eye lid. If you think they are meeting for a purpose that might have a significant impact on world politics and the global economy, you’re just a nutcase.

Selected articles:

“The True Story of the Bilderberg Group” and What They May Be Planning Now, Stephen Lendman

Bilderberg Agenda Revealed: Elite Desperate to Rescue Unipolar World, Paul Joseph Watson

Beyond Bilderberg. The Annual “New World Order Meeting” behind Closed Doors, James Corbett

Barack Obama: The Change that Did Not Happen…. The Plight of Neoliberal Economic Policy, Eric Toussaint and Daniel Munevar

Bilderberg 2014: List of Participants: Mingling of Military-Intel, Politicians, Finance, Oil, Media, Academia and Neocon Think Tanks

Bilderberg Member Admits Secretive Confab More Powerful than Davos, Paul Joseph Watson

The World’s Most Powerful Private Club, Bilderberg’s Silent Takeover of Britain’s $60bn Defense Budget, Tony Gosling

Bilderberg 2013: Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, David Rockefeller and Henry Kissenger in attendance, 21st Century Wire

Bilderberg: Who Manages the World?

The Bilderberg, Google and the G8: New Global Tax Regime Already in the Works Patrick Henningsen

BILDERBERG CONFAB, Climate Change Alarm, Fake Environmentalism, Worldwide Social Engineering, Paul Joseph Watson

For more on Bilderberg click here.

A Pakistani tribesman sifts through the rubble of his house after an attack in January 2006 (Photo: Tariq Mahmood/AFP/Getty Images)

The Bureau is publishing, for the first time, data showing the types of targets that have been reportedly attacked by CIA drones in Pakistan.

The research is a joint project by the Bureau, Forensic Architecture, a research unit based at Goldsmiths University, London, and Situ Research in New York. The data feeds this interactive website mapping the strikes, the types of target attacked, and their relative scale.

Download the data here

This data reflects our understanding of the strikes as of May 2014. It will not be updated – so if new information emerges about the attacks, it will not be included in this dataset, although it will be included in our main drones databases.

Below is a brief methodology showing how we compiled the data and the definitions we used. There is a more detailed methodology for our broader research on drones here.

Related story – Most US drone strikes in Pakistan attack houses

How we compiled the data

We have used the index of reports the Bureau has compiled for each strike, extracting and recording data on what targets were reportedly hit. The targets were divided into domestic, public, religious, and commercial buildings, outdoor gatherings (such as meetings and funerals), and vehicles. Because of the very small number of public buildings, commercial buildings and outdoor gatherings that were hit, we have recorded these as ‘Other Buildings’.

Reporting is sometimes vague about the target, and sources sometimes directly contradict one other. The Bureau uses the minimum figure in a range for data analysis in its investigations, to reflect these uncertainties. For example, a strike on March 16 2011 killed at least three people but reportedly hit either a vehicle or a house. This has been recorded as 0-1 vehicles hit and 0-1 houses hit and is represented on the interactive map as ‘target unclear’.

This information about targets was combined with casualty estimates for the strikes. The locations were largely identified and plotted on the geo-platform using a CIA map of Waziristan, declassified in 2007. Latitudes and longitudes are based on reported locations, which are often only as specific as town or district, and so are not precise.


• Civilian

The Bureau classifies all individuals credibly reported as civilians as such. Where the dead are described as ‘tribesmen’, ‘locals’ or ‘people’, we believe this indicates possible civilian casualties and reflect this using the 0-X range.

The Bureau has recorded a number of female casualties in the drone war. It almost always classes women as civilians: in the FATA region of Pakistan, where the strikes take place, reports of female militants are exceedingly rare.

• Domestic building

Where drones attack buildings, these are often described as ‘compounds’ and sometimes even ‘militant compounds’. However, local sources confirm that these are typically domestic buildings that are often rented or commandeered by militant groups.

• Drone strike

A missile or set of missiles fired by a drone or drones at a single location. Where missiles hit more than an hour apart, we counted these as separate strikes. Where drones hit locations more than a couple of miles apart we also count these as separate strikes, even when they take place in quick succession.

• Other Buildings

A small number of strikes have targeted buildings that are neither domestic buildings nor madrassas and mosques. These include commercial buildings and disused government buildings.

• Religious (Madrassa/mosque)

A madrassa is a seminary – a religious school. These are usually residential facilities that educate children and youths. A very small proportion of all attacks have hit madrassas or mosques, but they have tended to have very high death tolls.

• Target Unclear

Reporting is sometimes vague about what was hit in a strike – and sometimes media reports contradict one another in terms of what type of target was attacked. In these cases, we have categorised the target as ‘unclear’.

• Vehicles

This category encompasses cars, pick-up trucks, four-wheel drives and motorbikes.


• Media sources

The most comprehensive public information on casualties generally lies in the thousands of press reports filed by reputable national and international media outlets. The bulk of our sources are in English, but some Urdu reporting has been used.

Further information on media sources

• Other sources

The Bureau has carried out several field investigations into possible civilian deaths. The data also incorporates the fieldwork of credible researchers (for example Stanford Law School and New York University School of Law) and evidence filed in legal cases brought in Pakistan and elsewhere on behalf of civilian drone victims. Leaked US intelligence reports, WikiLeaks diplomatic cables, sanctions lists and ‘most wanted’ lists, and jihadist forums and websites have also been used where relevant.

Further information on other sources

Additional details

In each category we aimed to note the nature and extent of the reported structural damage. We assigned a code for the degree of structural damage, where reported:

1. Minimal damage

2. Moderate damage

3. Severe damage

4. Completely destroyed

The damage was not consistently reported in each strike, and was not consistent in each report of each strike. In some cases, we have assigned more than one number to a strike. For example, when some sources reported the building was totally destroyed but others only reported severe damage the strike was assigned 3-4.

Where there are differences in reporting the number of missiles fired in a strike, we have similarly recorded these as a range.

We used the same technique to accommodate inconsistencies between sources in the number and types of targets hit in the strikes. On average one building or one vehicle were hit in each strike. However several strikes reportedly hit multiple targets. For example, drones destroyed a convoy of trucks in a strike onDecember 27 2010, killing 18-25 people. However sources reported either two or three trucks were hit. The Bureau has recorded this strike as hitting 2-3 vehicles.

Follow Alice K Ross and Jack Serle on Twitter. Subscribe to the Bureau’s drones podcast and newsletter.

A United States citizen working in Syria with a militant group backed by Al-Qaeda has conducted a suicide bombing there on Sunday, in what is believed to be the first time an American has been involved in such an attack, American officials says.

According to Al-Alam, the suicide attack first surfaced on Tuesday in Twitter messages from the Nusra Front, a terrorist group in Syria aligned with Al-Qaeda in the multi-national war in Syria.

American officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declined to identify the American or provide any information about him. NBC News first reported that American government officials had confirmed the bomber was an American.

Syrian opposition social media sites reported that the American went by the name Abu Huraira al-Amriki and carried out the suicide truck bombing in the northern province of Idlib.


How Global Agri-Business Destroys Farming

May 30th, 2014 by Colin Todhunter

A new review carried out by the organization GRAIN reveals that small farms produce most of the world’s food. However, they 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. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.

This claim is based on the findings of the report, ‘Hungry for Land’ (1), which states that small farmers are often much more productive than large corporate farms. For example, if all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. In Russia, it would be six fold.

Marina Dos Santos of the Coordination of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) states that the peasantry is currently being criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. Small farmers are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion from their land, which not only affects peasants but also many other small farmers and indigenous peoples who are the target of foreign corporations. Dos Santos says that small farmers want land in order to live and to produce as these are their basic rights against land-grabbing corporations who seek only speculation and profit.

If the current processes of land concentration continue, she argues that then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on.

While it is often stated in official circles that the planet needs to produce more food to feed the growing population, the report suggests that more food could be produced almost immediately if small farmers had access to more land and could work in a supportive policy environment, rather than under the siege conditions they are facing today.

Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, says that the vast majority of farms in Zimbabwe belong to smallholders and their average farm size has increased as a result of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Small farmers in the country now produce over 90% of diverse agricultural food crops, while they only provided 60-70% of the national food before land redistribution. Mpofu says that we need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems.

The world is fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger. 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 prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Big agritech corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritise 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 (2). 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.

GRAIN’s report relies on statistics that show small farms are technically more productive than big farms. While industrial farms have enormous power, influence and resources, small farms almost everywhere outperform big farms in terms of productivity.

The review comes on the heels of a September 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (3), which also 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. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report.

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.

Numerous high level reports from the UN and development agencies have argued in favour of small farmers and agro-ecology, but this has not been translated into real action on the ground where peasant farmers increasingly face marginalisation and oppression.

Despite what these reports conclude and the evidence that indicates small farms have better productivity, India for example is abandoning the small farmer in favour of foreign agritech corporations. This is resulting in a forced removal of farmers from the land and the destruction of traditional communities on a massive scale. In 2008, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram envisaged at least 600 million people from rural India eventually shifting to cities, leaving just 15% left to work the land or associated with the rural economy (4).

This process is so severe, so shocking even, that environmentalist Vandana Shiva has called what is happening constitutes the biggest forced removal of people from their lands in history. According to a 2009 report commissioned by the rural development ministry and chaired by the then minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, in certain areas of India it also involves the biggest illegal land grab since Columbus (5).

The trend in India, as elsewhere, is being driven by big agritech that is working with the government to ensure a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Policies that allow for the protection of local seeds and farmers’ rights to use them are paramount. Yet small farmers are being displaced and are struggling to preserve their indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge of farming systems. By patenting and monopolising seeds, big agritech is preventing farmers from saving and exchanging their own seeds that were developed over thousands of years. Agritech corporations are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations (6). They are consequently setting the policy/knowledge framework by being allowed to fund and determine the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes (7).

Throughout the world, we continue to witness land grabs for non-food crops, industry or real estate interests, monocultures for export and the hijack of agriculture by big corporations backed by their co-opted scientists, media outlets and politicians (8) who continue to propagate the myth that they have the answer to global hunger and poverty. Despite mounting evidence that they do not, they continue to colonise agriculture all over the world – look no further than Africa where the Gates Foundation, Monsanto and Western governments are placing it in the hands of big agritech for private profit under the old colonialist pretext of helping the poor (9).

A shift from corporate-controlled, profit oriented commodity agriculture is required and involves moving towards more biodiverse organic systems that place emphasis on small farmers, local economies and food sovereignty.

Rather than addressing poverty, food inequality and hunger, big agritech corporations merely serve to perpetuate these problems and exploitative global power relations by sucking power, wealth and food from poorer countries, small farmers and local communities to satisfy themselves, their shareholders and affluent urban consumers in foreign lands. As long as petro-chemical corporate agriculture predominates and is expanded throughout the planet, the less food security and local/national food sovereignty we will see – and the more wars fuelled by oil interests, conflicts over land and water and damage to the environment we shall witness.












Euroskepticism and its Discontents

May 30th, 2014 by Justin Raimondo

The conventional wisdom is nearly always wrong, and rarely so wrong as when it comes to the EU elections, the results of which are being trumpeted as the triumph of the “far right.” The more alarmist among these uniformly pro-EU commentators are even claiming neo-fascism in Europe is on the march. Well, they’re at least half right: something is on the march. They just don’t know what it is.

The “far right” meme is based on the results in France, where the National Front of Marine le Pen has for the first time won a plurality of seats in the European Parliament, and this news is usually coupled with panic-stricken reports of UKIP’s sweep across the Channel. Yet the two parties have nearly nothing in common except for opposition to the euro and the European project. The French Front is statist, protectionist, and carries red banners in the streets on May Day. UKIP is a quasi-free market split from the Tories, pro-free market and vaguely Little Englander. They aren’t opposed to immigration per se: they just want immigrants with assets, as opposed to the poorer variety.

The only thing these two movements have in common is opposition to the rule of Brussels, but that is quite enough for the Eurocrats and their journalistic camarilla to cast them in the role of volatile “extremists,” dangerous “populists” out to tear apart the “social fabric” of Europe. One prominent Eurocrat, the former Prime Minister of Luxembourg, foresees a replay of 1914: “I am chilled by the realization of how similar the crisis of 2013 is to that of 100 years ago,” intones Jean-Claude Juncker.

While there aren’t many Archdukes left to assassinate, whatever the similarities to 1914, the so-called right-wing populists have little to do with it. Indeed, it is the EU, in seeking to assert itself as an international power, that has ratcheted up the war danger by challenging Russia in Ukraine, allying with Washington to push NATO to the very gates of Moscow. In opposing the EU’s very existence, these parties – whatever their other characteristics – are taking on the forces that make war more likely.

And while a good number of these emerging parties may be fairly characterized as “right-wing populist,” this generalization doesn’t hold at all when one looks at the details. Yes, the National Democratic Party of Germany, a group with clear neo-Nazi sympathies, has entered the European Parliament for the first time: yet that has little to do with the minor uptick in their vote total and much more to do with German election law, recently revised to lower the threshold for being granted seats (from five percent to one percent). On the other hand, the Alternative for Germany (AfD), a party opposed to the euro albeit not necessarily to the political concept of the EU, garnered six percent: AfD is a split from the now politically irrelevant Free Democrats, whose leading lights are economists and academics rather than skinheads. It is a party that came out of nowhere and has now displaced the Free Democrats as Germany’s rising third force – yet the NPD gets all the publicity.

The reason is because the NPD’s negligible gains fit the preordained theme of the news coverage, the meme adopted by the media elite and handed down from on high.

The idea that “right-wing populism” or even neo-fascism is on the march due to the results of the European elections is never so nonsensical as when it is applied to Italy, where Beppe Grillo’s “Five Star” movement came in with 21 percent of the vote, an astounding total given the party’s brief history and scant resources. The Five Starists are a unique combination of Euro-skepticism, populism (they favor direct democracy via the Internet), and outright cynicism, Italian-style. And while the 40 percent garnered by the pro-EU Democratic party is being hailed by the media and the Eurocrats (or do I repeat myself?) as a great victory, that the Five Stars managed to even approximate their last vote total without much institutional backing was in itself a major accomplishment. My point, however, is that Italy has real fascist parties, none of which registered above a few percent in the recent election.

Another example of this nonsensical “immigrant-bashing-neo-fasicsts-are-on-the-rise” line being handed out by Brussels is Greece, where, it’s true, the openly fascist semi-criminal “Golden Dawn” party polled nearly 10 percent. Yet these same alarmists downplay the victory – by four percentage points – of Syriza, a far-left outfit, over the ruling center-right coalition: the usual excuse given is that the margin isn’t considered big enough for an “upset.” Syriza is described in news accounts as an “anti-austerity” party, a bit of a euphemism that downplays its origins as a coalition of Communists, Trotskyists, and other far-left grouplets.

In Poland, the controversial Janusz Korwin-Mikke and his “New Right” party combine a quasi-libertarian domestic program with outright opposition to the EU and a mean streak of misogynistic notions about women and sexuality that have won the party notoriety: they won 7 percent of the vote, thus ensuring them seats. They are the Polish version of UKIP: the same goes for the Danish Peoples Party, which won 27 percent and doubled its seats. The neo-fascist British National Party lost all its seats this time around.

However, a kernel of truth abides in the conventional wisdom: there is indeed a rising fascist presence in European politics, and it is not confined to France’s National Front, which is not openly fascist in any case. There is a geographical factor involved in this trend: the most successful fascist parties are those in southeastern Europe, including not only Golden Dawn but Hungary’s Jobbik party – which is openly anti-Semitic and looks to the pro-Nazi collaborationists of World War II for inspiration. The Austrian Freedom Party, founded by Jorge Haidar, gained 27 percent, doubling its representation in the European Parliament. Under Haidar’s leadership, the party was more like UKIP than BNP, but in recent years has veered more toward the Geert Wilders model – whose own Dutch anti-Muslim movement, by the way, fared pretty badly.

That none of these mostly West European parties, including Le Pen’s National Front, has the slightest chance of actually coming to power doesn’t stop the “progressive” left from sounding the alarm – just hearing it galvanizes their followers and confirms them in the knowledge that anyone to their right is a racist homophobic misogynist with a secret yen for World War II memorabilia. Their big blind spot, however, is apparent when their gaze turns eastward, and particularly where it concerns the EU’s latest conquest – Ukraine.

I had to laugh when I saw the tweets from the usual suspects hailing the presidential election results in Ukraine as proof fascism has no presence in that country. The presidential contest hardly measured the Ukrainian fascists’ actual strength: the real test will come later, with parliamentary elections and the progress of the EU’s “austerity” program. In the meantime, the Svoboda (Freedom) party has seven supporters in the “interim” government, which will probably be unchanged until and unless parliamentary elections are held.

Originally the “Social National” party (i.e. national socialist, wink wink!), Svoboda holds 35 seats in the Rada (parliament), the result of their 10 percent vote total last time around. After playing such a key role in the Maidan protests, their vote total is bound to go up, and indeed the victory of the so-called Chocolate King, the oligarch Petro Poroshenko, in the presidential election will pave the way for their future success. A pretty sleazy character in his own right, the filthy-rich Poroshenko will preside over EU-dictated terms of austerity that promise to be fertile ground for precisely the sort of Weimar-like “populism” the Eurocrats are warning against.

Thus the Euro-elites dig their own graves – which one wouldn’t mind at all if they didn’t insist on taking so many innocents with them.

The reaction against the EU project on both the right and the left is easily explained: people don’t trust big institutions, particularly of the governmental variety. The bigger they are, the more people resent and resist them.

The EU is often portrayed by its boosters as the prerequisite for Europe fully entering modernity, leaving behind the old detritus of national borders and cultural particularities and moving to embrace a Brave New World. Yet the Eurocrats uphold an old-fashioned conception of modernity, one born before the computer age empowered individuals and fostered the merits of decentralized decision-making. Just look at the decision by some idiotic Spanish judge to censor the Google search engine: these people just don’t get it, do they?

All this baloney about how failure to recognize the supremacy of Brussels risks a replay of the Great War represents a severe case of projection. The foreign policy of the EU has been consistently aggressive and expansionist. This is underscored not only by Brussels’ recent Ukrainian foray but also by its ambitions of absorbing Georgia. And don’t forget the on-again off-again ascension of Turkey to full EU status, long a project on the Eurocrats’ agenda: the idea is to pair NATO membership with EU membership in a discount package deal. It is of course entirely laughable that Turkey is European in any respect: but power politics trumps culture and even language, at least among the Euro-elites. As the EU charges eastward, it won’t be long before they’ll be claiming the “president” of Kazakhstan a long lost European brother.

The European parliamentary elections witnessed a major breakthrough for the right-wing parties throughout the region. The rise of the Right runs from the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, the Baltic and Low countries, France, Central and Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean.

Most, if not all, of these emerging right-wing parties mark a sharp break with the ruling neo-liberal, Christian and Social Democratic parties who have presided over a decade of crisis.

The ‘new Right’ cannot be understood simply by attaching negative labels (‘fascist’, ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Semitic’). The rise of the Right has to be placed in the context of the decay of political, social and economic institutions, the general and persistent decline of living standards and the disintegration of community bonds and class solidarity. The entire existing political edifice constructed by the neo-liberal parties bears deep responsibility for the systemic crisis and decay of everyday life. Moreover, this is how it is understood by a growing mass of working people who vote for the Right.

The so-called ‘radical Left’, usually defined as the political parties to the left of the governing Social Democratic parties, with the exception of SYRIZA in Greece, have failed to capitalize on the decline of the neo-liberal parties. There are several reasons that account for the lack of a right-left polarization. Most of the ‘radical Left’, in the final account, gave ‘critical support’ to one or another of the Labor or Social Democratic parties and reduced their ‘distance’ from the political-economic disasters that have followed. Secondly, the ‘radical Left’s’ positions on some issues were irrelevant or offensive to many workers: namely, gay marriage and identity politics. Thirdly, the radical Left recruited prominent personalities from the discredited Labor and Social Democratic parties and thus raised suspicion that they are a ‘new version’ of past deceptions. Fourthly, the radical Left is strong on public demonstrations demanding ‘structural changes’ but lacks the ‘grass roots’ clientelistic organizations of the Right, which provide ‘services’, such as soup kitchens and clinics dealing with day-to-day problems.

While the Right pretends to be ‘outside’ the neo-liberal establishment challenging the assumption of broad powers by the Brussels elite, the Left is ambiguous: Its support for a ‘social Europe’ implies a commitment to reform a discredited and moribund structure. The Right proposes ‘national capitalism’ outside of Brussels; the Left proposes ‘socialism within the European Union’. The Left parties, the older Communist parties and more recent groupings, like Syriza in Greece, have had mixed results. The former have generally stagnated or lost support despite the systemic crisis. The latter, like Syriza, have made impressive gains but failed to break the 30% barrier. Both lack electoral allies. As a result, the immediate challenge to the neo-liberal status quo comes from the electoral new Right parties and on the left from the extra-parliamentary social movements and trade unions. In the immediate period, the crisis of the European Union is being played out between the neo-liberal establishment and the ‘new Right’.

The Nature of the New Right

The ‘new Right’ has gained support largely because it has denounced the four pillars of the neo-liberal establishment: globalization, foreign financial control, executive rule by fiat (the Brussels troika) and the unregulated influx of cheap immigrant labor.

Nationalism, as embraced by the new Right, is tied to national capitalism: Local producers, retailers and farmers are counterpoised to free traders, mergers and acquisitions by international bankers and the giant multinationals. The ‘new Right’ has its audience among the provincial and small town business elite as well as workers devastated by plant closures and relocations.

The ‘new Right’s’ nationalism is ‘protectionist’ – seeking tariff barriers and state regulations to protect industries and workers from ‘unfair’ competition from overseas conglomerates and low-wage immigrant labor.

The problem is that protectionism limits the imports of cheap consumer goods sold in many small retail shops and affordable to workers and the lower middle class. The Right ‘dreams’ of a corporatist model where national workers and industries bond to oppose liberal competitive capitalism and class struggle trade unions. As the class struggle declines, the ‘tri partite’ politics of the neo-liberal right is reconfigured by the New Right to include ‘national’ capital and a ‘paternalistic state’.

In sum, the nationalism of the Right evokes a mythical past of harmony where national capital and labor unite under a common communal identity to confront big foreign capital and cheap immigrant labor.

Political Strategy: Electoral and Extra-Parliamentary Politics

Currently, the new Right is primarily oriented to electoral politics, especially as it gains mass support. They have increased their share of the electorate by combining mass mobilization and community organizing with electoral politics, especially in depressed areas. They have attracted middle class voters from the neo-liberal right and working class voters from the old Left. While some sectors of the Right, like the Golden Dawn in Greece, openly flaunt fascist symbols – flags and uniforms – as well as provoking street brawls, others pressure the governing neo-liberal right to adopt some of their demands especially regarding immigration and the ‘deportation of illegals’. For the present, most of the new Right’s focus is on advancing its agenda and gaining supporters through aggressive appeals within the constitutional order and by keeping the more violent sectors under control. Moreover, the current political climate is not conducive to open extra-parliamentary ‘street fighting’ where the new Right would be easily crushed. Most right-wing strategists believe the current context is conducive to the accumulation of forces via peaceful methods.

Conditions Facilitating the Growth of the Right

There are several structural factors contributing to the growth of the new Right in Europe:

First and foremost, there is a clear decline of democratic power and institutions resulting from the centralization of executive – legislative power in the hands of a self-appointed elite in Brussels. The new Right argues effectively that the European Union has become a profoundly authoritarian political institution disenfranchising voters and imposing harsh austerity programs without a popular mandate.

Secondly, national interests have been subordinated to benefit the financial elite identified as responsible for the harsh policies that have undermined living standards and devastated local industries. The new Right counterpoises ‘the nation’ to the Brussels ‘Troika’ – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

Thirdly, ‘liberalization’ has eroded local industries and undermined communities and protective labor legislation. The Right denounces liberal immigration policies, which permit the large-scale inflow of cheap workers at a time of depression level unemployment. The crisis of capitalism combined with the large force of cheap immigrant labor forms the material basis for right-wing appeals to workers, especially those in precarious jobs or unemployed.

Right:  Contradictions and the Double Discourse

The Right, while criticizing the neo-liberal state for unemployment, focuses mainly on the immigrants competing with nationals in the labor market rather than on the capitalists whose investment decisions determine levels of employment and unemployment.

The Right attacks the authoritarian nature of the European Union, but its own structures, ideology and history pre-figure a repressive state.

The Right rightly proposes to end foreign elite control of the economy, but its own vision of a ‘national state’, especially one linked to NATO, multi-national corporations and imperial wars, will provide no basis for ‘rebuilding the national economy’.

The Right speaks to the needs of the dispossessed and the need to ‘end austerity’ but it eschews the only effective mechanism for countering inequalities – class organization and class struggle. Its vision of the ‘collaboration between productive capital and labor’ is contradicted by the aggressive capitalist offensive to cut wages, social services, pensions and working conditions. The new Right targets immigrants as the cause of unemployment while obscuring the role of the capitalists who hire and fire, invest abroad, relocate firms and introduce technology to replace labor.

They focus the workers’ anger ‘downward’ against immigrants, instead of ‘upward’ toward the owners of the means of production, finance and distribution who ultimately manipulate the labor market.

In the meantime the radical Left’s mindless defense of unlimited immigration in the name of an abstract notion of ‘international workers solidarity’ exposes their arrogant liberal bias, as though they had never consulted real workers who have to compete with immigrants for scarce jobs under increasingly unfavorable conditions.

The radical Left, under the banner of ‘international solidarity’, has ignored the historical fact that ‘internationalism’ must be built on the strong national foundation of organized, employed workers.

The Left has allowed the new Right to exploit and manipulate powerful righteous nationalist causes. The radical Left has counterpoised ‘nationalism’ to socialism, rather than seeing them as intertwined, especially in the present context of an imperialist-dominated European Union.

The fight for national independence, the break-up of the European Union, is essential to the struggle for democracy and the deepening of the class struggle for jobs and social welfare. The class struggle is more powerful and effective on the familiar national terrain – rather than confronting distant overseers in Brussels.

The notion among many radical Left leaders to ‘remake’ the EU into a ‘Social Europe’, the idea that the EU could be converted into a ‘European Union of Socialist States’ simply prolongs the suffering of the workers and the subordination of nations to the non-elected bankers who run the EU. No one seriously believes that buying stocks in Deutsch Bank and joining its annual stockholders meetings would allow workers to ‘transform’ it into a ‘People’s Bank’. Yet the ‘Bank of the Banks’, the ‘Troika’, made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, set all major policies for each member state of the European Union. Un-rectified and remaining captive of the ‘Euro-metaphysic’, the Left has abdicated its role in advancing the class struggle through the rebirth of the national struggle against the EU oligarchs.

Results and Perspectives

The Right is advancing rapidly, even if unevenly across Europe. Its support is not ephemeral but stable and cumulative at least in the medium run. The causes are ‘structural’ and result from the new Right’s ability to exploit the socio-economic crisis of the neo-liberal right governments and to denounce authoritarian and anti-national policies of the unelected EU oligarchy.

The new Right’s strength is in ‘opposition. Their protests resonate while they are distant from the command centers of the capitalist economy and state.

Are they capable of moving from protest to power? Shared power with the neo-liberals will obviously dilute and disaggregate their current social base.

The contradictions will deepen as the new Right moves from positions of ‘opposition’ to sharing power with the neo-liberal Right. The massive roundups and deportation of immigrant workers is not going to change capitalist employment policies or restore social services or improve living standards.  Promoting ‘national’ capital over foreign through some corporatist union of capital and labor will not reduce class conflict. It is totally unrealistic to imagine ‘national’ capital rejecting its foreign partners in the interest of labor.

The divisions within the ‘nationalist Right’, between the overtly fascist and electoral corporatist sectors, will intensify. The accommodation with ‘national’ capital, democratic procedures and social inequalities will likely open the door to a new wave of class conflict which will expose the sham radicalism of the ‘nationalist’ right. A committed Left, embedded in the national terrain, proud of its national and class traditions, and capable of unifying workers across ethnic and religious ‘identities’ can regain supporters and re-emerge as the real alternative to the two faces of the Right – the neo-liberal and the ‘nationalist’ new Right. The prolonged economic crisis, declining living standards, unemployment and personal insecurity propelling rise of the nationalist Right can also lead to the emergence of a Left deeply linked to national, class and community realities. The neo-liberals have no solutions to offer for the disasters and problems of their own making; the nationalists of the new Right have the wrong -reactionary – answer. Does the Left have the solution? Only by overthrowing the despotic imperial rule of Brussels can they begin to address the national-class issues.

In the absence of a Left alternative, the working class voters have opted for two alternatives: Massive voter abstention and strikes. In the recent EU election, 60% of the French electorate abstained, with abstention approaching 80% in working class neighborhoods. This pattern was repeated or even exceeded throughout the EU – hardly a mandate for the EU or for the ‘new Right’. In the weeks and days before the vote, workers took to the streets. There were massive strikes of civil servants and shipyard workers, as well as workers from other sectors and mass demonstrations by the unemployed and popular classes opposing EU-imposed ‘austerity’ cuts in social services, health, education, pensions, factory closures and mass lay-offs. Widespread voter abstention and street demonstrations point to a huge proportion of the population rejecting both the neo-Liberal Right of the ‘Troika’ as well as the ‘new Right’.

North Dakota Treasurer Kelly Schmidt has responded to DeSmogBlog’s investigation of the Bakken Shale basin fracking field trip her office facilitated for former CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, who now works at the Manhattan-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR)

Schmidt expanded on the initial comments she provided to DeSmogBlog in response to our findings obtained via North Dakota Open Records Statute. Among other things, she described the blurred lines existing between the North Dakota government, the oil industry and private equity firms like KKR as “not unusual.”

Schmidt’s comments came on May 23 on WDAY’s Jay Thomas Show, guest hosted that day by Rob Port, just over three weeks after her office hosted Petraeus.

DeSmogBlog’s May 22 investigative piece revealed that KKR — which has ties to North Dakota’s hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom via Samson Resources and The Ridge housing complex and considers itself a “mini oil and gas company” — wrote the press release for the Office of North Dakota State Treasurer announcing Petraeus’ visit, closely counseled Schmidt’s office on media strategy and hosted Schmidt on a company chartered private jet.

Radio host Port was the “winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence” according to his biography on his “Say Anything” blog, and is also a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council, a wing of the State Policy Network “stink tanks.”

Rob Port; Photo Credit: Facebook

Prior to interviewing Schmidt, Port had previously written an article on the same day the DeSmogBlog piece was published in response to it, exonerating Schmidt for what unfolded during the trip. His interview with Schmidt on the Jay Thomas Show did much the same.

KKR Press Release Writing “Not Unusual”

After explaining how she initially met Petraeus — who on top of his role at the KKR Global Institute, also works as an adjunct professor teaching KKR’s curriculum at CUNY Honors College, USC and Harvard University — Schmidt responded to a question by Port, saying it was “not something unusual” for KKR to draft the press release now published on the treasurer’s office website.

“We worked collaboratively with KKR to set things up. When you’re working with someone who has the caliber and in some cases security issues that I may not be aware of nor my staff, we always work together with staff of someone who’s coming to visit or someone of his caliber,” she said. “So to have them create a press release was not something unusual.”

Kelly Schimidt; Photo Credit: Office of North Dakota State Treasurer

Schmidt also cited another tie Petraeus has to North Dakota, which served as a major impetus for KKR and the treasurer’s office to co-manage the media scrupulously: Paula Broadwell.

Schmidt Thanks ND National Guard for Oil War

Petraeus resigned from the CIA in November 2012 after it got out that he had an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.

David Petraeus (L), Paula Broadwell (R); Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Broadwell — author of the book, “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus“ — is a native of Bismarck, ND, the final destination of Petraeus’ late-April trip to the state.

Bismarck, in turn, was a key part of the trip. While there, Petraeus gave a lecture on leadership to the North Dakota National Guard.

In introducing Petraeus at the National Guard event, Schmidt thanked the troops in attendance for fighting in a war “over there for the oil we all need.”

Schmidt introduces Petraeus; Photo Credit: North Dakota National Guard; photo via YouTube screenshot; video obtained via FOIA

“David and I have been out in the western portion of North Dakota where we have shared with him the challenges we’ve been facing to help make our nation and our world an energy independent country so that you and your fellow officers and enlisted folks never have to go over there again in order to fight for the oil we all need,” said Schmidt in a video obtained via Freedom of Information request by DeSmogBlog from the North Dakota National Guard.

Schmidt also told Port the North Dakota treasurer’s office was happy to do the media bidding of both Petraeus and KKR to ensure the National Guard speaking event went smoothly.

“Most people are familiar with the indiscretion that [Petraeus] had and its relationship to North Dakota,” she told Port. “And I was concerned this would take on legs and have a life of its own and that was something none of us wanted to see happen…I did not want this to become something it was never intended to be.”

“Smell Test”

Port also said on the show that DeSmogBlog’s alleged claim that “[Petraeus] was kept from the media doesn’t pass the smell test.”

He cited the one-hour radio show appearance Petraeus did on “Energy Matters” — which broadcasts on KFYR and is co-hosted by Tim Fisher and Steve Bakken — as a case in point.

One problem: Tim Fisher works for the oil and gas industry through a consultancy he set up called Bakken Energy Services. And Steve Bakken works for Larson Engineering, which has performs oil and gas services nationwide, including in the Bakken.

Another problem: DeSmogBlog never claimed Petraeus was kept from the media. Rather, the article demonstrated that the North Dakota treasurer’s office and KKR worked synergistically to manage the media behind the scenes in a way ultimately favoring KKR’s image.

“I Will Do Everything I Can”

Asked by Port about the meetings Petraeus and KKR officials had with top-ranking officials at the North Dakota State Investment Board and the North Dakota Department of Lands Trust during their stay — both of which Schmidt is a board member of — Schmidt stated that meetings of these sorts are “not uncommon.”

A major part of the premise for Schmidt receiving legal clearance from Assistant Attorney General Janilyn Murtha — who serves as legal counsel for an arm of the State Investment Board — was that KKR was not in the state to talk business with the board. But in her interview with Port, Schmidt said the total opposite, and boasted of it:

“This is not uncommon to have people come to North Dakota and visit with people from the retirement and investment board and the land department relating to an opportunity to do business with North Dakota.

And I would also like to add, I will do everything I can to bring people of David Petraeus’ caliber and bring North Dakota to the forefront, because I truly believe that we need to have these types of quality investors come into our state…so that bringing the United States of America into an energy independent status does not fall on the backs of North Dakotans.

We need to continue to do what we can to bring people to the state that can elevate this and can show that this is not going to end anytime soon and we need assistance in developing our infrastructure. Our taxpayers cannot foot the bill for all of this.”

“Very Disappointing”

After saying she had never heard of DeSmogBlog until “this came up” to Port, Schmidt called the fruits of the investigation “very disappointing”:

“All I can say is it’s very disappointing because we are trying to do the very best we can here in North Dakota and there’s always going to be someone who is going to second guess or look for something wrong with what we’ve intended and we can’t do anything about that. We can just continue to plug along and do what we need to do and continue to follow our ethics and our laws and our roles that’s exactly what happened in this situation.”

Disappointment, though, is in the eyes of the beholder. Don Morrison, executive director of North Dakota Resource Council, told DeSmogBlog he has a grievance for entirely different reasons than Schmidt’s.

“Current state officials like Schmidt have systematically ignored the growing impacts of fracking the Bakken on people and livelihoods,” he said. “They see themselves as promoters of the oil industry and have taken on the role of providing services to the oil industry. Everyone else can be collateral damage.”

Photo Credit: Office of North Dakota State Treasurer, obtained via ND Open Records Statute

It is imperative that Poland finds an independent voice that includes a condemnation of the far-right both at home and in Ukraine.

Ternopol Mayor Sergei Nadal was asked why Svoboda supports the recognition of descendants of former members of the Ukrainian 14th Division of the Waffen SS as national heroes. “These Ukrainian heroes must be honoured irrespective of what has been written about them in the history books of those peoples who were once our enemies,” Nadal answered.

World War Two left too many stories of human misery. Amongst them was the ethnic cleansing carried out in Nazi occupied Poland by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). This reached its peak in 1943, when the UPA Commander ordered the liquidation of the male population, ending in the murder of around 100,000 Poles, the majority of whom were actually women and children.

These killings were carried out by the faction of UPA under the leadership of the Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera. Fighting alongside the German Nazis, who promised them a post-war independent Ukraine, their aim was to purge their future state of all non-Ukrainians. Thankfully, the Nazis and their allies were ultimately defeated and UPA was never able to realise its dream of an ethnically pure Ukraine within a Nazi controlled Europe.

The current crisis in Ukraine affects Poland perhaps more than any other European country. Poland and Ukraine share a common border and are economically, culturally and historically entwined. Large areas of western Ukraine belonged to Poland before the war and cities such as Lviv continue to be seen by many Poles as central to their cultural heritage. About 1/5 of all the country’s exports go eastwards to Ukraine and Russia; and hundreds of thousands of jobs depend on this eastern trade. Ukraine is also a country of particular strategic importance for a government that bases its foreign policy on the pre-war conception of having buffer states to its east that are independent of Russia.Anyone who understands Polish history and society would have expected it to have taken a firm stance against Russia in this crisis. However, this has been accompanied by an overall silence on the role played by the far-right in Ukraine. And there is much for Poland to be concerned about. The far-right organisations Svoboda and the Right-Sector played a central role in the Maidan protests, which increased as they became more radical and violent. Although the far-right was a minority on the Maidan demonstrations, their reputation and prestige rose as they were at the forefront of fighting with the hated Berkut.

These parties have strong neo-Nazi roots and connections to other fascist parties in Europe. They also openly display the black and red flags of UPA and portraits of Bandera (one such banner was hung in Kiev’s town hall). They are organised on the streets and are now strongly embedded in Ukraine’s new government alongside the supporters of the west’s favourite oligarch Yulia Tymoschenko. Seven Ministries in this government are occupied by the far-right (including defence and national security) and they have four Regional Governors.

The silence on the coming to power of fascists, who lay claim to the tradition of UPA and Bandera, has partly been in response to the claims from Moscow that there has been a fascist coup in Kiev. A war of words has begun with many in the west (including Poland) countering these assertions: the far-right is just an insignificant minority; they have reformed themselves and are no longer fascists; those carrying the symbols of UPA do not understand their historical meaning; the far-right also exists in Russia, which has no right to criticise Ukraine; these are just lies spread from Moscow in order to justify Russian expansionism.

Some of the claims coming from Moscow may indeed be exaggerated. Fascism has not come to power in Ukraine, and initial reports of wide-scale anti-Semitic attacks were unfounded. However, in a period of economic and political crisis a fascist movement has gained a foothold both on the streets and in government. This is intensifying tensions with those in the east of the country who feel threatened by political forces who have an overtly hostile attitude towards the Russian speakers in Ukraine. Such political forces are a dangerous and destabilising force in a country wrought with divisions and potential points of conflict. The recent killing of two people in the eastern city of Kharkov by Right-Sector gunmen is an example of how the situation could spiral out of control and widen the conflict.

In this situation it is imperative that Poland finds an independent voice that includes a condemnation of the far-right. If it is really true that those holding the flags of UPA do not understand their historical meaning then the Polish government has a duty to inform them what this is in the strongest possible terms (as it does for example whenever Auschwitz is referred to as a ‘Polish concentration camp’). It should also openly distance itself from those political parties in government who lay claim to the political heritage of UPA.

Those in the west who have long forgotten the crimes carried out by Ukrainian nationalists in collusion with the Nazis must be told about who they are now backing in Ukraine. Poland has a unique perspective in this crisis and it should be loudest in condemning the far-right in Ukraine and anyone who stands in the tradition of UPA and Bandera. The west has long intervened in other countries, supported extremist elements and then stood back at a distance to watch the ensuing chaos. Poland does not have such a luxury and may soon find itself having to deal with a divided country on its border which is in perpetual economic crisis and social disorder. Ideal breeding ground for supporters of fascism.

The Polish government should also beware of the threat that the far-right poses at home. Presently, the far-right remains an isolated force, unable to find an independent space in a political scene dominated by two parties from the conservative right. However, they have become increasingly visible on the streets, not least when tens of thousands attend the annual Independence Day march in Warsaw. The majority of these demonstrators may not be fascists, but they are led by a strong core of supporters of far-right organisations in collusion with groups of football hooligans. At last year’s march, these radical elements burned down a rainbow structure that was seen to symbolise lesbian and gay rights; attacked a squat and surrounded and laid siege to the Russian embassy. Members of far-right organisations have increasingly attempted to disrupt (sometimes violently) public lectures and meetings, including a lecture given by Zygmunt Bauman last year at Wrocław University.

Liberal mainstream opinion has been very vocal in opposing these actions in Poland and has seen them as a threat to the country’s democratic system. However, at the same time hardly a whisper of condemnation has been made when the very same political forces have led violent confrontations with the police in Ukraine and then become a central element of its new unelected government. Some prominent Polish politicians even chose to share a political platform on the Maidan with leaders of the far-right, alongside UPA flags.

This year is the seventieth anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, the largest and most bloody uprising against fascism in which around 150,000 Poles died. Poland suffered more than any other country at the hands of fascism, with millions killed, many of its cities destroyed and German Nazi concentration camps situated on its territory. To remain silent or downplay the growth of fascism in Ukraine today is taking the mantra of an ‘enemy’s enemy is my friend’ to its absurd extremity. To oppose the far-right in Ukraine and to condemn anyone raising the banners of UPA and Bandera does not make one automatically a friend of Putin.

With the west remaining largely silent on the rise of fascism in Ukraine, a strong anti-fascist voice is urgently needed from Poland.

The US media has broadly cast the speech delivered by President Barack Obama at West Point on Wednesday as a farewell to the decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and an embrace of a more multilateral and less militaristic American foreign policy.

This interpretation willfully ignores the content of the speech, which even more than those Obama has given in the past asserts a policy of permanent and global war in pursuit of the interests of the US financial elite. The media distortion is driven, on the one hand, by the partisan motives of Obama’s Republican rivals, who seek to portray him as weak-kneed, and, on the other, by the support from a wealthy and privileged “liberal” elite for wars of aggression waged under the banners of “human rights” and “democracy.”

The real content of the speech was in sync with the venue in which the president chose to deliver it. As is so often the case, the audience selected for what was supposedly a major foreign policy address was uniformed and captive, subject to military discipline. In this case, it was the graduating cadets of the US Military Academy, who are joining an officer corps that is entrusted with organizing and leading Washington’s global military interventions.

Reflecting the ever-increasing dominance of the military and intelligence apparatus over the US government and American political life, Obama’s speech was replete with paeans to the military. He told the West Point graduates that “our military has no peer” and that they would “embody what it means for America to lead the world.”

“The military that you have joined is and always will be the backbone” of US “leadership” on the world stage, Obama declared, providing his audience with a succinct definition of American militarism in the 21st century.

In his speech, Obama quoted Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme commander of allied forces in Europe in World War II and subsequent US president, who told the same corps of cadets in a 1947 commencement speech, “War is mankind’s most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.”

That speech came barely half a year after the last of the trials of surviving Nazi leaders held in Nuremberg, and it was in that context that Eisenhower made his remark. The principal charge against the Nazi leaders was initiating and waging aggressive war.

In what immediately followed his quotation from Eisenhower, however, Obama elaborated a doctrine with which Adolf Hitler would have had little quarrel.

“The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it—when our people are threatened, when our livelihoods are at stake, when the security of our allies is in danger… International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland, or our way of life.”

Clearly Obama is not elaborating here a policy of defensive war to be waged only in response to an attack or the threat of an imminent attack. He is spelling out that the US reserves the right to intervene militarily wherever it believes its “core interests”—i.e., the access of its corporations and banks to markets, raw materials, cheap labor and profits—are involved.

When he speaks of “our livelihoods” and “our way of life,” he is referring not to the ever-declining living standards of the American worker, but to the eight-figure compensation packages of American CEOs, whose fortunes are founded on the exploitation of the working populations and resources of the entire planet.

The US president went on to assert the right to launch wars even where no case could be made that there was any threat posed to the US, but rather where there were issues that “stir our conscience.”

As recent history has proven, this “conscience” is highly flexible. When unsubstantiated claims were made in 2011 that the Libyan military was on the verge of invading the rebellious eastern city of Benghazi and massacring its inhabitants, Washington and NATO launched a full-scale bombing campaign and proxy ground war that killed tens of thousands and ended with the overthrow and lynching of the country’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Today, having already succeeded in toppling the elected president of Ukraine, Washington is providing full support to a right-wing coup regime in Kiev as its sends troops and fascist thugs to invade the eastern city of Donetsk and massacre protesters there.

And while touting “America’s support for democracy and human rights” wherever Washington seeks to carry out regime-change, Obama included a specific exception for the Sisi regime in Egypt, which overthrew an elected president, has murdered thousands, jailed tens of thousands and outlawed the country’s largest political party. “In countries like Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests,” he said.

In America’s “humanitarian” wars of choice, Obama proclaimed, “the threshold for military action must be higher.” Washington, he said, “must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action.” He continued: “We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law; and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action.”

This scenario fits precisely the roadmap followed by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, in mobilizing his “coalition of the willing” to wage the “war of choice” against Iraq.

Everything put forward by Obama is a repudiation of international law and an endorsement of the policy of aggressive war practiced by the Nazis three-quarters of a century ago.

In how many countries is the US already carrying out military interventions and proxy wars? Obama’s West Point speech was preceded by his announcement that nearly 10,000 US troops are to remain in Afghanistan after the formal end of the US occupation at the close of this year, and that a residual force will remain there indefinitely.

Drone strikes, night raids and other actions are being carried out in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and elsewhere, while American forces are fanning out across Africa on the pretext of combating Kony, finding the Nigerian school girls or battling Islamists.

In Ukraine, Washington instigated a coup that brought it into direct confrontation with Russia, a nuclear power, and has since sent US ground troops into Poland and the former Soviet Baltic republics, while deploying warships in the Black Sea. It has carried out even more provocative naval exercises and B-52 fly-bys directed against China.

In Syria, the Obama administration is currently discussing a plan to deploy US military forces to train and arm the so-called rebels, thereby escalating and prolonging the sectarian civil war that has decimated that country. In his speech, Obama called for the creation of a new $5 billion “Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund” to promote interventions and arm and train repressive forces in the Middle East, Africa and anywhere else on the planet that falls within the crosshairs of the White House.

Obama used the speech to defend his assertion of unlimited power to carry out drone massacres and assassinations, which have already claimed at least 5,000 victims, most of them civilians. The US president made the obscene claim that such strikes are carried out only when there is “a near certainty of no civilian casualties.”

The speech comes in the immediate wake of congressional testimony in which administration officials asserted that the president has unlimited powers to launch wars and carry out drone assassinations, including against American citizens, with no need for either congressional authorization or judicial approval. This only makes explicit what is already Washington’s modus operandi, in which Congress is nothing more than a rubber stamp for the US war machine.

The executive, embodying the power of the military-intelligence apparatus, has the right to do virtually anything. But what rights are left to the American people? Those that remain are being rapidly erased. The last vestiges of democracy must be dispensed with in order to impose conditions of war, inequality and economic austerity opposed by the vast majority of the population.

Obama’s high-flown rhetoric about the US having passed through its “long season of war” notwithstanding, what his speech indicates more than anything is that American imperialism is preparing a global catastrophe of unprecedented dimensions.

Rebel fighters in the city of Slavyansk shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter Thursday, killing 14 soldiers, including an army general, according to press reports from eastern Ukraine that were confirmed by government officials in Kiev.

Acting president Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament that a shoulder-launched air defense missile was used to shoot down the Mi-8 helicopter. It was ferrying troops into the outskirts of Slavyansk, a stronghold for pro-Russian separatists opposed to the fascist-backed government in Kiev.

The general killed was identified as Maj. Gen. Vladimir Kulchytsky, a former officer in the Soviet military who was in charge of combat training for Ukraine’s National Guard. The National Guard has become the vehicle for the mobilization of fascist and ultra-nationalist gunmen against the population of Ukraine, drawing new recruits from the Right Sector and the Svoboda (Freedom) party, two groups that hark back to the pro-Hitler Ukrainian nationalists of the World War II era.

Six of the dead were members of the National Guard, while the other eight were from a special forces unit of the Interior Ministry—all evidently picked for their willingness to go into combat against their own people.

Turchynov described those who shot down the helicopter as “terrorists” and “criminals,” the terms used by the Kiev regime to describe all its political opponents in eastern and southern Ukraine. He claimed that air strikes and artillery strikes had destroyed the insurgent unit responsible for shooting down the aircraft.

Addressing the parliament, Turchynov threatened sweeping military vengeance against those who resisted Kiev’s dictates. “Our armed forces, our security forces will complete their job against terrorism,” he said. “And all the criminals who are now funded by the Russian Federation will be destroyed or sit in the dock.”

Press reports spoke of heavy fighting around Slavyansk, including artillery bombardments of residential neighborhoods in the city—a true act of terrorism, perpetrated by the government forces. There were no confirmed reports of casualties on either side, behind the death toll from the helicopter shoot-down.

The Associated Press quoted one resident, Olga Mikailova, who said she was leaving the city for her family’s safety. “They are shooting at us from grenade launchers. We hear explosions. The windows of our house are shaking,” she said. “I have four children. It is terrifying being here, because I am afraid for their lives.” USA Today cited comments from Olga Oliker, an analyst at Rand Corp. familiar with the capabilities of the Ukrainian army. She said that it lacked the ability to gather intelligence, conduct precision strikes and avoid civilian casualties, concluding with the remarkably open admission, “They are fighting a domestic population.”

The Russian broadcast NTV reported popular opposition to the intensified warfare in the east, expressed in the actions of parents of conscripts who went to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry base in the Luhansk region to take their sons home.

In Donetsk, the capital of the eastern region, funerals were taking place for many of those killed in fighting near Sergei Prokofiev airport just outside the city. After separatist fighters seized control of the airport, the Ukrainian regime called in airstrikes, incinerating as many as 50 people, including both local residents and volunteers who had crossed the border from Russia, a few miles away.

Billionaire chocolate magnate Petro Poroshenko, who won the gunpoint election held Sunday in the government-controlled portions of Ukraine, hailed the bloodbath in Donetsk, declaring the fight to reestablish Kiev’s control over the eastern region “has finally really begun.”

Poroshenko’s comments were echoed by US President Obama in his commencement speech at the US Military Academy Wednesday, where he announced that he had spoken to the incoming Ukrainian president and condemned what he called “armed militias in ski masks”—not the fascist thugs who spearheaded the overthrow of Yanukovych, but the people of eastern Ukraine opposed to the ultra-right regime in Kiev.

The US-backed regime has now set June 7 for Poroshenko’s inauguration, although there will be no significant change in either the policy or the personnel in control in Kiev. Poroshenko said he would keep Arseniy Yatsenyuk as premier, while delaying any parliamentary election until the end of the year.

The Party of Regions, the organization previously headed by the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, has a plurality in the current parliament, although many of its legislators have stayed away from Kiev for fear of violence by Right Sector and Svoboda thugs.

In an interview Wednesday with Germany’s Bild newspaper, Poroshenko said that he would ask the US government for military supplies and training. It is not clear where this training would take place, raising the possibility of stationing US “advisers” on Ukrainian soil.

Poroshenko issued a statement Thursday saying he would sign an economic agreement with the European Union as soon as he takes office next week. Yanukovych’s balking at such an agreement—which includes drastic austerity measures that will devastate the Ukrainian economy and drive up unemployment—was the occasion for the US-backed drive to remove him from office.

“The signing and enactment of the agreement … is part of Ukraine’s modernization plan,” Poroshenko said, adding that he hoped to “implement the reforms package within a very short period of time.”

He also said that he would hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in July. Russia has effectively halted all support to the separatist forces in the east and recognized Poroshenko’s election. As the fighting in the east flared, Putin travelled to Central Asia Thursday, signing an economic agreement to establish a “Eurasian Union” with Kazakhstan and Belarus.

The Democrats’ New Fake Populism

May 30th, 2014 by Shamus Cooke

It would have been hilarious were it not so nauseating. One could only watch the recent “New Populism” conference with pity-induced discomfort, as stale Democratic politicians did their awkward best to adjust themselves to the fad of “populism.” 

 A boring litany of Democratic politicians — or those closely associated — gave bland speeches that aroused little enthusiasm among a very friendly audience of Washington D.C. politicos. It felt like an amateur recital in front of family and friends, in the hopes that practicing populism with an audience would better prepare them for the real thing.   

 The organizers of the conference, The Campaign For America’s Future, ensured that real populism would be absent from the program. The group is a Democratic Party ally that essentially functions as a party think tank.

The two co-founders of Campaign for America’s Future are Robert Borosage — who works closely with the progressive caucus of the Democratic Party — and Robert Hickey, who works with Health Care for America Now, an organization that prioritized campaigning for Obamacare. On the Board of Directors is the notorious liberal Van Jones, no doubt carefully chosen for his non-threatening elitist politics.

The “new populism” seems to mistakenly believe that if Democrats merely advocate for a couple of “popular” ideas — as opposed to their usual unpopular policies that they actually implement — that they can suddenly transform themselves into “populists.”

The unofficial and uninspiring leader of this grouping, Senator Elizabeth Warren, summarized the “radical” populist platform of these reborn Democrat revolutionaries, doing her drab best to inject life into a zombie political party:

“We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”

“We believe no one should work full-time and live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage — and we’re willing to fight for it.”

“We believe people should retire with dignity, and that means strengthening Social Security — and we’re willing to fight for it.”

“We believe that a kid should have a chance to go to college without getting crushed by debt — and we’re willing to fight for it.” 

It’s true that 90 percent of Americans would agree with Warren, but the devil is in her lack of details. Warren’s popular platform falls incredibly flat because there are no concrete demands to inspire people, just generalizations. This important omission didn’t happen by mistake.

The Democrats simply do not want a new populist movement; rather, their opportunistic goal is to win elections by simply being more popular than the Republicans. Any of Warren’s above ideas — if they ever enter the halls of Congress as a bill — would be sufficiently watered down long before any elated response could be reached from the broader population.

How might Warren transform her ideas if she actually wanted a populist response? Some examples might be:     

1) - Jail the bankers who crashed the economy. Tax Wall Street earnings at 90% and nationalize any bank that is “too big to fail” in order to bring them under control.

 2) - Raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.

3) - Expand Social Security by lowering the retirement age to 60, to be paid for by expanding payroll taxes to higher earners — who currently pay no Medicare and Social Security taxes on income over $110,000.

4) - Free university education — to be paid for by taxing the rich and corporations. Eliminate crushing student debt.

Such demands would be much more likely to inspire people than what the “populist” Democrats are offering, and inspiration is the missing populist ingredient that the Democrats are organically incapable of provoking.

What’s preventing the Democrats from becoming inspirational? They know all too well that by venturing too far to the left they could easily instigate a real mass movement. And such a movement is not easily controlled and would inevitably demand much more than the corporate-minded Democrats are willing to concede, which, at this point, is virtually nothing aside from musty rhetoric.

Unlike the Republican’s populist turn to the right that created the now-defunct Tea Party, a true left turn would mean have the potential to rejuvenate the millions’ strong labor movement, while engaging tens of millions more into active political life, driving people to participate in mass marches, rallies, labor strikes and other forms of mass action.

This was what happened during the “old populism” in U.S. history, which the Democrats are taking their trendy namesake from. The populist movement of the late 1800’s was a genuine mass movement of workers and farmers, which briefly aligned in an independent political party, the People’s Party, also known as the populists.

The populist movement that included strike waves and local rural rebellions had nothing to do with the lifeless politics of the Democratic Party, and threatened the very foundation of America corporate power. The Democrats are keenly aware of this type of real populist “threat,” and they are willing to do anything to stop it.

For example, the Occupy movement proved that the Democrats fear real left populism much more than they fear far-right populism. We now know that the Obama administration worked with numerous Democratic Party mayors and governors across the nation to undermine and destroy the Occupy movement through mass arrests, police violence and surveillance. And because Occupy succeeded in changing the national conversation about income inequality, the Democrats were forced to engage with the rhetoric of the movement they dismembered, and now use the plagiarized language as proof of their “populism.”

  Aside from Elizabeth Warren, the other rock star of the “new populism” conference was the nominally-independent “socialist” Bernie Sanders, who essentially functions in Congress as a Democrat. Sanders’ politics fits in perfectly with the rest of the progressive caucus Democrats, which is why he was invited to the conference. Sanders can perhaps outdo Warren when it comes to anti-corporate-speak; but like Warren he keeps his solutions vague and his movement building aspirations negligible. 

If by chance Sanders chooses to run for president as an Independent — as many radicals are hoping — his fake populist politics and empty rhetoric are unlikely to drastically change, limiting any chance that a “movement” may emerge.

It’s doubtful that many people have been fooled by the “left turn” of the Democratic Party. But on a deeper level the politics of “lesser evilism” still haunts labor and community groups, and keeping these groups within the orbit of the Democratic Party is the ultimate purpose of this new, more radical speechifying.  Until these groups organize themselves independently and create their own working class political party, the above politics of “populist” farce is guaranteed to continue.

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

This Voltaire Net article was originally post on GR on April 22, 2014

Lies have shorter and shorter legs. Two months after the change of regime in Kiev, the Polish press has disclosed the role of Donald Tusk’s government in preparing the coup.

The new revelations belie Western discourse and demonstrate that the current interim government of Oleksandr Tourtchynov was imposed by NATO in violation of international law.

The Polish left-wing weekly Nie (No) published a startling witness account of the training given to the most violent of the EuroMaidan [1] activists.According to this source, in September 2013, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski invited 86 members of the Right Sector (Sector Pravy), allegedly in the context of a university exchange program. In reality, the guests were not students, and many were over 40. Contrary to their official schedule, they did not go to the Warsaw University of Technology, but headed instead for the police training center in Legionowo, an hour’s drive from the capital. There, they received four weeks of intensive training in crowd management, person recognition, combat tactics, command skills, behavior in crisis situations, protection against gases used by police, erecting barricades, and especially shooting, including the handling of sniper rifles. Such training took place in September 2013, while the Maidan Square protests were allegedly triggered by a decree suspending preparations for the signing of the Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement, which was issued by Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on November 21, i.e. two months later. The Polish weekly refers to photographs attesting to the training, which show the Ukrainians in Nazi uniforms alongside their Polish instructors in civilian clothing.These revelations warrant a fresh look at the resolution adopted in early December 2013 by the Polish Parliament (Sejm), pledging its

total solidarity with Ukrainian citizens who, with strong determination, are showing the world their desire to achieve the full membership of their country in the European Union.

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In his capacity as EU negotiator, Radosław Sikorski signed a crisis settlement agreement with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, in the evening of February 21, 2014. The following morning, the men he had secretly trained in Poland were about to take power.

Naturally, the MPs were not yet aware of their country’s involvement in the training of the very individuals who were planning – and ultimately achieved – a violent takeover of power. This scandal illustrates the role assigned by NATO to Poland in Ukraine, analogous to the one entrusted to Turkey in Syria. The government of pro-European liberal Donald Tusk is fully committed to playing its role. Foreign Affairs Minister Radosław Sikorski – a journalist and former political refugee in the United Kingdom – was the mastermind behind Poland’s integration into NATO. As a member of the “Weimar Triangle”, he was one of three EU representatives who brokered the 21 February 2014 agreement between President Viktor Yanukovych and the three main EuroMaidan leaders [2].

Needless to say, the Ukrainian president was unaware of the Polish representative’s entanglement with the rioters. As for the Interior Minister and special services coordinator, Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (the great grand-son of novelist Henryk Sienkiewicz, best known for Quo Vadis?), he co-founded the Office for State Protection (Urzd Ochrony Państwa), Poland’s current intelligence agency. He also co-created and served as vice-president of the Centre for Eastern Studies (Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich), a national think-tank dealing with the situation in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, with particular emphasis on Ukraine and Turkey. It exerts a profound influence on the West’s perception of current events, through its agreements with Carnegie Foundation [3].

During Yulia Tymoshenko’s government (2007-2010), the current interim president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Tourtchynov, had served as intelligence chief and deputy prime minister. He liaised at the time with the Poles Donald Tusk (already Prime Minister), Radosław Sikorski (then Defense Minister) and Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz (director of the private intelligence firm ASBS Othago).

To overthrow the government of its neighbor state, Poland resorted to Nazi activists in the same way that Turkey uses Al-Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government. Not only is it not surprising to see the current Polish authorities rely on the grand-children of the Nazis that the CIA tucked into the NATO Gladio network to fight against the Soviet Union, but we should also be reminded of the controversy which broke out in the 2005 Polish presidential election, when journalist and MP Jacek Kurski revealed that Józef Tusk, the grandfather of Donald Tusk, had intentionally enrolled in the Wehrmacht.

After denying the facts, the Prime Minister finally admitted that his grandfather had indeed served in the Nazi army, but claimed he had been forcefully conscripted after the annexation of Danzig. A recollection that speaks volumes about how Washington selects its agents in Eastern Europe. In summary, Poland trained a mob of thugs to overthrow the democratically-elected president of Ukraine and pretended he was subscribing to an appeasement agreement with him on 21 February 2014, while his rioters were in the process of seizing power. Moreover, there is no doubt that the coup was sponsored by the United States, as evidenced by the telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and Ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyatt [4]. Similarly, it is clear that other NATO members, including  Lithuania (in the past, Ukraine was dominated by the Polish-Lithuanian empire), and Israel in its capacity as a de facto member of its military command structure, took part in the coup [5]. This arrangement suggests that NATO now runs a new Gladio network in Eastern Europe [6]. In addition, following the coup, mercenaries working for Greystone Ltd., a subsidiary of Academi, were deployed in the country in coordination with the CIA [7].

These facts radically modify the perception that we may have had of the coup of 22 February 2014. They undermine the arguments provided supplied to the press by the U.S. Department of State (points 3 and 5 of the factsheet dated March 5) [8] and constitute an act of war under international law. Therefore, the arguments peddled by the West regarding the ensuing the events, including the accession of Crimea to the Russian Federation and the current uprisings in East and South Ukraine, are null and void.


[1] « Tajemnica stanu, tajemnica Majdanu », Nie, n°13-2014, 18 April 2014.

[2] “Agreement on the Settlement of Crisis in Ukraine”, Voltaire Network, 21 February 2014.

[3] “The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace”, Voltaire Network, 25 August 2004.

[4] “What about apologizing to Ukraine, Mrs. Nuland?”, Oriental Review/Voltaire Network, 7 February 2014. And “The Secret Agenda of Ashton and Nuland Revealed”, by Wayne Madsen, Strategic Culture Foundation/Voltaire Network, 12 March 2014.

[5] “Camouflaged Israeli soldiers on Maidan Square”, Voltaire Network, 3 March 2014.

[6] “The new Gladio in Ukraine”, by Manlio Dinucci, Voltaire Network, 21 March 2014.

[7] “US mercenaries deployed in Southern Ukraine”, and “CIA director in Kiev searching for missing mercenaries”, Voltaire Network, 4 March and 16 April 2014.

[8] “State Department Fact Sheet on Putin’s False Claims About Ukraine”, Voltaire Network, 5 March 2014.

Bush’s top counter-terrorism official for his first year as president – Richard Clarke – tells Democracy Now that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld committed war crimes in Iraq … and that they can be tried at the Hague: 

(Clarke retired in protest at the start of the Iraq war.)

Clarke is right:

  • Indeed, it is not too late to charge Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld for war crimes even under American law

And – as odd as it may sound – it’s not too late to impeach Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld … even though they are no longer in office.

Of course, Obama is also committing war crimes. For example, the Obama administration has ordered numerous indiscriminate drone strikes … which are war crimes (more here and here). And torture is also apparently continuing under Obama. See this and this.

And Obama should also be impeached.

Nahil Nuwara, also known as Um Nadim, cannot hold back tears when she speaks about her son Nadim, who was fatally shot by the Israeli army on 15 May during a protest near the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Mahmoud Odeh Abu al-Thahir was also fatally shot with live ammunition at almost exactly the same spot as Nuwara approximately an hour later. Both shootings werecaught on video by a security camera installed at a nearby store.

“My son was a sweet and innocent boy,” Um Nadim told The Electronic Intifada at her home in Ramallah.

Approximately two hundred demonstrators gathered that day outside the Ofer military prison to show solidarity with hunger-striking Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails.

They were also commemorating the sixty-sixth anniversary of the Nakba, the 1948ethnic cleansing of their homeland before and after Israel’s establishment.

When confrontations broke out between the demonstrators and the Israeli army, soldiers responded with force and live ammunition. CNN video images have shown the soldiers firing at the demonstrators, who posed no conceivable threat, from a long distance.

The two boys are among the more than 1,400 Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers or settlers since 2000, according to Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCI-Palestine), a group that monitors violations of Palestinian children’s human rights.

Israeli military forces have shot and killed four Palestinian children or teenagers so far this year, including Nadim Nuwara.

Another two persons were injured by live ammunition during the protest — one of them, Muhammad al-Azza, is still in Ramallah Hospital.

Covered from every angle

Image: The bullet found in Nadim Nuwara’s backpack.

“On the way there we got a phone call saying that one child [Nadim] had already been shot,” Muhannad Drabee, a volunteer Red Crescent medic, told The Electronic Intifada.

Upon arriving, Drabee noticed the area was covered from every angle with Israeli soldiers and border police, who were using tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets at that point.

“We all heard when live ammunition was fired,” he added. “I was about a meter away [from Muhammad Abu al-Thahir]. I ran and crouched when I heard it, but just for a second. When I looked back he was already falling to the ground.”

The bullet entered Muhammad’s back and passed through his heart. As Drabee was carrying him to the ambulance about 15 meters away, the boy stopped breathing. “I had my hand on his chest to stop the bleeding, and then he quit breathing and his heart stopped,” said Drabee.

Nadim Nuwara, however, died after being rushed to the hospital and admitted to surgery.

“Blessed to have him”

While growing up, Nadim had almost died twice before — once due to an illness shortly after his birth, and yet again when he was struck by a speeding car while in third grade at school.

Yet both times the child made a full recovery. “We were so blessed to have him after that,” Siam, his father, told The Electronic Intifada.

His father, mother, older sister and younger brother described Nadim as an affectionate, patient and innocent child. They explained that amid the flurry of statistics and heated political debates, the media too often robs Palestinian children killed by Israel of their individuality.

“All of his friends have visited us since he died,” Daniel, his ten-year-old brother, said. “They said they will be my brothers now, that if I need anything, they will help me.”

“One of the first things we did together was when he taught me how to play basketball,” Daniel said, adding that Nadim used to spend several nights a week staying out late with friends and playing sports.

“I thought this summer was going to be very fun with my brother,” said Daniel. “I thought Nadim and I were going to be able to play together a lot. But he’s gone now and this is going to be a very bad summer.”

Image: A blood-stained book found in Nadim Nuwara’s backpack.

Following their son’s death, the parents have received an outpouring of support from the local community. The Saint George School in Ramallah, where Nadim was in eleventh grade, renamed an auditorium after him and hosted a public memorial to celebrate the boy’s life.

“I was scared”

Siam and Um Nadim did not allow their children to participate in protests, and as far as they know, the day he died was the first time Nadim had gone to a demonstration.

Two days before his death, Daniel told his parents that Nadim was planning to go to a protest for Nakba Day. Conscious that the Israeli military frequently injures and kills Palestinians during demonstrations, Um Nadim pleaded with him not to go to any marches or protests.

“I went and told him that I wouldn’t let him go protest because I was scared for him,” Um Nadim said. “But he got very angry because he didn’t want me to control him … so I went and asked his father to speak to him.”

On the morning of 15 May, the day Nadim died, his father asked him not to go to any protests for his mother’s sake.

“He agreed, but deep down I knew that he would go,” Siam said. “That day I prayed that God would protect him.”

At around 1:15pm that day, Siam called Nadim to make sure that his son hadn’t gone to the protest. “He told me he was in Ramallah,” Siam said. “I warned him again not to go to the protest. That was the last time I spoke to him.”

A little over an hour later, Nadim’s uncle called Siam and let him know that Nadim had been shot and was in the hospital.

Siam arrived at the hospital to doctors telling him that his son was losing blood rapidly and had little chance of surviving. According to a medical report provided by Ramallah Hospital (embedded at the bottom of this page), Nadim died at 2:45pm during surgery. The cause of death listed states that the boy’s “heart stopped during surgery and it couldn’t be revived.”

The video footage of the shootings provides a disturbing look at the two teens’ last moments. Security camera footage released by DCI-Palestine show Nadim walking by himself without any confrontations taking place as he is shot.

Muhammad was struck from behind while walking away and died on the scene. As human rights groups continue to condemn the killings, the United Nations and the United States have called on Israel to carry out an investigation.

Amnesty International denounced Israeli forces’ “continuing recklessness in their use of force against Palestinian protesters” (“Amnesty condemns Israel for ‘reckless’ Nakba Day killings,” Maan News Agency, 16 May 2014).

B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, expressed “grave suspicion that [Israeli] forces willfully killed two Palestinians [and] injured two others” that day.

In response, the Israeli military and government have claimed that the army was not using live ammunition at Ofer that day, that Palestinians may have killed the children, and that the video footage was possibly “forged,” as reported by the Israeli daily Haaretz(“IDF says forgery likely in video showing Palestinian teens’ deaths,” 22 May 2014).


Ayed Abu Eqtaish, the accountability director for DCI-Palestine, explained that the Israeli military still hasn’t provided a credible response to the evidence.

“So far the Israelis haven’t provided a response,” Abu Eqtaish told The Electronic Intifada. “They should go ahead and provide an official comment to the video we released … Because what they have been saying in the media is contradictory.”

The Israeli military has also accused the Palestinian Authority of failing to cooperate during its investigation. Siam Nuwara, however, said that the PA has had little to no involvement in uncovering the events of his son’s death.

“The Palestinian Authority has given us no support whatsoever,” Siam said, adding that no one from the PA visited the family until the day it was announced that the bullet that killed Nadim was found. “Where were they before that?” he asked.

Four days after Nadim’s death, the family discovered a bullet in the boy’s blood-covered backpack. A ballistics expert — who requested to remain anonymous — informed the Nuwara family that it was a 5.56mm Ball M193.

According to the website of Israeli Military Industries (IMI) — a weapons manufacturer — this type of bullet is in use by the Israeli military .

In January, IMI announced that it had begun production of a new version of the 5.56mm cartridge called “Razor Core.” The bullet “designed for use by military and law-enforcement forces” has what IMI termed “superior accuracy, effective stopping power and extended range.” It describes the Razor Core bullet as “combat-proven by an undisclosed customer.”

While visiting the family, PA representatives pressured them to hand over the bullet so that they could conduct an investigation.

“I refused to give them the bullet,” Siam said. “We want to move forward according to international human rights law and the Palestinian Authority does not have the means to undertake the investigation our son deserves.”

Adding that past PA investigations into the killings of Palestinians failed to produce meaningful results, Siam said the Nuwara family is still considering how to proceed. Aware that Israeli courts offer little hope of justice for Palestinians, they are considering taking legal action in an international forum.

The Nuwara family and the family of Muhammad Abu al-Thahir appealed publicly to Pope Francis, who visited Palestine this week, to help them bring their sons’ killers to justice. But the Pope completed his visit without making any specific comments about the boys or Israel’s victimization of Palestinian children.

The family doubts there can be genuine justice for Israel’s victims. Israel “killed my son in cold blood,” Siam said.

“He was a 17-year-old child wearing a backpack, and they sentenced him to death because he wanted to express his opinion … to say that he still hasn’t forgotten about our 66 years of Nakba.”

A correction has been made to this article. Muhammad Abu al-Thahir was struck from behind, rather than in the chest, as was stated in an earlier version.

All images courtesy of the Nuwara family.

Patrick O. Strickland is an independent journalist and frequent contributor to The Electronic Intifada. His writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter: @P_Strickland_.

Mark Landler’s “US Troops to Leave Afghanistan by End of 2016” was the lead story in the New York Times on Wednesday, May 28. Landler reports President Obama’s decision to reduce troop levels from the present 32,000 to 9,800 by the end of 2014 to half that by the end of 2015 to “a vestigial force” by the end of 2016. There are several reasons why one ought to be skeptical of these numbers (not least of which are that that Obama for years referred to Afghanistan as “a war of necessity,” he ordered two troop surges during his first term, the number of US paid contractors to remain is not clear, and predictable events may upset the timetable). Landler expresses no such skepticism.

But that’s not among the main problems with the story. The article’s flaws include Landler’s belief that he has achieved ‘balance’ by noting Obama’s “Republican critics in Congress,” and by quoting retired Army General Jack Keane, Republican Congressman Buck McKeon, and retired career diplomat and defense official David Sedney. The only critical voices Landler rounds up are those unhappy with Obama’s plans to draw down American forces on what they consider an overly brisk two-year schedule. Code Pink and the American Friends Service Committee—unhappy with the fact that the withdrawal is not immediate and complete—are not to be found in the piece.

The story fails on another basic level. Landler acts as amanuensis rather than journalist. He fails to ask a single follow up question of his sources. Landler and his editor let Keane get away with: “Just arbitrarily pulling those forces out absolutely risks successful completion of the mission.” Even a cub reporter and novice editor might have queried Keane as what mission he had in mind, what successful completion of it looked like, and when it might be accomplished.

Landler and his editor allow McKeon to opine: “Holding this mission to an arbitrary egg-timer doesn’t make a lick of sense.” A competent journalist might have asked McKeon when the egg-timer might ding, if not fifteen years after the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom. Further insulting his readers, Landler lets Keane add this jab: “Does the president seek to replicate his mistakes in Iraq, where he abandoned the region to chaos and failed to forge a real security partnership?” A conscientious reporter might have queried McKeon as to his dogged, unflagging support for the illegal and unjustifiable war over the years, as to the unsurprising Iraqi preference for an end to the nine year American occupation, and as to the fairness of blaming Obama for George Bush’s failed adventure.

Landler remarks that “even defenders of Mr. Obama,” including Michèle A. Flournoy, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy during his first term, express concern about “whether security gains made” are endangered by the pace of the draw down: “Time will tell whether we can meet that standard at this pace.” Landler does not recall that there was no war in Afghanistan, thus no need for the sort of security gains he has in mind, at time of the US invasion in October 2001.

Lazily—without apparent intervention of an editor—Landler employs an automatic, stock phrase to describe a primary activity of the shrinking US force over the next couple years; they are to “carry out operations against the remnants of Al Qaeda.” He does not inquire as to whether there’s a single al-Qaeda ‘member’ still on the loose in Afghanistan, and apparently forgot that David Petraeus admitted that al-Qaeda was no longer in the country as long ago as 2009.

Obama’s announced motivation for the draw down also goes unquestioned by Landler.

“The president is clearly driven by a determination to shift the focus of his counterterrorism policy from Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan to a more diffuse set of militant threats, some linked to Al Qaeda, that have sprung up from Syria to Nigeria.”

The “militant threat” in Libya and its analogues in Mali and Chad—direct consequences of the President’s policy—go unmentioned. And the War on Terror continues indefinitely, into perpetuity.

Nowhere in the article does Landler wonder whether peace might break out following the drawn out draw down. We get this statement of Obama’s: “Americans have learned that it’s harder to end wars than it is to begin them. Yet this is how wars end in the 21st century.” It does not occur to Landler to ask an administration official why it’s so hard to end wars, or why peace does not ensue once wars end.

“Mr. Obama,” Landler tells us, “said the withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan would free up resources to confront an emerging terrorist threat stretching from the Middle East to Africa.” Obama is unable to simply ‘end a war;’ the end of one war must segue smoothly into the escalation of others. And that appears perfectly reasonable to Mark Landler, and the New York Times.


Steve Breyman teaches “How to Read the New York Times” at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Reach him at [email protected]

Afghan Elections: Pick Your Poison

May 29th, 2014 by David Swanson

No human being wants to be ruled by their people’s murderers. Forgiveness through restorative justice may be possible, but being ruled by murderers is asking for too much.

Yet, that seems to be the Hobson’s choice behind the Afghan presidential election, which is into its run-off between Dr. Abdullah / Mohaqiq’s team and Dr. Ashraf Ghani / General Dostum’s team, neither team having won more than 50% of balloted votes in the first round.

Both teams have members who are warlords accused of human rights abuses, as reported by theNew York Times, including Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s running mate, Mohammed Mohaqiq, and General Dostum, who is Dr. Ashraf Ghani’s vice-presidential candidate.

General Dostum, allegedly on the CIA’s payroll in the past, apologized for his past war crimes when he registered as Dr. Ashraf Ghani’s vice-presidential candidate. One of those crimes is the Dasht-e-Leili massacre which occurred in the fall of 2001. New York Times and Newsweek investigations alleged that hundreds or even thousands of surrendering pro-Taliban prisoners died of thirst, hunger and gunshots when they were stuffed into shipping containers for transport to an Afghan prison.

Both presidential hopefuls in the run-off elections on June 14th have already vowed to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement, which President Obama mentioned in his surprise visit to Bagram Air Base in Kabul, not even bothering to visit President Karzai who declined to visit him at Bagram.

Article 7 of the Bilateral Security Agreement, states that, “Afghanistan hereby authorizes United States forces to control entry to agreed facilities and areas that have been provided for United States forces’ exclusive use…” and also that “Afghanistan shall provide all agreed facilities and areas without charge to United States forces.”

Article 13 includes this: “Afghanistan … agrees that the United States shall have the exclusive right to exercise jurisdiction over such persons in respect of any criminal or civil offenses committed in the territory of Afghanistan.”

It is understandable that President Karzai isn’t willing to sign the agreement. It may leave a disastrous legacy.

I asked an activist who has been working in Afghanistan for ten years what he thought about the run-off in Afghanistan’s elections. “Many Afghans, and people all over the world, are getting more and more cynical about elections,” he told me. “And they should be, because how did our psyche become conditioned to accept that by electing corrupt, selfish, proud, wealthy and violent elites every four or five years, our ordinary lives will be changed? Our planet is exasperatingly unequal and militarized. To place in power the ones who continue this status quo is bizarre.”

Bizarre, yet disturbingly familiar.

Premature US Victory-Dancing on Ukraine

May 29th, 2014 by Ray McGovern

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

The post-coup election of a pro-Western politician as president of Ukraine – and the escalating slaughter of lightly armed anti-coup rebels in the east – have created a celebratory mood in Official Washington, but the victory dance may be premature.

Washington’s role in the coup d’etat in Kiev on Feb. 22 has brought the U.S. a Pyrrhic victory, with the West claiming control of Ukraine albeit with a shaky grip that still requires the crushing of anti-coup rebels in the east. But the high-fiving may be short-lived once the full consequences of the putsch become clear.

What has made the “victory” so hollow is that the U.S.-backed ouster of elected President Viktor Yanukovych presented Russia’s leaders with what they saw as a last-straw-type deceit by the U.S. and its craven satellites in the European Union. Moscow has responded by making a major pivot East to enhance its informal alliance with China and thus strengthen the economic and strategic positions of both countries as a counterweight to Washington and Brussels.

In my view, this is the most important result of this year’s events in Ukraine, that they have served as a catalyst to more meaningful Russia-China rapprochement which has inched forward over the past several decades but now has solidified. The signing on May 21 of a 30-year, $400 billion natural gas deal between Russia and China is not only a “watershed event” – as Russian President Vladimir Putin  said – but carries rich symbolic significance.

The agreement, along with closer geopolitical cooperation between Beijing and Moscow, is of immense significance and reflects a judgment on the part of Russian leaders that the West’s behavior over the past two decades has forced the unavoidable conclusion that – for whatever reason – U.S. and European leaders cannot be trusted. Rather, they can be expected to press for strategic advantage through “regime change” and other “dark-side” tactics even in areas where Russia holds the high cards.

This Russian-Chinese rapprochement has been a gradual, cautious process – somewhat akin to porcupines mating, given the tense and sometimes hostile relations between the two neighbors dating back centuries and flaring up again when the two were rival communist powers.

Yet, overcoming that very bitter past, Russian President Putin – a decade ago – finalized an important agreement on very delicate border issues. He also signed an agreement on future joint development of Russian energy reserves. In October 2004, during a visit to Beijing, Putin claimed that relations between the two countries had reached “unparalleled heights.”

But talk is cheap – and progress toward a final energy agreement was intermittent until the Ukraine crisis. When Russia supported Crimea’s post-coup referendum to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the West responded with threats of “sectoral sanctions” against Russia’s economy, thus injecting new urgency for Moscow to complete the energy agreement with China. The $400 billion gas deal – the culmination of ten-plus years of work – now has provided powerful substantiation to the Russia-China relationship.

Indeed, you could trace the evolution of this historic détente back to other Western provocations and broken promises. Six months before his 2004 visit to China, Putin watched NATO fold under its wings Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Five years before that, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic had become NATO members.

A Major Missed Opportunity

Not only were these Western encroachments toward Russia’s border alarming to Moscow but the moves also represented a breach of trust. Several months before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, President George H. W. Bush had appealed for “a Europe whole and free.” And, in February 1990, his Secretary of State James Baker promised Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would move “not one inch” to the East, if Russia pulled its 24 divisions out of East Germany.

Yet, a triumphant Washington soon spurned this historic opportunity to achieve a broader peace. Instead, U.S. officials took advantage of the Soviet bloc’s implosion in Eastern Europe and later the collapse of the Soviet Union itself. As for that “Europe whole and free” business, it was as if the EU and NATO had put up signs: “Russians Need Not Apply.” Then, exploiting Moscow’s disarray and weakness, President Bill Clinton reneged on Baker’s NATO promise by pushing the military alliance eastward.

Small wonder that Putin and his associates were prospecting for powerful new friends ten years ago – first and foremost, China. And, the West kept providing the Kremlin with new incentives as NATO recruiters remained aggressive. NATO heads of state, meeting in Bucharest in April 2008, declared: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”

That led to some very foolish adventurism on the part of former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who had been listening to the wrong people in Washington and thought he could play tough with the rebellious regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including attacks on Russian peacekeeping troops. Russian forces gave the Georgians what Moscow normally calls a “resolute rebuff.”

The 2008 declaration of NATO’s intent is still on the books, however. And recent events in Ukraine, as a violent putsch overthrew elected President Yanukovych and installed a pro-Western regime in Kiev, became the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

During an interview with CNBC on May 23, 2014, President Putin bemoaned the still-pending NATO expansion in the context of Ukraine: “Coup d’état takes place, they refuse to talk to us. So we think the next step Ukraine is going to take, it’s going to become a NATO member. They’ve refused to engage in any dialogue. We’re saying military, NATO military infrastructure is approaching our borders; they say not to worry, it has nothing to do with you. But tomorrow Ukraine might become a NATO member, and the day after tomorrow missile defense units of NATO could be deployed in this country.”

Putin raised the issue again on May 24, accusing the West of ignoring Russia’s interests – in particular, by leaving open the possibility that Ukraine could one day join NATO. “Where is the guarantee that, after the forceful change of power, Ukraine will not tomorrow end up in NATO?” Putin wanted to know.

Forward-Deployed Missile Defense

Putin keeps coming back specifically to “missile defense” in NATO countries – or waters – because he sees it as a strategic (arguably an existential) threat to Russia’s national security. During his marathon press conference on April 17, he was quite direct in articulating Russia’s concerns:

“I’ll use this opportunity to say a few words about our talks on missile defense. This issue is no less, and probably even more important than NATO’s eastward expansion. Incidentally, our decision on Crimea was partially prompted by this. … We followed certain logic: If we don’t do anything, Ukraine will be drawn into NATO …  and NATO ships would dock in Sevastopol. … [Key elements of the latest missile defense system are ship-borne.]

“Regarding the deployment of U.S. missile defense elements, this is not a defensive system, but part of offensive potential deployed far away from home. … At the expert level, everyone understands very well that if these systems are deployed closer to our borders, our ground-based strategic missiles will be within their striking range.”

On this neuralgic issue of missile defense in Europe, ostensibly aimed at hypothetical future missiles fired by Iran, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has taken a perverse delight in having increased concerns in Moscow that such a system might eventually be used against Russian ICBMs.

In his book Duty, Gates defends himself against accusations from the Right that it was his concern for Russian sensitivities that prompted him to revise the missile defense plan for Europe. The revised system included sea-based missiles that were not only cheaper but also more easily and cheaply produced. (Does anyone see why Putin might have been concerned about NATO ships based in Crimea?)

“I sincerely believed the new program was better — more in accord with the political realities in Europe and more effective against the emerging Iranian threat,” Gates added. ”While there certainly were some in the State Department and the White House who believed the third site in Europe was incompatible with the Russian ‘reset,’ we in Defense did not. Making the Russians happy wasn’t exactly on my to-do list.”

Gates proudly noted that the Russians quickly concluded that the revised plan was even worse from their perspective, as it eventually might have capabilities against Russian intercontinental missiles.

As for President Obama, in an exchange picked up by microphones during his meeting with then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev in Seoul in March 2012, Obama asked him to tell incoming President Putin to give him some “space” on controversial issues, “particularly missile defense.”

Obama seemed to be suggesting that he might be able to be more understanding of Russian fears later. “After my election I have more flexibility,” Obama added. But it seems a safe bet that Putin and Medvedev are still waiting to see what may eventuate from the “space” they gave Obama.

Since taking over as Secretary of State in February 2013, John Kerry seems to be doing his best to fill Gates’s “tough-guy” role baiting the Russian bear. Kremlin leaders, after watching how close Kerry came to getting the U.S. to start a major war with Syria on evidence he knew was, at best, flimsy, simply cannot afford to dismiss as adolescent chest-pounding Kerry’s nonchalant remarks on the possibility that the troubles in Ukraine could lead to nuclear confrontation.

As much of a loose cannon as Kerry has been, he is, after all, U.S. Secretary of State. In an extraordinary interview with the Wall Street Journal on April 28, Kerry made clear that the Obama administration and the U.S. military/intelligence establishment are “fully aware” that escalation of the crisis in Ukraine could lead to nuclear war. Are we supposed to say, “wow, great”?

A Half-Century Perspective

Though my Sino-Russian lens is 50 years old, I think that the perspective of time can be an advantage. In January 1964, as a CIA analyst, I became responsible for analyzing Soviet policy toward China. The evidence we had – mostly, but not solely, public acrimony – made it clear to us that the Sino-Soviet dispute was real and was having important impact on world events. We were convinced that reconciliation between the two giants was simply out of the question.

Our assessments were right at the time, but we ultimately were wrong about the irreconcilable differences. It turns out that nothing is immutable, especially in the face of ham-handed U.S. diplomacy.

The process of ending Moscow’s unmitigated hostility toward China began in earnest during Gorbachev’s era, although his predecessors did take some halting steps in that direction. It takes two to tango, and we analysts were surprised when Gorbachev’s Chinese counterparts proved receptive to his overtures and welcomed a mutual agreement to thin out troops along the 7,500-kilometer border.

In more recent years, however, the impetus toward rapprochement has been the mutual need to counterbalance the “one remaining superpower in the world.” The more that President George W. Bush and his “neo-conservative” helpers threw their weight around in the Middle East and elsewhere, the more incentive China and Russia saw in moving closer together.

Gone is the “great-power chauvinist” epithet they used to hurl at each other, though it would seem a safe bet that the epithet emerges from time to time in private conversations between Chinese and Russian officials regarding current U.S. policy.

The border agreement signed by Putin in Beijing in October 2004 was important inasmuch as it settled the last of the border disputes, which had led to armed clashes in the Sixties and Seventies especially along the extensive riverine border where islands were claimed by both sides.

The backdrop, though, was China’s claim to 1.5 million square kilometers taken from China under what it called “unequal treaties” dating back to the Treaty of Nerchinsk in 1689. This irredentism, a staple of Chinese anti-Soviet rhetoric in those days, has disappeared.

In the late Sixties, the USSR reinforced its ground forces near China from 13 to 21 divisions. By 1971, the number had grown to 44 divisions, and Chinese leaders began to see a more immediate threat from the USSR than from the U.S. Enter Henry Kissinger, who visited Beijing in 1971 to arrange the precedent-breaking visit by President Richard Nixon the next year.

What followed was some highly imaginative diplomacy orchestrated by Kissinger and Nixon to exploit the mutual fear that China and the USSR held for each other and the imperative each saw to compete for improved ties with Washington.

Triangular Diplomacy

The Soviet leaders seemed to sweat this situation the most. Washington’s clever exploitation of the triangular relationship was consequential; it helped facilitate major, verifiable arms control agreements between the U.S. and USSR and even the challenging Four Power Agreement on Berlin. As for Vietnam, the Russians went so far as to blame China for impeding a peaceful solution to the war.

It was one of those rare junctures at which CIA analysts could in good conscience chronicle the effects of the Nixon-Kissinger approach and conclude that it seemed to be having the desired effect vis-à-vis Moscow. We could say so because it clearly was.

In early 1972, between President Nixon’s first summits in Beijing and Moscow, our analytic reports underscored the reality that Sino-Soviet rivalry was, to both sides, a highly debilitating phenomenon. Not only had the two countries forfeited the benefits of cooperation, but each felt compelled to devote huge effort to negate the policies of the other.

A significant dimension had been added to the rivalry as the U.S. moved to cultivate simultaneously better relations with both. The two saw themselves in a crucial race to cultivate good relations with the U.S.

The Soviet and Chinese leaders could not fail to notice how all this had enhanced the U.S. bargaining position. But we analysts regarded them as cemented into an intractable adversarial relationship by a deeply felt set of emotional beliefs, in which national, ideological and racial factors reinforced one another.

Although the two countries recognized the price they were paying, neither could see a way out. The only prospect for improvement, we suggested, was the hope that more sensible leaders would emerge in each country. At the time, we branded that a vain hope and predicted only the most superficial improvements in relations between Moscow and Beijing.

On that last point, we were wrong. Mao Zedong’s and Nikita Khrushchev’s successors proved to have cooler heads, and in 1969 border talks resumed. It took years to chip away at the heavily encrusted mutual mistrust, but by the mid-Eighties we were warning policymakers that we had been wrong; that “normalization” of relations between Moscow and Beijing had already occurred — slowly but surely, despite continued Chinese protestations that such would be impossible unless the Russians capitulated to all China’s conditions.

For their part, the Soviet leaders had become more comfortable operating in the triangular environment and were no longer suffering the debilitating effects of a headlong race with China to develop better relations with Washington.

The Détente

Economics now is clearly an important driver from both Moscow’s and Beijing’s point of view, but the sweeping $400 billion natural gas deal, including provision for exploration, construction and extraction is bound to have profound political significance, as well. If memory serves, during the Sixties, annual trade between the USSR and China hovered between $200 million and $400 million. It had grown to $57 billion by 2008 and hit $93 billion in 2013.

Growing military cooperation is of equal importance. China has become Russia’s arms industry’s premier customer, with the Chinese spending billions on weapons, many of them top of the line. For Russia, these sales are an important source of export earnings and keep key segments of its defense industry afloat.  Beijing, cut off from arms sales from the West, has come to rely on Russia more and more for sophisticated arms and technology.

Author Pepe Escobar notes that when Russia’s Star Wars-style, ultra-sophisticated S-500 air defense anti-missile system comes on line in 2018, Beijing is sure to want to purchase some version of it. Meanwhile, Russia is about to sell dozens of state-or-the-art Sukhoi Su-35 jet fighters to the Chinese as Beijing and Moscow move to seal an aviation-industrial partnership.

Those of us analysts immersed in Sino-Soviet relations in the Sixties and Seventies, when the Russians and Chinese appeared likely to persist in their bitter feud forever, used to poke fun at the Sino-Soviet treaty of Feb. 14, 1950, which was defunct well before its 30-year term.

Given the deepening acrimony, the official congratulatory messages recognizing the anniversary of the Valentine’s Day agreement seemed amusingly ironic. Nevertheless, we dutifully scanned the messages for any hint of warmth; year after year we found none.

But there is another treaty now and the relationship it codifies is no joke. Just as the earlier Sino-Soviet divide was deftly exploited by an earlier generation of U.S. diplomats, clumsy actions by the more recent cast of U.S. “diplomats” have helped close that divide, even if few in Washington are aware of the significant geopolitical change that it symbolizes.

The treaty of friendship and cooperation, signed in Moscow by Presidents Putin and Jiang Zemin on July 16, 2001, may not be as robust as the one in 1950 with its calls for “military and other assistance” in the event one is attacked. But the new treaty does reflect agreement between China and Russia to collaborate in diluting what each sees as U.S. domination of the post-Cold War international order. (And that was before the U.S. invasion of Iraq and before the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine.)

Earthquakes Begin Slowly

Like subterranean geological plates shifting slowly below the surface, changes with immense political repercussions can occur so gradually as to be imperceptible — until the earthquake hits and the old order is shaken or shattered. For a very long time, the consensus in academe, as well as in government, has been that, despite the rapprochement between China and Russia over the past several years, both countries retained greater interest in developing good relations with the U.S. than with each other.

That was certainly the case decades ago. But I doubt that is the case now. Either way, the implications for U.S. foreign policy are immense. Anatol Lieven of King’s College, London, has noted:

“Whether in the Euro-Atlantic or the Asia-Pacific, great power relations are becoming more contentious, with a loose Eurasian coalition emerging to reduce the U.S. domination of global politics. … The consolidation of Russia’s pivot to Asia is an important result of the first phase of the Ukraine crisis, which will continue to reshape the global strategic landscape.

“The U.S. has no other than Victoria Nuland, and Hillary Clinton who installed her as Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, to thank for this foolish mess.”

As the folks from the old People’s Daily used to say, this could “come to a no-good end.”

Ray McGovern was chief of the CIA’s Soviet Foreign Policy Branch in the early Seventies, and served at CIA for 27 years. He worked on the President’s Daily Brief under Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Reagan. He now works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.

“I liken the economy to a car on a flat road that has no momentum. When you take your foot off the gas, the car just stops moving.” — Stephanie Pomboy, Interview Barron’s

If you follow the stock market, you probably think the economy is sizzling. But if bonds are your thing, then you probably think we’re still in recession.

So which is the better gauge of what’s going on in the real economy; stocks or bonds?

The bond market is more accurate. And recently, long-term yields have been dropping like a stone which is not a good sign for the economy. Investors seem to think that slow growth and low inflation are here to stay, and they could be right. According to Bloomberg, “Falling yields on longer-term Treasuries historically reflect periods of lackluster growth. Since 1960, they have predicted seven of the last eight recessions when 10-year yields fell below 3-month bill rates.” As of today, the benchmark 10-year UST is a dismal 2.44 percent.

The reason investors have been piling back into Treasuries is because is the labor market is weak and there’s no sign of inflation anywhere. When wages stagnate and incomes drop–as they have since the slump ended– then there’s no upward pressure on prices because everyone is making less dough, so there’s less demand, less growth and, hence, less inflation. Of course, Obama could have fixed the situation by holding off on slashing the deficits or by increasing the amount of stimulus in his fiscal package. That would have circulated more money into the economy boosting employment and revving up growth. But that would have put the economy back on its feet again which was not what he wanted. What he wanted was to grind working people into the ground by keeping the economy on life-support while his chiseling Wall Street buddies made out like bandits on the latest stock market bubble. The Wall Street Journal explains what’s going on:

“Bond yields are – once again – plunging worldwide. The reason for this revived buying among fixed-income investors is that central banks are – once again – signaling their intent to ease monetary conditions in yet another bid to kick-start sluggish economies and forestall a downward spiral in prices, or deflation. The prospect that central banks will continue to inject money into the world’s bond markets…has acted as a green light for the world’s bond buyers.”

So investors think the Fed will have to taper the “Taper” and start buying more government paper. But why?

Because they have no choice. Many of the usual buyers of US Treasuries have cut back on their monthly purchases or stopped buying altogether. That means that rates will have to rise to attract more buyers unless the Fed makes up the difference. Check out this blurb from Barron’s interview with Stephanie Pomboy:

“Foreigners are buying about $10 billion a month of Treasuries. This compares with deficit financing needs for the U.S. government of roughly $40 billion a month, based on this year’s deficit. So the Fed needs to pick up roughly $30 billion a month in slack. When the Fed slashed its buying to $25 billion, effective this month, it for the first time opened up a demand deficit for Treasuries. If they continue to taper, that gap will expand, and things could get bumpy in the Treasury market. Rates won’t go up five basis points before the Fed would start talking about more QE.” (Barrons Interview Posits Weak US Economy, Barron’s)

It’ll get bumpy alright, real bumpy. Higher rates will send housing and stocks into freefall. The Fed will have no choice but to step in to stop the bleeding.

The economy is already suffering from chronic lack of demand. Add higher rates to the mix, and cost-conscious consumers are going to cut back on everything from auto loans to nights-on-the-town. Yellen’s not going to let that happen. She’s going to come up with some cockamamie excuse for buying more USTs and hope-like-hell that wages and incomes rebound so she can start tapering again.

This illustrates the conceptual flaw in Central Bank policy. QE and zero rates are supposed to reduce the price of money, thereby enticing consumers to take out loans and spend like crazy. That, in turn, is supposed to generate more activity and stronger growth. But there’s a slight glitch to this theory, that is, consumers aren’t the brain-dead lab rats the Fed thinks they are. Most people don’t base their spending decisions on price alone. Sometimes, for example, it doesn’t make sense to borrow money no matter how cheap it is. The average working stiff doesn’t give a rip if he can get a loan at 3.5 percent when his credit card is already maxed out and the only job he can find is working graveyard at Jack in the Box. That guy doesn’t need more debt, he needs a decent paying job. Here’s how the managing partner of MBMG Group, Paul Gambles explained the phenom in an interview on CNBC:

“People and businesses are not inclined to borrow money during a downturn purely because it is made cheaper to do so. Consumers also need a feeling of job security and confidence in the economy before taking on additional borrowing commitments.” (Washington’s blog via Zero Hedge)

Bingo. Of course, the members of the Fed know that this whole “cheap money” thing is bogus, but they keep reiterating the same blather so they can keep the wampum flowing to their crooked friends on Wall Street. It’s worth noting that: since the end of the recession, “one-third of all income increases in this country went to just 16,000 households, 95 percent of it went to the top 1 percent, and the bottom 90 percent’s incomes fell, and they fell by 15 percent.”

In other words, the Fed knows exactly how QE works, (and who benefits) and it has nothing to do with extending credit to working people. That’s malarkey. It’s all about providing limitless liquidity for financial speculators so they can send stocks into the stratosphere and rake in record profits. Here’s a blurb from a piece by Zero Hedge that helps to illustrate what’s going on:

“According to the most recent CapitalIQ data, the single biggest buyer of stocks in the first quarter were none other than the companies of the S&P500 itself, which cumulatively repurchased a whopping $160 billion of their own stock in the first quarter!

Should the Q1 pace of buybacks persist into Q2 which has just one month left before it too enters the history books, the LTM period as of June 30, 2014 will be the greatest annual buyback tally in market history.” (Here Is The Mystery, And Completely Indiscriminate, Buyer Of Stocks In The First Quarter, Zero Hedge)

Why are companies buying shares of their own stock, you ask, when buybacks add no productive value to a company at all?

It’s because it gooses stock prices which makes shareholders happy. It’s a complete scam. And it’s a huge scam, too. Currently, total stock buybacks represent a whopping $4 trillion or 20 percent of the total stock market value. Just think of the walloping prices are going to take when these same shareholders decide it’s time to bail out? Look out below!

Now get a load of this clip from Action Forex:

“Disappointment over the pace of economic growth explains at least some of the downturn in yields. The U.S. economy very likely contracted in the first quarter of the year, perhaps by as much as 1.0% annualized … Even with a strong bounce back in the second quarter … – the average pace of growth in the first half of the year will be a tepid 2.0%, about the pace it’s been since the end of the recession…

The retrenchment in yields also reflects events abroad … However, there is perhaps another reason for the decline in yields that is more pernicious. There is the realization that even after the recovery has run its course, economic growth is likely to be slower than it has been in the past. Slower growth means that as the fed funds rate eventually moves off the floor, it will not go back to the 5.25% it was prior to the Great Recession or even the 4.0% it averaged over the quarter of a decade prior. Expectations of “lower forever”…increasingly appear to be built into longer-term interest rates.” (A year in the bond market, Action Forex)

Did you catch that part about “lower forever”?

What the author means is that the economy has reset at a lower level of activity and will not return to normal. This is an admission that the managers of the system have no intention of fixing what’s wrong; cleaning up the banks, writing down the debts, regulating the system, increasing workers buying power (boosting demand) or providing sustained fiscal stimulus until unemployment and growth are back where they should be. Instead, basic macro has been replaced with public relations, that is, a swindle that’s spearheaded by faux-liberal icons Krugman and Summers who are pushing the “secular stagnation” folderol which is just a lame excuse for maintaining the status quo plus a few anemic add-ons, like infrastructure projects. Big whoop. It’s all a fig leaf for maintaining the same wealth shifting monetary policies that are in place today.

So this is it? Are we really doomed to a future of high unemployment and slow growth?

The IMF seems to think so. Here’s an excerpt from an article by Nick Beams which gives a rundown on a recent IMF report that was ignored by the media. The article is titled “No end to economic breakdown”:

“Almost six years after the eruption of the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund has effectively ruled out any return to the economic growth rates that preceded September 2008.

Two major chapters of the IMF’s World Economic Outlook … provide a gloomy assessment of the state of the world economy. In the advanced economies, investment is falling as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP), while in the “emerging markets,” there is no prospect for growth rates to return to pre-2007 levels.

The IMF notes that real interest rates have been declining since the 1980s and are “now in slightly negative territory.” But this has failed to boost productive investment. On the contrary, what it calls “scars” from the global financial crisis “have resulted in a sharp and persistent decline in investment in advanced economies.” Between 2008 and 2013, there was a two-and-a-half percentage point decline in the investment to GDP ratio in these countries. The report adds that ratios “in many advanced economies are unlikely to recover to pre-crisis levels in the next five years.”

This conclusion is of immense significance given the critical role of investment in the functioning of the capitalist economy … Investment…is the key driving force of capitalist economic growth … But if investment stagnates or declines, the circle turns vicious. This is what is now taking place.” IMF report: No end to economic breakdown (april), wsws

So no return to normal, after all. The American people are now facing a long period of high unemployment and slow growth that will shrink the middle class and change the country in ways we can hardly imagine. It’s unavoidable. It’s the policy.

NOTE: As this piece was going to press, the Wall Street Journal announced that “revised” First Quarter GDP contracted at a 0.6% annual rate. So while stocks have been setting records almost daily due to the massive injections of money from the Fed, the economy is steadily sliding towards recession.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

The New York Review of Books is a leading intellectual publication in the United States, and it (like all of the major U.S. “news” media) has “reported” on the Ukrainian civil war as having been incited by Russia’s Vladimir Putin — a simple-minded explanation, which also happens to be deeply false.

The reality is that the residents of southern Ukraine, the part of Ukraine adjoining Russia, were overwhelmingly opposed to the overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, though they are portrayed in NYRB (and other “news” media) as being mere stooges of Russian propaganda for their opposing the coup that overthrew the President for whom they had voted overwhelmingly. (The only thing that America’s “news” media had previously reported about Yanukovych is that he was corrupt; but so were all of his predecessors, and U.S. media ignored this crucial fact. Selective reporting is basic to propaganda, and the U.S. major media are trained masters at it. Without a person’s knowing that Ukraine is by far the most corrupt country in the former Soviet Union, and the one with the worst economic performance of them all, Ukraine’s politics just can’t be understood at all: it has long been an extreme kleptocracy, ruled by psychopathic politicians, for the benefit of psychopathic oligarchs, who have robbed the country blind. That’s the deeper truth — and it’s key to understanding the current situation there.)

So: by digging into an example, the rot in U.S. “news” media will be dissected here, and the truth in Ukraine will be exposed here.

On 28 April 2014, NYRB’s reporter Tim Judah headlined from Donetsk in the south, “Ukraine: Hate in Progress.” He (falsely) analogized the opponents against that coup as being similar to the separatists in Yugoslavia whose ethnocentrism had produced the atrocities during the civil war that broke up Yugoslavia. Judah wrote:

“Talk to people manning the anti-government barricades and taking part in the demonstrations against Kiev [in the north] here, … and one thing in particular is scary. After a day or two you realize that they all say more or less the same thing. ‘We want to be listened to,’ people say. The government in Kiev, which took power after the pro-European revolution there, is a ‘fascist junta’ backed by Europe and the US. It is as though the Russian media—which is widely watched and read here—has somehow embedded these messages into the heads of people and they have lost the ability to think for themselves. … All that seems to be registering right now is a nationalist and hysterical drumbeat from Russia about the new Nazis of Kiev and their NATO masters. [Judah’s article provides no evidence against that ‘Nazis of Kiev’ viewpont; he simply ignores it, as if it’s not even worth checking out -- and he’s supposed to be a ‘reporter.’ Instead, he goes immediately into his mere assumption that the rejectionists of the coup are the source of his alleged ‘Hate in Progress.’] This is ominously reminiscent of what the Serbian media and other bits of the former Yugoslav media did when Yugoslavia collapsed. Then, Serbs were subjected to endless documentaries about Croatia’s wartime fascists, whom they were told were coming back. Now the Russian media says the fascists have returned.”

Judah had spent about ten days in Ukraine, to do that story.

By contrast, the website OpedNews is no such prestigious source of news and commentary as NYRB, and it’s far less influential. On 16 March 2014, they published a report from George Eliason, an American who didn’t spend only ten days in Ukraine, but who instead lives in southern Ukraine; and it was titled “The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid of.” He provided a very different historical context, taken not falsely from Yugoslavian history and culture, but truly from Ukrainian history and culture (which is obviously far more relevant to the actual matter at hand here):

“Even though the German SS had units dedicated to genocide, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) approached this mission [from Hitler's SS] with a zeal and barbarity that Hitler’s own units could not muster.” Eliason noted that, “The atrocities at Babi Yar [in northern Ukraine], and the accompanying brutality, were left to SS Nachtigall and the polizei. Both were Banderite [north Ukrainian]. The reason was simple. The brutal work of genocide at this level made even hardened German SS uncomfortable.” Eliason documented that the politicians whom the U.S. had placed into power in the February 2014 coupwere “Banderite.” He quoted “Dmitri Yarosh (Trizub and Pravy Sektor, and Assistant Secretary of Defense … [in the U.S.-coup-imposed government]): ‘It is better for us to build our own National State! Does that mean knives to the Moskals [Russian-speakers] and ropes to the Jews? Well, not so unsophisticated. There must be a Ukrainian authority in Ukraine; … then forced Ukrainization. Russians do not like it? Well, go back to Russia! Those that don’t want to go–we can help them. Russians are not even Slavs. … Next we will liberate our lands: Voronezh, Kursk, Belogorod Oblast, and Kuban. These are all Ukrainian lands!’” Eliason noted: “The only problem is all of these Oblasts (regions) are in Russia!” Eliason, who lives in southern Ukraine, reported the reality that the visitor, Judah, didn’t so much as even mention. The intense and aggressive hatred ran in the opposite direction: not northwestward from Russia in the southeast (such as Judah supposed), but instead southeastward against Russian-speaking Ukrainians and against Russia itself.

Lest one get the false impression that Eliason might have been selectively quoting there, this is what Yulia Tymoshenko, Obama’s preferred candidate to win the 25 May 2014 election (she lost; she was too rightwing for most Ukrainians to vote for as President), had said in a tapped phone conversation, leaked public on 24 March 2014: “We must grab arms and go whack those damn katsaps [a Ukrainian word used to refer to the Russians in a negative tone] together with their leader … I’ll use all my connections, I’ll raise the whole world – as soon as I’m able to – in order to make sure. .. not even scorched earth won’t remain where Russia stands. … They must be killed with nuclear weapons.”

Tymoshenko’s ally, the oligarch Ihor Kolomoyski, masterminded the 2 May 2014 rounding-up and burning of Odessa’s proponents of independence from the Kiev regime. This incineration was done inside Odessa’s Trade Unions Building, and this roasting of more than 200 civilians there was the event that sparked Ukraine’s civil war, because it made unequivocal the hate against them coming from the Obama-installed leaders in the northwest. (Kolomoyski himself lived in Switzerland, with his $6 billion heisted fortune.)

As the Canadian economist Michel Chossudovsky has documented, the Obama Administration placed leading fascists, and even some overt neo-Nazis, at the top of the post-coup government.

Why should residents of southeastern Ukraine (an area that never admired Hitler) not fear being ruled by the people that Obama imposed to rule Ukraine? The residents in that region are exposed to propaganda from both the east and the west, the north and the south. Americans, who are exposed only to our own nation’s propaganda, won’t know that Obama installed a fascist regime in Ukraine, but it’s an established historical fact, and it’s one known painfully well, first-hand, in southeastern Ukraine, no matter what America’s “reporters,” such as Tim Judah, say to blur or distract from it. The owners of America’s major “news” media don’t want us to know it — and they hire and fire such “reporters,” so that very few of us will (and so that even fewer of us will know why this was done).

It’s not just “Saddam’s WMD” that the U.S. major “news” media passed stenographically to the American public as “news reporting” from a lying White House. Nothing has basically changed; it’s merely a different war, that’s all. But this one’s against Russia, a much more potent target, and potentially far more catastrophic outcome for everyone. Done for only the international aristocrats, who enjoy “the great game.”


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.

Median CEO Pay in US Tops $10 Million

May 29th, 2014 by Andre Damon

The median pay of chief executives of US corporations listed on the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index hit $10.5 million in 2013, breaking $10 million for the first time. The figure, based on the findings of a survey published Tuesday by the Associated Press and executive pay research firm Equilar, represents an increase of 8.8 percent over 2012.

The Associated Press/Equilar report came the same day the Wall Street Journal released a separate survey targeting a different group of large corporations. The Journal found that median CEO pay was even higher, at $11.4 million.

2013 was the fourth consecutive year that CEO pay increased. Since 2010, executive pay has grown by more than 50 percent. The Associated Press noted that “A chief executive now makes about 257 times the average worker’s salary, up sharply from 181 times” four years ago.

These reports are only the latest indicators of the increasingly shameless self-enrichment of the financial elite and the accelerating growth of social inequality. The CEO pay statistics follow the release of a Forbes magazine survey last month showing that the world s 1,645 billionaires saw their combined net worth increase by $1 trillion in 2013, to $6.4 trillion.

That same month, professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published figures showing that the share of the national wealth of every segment of the population has declined significantly since the 1980s with the exception of the top 1 percent of income earners, whose wealth has grown dramatically.

Larry Ellison, the CEO of software giant Oracle and the fifth richest man in the world, once again topped the Wall Street Journal’s list, taking home $76.9 million in stock option grants for 2013. Ellison’s accumulated wealth stands at an estimated $48.8 billion, more than the gross domestic product of 100 separate countries.

Topping the Associated Press/Equilar list was Anthony Petrello, the CEO of oilfield services company Nabors Industries, who made $68.3 million last year. Leslie Moonves, head of broadcaster CBS, got $65.6 million, and Michael Fries, of the television company Liberty Global, made $45.5 million.

Three other media executives were on the Wall Street Journal’s top ten: Philippe Dauman of Viacom, who made $36.8 million; Robert Iger of Walt Disney, who made $33.4 million; and Jeffrey Bewkes of Time Warner, who made $32.4 million. The enormous payouts for the CEOs of media companies help explain the role of the US media as a de facto propaganda arm of the capitalist state.

The biggest increases went to the heads of financial companies. Median pay for Wall Street CEOs grew by 22 percent in 2013, on top of a 22 percent increase in 2012. Larry Fink of BlackRock made $22.9 million last year, while Kenneth Chenault of American Express made $21.7 million.

The largest individual percentage pay increase went to Rodney Sacks, the CEO of Monster Beverage, who saw his pay increase 679 percent, to $6.22 million, after the company awarded him an additional $5.3 million in stock options.

The payouts were further inflated by the booming stock market. The S&P 500 index rose by nearly a third last year, while the world index of global stocks is near its highest level ever. As a result, the stock portion of executives’ pay packages increased by 17 percent to an average of $4.5 million. This was the real content of the campaign—promoted by the Obama administration—to encourage companies to tie executive pay more directly to “performance,” i.e., share values.

Notably, the Wall Street Journal found little correlation between companies’ actual performance and CEO pay. It wrote: “The CEOs of the best-performing companies together received about as much pay as the CEOs in the middle of the pack—and only slightly more than those heading companies with the worst performance.”

Chipotle Mexican Grill, the restaurant chain, spent $49.5 million last year on executive pay for its two CEOs, Steve Ells (who got $25.1 million) and Montgomery Moran (who got $24.3 million). They each received a 27 percent pay raise over 2012. While a typical Chipotle employee receives less than $9 per hour, Ellis and Moran each received about $11,000 per hour, assuming they worked a normal schedule, or 1,000 times more than a typical employee.

According to the Labor Department, average weekly wages for US workers increased 1.3 percent in 2013. Even this miserable increase was more than negated by the rise in prices, which increased by 1.6 percent that year. CEO pay, meanwhile, grew by more than 7 percent even after accounting for inflation.

While the pay of top corporate executives reaches ever more obscene levels, the earnings of the vast majority of Americans stagnate or decline. Over the past decade, pay for college graduates has risen by just 1 percent, while the average wage of non-college graduates has fallen by 5 percent to $16.50.

The growth of social inequality has been deliberately accelerated by the policies of the Obama administration, which are designed to enrich the financial oligarchy by slashing social programs and workers’ wages while pumping trillions of dollars into the financial system via the Federal Reserve Board.

Over the past year, the White House and Congress have cut food stamp benefits twice, ended federal jobless benefits for more than three million long-term unemployed, implemented sharp cuts to social spending, and used the rollout of the Affordable Care Act to encourage companies to slash employee health care benefits.

The political and media establishment react to report after report documenting an unprecedented concentration of wealth and income at the very top without batting an eye. Yet the prospect of minimally increasing the wage of workers who are living in dire poverty provokes massive opposition within the ruling class, while being portrayed as a radical social reform by its proponents.

Obama and the Democrats are promoting—mainly for electoral reasons—an increase in the federal minimal wage to $10.10. This paltry increase, even in the unlikely event of its being passed by Congress, would leave the minimum wage at a lower level, in real terms, than it was in 1968, and would leave a family of four below the official poverty level. If the minimum wage were increased to this level, the typical CEO of a major corporation would make nearly five hundred times the yearly income of such a worker.

In a speech by the President of the United States of America – read by millions in all corners of our world in minutes – rest assured that every single word has been weighed with utmost care.

With this in mind, Obama’s speech can be analysed as both offending to the rest of us and – exceptionally – weak.

It caused no enthusiasm among the future army officers he spoke to and no enthusiasm among leading Western media.

I will argue that

  • Intellectually and morally the speech doesn’t have the basics – full of contradictions and imbued with unbearable self-praise.
  • While there is a recognition of ”mistakes” such as ”our” war in Iraq and a potential step-back from interventionism, there is neither an adequate analysis of the past nor of what the future may need in terms of leadership.
  • Little had I anticipated that my analysis in the TFF PressInfo on ”Psycho politics in the age of imperial decline” just a few days ago would be confirmed so quickly and so strongly.

This PressInfo is longer than usual. I have wanted to do justice to the speech by quoting its texts at length and commenting.

”By most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world…Think about it. Our military has no peer.”

Most measures? Wrong. Take trade and investment, political, economic and cultural power relative to the rest of the world; take perceived legitimacy worldwide, take moral/values and take adherence to international law – the U.S. is a shadow of what it was, say, 50 years ago.

True, military it is second to none. But that is exactly the problem when you are getting weaker on all other indicators.

”And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or girls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine – it is America that the world looks to for help.”

Even if it were true that the world sees the U.S. as the benign helper, Obama ought to have deplored that countries don’t turn to the multilateral or regional institutions.

The U.S. has, since Yugoslavia, done about everything it could to undermine the U.N. Later he says that ”the UN provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict.”

But is it that really the task of the world’s normatively most important organisation: to make peace where others, including the U.S. itself, has ravaged countries?

The U.S. as a great helper is not a perception shared by many enlightened people – see the failure in the Israel-Palestinian mediation and the handling of Syria. Btw. he doesn’t even mention the Middle East.

”The United States is the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed, and will likely be true for the century to come.”

What in effect Obama is saying here is that every other nation – peoples of the earth - can be dispensed with. Why offend everybody? Why make yourself so good that it becomes pathetic, laughable?

And 100 years more? Just how stupid do the speechwriters in the White House think we are? Regrettably, there is more where it comes from:

”The question we face – the question you will face – is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also to extend peace and prosperity around the globe.”

The obsession with leadership that goes through his speech reveals a deep fear of not being a leader for much longer.

But people with little sense of history and young West Point patriots may believe such nonsense – including the stated but unfounded unity between America’s and the world’s peace and prosperity. And peace is extended from the U.S. – it is not something we create together.

”Regional aggression that goes unchecked – in southern Ukraine, the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world – will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military.”

Here Obama ignores the brilliant opportunity to reach out as a true world leader would to Russia and China at this important moment. And who can talk convincingly about what aggression is and how unacceptable it is?

”Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.”

Again the leadership obsession – ”must always lead”. ”If we don’t, no one else will” – well, that could be a much much better world for all humankind! But President Obama believes that only the U.S. can lead.

It is extremely interesting that he does not see the obvious coming: the multipolar world where others contribute in leading the world.

One can only wonder how amused the people to be lead by Washington the next century in Beijing, Moscow, Delhi, Cape Town, Brasília and other capitals around the world find this?

”First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: the United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it – when our people are threatened; when our livelihood is at stake; or when the security of our allies is in danger.”

Gone is suddenly the idea of common interests and action with allies. When U.S. interests are at stake – like they were in the ”mistake” called Iraq – the U.S. will do what it has always done: Use the hammer.

”For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism. But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable.”

What criteria does the intellectuals in his White House team use to conclude that terrorism is the largest threat?

Any 10-year old child could tell about other things to worry about – nuclear weapons, global warming, poverty, cyber warfare, emerging fascism, etc. It hasn’t got anything to do with reality but with his next sentence: ”I am calling on Congress to support a new Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion”. On top of history’s largest security budget? Enough is never enough!

President Obama goes on to justify drone warfare and liquidation of presumed terrorists without trial without even noticing that fighting terrorism and killing terrorists are two vitally different things.

And then he squares the circle for the umpteenth time:

”In taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. For our actions should meet a simple test: we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.”

OK, I’d like to believe that from today everything will be done differently from every day since 9/11. But I can’t. It is not credible.

Then comes yet another unbearable self-praise:

”In Ukraine, Russia’s recent actions recall the days when Soviet tanks rolled into Eastern Europe. But this isn’t the Cold War. Our ability to shape world opinion helped isolate Russia right away. Because of American leadership, the world immediately condemned Russian actions. Europe and the G-7 joined with us to impose sanctions. NATO reinforced our commitment to Eastern European allies. The IMF is helping to stabilize Ukraine’s economy. OSCE monitors brought the eyes of the world to unstable parts of Ukraine. This mobilization of world opinion and institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda, Russian troops on the border, and armed militias.”

What is the relevance of those Cold War tanks today if we are not living in the Cold War?

As a world leader he takes no responsibility for the U.S. neo-conservatives around him who contributed to creating the crisis in the first place, neither of all the confrontational initiatives taken by the U.S. and NATO.

There is no space in his world for the praise of those who like Germany have helped mitigate the crisis and calm down quite hotheaded U.S. rhetorics and confrontational policies.

On Iran:

”We built a coalition that imposed sanctions on the Iranian economy, while extending the hand of diplomacy to the Iranian government. Now, we have an opportunity to resolve our differences peacefully. The odds of success are still long, and we reserve all options to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Not a word about the remarkable elections and new political leadership in Iran or that it is Iran that has gone, repeatedly, the extra mile. No, it was all shaped by the U.S.

And to be maximum counterproductive and showing off military instead of intellectual power he states that all options are reserved – read bombing Iran – while very delicate negotiations are going on. Was it really necessary to say that again, Mr. President?

”I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

Consider the falseness of this statement. Washington’s ability to flout has, for decades, been second to none.

Furthermore, President Obama again offends all other people around the world by saying that they don’t affirm international norms and the rule of law since they are not exceptional (or are exceptional only for their evil doings).

Now to human rights, dignity, democracy and American idealism! Please read the next two paras together:

”The fourth and final element of American leadership: our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity. America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism – it’s a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends, and are far less likely to go to war. Free and open economies perform better, and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and terror /…/

In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government. But we can and will persistently press for the reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.”

Intellectually and morally this does not make sense. One, the idealist struggle for human rights can not be subordinate to national security. Secondly, Abdel al-Sisi, heading for the Presidency these very hours, is a military junta leader with rampant repression and death penalties in the hundreds on top of his agenda.

Here Obama puts the security argument before the ethics and applies the both/and principle of having no principles. This is not – moral – leadership. It’s profit-making militarism.

What the speech lacks – and the audacity of fear

These are some of the things President Obama wants us to know and believe. But he simply isn’t able to convince. His muddled speech is offending to the rest of the world and every moral principle.

Had any other leader spoken like this Western media commentaries would say that here speaks a dangerousnationalist.

What is conspicuously lacking in the President’s West Point speech?

  1. Any reasonably accurate appraisal of the world and the role of other nations.
  2. A sense of humility and respect for allies and other countries in this world.
  3. Every element of a grand strategy for America, for its foreign and security policy and some kind of vision of what a better world would look like. This speech with all its tired, self-aggrandising rhetorics is a thin cover-up for the fact that there is no such vision or overall strategy.
  4. Some little hint of reforms of existing institutions or new thinking about globalisation and global democratic decision-making.
  5. Ideas and initiatives – stretched-out hands – to help the world move towards conflict-resolution in crisis areas such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, China-Japan and Iran. Not a trace of creativity.

In short – it lacks the essence and practice of exactly the leadership Obama mistakenly believes he and the U.S. today stand for.

In its reality-defying arrogance and self-praise it leaves little hope for those of us who have always been fascinated by the American cultural and other creativity and – earlier – leadership while loathed its empire’s arrogance, exceptionalist militarism and insensitivity to the victims of its policies.

The audacity of hope is crushed. Regrettably, with this speech one has to think more in terms of the audacity of fearto begin to perceive the potentially catastrophic combination of militarism, hubris, a decreasing sense of reality and silly self-praise.

In 2009, US President Barack Obama and the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan had announced the “Race to the Top” initiative to reform the American education system. But there is a lot more to know about the new education standards known as the ‘Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI).’ It is not about educating students for a better life or for a successful career, it sounds more like a domestic spy program. In a 2010, Arne Duncan gave a speech on Obama’s education agenda at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris and said:

The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal that, by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That goal can only be achieved by creating a strong cradle-to-career continuum that starts with early childhood learning and extends all the way to college and careers 

It is bizarre just to think that the government may want to continue to monitor your progress after high school right through your first job or career.  What happens if you don’t get along with the manager? Will they send you to a re-education camp? Of course I am being sarcastic, but with Washington’s growing police state, who knows? The Department of Education (DOE) released in October 2012 an “Issue Brief” titled ‘Enhancing, Teaching and Learning through Educational Data Mining and Learning Analytics.’ The Educational data mining procedures were described as a program to track student’s progress through their behavioural patterns so that school officials can predict which career path they will most likely choose or if there is enough evidence to suggest that they were most likely to drop out of school. The Issue Brief clearly states how data mining technology would operate:

A student learning database (or other big data repository) stores time-stamped student input and behaviors captured as students work within the system” and “A predictive model combines demographic data (from an external student information system) and learning/behavior data from the student learning database to track a student’s progress and make predictions about his or her future behaviors or performance, such as future course outcomes and dropouts

The US Department of Education’s Common Core standards does raise an important question. Why does the federal government want student’s personal information in order to achieve educational success? The DOE’s “Issue Brief” also stated how predictions must be proven. If they cannot prove that their assessment is correct, then they may collect even more data on the student’s behalf if necessary:

Policymakers bear an ethical responsibility to investigate the validity of any predictive model that is used to make consequential decisions about students. Policymakers must be able to explain the evidence for predictions and the actions taken by the computer system on the basis of learning analytics. Analysts conducting data mining may discover patterns or associations that were previously unknown and that involve sensitive information (e.g., teacher performance or student’s family situation), and validating them with external observations and further data collection will be needed

The 2009 Stimulus bill included the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund (SFSF) which offered governors bailout money for state educational purposes such as the ‘Race to the Top’ program. Competitive grants were offered as an incentive for states to accept Common Core standards for their schools.  To be eligible, states had to adopt standards and assessment procedures provided by the DOE to prepare students for success in college and in their chosen careers after they graduate from high school. It requires states to build student databases such as the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) to track over “400 data points” including behavior, disciplinary history, family problems, interests and other personal information. Data will then be given to the “Smarter Balanced consortium” which is a state-led consortium working in collaboration with educators, researchers, policymakers, community groups and government bureaucrats to develop assessments that measures student progress toward college and their chosen careers. It is part of the national testing standards that sends completed assessments to the Department of Education so that they can share data with public and private interests.  One particular area concerning the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund’s recommendation is to establish a student data system starting from pre-K. Then States would be eligible to receive funds if they followed the basic requirements:

As part of its application for initial funding, the state must assure that it will take actions to: (a) increase teacher effectiveness and address inequities in the distribution of highly qualified teachers; (b) establish and use pre-K-through-college and career data systems to track progress and foster continuous improvement; (c) make progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments; and (d) support targeted, intensive support and effective interventions to turn around schools identified for corrective action and restructuring

The standards focus on concepts and procedures of certain areas of concentration for example, English or math. However, each standard is labeled with an alphanumeric code for identification purposes, which is then used to identify which standards are successfully met by the lessons taught to the student. By using a coding system it allows them to track which standards were applied to the student whether in the classroom or through online learning (where third party apps can also keep a record). It can also track how much time was spent on each standard.

Who is behind “Common Core”? 

Common Core Standards was supported and funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pearson Publishing Company, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, several Governors and school officials from various states. It is also funded by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp called ‘Amplify Education.’ In 2012, Bob Corcoran of General Electric donated more than $33 million to the Common Core project. In 2013, Reuters reported who funded the $100 million project in an article titled ‘K-12 student database jazzes tech startups, spooks parents’:

The database is a joint project of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided most of the funding, the Carnegie Corporation of New York and school officials from several states. Amplify Education, a division of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, built the infrastructure over the past 18 months. When it was ready, the Gates Foundation turned the database over to a newly created nonprofit, inBloom Inc, which will run it.

States and school districts can choose whether they want to input their student records into the system; the service is free for now, though inBloom officials say they will likely start to charge fees in 2015. So far, seven states – Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Massachusetts – have committed to enter data from select school districts. Louisiana and New York will be entering nearly all student records statewide

The article also stated how the database would operate on a local and federal level:

But the most influential new product may be the least flashy: a $100 million database built to chart the academic paths of public school students from kindergarten through high school. In operation just three months, the database already holds files on millions of children identified by name, address and sometimes social security number. Learning disabilities are documented, test scores recorded, attendance noted. In some cases, the database tracks student hobbies, career goals, attitudes toward school – even homework completion.

Local education officials retain legal control over their students’ information. But federal law allows them to share files in their portion of the database with private companies selling educational products and services

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and their ‘inBloom’ database were one of the data mining programs associated with Common Core. But it has recently failed because New York state legislature forced its state education bureaucrats to shut down the Gates-funded project amid growing opposition of parents and privacy advocates. It was designed to collect student data and store the information in a cloud service and make it available to commercial vendors and apps so that teachers can eventually track student’s progress. Bill Gates and his project has failed and that is only one battle both parents and privacy advocates has won and that is a good start. But it is only one battle, with many more to come. Although the Bill Gates project inBloom has failed, the DOE will still manage to track students.

Collecting Data from “Pre-K through workforce”

Common Core standards require an invasion of privacy in order to educate students, but it comes at a cost. It should concern both students and their families. Will Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) told World Net Daily what common core’s data collection is capable of achieving once it is fully implemented. He said “It’s their likes and dislikes, grade-point average all the way through school, their home situation, health questions,” he said. “It’s an incredibly invasive collection of information that they are trying to collect in what they call P-20, or pre-K through workforce.”

Private interests in Washington decided back in 2007 to move full force in an attempt to nationalize educational standards and curriculums, which started the early development of the Common Core project. After the stimulus bill was signed in 2009, the DOE’s “Race to the Top” program was born.  The DOE made ‘Race to the Top’ grants competitive so that states would jump aboard rapidly and agree to implement Common Core standards that would be aligned with mandatory national tests. Most US states adopted Common Core for federal money without any approval or votes from legislators’ and without public knowledge.  Parents and communities were not even aware that their states and their elected representatives had adopted Common Core in the first place.  Besides data collection, the education Common Core provides is based on rigorous test taking procedures and memorization. Parents in Brooklyn, New York pulled their children in protest against the standardized tests saying that it brought unnecessary stress onto their children.

Washington’s goal is for Common Core to be implemented in every state by 2015. So far 44 states adopted Common Core standards although it has been an uphill battle for Washington’s education plan, especially when it comes to privacy concerns regarding students’ personal data. With a majority of states adopting Common Core Standards, it seems that there is an uphill battle for the growing anti-common core movement as well.

Will parents, privacy advocates and even teachers who oppose Common Core continue the battle well into the future? I believe they will, especially when it involves their children’s education. What is the real agenda behind Common Core? Does collecting personal data so that bureaucrats can analyze your progress over a period of time improve your chances of getting a better education and a career?  After all, they can barely create any new jobs for recent college graduates, yet Secretary Duncan says the US will have the “highest proportion of college graduates” in the world. With NSA revelations spying on the entire planet, it would not surprise me that the Department of Education is setting the stage for a domestic spy program on a personal level

Democracy had another near-fatal stroke, and the military industrial complex further tightened UK defense spending with the appointment of ex-army officer and Tory hothead Rory Stewart MP as the new chairman of Westminster’s Defence Select Committee.

Last week the Home Affairs Select Committee delivered a damning verdict on Britain’s defense and secret service oversight, on taxpayer accountability. It said the refusal of the director general of MI5, Andrew Parker, to appear before them and lack of any effective supervision was “undermining the credibility of the intelligence agencies and parliament itself.”

Surely nothing could surpass the ‘Dodgy Dossier’, the criminal conspiracy that led to the US and Britain, as the Arab League put it in 2003, to ‘Opening the Gates of Hell in Iraq’? But with Stuart’s appointment to oversee public scrutiny of UK military spending just two weeks before NATO’s political cabal of which he’s a member, the Bilderberg conference, meets in Copenhagen later this month, it is clear to those who still have eyes to see that those bloody lessons have not been learned and the worse could be yet to come.

The most powerful private club in the world

In their Christmas 1987 edition, The Economist described Bilderberg as ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ the most powerful private club in the world. Its power has certainly not diminished as the decades have rolled by and neither has its secrecy. Although it began with trades unionists and powerful people it wanted to persuade, in its final days Bilderberg has boiled down to a rotten core of bankers, royalty, arms industry, oil and media barons and Rory Stuart MP, in the tradition of Kissinger, Blair, Cameron, Osborne and Balls, has thrown his lot in with them.

In 1943, half way through the war, the US power elite saw that, barring any big surprises, Hitler was going to lose World War Two, so their ‘War And Peace Studies Group’ of the Council On Foreign Relations (CFR) quietly began to prepare the Marshall Plan for the post-war world. Alongside the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a sizable budget was set aside to fund a range of activities which would ensure Europeans didn’t vote communist and were welded economically, culturally and politically to the US for the foreseeable future.


British soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Lock (C) checks his equipment before conducting a patrol with soldiers of the 1st Batallion of the Royal Welsh in streets of Showal in Nad-e-Ali district, Southern Afghanistan, in Helmand Province.(AFP Photo / Thomas Coex )

British soldier Lieutenant-Colonel Nick Lock (C) checks his equipment before conducting a patrol with soldiers of the 1st Batallion of the Royal Welsh in streets of Showal in Nad-e-Ali district, Southern Afghanistan, in Helmand Province.(AFP Photo / Thomas Coex )

Born in a Nazi ‘witches cauldron’ of British blood

Bilderberg’s first chairman, Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, was born into the German aristocracy. He joined the Nazi party at university, then the SS but he married into the Dutch royal family, dropping the silver deaths-head and black SS uniform before the war. His newly adopted Holland was invaded by his old Nazi friends in 1941, so he fled to Britain with Dutch Queen Wilhelmina and his wife, Princess Juliana.

As a former SS officer he was scrutinized by the Admiralty’s wartime spymaster, Ian Fleming who, after a year of watching Bernhard, signed him to the British army as a trusted Dutch liaison officer.

With 1944 came one of Bernhard’s most important jobs: to supervise the Dutch underground in the run-up to September’s liberation of large parts of Holland. Field Marshall Montgomery’s audacious airborne operation, the biggest in history, depicted in Cornelius Ryan’s 1977 film A Bridge Too Far, was codenamed ‘Market Garden’ and intended to end the war by Christmas.

As liaison officer for the coming Arnhem deliverance, Bernhard sent in Dutch spy, Christiaan Lindemans, codename ‘King Kong’, ten days beforehand to prepare resistance fighters for the allies lunge through Eindhoven, Nijmegen and over the Rhein into Arnhem.

But instead of making contact with the Dutch underground, Bernhard’s ‘King Kong’ found some German soldiers and demanded to be taken straight to the Abwehr, German military intelligence. The allies’ plans for the airborne assault were in enemy hands because Bernhard’s precious Lindemans was a double agent. He had wrecked the allies’ all-important element of surprise.

‘King Kong’ was arrested and quizzed after the war by the British but never got a chance to tell his story because, under Dutch orders, he was whisked off to Germany and died in suspicious circumstances.

Operation Market Garden went ahead on Sunday September 17, 1944, but the British paratroopers at Arnhem were quickly split and surrounded by forces containing self-propelled guns, tanks and crack SS troops, who happened to be resting nearby. Frost’s 2nd battalion held on to the bridge leaving the rest of the 1st Airborne Division surrounded in what the Nazis called the Hexenkessel or ‘witches cauldron’, pinned down in the suburb of Oosterbeek.

On Wednesday 20 September, 1944, as British airborne Colonel John Frost’s remaining paratroopers were being mauled by SS Panzers at Arnhem Bridge, the tanks of the Grenadier Guards, along with US paratroopers, were tantalizingly close, destroying the last German defenses down the road in Nijmegen. Ironically, it was a young captain, who was also to chair the Bilderberg meetings in later life, Lord Peter Carrington, who was leading the Grenadier battle group of Sherman tanks as they took the penultimate bridge. At 8 o’clock that evening, he was just a 20-minute drive from reinforcing Frost at the Arnhem Bridge, and victory.

But although they still had eight hours or so before Arnhem Bridge would finally fall into German hands, Carrington’s force, along with the Irish guards, of a hundred or so tanks inexplicably stopped, just over the Nijmegen Bridge in the village of Lent, for an eighteen hour rest. After the war, 10 SS Panzer Division General Heinz Harmel mocked Carrington saying, “The British tanks made a mistake when they stayed in Lent. If they had carried on it would have been all over for us.”

‘Colonel Frost later put the blame,’ as Stuart Hills reports in ‘By Tank To Normandy’, ‘firmly on the lack of drive by Guards Armoured,’ of which Carrington’s Grenadiers were the spearhead. ‘Comparing their relatively light casualties with those suffered by the British 1st Airborne and US 82nd. Forty years later,’ in 1984, ‘he stood on the bridge at a reunion, shook his fist and roared a question into the air for the guards. ‘Do you call that fighting!’

So Bilderberg’s first 1954 venue in Oosterbeek, Holland, was highly significant, being the same spot where a decade before the British army had suffered nearly 10,000 casualties in of one of the last Nazi bloodbaths of World War II. Bernhard had given the game away and when it looked like, despite his treachery, the brave allied soldiers might pull it off, Carrington and his corps of tanks ground to a halt for an eighteen hour tea break.


AFP Photo / Dan Chung

AFP Photo / Dan Chung

Psychos always return to the scene of the crime

Like the psychopath, who feels compelled to return to the scene of the crime, Prince Bernhard returned to Oosterbeek to chair the inaugural Bilderberg meeting in 1954. The conferences led to the signing of the Treaty of Rome, which started the European Economic Community (EEC) three years later.

Surrounded by the great and good of the post war world, the prince hoped nobody would examine his reasons for choosing Oosterbeek. At the best it was an in-joke – at the worst the battle was thrown. Whatever way you look at it sixty years on, the coded message from that first Bilderberg meeting should be clear to us now. Ten years after the war, the Nazis were back.

The seventy year Bilderberg project is almost complete

So seventy years since the Arnhem slaughter and sixty years since the first Bilderberg conference, the EEC has become the EU. NATO’s new feudal oligarchy of Western banksters and multinationals own and control all the big political parties as well as almost everything that moves both sides of the Atlantic.

Some saw it coming: former SS general Paul Hausser, who became chief of HIAG, the German SS veterans group after the war, claimed that “the foreign units of the SS were really the precursors of the NATO army.” Others detailed the Nazis’ transformation from military to financial empire including former CBS News correspondent Paul Manning in his 1981 book ‘Martin Bormann Nazi in Exile’.

Bilderberg’s latest wheeze is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This treaty makes voting pointless by letting multinationals sue governments and will leave only the thinnest veneer of democracy for the mainstream media to chew on both in Europe and America. The ‘nation states’ will become mere prefectures and the European Commission will be the unelected government of the United States of Europe.

As ordinary people across Europe and America cry out for decent basic standards such as fresh water, food, shelter, healthcare, heating and full employment, the mainstream media barely hear them because this is not the Bilderberg way. Instead, these pinstriped fascists bury us in debt, steal our leisure time, erode quality time with children, friends and family, and then blame us for demanding a fair share of the rewards of human progress.

 Beginning his working life in the aviation industry and trained by the BBC, Tony Gosling is a British land rights activist, historian & investigative radio journalist.

Bilderberg And You

May 29th, 2014 by Global Research

This weekend the high-powered think tank, the Bilderberg Group, is meeting to discuss current events, form a consensus on the coordination of policies of the Western imperial  powers, and to attempt to influence and shape the world in a direction of their liking. The Bilderberg Group, founded in 1954, is a secretive organizations which holds meetings once per year, drawing together roughly 130 of the world’s elite: bankers (such as David Rockefeller), monarchs (such as Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands), central bankers, oil executives, industry leaders, media moguls, establishment academics, prime ministers, presidents and up-and-coming politicians, think tank leaders, the heads of foundations, military commanders and intelligence chiefs, and a host of other important figures.

Bilderberg is not a ‘conspiracy’, but is rather an organization for the formation of consensus among the elite. They do, however, have a common ideology. Denis Healey, a British politician who was a member of the gorup’s Steering Committee for over thirty years, told the Guardian in 2001: “To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.” He added: “Bilderberg is a way of bringing together politicians, industrialists, financiers and journalists. Politics should involve people who aren’t politicians. We make a point of getting along younger politicians who are obviously rising, to bring them together with financiers and industrialists who offer them wise words. It increases the chance of having a sensible global policy.” [Source: Who Pulls the Strings?]

So while our elite get together to “increase the chance of having a sensible global policy” to bring about “a single community throughout the world,” the people continue with their lives, not having the ability to influence the media, academics, politicians, or the direction of the world. Unless you are a geostrategic adviser or very rich and influential, chances are you have not been invited to this year’s meeting. The discussions from each meeting are secret and unreported, yet the decisions or consensus being formed are far-reaching. Their deeds are done in the darkness of a media blackout. That which can undo them is done in the light. (Click here to learn more.)

Here at Global Research and the Centre for Research on Globalization, we present an alternative type of ‘think tank’: not secretive, but open and honest; not powerful, but empowering; not elite-driven but people-oriented; not deceptive, but informative. We too, seek to help shape a new consensus among the people themselves, to help shape a new ‘public opinion.’ We feel, unlike Bilderberg, that an informed and educated populace is not only necessary for a democracy, but is demanded of the inherent rights of being human. Our information is open and available to all. Our aims and objectives are to inform and empower the people. Our methods are to bring to light all of that which stands in darkness. We expose Bilderberg, we don’t get invited to their meetings.

However, we do not have the benefactors that Bilderberg is endowed with. We have no bankers, Rockefellers, King or Queens, Rothschilds or others as members. The CIA was not kind enough to fund us, as they did the Bilderberg Group for the first couple years. The country we live in does not foot the bill for our activities, as is the case with Bilderberg. We are not friends with the executives of Shell, Goldman Sachs, the Federal Reserve, BP, or Barclays. Our finances come strictly from you, the reader. We are a donation-based organization, and while our readership far surpasses Bilderberg’s membership, our readers surely lack the money and influence inherent at Bilderberg. Thus, we need to beseech our readers to do what they can to help us continue doing what we do. Whether it is $5 or $500 or more, every bit helps. There are more of us than there are of them, and while we may be modest in our means, together, we can overcome. Help shine light on the darkness, help the road clear for a new direction for the world, one not decided by self-appointed oligarchs like those at Bilderberg.

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Weir’s fascinating history focuses on how the State of Israel came into existence through a cynical using of the United States and how it was defended from American critics who saw the support for Israel as violating US principles and damaging US interests.

The significance of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British “gentleman’s agreement” between the British government and Lord Rothschild that pledged British support for a Jewish homeland, has not been understood by many for the quid pro quo that it represented.  The agreement, which occurred when it appeared that Germany was winning WW I, was that Zionists would work to get the United States involved in the war if Britain would deliver Palestine as a Jewish homeland.  The reason for the American involvement in the war and the American contribution to the arrangement have not been widely understood: the Balfour Declaration (as well as the later British Mandate) were drafted in both Britain and the US, including by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Germany had no inkling of this deal until the post-war 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which Zionists attended to ensure that Britain would come through with its part of the agreement.

Even before Britain washed its hands of Palestine, Zionists recognized that they needed the support of the United States for Israel to survive and thrive, so the U.S. became the focus of propaganda and political pressure.  Harry Truman, the US President who recognized the State of Israel immediately after it declared itself a state, had received a then-staggering $2 million from a Zionist donor during what had appeared to be a losing presidential campaign.  State Department leaders were against supporting Israel because it damaged U.S. relations with Arab countries and, more importantly, violated important American principles of self-determination and justice. Elected leaders, vulnerable to political pressure and access to campaign funding, were not able to maintain such America-first integrity.

Weir documented various little-known Zionist efforts to support the creation of their state.  The activities — basically bribes, lies, subterfuge, threats and violence– included:

  •  Zionist leaders’ “mixed reaction” to Nazism, with some seeing that the convergent goals would benefit a Jewish state that required a Jewish population;
  •  Secret American Zionist clubs (including the elite Parushim with Felix Frankfurter) which pledged to work for Israel behind the scenes;
  • Creating the myth that a refuge was needed for Jews (including falsifying anti-Semitism in Germany and Poland and, more importantly, sabotaging western countries’ efforts to open their doors to Jewish refugees after WW II in order to ensure that Jews had few choices of refuge outside of Israel); and
  •  Zionists’ role in the creation of Christian Zionism and the Scofield Reference Bible.

Weir ends her short history of Israel’s creation by documenting some key examples of how Israel-firsters were able to destroy the careers — if not the lives — of prominent Americans in government, journalism and academia who warned of the loss of American credibility in supporting a state that was based on religious discrimination.

Weir keeps her book focused on the early history of Israel, ignoring highly significant later events, particularly those concerning Senator William Fulbright: his uncovering of Jewish charity fraud that recycled charitable donations into US propaganda, his attempts, with JFK, to force the main Zionist organization to register as an agent of a foreign government and the loss of Fulbright’s Senate seat to the then-unheard of Dale Bumpers.

The main messages from Weir’s history are that the Jewish community has not legitimately needed a homeland- refuge from anti-Semitism and that Americans must take back their country by insisting that their elected officials place the interests of the United States before those of Israel.

Karin Brothers is a freelance writer