Introductory Note

The Chilcot Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot  was launched in 2009 by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, with the mandate to inquire into role of British government in the Iraq War.

There have been five inquiries in the United Kingdom into the Iraq War: the Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC), the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Hutton Inquiry, the Butler Inquiry and the Chilcot Inquiry (the Iraq Inquiry).  Not a single word of evidence at any of those inquiries has been heard under oath.  Sir John Chilcot, presently chairing the Chilcot Inquiry, has the unique distinction of sitting on two of those inquiries: the Butler Inquiry and the Chilcot Inquiry.  Does this not constitute a conflict of interests?

The person running the Chilcot Inquiry on behalf of Chilcot is one Margaret Aldred, an unelected civil servant, who, in my opinion and in the opinion of others, is not fit to be running any inquiry (she infamously ordered Carne Ross before he gave evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry not to mention Dr David Kelly and outlined the consequences if he did so), and certainly not the Chilcot Inquiry (because of an overwhelming conflict of interests, and other reasons, as carefully outlined below).

Margaret Aldred is fatally tainted by a huge conflict of interests

Stephen Frost


Elfyn Llwyd MP outlines in a Westminster Hall debate why Margaret Aldred should not be running the Chilcot Inquiry:

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/whall/?gid=2011-01-25b.52.1

Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd, Plaid Cymru)

It is a great pleasure to see you in the Chair, Mr Williams, ably chairing this debate as always.

One of the vital prerequisites of a Government-initiated inquiry is that it should be utterly independent and devoid of any conflicts of interest that might undermine its credibility and the veracity of its conclusions and findings. I shall detail why I have grave misgivings about the independence of the Chilcot inquiry, and why I believe that the inquiry process may be flawed and even compromised from the beginning. I realise that those are grave allegations, but I do not make them lightly.

Before I detail the problems as I see them, I should mention that about three years ago, some documents were dispatched to my office from an unknown source, bearing a note saying that they were top secret. Some were British in origin; others may well have been from other intelligence sources. They showed that in 2001-02, active discussions were taking place on how to move in against Saddam Hussein using overwhelming military force. The term “regime change” appeared. The documents proved beyond doubt that the UK Government were on course for war even then.

The documents must have been copies of authentic documents, as two senior officers from the Metropolitan police visited me and questioned me and my colleague Adam Price about them. At the time of that visit, the documents were not physically in our possession. I decided to leave them where they were and not disclose them to anyone. I could not tell the police officers who had leaked them, as I simply did not know, and neither did Adam Price.

When the Chilcot inquiry was set up, I decided that I should surrender the documents to the inquiry. I took them to the inquiry’s office in Victoria street and handed them to Mrs Margaret Aldred, the secretary of the inquiry. I said that I had evidence that might be of assistance to the inquiry and asked Mrs Aldred if the inquiry would write to confirm whether I would be called to give evidence. I told her that I had no intention of politicking if I were called. The response was an icy stare and the words “I should jolly well hope not.”

Months went by. I wrote on two or three occasions asking for a response, but no response was forthcoming until last autumn, some nine months later. I concluded that either the secretariat was not very orderly and professional or my letters had not been passed on to the chair of the inquiry, who eventually responded. I had been discreet. As a Member of Parliament for 19 years, I thought that I should have had the courtesy of a reply one way or the other within weeks rather than months.

I began to think that something might be amiss in the secretariat, and I made various inquiries about the process of appointing the secretary. I knew that the appointment fell under the civil service code, whose key values are openness, honesty, integrity and accuracy. Recent legislation has placed those values on a statutory basis. I then tabled some parliamentary questions, and I shall refer to two of them.

On  1 December , I asked

“(1) what skills and experience were identified as being required for the role of Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry; how many candidates were identified as having such skills and experience; and on what basis the successful candidate was selected;

(2) what steps were taken in the process of appointment of the Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry (a) to identify potential conflicts of interest and (b) to ensure that any such conflicts did not affect the independence of the inquiry.”

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Mr. Hurd, responded:

“The Cabinet Secretary decided to nominate the Secretary to the Iraq Inquiry and agreed the appointment with the Chairman of the Inquiry. Both the Cabinet Secretary and the Chairman of the Inquiry agreed that the Secretary to the Inquiry should be a senior individual in the civil service ideally with previous involvement in Iraq issues.”

The Chairman of the Inquiry has told the Cabinet Secretary that, in agreeing to the appointment, he was aware of the candidate’s role in the Foreign and Defence Policy (formerly the Defence and Overseas Policy) Secretariat in the Cabinet Office from November 2004, and, given the professional standards of the senior civil service, saw no potential conflict of interest with her appointment as Secretary to the Inquiry that would, in his view, affect the independence of the Inquiry.”-[Hansard, 1 December 2010; Vol. 519, c. 882W.]

It was, therefore, the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O’Donnell, who put Mrs Margaret Aldred’s name forward for appointment as the secretary to the inquiry, and it was accepted, nem. con., by its chair, Sir John Chilcot.

On  3 September 2009 , Dr Chris Lamb, who has been very concerned about this issue, wrote a freedom of information request to the Cabinet Office asking for the precise details of the manner of the appointment. On  2 September 2010 -one whole year later-a letter, signed off by Sue Gray of the propriety and ethics team of the Cabinet Office, was sent in response. It stated:

“The Cabinet Secretary himself decided to nominate Margaret Aldred, and agreed the appointment with Sir John Chilcot, shortly after Sir John himself had accepted his role as Inquiry Chair. Both the Cabinet Secretary and the Inquiry Chair felt that the Secretary needed to be a senior individual with the right experience and skills for the task. Her previous involvement in Iraq issues was balanced against that criteria, and the view taken was that it would be possible to manage any potential conflicts of interest. Margaret Aldred was assured of that position by the Cabinet Secretary from the outset. She took up the appointment full time on  1 September  last year.”

The appointment did not follow the procedures outlined in the civil service code-it appears that no other candidate was considered by Sir Gus O’Donnell, and the process could not be described in any way as open and transparent. I will repeat what I believe to be the letter’s key phrase:

“Her previous involvement in Iraq issues was balanced against other criteria, and the view was taken that it would be possible to manage any potential conflicts of interest.”

Unsurprisingly, Dr Lamb was totally unsatisfied with the answer. He made a complaint to the Information Commissioner, and it was dealt with by Jonathan Slee, a senior case officer, who concluded in a letter dated  26 October 2010  that there were two possible scenarios. The first was that the Cabinet Office had no recorded information

“concerning the discussions in question. That is to say, such discussions took place orally (as opposed to in writing) and no written record of them was ever created. If this was the case presumably the narrative description of these discussions/deliberations which is included in the internal review was based purely on individuals’ recollection of them.”

On the second scenario, he wrote:

“Alternatively, the Cabinet Office did hold recorded information evidencing the nature of these discussions. The most obvious format for such recorded information would presumably be letters/emails exchanged between the Cabinet Secretary and Inquiry Chairman regarding Margaret Aldred, although such recorded information could obviously extend to meeting notes/memos/records of telephone conversations.”

The letter goes on to discuss another individual before noting:

“If this is the case, I suggested to the Cabinet Office that such recorded information was presumably used as the basis to provide the narrative description of the discussions which was included in the internal review. However, for the reasons set out above I suggested that Cabinet Office would not have not fulfilled your request simply by describing the content of these recorded discussions. Rather the request would only be fulfilled by provision of the recorded information about the discussions themselves.”

The pre-penultimate paragraph of the letter concludes:

“However, I appreciate that the manner in which the Cabinet Office has handled this request will no doubt have proved frustrating. I therefore intend to formally write to the Cabinet Office in order to highlight its errors in terms of handling this request, notably the failure to correctly determine whether it held information falling within the scope of the request when issuing its refusal notice; the very significant delay in conducting an internal review; and the fact that the content of the internal review was somewhat ambiguous in inferring that Cabinet Office did hold some recorded information.”

Despite the best efforts of a very experienced researcher using the Freedom of Information Act 2000, it appears that there is no paper trail relating to the appointment or that, if there is, the Cabinet Office resolutely refuses to disclose it, for whatever reason.

We are left with the appointment of the deputy head of the Cabinet Office’s foreign and defence policy secretariat, Margaret Aldred, as secretary to the inquiry that is inquiring into actions taken by her department during her tenure as its deputy head. So integral was she in policy development that she gave evidence to the Select Committee on Defence in June 1994 about whether weaponised biological agents were present. She was part and parcel of all the planning for Gulf war I. She regularly chaired the Iraq senior officials group, which co-ordinated Iraq policy across the Government.

The appointment process was unusual and unacceptable, and the irony will not be lost on the public. The process resurrected one of the worst features of sofa government, which was so criticised by the Butler inquiry, of which Sir John Chilcot was, sadly, a member. The inquiry secretary, who has a key role, is a Cabinet Office insider and was appointed because of her extensive previous involvement in Iraq policy. There is therefore a glaring conflict of interest. Some might say her position is untenable because the inquiry is looking into the period when she was active in Iraq policy, as I said.

The very same Cabinet Office has most to answer for over Iraq. The Cabinet Office, and Mrs Aldred’s section in particular, drew up plans for regime change-an unlawful concept in international law. The Cabinet Office-the Joint Intelligence Committee and its staff-produced the discredited Iraq dossier, one of the least persuasive documents in recent political history, which is of dubious provenance and even more dubious veracity. Can the inquiry be independent, or is it a Cabinet Office subsidiary? Mrs Aldred’s involvement and that of her section makes it difficult to know where the Cabinet Office ends and the inquiry begins.

Sir John Chilcot is leading an inquiry that is tasked with examining allegations that the previous Government was duplicitous towards Parliament and the public. Surely, when Sir Gus O’Donnell suggested his close colleague, so enmeshed as she was in the whole Iraq debacle, Sir John should have seen the obvious conflict of interest? Has Mrs Aldred played a part in the protocol that has limited the inquiry’s scope? What steps have been taken to manage the conflict of interest? What steps could be taken to manage her glaring, obvious and painful conflict of interest?

During the period covered by the inquiry, the section of the Cabinet Office where Mrs Aldred worked was pivotal in the Government’s policy towards Iraq. Margaret Aldred was deputy head of that section for four and a half of those eight years. The inquiry has not published a single document originated by the Cabinet Office. In July 2002, a briefing paper by the same part of the Cabinet Office expressed the hope

“that an ultimatum could be cast in terms which Saddam would reject”.

In September 2002, Mrs Aldred’s predecessor at the Cabinet Office wrote to Sir John Scarlett, then chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, suggesting that the Iraq dossier and qualifications in the original assessment were to be removed. That document was not disclosed to the Hutton inquiry and the Cabinet Office spent years trying to prevent its disclosure. In passing, I remind the House that it was Sir Gus O’Donnell who recently denied the Chilcot inquiry permission to publish the correspondence between President Bush and Mr Blair, despite the fact that both men were happy to refer to the correspondence in their respective autobiographies.

To conclude, Mrs Aldred routinely chaired the Iraq senior officials group; she met US officials in October 2008 to discuss Iraq; she was implicated in or knew of the rendition policy; she had the leaked document showing that she was copied in with respect to the rendition policy; and she flew to Washington for discussions with counterparts three weeks before the inquiry was announced. The following questions must in my view be answered. It may be difficult for the Minister to do so today, but clearly if he can write to me in due course that will suffice. I do not want to put him on the spot.

Is Mrs Margaret Aldred’s role at the inquiry as central as her role in Iraq policy at the Cabinet Office? Did Sir Gus O’Donnell detail Mrs Aldred’s involvement in Iraq policy precisely to Sir John Chilcot, and when she was appointed and the appointment was announced why was there no mention of her previous experience with Iraq policy? She is the gatekeeper to the inquiry. Does she advise on lines of inquiry? Does she liaise with the Government about evidence? We know that she liaises with the Government about the publication of information. Was she involved in the drawing up of the protocol that has stymied the process? It was published a month after she took up her role. Is she likely to draft the report?

Obviously, justice must be seen to be done. Transparency and openness are paramount. They are concepts that are signally absent from the inquiry process. I regret that one conclusion that can easily be drawn is that the inquiry process is flawed and compromised from the very beginning.

In his first year in office, President Barack Obama pledged to “collect the facts” on the death of hundreds, possibly thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war at the hands of U.S.-allied Afghan forces in late 2001.

Almost four years later, there’s no sign of progress.

When asked by ProPublica about the state of the investigation, the White House says it is still “looking into” the apparent massacre. Yet no facts have been released and it’s far from clear what, if any, facts have been collected.

Human rights researchers who originally uncovered the case say they’ve seen no evidence of an active investigation.

The deaths happened as Taliban forces were collapsing in the wake of the American invasion of Afghanistan. Thousands of Taliban prisoners had surrendered to the forces of a U.S.-supported warlord named Abdul Rashid Dostum. The prisoners, say survivors and other witnesses, were stuffed into shipping containers without food or water. Many died of suffocation. Others were allegedly killed when Dostum’s men shot at the containers.

A few months later, a mass grave was found nearby in Dasht-i-Leili, a desert region of northern Afghanistan.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that the Bush administration, sensitive to criticism of a U.S. ally, had discouraged investigations into the incident. In response, Obama told CNN that “if it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, I think that we have to know about that.”

A White House spokeswoman told ProPublica that there has indeed been some kind of review – and that it’s still ongoing: “At the direction of the President, his national security team is continuing its work looking into the Dasht-i-Leili massacre.” She declined to provide more details.

“This seems quite half-hearted and cynical,” said Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at Physicians for Human Rights, the group that discovered the grave site in 2002 and since then has pushed for an investigation.

The group sent a letter to the president in December 2011, the tenth anniversary of the incident. In a follow-up meeting some months later, senior State Department officials told Physicians for Human Rights that there was nothing new to share.

“This has been a hot potato that no one wanted to deal with, and now it’s gone cold,” said Norah Niland, former director of human rights for the United Nations in Afghanistan.

Human rights advocates have long said the responsibility for a comprehensive investigation lies with the U.S., because American forces were allied with Dostum and his men at the time. Surviving prisoners have also claimed that Americans were present when the containers were loaded, though that’s never been corroborated.

A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that the Department of Defense “found no evidence of U.S. service member participation, knowledge, or presence. A broader review of the facts is beyond D.O.D.’s purview.” That initial review has never been made public.

At this point, say advocates, an investigation should address not just the question of U.S. involvement, but also what the U.S. did in the years that followed to foster accountability.

“I’m not saying Dostum ordered these people killed, and I’m not saying U.S. troops participated,” said Stefan Schmitt, a forensic specialist with Physicians for Human Rights. “All I’m saying is there are hundreds if not thousands of people that went missing. In a country that’s looking to have peace, to be under the rule of law, you need to answer these questions.”

Initially excited by Obama’s statement, researchers with Physicians for Human Rights peppered the administration with their findings. But the response was “murky at best,” said Sirkin.

“We were never very clear on who within the administration was delegated the task,” she said. Current and former administration officials interviewed by ProPublica couldn’t say which agency or department had the job.

Sirkin and others eventually resigned themselves to the fact that Obama, in his televised remarks, had not specifically called for a full investigation. With the U.S. now withdrawing from Afghanistan, many observers say it’s no surprise that investigating Dasht-i-Leili is no longer a priority.

Dostum still holds considerable sway in Northern Afghanistan, though he has fallen in and out of favor with the U.S. and with Afghan president Hamid Karzai. The Times recently reported Dostum is one of several former warlords to whom Karzai passes on thousands of dollars in cash he receives from the CIA each month. (We were unable to reach Dostum himself for this story.)

This has been a hot potato that no one wanted to deal with, and now it’s gone cold.

The Obama administration has been cool toward him in recent years, saying ahead of Afghanistan’s elections in 2009 that the U.S. “maintains concerns about any leadership role for Mr. Dostum in today’s Afghanistan.”

Back in 2001, Dostum was far more important to the U.S. He was a U.S. proxy, fighting the Taliban as part of the Northern Alliance. American Special Forces famously rode on horseback alongside Dostum’s men, advising and calling in airstrikes. The alliance took the city of Mazar-i-Sharif from the Taliban in one of the first major victories of the invasion in early November 2001.

The shipping container deaths occurred a few weeks later, when Taliban fighters who had surrendered to the Northern Alliance at the city of Kunduz were en route to a prison about 200 miles away.

That winter, Physicians for Human Rights discovered a mass grave at Dasht-i-Leili. A preliminary investigation exhumed several bodies that appeared to have died from suffocation. Stories began to circulate in the region and Newsweek and others published detailed accounts from surviving prisoners, truck drivers, and other witnesses.

The Times also reported that an FBI agent interviewing new Afghan arrivals to Guantanamo Bay prison in early 2002 heard consistent accounts of prisoners “stacked like cordwood,” and death by suffocation and shooting. When the agent pressed for an investigation, he was reportedly told it was not his responsibility.

Dostum has said that he would welcome an investigation. He said that some 200 prisoners had indeed died in transit, but that the deaths were unintentional, the result of battlefield wounds.

Other estimates put the toll much higher.

A widely cited State Department memo from fall 2002 said that “the actual number may approach 2,000.”

Around the same time, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell tasked his Ambassador for War Crimes, Pierre-Richard Prosper, with looking into Dasht-i-Leili. Prosper told ProPublica that due to the U.S. alliance with Dostum, Washington felt the U.S. should not take the lead in an investigation.

“We were in the middle of fighting, and we thought we should keep the lines clear, let someone else, the U.N. or Afghans, handle this,” said Prosper.

But the newly installed Afghan government had neither the will nor the resources for a thorough investigation, and U.N. officials said they could not guarantee security. Witnesses and others involved in Dasht-i-Leili had already been killed and harassed, according to State Department memos.

A declassified Defense Department memo from February 2003 indicates the U.S. was not providing security for an investigation. The memo’s author, Marshall Billingslea, told the Times in 2009, “I did get the sense that there was little appetite for this matter within parts of D.O.D.” (Billingslea did not respond to our requests for comment.)

As the years went by, no one from the U.S., the U.N., or Afghanistan guarded the grave site. In 2008, reporters and researchers found empty pits where they had once found human remains. Satellite photos obtained later showed what appeared to be earth-moving equipment in the desert in 2006. Locals told McClatchy that Dostum’s men had dug up the graves.

After Obama pledged in 2009 to look into the case, a parallel inquiry was begun the next year in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by current Secretary of State John Kerry.

The fate of that investigation is also unclear. The lead investigator, John Kiriakou, was a former CIA officer who was caught up in a criminal leak prosecution and is now in prison. Other Senate staffers could not provide details on Kiriakou’s efforts. Physicians for Human Rights says contact from the committee fizzled out within a year.

New attention to Dasht-i-Leili had also been sparked within the U.N.’s mission in Afghanistan and the organization’s High Commission on Human Rights, former U.N. officials said.

However, Peter Galbraith, who was the U.N.’s deputy special representative for Afghanistan until the fall of 2009, told ProPublica that “an investigation would’ve required a push from the U.S. It required the cooperation of the coalition forces.” (Neither the U.N. mission in Afghanistan nor the office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights responded to our requests for comment.)

The mass grave at Dasht-i-Leili is one of many left unexamined in Afghanistan. In late 2011, the nation’s Independent Human Rights Commission concluded a massive report on decades of war crimes and human rights abuses, which reportedly documents 180 mass graves across the country. The region near Dasht-i-Leili is also believed to hold the remains of civilians massacred by the Taliban in 1998, in what Human Rights Watch called ”one of the single worst examples of killings of civilians in Afghanistan’s twenty-year war.” In all, the report named 500 individuals responsible for mass killings – some of whom hold prominent government positions.

American and Afghan officials reportedly discouraged publication of the report, and the commission has still not made it public. “It’s going to reopen all the old wounds,” an American Embassy official told the New York Times last year. Afghanistan also recently adopted an amnesty law offering blanket immunity for past war crimes.

Nader Nadery, the commissioner responsible for the report, told ProPublica: “I haven’t seen any political or even rhetorical support of investigations into Dasht-i-Leili or any other investigation into past atrocities, from either Bush or Obama.”

That the National Security Agency has engaged in such activity isn’t entirely new: Since 9/11, we’ve learned about large-scale surveillance by the spy agency from a patchwork of official statements, classified documents, and anonymously sourced news stories.

Surveillance court created

Sen. Frank Church  (D-Idaho) led the investigation.

After a post-Watergate Senate investigation documented abuses of government surveillance, Congress passes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to regulate how the government can monitor suspected spies or terrorists in the U.S. The law establishes a secret court that issues warrants for electronic surveillance or physical searches of a “foreign power” or “agents of a foreign power” (broadly defined in the law). The government doesn’t have to demonstrate probable cause of a crime, just that the “purpose of the surveillance is to obtain foreign intelligence information.”

The court’s sessions and opinions are classified. The only information we have is a yearly report to the Senate documenting the number of “applications” made by the government. Since 1978, the court has approved thousands of applications – and rejected just 11.

Oct. 2001

Patriot Act passed

President George W. Bush signs the Patriot Act.

In the wake of 9/11, Congress passes the sweeping USA Patriot Act. One provision, section 215, allows the FBI to ask the FISA court to compel the sharing of books, business documents, tax records, library check-out lists – actually, “any tangible thing” – as part of a foreign intelligence or international terrorism investigation. The required material can include purely domestic records.

Oct. 2003

‘Vacuum-cleaner surveillance’ of the Internet

Mark Klein

AT&T technician Mark Klein discovers what he believes to be newly installed NSA data-mining equipment in a “secret room” at a company facility in San Francisco. Klein, who several years later goes public with his story to support a lawsuit against the company, believes the equipment enables “vacuum-cleaner surveillance of all the data crossing the Internet – whether that be peoples’ e-mail, web surfing or any other data.”

March 2004

Ashcroft hospital showdown

Attorney General John Ashcroft

In what would become one of the most famous moments of the Bush Administration, presidential aides Andrew Card and Alberto Gonzales show up at the hospital bed of John Ashcroft. Their purpose? To convince the seriously ill attorney general to sign off on the extension of a secret domestic spying program. Ashcroft refuses, believing the warrantless program to be illegal.

The hospital showdown was first reported by the New York Times, but two years later Newsweek provided more detail, describing a program that sounds similar to the one the Guardian revealed this week. The NSA, Newsweek reported citing anonymous sources, collected without court approval vast quantities of phone and email metadata “with cooperation from some of the country’s largest telecommunications companies” from “tens of millions of average Americans.” The magazine says the program itself began in September 2001 and was shut down in March 2004 after the hospital incident. But Newsweek also raises the possibility that Bush may have found new justification to continue some of the activity.

Dec. 2005

Warrantless wiretapping revealed

Michael Hayden, director of the NSA when the warrantless wiretapping began

The Times, over the objections of the Bush Administration, reveals that since 2002 the government “monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants.” The program involves actually listening in on phone calls and reading emails without seeking permission from the FISA Court.

Jan. 2006

Bush defends wiretapping

President Bush speaks at Kansas State University.

President Bush defends what he calls the “terrorist surveillance program” in a speech in Kansas. He says the program only looks at calls in which one end of the communication is overseas.

March 2006

Patriot Act renewed

The Senate and House pass legislation to renew the USA Patriot Act with broad bipartisan support and President Bush signs it into law. It includes a few new protections for records required to be produced under the controversial section 215.

May 2006

Mass collection of call data revealed

USA Today reports that the NSA has been collecting data since 2001 on phone records of “tens of millions of Americans” through three major phone companies, Verizon, AT&T, and BellSouth (though the companies level of involvement is later disputed.) The data collected does not include content of calls but rather data like phone numbers for analyzing communication patterns.

As with the wiretapping program revealed by the Times, the NSA data collection occurs without warrants, according to USA Today. Unlike the wiretapping program, the NSA data collection was not limited to international communications.

2006

Court authorizes collection of call data

The mass data collection reported by the Guardian this week apparently was first authorized by the FISA court in 2006, though exactly when is not clear. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, said Thursday, “As far as I know, this is the exact three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years.” Similarly, the Washington Post quoted an anonymous “expert in this aspect of the law” who said the document published by the Guardian appears to be a “routine renewal” of an order first issued in 2006.

It’s not clear whether these orders represent court approval of the previously warrantless data collection that USA Today described.

Jan. 2007

Bush admin says surveillance now operating with court approval

Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announces that the FISA court has allowed the government to target international communications that start or end in the U.S., as long as one person is “a member or agent of al Qaeda or an associated terrorist organization.” Gonzalez says the government is ending the “terrorist surveillance program,” and bringing such cases under FISA approval.

Aug. 2007

Congress expands surveillance powers

The FISA court reportedly changes its stance and puts more limits on the Bush administration’s surveillance (the details of the court’s move are still not known.) In response, Congress quickly passes, and President Bush signs, a stopgap law, the Protect America Act.

In many cases, the government can now get blanket surveillance warrants without naming specific individuals as targets. To do that, the government needs to show that they’re not intentionally targeting people in the U.S., even if domestic communications are swept up in the process.

Sept. 2007

Prism begins

The FBI and the NSA get access to user data from Microsoft under a top-secret program known as Prism, according to an NSA PowerPoint briefing published by the Washington Post and the Guardian this week. In subsequent years, the government reportedly gets data from eight other companies including Apple and Google. “The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies,” according to the Guardian.

July 2008

Congress renews broader surveillance powers

Congress follows up the Protect America Act with another law, the FISA Amendments Act, extending the government’s expanded spying powers for another four years. The law now approaches the kind of warrantless wiretapping that occurred earlier in Bush administration. Senator Obama votes for the act.

The act also gives immunity to telecom companies for their participation in warrantless wiretapping.

April 2009

NSA ‘overcollects’

The New York Times reports that for several months, the NSA had gotten ahold of domestic communications it wasn’t supposed to. The Times says it was likely the result of “technical problems in the NSA’s ability” to distinguish between domestic and overseas communications. The Justice Department says the problems have been resolved.

Feb. 2010

Controversial Patriot Act provision extended

President Obama

President Obama signs a temporary one-year extension of elements of the Patriot Act that were set to expire — including Section 215, which grants the government broad powers to seize records.

May 2011

Patriot Act renewed, again

The House and Senate pass legislation to extend the overall Patriot Act. President Obama, who is in Europe as the law is set to expire, directs the bill to be signed with an “autopen” machine in his stead. It’s the first time in history a U.S. president has done so.

March 2012

Senators warn cryptically of overreach

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

In a letter to the attorney general, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., write, “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details” of how the government has interpreted Section 215 of the Patriot Act. Because the program is classified, the senators offer no further details.

July 2012

Court finds unconstitutional surveillance

According to a declassified statement by Wyden, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held on at least one occasion that information collection carried out by the government was unconstitutional. But the details of that episode, including when it happened, have never been revealed.

Dec. 2012

Broad powers again extended

President Obama

Congress extends the FISA Amendments Act another five years, and Obama signs it into law. Sens. Wyden and Jeff Merkley, both Oregon Democrats, offer amendments requiring more disclosure about the law’s impact. The proposals fail.

April 2013

Verizon order issued

As the Guardian revealed this week, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Judge Roger Vinson issues a secret court order directing Verizon Business Network Services to turn over “metadata” — including the time, duration and location of phone calls, though not what was said on the calls — to the NSA for all calls over the next three months. Verizon is ordered to deliver the records “on an ongoing daily basis.” The Wall Street Journal reports this week that AT&T and Sprint have similar arrangements.

The Verizon order cites Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the FBI to request a court order that requires a business to turn over “any tangible things (including books, records, papers, documents, and other items)” relevant to an international spying or terrorism investigation. In 2012, the government asked for 212 such orders, and the court approved them all.

June 2013

Congress and White House respond

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

Following the publication of the Guardian’s story about the Verizon order, Sens. Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., the chair and vice of the Senate intelligence committee, hold a news conference to dismiss criticism of the order. “This is nothing particularly new,” Chambliss says. “This has been going on for seven years under the auspices of the FISA authority, and every member of the United States Senate has been advised of this.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledges the collection of phone metadata but says the information acquired is “subject to strict restrictions on handling” and that “only a very small fraction of the records are ever reviewed.” Clapper alsoissues a statement saying that the collection under the Prism program was justified under the FISA Amendments of 2008, and that it is not “intentionally targeting” any American or person in the U.S.

Statements from the tech companies reportedly taking part in the Prism program variously disavow knowledge of the program and merely state in broad terms they follow the law.

Europe stands on the edge of a precipice, looking into the abyss. Austerity policies drive the people of Europe into poverty, undercut democracy and dismantle social policies. Rising inequalities endanger social cohesion. Ecological destruction is worsening while acute humanitarian crises devastate the most affected countries. Women and young people are hardest hit.

The European oligarchy employs ever more authoritarian methods to prop up a failed neoliberal system – all this despite widespread protest and resistance. Democracy and peace are under threat. Discrimination, based on religion, racism, homophobia or sexism and nationalism are on the rise and the crisis is deepening daily. The very existence of the European Union is now at risk while current policies weaken solidarity among European people.

Our most urgent priority is to build Europe on the basis of equality, solidarity, and authentic democracy. EU institutions and European governments now serve the interests of financial markets, with no respect for popular sovereignty. They must be brought under democratic control, just as the public interest must prevail and ecological and social needs be met. We base our demands for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe on these principles, in solidarity with the people of the world.

I) End Debt Slavery

Public debt stems from economic and political choices still on the agenda of EU institutions and European governments. Decades of regressive tax policies have consciously and outrageously enriched a small minority whereas public revenues have declined and public entities using public money have bailed out failed banks. Austerity policies have drained household and small business resources and made the recession worse. Speculation on government bonds is commonplace for private banks while public finance has been tainted by corruption and collusion between politicians and private economic interests.

Moreover, in many countries private, as opposed to national debt, is due to household borrowing, aggressively promoted by the financial sector and governments in order to compensate for the stagnation of real wages while prices were rising.

The measures imposed by European institutions and governments are designed to make the people pay for this debt. However, in large part, this debt can be considered illegitimate since it was amassed with no regard for the common good. It is now clear that some countries will never be able to reimburse their debt.

Human rights must come before debt service and human needs before profit. As a matter of urgency, we demand European-wide measures to free people from the pressures of financial markets and austerity policies. Fiscal, tax and monetary policies must be changed so as to defuse the debt trap.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Cancel immediately the ‘memoranda’ imposed by the Troika upon over-indebted countries. Cancel as well a considerable share of the public debt without harming the interests of small bondholders, savers and pensioners. Banks and the financial sector must take their share of the losses. Specific amounts to be cancelled should be defined democratically. In this regard, citizen debt audits can serve as a useful tool.
  2. Suspend repayments until populations are protected against worsening poverty and employment and until economic development and ecological transition are ensured, public services strengthened and social and economic rights consolidated.
  3. Target the richest segment of the population with a one-off wealth levy.
  4. Mandate and oblige the European Central Bank and other public European banking institutions to lend directly to states at low interest and under democratic supervision without neoliberal “reform” programme conditionality.

II) Toward an Ecological and Social Europe:
Roll Back Austerity

Throughout Europe, particularly on its southern and eastern rims, harsh austerity policies are imposed, supposedly for the sake of debt repayment and reduction. Entire populations are overburdened, public spending is cut dramatically in essential areas, valuable investments in research or industrial activities are downgraded although they could contribute to a social and ecological transition.

 These austerity policies enforced by EU institutions and European governments create a downward spiral, destroy economies, add to deficits, debt, unemployment and poverty and intensify the ecological crisis and the looting of the environment. Meanwhile, a small minority continues to enrich itself unduly.

Today, more than half of European wealth is captured by 10 per cent of the population. Present policies are intentionally designed to maintain these inequalities as well as the neoliberal model which is devastating the planet and undermining democratic and social rights.

We demand a complete reversal of these policies and a different model of society that ensures social justice, equality, a fair distribution of wealth, ecological sustainability and protection of the commons.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Roll back austerity now: it is driving Europe deeper into recession. Cancel or veto the treaties and regulations that underpin it, such as the Fiscal Pact, the Six-Pack, the Two-Pack or the Pact for Competitiveness currently negotiated. Trade imbalances within the Monetary Union must be reduced by adjusting surplus country policies, not by imposing austerity on the deficit countries. Fiscal policy should remain a democratic choice.
  2. Ensure tax justice with a just, progressive and permanent taxation system on revenues, wealth and corporate profits, with effective minimum rates applied in all European countries. Revoke increases of consumption taxes such as VAT and drastically reduce those on basic goods. Outlaw tax havens and strengthen measures against fraud and tax avoidance and evasion.
  3. Develop public, Europe-wide investment programs under social control for a social and ecological transition. This transition should be based on an industrial and agricultural policy that addresses the ecological crisis as well as the need to create millions of quality jobs and should rely on ecologically sustainable and socially useful activities in the public interest. Among these would figure increased investment in education, energy transition, public transportation, and food sovereignty. It would simultaneously require cutting military spending and socially and ecologically harmful expenditure. EU and national budgets should also be reoriented in this direction.
  4. Strengthen and develop the social and ecological commons, redefine and expand public services, including health, scientific research, education, early childhood nurturing, transport and energy, water, information and culture, public housing, credit and so on. Stop all privatization of these services, establish their public or cooperative ownership and manage them democratically.

III) Rights for All: No to Poverty and Precariousness

Austerity policies attack economic and social rights and dismantle social protection. They lead to a drop in the standard of living and in many countries to acute humanitarian distress. The consequences are massive unemployment as well as a serious downgrading of working and living conditions. These, in turn, lead to unacceptable increases in poverty: today, 120 million people in the EU are poor.

In the present context of the crisis, these measures are taken even further. They attack labour rights and the role of unions, including their capacity to organize and bargain collectively. They impose competitiveness as a principle in order to divide people, increase profits, lower wages, and turn nature and human activities into commodities. Free trade agreements also foster social, ecological and fiscal dumping.

People living in precarious conditions, unemployed, disabled and pensioners are hardest hit. Among them, women, young people and migrants are first in line. Women are particularly affected by attacks on labour rights and are also obliged to compensate for the demolition of public services with unpaid care work; migrants’ basic rights are denied and an entire generation of European youth is subjected to unprecedented joblessness and social decline.

We demand that every person enjoy effective democratic, economic, environmental and social rights.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Restore the right to bargain collectively and the right of collective action; Safeguard or reinstate collective agreements and labour rights under threat from austerity packages. Guarantee democracy inside the work-place as a fundamental workers’ right. ILO standards and the European Social Charter must be applied to all workers, including migrants. Put a stop to precarious work.
  2. End social and wage dumping in Europe and in the world, including through international agreements; promote a common ground of collective guarantees in Europe that can ensure high-level social security systems and economic rights.
  3. Increase wages, establish an adequate minimum wage for every worker set by law or binding collective agreement in each country and a minimum income sufficient for a dignified life. Decrease working hours without decreasing wages and ensure a just division of unpaid care work; promote quality and sustainable employment for all with decent working conditions. Decrease radically salary differentials in the same company.
  4. Protect security of tenure of indebted households and generally the right of all people to decent housing. Ensure effective access to prevention and quality healthcare for all.
  5. Impose equality of wages, pensions and career development between women and men and outlaw discrimination at work based on gender, ethnic origin, nationality or sexual orientation. Vigorously oppose violence against women.
  6. Strengthen the social and political protagonism of migrants. Oppose the politics of criminalization of migrants and refugees. Secure equal rights for migrants and the granting of asylum, close detention camps, close the FRONTEX Agency and end its EU border operations.

IV) For a Democratic Economy: Make Banks Serve the Public Interest

 The collapse of the private banking system in 2008 was not an accident but rather a direct consequence of finance serving only shareholders and speculators to the detriment of the public interest. In recent decades, governments have both authorized and encouraged this system by consenting to every demand of the financial industry. Many public or cooperatively-owned credit institutions previously devoted to financing useful regional activities have been privatized. Meanwhile, the absence of regulation has allowed criminal organizations worldwide to launder money and invest their huge profits freely.

 Governments responded to the crisis by injecting hundreds of billions of euros into bank rescues at the expense of taxpayers and provided financial interests with unconditional guarantees, thereby strengthening the private banks even further.

In order to make the banking sector and the financial industry serve the public interest, society and the environment from now on, the disproportionate power of financial institutions must be curbed through strict regulation and public and democratic control over banks.

Our common and urgent demands:

  1. Review the extensive guarantees granted to private finance and exercise public control in the event of bank failures so as to avoid negative impacts on society. The shareholders of failed banks as well as their creditors must take their share of losses. Bailed-out banks must be socialized.
  2. Impose effective and strict regulation of banks and other financial institutions. Enforce complete separation of commercial and investment banks. Prohibit the use of tax havens and off-balance sheet activities. Abolish bank secrecy rules. Tax financial transactions and restore control over capital inflows or outflows. Break up “too big to fail” banks.
  3. Enforce democratic and social control of banks and financial institutions. Orient credit toward job-creating activities that encourage social and ecological development. Give priority and incentives to publicly and collectively owned cooperative public credit systems.

STAND UP FOR DEMOCRACY!

Current developments in Europe represent an outright denial of democracy. Democratic debate is silenced, repression against social movements is increasing and divisions are encouraged between people and between countries. The predictable outcome is the rise of racist, right-wing or fascist movements as resentment is partly directed against migrants, poor people, minorities, foreigners, and/or other European people. The best way to defeat these movements is to get rid of austerity.

Alternatives exist: our responsibility is to change the balance of power in order to impose them and build genuine political, social and economic democracy in Europe.

Because we refuse to be governed by a self-appointed European oligarchy,

Because we refuse the exploitation of people and nature in Europe and in the rest of the world,

Because we reject the European Union’s contribution to conflict and militarization,

Because we call for an end to the exploitation and the oppression of women and for a break with the patriarchal system,

Because we want real democracy, real participation and popular sovereignty,

Because we want a society that gives priority to ecological and social needs,

We are building a united movement for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe!

We are supporting and strengthening each other’s struggles;

We pledge to join forces and to fight together to make our demands a reality through national and European actions.

The Alter Summit in Athens on June 7 and 8, 2013 is an important step in this direction. •

How the Pentagon Removes Entire Peoples

June 9th, 2013 by David Swanson

If we think at all about our government’s military depopulating territory that it desires, we usually think of the long-ago replacement of native Americans with new settlements during the continental expansion of the United States westward.

Here in Virginia some of us are vaguely aware that back during the Great Depression poor people were evicted from their homes and their land where national parks were desired.  But we distract and comfort ourselves with the notion that such matters are deep in the past.

Occasionally we notice that environmental disasters are displacing people, often poor people or marginalized people, from their homes.  But these incidents seem like collateral damage rather than intentional ethnic cleansing.

If we’re aware of the 1,000 or so U.S. military bases standing today in some 175 foreign countries, we must realize that the land they occupy could serve some other purpose in the lives of those countries’ peoples.  But surely those countries’ peoples are still there, still living — if perhaps slightly inconvenienced — in their countries.

Yet the fact is that the U.S. military has displaced and continues to displace for the construction of its bases the entire populations of villages and islands, in blatant violation of international law, basic human decency, and principles we like to tell each other we stand for.  The United States also continues to deny displaced populations the right to return to their homelands.

At issue here are not the bombings or burnings of entire villages, which of course the United States engages in during its wars and its non-wars.  Nor are we dealing here with the millions of refugees created by wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan or by drone wars like the one in Pakistan.  Rather, the following are cases of the intentional displacement of particular populations moved out of the way of base construction and left alive to struggle as refugees in exile.

In the Philippines, the United States built bases on land belonging to the indigenous Aetas people, who “ended up combing military trash to survive.”

During World War II the U.S. Navy seized the small Hawaiian island of Koho’alawe for a weapons testing range and ordered its inhabitants to leave.  The island has been devastated.

In 1942, the Navy displaced Aleutian Islanders.

President Harry Truman made up his mind that the 170 native inhabitants of Bikini Atoll had no right to their island.  He had them evicted in February and March of 1946, and dumped as refugees on other islands without means of support or a social structure in place.  In the coming years, the United States would remove 147 people from Enewetak Atoll and all the people on Lib Island.  U.S. atomic and hydrogen bomb testing rendered various depopulated and still-populated islands uninhabitable, leading to further displacements.  Up through the 1960s, the U.S. military displaced hundreds of people from Kwajalein Atoll.  A super-densely populated ghetto was created on Ebeye.

On Vieques, off Puerto Rico, the Navy displaced thousands of inhabitants between 1941 and 1947, announced plans to evict the remaining 8,000 in 1961, but was forced to back off and — in 2003 — to stop bombing the island.

On nearby Culebra, the Navy displaced thousands between 1948 and 1950 and attempted to remove those remaining up through the 1970s.

The Navy is right now looking at the island of Pagan as a possible replacement for Vieques, the population already having been removed by a volcanic eruption.  Of course, any possibility of return would be greatly diminished.

Beginning during World War II and continuing through the 1950s, the U.S. military displaced a quarter million Okinawans, or half the population, from their land, forcing people into refugee camps and shipping thousands of them off to Bolivia — where land and money were promised but not delivered.

In 1953, the United States made a deal with Denmark to remove 150 Inughuit people from Thule, Greenland, giving them four days to get out or face bulldozers.  They are being denied the right to return.

 DIEGO GARCIA

The story of Diego Garcia is superbly told in David Vine’s book, Island of Shame.  Between 1968 and 1973, the United States and Great Britain exiled all 1,500 to 2,000 inhabitants from this island in the Indian Ocean.  On orders from, and with funding from, the United States, the British forced the people onto overcrowded ships and dumped them on docks in Mauritius and the Seychelles — foreign and distant and unwelcoming lands for this indigenous population that had been part of Diego Garcia for centuries.  U.S. documents described this as “sweeping” and “sanitizing” the island.

Those responsible for the displacement of the people of Diego Garcia knew that what they were doing was widely considered barbaric and illegal.  They devised ways of creating “logical cover” for the process.  They persuaded the ever-compliant Washington Post to bury the story.  The Queen of England and her Privy Council bypassed Parliament.  The Pentagon lied to Congress and hid its payments to the British from Congress.  The planners even lied to themselves.  Having originally envisioned a communications station, they concluded that advances in technology had rendered that unhelpful.  So, Navy schemers decided that a fueling station for ships might offer a “suitable justification” for building a base that was actually a purposeless end in itself.  But the Pentagon ended up telling a reluctant Congress that the base would be a communications station, because that was something Congress would approve.

Those plotting the eviction of the island’s people created the fiction that the inhabitants were migrant workers not actually native to Diego Garcia.  Sir Paul Gore-Booth, Permanent Under Secretary in the Foreign Office of the U.K., dismissed the island’s people as “some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure.”  This stood in contrast to the respect and protection given to some other islands not chosen for bases because of the rare plants, birds, and animals resident there.

On January 24, 1971, remaining inhabitants of Diego Garcia were told they’d need to leave or be shot.  They were allowed to take a small box of possessions, but had to leave their homes, their gardens, their animals, their land, and their society.  Their dogs were rounded up and killed in a gas chamber as they watched, waiting to themselves be loaded on ships for departure.  Arriving in Mauritius, they were housed in a prison.  Their fate has not much improved in the decades since.  David Vine describes them as very forgiving, wishing nothing but to be permitted to return.

Diego Garcia is purely a military base and in some ways more of a lawless zone than Guantanamo.  The United States has kept and may be keeping prisoners there, on the island or on ships in the harbor.  The Red Cross and journalists do not visit.  The United States has de facto control of Diego Garcia, while the U.K. has technical ownership.  The Pentagon is not interested in allowing the island’s people to return.

 JEJU ISLAND

The South Korean government, at the behest of the U.S. Navy, is in the process of devastating a village, its coast, and 130 acres of farmland on Jeju Island with a massive military base.  This story is best told in Regis Tremblay’s new film The Ghosts of Jeju.  This is not a tragedy from the past to be remedied but a tragedy of this moment to be halted in its tracks.  You can help.  Tremblay’s film examines the history of decades of abuse of the people of Jeju, and the resistance movement that is currently inspiring other anti-base efforts around the globe.  The film begins somber and ends joyful.  I highly recommend creating an event around a screening of it.

 PALESTINE

We should not neglect to note here that the United States funds and arms and protects the Israeli government’s ongoing displacement of Palestinians and denial of the right to return.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” wrote William Faulkner.

Freedom in America: Rest in Peace

June 9th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Political philosopher Montesquieu (1989 – 1755) once said:

“There is no greater tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice.”

International, constitutional and US statute laws no longer matter. Obama declared them null and void. He does so by disregarding them.

He consigned them to the dustbin of history. They’ve been heading there for years. Post-9/11, state terror accelerated.

Bush administration rogues enacted numerous police state laws. Previous articles discussed them. Constitutionality was ignored. Obama added his own. Doing so exceeded the worst of his predecessor’s policies.

Unconstitutional mass surveillance is official US policy. What Bush began, Obama accelerated. He did so straightaway as president.

Free societies don’t tolerate these practices. Obama authorized them secretly. He subverted constitutional law. He violated the public trust. He broke a key campaign pledge.

On January 8, 2008, he promised to end Bush/Cheney practices. Under an Obama administration, he said, they’ll be no “wiretaps without warrants.”

Straightaway as president he authorized them. On Friday, he tried defending the indefensible. He fell short and then some. His comments belie his policies.

“When I came into this office,” he said, “I made two commitments that are more important than any commitment I made: number one to keep the American people safe, and number two to uphold the Constitution.”

Americans have never been less safe. Freedom is more illusion than reality. Obama’s done more to subvert constitutional law than any previous president. He made freedom a four-letter word.

“You can’t have 100% security and also then have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience,” he claimed.

“We’re going to have to make some choices as a society. I think that on balance, we have established a process and a procedure that the American people should feel comfortable about.”

Obama made all the wrong choices. He violated constitutional law doing so. America’s unsafe to live in. Police state priorities threaten everyone.

Obama claimed surveillance “help(s) prevent terrorist attacks.” He lied saying so. No terrorist threat whatever exists. It didn’t earlier. It doesn’t now.

Obama called what’s ongoing “modest encroachments on privacy.” It’s sweeping, pervasive and lawless.

He urged Americans to trust him, Congress and federal courts. Why anyone would do so, they’ll have to explain.

“When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” he said. “That’s not what this program is about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls.”

“They are not looking at people’s names and they are not looking at content.” Permission to do so, he claimed, requires “go(ing) back to a federal judge just like (for) a criminal investigation.”

“With respect to the Internet and emails, this does not apply to US citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.”

False on all counts. Civil libertarians expressed outraged. John Simpson heads Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project. He calls what’s ongoing “a completely unwarranted violation of our constitutional rights.”

Obama authorized sweeping domestic spying. He did so unconstitutionally. He institutionalized it. It’s ongoing daily. It’s warrantless.

The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying for another five years. It violated constitutional protections doing so.

Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization.

Probable cause isn’t needed. So-called “foreign intelligence information” sought means virtually anything. Vague language is all-embracing.

Hundreds of millions of Americans are targeted. Major telecom and Internet companies cooperate. They do so willingly.

All three branches of government are involved. They’re complicit in sweeping lawlessness. Congress is regularly briefly. Bipartisan leaders are fully on board. So are US courts.

The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) called what’s ongoing the most sweeping surveillance ever ordered. It’s challenging administration practices to stop them.

CCR v. Obama is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Initially it was filed against Bush, NSA director General Keith Alexander, and heads of other major US security agencies.

At issue is lawless, secretive, warrantless surveillance. CCR sought a cease and desist injunction. In January 2007, Bush administration officials claimed the program ended. They lied saying so.

In August 2007, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) became law. Included is a Protect America Act (PAA) amendment. It permits unrestricted warrantless data-mining.

It claims to restrict surveillance to foreign nationals “reasonably believed to be outside the United States.”

Not so! The law targets virtually everyone domestically. It does so if the Attorney General or Director of National Intelligence claims they pose a potential terrorist or national security threat. No corroborating evidence is needed.

CCR challenged PAA in court. It did so in January 2006. It called NSA surveillance illegal. It lacks judicial approval or statutory authorization.

It violates “FISA’s clear criminal prohibitions.” It exceeds executive authority under the Constitution’s Article II. It breaches the First and Fourth Amendments. CCR wants data and other information collected under PAA destroyed.

On January 31, 2011, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed CCR’s case. In April, CCR appealed. The Ninth Circuit initially scheduled oral arguments on June 1, 2012.

On May 21, 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a similar ACLU case. It challenged the 2008 FISA Amendments Act’s constitutionality.

The Ninth Circuit postponed arguments until the High Court ruled. On February 26, 2013, it dismissed ACLU’s case. It did so 5 – 4.

The Ninth Circuit requested supplemental CCR briefs by April 26, 2013. Previously it said it would reschedule oral arguments. On June 3, “the panel indicated that it would submit the case for resolution without oral argument.”

There’s more. Obama’s waging war on freedom globally. On June 7, London’s Guardian headlined “Obama orders US to draw up overseas target list for cyber-attacks.”

He did so by secret presidential directive. It was issued last October. A copy was leaked to The Guardian.

It says Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) “can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance US national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target and with potential effects ranging from subtle to severely damaging.”

Washington will “identify potential targets of national importance where OCEO can offer a favorable balance of effectiveness and risk as compared with other instruments of national power.”

It suggests operating domestically the same way. Perhaps human rights organizations, anti-war activists, social justice advocates, independent journalists, alternative media web sites, and other individuals and organizations challenging lawless government practices will be targeted.

Everyone is vulnerable. Police states operate that way. America’s by far the worst. Obama’s waging war on freedom. It may not survive on his watch.

Unrestricted surveillance, other police state laws, and global cyber attacks constitute full-scale war to destroy it.

According to Professor Sean Lawson:

“When militarist cyber rhetoric results in use of offensive cyber attack it is likely that those attacks will escalate into physical, kinetic uses of force.”

Cyberwar is official US policy. An unnamed intelligence source told The Guardian that cyber attacks are commonplace. Foreign computer systems are hacked. Doing so seeks information wanted.

“We hack everyone everywhere,” the source said. “We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world.”

Obama bears full responsibility. He signed numerous police state laws on his watch. He authorized lawless surveillance and cyberwar. He did so unconstitutionally. Claiming otherwise doesn’t wash. Documents The Guardian obtained refute his claims. US policy is do what we say, not what we do.

According to The Guardian, Obama’s “move to establish a potentially aggressive cyber warfare doctrine will heighten fears over the increasing militarization of the internet.”

On June 7, Gizmodo.co.uk headlined “Anonymous Just Leaked a Trove of NSA Documents. Included are DOD plans for Internet control. Information on NSA’s Prism program were released.

A link provided (http://thedocs.hostzi.com/) fails to gain access. Perhaps Anonymous was hacked.

Information the Guardian posted relates to nine or more major online companies cooperating with lawless NSA spying. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, Apple, YouTube and others are involved.

Prism gives NSA access to search histories, emails, file transfers and live chats. It’s gotten directly from US provider servers. Doing so facilitates mass surveillance. Google denied involvement, saying:

It “cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully.”

“From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data.”

Previous articles discussed Google’s involvement with Bilderberg. CEO Eric Schmidt’s a regular conference attendee. He’s participating now in suburban London.

Infowars reporters Paul Joseph Watson and Jon Scobie said Google and Bilderberg are “merging.” Schmidt thinks “privacy is a relic of the past.”

He wants Google transformed into “the ultimate Big Brother.” Conspiring with Bilderberg and NSA are key ways to do it. Company deniability doesn’t wash. Google operations are very suspect.

CIA funding reportedly launched them. Allying with Bilderberg shows what’s at stake. Bilderberg wants Internet control through “cyber resistance.”

It wants a ministry of truth established. It wants all public information controlled. Google’s apparently on board to help. Obama’s very much involved. He’s waging full-scale war on freedom. It may not survive on his watch.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/freedom-in-america-rest-in-peace/

“What we must now tackle at an international level is war reparations. The war is over unless of course the West decides to continue this war e.g. with a no fly zone. That would be an extremely dangerous option at this stage because Syria has an advanced air defense system.”

Press TV has conducted an interview with Michel Chossudovsky, Center for Research on Globalization, Montreal, on the back of UN concern for the Syrian war spilling over into other countries.

The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.

 If unable to view download at: 

 http://64.150.186.181/presstv/site%20video/06-08-2013/chussodovsky.mp4

Press TV: The UN is warning of an explosion in the Middle East if the war on Syria continues. The question is what has the UN itself done to prevent the war from exacerbating?

Chossudovsky: First of all, that statement was made by the head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. And the statement says that if the fighting doesn’t stop… the fighting is going to stop because the terrorists have been defeated.

And essentially if Western powers put a moratorium on their support to these al-Qaeda affiliated rebels, the war is over – at least, the ground war is over. Recent developments suggest and confirm that the country is under the control of the Syrian government. The rebel forces have been defeated in al-Qusayr and they’ve also been defeated in other parts of the country.

The question of humanitarian aid has to be, from my standpoint, addressed because, who are the protagonists of humanitarian aid, so-called humanitarian aid? Precisely the countries, which supported these rebel terrorists.

And I think what we should be raising at this stage is that it is well established that this war was waged by the United States, NATO and Israel with the support of the [Persian] Gulf states, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in particular and that under international law what is now required is war reparations.

So I would say: let us put the “humanitarian dimension” aside and focus on the billions and billions of dollars of war reparations, which are due to the Syrian government as a result of the illegal support of these terrorist formations in Syria, which constitute essentially the ground forces – the foot soldiers of the Western military alliance.

Press TV: The recent victory in Qusayr and the recent revelation that Israeli-made weapons were seized from Syrian insurgents – What impact will this have on the dynamics of the conflict?

Chossudovsky: We’ve known from day one that Israel has supported al-Qaeda. And we also know that Israel has channeled weapons and logistic support to the rebels in the areas surrounding the occupied areas of the Golan Heights. And in fact Israel even established a hospital facility for the al-Qaeda rebels and was busing them back and forth, taking the wounded to the hospital and then sending them back to the war theatre.

Israel was involved in acts of aggression against a sovereign state together with NATO, particularly Turkey, Britain, France, the United States. French and British Special Forces, including SAS forces, MI6 and CIA agents were involved – We know it because it’s documented. Who is training the rebels in chemical weapons? The Western military alliance.

Prime Minister Laurent Fabius of France comes out –and it’s the typical sort of weapons of mass destruction saga– accusing the government of using chemical weapons against civilians when in fact CNN confirms that Western forces are training the rebels in the use of chemical weapons; when the Turkish police arrests al-Qaeda rebels – it just happened a week or so ago [the rebels had chemical weapons in their possession]

So we know that all this is fabrication, whereby the Western military alliance is accusing the government of committing atrocities, which they themselves have committed.

What we must now tackle at an intentional level is war reparations. The war is over unless of course the West decides to continue this war e.g. with a no-fly zone. That would be an extremely dangerous option at this stage because Syria has an advanced air defense system.

The S-300 is in place; it has been building up over the past 18 months; there are other elements of air defense; and it would be very unwise for the Western military alliance to impose a no-fly zone, which would immediately be subject to some kind of response.

So that is the background. This war has reached a point of transition. If there is no intervention on the part of the Western military alliance, the war is over.

The Suspension of Habeas Corpus in America

June 8th, 2013 by Jean-Claude Paye

Far from having broken with his Republican predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama has now reinforced the law of exception that he criticised when he was a senator. It is now possible to deprive United States citizens of their fundamental rights because they have taken part in armed action against their own country, but also when they take a political position favourable to those who use military action to resist the Empire. Worse – Barack Obama has added to the law John Yoo’s “Unitary Executive theory,” which puts an end to the principles of the separation of powers as defined by Montesquieu. The security policy of the United States President now escapes all control.

The Presidential elections, and the game of a possible changeover between Democrats and Republicans, cannot hide a marked tendency towards mutation in the form of the United States executive, regardless of the colour of the Presidential ticket. And it seems that the most significant change in the law has taken place under President Obama.

Barack Obama was elected by evoking a future based on respect for the fundamental rights of individuals and nations. But assessment of his presidency reveals an entirely different picture. The visible aspects of this, such as the failure to close down Guantánamo Bay, the maintenance of exceptional military tribunals or the practice of torture in Afghanistan, are only the tip of the iceberg. These elements only allow us to note the continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations. However, there has been such reinforcement of the previous political structure that the form of the state has now changed, creating a hitherto unseen modification of the relation between the authorities and the citizens of the United States.

The possibility of treating US citizens as foreign ’terrorists’ has been a constant objective of the government executive since the attacks of 9/11. By the new prerogative which has been awarded him by the National Defense Authorization Act – that of being able to nullify Habeas Corpus for US citizens and not just for foreign nationals – the Obama administration has achieved what the previous government had only planned but never instituted.

End of Habeas Corpus for foreigners

The Patriot Act, which became effective on the 26th October 2001, already authorised indefinite detention without indictment for foreigners suspected of having links to terrorist organisations.

In order to finally bring these prisoners to justice, special tribunals and military commissions were created by Presidential decree, the Military Order of 13th November 2001 [1]. This executive act enables the trial, by these military tribunals, of foreigners suspected of being in contact with Al Qaeda, or having “committed, prepared or helped to devise acts of international terrorism against the USA”.

The state of war was invoked to justify the institution of these laws, which are so harmful to liberty that they even violate the Military Code itself. These tribunals were set up to judge foreigners suspected of terrorism, and no proof which could invalidate such charges is admissible by either civil or military tribunals.

By voting for the Military Commissions Act [2], in September 2006, the Congress chambers legitimised the military commissions. The law considerably extends the notion of “illegal enemy combatant”, which no longer describes only foreigners captured on the field of battle, but also foreigners or US citizens who have never left their country of origin. While US citizens indicted on the basis of this notion of illegal enemy combatant must be deferred before civil courts, it is not the case for foreigners, who may be judged by military commissions.

In these exceptional courts, defendants do not have the right to choose their own lawyer – instead, the defense lawyer will be a military person designated by the President, who also designates the military judges and determines the degree of “physical coercion” that can be applied to the prisoner. The lawyer also has no access to evidentiary elements of the case which may be classified as “secret”.

Inscription of the ’enemy’ in criminal law

The Military Commissions Act introduces the notion of enemy into criminal law. It gives the President of the United States the power to so designate not only his own citizens, but also any nationals of countries with which the USA is not at war. A person may be prosecuted as an “illegal enemy combatant” not on the basis of proof, but simply because they have been labelled as such by the executive of the United States. Integrated in the law, the charge no longer refers only to a state of emergency, like the Military Order of 2001, but becomes permanent. The inscription of this anomie into the law establishes the exception as a constant. It mutates the judicial and political order by creating a purely subjective law which is at the entire discretion of the executive.

On the 28th October 2009, President Obama signed the Military Commissions Act of 2009 [3] which amended the Military Commissions Act of 2006. The reform was formally necessary for the new administration, because in 2006, Barack Obama was one of 34 senators who opposed the old legislation.

The new law no longer mentions ’illegal enemy combatants’, but “hostile non-protected enemies”. However, the main thrust remains – the inscription of the notion of ’enemy’ into criminal law, and thus the fusion of criminal and military law. But the term “belligerent”, which characterises the notion of ’enemy’, widens the field of incrimination. It no longer concerns only combatants, but also “persons who are engaged in conflict against the USA”. The new definition also applies not only to people captured on or near a field of battle, but also to any individuals who act or even express solidarity with those opposing the US armed forces, or even simply the aggressive policies of the US government.

The end of Habeas Corpus for US citizens

The National Defense Authorization Act [4] signed by President Obama on the 31st December 2011 authorises the indefinite detention, without trial or indictement, of any US citizens designated as enemies by the executive. The individuals concerned are not only those who have been captured on the field of battle, but also those who have never left the United States or participated in any military action. The law concerns any person designated by the administration as “a member of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban, and who takes part in hostile action against the United States”, but also anyone who “substantially supports these organisations”. This formula enables an extensive and flexible use of the law. For example, it would enable the government to lash out at any civil defence organisations who seek to protect the constitutional rights of US citizens who have been designated by the executive as enemies of the USA.

Primacy of values over the law

By signing this document, Obama has declared that his administration will not authorise the unlimited military detention without trial of US citizens, stating that this possibility would not be contrary to US law, but only to “American values”. It is in the name of these values that he will refrain from using the opportunity offered by the law, but not because this form of imprisonment would be unconstitutional. He confirms that the National Defense Authorization Act does not in fact provide any new prerogatives. The President has had these extraordinary powers since the 14th September 2001, when Congress adopted a resolution stipulating: “that the President is authorised to use all necessary and appropriate force against nations, organisations or persons who have planned, authorised, committed or assisted the terrorist attacks of the 11th September 2001….” So, in opposition to the framework of the text, he aligns himself with G. Bush’s statement that the agreement enabling the President to engage force offers him unlimited authority, in space and time, to act against any potential aggressor, and not only those implicated in the attacks of 9/11.

The authorisation itself is preceded by a foreword stating: “it is recognised that the President has the authority under the Constitution to dissuade and defend against acts of international terrorism against the United States”. G. Bush regularly used this phrase to justify the violations of constitutional rights of US citizens. President Obama has adopted the same interpretation in order to deny the innovative nature of a law which enables him to do away with Habeas Corpus for any US citizen.

A President who places himself above the law

Here, primacy no longer resides in the legal text, but in presidential initiative. It’s entirely at his own discretion that Obama may choose to refrain from using the authorisation, conferred by the law, to imprison US citizens indefinitely and without indictment. In the same way, he opposes the obligation for military detention of foreign terrorists. Speaking of this, he confirms that his administration will “interpret and apply the clauses described below in such a way as to preserve the flexibility upon which our security depends, and to maintain the values on which this country is founded”. Thus he has deliberately side-stepped the rule that once he has signed a text of law, the President will apply it loyally. Obama has reversed the restrictive character of the legal text in favour of Presidential freedom. In the same way, the concept of “American values” takes precedence over the law.

If the National Defense Authorization Act only serves to ratify the prerogatives already possessed by the executive, the problem only concerns the modalities of implementation. The President must not be limited in the fight against terrorism. For Obama, the disputed articles are unconstitutional, not because they concentrate power in his hands, but because they limit his field of action. The contested clauses institute military detention, which limits the required action “flexibility” on the part of the administration – for example, the possibility of detaining foreign prisoners in CIA camps. The articles in question would “contravene the principle of the separation of powers.”

A reversal of the principle of  separation of powers

Obama has reversed the method of organisation which was handed down by the Age of Enlightenment. For Montesquieu [5], the objective was to prevent the concentration of political power in a single authority. In order to do this, the powers balance and limit each other. Obama, on the contrary, has opened a breach in the exercise of state power in such a way that the legal authorities can no longer exercise control over the power of the executive. The separation of powers has been abandoned in favour of an absence of limits for Presidential action. This form of organisation is valid for a nation in a state of open war, whose existence is threatened by an external power. The Bush or Obama administrations consider that the authorisation granted by Congress in 2001 for the use of force against the authors of the 9/11 attacks is the equivalent of a declaration of war, like those which were voted during the Second World War. The field of application is however much wider, since the authorisation of 2001 permits the use of force not only against other nations, but also against organisations or even simple individuals.

The National Defense Authorization Act operates a mutation of the legal notion of hostility. Its declared aim is conflict against non-specified adversaries who do not threaten the integrity of the national territory. The struggle against terrorism provides a constantly renewed image of the enemy. It declares a permanent state of war, unbounded by frontiers, which blurs the distinction between interior and exterior, since it does not distinguish between US citizens and soldiers of a foreign power. The political and legal structure, built from this new and asymmetric war, reverses the form of the rule of law. The law is no longer a reduction of the exception, but its continual extension.

Translation Pete Kimberley,  Voltaire Net

“This creature, the so-called Conservative Party, if it goes forward will be an illegitimate creation conceived in deception and born in betrayal.” [1]  Progressive Conservative leadership candidate David Orchard, October 17, 2003

“They would do all kinds of things…Organizing meetings that didn’t happen or people would go to a delegate selection meeting and the address was a pawn shop in Regina so people stood at the street corner waiting for something and nobody came…There was a kind of planned confusion…by people who really wanted us to stay out, and I think these people were people who wanted the party to be taken over.” Orchard campaign manager and political advisor Marjaleena Repo
 

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 This week’s programme looks back ten years to the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership race of 2003 which turned out to be the party’s last before it merged with the rival Canadian Alliance, led by leader Stephen Harper.

The current Conservative Party has been racked with accusations of scandal and corruption. At least three Canadian Senators, hand-picked by the Prime Minister, are having their housing and living expenses reviewed, two Conservative Members of Parliament are being taken to task for improper accounting of their election expenses, and a court case recently determined that “there was an orchestrated effort to suppress votes during the 2011 election campaign by a person with access to the CIMS database” which is “maintained and controlled by the CPC (Conservative Party of Canada)”. [2][3][4]

And notoriously, one of the Prime Minister’s staffers cut Senator Mike Duffy a personal cheque for $90,000 to make up for the funds the Senator owed. [5]

This is astonishing behaviour for a political party which rose to power in 2006 promising accountability and integrity in office. [6]

But David Orchard and his supporters questioned the ethics of the party a long time ago. Orchard contested the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party back in 2003. Orchard relied on the support of grass-roots people, myself among them, who were opposed to government policies on free trade, environmental neglect, and Canadian support for imperial wars abroad. [7]

It was through Orchard’s support that Peter Mackay became leader of the party. Mackay then betrayed the condition of Orchard’s support by orchestrating a merger with the right-wing US-Republican style Canadian Alliance Party, which was then led by Stephen Harper. [8]

This betrayal, in addition to some of the other shenanigans which played out in the months during the leadership campaign and leading up to the vote to merge the parties in December provides a critical context for assessing this party’s commitment to ethics, responsible conduct and fair play.

Orchard, and many other traditional Progressive Conservatives, saw the Canadian Alliance as out of sync with the traditional trajectory of the PC Party, the Party which established Canada as a nation in 1867. The PCs historically championed Canadian sovereignty. The Canadian Alliance advocated closer political and economic ties with the United States.

The Canadian Alliance boasted a much larger membership than the Progressive Conservative Party in 2003. Through no great surprise therefore, the leader of the Canadian Alliance, Stephen Harper, easily secured the leadership of the merged Conservative Party, which went on to power in 2006. [9]

Orchard’s political advisor, campaign manager and long-time associate Marjaleena Repo speaks to the Global Research News Hour about the campaign, the issues, the subsequent legal battles and where she believes the Campaign for Canada needs to focus its energies.

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is now broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

References

1)      CBC NEWS, October 17, 2003; “Orchard launches blistering attack against Tory, Alliance merger”; http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2003/10/17/orchardunite031017.html

2)      CBC NEWS, May 16, 2013; “Key moments in the Senate expenses controversy: Senators’ housing and living expenses under scrutiny”; http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2013/05/15/pol-senate-expenses-timeline-duffy-wallin-harb-brazeau.html

3)      Mia Robson, June 7, 2013, “Bezan, Glover speak on spending dispute”; http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/canada/Bezan-Glover-speak-on-spending-dispute-210594261.html

4)       McEwing v. Canada (Attorney General) (2013 FC 525)
T-619-12, T-620-12, T-621-12, T-633-12, T-634-12, T-635-12, Date: May 23, 2013; clauses 184, 245; http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/en/2013/2013fc525/2013fc525.html

5)      Mark Kennedy, Michael Woods, Postmedia News, May 19, 2013; “Harper’s chief of staff, Nigel Wright, resigns after Mike Duffy $90,000 cheque controversy”; http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/05/19/harpers-chief-of-staff-nigel-wright-resigns-after-mike-duffy-90000-cheque-controversy/

6)      Conservative ad: Harper on the Accountability Act (2005); https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=732lHQLeg7Q

7)      www.davidorchard.com

8)      http://www.davidorchard.com/online/convention-2003/conventionmedia.html

9)      CBC News, March 22. 2004; Harper wins Conservative leadership; http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2004/03/20/conservatives_040320.html

 

by Aubrey Bloomfield

Two recently released reports, one by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), show that not only is the number of private contractors in Afghanistan increasing, but the Pentagon is also unable to tell what they are even doing there. Citing the reports, David Francis of the Fiscal Times points out that there are now 108,000 private contractors in Afghanistan (over 30,000 of whom are Americans), far more than the 65,700 U.S. troops still there,and the number was counted at 110,404 last month. That amounts to 1.6 contractors, roughly 18,000 of which are private security contractors, for every American soldier.

Although the U.S. presence in Afghanistan is ostensibly winding down towards an eventual handover to Afghan security forces, as Francis argues, “the increase in the contractors to troop ratio is yet another indication that although the vast majority of troops are leaving Afghanistan, a private army will remain in the country for years.”

108,000, private, contractors, are, in, afghanistan, and, we, have, no, idea, what, theyre, doing,

According to the CRS, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan show the increasing reliance of the military on private contractors. But replacing the military with private contractors is not necessarily a good thing. Highlighting the abuses committed by private military contractors, Angela Snell of the University of Illinois College of Law has called this trend a “convenient way for the U.S. government to evade its legal obligations, including the responsibility to protect the human rights of civilians in war and peace, by allowing private individuals, rather than official state actors, to perform services on behalf of the U.S. military.”

Not only does the growing use of private contractors give lie to the idea of a withdrawal from the country, but they are also very costly. Although still dwarfed by the ever-mounting total costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, CRS reports that “over the last six fiscal years, DOD [Department of Defense] obligations for contracts performed in the Iraq and Afghanistan areas of operation were approximately $160 billion and exceeded total contract obligations of any other U.S. federal agency.”

Moreover, Francis points out that the CRS and GAO did not just measure the number of contractors and the cost, but the reports also assessed the Pentagon’s ability to monitor the work of contractors. And the results are damning. According to Francis, taken together the reports:

“Amount to yet another indictment of how the Pentagon deals with private workers. CRS found that the Pentagon lacked the ability to document the work each contractor is performing. It also found even when the government has information on contractors, it’s often inaccurate and doesn’t reflect the actual work being done. This leaves the Pentagon unable to determine if the hundreds of billions it’s spending are leading to effective results.”

So despite the increasing number of private contractors being used and the hundreds of billions of dollars being spent on them, the Pentagon is not even able to determine what they are doing or whether it is effective. As CRS reports, the information the Pentagon has on private contractors is probably not reliable enough to be used to make decisions “at the strategic level,” thus hindering its ability to tell whether the work of contractors is contributing to “achieving the mission.”

The U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been massive, and destructive, wastes of lives and money. Although the U.S. and its allies say that they plan to remove combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, this will in no way be the end of the West’s presence in the country. Francis reports that much of the work currently done by the military will be done by the private contractors after the military leaves. So while the attention paid to Afghanistan is likely to continue to dwindle even further, as has been the case in Iraq, as the military withdrawal picks up, the foreign occupation, by what one analyst has called “a de facto army,” looks set to continue on.

Copyright: policymic.com, 2013

Picture Credit: U.S. Air Force

On June 5, London’s Guardianreported part of it. “NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily,” it headlined.On June 6, a follow-up article headlined “NSA taps in to systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and others, secret files reveal.”The Washington Postfollowed with its own report. It said the NSA and FBI “are tapping directly into the central servers of nine US Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to trace a person’s movements and contacts over time.”Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Paltalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple, and other online companies willingly cooperate with lawless government spying.

Doing so, in part, reflects old news. Institutional spying on Americans is longstanding. Previous articles discussed it. More on the Guardian articles below.

According to retired NSA/US Air Force/Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence analyst-turned whistleblower Russell Tice:

What’s ongoing “is much larger and more systemic than anything anyone has ever suspected or imagined.”

It’s been widely known for years. Little was revealed publicly. Pervasive spying is much worse than suspected. Other media reports followed London’s Guardian revelations.

Few people knew before. Many more do now. A firestorm of public anger is needed to have any chance to stop it. Nothing less stands a chance. What follows remains to be seen. Based on post-9/11 extremism, expect worse ahead, not better.

All three branches of government are involved. They’re complicit in sweeping lawlessness. Congress is regularly briefly. Bipartisan leaders are fully on board. So are US courts.

Federal ones are most egregious. Right-wing extremists control them. America’s High Court is supremely pro-business. It’s profoundly unjust. It mocks judicial fairness.

It rubber stamps what demands rejection. It rejects what demands affirmation. It consistently serves wealth and power interests. So do Congress, Obama, and administration officials.

Populist ones don’t matter. Nor does constitutional law. Its inviolability is disregarded. It’s rendered null and void.

On June 5, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) headlined “Confirmed: The NSA is Spying on Millions of Americans,” saying:

London’s Guardian “confirmed what EFF (and many others) have long claimed: the NSA is conducting widespread, untargeted, domestic surveillance on millions of Americans.”

“This revelation should end, once and for all, the government’s long-discredited secrecy claims about its dragnet domestic surveillance programs.”

“It should spur Congress and the American people to make the President finally tell the truth about the government’s spying on innocent Americans.”

Domestic spying is longstanding. Post-9/11, it’s been institutionalized. In 2002, Bush authorized it by presidential order. He did so secretly.

In December 2005, New York Times writers James Risen and Eric Lichtblau headlined “Bush Lets US Spy on Callers Without Courts,” saying:

He “secretly authorized (NSA) to eavesdrop on Americans and others to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”

Mark Klein worked for AT&T for 22 years. In 2004, he retired. After doing so, he turned whistleblower. He revealed blueprints and photographs of NSA’s secret room inside the company’s San Francisco facility.

Three other whistleblowers submitted affidavits. They explained post-9/11 lawless NSA spying on millions of Americans. The FBI, CIA, Pentagon, state and local agencies operate the same way.

Spies “R” us defines US policy. America’s a total surveillance society. It’s unsafe to live in. Everyone is suspect unless proved otherwise.

The 2012 FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act renewed warrantless spying. It passed with little debate. On Sunday, December 30, 2012 Obama signed it into law. Doing so largely went unnoticed.

Warrantless spying remains law for another five years. Phone calls, emails, and other communications may be monitored secretly without court authorization.

Probable cause isn’t needed. So-called “foreign intelligence information” is sought. Virtually anything qualifies. Vague language is all-embracing.

Constitutional protections don’t matter. All major US telecommunications companies are involved. So are online ones. They have been since 9/11. Things now are worse than then.

One expert said what’s ongoing “isn’t a wiretap. It’s a country-tap.” It’s lawless. Congress has no authority to subvert constitutional provisions. Legislation passed has no legitimacy. Constitutional changes require amendments. More on that below.

The Patriot Act trampled on Bill of Rights protections. Doing so for alleged security doesn’t wash. Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment due process rights were compromised.

So were First Amendment freedom of association ones. Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures were violated. Unchecked sweeping surveillance followed.

So-called “sneak and peak” searches are conducted through “delayed notice” warrants, roving wiretaps, email tracking, as well as Internet and phone use.

Section 215 pertains to alleged suspects, real or contrived. It authorizes government access to “any tangible item.”

Included are financial records and transactions, education and medical records, phone conversations, emails, other Internet use, and whatever else Washington wants to monitor.

Individuals and organizations may be surveilled whether or not evidence links them to terrorism or complicity to commit it. In other words, everyone is fair game for any reason or none at all.

On May 15, 2012, Wired.com headlined “CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher.”

Virtually everything electronic is vulnerable. Devices with Internet connections for sure are. So are TVs, radios, electric clocks, car navigation systems, light switches, refrigerators, electric stoves, toasters, vacuum cleaners, and other wired items.

Before Petraeusgate, the former CIA chief said:

“Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks, tiny embedded servers, and energy harvesters – all connected to the next-generation internet using abundant, low-cost, and high-power computing.”

He added that household spy devices “change our notions of secrecy.” Former rules don’t apply. Modern technology permits anything goes.

London’s Guardian revealed telecom giant Verizon spying. A top secret April 25, 2013 order authorized it. It runs through July 19. It includes domestic and foreign calls.

NSA has access to every Verizon customer’s call history for nearly three months. If so ordered, spying may be extended indefinitely. Verizon is prohibited from disclosing what it’s doing publicly.

Information obtained includes all domestic and foreign calls, phone locations, time calls made, their duration, and other “identifying information.” Patriot Act Section 215 permits it.

What’s collected is called “metadata” or transactional information. It’s not limited to what’s included above. It’s not called communications. Individual warrants aren’t sought.

As discussed above, doing so is lawless. Congress has no authority to violate constitutional provisions. Compromising Fourth Amendment protections do so brazenly.

Verizon and AT&T cooperation with NSA and other US agencies isn’t unique. It’s virtually certain that all other major US telecom companies operate the same way. So do major online ones. They do so willingly, irresponsibly and lawlessly.

Post-9/11, sweeping surveillance became policy. What Bush began, Obama escalated. Privacy rights are systematically violated. EFF and other organizations filed suits to stop it.

In 2006, EFF’s Hepting v. AT&T was filed. It charged lawless company monitoring of private customer communications. Without their knowledge or approval, it supplies NSA with information they contain.

Whistleblower help provided documented proof. Nonetheless, right-wing courts are incorrigible. In June 2009, a federal judge dismissed Hepting and dozens other suits against telecoms.

In September 2008, EFF’s Jewel v. NSA was filed. It remains ongoing. It challenges lawless NSA spying. It uses documents former AT&T employee Mark Klein supplied.

In 2011, EFF filed an FOIA suit against the Justice Department. It did so for “records about the government’s use of Section 215.”

Obama’s the most lawless, secretive president in US history. So is his Justice Department. In Hepting, it claimed telecom immunity. In Jewel, it claims privileged state secrets.

In EFF’s FOIA suit, it maintains information sought is top secret. It operates extrajudicially. It turns constitutional provisions on their head. It does so secretly. It lies when confronted with facts.

“It’s time to stop hiding behind legal privileges and to come clean about Section 215 and FISA,” said EFF.

“It’s time to start a national dialogue about our rights in the digital age. And it’s time to end the NSA’s unconstitutional domestic surveillance program.”

The same goes for the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, other federal agencies, as well as state and local ones working cooperatively with Washington. It’s time for complicit companies to stop acting against the interests or their own customers and users.

According to Cato Institute surveillance expert Julian Sanchez:

“We’ve certainly seen the government increasingly strain the bounds of ‘relevance’ to collect large numbers of records at once – everyone at one or two degrees of separation from a target – but vacuuming all metadata up indiscriminately would be an extraordinary repudiation of any pretense of constraint or particularized suspicion.”

In the 1960s, Senator Frank Church warned that NSA’s “capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.”

“There would be no place to hide,” he said. Presidents could “impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.” His warning went unheeded.

Institutionalized spying is official policy. Big Brother no longer is fiction. Obama officials claim no court or judge can challenge them. What they say goes. Governing this way is called tyranny.

A Final Comment

Candidate Obama attacked lawless Bush administration practices. “I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom,” he said.

That means no more lawless spying, he added. “No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient.”

President Obama exceeded the worst Bush administration practices. He’s done so consistently. He contemptuously disregards bedrock constitutional law.

On June 7, he offered a specious defense of lawlessness. He lied doing so, saying: “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program is about.”

That’s precisely what it’s about. It’s Big Brother writ large. He tried having things both way, adding:

“You can’t have 100% security and then also have 100% privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”

True enough when justifiable and constitutionally permitted. Irresponsible overreach has no place in free societies. Sacrificing fundamental freedoms for alleged security assures losing both.

Even New York Times editors said Obama “lost all credibility on this issue.” He “repudiate(d) constitutional principles governing search, seizure and privacy.”

Los Angeles Times editors criticized Obama’s “brave new world of government surveillance that Americans should find alarming.”

London Guardian editors said “(f)ew Americans believe they live in a police state….Yet the everyday fact that the police have the right to monitor the communications of all its citizens – in secret – is a classic hallmark of a state that fears freedom….”

Ironically, The Guardian story broke on D-Day’s 69th anniversary. It commemorates America’s Normandy landing. It was done to liberate Europe.

It wasn’t supposed to institutionalize what many gave their lives to defeat. Fascism wasn’t vanquished. It was transplanted to America. It’s visible in plain sight.

On June 6, National Intelligence head James Clapper issued a rare public statement. He did so regarding “Unauthorized Disclosures of Classified Information.” In part, he said:

Revelations “threaten potentially long-standing and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”

“The judicial order that was disclosed in the press is used to support a sensitive intelligence collection operation, on which members of Congress have been fully and repeatedly briefed.”

“The classified program has been authorized by all three branches of the Government.”

“Although this program has been properly classified, the leak of one order, without any context, has created a misleading impression of how it operates.”

What’s ongoing “protect(s) our nation from a wide variety of threats.”

Government authorization lacks legitimacy. It’s lawless. Police state tyranny has no place in free societies. At stake are fundamental constitutional rights. Post-9/11, they’ve been seriously eroded on route to eliminating them altogether.

Doing so for any reason doesn’t wash. So-called terrorist threats don’t exist. State terrorism threatens humanity. It does so at home and abroad.

Clapper lied saying ongoing practices “are consistently subject to safeguards that are designed to strike the appropriate balance between national security interests and civil liberties and privacy concerns.”

No safeguards whatever exist. Constitutional law is spurned. Doing so threatens freedom everywhere. Rogue states operate this way. America’s by far the worst. Obama, Clapper, Holder, and likeminded ideologues belong in prison, not high office.

On June 6, Wall Street Journal editors didn’t surprise. They headlined “Thank You for Data-Mining. The NSA’s ‘metadata’ surveillance is legal and necessary.”

It’s not “scandalous,” said Journal editors. It’s “a core part of the war on terror.” Outrage “stem(s) from the fact that the government is widely collecting call records, not merely those associated with a particular suspect or group.”

According to Journal editors, what’s ongoing “misunderstands how the program works.”

Fact check

It’s explained above clearly. It’s sweeping, all-inclusive and lawless. All major telecom and Internet companies are involved. They do so extrajudicially. They brazenly subvert constitutional rights.

Claims about mass surveillance disrupting domestic terror attacks don’t wash. Numerous ones reported were false flags. Innocent victims were targeted.

No one prosecuted planned or committed criminal acts. None conspired to do so. Accusations made were false. Political prisoners fill America’s gulag. It’s the shame of the nation for good reason.

Lawless surveillance for any reason has no place in legitimate democracies. Constitutional law principles are inviolable. No president, Congress or court may subvert them. Doing so reflects tyranny.

Amendments are required to change constitutional law. Two-thirds of both Houses may propose them. So may national legislative conventions of two-thirds of the states.

Ratification requires approval by three-fourths of the states. State ratifying conventions of three-fourths of them may do so. Congress has some say over which method is used.

Ratified amendments become constitutional law. Article V explains how. No executive, congressional or judicial process may do so.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/unconstitutional-us-data-mining/

Lebanon is keen to avoid a repeat of the sectarian nightmare which plunged the country into 15 years of civil war. The scares are still visible, not just physically, but politically also. Now the scene is set for a possible repeat, unless cooler head prevail…

Now Lebanese Army officials are warning of a plot to drag their country into neighboring Syria’s present conflict, with Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli being the likely initial flash point for such a conflagration.

Forces outside of Lebanon are well aware of where the political and social cracks are inside Lebanon, and will pull out all the stops to exploit those divisions in order to push the Syrian situation further over the edge of destablisation. Political lines within Lebanon are already being drawn…

Within Lebanon, Future parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Siniora has called for Hezbollah to withdraw its fighters from Syria, calling their aid to Syria’s Assad government as “shameful”, and with calls to exclude Hezbollah from any future government. On the other side, Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour has appeared to side with Hezbollah.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman is being pressured behind the scenes by U.S. President Barack Obama who has condemned the Shi’ite organisation’s “active and growing role in Syria” in a telephone call this week to Sleiman.

“The two leaders agreed that all parties should respect Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from the conflict in Syria and avoid actions that will involve the Lebanese people in the conflict,” a White House statement said.

Former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri (who has a strong moderate Sunni support base in Lebanon) has also come out slamming Hezbollah for intervening in Syria: “The party is sending hundreds of Lebanese to fight alongside the regime forces and participate in invading Syrian villages and towns, in operations as repugnant as the Israeli invasions of villages in South Lebanon and the invasion by the Syrian regime forces of Lebanon in the 1970s.”

This latest multi-pronged political from abroad and within move against Hezbollah within Lebanon has materialised in the the last few weeks, which strongly hints at some major confrontation being engineered behind the scenes. Judging by the economic and political  struggle facing the Lebanese government, it’s an ideal situation for both incentives – and threats, to be dangled by the world powers and Israel in front of political factions in order to secure the favoured outcome of the west in Syria and beyond. Are the Lebanese leaders strong enough to withstand such pressure? Time will tell.

If there is a geopolitical game going on behind UN and western government doors, it is being focused around the political and military isolation of Lebanon’s  Hezbollah organisation. Last month saw its fighters engaging the foreign Islamist opposition insurgents in Syria, arguing that their interests are in protecting the Shi’ite community in Syria from attacks by takfiri factions backed by Israel, Great Britain, France, Turkey and the United States. This point has been mostly ignored by the global powers, their media, as well as pro-western political rivals within Lebanon, indicating that the game being played here extends far beyond the borders of Syria and Lebanon.

Misbah al-Ali, Antoine Amrieh
The Daily Star

The Lebanese Army warned Friday of a plot to drag Lebanon into the 2-year-old war in Syria as clashes between rival gunmen renewed, shattering a lull of several hours despite a heavy military deployment in the northern city.

The afternoon fighting, which pitted gunmen from the Hezbollah-backed Sunni Nashar family against gunmen supported by Salafist groups, wounded a man and a woman from the Nashar family, security sources said.

The two sides exchanged machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Tripoli’s Old Souk before the Army intervened to halt the fighting by trying to silence the sources of fire.

The scene of the fighting is about 2 kilometers from the traditional frontline between the Jabal Mohsen neighborhood, whose residents support President Bashar Assad, and the rival Bab al-Tabbaneh district, whose residents back the uprising in Syria.

Since the latest round of heavy fighting erupted between the two rival districts last month, 33 people, including three soldiers and a policeman, have been killed and more than 200 wounded. The fighting in the northern city has been linked to the conflict in Syria.

The security situation in Tripoli was generally calm Friday, except for sporadic sniper fire between Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.

Armed with political cover from the caretaker government and Tripoli’s politicians, the Army boosted its deployment with armored vehicles, manning patrols, setting up checkpoints and chasing gunmen.

The Army warned of a plot to embroil Lebanon into the Syria war:

“The Lebanese Army, as firm as its security measures will be, urges citizens to be wary of the plots aimed at taking Lebanon backward and dragging it into a futile war,” it said in a statement.

It called on people to express political views regarding the Syria conflict “democratically and peacefully and without provoking anyone.”

“Do not be dragged behind groups that want to use violence as a means to achieve their objectives,” it added.

“The Army Command has been trying over the past months to work firmly, determinedly and carefully to prevent Lebanon from being turned into a battlefield for regional conflicts and to prevent any spillover of the events in Syria.”

“But in recent days, some groups have seemed determined to create tensions among the [Lebanese] against the backdrop of the political divisions in Lebanon over the military developments in Syria,” it added.

The statement said the Army had been carrying out a series of firm security measures in Tripoli, Sidon, Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and Mount Lebanon.

“The Army’s operations will be deterrent and stringent. The Army is determined to implement its security plan in Tripoli no matter what the cost,” the statement said.

President Michel Sleiman expressed satisfaction with the Army’s deployment plan in Tripoli and surrounding areas.

While appreciating the Army’s sacrifices and national role in preserving civil peace, he stressed the need for leaders and citizens to cooperate with the military’s measures to maintain the area’s security and safety of its residents, said a statement from Baabda Palace.

Sleiman urged all the parties to realize the importance of distancing Lebanon from the reverberations of the conflict in Syria, “particularly after it had been proven that the parties’ involvement in the fighting by siding with this or that side would only result in the killing of innocent Lebanese and destruction of property without making any change in the current balance of power.”

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati chaired a series of meetings at his residence in Tripoli to follow up the Army’s security measures in the city.

“The Lebanese Army is determined to carry out its security plan to restore calm and stability to the city in implementation of decisions taken previously by the Cabinet and the Higher Defense Council,” Mikati said.

The Army set up checkpoints at the entrances to Tripoli and on the city’s main roads following heavy clashes in the past few days.

Over a dozen people have been wounded since late Thursday, security sources said. Six people have been killed since violence erupted last week.

Security sources said five people were hurt overnight when a rocket-propelled grenade fell on Syria Street that separates the warring neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.

An Army officer and a soldier were among the three wounded from the fighting in Jabal Mohsen, according to the sources. They were identified as Lt. George Hajj and Private Ahmad Ismail.

Despite a morning lull, Tripoli remained paralyzed. “Tripoli looked like a ghost city last night,” one resident told The Daily Star. “Only Lebanese military vehicles were visible.”

The military said Thursday that it had seized two arms depots, one in Tripoli’s Souk al-Qameh and the other in Jabal Mohsen.

An overwhelming majority of US and Canadian citizens are entirely unaware that an especially dangerous device has been attached to their homes. While installation of “smart meters” across North America has continued apace since 2009 the health effects such devices pose have yet to be fully realized. Left unaddressed the broad use and continued deployment of such equipment will almost certainly influence human health for many generations to come.

On May 22 my household received a “Notification Letter” from Florida Power and Light (FPL) stating the company’s intent to replace our existing analog meter with a new device equipped to communicate with other such meters in the utility’s wireless “mesh network.”{1] According to FPL we are among roughly 20,000 of Florida homes that have rejected the new digital device in lieu of an analog model.[2]The letter carries the industry’s familiar line–that the “meter upgrade” is intended to “provide you with more information so you can take more control over your energy use and monthly bills” while more readily “identify[ing]” and resolving power outages.

The correspondence came as quite a surprise since in late 2011 after explaining to FPL the health-related consequences of such electro-pollution and expressing concerns for my family’s well-being, the company agreed to remove the “smart meter” and replace it with one that does not emit such energy. This was done only after conducting my own investigation, providing the company with substantial medical research documenting the negative health effects of RF microwave radiation, and threatening legal action.[3]

FPL was in fact much more reasonable in addressing my concerns than was the Florida Public Service Commission, whose legal counsel informed me flatly that the body had no authority over smart meter deployment and referred me to the Federal Communications Commission.[4] Only after submitting a public records request to the agency did I discover that the information Commission members accepted to evaluate the safety of such equipment in terms of human health consisted largely of smart meter manufacturer and utility boilerplate, including a FPL “PowerPoint”-like presentation seemingly pitched to a fifth grade audience.

Upon receiving FPL’s May 22 letter I took a few hours to write a response to the company’s president, taking care to outline my past communication with them, the concerns I have over the device’s potentially negative effects on my family’s health, and the fact that they recognized and fulfilled my opt out request almost two years ago. A few days after sending my letter off, the executive’s assistant called to inform us the notification letter was likely the result of a computer glitch and should have never been sent.

The foremost danger of smart meters is that they are designed to communicate with each other by emitting substantial and frequent bursts of radio frequency (RF) microwave pollution several thousand times per day–a cumulative burden on one’s genetic and biological makeup that children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to given their respective developing and degenerative conditions. Yet the documented health effects are something FPL never voluntarily told me about, and your power utility will likely not tell you.

For example, FPL spokeswoman Elaine Hinsdale disingenuously remarked that smart meters’ radio frequencies are akin “to those in a garage-door opener and hundreds of times less than emission limits set by the Federal Communications Commission.” According to Hinsdale, “You’d have to stand right next to the smart-meter for more than a year to equal the radio-frequency exposure of a 15-minute cellphone call … Once we talk to our customers and explain how it will repair power outages faster and safer, they understand.”[5] In 2011 when I contacted FPL via telephone to inquire on the overall safety of the devices I was similarly told that RF radiation is emitted only “a few times per day.”

Yet other sources I consulted observed that such emissions are much more frequent. I thus purchased a German-made Gigahertz Solution HF35C Elektrosmog Analyzer and did my own measurements. To my surprise I found that FPL’s meter was emitting RF bursts in excess of 2,000 microwatts per square meter at a distance of five feet several times every thirty seconds to one minute. This pulsing radiation was detected in varying degrees of intensity elsewhere throughout the home and may have at least partially explained the common symptoms of electro-hypersensitivity I was experiencing.

If the US public was served by a more honest and diligent press smart meters and RF radiation in general would not endanger public health to the extent they do today. This is particularly the case since a multitude of scientific studies exist that point to the deleterious health effects of RF energy exposure–especially in children and the elderly. Such information is intentionally overlooked by power utilities and little-if-any acknowledgement of negative health effects appear in any of the vacuous paraphernalia they provide their customers–and state regulators–promoting the meters.

When I pressed FPL representatives on what studies the company had conducted on smart meter safety they sent me a privately commissioned 2011 report, Florida Power and Light Advanced Meter Infrastructure & Distribution Automation RF Exposure Survey, produced by an obscure Arlington Virginia firm called Site Safe.[6] The study’s findings assert that one receives almost the equivalent amount of RF radiation standing one meter away from a smart meter as they would within the immediate vicinity of a cell phone tower–an especially alarming observation!

However, the research’s overall flaw and deceptive nature lies in the absence of suitable methodological parameters for examining how smart meters pulse lesser amounts of such microwave radiation throughout the home up to 190,000 times per day. Germany’s Standard Building Biology Measurements of 2008 caution that specifically in terms of human health “pulsed signals [are] to be taken more seriously than continuous ones.” When I contacted the author of the Site Safe study via telephone and email to evaluate his credentials for authoring such a study, he refused to provide me with any information that might confirm such training and expertise.

In May 2011 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF as a Class 2B carcinogen. This means that caution should be applied because exposure to RF and EMF may cause cancer.[7] Given such an admission power utilities should be exercising the precautionary principal lest they further endanger human health with the continued wide-scale deployment of smart meters. FPL and the broader power industry have produced no compelling scientific evidence to date that even tentatively confirms the safety of smart meters. With this in mind, and in terms specifically related to human health, the power industry writ large is executing a transparently dangerous and criminal fraud against the US public.

A half century ago tobacco and asbestos were known menaces to health and over the long term exposure to these substances culminated in a variety of cancers and other terminal diseases compelling the government to intervene on the public’s behalf. The credible scientific evidence suggests the same holds true for exposure to RF microwave radiation. In fact, government and academic research dating to the 1960s points to the potential health dangers of sustained RF and EMF exposure. While the Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Communications Commission, and the American Cancer Society claim that RF and EMF pose no health risks, their conclusions are based on dubious and outdated studies often funded by the telecommunications industry itself.

Current independent scientific and medical research paints an entirely different picture. For example, in 2012 the American Academy of Environmental Medicine generated a list of 86 scientific studies and bibliographies on the health effects of EMF, RF and  extremely low frequency (ELF) microwave radiation dating to 1971.[8] Referencing this literature, in January 2012 the AAEM Board issued a public statement to the California Public Utilities Commission expressing its concern over smart meter installations across the state. “[E]xisting FCC guidelines for RF safety that have been used to justify installation of ‘smart meters’ only look at thermal tissue damage and are obsolete,” the Board observed,  since many modern studies [such as those used by the FCC] show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposures below the level of intensity which heats tissues … More modern literature shows medically and biologically significant effects of RF and ELF at lower energy densities.

These effects accumulate over time, which is an important consideration given the chronic nature of exposure from “smart meters”. The current medical literature raises credible questions about genetic and cellular effects, hormonal effects, male fertility, blood/brain barrier damage and increased risk of certain types of cancers from RF or ELF levels similar to those emitted from “smart meters”. Children are placed at particular risk for altered brain development, and impaired learning and behavior. Further, EMF/RF adds synergistic effects to the damage observed from a range of toxic chemicals. Given the widespread, chronic, and essentially inescapable ELF/RF exposure of everyone living near a “smart meter”, the Board of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine finds it unacceptable from a public health standpoint to implement this technology until these serious medical concerns are resolved.[9]

Along these lines in 2007 and again in 2012 the BioInitiative Working Group, an international body of academic scientists, medical doctors and public health professionals released a comprehensive review of over 2000 scientific studies and reviews, concluding that RF and EMF exposure can contribute to childhood leukemia and lay the groundwork for a variety of adult cancers.

Aside from long term adverse health effects, smart meters also pose more immediate safety and privacy concerns. The equipment has not been inspected by and thus does not meet  the protocols of the internationally recognized authority on consumer appliance safety standards, Underwriters Laboratory, a potential violation of numerous state and local municipal codes. Careless installation or the limited integrity of smart meter engineering and design have been pointed to as the possible cause of house fires. “We have encountered an unusual amount of fire incidents involving smart meters,” an Ontario Fire Marshal explains to the Vancouver Sun. “New meters may have defects that cause electrical failures (or they may be caused by) careless installation during a changeover.”[10]

Finally, the collection and uncertain wireless transmission of intimate data related to a family’s domestic power usage and everyday life encompassed in residential occupancy also serve as a potential basis for the violation of protections from illegal search and seizure guaranteed under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. This lifestyle-related information relayed throughout the mesh network via RF microwave may be easily “hacked” and the broader network attacked by any number of third parties, including criminals and terrorists. Such data may also be easily accessed by police or other government agencies that would otherwise need a warrant and probable cause to access such information. Utility customers should remind power companies that they do not consent to any personal data related to electrical usage and living patterns aggregated and sold to third parties, including marketers, appliance manufacturers, or data analyst subcontractors.

Already RF is involuntarily yielded to through the ubiquitous radiation emitted from local area networks (“Wi-Fi”) in places of employment and public areas. This is compounded by the voluntary exposure to RF through close quarter cell phone and household Wi-Fi use. With the combined financial and advertising power of the telecommunications service and wireless-manufacturing industries the research clearly pointing to the harmful health effects of RF remains to a large degree unknown. Given their wide scale use and around-the-clock activity, smart meters complete the circle of what is now ceaseless RF bombardment; their broad deployment anticipates a not-too-distant future when they will engage with “smart” appliances within the home, further disseminating such radiation while arbitrarily exerting power over everyday energy use and unlawfully collecting vital and likely profitable data on behavior and lifestyle.

Notes
[1] Florida Power and Light Smart Meter Installation Notification Form Letter, May 22, 2013 (PDF).
[2] Doreen Hemlock, “Some FP&L Users Reject Smart Meters in Their Homes [sic],” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, April 26, 2013.
[3] James F. Tracy to Florida Power and Light, September 18, 2011 (PDF), James F. Tracy to Florida Power and Light, November 9, 2011 (PDF).
[4] Jennifer Crawford for the Florida Public Service Commission to James F. Tracy, September 30, 2011 (PDF). The PSC is now forging a policy for Florida energy consumers to “opt out” of a smart meter for an additional charge. Hemlock, “Some FP&L Users.”
[5] Hemlock, “Some FP&L Users.”
[6] Matthew J. Butcher, Florida Power and Light Advanced Meter Infrastructure & Distribution Automation RF Exposure Survey, Arlington Virginia: Site Safe, June 10, 2011. In author’s possession.
[7] “World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer Classifies RF-EMF Fields as Possibly Carcinogenic to Humans,” [Press Release], May 31, 2011, (PDF)
[8]  See also American Association of Environmental Medicine EMF-RF Reference List (PDF). See also American Association of Environmental Medicine April 12, 2012 Press Advisory (PDF).
[9] American Academy of Environmental Medicine to California Public Utilities Commission, January 19, 2012 (PDF).
[10] Scott Simpson, “Ontario Fire Marshall Says Faulty Base Plates Could Be the Cause, Similar to Mission Blaze,” Vancouver Sun, August 7, 2012. Available at stopsmartmetersbc.ca

Obama Asks Military to Draw Up Plans for Offensive Overseas Cyber-Strikes

Glenn Greenwald – who broke the phone and internet spying stories this week – has a new exposé … this time on offensive cyber-warfare:

Barack Obama has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for US cyber-attacks, a top secret presidential directive obtained by the Guardian reveals.

***

An intelligence source with extensive knowledge of the National Security Agency’s systems told the Guardian … “We hack everyone everywhere. We like to make a distinction between us and the others. But we are in almost every country in the world.”

***

The full classified directive repeatedly emphasizes that all cyber-operations must be conducted in accordance with US law and only as a complement to diplomatic and military options. But it also makes clear how both offensive and defensive cyber operations are central to US strategy.

Under the heading “Policy Reviews and Preparation”, a section marked “TS/NF” – top secret/no foreign – states: “The secretary of defense, the DNI [Director of National Intelligence], and the director of the CIA … shall prepare for approval by the president through the National Security Advisor a plan that identifies potential systems, processes and infrastructure against which the United States should establish and maintain OCEO capabilities…” The deadline for the plan is six months after the approval of the directive.

The directive provides that any cyber-operations “intended or likely to produce cyber effects within the United States” require the approval of the president, except in the case of an “emergency cyber action”. When such an emergency arises, several departments, including the department of defense, are authorized to conduct such domestic operations without presidential approval.

Obama further authorized the use of offensive cyber attacks in foreign nations without their government’s consent whenever “US national interests and equities” require such nonconsensual attacks. It expressly reserves the right to use cyber tactics as part of what it calls “anticipatory action taken against imminent threats”.

The directive makes multiple references to the use of offensive cyber attacks by the US military.

Greenwald and others have long reported that the Obama administration claims the right to be judge, jury and executioner in both drone assassinations and offensive cyber attacks.

Greenwald also reports that the head of the cyber command is the NSA boss … the same guy responsible for much of the spying we’ve been hearing about:

In January, the Pentagon announced a major expansion of its Cyber Command Unit, under the command of General Keith Alexander, who is also the director of the NSA. That unit is responsible for executing both offensive and defensive cyber operations.

(There are other overlaps and interconnections between spying and warfare as well.)

The War Comes Home

Offensive cyber operations are not only occurring overseas …

The Department of Defense has long waged cyber-war against Americans by censoring and manipulating social media and other websites. More proof here and here.

This is not entirely surprising, given that:

The payroll jobs report for May released today continues the fantasy.

Goods producing jobs declined, with manufacturing losing another 4,000 jobs, but the New Economy produced 179,000 service jobs.

Are these jobs the high-powered, high-wage “innovation jobs” that economists promised would be our reward from Globalism. I’m afraid not.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobs created are the usual lowly paid non-exportable domestic service jobs–the jobs of a third world country.

Retail trade accounts for 27,700 of the jobs.

Wholesale trade accounts for 7,900 jobs.

Ambulatory health care services accounts for 15,300 of the jobs.

Waitresses and bartenders account for 38,100 of the jobs.

Local government accounts for 13,000 of the jobs.

Amusements, gambling, and recreation account for 12,500 of the jobs.

Temporary help services provided 25,600 jobs.

Business support services provided 4,300 jobs.

Services to buildings and dwellings provided 6,400 jobs.

Accounting and bookkeeping services provided 3,100 jobs.

Architectural and engineering services provided 4,900 jobs.

Computer systems design and related provided 6,000 jobs (most likely filled by H-1B work visas).

Management and technical consulting services provided 3,200 jobs.

For a decade this has been the jobs profile of “the world’s most powerful economy.” It is the profile of third world India 40 years ago. The jobs that made the US the dominant economy have been moved off shore by corporations threatened by Wall Street with takeovers if they did not increase their profits.

The easiest way for corporations to increase profits is to take advantage of cheap labor in countries with massive quantities of unemployed labor.

So, if we believe the BLS report, and the reported new jobs are not simply a product of faulty season adjustments and a faulty birth-death model, why is the financial press happy that the US economy can only create third world jobs? Why was the stock market up on the news that the US economy has created 179,000 third world jobs? Would rational markets be up on such discouraging news?

But are the jobs really there?

With retail sales going nowhere, why 35,600 new jobs in wholesale and retail trade?

With real median incomes declining, why 38,100 more waitresses and bartenders? For every month as long as I can remember the BLS reports numerous new jobs in waitresses and bartenders, despite the long-term decline in real median income.

In the May jobs report, where are the jobs for the vast number of new college graduates?

The US now has more hotel maids, bartenders, and waitresses than it has manufacturing workers. The US has twice as many people employed in government than in manufacturing.

The services of maids, bartenders, waitresses, and government cannot be exported.
Therefore, the US trade deficit remains large and without exports to reduce it, a crisis in itself.

What the BLS jobs reports have been telling us for many years is that the US economy is in crisis, in a death-spiral. Yet, not a handful of economists’ voices have been raised.

Today president obama’s economist said that the notch upward in the unemployment rate was because the economic outlook was so good that more people were encouraged to enter the labor market than there were new jobs available.

The conclusion is inescapable: The same government that lies about weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein’s al-Qaeda connections, Iranian nukes, and so on, also lies about jobs, the unemployment rate, the inflation rate, rigs every financial and commodity market, pretends that terrorism is such a threat that the US Constitution must be set aside and that Americans are safer without the protection of habeas corpus and due process.

It is amazing how rare terrorism is, especially with Washington in the second decade of trying to stir up terrorism by invading countries on totally false pretenses, murdering citizens of countries, such as Pakistan and Yemen with drones, and supporting Israel’s never-ending murder and dispossession of the Palestinians.

After such massive provocations from Washington, one would think that the world would be ablaze with terrorism. But it isn’t.

As there is so little terrorism, Washington and its presstitute media call those who resist
Washington’s invasion of their countries “terrorists.” Everyone who resists Washington’s military aggression is a terrorist. Just ask the New York Times, Fox News, or any neoconservative. Or, for that matter, the Bilderbergs, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, and Homeland Security, the Gestapo organization that now defines all American dissenters to be “domestic extremists.”

Washington’s claim that Americans have “freedom and democracy” is the sickest joke in human history.

In 21st century America, defendants have no more rights than the accused in Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia. The FBI now shoots suspects brought in for questioning in the back of the head even before the suspect is arrested. http://lewrockwell.com/spl5/fbi-executed-my-boy.html [1]

Long before Bradley Manning’s trial the presstitutes have convicted the accused based on lies leaked by the prosecutors. Consider Bradley Manning. After three years of detention, including one year of torture, he is brought to a rigged trial as a national security danger. All that Bradley Manning did was to comply with the Military Code and report war crimes. As his corrupt superiors did not want to know, he complied with his duty, apparently, by going public.

Now he is being made an example. The message is clear: Support Washington’s war crimes or be destroyed.

The Amerika that exists today has more in common with Nazi Germany than with the America in which I grew up. The young don’t know any different. But those my age realize that we have lost our country. America no longer exists.

iranmap

America’s Economic War on the People of Iran: Obama Signs Executive Order Targeting Iran’s Currency and Auto Industry Timothy Alexander Guzman, June 07, 2013


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Primera parte de una entrevista con Arnold August, autor del libro “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion” (Cuba y sus vecinos: Democracia en movimiento).

Arnold August es analista político, escritor, periodista y conferencista, residente en Montreal, Canadá (Quebec). Es el autor del libro “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections” (La democracia en Cuba y las elecciones de 1997-1998), publicado por la editorial José Martí, Cuba. También escribió un capítulo titulado “Socialism and Elections” (El socialismo y las elecciones) para el libro “Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal” (El socialismo cubano en un nuevo siglo: adversidad, supervivencia y renovación), de la University Press of Florida.

JL: Cuéntenos sobre su libro “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion”; ¿por qué decidió escribirlo y como lo hizo­?

AA: Bueno, creo que muchas personas estarán de acuerdo conmigo en que cuando se trata de temas de política internacional, de las presiones que ejercen los países del Norte, particularmente los EE.UU. y sobre todo en lo que se refiere al Sur en general—Asia, África y América Latina—hay muy pocos asuntos que se abordan, excepto el tema de la democracia. Así ha sucedido, especialmente desde finales de los años 80 y principios de los 90 del pasado siglo, cuando ocurrió la desintegración de la Unión Soviética y el bloque socialista, que el asunto de la democracia, o mejor dicho, el pretexto de la democracia se utiliza de manera creciente por los EE.UU. y Europa con fines injerencistas en los asuntos internos de otros países. A la vez, aunque parezca raro, existen muy pocos libros sobre este asunto de la democracia como tal. Creo que no mucha gente quiere abordar este asunto porque es un término my cargado, que no es fácil de abordar, pero yo siempre pensé que era necesario hacerlo. En realidad este es mi segundo libro sobre el tema de la democracia; el primero, fue escrito en 1999 particularmente sobre la democracia y las elecciones en Cuba.

JL: Creo que muchos se sorprenderán al leer que existe  democracia en Cuba. ¿De qué democracia estamos hablando?

AA: En Canadá y especialmente en los EE.UU., todo este asunto de la democracia se entiende como algo completamente ajeno a la realidad cubana, y ahora por supuesto esta misma actitud se aplica a otros países como Venezuela. Yo trato el tema de la democracia, pero como usted puede ver, el subtítulo del libro es “Democracia en movimiento”. Por tanto, no sólo abordo el tema de la democracia en sí misma. Trato de desarrollar el concepto de la “Democracia en movimiento” que se refiere a la democratización como un proceso que nunca termina y, al centro de este concepto, intento abordar el papel de la democracia participativa; es decir, esa democracia en la que el pueblo desempeña un papel protagónico diariamente para lograr que su poder político sea efectivo.

JL: Usted cree que el pueblo de Cuba participa en los procesos de toma de decisiones más de lo que lo hacen los pueblos de Canadá o de los EE.UU, por ejemplo?

AA: Bueno, pienso que tendríamos que comparar la Cuba de hoy con lo que acontecía allí antes de 1959, antes de la Revolución. Es que ni siquiera cabe la comparación; porque es tan evidente la existencia en la Cuba anterior a 1959 de una dictadura controlada y dirigida por los EE.UU.—la dictadura de Batista—donde el pueblo era totalmente excluido del ejercicio del poder. A principios de la década de 1950, Fidel Castro se había postulado como representante al la cámara y era evidente que su partido iba a ganar las elecciones generales ya programadas.

Fulgencio Batista, que contaba con el apoyo de los EE.UU. organizó un golpe de estado y canceló las elecciones. Esto le ofrece una idea sobre cual era la situación de la participación popular que existía antes de 1959. Desde esa fecha para acá, todo ha evolucionado, por supuesto. En 1959, por primera vez en la historia de Cuba, el pueblo conquistó el poder político. No estoy diciendo que todo fue perfecto. No fue perfecto entonces, ni es perfecto ahora. Pero, la característica principal de la Revolución de 1959 es que por primera vez, el poder político quedó en las manos del pueblo. El término de “la soberanía reside en las manos del pueblo” se convirtió en un concepto con sentido real en Cuba.

Ahora podemos trazar una línea paralela entre la revolución cubana y la reciente rebelión en Egipto. Yo le llamaría una revolución también, porque el pueblo egipcio se rebeló y finalmente consiguió derrocar al dictador Mubarak, que tenía el apoyo de los Estados Unidos.

Lo que me resulta interesante sobre ese hecho y me ofrece una visión más amplia de la necesidad que tiene el pueblo de ver la democracia como un proceso en desarrollo, una democracia participativa, es que el pueblo en la Plaza Tahrir ocupó los espacios públicos, y entonces a partir de ese suceso es que millones de personas tomaron sus propias decisiones sobre qué hacer, cuáles eran las prioridades, y todo apuntaba a la decisión de derrocar a Mubarak.

No iban a aceptar otra cosa que no fuera eso. Mientras tanto, se desarrollaba un poder político en la base para suplantar el régimen de Mubarak que contaba con el apoyo de los Estados Unidos. Ahora bien, ¿Qué hizo el gobierno de Obama inmediatamente después? ¿Qué hizo tras haber apoyado al régimen de Mubarak, de manera hipócrita por supuesto, hasta el último minuto? Ya, cuando Mubarak fue expulsado del poder, los EE.UU. trataron inmediatamente de imponer lo que yo llamo en mi publicación la “noción etnocéntrica estadounidense sobre la política”, quiere decir, la democracia multipartidista.

Recuerdo muy claramente, y aparece documentado en mi publicación, que después de la derrota de Mubarak, mientras aun seguían las manifestaciones en la Plaza Tahrir y en otros espacios públicos en todo Egipto, Hillary Clinton dijo, en nombre de Obama, que el pueblo debía pasar de las protestas a hacer política. Entonces, desde el punto de vista de los EE.UU., la organización del pueblo  en las calles, de una manera totalmente novedosa para de alguna forma tomar el poder político, con una orientación totalmente diferente, aunque incluso siendo una forma embrionaria,  no era hacer política. La única política que cuenta es la política electoral. Y entonces, vinieron las elecciones egipcias organizadas por los Estados Unidos.

JL: Porque de esta forma podían controlar los resultados?

AA: Exacto, eso es lo que ellos controlan mediante las elecciones. Los EE.UU. no podían controlar la Plaza Tahrir, era el pueblo que, a un nivel embrionario, se disponía a tomar el poder político en los más altos niveles.

JL: Y ¿es que se temía en ese momento que algo similar podría ocurrir en los EE.UU. también?

AA: Claramente, pues el primer efecto de tipo dominó de la Plaza Tahrir tendría como escenario a los mismos Estados Unidos.

El gobierno de Obama tuvo que organizar las elecciones y lo primero que hizo fue eliminar el partido político Nasserista, de mayoría progresista, que favorece el socialismo y defiende decididamente la soberanía del país, de los EE.UU. Esto lo llevaron  por las buenas o por las malas, como normalmente hacen, y los egipcios quedaron sólo con dos partidos: la Hermandad Musulmana y el Partido del Movimiento Nacional Egipcio. Estas dos organizaciones son pro-estadounidenses. Ahora, vemos aquí un aspecto importante que tiene que ver con el proceso electoral en contraste con el proceso político de la democracia en movimiento: sólo el 52 porciento de los ciudadanos votaron en las elecciones presidenciales donde participaron los dos candidatos opuestos. Sólo el 52 porciento! Y además hubo un llamado a boicotear el voto, algo que no fue de gran conocimiento público. De alguna manera evitaron que sucediera.

Entonces, aquí vemos los dos elementos en contradicción. Por un lado, tenemos al pueblo en la Plaza Tahrir y en otras plazas buscando vías de conseguir el poder político, fuera del sistema multipartidista controlado por los Estados Unidos. Por eso es que sólo el 52 porciento votó. A la vez, en esa revolución de 18 días enfilada a derrocar a Mubarak un total de 850 personas fueron muertas y 5 mil 500 resultaron seriamente heridas. Ahora, yo le pregunto a usted: ¿No es más fácil depositar una boleta que luchar en las calles bajo el riesgo de perder la vida o de resultar seriamente herido para derrocar un régimen? No, no es así debido a la apatía o la falta de interés. Se trata básicamente del rechazo al sistema multipartidista, reflejado en aquellas elecciones y es por ello que aún continúa.

Yo casi dedicaba 24 horas diarias durante aquel período de 18 días a seguir ese acontecimiento y ello me permitió profundizar más en el tema de la democracia participativa y en cómo las elecciones son utilizadas para legitimar el status quo.  Fue justamente lo que hizo Obama cuando la Hermandad Musulmana ganó las elecciones. Hizo una llamada a Morsi y, de acuerdo con la transcripción de la Casa Blanca, le dijo: “ahora eres (presidente) legítimo; tienes legitimidad para gobernar en Egipto”. Así es como se manipulan las elecciones en estos países, cuando se realizan bajo el control de los EE.UU.—para legitimar la dictadura de la vieja guardia.

Pero, incluso podemos mirar más cerca, a casa. ¿Qué pasó en Quebec, Canadá en la primavera pasada? Millones de personas tomaron las calles, literalmente hablando, estudiantes y personas de mayor edad, por todo Quebec y ¿qué dijo el gobierno Liberal? “Bueno, nosotros fuimos elegidos”.  Claro, sólo el 52 porciento de la gente votó y ese voto se dividió entre los dos o tres partidos políticos. “Nosotros fuimos elegidos”, lo que quieren decir es: “somos los representantes legítimos del pueblo y podemos hacer lo que queramos. Tenemos el mandato de hacer todo; cualquier cosa”. Y de esta forma las elecciones son utilizadas lo mismo en Egipto, en Quebec, que en otros países, para legitimar el régimen de la vieja guardia. Mire, yo no estoy en contra de las elecciones. No estoy en contra de las elecciones donde haya diferentes partidos, pero sí tenemos que observar cuidadosamente como se desarrollan.

JL: Entonces, usted básicamente me está diciendo que las elecciones no garantizan la democracia.

AA: No garantizan la democracia cuando se usan como pretexto para hacer desaparecer la lucha del pueblo en las bases encaminada a tomar el poder político en sus manos y desarrollar el sistema de su elección.

Vista de cientos de ciudadanos vestidos de rojo en representación del sindicato de profesores, que protestan contra la Ley Walker.

JL: ¿Cómo describe usted los acontecimientos relacionados con el  Movimiento Occupy en los EE.UU.?

AA: Lo que es interesante observar es que después de los sucesos en la Plaza Tahrir, los EE.UU. se mostraron muy satisfechos de haber podido sustituir al movimiento popular con las llamadas elecciones, aunque temporalmente, porque los incidentes continuaron y aún no se han resuelto. Pero, irónicamente, o paradójicamente y por justicia, el efecto bumerán o el primer efecto dominó ocurrió en Madison, en los propios Estados Unidos, y en un período de tiempo muy corto después de que Mubarak fuera derrocado, y la gente mostraba carteles que decían: “El gobernador de Wisconsin es nuestro Mubarak.”

“Tenemos que luchar contra la dictadura”. Estaban inspirados por la ocupación de las plazas públicas en Egipto, la Plaza Tahrir, e hicieron lo mismo en el Capitolio de Wisconsin. El edificio se mantuvo ocupado durante varias semanas, la gente dormía allí, tomaron sus propias decisiones; hicieron sus manifiestos e intentaban construir un poder político nuevo, retando el poder del “establishment” de los partidos políticos. Desafortunadamente, este movimiento fue casi inmediatamente utilizado y convertido en parte de las maquinaciones de los dos partidos que prevalecen en los Estados Unidos y los sindicatos se vieron envueltos en medio de una lucha revocatoria contra el gobernador. Esto es muy bueno, nadie puede ir en su contra. Pero el problema es el sistema de los dos partidos y la idea de que no es bueno tener un tal partido, por tanto tenemos que deshacernos de ello para dar entrada a otro partido.

La segunda parte de esta entrevista se concentra en el capítulo escrito por Arnold August sobre Obama  y la ilusión del cambio.

Traductor: Luis Chirino, La Habana, Cuba

Texto original en inglès: “Cuban Democracy” versus “American Democracy”

Teil I eines Interviews mit Arnold August, dem Autor von “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion” [Kuba und seine Nachbarn - Demokratie in Bewegung]

Arnold August ist ein Autor der politischen Wissenschaften, Journalist und Dozent in Montreal, Kanada (Quebec). Er ist der Autor von “Democracy in Cuba and the 1997-98 Elections” (Editorial José Martí) [Demokratie in Kuba und die Wahlen von 1997-98, (José Martí-Verlag)] und hat auch ein Kapitel zu dem Band, “Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida) [Kubanischer Sozialismus in einem neuen Jahrhundert - Not, Überleben und Erneuerung] unter dem Titel, “Socialism and Elections” [Sozialismus und Wahlen], beigetragen.Mehr Information zu seinem neuen Buch.JL: Erzählen Sie uns von Ihrem Buch, “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion”, warum haben Sie dieses Buch geschrieben und wie sind Sie es angegangen?

AA: Also, ich denke, viele Menschen stimmen mit mir darin überein, dass es, wenn es um internationale Politik geht und zwar auf Druck der Länder des Nordens, insbesondere dem der USA hinsichtlich der Länder des Südens, im Allgemeinen – Asien, Afrika und Lateinamerika – um kaum ein anderes Thema geht als um das der Demokratie. Es ist insbesondere seit Ende der 1980er bzw. Anfang der 1990er Jahre so, seit dem Auseinanderbrechen des Sowjet-Blocks, dass die Sache der Demokratie oder vielmehr der Vorwand der Demokratie von den USA und Europa zunehmend zum Anlass der Intervention in die internen Angelegenheiten anderer Länder genommen wird. Gleichzeitig aber, so seltsam das erscheinen mag, gibt es sehr wenige Bücher, die auf die Demokratie als solche Bezug nehmen. Ich schätze, dass nicht viele Menschen gerade diesen Gegenstand ansprechen wollen, weil es ein sehr aufgeladener Begriff ist, den man nicht leicht behandeln kann, aber ich dachte immer, es sei notwendig. Tatsächlich ist dies mein zweites Buch zur Sache der Demokratie, das erste, 1999 geschriebene, handelte speziell von Demokratie und den Wahlen in Kuba.

JL: Ich schätze, eine Menge Leute wären überrascht zu hören, dass es in Kuba Demokratie gibt. Welche Art von Demokratie ist das?

AA: In Kanada und insbesondere den USA, halten sie die ganze Sache von Demokratie für eine in Kuba völlig fremde Erfahrung und natürlich gilt diese Einstellung jetzt auch gegenüber anderen Ländern wie Venezuela. Ich behandele zwar das Thema Demokratie, aber, wie Sie bemerken können, lautet der Untertitel meines Buches “Demokratie in Bewegung”. Daher behandele ich nicht nur Demokratie als solche. Ich versuche das Konzept von “Demokratie in Bewegung” auszuführen, dass heißt die Demokratisierung als einen Prozess darzustellen, der nie endet und im Zentrum dieses ganzen Konzepts versuche ich, die Rolle der partizipativen Demokratie auszuführen, das heißt, eine Demokratie darzustellen, in der die Menschen auf der Basis des täglichen Lebens bei der effektiven Umsetzung der eigenen politischen Macht eine Schlüsselrolle spielen.

JL: Denken Sie, dass die Bevölkerung in Kuba mehr an der Entscheidungsfindung partizipiert als zum Beispiel die in Kanada oder in den USA?

AA: Also, ich denke, man müsste das jetzige Kuba mit dessen Situation von vor 1959, vor der Revolution, vergleichen. Wir können es nicht einmal miteinander vergleichen, es ist so offensichtlich, dass es vor 1959 eine US-kontrollierte, eine von den USA aus gelenkte Diktatur, die Batista-Diktatur, gegeben hat, und die Bevölkerung war von der Macht völlig ausgeschlossen. Tatsächlich kandidierte Fidel Castro damals, 1952, Anfang der 1950er Jahre, für den Senat, und es wurde offenbar, dass er und seine Partei diese Wahlen gewinnen würden.

Das von den USA unterstützte Batista-Regime brach die Wahlen ab und organisierte einen Staatsstreich. Auf diese Weise bekommt man einen Eindruck davon, welcher Art die Partizipation von vor 1959 dort war. Seit 1959 hat sie sich natürlich entwickelt. 1959 war es das erste Mal in der Geschichte Kubas, dass das Volk politische Macht gewann. Ich sage nicht, dass es perfekt war. Es war damals nicht perfekt, und das ist es bis heute nicht. Doch die Hauptansicht von der Revolution 1959 ist die, dass die politische Macht zum ersten Mal in den Händen des Volkes lag. Der damalige Begriff “die Souveränität des Volkes” bekam für das Konzept seine eigentliche Bedeutung.

Jetzt können wir Parallelen zwischen der Kubanischen Revolution und der kürzlich stattgefundenen Rebellion in Ägypten ziehen. Ich würde es eine Revolution nennen, denn das ägyptische Volk revoltierte und siegte mit dem Sturz des von den USA gedeckten Diktators Mubarak.

Was ich dort interessant finde und mir die Augen im Hinblick auf die Bedürfnisse des Volkes noch weiter dafür geöffnet hat, Demokratie als einen fortwährenden Prozess auf eine partizipative Demokratie zu sehen, ist, dass die Menschen auf dem Tarhir-Platz den öffentlichen Raum besetzten und dass von dort aus Millionen von Menschen auf der Basis ihres täglichen Lebens ihre Entscheidungen darüber trafen, was zu tun sei, welches ihre Priorität sei und die war, Mubarak zu stürzen.

Sie wollten nichts Geringeres akzeptieren. Inzwischen entwickelte sich eine politische Macht, die darauf basierte, die Macht des US-gestützten Mubarak-Regimes durch eine andere ersetzen zu wollen. Und sie stürzten das Mubarak-Regime tatsächlich. Aber, was tat die Obama-Administration unmittelbar danach? Nachdem sie das Mubarak-Regime bis zur letzten Sekunde, natürlich scheinheiligerweise, unterstützt hatten? – Als er schließlich gestürzt worden war, versuchten die USA, unverzüglich das einzuführen, was ich in meiner Publikation die “US-zentrierte Auffassung von Politik” nenne, das ist die Mehrparteien-Demokratie.

Ich erinnere mich sehr deutlich, und es ist in meiner Publikation verzeichnet, dass, nach dem Sturz von Mubarak, während die Straßendemonstrationen auf dem Tarhir-Platz und den Plätzen in ganz Ägypten noch andauerten, Hillary Clinton im Namen von Obama sagte, das Volk müsse sich vom Protest hin zur Politik entwickeln. Das bedeutet aus US-Sicht, dass, wenn Menschen, die sich auf der Straße auf einer ganz anderen Grundlage organisieren, um auf irgend eine Weise politische Macht ergreifen zu können, die sich ganz anders orientiert, auch, wenn dies erst in einem embryonalen Stadium vor sich ging, dass das dann keine Politik ist. Die einzige Politik, die zählt, ist die der Wahlen. Dann organisierten die USA Wahlen in Ägypten.

JL: Weil sie auf diese Weise deren Resultat kontrollieren können?

AA: Genau, das ist es, was sie über Wahlen kontrollieren. Die USA konnten nicht den Tarhir-Platz kontrollieren, das Volk, das auf einem sehr niedrigen embryonalen Niveau die politische Macht an der Spitze anstrebte.

JL: Und gab es die Befürchtung, dass so etwas auch in den USA stattfinden könnte?

AA: Natürlich, denn der erste Domino-Effekt des Tarhir-Platzes trat in den Vereinigten Staaten selbst auf.

Die Obama-Administration musste Wahlen organisieren, und das Erste, was sie tat, war, die Nasseriten, die politische Partei zu eliminieren, die auf der Nasser-Tradition basiert, die im Allgemeinen progressiv und pro-sozialistisch eingestellt ist, die auf jeden Fall auf Unabhängigkeit von den USA bedacht ist. Die wurde, koste es, was es wolle, eliminiert – so, wie sie es immer machen – so, dass ihnen dann nur noch zwei Parteien blieben: die Moslem-Bruderschaft und die Partei der Ägyptischen Nationalbewegung. Beide sind pro-amerikanisch. Hier ist jetzt ein entscheidender Punkt, soweit es den Wahlprozess gegen den politischen Prozess einer demokratischen Bewegung betrifft: Nur 52 % der Bevölkerung stimmte tatsächlich in den Präsidentschaftswahlen zwischen den beiden Oppositionskandidaten ab. 52 %! Und es hatte einen Aufruf gegeben, sie [die Wahlen] zu boykottieren. Natürlich ist das in öffentlichen Kreisen nicht so bekannt. Man will das Thema sozusagen meiden.

Hier stehen nun zwei Dinge im Widerspruch zu einander. Auf der einen Seite gibt es die Menschen auf dem Tarhir-Platz und anderen Plätzen, die sich nach neuen Wegen zur Erlangung von politischer Macht außerhalb eines von den Vereinigten Staaten kontrollierten Mehrparteiensystems sehnen. Darum stimmten nur 52 % ab. Zur gleichen Zeit, während der 18-tägigen Revolution, die auf den Sturz von Mubarak zielte, wurden 850 Menschen getötet und 5.500 Menschen schwer verletzt. Nun frage ich Sie: Ist es nicht leichter, eine Wahlveranstaltung auszurichten, als auf der Straße für den Umsturz zu kämpfen, wobei man sein Leben verlieren oder schwer verletzt werden kann. Das geschieht nicht aus Apathie oder Mangel an Interesse. Es geht grundsätzlich um eine Ablehnung des Mehrparteiensystems, das sich in diesen Wahlen widerspiegelte, und daher geht sie immer noch weiter.

Ich verbrachte nahezu 24 Stunden während dieser 18 Tage mit der Beobachtung dieser Angelegenheit, und es erlaubte mir, die Sache der partizipativen Demokratie weiter zu verfolgen und wie [dagegen] Wahlen genutzt werden, um den Status quo zu legitimieren. Nun, und das ist es genau, was Obama tat, als die Moslem-Brüder die Wahlen gewannen. Er rief Morsi an und sagte laut der Mitschrift vom Weißen Haus: “Jetzt sind Sie ermächtigt.” Sie haben das rechtmäßige Amt in Ägypten. So werden in diesen Ländern Wahlen, wenn von den USA kontrolliert, genutzt – um die Diktatur der alten Garde zu legitimieren.

Wir müssen gar nicht so weit gehen, nähern wir uns unserer Heimat: Was geschah in Quebec (Kanada) im vergangenen Frühjahr? Es waren buchstäblich Millionen von Menschen auf der Straße, Studenten und ältere Leute in ganz Quebec, und was sagte die Liberale Regierung dazu? “Also, wir sind gewählt worden.” Natürlich stimmte nur 52 % der Bevölkerung ab, die sich auf zwei/drei Parteien verteilte. “Wir wurden gewählt.” Sie meinen damit: “Wir sind die legitimen Repräsentanten des Volkes und können tun, was wir wollen. Wir haben das Mandat, alles tun zu können. Alles und jedes.” Und so werden die Wahlen benutzt, ob in Ägypten, Quebec oder in anderen Ländern, um das Reglement der alten Garde zu legitimieren. Nun bin ich nicht gegen Wahlen. Ich bin nicht gegen Wahlen mit verschiedenen politischen Parteien, aber wir müssen genau hinsehen, wie sie stattfinden.

JL: Also sagen Sie im Grunde, dass Wahlen keine Garantie für Demokratie sind.

AA: Sie garantieren keine Demokratie, und in vielen Fällen, werden sie als Vorwand genutzt, jeden Kampf der Bevölkerung an der Basis, um die politische Macht in die eigenen Hände zu nehmen und ihre eigene Art von System entwickeln zu können zu beseitigen.

JL: Wie würden Sie die Ereignisse im Zusammenhang mit der Occupy-Bewegung in den USA beschreiben?

AA: Was daran interessant ist, ist, dass die USA nach den Ereignissen auf dem Tarhir-Platz sehr froh waren, die Volksbewegung zeitweilig, denn die Unruhen gingen noch weiter und wurden noch nicht aufgelöst, durch so genannte Wahlen zu ersetzen. Nun, da trat ironischer- oder paradoxerweise und mit Recht der Bumerang-Effekt oder der erste Domino-Effekt in Madison auf, in den USA selbst, innerhalb von sehr kurzer Zeit, nachdem Mubarak gestürzt worden war, und die Leute hatten Plakate, auf denen stand: “Der Gouverneur von Wisconsin ist unser Mubarak. Wir müssen gegen die Diktatur kämpfen.”

Sie waren von der Besetzung der öffentlichen Plätze, der auf dem Tarhir-Platz in Ägypten, inspiriert worden, und sie taten im Capitol von Wisconsin das gleiche. Das Capitol-Gebäude war während etlicher Wochen besetzt, die Leute schliefen dort, trafen ihre eigenen Entscheidungen, sie hatten Manifeste dazu, dass sie eine neue politische Macht aufbauten, um die etablierten politischen Parteien herauszufordern. Unglücklicherweise wurde diese Bewegung fast unmittelbar in einen Bestandteil der Zwei-Parteien-Intrigen der Vereinigten Staaten umgewandelt, so waren die Gewerkschaften in einen “recall struggle” der Demokraten gegen den Gouverneur eingespannt worden [Es ging um die Anfechtung der vorherigen Wahl des republikanischen Gouverneurs, weil er die Tarfiverhandlungen für Staatsangestellte von der Agenda streichen wollte. 1]. Das ist [eigentlich] sehr gut, keiner kann etwas dagegen haben. Doch das Problem ist das Zwei-Parteien-System und die Meinung, dass die eine Partei nicht gut ist und wir sie loswerden müssen, um die andere Partei zum Zuge kommen zu lassen.

1] Vgl.: Wikipedia

Teil II des Interviews wird sich auf Augusts Kapitel über Obama und die Illusion des Wandels konzentrieren.

Übersetzung: Josie Michel-Brüning

Auf Englisch:  “Cuban Democracy” versus “American Democracy”

The Nobel Peace Prize President recently signed another executive order targeting Iran’s currency, the ‘rial’ due to its nuclear program.  It is intended to make the Iranian people angry at the government for high food prices and an economy that is continuing to stagnate due to numerous sanctions imposed by the West, particularly the United States.  The Associated Press reported this past Monday that

The new sanctions marked the first time Iran’s currency, the rial, has been targeted directly with sanctions, the White House said. The sanctions apply to foreign financial institutions that purchase or sell significant amounts of the rial, and to those who hold significant amounts of the rial in accounts outside Iran.”

The Obama administration’s new sanctions not only targets Iran’s government, it targets the Iranian people.  It affects their everyday lives and their basic living essentials that include food and medicine.  Targeting Iran’s currency adds pressure to food prices such as chicken, meat and cooking oil that already have increased to more than 60 percent in the last several months.  Sanctions imposed in the past include oil and banking embargos that have led to shortages of foreign currencies leading to the decline of the Islamic Republic’s needed income, at the same time contributing to high inflation rates while weakening the buying power of the Iranian people.  The Associated Press also reported that the ‘rial’ would not be able to be used outside of Iran for trade or other financial transactions:

Senior administration officials said the sanctions were designed to make the rial essentially unusable outside of Iran. The hope is that banks and businesses holding Iranian currency will dump the funds, making the rial weaker. The value of the rial has dropped by half since the start of 2012, the White House said.

In a report conducted by Reuters back in April said that

“Iran has suffered double-digit inflation for most of the past decade. Inflation began rising sharply at the end of 2010 when the government slashed food and fuel subsidies; since then the sanctions, imposed over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, have pushed down its currency, adding to pressure on prices.”

The Obama administration is conducting economic warfare against the Iranian people because the latest sanctions target basic living essentials, especially food.  When food prices are out of reach for the average consumer, it creates anger and disappointment among the population that unfortunately reflects the Iranian government’s actions and policies on the economic front right before the presidential elections scheduled on June 14th.  The Iranian government is under numerous sanctions which make it difficult to operate in the best interests of the people.  The leadership of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his government has planned a strategy to counter economic sanctions with 3 months worth of food supplies.  The question is would it be enough until the Iranian government finds a way around the economic sanctions imposed by the West?

The Obama administration hopes to start a propaganda campaign by painting the Iranian government as an oppressive regime who is working against the best interests of their own people.  According to the Associated Press report,

“To that end, the U.S. last week eased restrictions on exports of advanced communications equipment to Iranian civilians, aiming to help Iranians interact with the outside world and shed light on what U.S. officials described as the regime’s oppressive attempts to stifle dissent.”

The US and its Western counterparts would be satisfied if the sanctions would result in another Arab Spring of 2011 right before or during the Iranian elections where public discontent is visible to the eyes of the world.  But that is unlikely.  It is intended to create a vision of Iranian society that its government is not working in the best interest of the people. The Obama administration’s idea is for the Iranian people to “Shed Light” on the Iranian government’s actions if they decided to stage angry protests on the streets.  If it turns violent then the Iranian government would be seen as a repressive regime against the people.

The Iranian population is angry and frustrated with their country’s economic uncertainty, but they know who and what is the cause of their difficult situation.  They understand that the West is responsible for their difficult living conditions.

They remember that the US and British governments installed the dictator Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavī known as the Shah of Iran back in 1953 when Mohammad Mosaddegh was overthrown by the covert actions of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the British MI6.  The Western plan is to systematically build a vision of the Iranian government as the true enemy against the Iranian people.

The Obama administration hopes that the Iranian government would crack down on angry protesters if they were to take place during the June 14th elections.  That is the response the US and its allies would hope to achieve.  It gives more ammunition to the US, UK and Israel to justify its planned attack in the future because the Iranian government is an oppressive regime that mistreats its people.  But we all know who is pulling the strings behind the scenes and it is not the Iranian government.

En EE. UU. se está desarrollando el evento más importante en favor de la liberación de los cinco antiterroristas cubanos. Los quebequeses se unen a este llamado internacional por la defensa de los derechos humanos.

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Early in the morning of July 16, 1979, a 20-foot section of the earthen dam blocking the waste pool for the Church Rock Uranium Mill caved in and released 95 million gallons of highly acidic fluid containing 1,100 tons of radioactive material. The fluid and waste flowed into the nearby Puerco River, traveling 80 miles downstream, leaving toxic puddles and backing up local sewers along the way.

Although this release of radiation, thought to be the largest in US history, occurred less than four months after the Three Mile Island partial nuclear meltdown that sent radioactive gases and iodine into the air, the Church Rock spill received little media attention. In contrast, the Three Mile Island accident made the headlines. And when the residents of Church Rock asked their governor to declare their community a disaster area so they could get recovery assistance, he refused.

What was the difference between the Church Rock spill and the Three Mile Island partial meltdown? Church Rock is situated in the Navajo Nation, one of the areas in the US sacrificed to supply uranium for the Cold War and for nuclear power plants. That area and many others in the Navajo Nation are contaminated to this day. Another sacrifice area is the Great Sioux Nation where thousands of open uranium mine pits continue to release radiation and heavy metals into the air, land and water.

This poisoning of the people in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations has been going on for decades and has had serious effects on their health. Even today, it is unknown what the full effects are and what the impact is on the rest of the nation because the contaminated air and water are not limited by borders. Most Americans are unaware of the story of uranium mining on tribal lands because it is a difficult story to accept. It is a story that includes the long history of human rights abuses by the US against native Indians and recognition of the full costs of nuclear energy – two stories the government and big energy have suppressed.

Many people think of nuclear power as a clean source of energy. It has been promoted as part of the transition from fossil fuels. But the reality is that nuclear power comes at a heavy price to the health of people and the planet. Like other forms of extractive energy such as coal, oil and gas, uranium needs to stay in the ground. Radiation and heavy metal poisonings are a hidden environmental catastrophe that is ongoing and must be addressed. But rather than studying the health effects and cleaning up the environment, private corporations are pushing once again to lift the ban on uranium mining.

Is Uranium Mining Poisoning the Bread Basket of America?

Thousands of open uranium mines excavated beginning in the 1950s continues to release radiation today.  There have been inadequate measurements but the limited measures done show ongoing leaks larger than Fukushima. How did we get here?

It is estimated that 60 to 80 percent of uranium in the US is located on tribal land, particularly in the lands of the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations. After WWII, the United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was created so that the US could obtain uranium for weapons production domestically. The AEC guaranteed that it would purchase all uranium that was mined. A uranium boom ensued. Private corporations jumped in and, in areas of South Dakota, individuals started mining for uranium on their private lands unaware of the dangers.

Private corporations set up thousands of underground and open pit uranium mines on tribal lands and hired local native Indians at low wages. Other than jobs, the uranium mines brought little benefit to these nations because the lands were given to non-Indian companies such as Kerr-McGee, Atlantic Richfield, Exxon and Mobil. Native Indians had little control over what took place.

Two Acts in the 19th century took the rights of self-determination away from the native population. The Indian Appropriations Act of 1851 allocated money to move Indians onto reservations, ostensibly to protect them from white settlers, but more likely to give settlers access to natural resources. The reservations are also known as prisoner of war camps. In fact, the reservation in Pine Ridge, SD is registered as POW Camp 344.

A second Indian Appropriations Act in 1871 changed the legal status of native Indians to wards of the Federal government, stripping them of recognition as sovereign nations and the right to make treaties. In order to make contracts for uranium mining on tribal lands, the Bureau of Indian Affairs created Tribal Councils to conduct negotiations. But the resulting contracts were not made in the best interests of the tribes.

The native Indians who worked in these mines were not protected from exposure to radiation, nor were they adequately warned about the dangers. Though it was clear that radiation exposure was linked to cancer in the early 1950s, around the same time that the US Public Health Service also started studying the health of uranium miners, it was not until 1959 that lung cancer was mentioned as a risk in pamphlets given to the workers.  In an unpublished doctoral dissertation, A.B. Hungate writes that the reasons for this are: “The government had two interests.  First, it needed a steady supply of domestic uranium, and it felt that warning the workers of the hazards would result in the loss of the workforce.  Secondly, it wanted an epidemiological testing program to study the long term health effects of radiation.”

Don Yellowman, president of the Forgotten Navajo People, described the extent of exposure to radiation and toxic metals. Native Indian miners would drink radioactive water that had contained heavy metals, dripping off of the walls deep in the mines. Some of the miners had to travel long distances to the mines, so their families would come with them. Children would play in the area around the mine and family members would prepare and eat meals there. Other reports state that workers, primarily non-whites, were ordered into the mines shortly after explosions were set off to gather up rocks and bring them out for processing. Also, miners would go home at night covered in toxic radioactive dust, exposing their families to health risks.

Uranium mining started in South Dakota on land included in the original treaties with the Great Sioux Nation in the 1960 and 70s. The Sioux were not included in negotiations for the mining and are still refusing to settle with the US government over land in the Black Hills that was mined. During the boom, the land was mined without regard for contamination as “large mining companies [were literally] pushing off the tops of bluffs and buttes.”

A few decades after uranium mining began in the Navajo Nation, increased numbers of cancer cases, lung cancer in particular, began to show up in the miners. A 2008 literature review  in New Mexico found that the “Risk of lung cancer among male Navajo uranium miners was 28 times higher than in Navajo men who never mined, and two-thirds of all new lung cancer cases in Navajo men between 1969 and 1993 was attributable to a single exposure — underground uranium mining. Through 1990, death rates among Navajo uranium miners were 3.3 times greater than the U.S. average for lung cancer and 2.5 times greater for pneumoconioses and silicosis.”

Though the health effects of radiation exposure were known, it took decades before steps were taken to protect workers. The mines were operated under lax laws established in the 1872 Mining Act. Health and safety regulation of the mines, such as requirements for ventilation, was not passed in Congress until the late 1960s. But even once they were law, the regulations were not enforced.

Beginning in the 1970s, miners and their families began to pursue legal solutions through the courts and Congress so they could be compensated for the effects of their radiation exposure. Many court cases failed and native Indians were excluded from hearings in Congress on the miner safety. Finally, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) passed Congress in 1990.

RECA is desperately inadequate and restrictive. Until 2000, RECA only covered miners, not mill workers, and it does not cover families and others who lived near the mines. It also requires a very strict application process which is impossible for some to complete. A summary of RECA by academics Brugge and Goble states: ” We believe that it is not possible to simultaneously apologize, set highly stringent criteria, and place the burden of proof on the victims, as did the 1990 RECA.”

Uranium Mine Pits Continue to Leak Radiation Today

Radiation and heavy metals from uranium mines continue to pollute the land, air and water today and very little action is being taken to stop it.

In the upper great plain states of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, there are 2,885 abandoned uranium mines that are all open pits within territory that is supposed to be for the absolute use of the Great Sioux Nation under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty with the US. These open mines continue to emit radiation and pollutants that are poisoning the local communities.

According to a report by Earthworks, “Mining not only exposes uranium to the atmosphere, where it becomes reactive, but releases other radioac­tive elements such as thorium and radium and toxic heavy metals including arsenic, selenium, mercury and cadmium. Exposure to these radioactive ele­ments can cause lung cancer, skin cancer, bone can­cer, leukemia, kidney damage and birth defects.”

There are currently 1200 abandoned uranium mines in the Navajo Nation and 500 of them require reclamation. The greatest amount of radioactive contamination on Navajo land comes from solid waste called ‘tailings’ which sit in large open piles, some as tall as 70 feet high, and were incorporated into materials used to build homes. Dust from these piles of waste blows throughout the land causing widespread contamination.

A 2008 study found that “mills and tailings disposal sites caused extensive groundwater contamination by radium, uranium, various trace metals and dissolved solids. One estimate is that 1.2 million acre-feet of groundwater (or enough to fill Elephant Butte Reservoir more than twice) have been contaminated in the Ambrosia Lake-Milan area from historic mine and mill discharges, and less than two tenths of 1 percent has been treated to reduce contaminant levels.” It is estimated that 30 percent of people living in the Navajo Nation lack access to uncontaminated water.

Charmaine White Face of Defenders of the Black Hills describes the situation in the Great Sioux Nation as “America’s Chernobyl.” She says,  “A private abandoned, open-pit uranium mine about 200 meters from an elementary school in Ludlow, SD, emits 1170 microRems per hour, more than 4 times as much as being emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. “ In addition, “Studies by the USFS show that one mine alone has 1,400 millirems per hour (mR/hr) of exposed radiation, a level of radiation that is 120,000 times higher than normal background of 100 millirems per year (mR/yr)!” Cancer rates in Pine Ridge, SD are the highest in the nation.

This contamination escapes into the air which blows to the East and South and seeps into the water, reaching the Cheyenne and Missouri Rivers. It poisons grain grown in these areas that is fed to cattle that provide milk and beef for the rest of the nation. As White Face explains, “In an area of the USA that has been called ‘the Bread Basket of the World,’ more than forty years of mining have released radioactive polluted dust and water runoff from the hundreds of abandoned open pit uranium mines, processing sites, underground nuclear power stations, and waste dumps. Our grain supplies and our livestock production in this area have used the water and have been exposed to the remainders of this mining. We may be seeing global affects, not just localized affects, to the years of uranium mining.”

Uranium also contaminates coal that is mined in Wyoming for power plants in the East. Defenders of the Black Hills report that “Radioactive dust and particles are released into the air at the coal fired power plants and often set off the warning systems at nuclear power plants.”

People in the Navajo and Great Sioux Nations have been fighting for decades for the US Government to perform studies on the extent of contamination and to clean up both current contamination and prevent future contamination. As wards of the federal government, the US is responsible for the health and safety of native Indians. The Forgotten Navajo People have put forth a resolution which states “that all people have the inalienable right to clean air, clean water, and the preservation of sacred lands and that immediate action must be taken to Fund the Ongoing need for Remediation of Radioactive Contamination in our Air, Water, and Homelands to ensure our survival and that the named parties will Support the People’s Uranium Radiation Activity Data Collection Network.” The resolution also asks that the US uphold the ban on further uranium mines. They have also sought equipment that would allow them to measure radiation on their reservations, as simple request that has not been acted on.

Defenders of the Black Hills have written legislation, the Uranium Exploration and Mining Accountability Act, calling for study and remediation, but according to White Face, no members of Congress are yet willing to sponsor the bill. She explains that state and federal legislators want to hide the fact that this ongoing contamination exists because it will hurt the states economically. Just 40 miles South of Mount Rushmore, there are 169 abandoned open mines.  And there are mines in the areas of National Parks such as Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. These mines likely contaminate water and air in those areas visited by thousands of tourists.

The Chain of Environmental Damage from Nuclear Energy Begins with Excavation 

During the energy crisis of the 1970s, President Nixon called for the US to become more energy independent and to pursue renewable sources of energy through Project Independence 1980. This included increasing the use of nuclear power and resulted in the building of nuclear power plants throughout the nation. Some of those power plants, 23 currently in use, were built using the same flawed plan as Reactor One which failed at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant in Japan. And many of them are reaching their 40 year lifespan and are applying for renewed permits to continue operation.

In addition, because of the reduced availability of fossil fuels and the climate crisis, nuclear power is back on the table as part of President Obama’s, who has been well-funded throughout his career by Excelon Energy, “All of the Above” energy strategy. Earthworks reports that “According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there are currently 26 pro­posals to start, expand or restart in situ projects in the states regulated by the commission (Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, New Mexico). Of these, nine will be new operations.”

In situ uranium mining is being promoted as a safer method of extracting uranium. In this type of mining process, deep holes are drilled into the Earth’s surface and fluids are injected into them to dissolve the uranium so that it can be collected. This method of mining is certainly less destructive to the surface of the Earth than open pit mining, but the report also states that “Any in situ operation risks spreading ura­nium and its hazardous byproducts outside the mine, potentially contaminating nearby aquifers and drink­ing water sources. This has been a major problem with almost all in situ projects in the U.S.”

Current uranium mines have a history of noncompliance with regulations. There continue to be spills. Mining corporations do not clean up areas that they are required to clean up. They do not pay fines. And they influence local governments to loosen requirements once they receive a mining permit.

In addition to contamination of land, air and water, uranium mining, particularly in situ mining requires large amounts of water. In the current environment with extended droughts and reduced aquifers, in situ mining places greater strain on the water crisis.

Nuclear power is another form of extractive energy that is not only extremely unsafe but is also more expensive than safer forms of energy. Beyond the human and environmental costs, the cost of building new nuclear reactors has quadrupled since 2000 to an average of $13 to 15 billion each. Physicians for Social Responsibility report that “New reactors are estimated to cost homeowners and businesses between 12 cents and 20 cents per kilowatt hour on electric bills—more than cleaner, safer alternatives.”

And the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War passed a resolution in 2010 calling for a ban on all uranium mining worldwide, which states that “As well as the direct health effects from contamination of the water, the immense water consumption in mining regions is environmentally and economically damaging – and in turn detrimental for human health. The extraction of water leads to a reduction of the groundwater table and thereby to desertification; plants and animals die, the traditional subsistence of the inhabitants is eliminated, the existence of whole cultures are threatened.

Expose the Truth and Create a Carbon Free Nuclear Free Energy Economy

Uranium mining in the US and worldwide is a hidden environmental catastrophe that must be exposed. It is not acceptable to ignore the ongoing poisoning of communities, particularly of indigenous communities. Three fourths of all uranium mining worldwide is on indigenous land.

Yellowman speaks of the practice of uranium mining as a form of structural violence. Structural violence occurs when a social structure or institution harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. There is no doubt that widespread contamination of the air, land and water from seventy years of uranium mining has violated the basic rights of indigenous peoples to clean air and water and to live healthy lives.

It is not known at present to what extent the ongoing contamination is affecting the health of our nation. Despite the obvious need, there have not been, to date, any comprehensive studies of radiation and heavy metal contamination in the US. Uranium that is ingested by cattle and other livestock through water and feed concentrates in muscle. We do not know how safe our air, water and food are. And it is likely that the government and the nuclear industry do not want us to know.

It is becoming clearer that nuclear power is another dirty extractive source of energy that has high costs to human and environmental health. We must see through the energy industry propaganda and realize that there are clean and safer alternatives that are less costly. beginning with ending the massive energy waste through efficiency and conservation. It is time to move quickly to a carbon and nuclear free energy economy.

The first step is the ending the secret Fukushima, providing testing equipment to Native Indians, and conducting studies on the effects of radiation and other toxins on the soil, air and water in the Mid-West.  Then, it is time to move quickly to a carbon and nuclear free energy economy beginning with ending the massive waste of energy through improved efficiency and conservation; then changing the American way of life by putting in place land use planning, 21st Century mass transit and dispersed energy so every home and business can become an energy producer. The call of Native Indians to restore the Earth,  for the right to clean water and air, should be a rally cry taken on by all of us.

You can “The Toxic Effects of Uranium Mining on Tribal Lands with Don Yellowman and Charmaine White Face” on Clearing the FOG.

This article was first published on Truthout.  

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are contributors to Popular Resistance an outgrowth of the Occupy Movement. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

Lynne Stewart, a movement attorney who was jailed for the “crime” of being the defense lawyer for alleged terrorist Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, is dying in prison of stage-four cancer.

Her family and supporters, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, are asking that she be granted compassionate release so she can live out her final days outside prison walls.

The warden of Stewart’s prison has approved her compassionate release, however the Department of Prisons has so far refused to grant it.

Her case is another example of how the “war on terror” is being used to violate basic democratic rights, in this instance the right of those accused of a crime to legal representation, as well as the attorney-client privilege.

Stewart had a long career of defending the poor and political dissidents. As well as providing legal defense for many unknown people who could not afford to hire lawyers, she took on high profile political cases.

Among those were David Gilbert, a member of the Weather Underground, and Black Panther Willie Holder.

In 1994, Stewart joined former US attorney-general Ramsey Clark as part of the legal defense team for Abdel-Rahman. He had been arrested the year before and charged with conspiracy to commit terrorist acts, not actual terrorist acts.

His real crime was being part of an armed Islamic group in Egypt that sought to overthrow dictator Hosni Mubarak, at the time a staunch US ally.

Any group that fights a US ally is slapped with the label “terrorist”. That happened with the armed wing of the African National Congress, because it fought against the US-supported white racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

Stewart came to believe the “Blind Sheik”, as the press called him, was innocent.

Adbel-Rahman was indeed blind, and suffered from other serious medical problems. After his conviction in 1995, he was sentenced to life in prison plus 65 years ― a sentence Stewart called “outlandish”. He was interred in a prison medical facility, where he has remained since.

Stewart continued to visit him in prison, and represent him regarding post-conviction issues. In 2000, Abdel-Rahman asked her to release a statement from him to the press, which she did.

At the time, this action on her part was not viewed as a crime by the US government. But that changed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

In 2002, Bush’s attorney-general John Ashcroft announced that Stewart was being indicted on the grounds that, by releasing the statement to the public, she was materially aiding a terrorist group.

The background to this fantastic charge was new rules put in place in 1998 that severely limited Abdel-Rahamn’s ability to communicate with the outside world, even through his lawyers, under “special administrative measures”.

These included forbidding her to use her “meetings, correspondence or phone calls with Abdel-Rahman to pass messages between third parties (including but not limited to, the media) and Abdel-Rahman”.

After 9/11 the rules were made even harsher.

The government claimed that the sheik was using the press release to communicate with his group in Egypt, Al-Gama al Islamiyya, which the US arbitrarily labelled a “terrorist” group.

Actually, at the time, Abdel-Rahman backed a ceasefire between the group and the Mubarak regime. However, he left it up to the fighters on the ground to decide whether to continue the ceasefire.

This was the basis for the “materially aiding” a terrorist group charge. The charge was dismissed in 2003, but she was soon re-indicted on charges of obstructing justice and conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism.

Stewart’s trial in 2005 was a farce and travesty. The prosecution showed the jurors lurid videos of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, numerous photos of Osama bin Laden, and spun a fantastic web of Islamic terrorist conspiracy, which had nothing to do with the charges against Stewart.

The government told the jury, for example, that Abdel-Rahman was behind numerous terrorist attacks, including the killing of 62 people in 1997 in Luxor, Egypt.

In fact, the sheik publicly denounced that attack and had no connection with the group that carried it out, according to Chris Hedges, who was in Cairo as the Middle East bureau chief for the New York Times at the time.

And, of course, the Luxor incident had nothing to do with Stewart ― the person on trial.

The prosecution in Stewart’s trial also tied Abdel-Rahman to the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Others were tried and convicted of that bombing, but not the sheik.

But the press picked this up, asserting that the “Blind Sheik” was the “mastermind” behind the bombing.

Again, such testimony against the sheik had nothing to do with Stewart.

In the anti-Muslim and war-mongering atmosphere that gripped the US population at the time, the jury convicted Stewart. The prosecution had demanded a 30-year sentence for the defendant.

The judge instead handed down a sentence of 28 months. Subsequently, the new justice department under the Obama administration appealed the sentence as “too light”.

While she was out on bail as her sentence was being appealed by the government and she appealed the verdict, Stewart developed breast cancer, and began treatment for it.

Another charge was considered by the appeals court, that of perjury. This was based on a statement Stewart made in her defence outside the courtroom exposing the farce that was her trial, another gross violation of her rights.

On November 17, 2009, the appeals court revoked her bail, ruled the 28-month sentence was too light, and the judge raised her sentence to 10 years for her “false” statements about her trial. She has served three of those years behind bars.

Her treatment for cancer was interrupted in the course of her imprisonment. It was in this period that the cancer metastasised, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs.

After her conviction, her attorney Michael Tigar said “this case is really a threat to all the lawyers who are out there attempting to represent people that face these terrible consequences”.

It is meant to frighten lawyers away from taking on unpopular cases. Human rights group Front Line said the case “has had a chilling effect on human rights defenders who stand between government agencies and potential victims of abuses”.

Another violation came out in the course of Stewart’s trial. That was the government’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to secretly wiretap and film with hidden cameras Stewart’s conversations with the sheik, a violation of attorney-client privilege.

It should be noted that the new Egyptian government is demanding the US release Abdel-Rahman.

I’ll leave the last word to Lynne Stewart herself, written in prison to a friend:

“I have been fortunate to live a charmed life ― parents who loved me without qualification.

“I had children when I was young enough to grow with them. Today they are the backbone of my support and love.

“I came to politics in the early sixties and was part of a vibrant movement that tried to empower local control of public schools to make the ultimate changes for children and break the back of racism in minority communities.

“My partner/husband Ralph Poynter was always 60 years and counting in my corner. I had a fabulous legal career ― championing the political rights of the comrades of the 60s and 70s and also representing many who had no hope of a lawyer who would fight for them against the system

“I have enjoyed good friends, loved cooking, had poetry and theater for joy ― but all of this good fortune has always meant only one thing to me that I have to fight, struggle to make sure everyone can have a life like mine.”

You can sign a petition for hte release of Lynn Stewart here. Visit Justice for Lynn Stewart for more information.

Barry Sheppard was a long-time leader of the US Socialist Workers Party and the Fourth International. He recounts his experience in the SWP in a two-volume book, The Party — the Socialist Workers Party 1960-1988, available from Resistance Books. Read more of Sheppard’s articles.]

In an attempt to dispel embarrassing reports that Senator John McCain’s “surprise” trip to Syria featured a meeting with kidnappers — including Mohammad Nour of the Northern Storm rebel group — behind the 2012 abduction of 11 Lebanese religious pilgrims, The Daily Beast’s Josh Rogin cited Mouaz Moustafa, the executive director of a little-known organization called The Syrian Emergency Task Force:

“Nobody self-identified as Nour, and none of the guys who were standing outside were in the meeting with McCain,” said Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, an American nonprofit that helped organize the McCain trip. Moustafa is in the picture and was also inside McCain’s meeting with the rebel commanders, along with Task Force political director Elizabeth O’Bagy.

Rogin’s defense of McCain, of course, rests on the perceived independence of Moustafa’s “NGO.” The Syrian Emergency Task Force, however, appears to have close ties to one foreign government and its powerful American lobby. Not only is Mouaz Moustafa listed as one of the Washington Institute’s “experts,” he recently addressed the AIPAC-created think tank’s annual Soref symposium on the theme of “Inside Syria: The Battle Against Assad’s Regime.”

Even more intriguingly, one of the web addresses for Moustafa’s nonprofit is “syriantaskforce.torahacademybr.org.” The “torahacademybr.org” URL belongs to the Torah Academy of Boca Raton, Florida whose academic goals notably include “inspiring a love and commitment to Eretz Yisroel.”

Of course, none of this will come as any surprise to those familiar with John McCain’s lifelong service to the Land of Israel, a commitment that has invariably been at the expense of U.S. interests.

Update: Asked by a social media friend for his thoughts on my piece, Moustafa tweeted:

“utter BS I was born in a refugee camp denied entry to Palestinian territories by Israel even with American passport”

Perhaps his friends in the lobby can put in a good word for him.

After all, he helped organize their leading American asset’s trip to Syria; he’s a contributor to WINEP’s forum for Arab democrats; and for a dispossessed Palestinian refugee bears remarkably few grudges. “The Jewish American community here has always supported humanitarian causes and has always stood by the right thing,” he recently told the Jewish Daily Forward, “and I hope they’ll continue to do so.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

Syria: Israel Is Losing the Battle

June 7th, 2013 by Gilad Atzmon

In the last week we have been following British and French’s desperate attempts to push for a military intervention in Syria. It is far from being a secret that both British and French government are dominated by the pro-Israeli Lobby. In Britain it is the ultra Zionist CFI (Conservative Friends of Israel) – apparently 80% of  Britain’s conservative MPs are members of the pro Israeli Lobby. In France the situation is even more devastating, the entire political system is hijacked by the forceful CRIF.

But in case anyone fails to grasp why the pro-Israeli Lobby is pushing for an immediate intervention, Debka, an Israeli news outlet provides the answer. Seemingly, the Syrian army is winning on all fronts. Israel’s military and geo-political calculations are proved to be wrong.

According to Debka, “the battle for Damascus is over”. The Syrian army had virtually “regained control of the city in an epic victory”.  The rebels, largely mercenaries,  have lost the battle they “can’t do much more than fire sporadically. They can no longer launch raids, or pose threats to the city centre, the airport or the big Syrian air base nearby.
The Russian and Iranian transports constantly bringing replenishments for keeping the Syrian army fighting can again land at Damascus airport after months of rebel siege.”

But it isn’t just the capital. Debka reports that “Hezbollah and Syrian units have tightened their siege on the rebels holding out in the northern sector of al Qusayr; other (Syrian army) units have completed their takeover of the countryside around the town of Hama; and a third combined Syrian-Hizballah force has taken up positions around Aleppo.”

Debka maintains that senior IDF officers criticized the Israeli defense minister (Moshe Ya’alon) who “mislead” the Knesset a few days ago estimating that “Bashar Assad controlled only 40% of Syrian territory.”  Debka suggests that Israeli defense Minister drawn on a “flawed intelligence assessment and were concerned that the armed forces were acting on the basis of inaccurate intelligence.” Debka stresses, “erroneous assessments… must lead to faulty decision-making.”

Debka is clearly brave enough to admit that Israeli military miscalculations may have lead to disastrous consequences. It reports, “the massive Israeli bombardment of Iranian weapons stored near Damascus for Hezbollah, turned out a month later to have done more harm than good. It gave Bashar Assad a boost instead of weakening his resolve.”

Debka is obviously correct. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that an Israeli attack on an Arab land cannot be accepted by the Arab masses, not even by Assad’s bitterest Arab opponents.

Debka maintains that the “intelligence focus on military movements in Syria especially around Damascus to ascertain that advanced missiles and chemical weapons don’t reach Hezbollah laid to a failure of in detecting major movement by Hezbollah militia units towards the Syrian-Israeli border.”

Israel is now facing a new reality.  It is facing Hezbollah reinforcements  streaming in from Lebanon towards the Golan heights and its border with Syria.

Israel, Debka concludes,  will soon find itself  “face to face for the first time with Hezbollah units equipped with heavy arms and missiles on the move along the Syrian-Israeli border and manning positions opposite Israel’s Golan outposts and villages.”

Debka is correct to suggest that instead of “growing weaker, Iran’s Lebanese proxy is poised to open another warfront and force the IDF to adapt to a new military challenge from the Syrian Golan.”

Rather than The Gurdian or the Le Monde, it is actually the  Israeli Debka that helps us to grasp why Britain and France are so  desperate to intervene. Once again, it is a Zionist war which they are so eager to fight.

Sadly enough, it isn’t The Guardian or The New York Times that is there to reveal the latest development in Syria and expose Israeli lethal miscalculations.

It is actually a ‘Zionist’ Israeli patriotic outlet that is providing the good. I actually believe that this form of harsh self-criticism that is embedded in Israeli culture, is the means that sustains Israeli regional hegemony, at least monetarily. This ability to critically examine and disapprove your own leadership is something I fail to encounter in Western media. Seemingly,  the  media in Israel is far more tolerant toward criticism  than the Zionist dominated  Media in the West.

Political rights are so easily taken for granted – until they’re threatened or curtailed by repressive laws. In the United States, they are usually most vulnerable when people are anxious about some outside threat.

After World War II, for instance, dissent became risky as relations with Russia hardened into Cold War I. Hysteria about domestic Communist subversion led quickly to state and congressional investigations of “un-American activities.” And in 1951, a Supreme Court decision led to the imprisonment of eleven Communist leaders, not for any overt acts threatening national security, but rather for trying to organize a political party and teach Marxism.

Today the threats to political liberty are no less imminent.
The groundwork was actually laid when a proposal for a massive rewrite of the US criminal code became the Nixon administration’s blueprint for crushing dissent and savaging the Bill of Rights. After Watergate and FBI-CIA revelations, proposed charters for the intelligence community were exploited as springboards to legalize intrusive techniques. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court moved toward prior restraint of free speech.
Prior restraint of the press became government policy in March 1979 when The Progressive magazine was prevented from publishing an article on the H-bomb. The ban succeeded for six months, on grounds that the 1954 Atomic Energy Act gave the government the right to suppress nuclear knowledge. Although the case was eventually dropped, the law may very well be used again.
Original Vanguard Press cover, 1980
 –

Support from other publications was slow in coming, possibly because the case involved a small Wisconsin monthly rather than a daily giant like The New York Times’ publication of the Pentagon Papers. The press gag ended only when other researchers found and printed the same “secrets.”

Even though the government dropped its case, it asserted that the section on violating national security secrets in the Atomic Energy Act would continue to be enforced, one of several “loaded pistols aimed at the First Amendment,” as writer Nat Hentoff put it.

In February 1980, the Supreme Court ruled, in the case of ex-CIA agent Frank Snepp, that government agencies have the right to restrict publication of national security information – even if the material is unclassified – when the book or article has been produced by a government worker with access to “confidential sources.”

The Court had effectively usurped the lawmaking powers of Congress and gone a long way toward enacting an American version of the British Official Secrets Act. In a letter to The New York Times, Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who was working with Ted Kennedy at the time, said that an Official Secrets Act might not be needed since “we have one now.”

The decision went further that penalizing one CIA employee for breaking his contract. Any government worker in a relationship of trust with his agency, whether or not a written agreement exists, could have rights to speech diminished. The high court, with four Nixon appointees in the majority, buttressed lower court decisions involving CIA censorship of ex-agent Victor Marchetti. That case dealt with classified material, and the Court set up a powerful precedent for prior restraint that violated the public’s right to know.

In the 1950s and afterward, the intelligence community saw itself in a war with those who supposedly threatened the existing social order. Programs conducted in the heat of the Cold War ranged from, multi-million dollar covert actions worldwide – secret support for pro-American political parties, destabilization of “unfriendly” regimes, arms transfers, training and propaganda – to a wide range of domestic “counter-intelligence” efforts.

Americans were shocked to learn that the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency (NSA) and others had conducted massive campaigns of spying and subversion directed at American citizens, most of whom had never committed any crimes.

After the revelations of the mid-1970s Congress moved toward defining a set of standards, to be codified in several laws. But by the time the first of these, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was passed in 1978, the mood had already changed. There was little objection when CIA Director Stansfield Turner nullified regulations banning the use of journalists, academics and the clergy in intelligence work.

Under a 1978 Presidential order on intelligence work, an investigation or covert project could be initiated if a person was “reasonably believed” to be involved in activities which may or may not involve legal violations, or was aiding or conspiring in these possible activities. Reasonable belief as a standard does not require concrete evidence that a law is being broken. The “potential” for a threat can be enough.

As pressures for action in the Middle East mounted, President Carter asked for a freer rein in initiating programs (the CIA was already supplying arms to rebels in Afghanistan, according to several sources). Carter also wanted less public access to CIA information. One proposal was to bar US citizens from obtaining information about any program that didn’t directly involve the individual.

Critics of this exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) said it would damage historical and journalistic research and informed public debate. Yet, in a hasty reaction to international tensions, congressional oversight and an independent check of intelligence operations became another casualty of the obsession with “national security.”

Introduction

Washington has devised a dual strategy toward Latin America .  This involves a new set of ambitious imperial initiatives designed to undermine the principal anti-imperialist governments ( Venezuela ), social movements and armed insurgency (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), while dismantling Latin America-centered integration and regional alliances, such as ALBA, Petro-Caribe, UNASUR and MERCOSUR.  At the same time the US seeks to establish an alternative US-centered  ‘integration scheme’ through the Latin America and Asia-the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which encourages closer ties among neo-liberal states, like Mexico, Colombia, Peru and Chile with their energy and mining sector-dependent development strategies.

The involvement of Colombia is crucial to both of these ‘high priority’ objectives.  In order to grasp the centrality of Colombia to current US strategy, it is essential to analyze the interplay of military, economic and political interests of the White House and Bogota .

US and Colombia

Washington’s interests in Colombia are largely defined by the policies it has pursued:  The last three US Presidents have poured over $7 billion in military aid, building seven military bases and stationing several thousand rotating and permanent US military advisers to ‘advanced combat zones’.  Colombia ’s military has more than doubled in size to over 350,000 soldiers.  In this context, Colombia has acted as an armed surrogate for US foreign policy, overtly intervening via cross border operations in Ecuador and Venezuela and serving as a platform for logistical and surveillance operations in the Caribbean, Andean, Amazonian and mid Pacific regions.  US military interests are reinforced by economic ties, which have deepened via a bilateral free trade agreement and   Bogota ’s open embrace of large scale mining and energy exploitation.

Washington ’s military strategists and ruling class allies in Colombia , however, face formidable opposition from three sources – two internal and one external.  Internally, there is  a vast alliance of social movements encompassing dispossessed peasants, farmers, and Indo and Afro-Colombian organizations, which have joined forces with trade unions, student confederations and human rights groups  to oppose the civilian-military rulers who represent an elite 5% in control of over 70% of Colombia’s wealth.  Over 4.5 million peasants, who have been driven from their lands by the scorched earth ‘counter-insurgency’ policies devised by US and Israeli military strategists, are clamoring for their right to return to their farmsteads.  Despite decades of repression and horrific massacres committed by the military and state-sponsored paramilitary death squads ( Colombia has the world’s highest ongoing homicide rate of trade unionists), the regime in Bogota faces rising social and political opposition.

The second challenge comes from two armed popular insurgencies:   the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN).  These armed organizations, especially the FARC, have significant grass-roots support for their programs, especially with regard to popular demands for agrarian reform, the de-militarization of the countryside, redistribution of wealth and the end of state terror.

The third challenge to the Columbian regime is external-the advanced socio-economic policies of the Chavista government in Venezuela :the housing, agrarian, health, educational, employment and anti-poverty programs stand in stark contrast to the neoliberal, authoritarian practices of Columbia ’s ruling elite

While US military policy has strengthened the capacity of the state to repress civil society organizations and contain civil unrest, it has not defeated the decades-old armed insurgency.  This military failure has had serious implications for the current Santos regime as it turns toward a new economic model, based on attracting large-scale, long-term foreign capital to the extractive sector (mining and energy sector).  The FARC, in particular, is strong in the regions targeted for major mining investments and poses a threat to the ‘security’ of big capital.

The ‘Transition’ from Uribe to Santos :  Continuity and Change

The transition from the Uribe presidency to the Santos regime was marked by strategic and structural continuities and sharp tactical changes.  Santos maintained and even strengthened Colombia ’s economic and military links with the US , retaining the US military bases, its extensive military advisory missions and the bilateral free trade agreement.  Like ex-President Uribe, President Santos is an avid advocate and promoter of the ‘extractive capitalist model’.  In fact this was a major consideration in his decisions to modify his tactical approach to the FARC and to offer to negotiate a peace settlement.

Santos ’ tactical changes in defense of his strategic links with the US and his big push toward extractive capital are twofold:  He has agreed to enter into peace negotiations and recognize the FARC as a ‘belligerent’.  Secondly, he reached an agreement with then President Chavez in which they agreed to end hostilities including political intervention and cross border incursions and to expand trade and commercial relations between Colombia and Venezuela .  In essence, the agreement meant that Colombia would no longer provide material support and sanctuary for right-wing US-backed terrorists and politicians engaged in destabilizing Venezuela ’s democratic regime, while Venezuela agreed to cut off any formal or informal support to the FARC and to “encourage” the FARC to negotiate with the Santos regime on the basis of a relatively moderate agenda.

Santos ’ partial shift away from Uribe’s total war tactics to a negotiations plus war approach was based on several crucial factors.  In the first place, Santos recognized that the FARC could not be decisively defeated on the battlefield and that the continuation of the armed conflict especially in the regions with the richest mineral and energy resources endangered the centerpiece of his extractive capital-centered development model.  Secondly, in the preliminary negotiations with the FARC, Santos established an agenda, which rules out any reform of the extractive, agro-business and financial sectors – an agenda approved by the Venezuelan and Cuban envoys.  Thirdly, Santos believes he can impose a time limit on negotiations pressuring the FARC to make concessions which would limit ‘agrarian reform’ especially with regard to the implementation and administration of the socio-economic changes and thereby fail to protect the peasant beneficiaries in the contested areas from the death squads.

Santos’ decision to ‘reconcile’ with Venezuela and to end the de-facto confrontational posture of his predecessor Uribe is based on several considerations:  Uribe’s belligerency had reduced Colombia’s annual trade with Venezuela from $8 billion to less than $1.5 billion – affecting key cattle and grain exporters, manufacturers, banking and commercial interests.  Secondly, sustained hostility towards Venezuela had isolated Colombia from the rapidly expanding Latin American integration process.  Thirdly, Santos saw few if any possibilities of a successful military coup in Caracas or of a direct US intervention.  In effect Santos , while retaining all of his ties to the US , seeks to use a diplomatic and political process to accomplish what Uribe failed to realize through bellicose threats and a scorched earth campaign:  the preservation of the economic order, the disarming of the FARC, and the retention of  strategic military ties with the Pentagon .  Under the guise of ‘peaceful co-existence’, Santos has sought to keep his covert links to the Venezuelan political opposition as they plot to destabilize the Maduro government.

The Rise and Decline of  Peace Negotiations and Peaceful Co-Existence

For the first six months of 2013, the peace negotiations  between the Santos regime and the FARC proceeded through controversy and agreements.  The FARC negotiators and the Colombian government officials announced ‘progress’ while the Cubans and Venezuelans praised the process and were especially optimistic of a peaceful resolution.

However, on the front lines facing the Colombian death squads, many human rights, trade union and peasant movement leaders denounced the continued, daily campaign of repression, including the assassination of dozens of activists.  Everyone was asking if the peace settlement was going to be a replay of the horrible massacres which followed the peace agreements of 1984-88 where 3,000 former-guerrillas entered open legal political activity and were murdered by military and paramilitary death squads.  During the six months of the current peace negotiations, several tens of thousands of Colombian workers, peasants and salaried workers have joined mass marches and attended ‘consultative assemblies’ debating and formulating proposals for changes in land tenure, labor legislation, environmental regulations on mining and protection of indigenous communities.  In the same time period, the armed forces, police, paramilitary and landowners’ private thugs have murdered, arrested, kidnapped, “disappeared” and threatened several hundred peasant activists who have attempted to ‘reclaim’ their own lands as well as trade unionists engaged in collective bargaining .  Activists participating in the ‘Patriotic March’ in defense of the peace process have been targeted.

The Santos regime is playing a clever complex political game:  appearing to be flexible in peace negotiations with the FARC leaders in Havana  while continuing repression at home against popular civil society movements who seek reforms in their communities and maintaining a full military offensive against the guerrillas in the field.

The deep continuities between Santos and Uribe have been underestimated by many supporters of the peace process.  The similarities are most striking when we analyze what is excluded from the negotiating agenda, namely, the absence of any discussion of the nature of the Colombian state which will oversee the implementation of peace agreements.  So far, the state under Santos continues to act as the enforcer for the agro-mineral elite and in every conflict between landlords and peasants, mine owners and workers and land grabbers and Indians, Bogota has taken the side of the elite.

There is a vast gap between the reforms Santos promises and the violence his generals practice.  This raises fundamental questions about the so-called “transition” between ex-President Uribe, the narco-assassin, and “peacemaker” Santos .

Santos two-track policy toward Venezuela , of talking co-existence while practicing political destabilization, exploded in late May when the Colombian regime met with Henrique Capriles, the defeated Venezuelan Presidential candidate.  Capriles continues to reject the results of internationally monitored election.  Instead he has organized violent assaults killing eleven government supporters and refuses to accept the legitimacy of the government.  This is in line with Washington ’s policy of a ‘war of attrition’.  By formally meeting with Capriles, Santos is giving Bogota ’s support to a key political instrument in the US campaign to destabilize the elected government of Venezuela .  The Capriles- Santos overtures have destroyed the latter’s pretense of reconciliation, peaceful coexistence and non-interference!  Santos ’ double-game of securing Venezuela ’s compliance in non-intervention while practicing blatant intervention and recognizing a violent proxy of US policy against Caracas highlights his fundamental hostility against the Maduro government.

The Venezuelan government was forced to wake up and denounce Santos duplicity calling him a “back-stabber”, recalling its envoy to the peace talks in Havana and threatening to reduce Colombia ’s multi-billion dollar trade with Venezuela .

Santos has clearly overplayed his hand in this episode, exposing his continuation of the previous Uribe regimes’ destabilization strategies.  All the contradictions and continuities of Santos tenure in office came to the surface; peaceful coexistence is a pretext for political intervention via Capriles; commercial ties to Venezuela are subordinate to military links to the US ; peace agreements are a weapon to a drive a wedge between the FARC and Venezuela .

Santos meeting with Capriles and the subsequent blow up of relations with Venezuela has raised severe doubts about the entire “post-Uribe” scenario:  both in terms of Colombian-Venezuelan relations and the possibility of negotiating a political settlement with the FARC.  The ‘honey-moon’ is over.

Reflections on the Santos-FARC Peace Dialogue

The FARC leadership negotiating in Havana has expressed ‘concern’ over the breakdown of relations between Colombia and Venezuela .  Surprisingly the FARC refrained from denouncing Santos ’ meeting with Capriles as a gross intervention into Venezuelan politics.  Instead it insisted on the urgency of “reconstructing the confidence required to continue the peace process”, ignoring the fact that the entire peace process will disappear if Santo-Capriles succeed in undermining the Maduro government!

The “advances”, which the FARC claims, “have been achieved via dialogue” especially with regard to “integral agrarian reform” are at best ambiguous.

The text of the agreement between the FARC and the Santos regime excludes the expropriation of large productive agro-business plantations, which occupy the most fertile, irrigated and market-accessible lands.

The agreement specifies that only “unproductive lands” will be “made availible” to displaced and landless peasants.  Previous experiences with this type of clause have resulted in costly and extensive litigation, as landowners can claim the presence of one cow per ten acres constitutes ‘productive land’.  Landowners have been known to sub-divide their large estates among extended family members, reducing the ‘size’ of the property below below the acreage designated for expropriation.  Moreover, the entire process of identifying uncultivated land and initiating expropriation proceeding will depend on regional judicial and administrative officials who are currently aligned with the landed elite – backed by private armies.

Land, which is designated unproductive, tends to be the least fertile, inaccessible to markets and agricultural services and lacking irrigation.  In the past, peasants were settled in “frontier lands” which required huge initial investments, as well as the development of new public roads and transport services – making survival difficult.  Given that the Santos regime’s highest priority is to invest heavily in the extractive sector it is unlikely that small peasant farms will receive adequate funding.   More likely, the displaced and landless peasants will be ‘settled’ on poor quality land and told to fend for themselves.

Even assuming that many of the 4.5 million peasant families, dispossessed by the regimes’ scorched earth policy, recover their land – as per the Santos-FARC agreement – experience has shown that the narco-paramilitary and military landowners will use force and violence to retain control.  Repossession of land will require the robust intervention of  state power … unlikely under the current legal-military order.   The text of the agreement is vague and ambiguous with regard to the entire enforcement mechanisms, and their legal and political basis.

The success or failure of agrarian reform depends on the power and organization of the peasant beneficiaries.  Establishing new land-reform settlements parallel to established large agro-business owners organized in powerful cattle, coffee and grain associations will likely lead to a sharp polarization of power and a struggle over access to public financial and technical assistance.  The agreement specifies important social programs involving health, education, housing and poverty reduction.  Such programs will only succeed if there is a shift in political power from the current dominant agro-business elite to the peasant beneficiaries of the new land reform.  These agreements do not address the great imbalances in socio-economic power currently shaping public policy.

Given the absence of any changes in land tenure with regard to productive fertile lands, given the absence of any shifts in the balance of state power in rural areas, it is not surprising that US Vice-President Joseph Biden has expressed his enthusiastic support for the peace negotiations.  No doubt both Biden and Obama were more than delighted that Santos embraced their client Capriles, much to the chagrin of the incredulous Venezuelan Foreign Office.

The turn of events in Venezuelan-Colombian relations raises powerful tensions and splits across the political spectrum throughout Latin America .  Progressive leaders in the region have denounced the Capriles-Santos-Washington axis.  The advances in peace negotiations – as limited as they are – have no possibility of leading to a peace settlement in the face of a revival of cross border animosities.

The question is whether Santos wants to sacrifice Colombia ’s annual $10 billion dollars worth of trade with Venezuela and the on-going peace negotiations with the FARC, involving marginal social reforms, and intensify the country’s internal conflict jeopardizing his “extractive export model” in order to serve as Washington ’s proxy in destabilizing Venezuela .

The fate of Syria and the broader Middle East balances on a razor’s edge.  The western media is giving dire warnings of an impending sectarian war between Sunni and Shia Muslims, a war that could drown the Middle East in a flood of blood.

Such a war would be completely artificial, and is being manufactured for geo-political reasons. When the most influential Sunni figures in Saudi Arabia and Qatar — both U.S. allies — recently called for Jihad against the Syrian government and Hezbollah, their obvious intentions were to boost the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia and its closest ally, the United States, by destroying Iran’s key ally in the region.Will Sunni Muslims in Syria — who are the majority — suddenly begin attacking their Shia countrymen and the Syrian government? Unlikely. A compilation of data from humanitarian workers in and around Syria compiled by NATO suggests that:

“…70 percent of Syrians support the Assad regime. Another 20 percent  were deemed neutral and the remaining 10 percent expressed support for the rebels.”

The pro-Assad 70 percent is mostly Sunni. This data flies in the face of the constant barrage of western media distortion about what’s happening in Syria. Previous polling compiled last year by Qatar had similar results, and was likewise ignored by the western media.

The above article quoted a source familiar with the data:

“The Sunnis have no love for Assad, but the great majority of the community is withdrawing from the revolt… what is left is the foreign fighters who are sponsored by Qatar and Saudi Arabia. They are seen by the Sunnis as far worse than Assad.”

Syrian Sunnis are likely disgusted by the behavior of the foreign extremists, which include a laundry list of war crimes, ethnic cleansing, as well as the terrorist bombing of a Sunni Mosque that killed the top Sunni Cleric in Syria — along with 41 worshipers and 84 others injured. The Sunni Cleric was killed because he was pro-Assad.

The recent calls for Jihad by the Saudi and Qatari Sunni leaders are likely in response to the Syrian government scoring major victories against the rebels. The rebels are now badly losing the war, in large part because they’ve completely lost their base of community support.

There are other key rebel supporters now taking urgent action to bolster the flagging rebel war effort. The leader of al-Qaeda, for example, made a recent plea for Sunnis to support the rebels against the Syrian government, while U.S. politician John McCain journeyed into Syria to meet with rebels — later identified as terrorists — to further commit the U.S. to the rebel side.

Meanwhile, The New York Times confirmed that the CIA had increased its already-massive arms trafficking program into Syria, while the European union agreed to drop the Syrian arms embargo, so that even more arms could be funneled to the rebels.

And to top it off, France now says it has proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the rebels — a UN representative has suggested that just the opposite is the case — while the rebels are desperately trying to incite war between Syria and Israel by attacking the Syrian government on the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Also relevant is that the pro-Jihad religious leaders of Qatar and Saudi Arabia are taking a giant gamble in their recent anti-Hezbollah proclamations, and risk triggering political instability in their own already-shaky regimes, which are hugely dependent on the religious leaders for support.

Hezbollah is still revered throughout the Muslim world for its military defeat of Israel in 2006; and most Muslims will likely be uninterested in waging Jihad in Muslim majority Syria. Also, attacking the Syrian government and Hezbollah would mean allying with Israel and the United States, not an ideal situation for most jihadists.

It’s very possible that the Syrian tinderbox could drag the surrounding Middle Eastern countries into a massive regional war, with Russia and the United States easily within the gravitational pull.

The Syrian conflict could end very quickly if President Obama rejected U.S. support for the rebels and demanded his U.S. allies in the region do the same. Obama should acknowledge the situation in Syria as it exists, and respect the wishes of the Syrian people, who do not want their country destroyed.

Instead, the U.S. is considering arming the rebels even more.

U.S. Senator John McCain revealed the unofficial U.S. government policy for Syria when he said that he would tolerate an extremist takeover of Syria if it weakened Iran.

At this point an extremist takeover of Syria will cost tens of thousands of more lives, millions more refugees, while exploding the region into a multi-country orgy of violence.

The media will blame such genocide on Islamic sectarian violence, and ignore the obvious political motives.

Hopefully, the social movement in Turkey will force the Turkish government out of the western-controlled anti-Syrian alliance, while empowering other Middle Eastern countries to do the same.

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

http://news.yahoo.com/top-saudi-cleric-endorses-anti-hezbollah-stance-160811547.html

http://www.worldtribune.com/2013/05/31/nato-data-assad-winning-the-war-for-syrians-hearts-and-minds/

Sources

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/17/syrians-support-assad-western-propaganda

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/04/opinion/syrias-crumbling-pluralism.html?_r=4&

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-21/world/37897753_1_mosque-top-sunni-cleric-bomb-attack

http://news.yahoo.com/al-qaeda-leader-zawahri-urges-syrians-unite-against-114313888.html

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/05/31/1212774/-John-McCain-Photographed-Palling-Around-With-Terrorists-In-Syria-VIDEO

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/world/middleeast/arms-airlift-to-syrian-rebels-expands-with-cia-aid.html?hp&_r=1&

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/05/us-syria-crisis-un-idUSBRE94409Z20130505

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/07/world/middleeast/syrian-rebels-golan-heights.html?pagewanted=all

http://thinkprogress.org/security/2013/06/04/2097821/mccain-syria-rebels-war-crimes/ 

US military sites in Germany are playing a key role in the use of American combat drones to target the killing of people in Africa. According to reports from the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and the ARD television programme “Panorama”, the Stuttgart-based supreme command of the United States Africa Command (US Africom) and the Air Operations Center (AOC) at the US air force base in Ramstein, in the state of Rhineland Palatinate, are directly involved in the drone attacks.

Media reports claim that fighter pilots in the US are operating through a relay station on the Ramstein air base to maintain contact with combat drones employed in Africa. Quoting from an internal policy brief of the US air force, the Süddeutsche Zeitung and “Panorama” revealed that “the drone attacks in Africa could not be carried out” without the support of this satellite station.

Up to 650 employees at the US flight control centre in Ramstein use 1,500 computers to monitor European and African airspace. They analyse drone and satellite images and plan new operations.

The US Air Force focuses on countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and lately Somalia in particular. It is alleged that the US military has carried out at least 10 deadly drone attacks in this East African country, killing up to 29 people. Most of them were said to be members of the Somali Shabaab militias, who want to establish an Islamic state in the Horn of Africa.

Under the headline “Execution by Radio Signals”, the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote of “death at the press of a joystick button”, which is occurring more and more. “No matter where around the world the US military or the CIA target people for execution, the attacks are carried out by drone pilots, usually sitting in the United States”. The US Air Force is said to have stationed its experts at the Creech air force base near Las Vegas; and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operates from the basement of its headquarters in Langley, or from Camp Chapman in Afghanistan.

“The pilot uses a joystick; he steers the drone and, when deemed appropriate, fires the missiles”, the newspaper reports. This kind of manhunt involves executions without arrests, without trials, without hearings and without verdicts.

Professor Thilo Marauhn, an expert in international law, said on the “Panorama” broadcast that the killing of a terrorist suspect was “in case of doubt, manslaughter or murder”. He suggested consideration be given to “whether criminal proceedings should be undertaken in these cases”.

Responding to an enquiry from the broadcaster, the German government announced that the launching of “military attacks contravening international law” from German soil was forbidden. That was the law. Probed further, it added that “the federal government (had) no evidence” such attacks were taking place.

The claim that the German government was not informed about the involvement of US military bases in Germany in the targeted killings is completely implausible.

The air force base at Ramstein has been continually upgraded for more than six decades and is now the largest outside the United States. More than 50,000 US citizens and military officials are employed there. Most of America’s European troop and cargo transports start and land at Ramstein. Nowhere outside the United States does the US Air Force have a larger airport. Nowhere outside the US is there a larger hospital than the nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. Wounded US soldiers from all over the world receive treatment there, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung .

When Africom was stationed in Stuttgart five years ago, the German foreign office advised the US government not to draw attention to US military bases in Germany. Otherwise, it would lead to “headlines” and “unnecessary public debates”.

The mendacity and duplicity of the German government has a long tradition. In earlier times, the chancellery and Ministry of Defence were informed about America’s waging of war from German soil, but kept the facts secret and feigned incomprehension when questioned on the matter. In 2003, the Social Democratic Party-Green Party government under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer spoke against the Iraq war. At the same time, however, they guaranteed Washington the unrestricted use of US bases in Germany, which was of utmost importance for America’s conduct of the war.

The recent reports expose the extent to which the German government is involved in the US government’s criminal acts of war. It is flouting German law just as much as it ignores the widespread anti-war sentiment in the population. In 1949, the German constitution abolished the death penalty and outlawed the planning and waging of wars of aggression.

But the reality is that the German government is exploiting Washington’s illegal actions to pursue the same objectives. A day before the reports were broadcast, political scientist Peter Strutynski published an article on the AG-Peace Research web site under the headline, “Federal government approves procurement of 16 combat drones—and acts as if nothing was decided”. Only after persistent questioning at a press conference was a government spokesman prepared to admit that the acquisition of combat drones had already been discussed at a cabinet meeting.

On June 5, the London Evening Standard headlined “No minutes, no press conferences – just the world’s power brokers chewing the fat on the issues of the day. It’s the Bilderberg conference – and it’s coming to a suburb near you.”

On June 6, it convened. It continues through June 9. It’s a rite of spring. A previous article said British political economist Will Hutton calls attendees the “high priests of globalization.”

Powerful movers and shakers have their own agenda. They’re up to no good. They meet annually face-to-face. They conspire, collude and collaborate against populist interests. Their’s alone matter.

According to Bilderberg Meetings.org:

“Founded in 1954, Bilderberg is an annual conference designed to foster dialogue between Europe and North America.”

“Every year, between 120 -150 political leaders and experts from industry, finance, academia and the media are invited to take part in the conference.”

“About two thirds of the participants come from Europe and the rest from North America; one third from politics and government and the rest from other fields.”

“The conference is a forum for informal, off-the-record discussions about megatrends and the major issues facing the world.”

“Thanks to the private nature of the conference, the participants are not bound by the conventions of office or by pre-agreed positions.”

“As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights.There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.”

“The 61st Bilderberg meeting will take place at the beginning of June 2013 in the UK.”

Earlier articles discussed their agenda. Their ideal world isn’t fit to live in. Democracy is verboten. They want one world government. They want unchallenged global dominance.

Their wish list includes universal rules they set, centralized global control, perpetual crises and wars, NATO operating worldwide, abolishing the middle class, establishing ruler-serf societies, and having unchallenged wealth and power in their hands.

They want what they say goes enforced as policy. Obedient serfs can expect subsistence crumbs at best. Non-believers will be eliminated. New world order priorities alone matter.

Bilderberg’s Steering Committee includes a dozen prominent Americans. David Rockefeller’s called an Advisory Group member.

He’s attending. A published list excludes his name. He’s called the master spider for good reason. He’s been dominant for decades. On June 12, he turns 98. He’s fading. Who’ll replace him isn’t clear.

In her book “Web of Debt,” Ellen Brown quoted economist/geopolitical analyst Hans Schicht saying:

“What has been good for Rockefeller, has been a curse for the United States. Its citizens, government and country indebted to the hilt, enslaved to his banks.”

“The country’s industrial force lost to overseas in consequence of strong dollar policies (pursued for bankers not the country.”

Rockefeller’s no longer the force he once was.

“(S)ixty years of dollar imperialism (is ending). The day of financial reckoning is not far off any longer.”

“With Rockefeller’s strong hand losing its grip and the old established order fading, the world has entered a most dangerous transition period, where anything could happen.”

Bilderberg rogues plan a world unfit to live in. They may end up destroying it in the process. It’s hard imagining a more malevolent force. US members reflect the worst of what it stands for. More on some prominent ones attending below.

They’re meeting at Britain’s five-star Grove Hotel. It’s 18 miles from London. It’s ideal for secluded meetings. While ongoing, police state security’s enforced.

Operations go on round-the-clock. Area residents have to show police passports, drivers licenses, or other accepted photo IDs to go home, to work, or attend to other personal business.

Civil liberties are suspended. De facto martial law’s in force. What Bilderberg rogues want they get. They want the worst of all possible worlds spread globally.

Prominent American attendees in alphabetical order include:

Roger Altman:

He’s a former Lehman Brothers partner. He left before its dissolution. Perhaps he helped push it over the edge. He was Clinton’s Deputy Treasury Secretary. He’s a Bilderberg Steering Committee member.

He’s founder and executive chairman of Evercore Partners. It’s a prominent predatory investment banking advisory firm. It specializes in mergers, acquisition, divestitures, restructurings, financings and other strategic transactions.

It operates the old-fashioned way. It recommends leveraged buyouts, asset-stripping targeted companies, and leaving thousands of employees high and dry on their own.

Jeff Bezos:

He’s Amazon’s founder and CEO. It’s the world’s largest online retailer. Earlier he worked on Wall Street and for a New York-based hedge fund.

In March 2013, Forbes estimated his net worth at $25.2 billion.

Martin Feldstein:

He’s Harvard University Professor of Economics. From 1982 – 1984, he was Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisors chairman and chief economic advisor. He’s National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) president emeritus. It’s an elitist organization.

Many of its members have been conservative Nobel economics laureates. Others served as White House chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisors.

It’s well known for announcing when recessions begin and end. It does so inaccurately. It ignores an ongoing protracted Main Street Depression.

In 2006, Feldstein was on Bush’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. In 2009, he served Obama in a likewise capacity.

His other affiliations include the Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, and American Enterprise Group among others. He been a board member of several major corporations.

Timothy Geithner:

A previous article discussed his legacy of shame. His rap sheet includes various Treasury posts, IMF Policy Development and Review director, New York Fed president, vice chairman of the Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC), and Obama’s Treasury Secretary.

He partnered with former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. They planned the grandest of grand thefts. They implemented banker bailouts.

They looted the federal treasury. They stuck taxpayers with the bill. They debased the currency. They transformed America into an unprecedented money making racket.

He and other Bilderberg rogues want spread globally what they did to America. They conspired with their EU partners doing the same thing to Western Europe.

They bear full responsibility for today’s global economic crisis. They planned it for greater wealth and power control.

Donald Graham:

He’s Washington Post Company chairman and CEO. His holdings include TV stations, municipal cable systems, and Kaplan, Inc. It provides higher education testing, training, and professional courses. It’s ethically and legally challenged.

It specializes in ripping off students. It does so for profit. It features scams and other fraudulent schemes. It sacrifices education for bottom line priorities.

It’s faced numerous lawsuits. In 2007, a class-action one on overcharging was settled. It shows no signs of changing its ways. Doing business the old fashioned way matters most.

Robert D. Kaplan

His articles are featured in numerous scoundrel media publications. Defense Secretary Robert Gates appointed him to the Defense Policy Board. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush reportedly sought his counsel.

In 2011, Foreign Policy magazine called him one of the world’s “top global thinkers.” He’s Stratfor Global Intelligence chief geopolitical analyst. According to Professor Daniel Drezner:

“What Kaplan and George Friedman share is a sense of geographical determinism that allows them to claim predictive powers.”

They and likeminded ideologues advance amoral national interest priorities. Resource control weighs heavily.

Professor Robert Farley added:

“Kaplan’s talent is to tell the powerful what they want to hear with the veneer of both theoretical insight and empirical knowledge, while possessing neither.”

His book “Balkan Ghosts” allegedly influenced Clinton’s thinking on Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Its dark side analysis characterized Yugoslav people as primitive and violent.

He calls Iran a potential regional hegemon. He says “Iranians do respond to pressure, but it has to be extreme.”

At an earlier Davos World Economic Forum meeting, Stratfor’s George Friedman addressed Iran saying, “There is a solution to (weapons) proliferation, and this is bombing them.” Perhaps Kaplan’s view is likeminded.

Henry Kissinger:

Previous articles discussed him. He was an early architect of new world order harshness.

He’s a notorious war criminal. His rap sheet includes three to four million Southeast Asian war deaths.

He was instrumental in overthrowing Chile’s democratic government. Augusto Pinochet replaced Salvador Allende. Reign of terror arrests, killings, torture and neoliberal harshness followed.

He backed Suharto’s brutal dictatorship. His Kopassus special forces terrorized Indonesians. Their record includes kidnappings, rape, torture, targeted killings, sweeping violence, mass murder, and other atrocities against anyone challenging his authority.

He supported his West Papua takeover. He OK’d his East Timor invasion. Over two hundred thousand East Timorese died. Around half a million more were displaced.

In two months, 10% of the population was annihilated. It was prelude for what followed.

Kissinger supported the Khmer Rouge’s rise to power and reign of terror. He encouraged a Kurdish revolt against Saddam Hussein. He then abandoned them. He advised Bush and Cheney on Iraq policy.

He backed a 1974 Cypriot fascist coup. He defended Turkey’s brutal invasion. He was complicit in Operation Condor. Pinochet and other Latin American despots reigned terror against alleged communists and political opponents. Tens of thousands perished.

He supported Pakistan’s “delicacy and tact” in overthrowing Bangladesh’s democratically elected government. Half a million deaths followed.

In 1974, his secret National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) called for drastic global depopulation. Developing nations are resource rich, he said. They’re vital to US growth.

He wanted useless eaters eliminated. He said “Depopulation should be the highest priority of US foreign policy towards the Third World.”

He supported involuntary mass sterilizations. He wanted birth control made a prerequisite for US aid. He wanted hundreds of millions eliminated by 2000.

He endorsed the worst of Israeli crimes. He deplores peace. He supports war and state terror. He symbolizes the worst of imperial lawlessness.

Henry Kravis:

He’s co-chairman and co-CEO of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR). It calls itself “a leading global investment firm with deep roots in private equity, diversified capabilities….decades of financial and operational experience, broad industry knowledge, and a powerful network of global relationships.”

It specializes in leveraged buyouts. It asset-strips companies for profit. It dumps thousands of employees doing so. It makes money the old fashioned way. Bottom line ones alone matter.

Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.5 billion.

Jessica T. Mathews:

She’s a Bilderberg Steering Committee member. She’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace president. From 1977 – 1979, she was National Security Council Office of Global Issues director.

She held various other executive and legislative government posts. From 1980 – 1982, she was a Washington Post editorial board member.

Her husband is retired four-star Air Force General Charles G. Boyd. He’s a Council on Foreign Relations program director. He’s Business Executives for National Security president. He’s a prominent Project on National Security Reform member.

Richard Perle:

He’s a Bilderberg Steering Committee member. He’s known as “the prince of darkness.” He’s a prominent uberhawk. He favors conflict over diplomacy. He served as Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of Defense and Global Strategic Affairs. He was GW Bush’s Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee chairman.

He’s associated with the Project for the New American Century and American Enterprise Institute. Both organizations figured prominently in post-9/11 wars.

His other affiliations include the Hudson Institute, pro-Israeli front group Washington Institute for Near East Affairs (WINEP), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), and Center for Security Policy among others.

David Petraeus

He gained prominence as US Central Command head, International Security Assistance Force commander, and CIA director. Defrocking followed Petraeusgate.

A previous article said forget resignation over extramarital sex. Lots of elected and appointed Washington officials had affairs. Many likely have current ones.

Numerous former presidents had them. Defrocking never forced any from office.

Competence didn’t earn Petraeus four stars. Former peers accused him of brown-nosing his way to the top. It made him a brand as much as general.

Talk earlier surfaced about his presidential aspirations. In 2007, Time magazine made him runner-up Person of the Year.

White House and media spin praised his stellar performance. Before he fell from grace, he was called aggressive in nature, an innovative thinker on counterinsurgency warfare, a talisman, a white knight, a do-or-die competitive legend, and a man able to turn defeat into victory.

His former commander, Admiral William Fallon, called him “a piece of brown-nosing chicken shit.”

He’s more myth than man. His failures were called successes. His career advanced by being super-hawkish, brown-nosing the right superiors, lying to Congress, surviving the scorn of some peers, hiding his failures, hyping a fake Iranian threat, supporting Israel, unjustifiably claiming Iraq success, and boasting how he’d do it throughout the region.

He manufactured successes. He concealed failures. He’s out of the public spotlight but not gone.

In March 2013, he became honorary Office of Strategic Services (OSS) chairman. It was the CIA’ s predecessor organization.

He’s also a City University of New York visiting professor. In May, UCLA named him Judge Widney Professor. He’s Currahee Board of Trustees president. KKR named him KKR Global Institute chairman.

Robert Rubin:

He formerly chaired Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. He served as Clinton’s Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, National Economic Council head and Treasury Secretary.

Time magazine once called him, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, and Deputy Treasury Secretary Larry Summers “The Committee to Save the World.”

They did more wrecking than saving. They helped get Glass-Steagall repealed. They influenced Commodities Futures Modernization Act  (CFMA) passage.

It legitimized swap agreements and other hybrid instruments. They’re at the core of major financial problems. It prevented regulatory oversight of derivatives and leveraging. CFMA and Glass-Steagall’s repeal made Wall Street a casino operating on only the house wins rules.

CFMA legitimized derivatives scams. Enron took full advantage. It fleeced investors and energy purchasers with impunity. It did so until its house of cards collapsed.

At the time, Alan Greenspan endorsed derivatives. He lied calling them a way to share risks. They turned an economic downturn into a protracted Main Street Depression.

Clinton/Rubin/Summers/Greenspan/Bernanke/Paulson/Geithner, and other co-conspirators engineered it.

Eric Schmidt:

He’s Google executive chairman. Forbes estimates his net worth at $7.5 billion. He’s a regular Bilderberg attendee. A previous article discussed his close Bilderberg ties.

 Infowars reporters Paul Joseph Watson and Jon Scobie said Google’s “merging” with Bilderberg.

It’s “being recast as ‘Google-Berg’ – partly because of efforts on behalf of activists to tear away the veil of Bilderberg’s much cherished secrecy, and partly as a means of re-branding authoritarian, undemocratic secret gatherings of elites as trendy, liberal, feel-good philanthropic-style forums like Google Zeitgeist and TED.”

Schmidt thinks “privacy is a relic of the past.” He “plans to turn Google into the ultimate Big Brother.”

He and Bilderberg members share common aims. In part, they reflect a “collectivist, permanently networked world (without) individuality and privacy.” They’re partnering for greater global control. Doing so makes Bilderberg’s ideal world unfit to live in.

James Wolfensohn:

He’s Australian born. He became a naturalized US citizen. From 1995 – 2005, he was World Bank president. Along with the IMF and other major international lending agencies, it debt entraps nations.

It wages financial war on humanity. It mandates structural adjustment harshness.

It prioritizes privatization of state enterprises, mass layoffs, deregulation, deep social spending cuts, wage freezes or cuts, corporate-friendly tax cuts, unrestricted Western corporate market access, trade unionism crushed or marginalized, and stiff repression targeting non-believers.

In 2005, Wolfsensohn founded Wolfensohn & Company. It’s a global emerging markets private equity firm. It advises governments and large corporations doing business in emerging market economies.

Since 2006, Wolfensohn’s also been Citigroup International Advisory Board chairman.

In 2009, he became a China Investment Corporation International Advisory Council member. In October 2010, he regained his Australian citizenship.

Robert Zoellick:

He’s a prominent neocon. He was a Project for a New American Century member. He advocated post-9/11 wars.

Paul Wolfowitz succeeded Wolfensohn as World Bank president. Zoellick succeeded him. He served from 2007 to 2012.

He formerly was a Goldman Sachs managing director, as well as Deputy Secretary of State and US Trade Representative under GW Bush.

Under Reagan, he held various Treasury positions. He was Counselor to James Baker, Executive Secretary of the Department, and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions Policy.

He was GHW Bush’s Under Secretary of State for Economic and Agricultural Affairs. He also served as Department Counselor.

In 1991 and 1992, he was Bush’s G7 summit representative. He 1992, he served as White House deputy chief of staff.

From 1993 – 1997, he was Fannie Mae executive vice president. He bears much responsibility for helping to inflate the housing bubble.

During George Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign, he was one among other self-styled “vulcans.” Others included Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Armitage, Richard Perle, Stephen Hadley, Scooter Libby, and Dov Zakheim.

The term alludes to the Roman god of fire and metalworking.

Zoellick’s other past and present affiliations include Enron’s advisory board, Alliance Capital, Said Holdings, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Aspen Institute’s Strategy Group, former Defense Secretary William Cohen’s Defense Policy Board, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies among others.

Other notable Bilderberg attendees include IMF head Christine Lagarde, European President Jose Manuel Barroso, former appointed Italian Prime Minister Mario (three-card) Monti, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, Goldman Sachs International chairman Peter Sutherland, as well as numerous other politicians, corporate bosses, investment firm heads, journalist insiders and others.

They comprise a virtual rogues gallery of scoundrels. An official list excludes likely figures kept private. Bill and Hillary Clinton were spotted arriving. Rumor suggests Obama and Britain’s David Cameron may attend. Perhaps we’ll know more later on.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/bilderberg-conference-convenes/

Google ‘Palestine’—It Exists, And So Do Palestinians

June 7th, 2013 by Global Research News

On May 4, Google did something President Obama didn’t have the guts to do: they recognized Palestine as a state and gave us our very own homepage. This is far better than being verified on Twitter or having the U.N. General Assembly vote in favor of Palestinian statehood. Palestinians searching for a good time across the West Bank were thrilled to be redirected to google.ps, AKA Google Palestine. They pulled up their pants and went to dance in the streets because if Google said that Palestine exists, it must be true. They do make the maps and everyone knows if you find it on Google it is an undeniable fact.

As Palestinians rejoiced, Israeli settlers in Gush Etzion wept and gnashed their teeth. They had been blindsided when they innocently went to www.google.com and got the suggestion that they try Google Palestine instead of the usual Google Israel (google.co.il). True, their settlement is built on Palestinian land in Bethlehem, but Palestine doesn’t exist, so how could this be happening?

A Palestinian man points at the word 'Palestine' on the Palestinian homepage of Google's search engine in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 3, 2013. (Said Khatib / AFP / Getty Images)

A Palestinian man points at the word ‘Palestine’ on the Palestinian homepage of Google’s search engine in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 3, 2013. (Said Khatib / AFP / Getty Images)

Israeli settlers and those who love them have gone to great lengths to convince themselves and the world that Palestinians don’t exist. Israel forces Palestinians to use different roads and ride separate buses, and even built a wall around the Palestinian villages so the settlers wouldn’t have to see such blight on the landscape. They have also organized aggressive PR campaigns centered on the fact that there is no such thing as Palestinians because they never had a country.

In the short time I have written for Open Zion, every single article of mine has gotten at least one reader’s comment claiming Palestinians don’t exist and therefore they are not being oppressed. Please allow me to respond to my detractors. They are a broken record and I have had enough.

First, there was a historical Palestine. They even had a currency called the Palestine pound, which was divided into a thousand mils, and said the word “Palestine” in big bold letters in English, Arabic, and Hebrew. Also, I’d like to remind folks that in his famous letter to Baron Rothschild, Balfour referred to the land he was gifting the future state of Israel as Palestine.

Second, Palestinians are indigenous and they are not just vague Arabs. If you believe the theory that the Jews were the original inhabitants of the Holy Land that does not mean that today’s Palestinian Christians and Muslims are not their descendants. For God’s sake, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. I’m guessing he picked up some followers. Team “there are no Palestinians” seem to be in denial of the fact that there is a little thing called converting.

What’s more, even if Palestine never existed—which it did—that doesn’t mean that Palestinians don’t exist. People can choose to identify however they please and millions have chosen to identify as Palestinian. You do not need to have a country to identify in a certain way. Croatians in Yugoslavia did not identify as Yugoslavians prior to getting their own country. They identified as Croatian. There is no country called “Communististan” but there are still Communists and even though there is technically no Palestine, there are still Palestinians.

Get over the name. In every debate that dismisses Palestinians’ right to equality on the grounds that they never had a country, the fact that these people do physically exist and are being oppressed is ignored. Call them Native Israelis or “Popcorn People” for all I care, they have been living there a very long time and they are not going anywhere.

Google has spoken. Israeli settlers need to accept that they now live in Palestine. Every time they search for anything in the future, they will be confronted with the reality that even though they believe this land was divinely promised to them and them alone, Google does not. There is good news though. The settlers can continue to live in their religiously segregated bubble. All they have to do is use Bing. If they do choose to continue to use Google, however, they need to remember that slingshots and stones are acts of terror, but Google locations can never hurt you.

Dear Senator Feinstein:

On Thursday, when you responded to news about massive ongoing surveillance of phone records of people in the United States, you slipped past the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. As the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, you seem to be in the habit of treating the Bill of Rights as merely advisory.

The Constitution doesn’t get any better than this: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

The greatness of the Fourth Amendment explains why so many Americans took it to heart in civics class, and why so many of us treasure it today. But along with other high-ranking members of Congress and the president of the United States, you have continued to chip away at this sacred bedrock of civil liberties.

As The Guardian reported the night before your sudden news conference, the leaked secret court order “shows for the first time that under the Obama administration the communication records of millions of U.S. citizens are being collected indiscriminately and in bulk — regardless of whether they are suspected of any wrongdoing.”

One of the most chilling parts of that just-revealed Surveillance Court order can be found at the bottom of the first page, where it says “Declassify on: 12 April 2038.”

Apparently you thought — or at least hoped — that we, the people of the United States, wouldn’t find out for 25 years. And the fact that we learned about this extreme violation of our rights in 2013 instead of 2038 seems to bother you a lot.

Rather than call for protection of the Fourth Amendment, you want authorities to catch and punish whoever leaked this secret order. You seem to fear that people can actually discover what their own government is doing to them with vast surveillance.

Meanwhile, the Executive Branch is being run by kindred spirits, as hostile to the First Amendment as to the Fourth. On Thursday night, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement saying the “unauthorized disclosure of a top secret U.S. court document threatens potentially long-lasting and irreversible harm to our ability to identify and respond to the many threats facing our nation.”

That statement from Clapper is utter and complete hogwash. Whoever leaked the four-page Surveillance Court document to Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian deserves a medal and an honorary parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in the Nation’s Capital. The only “threats” assisted by disclosure of that document are the possibilities of meaningful public discourse and informed consent of the governed.

Let’s be candid about the most clear and present danger to our country’s democratic values. The poisonous danger is spewing from arrogance of power in the highest places. The antidotes depend on transparency of sunlight that only whistleblowers, a free press and an engaged citizenry can bring.

As Greenwald tweeted after your news conference: “The reason there are leakers is precisely because the govt is filled with people like Dianne Feinstein who do horrendous things in secret.” And, he pointed out, “The real story isn’t just the spying itself: it’s that we have this massive, ubiquitous Surveillance State, operating in total secrecy.”

Obviously, you like it that way, and so do most other members of the Senate and House. And so does the president. You’re all playing abhorrent roles, maintaining a destructive siege of precious civil liberties. While building a surveillance state, you are patting citizens on the head and telling them not to worry.

Perhaps you should have a conversation with Al Gore and ask about his statement: “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” Actually, many millions of Americans understand that the blanket surveillance is obscenely outrageous.

As a constituent, I would like to offer an invitation. A short drive from your mansion overlooking San Francisco Bay, hundreds of us will be meeting June 11 at a public forum on “Disappearing Civil Liberties in the United States.” (You’d be welcome to my time on the panel.) One of the speakers, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, could explain to you how the assaults on civil liberties and the wars you keep supporting go hand in hand, undermining the Constitution and causing untold misery.

Senator Feinstein, your energetic contempt for the Bill of Rights is serving a bipartisan power structure that threatens to crush our democratic possibilities.

A huge number of people in California and around the country will oppose your efforts for the surveillance state at every turn.

Sincerely,

Norman Solomon

Buying US Treasury Bonds, A Sucker’s Game

June 7th, 2013 by Matthias Chang

Buying US Treasury Bonds now as advocated by so-called experts is turning logic on its head.

What I am going to say is so outlandish and unconventional that my critics and detractors will in a single chorus declare that I have gone nuts! In another blast of Wall Street conventional wisdom (or rather FED’s dogma) they will also accuse me of turning their logic on its head.

However, I am willing to take on any challenge that by the end of this article, I will be proven right because common sense always trump so-called logic of banksters and fraudsters.

After all, it was a child who exposed the scam and cried out, “The King has no clothes!” History is replete with examples that the minority of one (and right now I am in such a position pending the publication of this article) has been able to turn the tide by persistence, dedication and common sense. I believe strongly that the Joe Six-Packs of the world upon understanding the nature of the US Treasury Bond scam will not sit back and allow the scam to continue to their detriment.

Let me use some analogies and your own experience in money matters to drive home the point. Please be patient.

So, here we go!

Situation 1

Ask yourself this question – “Would you consider yourself prudent and reasonable and your bank prudent and reasonable in lending to a borrower a substantial sum of money in the following scenario?”

Jack of All Trades (Jack) is applying for a loan of US$3 million from his bank for a business venture. Just in case he may not get the loan or as much as he has applied for, Jack has asked you to extend a personal loan of US$1.5 million as a short-term cushion. You have been friends for ages.

His present financial situation is as follows:

His only real tangible asset is his matrimonial home in joint names of Jack and his wife Jill. It is valued at US$2.5 million and has been mortgaged to Citibank. There is an outstanding loan amounting to US$2.2 million. He has not paid any installments for the last six months. Interest is compounding!

Jack and Jill have outstanding credit card debts amounting to US$260,000 due to five different credit card companies. Jack gets a reprieve because he was able to get new credit card accounts from a new set of credit card companies by transferring the outstanding balances as advertised in the marketing brochures of most credit card companies. These advertisements tease credit card debtors that on transfer, the interest levied would be lower.

They are also in arrears on their car loans and the liability is US$65,000

The combined income of Jack and Jill is US$20,000 a month. Jill has just received a notice that she will be retrenched in three months’ time.

I am confident that you would not agree to extend any loan to your friend and that his bank would likewise reject his loan application for the simple reason that the combined income stream of Jack and Jill (in the light of their present liabilities) would not be able to support such a credit application. The banker would be negligent or reckless to extend credit facility to Jack and Jill. But, that was what happened in USA when banks granted Sub-prime loans, “Liars Loans” etc.

Situation 2

Mills Inter-State Transport Co. is a reputable company and has been in the business for close to thirty years. The previous CEO has mismanaged the company and as a result revenues have plummeted to an all-time low for financial year ending January, 2013. Receivables have also dropped drastically as trade customers have difficulties in paying outstanding bills.

Cost has also gone up. So, the overall picture of the company is not too good. Fortunately, the only major liability is an outstanding loan of US$4 million that was obtained some three years ago to extend the warehouse and the truck maintenance facility.

The fleet of trucks is old – the average age is 20 years. There are just not enough funds to acquire new trucks to improve inter-alia productivity. The employees are all very loyal and have been willing to take a pay-cut to help the company tide over the bad times as the alternative would be retrenchment. A potential partner has shown interest in taking up a share of the business on offer and would be willing to inject new capital provided the company can secure short-term loans to address cash-flow problems for the immediate future (at least two years).

However, the new CEO has been able to cut costs, increased collection of receivables and more importantly secured three new contracts that would improve profit margins by 30 per cent in the current year and fifty per cent within two years. Financial advisers have advised that the company should approach their bankers for additional facilities as well as issuing a bond to some investors,
but cautioned that such a bond would be feasible if the yield (interest) is attractive – i.e. better than the existing rates.

I am confident that as a banker and or investor you would be willing to take a risk and extend a financial facility to the company provided the yields are attractive enough to compensate the risk of a presently cash-strapped company with improving revenues and profit margins. The financial status of this company is far better than that of Jack and Jill. The ethos of the company in financial matters is one of prudence and conservatism. While such a bond may not be rated AAA, it would also not be rated as a Junk Bond. It would be rated most likely somewhere in between.

Situation 3

The Republic of Extravagance have been on a consumption binge for two decades financed by easy credit by external trade creditors and loose monetary and fiscal policies of the regime. The country has a standing army that dwarfs the combined might of eight neighbours. T

here is not much manufacturing in the country and its main export is drugs, illicit arms and human trafficking. Because of its military might, the Republic of Extravagance is able to bully its neighbours into submission and demand that they sell their resources at rock bottom prices in exchange for illicit drugs, primarily cocaine. The country has been printing money to pay for other imports and as a result inflation is 230 per cent and rising.

National debt has ballooned 300 per cent of GDP.

The citizens have not rebelled, because of the tyranny of the state. The Department of Internal Security is almost as big as the standing army and in some areas have better equipment as a result of massive allocations under the previous five budgets. The Continental Union Bank reluctantly agreed to grant special loans only because the Republic is willing to pay 25 per cent yields!

Obviously, the third situation does not represent any existing country, but the point is that in Situation 1 and Situation 3, it would be unwise to extend any credit facilities and even if credit facility is to be granted it would be with a hefty premium – a spike in the yield to compensate for the high risk of default.

In the real world there would be creditors who would be willing to extend credit facilities to such countries BUT THERE IS ALWAYS THE CAVEAT – These countries have to pay a hefty yield!
Such bonds, whether corporate or sovereign are referred to as “Junk Bonds” as opposed to triple-A rated bonds.

This is common sense.

Situation 4

Peter is a small trader and is very popular with his customers for he has a big heart. Whenever a customer has difficulty in paying his bills after the expiry of his 14 days credit period, he would extend the period for another 14 days.

“Lucky” Jim was a new customer and though at times he was in arrears, he had always made good his debts. He was called “Lucky” because he was good at the local casino which is situated in the back room of a popular diner/bar. Lucky Jim has no business of any kind and don’t seem to be gainfully employed, but he has always been able to meet his obligations. The fact that it was rumoured that he was somehow linked to some mobster in Chicago have deterred people from being too curious.

One day, Peter called upon Lucky Jim at his home to enquire why he was overdue for more than 45 days and there was no attempt by him to explain the situation. He was pleasantly surprised to see Lucky Jim in overalls working frantically on a huge photocopying machine (a Japanese import) that can reproduce colour pictures, documents etc. as good as the originals. Lucky Jim was embarrassed by the unexpected visit and apologised for the delay in paying Peter, but promised to pay Peter in a matter of days. Peter not convinced, asked Lucky Jim how he would be able to meet his obligations. With his back to the wall, Lucky Jim volunteered that if he told Peter a secret, and if Peter would not divulged the secret, he would share the rewards with Peter.

Peter responded positively. So, Lucky Jim explained how by using the photocopying machine which he purchased at a hefty price from Japan, he could reproduce all the Federal Reserve Notes as if they were genuine. It was difficult for anyone to tell the difference unless he was an expert. Peter was bewildered and asked Lucky Jim how was it that he was never caught and was able to print so much money. Lucky Jim confided that he was not too greedy and only printed enough to meet his needs and a little more to indulge in some adult fun on the weekends with Patty “Galore” at Fun House at the corner of Main Street and Riverside road. Wow!!!!!

There were times when his friends who needed some emergency cash, he would lend them the “instant” cash hot from the printing machine and charge a small amount of interest. It was a good life.
He then lamented that a month ago, the machine broke down and he could not get the spare parts to repair the machine and so, he was now tinkering with it and hoped that he could repair the machine himself and that was why he was behind his payment. Peter was greedy and allowed Lucky Jim time to pay the outstanding debt as he was on to the game. However, when six months went by and Lucky Jim still could not repair the machine, it occurred to Peter that he would not be repaid at all. So, he called upon Lucky Jim and discovered to his horror that Lucky Jim has left town! The goose that laid the golden egg was dead. The party ended before it started!

We will now come back to reality.

Now, let me explain why I say that buying US Treasury Bonds is for suckers.

Some Basic Principles

Definition of Corporate Bond

A debt security issued by a corporation and sold to investors. The backing for the bond is usually the payment ability of the company, which is typically money to be earned from future operations. In some cases, the company’s physical assets may be used as collateral for bonds.

Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds. As a result, interest rates are almost always higher, even for top-flight credit quality companies. (source: Investopedia)
Definition of Treasury Bonds

A marketable, fixed-interest U.S. government debt security with a maturity of more than 10 years. Treasury bonds make interest payments semi-annually and the income that holders receive is only taxed at the federal level.

Treasury bonds are issued with a minimum denomination of $1,000. The bonds are initially sold through auction in which the maximum purchase amount is $5 million if the bid is non-competitive or 35% of the offering if the bid is competitive. A competitive bid states the rate that the bidder is willing to accept; it will be accepted depending on how it compares to the set rate of the bond. A non-competitive bid ensures that the bidder will get the bond but he or she will have to accept the set rate. After the auction, the bonds can be sold in the secondary market. (source: Investopedia)
For the uninitiated, a bond with low yields (i.e. interest) is said to be a “good bond” – if rated AAA because the risk of default is minimum and would fetch a higher price because the issuer of the bond (the country) has a good credit standing. The country has no problems paying off its debts. The risk of default is very low or unlikely as opposed to the case of Republic of Extravagance in Situation 3.
Bonds issued by highly indebted companies and or countries are rated as “Junk Bonds” and as such the yields are very high to attract lenders and or investors who are willing to take extraordinary risks for a higher return. Very, very few financiers and or investors would go near them – they are toxic and hence fetch a lower price!

Please bear this principle of bond pricing in mind.

The case of the United States of America

Let’s be real and honest. If the US is not a military super-power, it would be classified as a “Banana Republic” not unlike the country in Situation 3 above.

It is a bankrupt country and is the world’s biggest debtor in the amount of US$ outstanding to foreign creditors!

This is not in dispute by all the experts. Just Google “which country is the biggest debtor?” and the answer is the US (source: IMF)! As at 2013, the total national debt is over US$16.805 trillion which is larger than the country’s GDP! When we include the unfunded liabilities, some experts have calculated the debt to be over US$100 trillion. The US is a zombie debtor – walking DEAD.

There is just no way for the US to pay off the debt. It is mathematically impossible to repay the debt even if the US government were to raise taxes by 200 per cent! But, that would not be acceptable by the people and would spark off a revolution in the US.

So by any measure, any bonds issued by the US treasury ought to be classified as “Junk” and a hefty interest would have to be paid to creditors to buy the bonds.

The US$ trillion question to be asked is, “Why have foreign creditors lent so much money to the US when it is in such a hopeless financial mess?”

Many reasons have been put forward, but let’s cut out all the crap and get real. The main reason is that these foreign creditors (stupid corrupt governments) just don’t understand how the scam has been perpetrated, not unlike Peter in situation 4 above.

The world believed that fiat money (especially the US Dollar) which is backed by nothing except the good faith of the issuer is better than gold and is genuine money for all intent and purposes. The foundation for the acceptance of fiat currency as money is confidence and the artificial demand that has been created to inculcate such confidence.

In my previous article, I explained that in 1971, Nixon had abandoned the gold standard and that the US dollar would no longer be redeemable in gold and became pure fiat currency. To sustain confidence in the US$ toilet paper money, the idea of Petro-dollar was floated by Henry Kissinger to the Arabs who were coerced into agreeing to sell crude oil denominated in US$ toilet paper money in exchange for the guarantee that the US military would protect their regimes from external threats (specifically from Israel) and internal threats (i.e. coups and revolutions). And as they say, the rest is history.

The Shadow Banking Bubble

Let’s fast forward to the present moment – past the 2007/2008 Global Financial Tsunami.

In summary, as a result of the loose monetary policy started by Alan Greenspan, the predecessor of “Helicopter” Bernanke, several economic bubbles were created – the housing bubble, the stock market bubble, the Private debt consumption driven bubble which popped one after another in 2008.

Additionally, there was also the Shadow Banking Bubble (which no one mentions because so few understand the mechanics of Shadow Banking and the derivative casino).

In the result, the US became bankrupt. The music stopped and the champagne party was over. US$ trillions were wiped out. Families lost their homes through foreclosures, businesses collapsed and massive unemployment was the result. Millions were on food stamps (over 40 million Americans). So, who can we blame for this financial fiasco? Well, it must be the FED and the US Treasury who like “Lucky” Jim was able to print (digitally) so much money, thereby flooding the market with cheap credit and this was multiplied many, many times as a result of fractional reserve banking (which allows banks to create money out of thin air – 10 times customers’ deposits) and speculation in the global derivatives casino.

It was a financial orgy that defied all common sense and logic.

The US Treasury was bankrupt, but they needed to borrow more money, much, much more money to survive. At first, the foreign creditors like stupid China and Japan were willing to come forward to help the US as the cheap credit intoxicated American consumers were the biggest spenders / purchasers for their exports. The US was the largest consumer market in the world.

But, the financial status of the US has descended to that of a “Banana Republic” not much different from the case of the Republic of Extravaganza in Situation 3 above.

Fear gripped and chocked the powers that be in control of the FED and the US Treasury. They just could not afford a situation whereby creditors (any creditors) would demand exorbitant interest rates for lending to the US. Technically, any bonds to be issued by the Treasury would strictly and technically be rated as “Junk Bonds” and not AAA as was the case before the “Great Recession” (how brilliant it is to mis-name the financial catastrophe as such and not more appropriately the “Second Great Depression” as it should be called). I would even contend that even before the financial fiasco, there was no way to justify a AAA rating as the US was in a financial state no different from Jack in Situation1. The US succeeded in getting a AAA rating because it was a scam as all the world’s rating agencies were US rating agencies and why would they stop the music and end the party when such AAA ratings (fraudulently given) would generate US$ billions in profits and have generated such profits for a decade or more!

The Scam

To hoodwink the creditors, the FED adopted two strategies (and we must give credit to those fraudsters in the FED and Treasury for their audacity in the execution of this fraud).

Firstly, they ensured that the printing machine (digitally or otherwise) would be functioning at full speed without any glitches. They cannot afford a “Lucky” Jim scenario. With modern technology of the computer and the mouse, all that was needed was a simple click of the mouse, and there would be a Book Entry in the FED’s computerised ledger in the columns – “Credit / Debit” and “Assets and Liabilities” – the requisite amount/value of the newly created digital monies. In technical jargon, the FED was monetising the debt by creating money out of thin air. But, for other countries and Joe Six-Packs, they have to work their guts out to earn an income, save the surplus to pay off any debts that they have incurred (borrowing US$) to purchase crude oil and other necessities (as all oil trades are denominated in US$ as well as other goods). We cannot create money out of thin air by the click of a computer mouse!

But, then any massive money printing would devalue the currency, so some of the monies were diverted into the stock market to create “asset inflation” i.e. to artificially jack up the price of the assets – the shares quoted in the stock exchange, thereby creating an artificial demand for more US$ toilet paper money and hence its value would be maintained and at worse would not depreciate that much. The new monies were also used to pay off existing debts and to finance new debts incurred by the US Treasury.

However, that would not really solve the problem of the risk of a junk rating of the US Treasury bonds. Technically, they are junk and would result in high yields so there was an urgent need to dress-up the bonds to justify an AAA rating.

Please grant me the indulgence of a digression.

This is why it is so important for the Joe Six-Packs to understand why the FED was given the power to control interest rates in addition to the power to print money (digitally). If the FED is only authorised to create money out of thin air, it would not be really useful because the mere printing of money would not confer any long lasting benefit to the financial elites and the entire fractional reserve banking system grounded on fiat money.

The Fed must control the rate of interest for interest is the life-blood of the banking system and whosoever controls interest controls the life-blood and in simple financial terms, control the revenues and profits to be made by the entire banking system thereby conferring on the privileged 1 per cent an unbridled means to limitless wealth. The only caveat is that at all times the members of the system must not be too greedy to demand more monies created out of thin air (with no risks) than were required to keep the system running and the party going as well. There must be a stream of interest payments (income) at a rate that would not kill the borrowers. Without borrowers there would be no customers for the fractional reserve banking ponzi scam!

Let’s get back to the issue at hand.

So, there was a need to convince the world at large that the US Treasury is not Jack the pauper but a credible borrower and ought to be treated as such.
So what was the trick, the scam that would convince unthinking and greedy creditors, be they sovereign creditors like China and Japan and institutional and retail investors (foreign banks and pension funds etc.)?

To turn the trick, it required the combined efforts of selected economists (plus one or two Nobel Laureates), financial analysts, rating agencies who know there is a whole lot of money to be made by participating in the scam to spew the propaganda that US Treasury Bonds are the best assets (safe-haven) in times of crisis and not Gold (derogated as a Barbaric relic). And, since the financial elites also control the mass media – print, TV, and radio etc., it would be easy to spread the propaganda.

With the FED in total control of interest rates, all it needed to do is to announce the policy of zero interest rate (ZIRP) and automatically interest rates on any borrowings would plummet. Of course Joe Six-Packs did benefit somewhat, but that was purely collateral. The main beneficiary of ZIRP is the US Treasury, the biggest debtor in the world. And as they say, the rest is history.
Having over the years brainwashed students in economics at leading universities, financial harlots in global banks and financial services institutions etc. that low interest rates is the benchmark for financial credibility per se (i.e. to ignore the fundamentals when it comes to US Treasury bonds, but not any other borrowers), foreign sovereign creditors like China were conned into lending monies to the US and in the case of Japan were compelled to do so as the vanquished foe of the US after World War II and now a client state under the nuclear protection of the US military.

No one dared cry out, “the Emperor has no clothes”, it is bankrupt! The zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) is a scam to cover-up the reality that the bonds are in fact junk bonds. Bearing in mind the principles of bonds as explained above, low interest rates was the illusion that clouded the minds of creditors to believe that such bonds could not be junk bonds. These creditors totally ignored the financial fundamentals of the US as a debtor that cannot mathematically pay off its debts.

These creditors also overlooked the fact that even if there were repayments, it was by way of more of the same – US$ toilet paper money, more fiat money created out of thin air.

For those who think that what is stated here is conspiracy theory, good luck to you if you have invested in US Treasury Junk Bonds. The truth of the matter will be decided in the near future whether the US Treasury Bond market is also another huge bubble sustained thus far by the above scam perpetrated by the FED and other central banks.

It is not my objective to convert the establishment to my point of view. How can that be possible when they are the perpetrator of the fraud? My sole aim is to sound the alarm to all the Joe Six-Packs of this danger and to prevent their wealth and hard-earned money from being wiped out by this scam and or confiscated by outright legalised plunder when their bank deposits are used to bail-out the Too Big To Fail (TBTF) banks.

Please, don’t accept my assertions after reading my article. Pause and think and think deeply. Do your research, investigate the history of the Fed and other central banks and more importantly question the disinformation in the mass media.

Final Comments

Ask yourself and your friends if what I wrote is gibberish, why -

1) The global banks fraudulently manipulated the London Inter-Bank Offered Rate (the LIBOR)?
2) Why do they manipulate the stock markets, the commodities markets and the gold markets (especially COMEX) to depress the precious metals markets?
3) If what I wrote is not true, then why has the FED embarked on QE3 to purchase toxic assets from banks and US Treasury Bonds at this material time if there was no dearth of creditors all eager to buy US Treasury Bonds?
4) Is this not a sick joke – the US Treasury actually borrows from an institution, the FED which was created by Congress. The FED created money out of thin air, by a digital entry in the FED’s computerised ledger?
5) Do you know that the interest derivative contracts traded in the global derivative casino is the largest of all derivative contracts? Do you know that the top 25 US global banks control this market and at the height of the financial orgy, the casino was notionally valued at US$800 trillion? That is not a typo. Please Google to find out the present value or go to the FED website. Some experts even valued the notional value of the derivatives casino at a US$ Quadrillion.

So, I hope you will agree with me that buying US Treasury Bonds is a sucker’s game and you are the sucker if you had invested in these fraudulent bonds.

I make no apologies for being so blunt.

Addendum:

Many have asked me to write such an article two years ago, but I declined because it would have been very difficult to put across my arguments until the onset of QE 3 when the FED began to print digitally US$85 Billion a month to purchase mortgaged back securities (toxic waste from the TBTF banks) and US Treasury Bonds. This was the smoking gun. But, the nail in the coffin is the FED’s Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP).

This was the evidence I needed to show how the FED and other central banks conspired to transform US Treasury Bonds from “Junk Bonds” to AAA rated bonds.

A new vaccine for influenza has hit the market, and it is the first ever to contain genetically-modified (GM) proteins derived from insect cells. According to reports, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the vaccine, known as Flublok, which contains recombinant DNA technology and an insect virus known as baculovirus that is purported to help facilitate the more rapid production of vaccines.

According to Flublok’s package insert, the vaccine is trivalent, which means it contains GM proteins from three different flu strains. The vaccine’s manufacturer, Protein Sciences Corporation (PSC), explains that Flublok is produced by extracting cells from the fall armyworm, a type of caterpillar, and genetically altering them to produce large amounts of hemagglutinin, a flu virus protein that enables the flu virus itself to enter the body quickly.

So rather than have to produce vaccines the “traditional” way using egg cultures, vaccine manufacturers will now have the ability to rapidly produce large batches of flu virus protein using GMOs, which is sure to increase profits for the vaccine industry. But it is also sure to lead to all sorts of serious side effects, including the deadly nerve disease Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GSB), which is listed on the shot as a potential side effect.

“If Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) has occurred within six weeks of receipt of a prior influenza vaccine, the decision to give Flublock should be based on careful consideration of the potential benefits and risks,” explains a section of the vaccine’s literature entitled “Warnings and Precautions.” Other potential side effects include allergic reactions, respiratory infections, headaches, fatigue, altered immunocompetence, rhinorrhea, and myalgia.

According to clinical data provided by PSC in Flublok’s package insert, two study participants actually died during trials of the vaccine. But the company still insists Flublok is safe and effective, and that it is about 45 percent effective against all strains of influenza in circulation, rather than just one or two strains.

FDA also approves flu vaccine containing dog kidney cells

Back in November, the FDA also approved a new flu vaccine known as Flucelvax that is actually made using dog kidney cells. A product of pharmaceutical giant Novartis, Flucelvax also does away with the egg cultures, and can similarly be produced much more rapidly than traditional flu vaccines, which means vaccine companies can have it ready and waiting should the federal government declare a pandemic.

Like Flublok, Flucelvax was made possible because of a $1 billion, taxpayer-funded grant given by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the vaccine industry back in 2006 to develop new manufacturing methods for vaccines. The ultimate goal is to be able to quickly manufacture hundreds of millions of vaccines for rapid distribution.

Meanwhile, there are reportedly two other GMO flu vaccines currently under development. One of them, which is being produced by Novavax, will utilize “bits of genetic material grown in caterpillar cells called ‘virus-like particles’ that mimic a flu virus,” according to Reuters.

Sources for this article include:

www.naturalnews.com

healthimpactnews.com

www.reuters.com

 

The EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is something that could fundamentally restructure Indian society and impact the lives of hundreds of millions of Indians. It is being negotiated ‘on the behalf of the public’ in secret by politicians and bureaucrats on both sides. Negotiations began in 2007covering a wide range of areas, including various goods, products and services, as well as investment rules, government procurement; and intellectual property rights. After 16 rounds of talks, the issues are still being fine tuned.

Much of the negotiations are being conducted beyond the gaze of the public and the realms of public accountability. And demands for public scrutiny have been dealt a blow by a recent ruling.

Following a lawsuit by lobby watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), the EU’s General Court in Luxembourg concluded that the European Commission (EC) did not violate EU rules when withholding information about the EU-India free trade talks from the public, even though it had already shared the information with corporate lobby groups. CEO warns that this decision risks deepening the secrecy around EU trade negotiations and legitimises the EC’s practice of granting corporate lobby groups privileged access to its policy-making, at the expense of the wider public interest.

The lawsuit was a last resort for CEO after the EC refused to fully release documents related to the EU’s ongoing trade negotiations with India, including meeting reports, emails and a letter, which it had sent to industry groups including the European employers’ federation Business Europe, one of the most powerful corporate lobby groups in Brussels. The EC claimed that the censored information was ‘sensitive’ as it concerned EU priorities and strategies in the negotiations and argued that public disclosure would undermine the EU’s international relations.

CEO argued that the information, which the EC had already shared with the business world at large, could not suddenly become confidential when a public interest group asked for it. The group accused the EC of manifest discrimination in favour of corporate lobby groups and violating the EU’s access to information rules.

CEO trade campaigner Pia Eberhardt said that there is a big risk that the EC will see the court ruling as a green light to continue to develop its trade policy behind closed doors, together with, and for, a tiny elite of corporate lobby groups. She added that the result is a trade policy that caters for big business needs, but works against the interests of the bulk of the population in the EU and other parts of the world.

The judgement comes as the EU and India are reportedly sorting out their remaining differences, in order to ink their final proposal for a free trade deal before elections in the EU and in India in 2014.

Both in India and the EU, trade unions, farmers’ groups, patients’ organisations and other civil society groups have repeatedly raised concerns about the potentially devastating impacts of the agreement, particularly on access to medicines and the livelihoods of Indian farmers and street traders (1).

CEO believes that the court ruling has potentially serious implications for other trade policies, such as the upcoming free trade negotiations between the EU and the US. In a press release from CEO, Pia Eberhardt states:

“Citizens and Parliamentarians are increasingly worried about the risks that the EU’s corporate trade agenda poses to food safety, digital rights and environmental protection. Trade negotiations should be conducted in an open and democratically-accountable way, and it is high time that the Commission stops handing over the negotiating agenda to multinational companies. It is disappointing that the court ruling seems to point in exactly the opposite direction.”

Such secrecy deepens the suspicion that the EU-India FTA has little to do with any notion pertaining to the ‘public interest’ and essentially represents the demands of big business and results from their strategic hegemony over government bureaucracies and politicians. 

With Western economies in crisis, India represents potential rich pickings for powerful transnational corporations. And the vultures are sweeping. In his January editorial piece in Kisan Ki Awaaz (National Magazine of the Farmer’s Voice), farmers’ leader Krishan Bir Chaudhary argues that India’s thousands of years old civilisation is being plundered. Industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports, airports and seeds and infrastructure support for agriculture are under threat. This view is apparently supported by Kavaljit Singh of the Madhyam research institute who argues that measures on investment could see the Indian government sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of Indian courts if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments. 

Indeed, corporations have been granted the exclusive right to sue states (states cannot sue corporations) at secretive international tribunals for action deemed to unfairly affect investors’ profits (2). It’s a one way street.

What we are seeing with the EU-India FTA (as is the case with India’s nuclear energy sector and the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (3) (4)) is democracy being sidelined for the blind pursuit of an unaccountable corporate driven agenda.

Notes

1) http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-eu-india-free-trade-agreement-india-up-for-sale-to-western-corporate-capital/5332214

2) http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/pia-eberhardt

3) http://www.democracynow.org/2006/12/13/vandana_shiva_on_farmer_suicides_the

4) http://www.countercurrents.org/rajkumar080512.htm

 

 

Although the ‘official’ guest list for Bilderberg has been made public through the major media for the first time  this year, the real interest will be in who is NOT on the list…

Today’s Bilderberg coverage which was streamed live on the Guerilla Media Network, saw the UK’s Liberty Tactics team reveal from reports on the ground in Watford that both Hillary Clinton and her husband, former US President Bill Clinton, were spotted entering Bilderberg’s Grove Hotel today, along with luminaries David Rockefeller and Henry Kissenger.

Both the jet-setting Clintons were also present at Kissenger’s 90th birthday party this past Monday night in New York City.

James Britpod from Liberty Tactics explains about Bilderberg’s non-guestlisters who have been spotted, “We do have Hillary, Bill, as well as quite a lot of others”.

Sadly, American Free Press veteran journalist Jim Tucker passed away in April, but as was revealed on Guerilla Media’s live stream today, Tucker’s baton has been passed to his fellow reporter Mark Anderson, including old and new inside contacts within the Bilderberg organisation itself.

When asked about the difficulty in seeing Bilderberg VIP’s through the parade of tinted windows, journalist Anderson aptly explained how, “The dark windows match the dark personalities inside”.

Follow Liberty Tactics live reporting around the clock from this week’s Bilderberg 2013 online at the Guerilla Media Network, and also follow Liberty Tactics on Twitter here.

Introduction

Seventeen years ago, I read a book called The Evolving Self. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, it profoundly affected the direction of my life. Here’s the section of the book that became a splinter in my mind and resonated the most with me:

“In order to gain control of consciousness, we must learn how to moderate the biases built into the machinery of the brain. We allow a whole series of illusions to stand between ourselves and reality…. These distortions are comforting, yet they need to be seen through for the self to be truly liberated… to come ever closer to getting a glimpse of the universal order, and of our part in it.”

Since reading that, I have dedicated my life to coming “ever closer to getting a glimpse of the universal order, and of our part in it.” After years of research and analysis, I’ve come to hard-fought, battle-tested conclusions that I’ve been sharing with people to great effect, and will share with you now. This will not be for the faint of heart. It will hit hard and we don’t have much time, so let’s get right down to it.

At this point, if you spend much time researching power politics or the distribution of wealth, resources and basic necessities, it seems evident and undeniable, dare I say, “common sense,” that we, in fact, live in a neo-feudal society built on debt and mental slavery.

That may sound like over-the-top rhetoric, and it obviously sounds extreme to propagandized and conditioned minds, and yes, it is extreme. However, it is the unfortunate reality of the present situation. The facts are there for the rational and unbiased mind to absorb and comprehend.

If you take a few minutes of your time and read this through, it will easily be proven. We will look at how the system works, and then, hopefully, we will begin the process of evolving society together, as grandiose as that may sound.

Let’s start by giving some context and perspective on present circumstances by breaking down some economic data. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “Enlighten the people generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like evil spirits at the dawn of day.”

I: Unprecedented Wealth

For the past 35 years, with technological advancements, there has been an explosion in production and profits, in wealth creation. That unprecedented increase in wealth, as many of you know, has gone to the top economic 1%. Most of it, the lion’s share of it, went to not even the top economic 1%, but to the top one-hundredth of one percent, to the modern day aristocracy.

After analyzing the most recent data, here’s the headline: US millionaire households now have $50 trillion in wealth. They have $39 trillion in legally accounted for wealth, and an estimate of $11 trillion hidden in offshore accounts.

Let that sink in for a moment… 50 TRILLION DOLLAR$.

Most people cannot even comprehend how much $1 trillion is, let alone $50 trillion. One trillion is equal to 1000 billion, or $1,000,000,000,000.00.

Only one-tenth of one percent of the population makes one million dollars a year, and, again, most of that wealth is in the top one-hundredth of one percent.

To show how consolidated the wealth is, even in the upper most portion of the top one percentile, the richest 400 people have as much wealth as 185 million Americans combined; that’s only 400 people with as much wealth as 60% of the entire US population.

Before continuing, let me defuse the reactionary propagandized mind’s instinctive response. This is not about demonizing people just because they have money. There are many people who are using their wealth and resources to improve the human condition. It’s important to understand that the focus here is not on the people who have a mere $10 million or so in wealth. When discussing the modern day aristocracy, the main focus is on the pathological, shortsighted and greed-addicted forces that are doing much more to limit human potential than enhance it.

Broadly speaking, the aristocracy is composed of governments, political parties, policy groups, think tanks, intel factions, private military companies, large global corporations, banks and media empires. Included in that are mega-wealthy billionaires and CEOs who have unprecedented control of wealth and resources. For example, the Business Roundtable, the people who run the 147 inter-connected corporations who control half of the world economy.

However, the ultimate point here is to show people that there is presently more than enough wealth and capabilities to solve societal problems. We can truly evolve society in unprecedented fashion. At this point, there is an overwhelming majority of the population, even a majority of the mega-wealthy, who realize that our present systems are obsolete, unsustainable and unstable. We don’t need to spend our finite time and energy fighting with each other. We already have a critical mass of aware citizens, we just need to inspire and organize them to build the cultural and political will. Once we do that, we will be an unstoppable force.

Let’s get back to that 50 trillion number, because we have had an entire generation of mind-blowing wealth creation that has been systematically withheld from the population.

$50,000,000,000,000.00

Can you comprehend how much money $50 trillion is? Just to give a little context, we can end world hunger and provide clean drinking water to everyone on the planet for an estimated $40 billion. Again, one trillion is one thousand billion, and we are talking about $50 trillion.

Imagine what could be done with that amount of wealth. Imagine the implications, the possibilities. Imagine how we could evolve society, to the benefit of everyone, with modern technology and just a fraction of that staggering amount of wealth.

The average American cannot comprehend how much wealth there is because there is no frame of reference, no comparison of scale or historical precedent. If Americans had an understanding of how much wealth is being kept from them and the possibilities of what we could do with that wealth, we would have a full-blown societal evolution right now.

II: Debt Slavery

It is the denial of wealth that keeps you in check; it keeps you in debt.

Just at the point when technological advancement, production, distribution and wealth increases should have made everyone’s life much easier, just when basic necessities should have become much more affordable and easier to obtain, they became more expensive.

The cost of production dropped dramatically and efficiency of distribution skyrocketed. Housing, food, health and education costs should have plummeted dramatically. However, most basic necessities now come at a much higher price, and people are forced to take on increasing levels of debt to keep up. As most people are aware, student debt, consumer debt, medical debt and household debt have reached all-time record highs.

As an old wise person once said, “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”

We live in a neo-feudal system of debt slavery. The indentured servant is now the indebted consumer.

When you understand the wealth at hand, you begin to grasp the crime against humanity that is afoot. We live in the richest, most technologically advanced society humanity has ever known. Yet, here we are, in the 21st century, with an all-time record number of Americans living in poverty.

Crime Against Humanity

After careful consideration, it must be said that this is not only the greatest theft of wealth in history; it is also the greatest crime against humanity in history.

People can’t afford to pay their medical billions. Millions upon millions of American families have lost their homes, and millions more are on the verge of losing their homes. An all-time record number of children are going hungry. Meanwhile, record-breaking profits and record-breaking bonuses for the bailed out banana republic aristocracy.

How healthy is a society when 400 people have as much wealth as 185 million of their neighbors combined? What kind of a system produces a result like that? As famed social psychologist John Dewey said, “There is no such thing as the liberty or effective power of an individual, group, or class, except in relation to the liberties, the effective powers, of other individuals, groups or classes.”

Now that you are beginning to grasp the wealth at hand, and the possibilities of how that wealth can be used to evolve society, let’s take a look at how we got into this situation and how exactly it is that they got away with hoarding so much wealth.

To paraphrase a man who fought against the aristocracy, ‘The depravity and amount of suffering required for the accumulation of such a staggering magnitude of wealth, in the hands of a few, is kept out of the picture, out of the mass media, and it is not easy to make people see or understand this.’ Especially when you have an all-encompassing mainstream media propaganda system.

III: Mental Slavery – Conditioned Consciousness

“To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill.”
- Sun Tzu, The Art of War, 246 BC

The mainstream media is the most effective weapon of mass oppression humanity has ever known.

Since the early 1900’s and World War I, a massive propaganda system has been in place. This is not a conspiracy theory; it is all well documented. Research Edward Bernays, Walter Lippman, Ivy Lee, George Creel and the Committee on Public Information for starters. In fact, you don’t even need a conspiracy theory; you just need a basic understanding of propaganda, social psychology and behaviorism – more on that later.

The bottom line, as Dewey once said, “We live exposed to the greatest flood of mass suggestion humanity has ever experienced.”

Speaking from personal experience, having been born and raised inside this propaganda system, and still obviously living inside it, I have come to realize that even the most independent minded among us vastly underestimates how mentally conditioned we all are. Most people are no more consciously aware of this mental domination then they are aware of gravity. It’s like the air we breathe.

For two obvious examples, let’s start with television consumption and advertising. The average American watches more than five hours of TV a day, every single day of their life. American children view more than 40,000 ads per year, every single year of their life. Think about that. That’s intensive mental domination administered on a daily basis, from the cradle to the grave.

Ultimately, as Phil Merikle summed it up, “It’s what advertisers have known all along: if we just keep the exposure rate up, people will be influenced.” Repetition, it’s all about repetition.

Repetitive messages fill our mental atmosphere. To paraphrase Philip Lesley in Managing the Human Climate, ‘When a message appears all around you, you tend to accept it and take it for granted. You find yourself surrounded by it and your subconscious mind absorbs and becomes immersed in the climate of repetitive ideas.’ They form the origins of your thoughts. It’s where your desires, opinions and perspectives are born.

To spin a McLuhan riff, the mainstream mass media is the software on which our minds run; it’s our operating system. It’s an extension of our nervous system. Repetitive mainstream propaganda creates a belief system, popular reference points, symbols, archetypes, mental patterns, a mindset and groupthink, all based on repetition – and groupthink is a highly contagious infectious disease.

It’s hard to escape groupthink. As with freedom and democracy, you must be ever vigilant to avoid the tyranny of groupthink and cultural conditioning. As Walter Lippmann said, “In the great blooming, buzzing confusion of the outer world, we pick out what our culture has already defined for us, and we tend to perceive that which we have picked out in the form stereotyped for us by our culture.”

To remix a quote from Dostoevsky, ‘Leave people alone without mass media and they will be lost and confused. They will not know what to support, what to cling to, what to love and what to hate, what to respect and what to despise.’

Malcolm X said it best, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”

The mainstream media keeps everyone isolated inside a false reality, a pseudo mental environment. People are trapped in a bubble of status quo supporting reality, in a bubble of what’s good for shortsighted, short-term corporate interests.

People’s consciousness and awareness gets conditioned and contracted, they become isolated and detached from wider reality.

People are born and raised inside mass media created illusions. As Eduardo Galeano put it, “The majority must resign itself to the consumption of fantasy. Illusions of wealth are sold to the poor, illusions of freedom to the oppressed, dreams of victory to the defeated and of power to the weak.”

As Harold Lasswell said in 1927, “The new antidote to willfulness is propaganda. If the mass will be free of chains of iron, it must accept its chains of silver. If it will not love, honor, and obey, it must not expect to escape seduction.”

Now, let’s sharpen our focus a bit and look from a more practical perspective.

IV: The Spectrum of Thinkable Thought

The censorship that is most prevalent today is the most dangerous form. Not censorship of explicit words, sex or violence, but censorship of any thoughts outside of shortsighted corporate ideology. Any thoughts that lead to critical thought on the established power structure or veer outside of the spectrum of status quo supporting opinion are left out of the debate, out of mainstream public consciousness.

The mainstream press does not cover the most vital social, economic and political issues. The more important something is, the less they report on it. If mentioned at all, it’s mentioned in passing, with little, if any, in-depth reporting, discussion and debate on it.

It’s censorship by omission and bullshit on repetition.

As Noam Chomsky observed, this is how propaganda and social control posing as freedom and democracy works: “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum…. That gives people the sense that there’s freethinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate.”

To paraphrase Alex Carey, they create ‘the spectrum of thinkable thought. They set the terms of debate, to determine the kinds of questions that will dominate public consciousness, people’s thoughts. They set the political agenda in ways that are favorable to shortsighted corporate interests. The debate is never about the curtailment of the manipulative power of entrenched global corporations.’

Imagine wall-to-wall 24/7 news coverage of the trillions of dollars in fraudulent activity that got us into this mess. Imagine in-depth coverage of the corruption of our political process through a system of bribery that makes the mafia look like amateurs.

What about the staggering consolidation of wealth? Imagine if the media kept discussing how a small percentage of the population has 50 trillion dollars, then they started debating how we could use just a fraction of that money to solve problems, create solutions and evolve society.

What if they reported on all the wealth and resources that a small number of corporations control, then debated how that wealth and those resources could be redeployed to get us onto a sustainable and thriving path?

When you understand what is possible, you see how truly corrupt, shortsighted, ignorant and obsolete our system of rule is. You then realize that our mainstream media system is pure propaganda.

When you see the reality that they don’t tell you about, it becomes all too clear. If you were to just look at what they don’t tell you, you would see. Mainstream media is the most effective weapon of mass oppression humanity has ever known. It’s hard to break free, when you are always told you are free.

As Huxley put it in Brave New World Revisited, “The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that they are a victim. To them, the walls of their prison are invisible, and they believe they are free.”

You can’t break free until you see the walls. The whips and chains have evolved into TVs and radios. As William Blum said, “Propaganda is to democracy what violence is to dictatorships.” If television was around in the 1770s, we would still be living under British rule.

In the land of propaganda, tyranny is democracy. It’s “enlightened despotism.” When it comes to oppression, it’s all cyclical yet evolutionary. Most people live in a mental cage now, they toil on mentally conditioned plantations.

V: Behaviorism & Assembly Line Intelligentsia

People reading this may try to dismiss it as a conspiracy theory. We must always be conscious of the reactionary propagandized mind and the army of paid off propagandists who uphold this system of mental domination. “Conspiracy theory” is the ultimate label to trigger dismissal without causing people to think about the content and substance of the message.

When it comes to the reactionary propagandized mind, their impulsive, instinctive dismissal further demonstrates how well they have been indoctrinated and conditioned. Once again, you don’t need a conspiracy theory to understand the system of mental conditioning; you just need to have a basic understanding of propaganda, social psychology and behaviorism. Modern indoctrinated intelligentsia have been produced like products off an assembly line. In The Genesis of the Technocratic Elite, Zoran Vidakovic breaks down how the assembly line of indoctrination works:

“Selection, education, and specific indoctrination of technical and administrative cadres are carried out first in metropolitan educational and research factories and their branches in dependent societies, under the wing of the superficially independent foundations which sustain the international projects of ‘technical aid,’ and then within the personnel policy of the transnational corporations that raise people from the local environments to responsible managerial and technical functions in their internationally located branches, or that in other ways subordinate and direct the ‘modernized’ industrial entrepreneurs, agrarian ‘reformers,’ functionaries, and leading intellectuals from the ministries and banks, universities, and public information, cultural, and scientific institutions.

The essential effect of this great factory for the almost assembly line production of dependent and emasculated ‘technocratic elites’ is that the material position, status, and professional success of the members of these groups imperatively depends on their conformity to the ideology of dependence and the interiorization of the intellectual, political, and ideological characteristics of this social type programmed in metropolitan laboratories for the technological, social, and cultural transformation of ‘developing countries.’…

The ideology of total repression unites with the ideology of technological and cultural dependency and assimilation; in this union repression gains strength as the condition of the entire dependent economic growth, technological progress, and ‘modernization of society,’ as a circle of insurmountable dependency on the import of prefabricated knowledge and technical and consumerist models is closed up by the ambitions of the protagonists of authoritarian rule.”

We live in a Skinner box. It’s classic “behavioral modification” (b-mod) within a “token economy.” We have an outdated system of incentives; you incentivize and reward certain behavior, and you punish or withdraw basic necessities for other behavior. It’s behaviorism 101.

Give people a paycheck to have certain opinions, to do certain things. You can see it everywhere, in almost all professions, not just the media. If you think a certain way, if you do certain things, you will be awarded with a paycheck. If you don’t, you lose your paycheck. Or, as Thomas Paine said in Rights of Man, “Those who do not participate in this enacting do not get fed.”

People get paid a lot of money to spew bullshit talking point propaganda on a daily basis. The truth of the matter: if you propagate the message of tyrants, and if you are good at it, you can become rich and famous. That’s what primitive self-obsessed ego-driven careerists do. They are the ultimate pawns of empire. They enrich themselves by riding the coattails of conquerors.

As W.E.H. Lecky once said, ‘The simple fact of applying certain penalties to the profession of particular opinions, and rewards to the profession of opposite opinions, while it will make many hypocrites, it will also make many converts.’

Our Skinner box society, our token economy is run by the modern day aristocracy through a system of enlightened despotism. You either bow down and play by their rules or you lose access to basic necessities. It’s the root of modern monetary enslavement – debt and wage slavery.

The fact of the matter, the truth of the matter: we are not supposed to be freethinking participatory citizens involved in the decision-making processes that guide our lives and determine our fate. We are mentally conditioned to be spectators, mindless reactionary consumers and wage slaves.

VI: Totalitarian Minds Inside the All-Consuming Cult

If you want to get wicked about it, we could quote extensively from the work of Edward Bernays, Gustave LeBon or Walter Lippman on the “bewildered herd,” but that’s too easy. Let’s drop some Jacques Ellul, from his 1965 analysis of the social mind, Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes:

“Propaganda is today a greater danger to mankind than any of the other more grandly advertised threats hanging over the human race…. Propaganda ruins not only democratic ideas but also democratic behavior – the foundation of democracy, the very quality without which it cannot exist…. Propaganda destroys its very foundations. It creates a man who is suited to a totalitarian society….

A man who lives in a democratic society and who is subjected to propaganda is being drained of the democratic content itself – of the style of democratic life, understanding of others… he is a ‘totalitarian man with democratic convictions,’ but those convictions do not change his behavior in the least. Such contradiction is in no way felt by the individual for whom democracy has become a myth and a set of democratic imperatives, merely stimuli that activate conditioned reflexives.

The word democracy, having become a simple incitation, no longer has anything to do with democratic behavior. And the citizen can repeat indefinitely ‘the sacred formulas of democracy’ while acting like a storm trooper.”

That is as accurate a depiction of the average modern American as I have ever come across. In the same book, Ellul went on to explain the inherent danger of our two-party system and the general apathy Americans have toward politics:

“The conflicting propaganda of opposing parties is essentially what leads to political abstention. But this is not the abstention of the free spirit which asserts itself; it is the result of resignation, the external symptom of a series of inhibitions. Such a man has not decided to abstain; under diverse pressures, subjected to shocks and distortions, he can no longer (even if he wanted to) perform a political act. What is even more serious is that this inhibition not only is political, but also progressively takes over the whole of his being and leads to a general attitude of surrender….

At the same time, this crystallization closes his mind to all new ideas. The individual now has a set of prejudices and beliefs…. His entire personality now revolves around those elements. Every new idea will therefore be troublesome to his entire being.”

In Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, Guy DeBord summed up the primary function of the mainstream media, “For what is communicated are orders; and with perfect harmony, those who give them are also those who tell us what they think of them.”

For an even deeper understanding on how propaganda works, let’s return to Ellul:

“Governmental propaganda suggests that public opinion demand this or that decision; it provokes the will of a people, who spontaneously say nothing. But, once evoked, formed, and crystallized on a point, that will becomes the people’s will.

The government really acts on its own, it just gives the impression of obeying public opinion, after having first built that public opinion. The point is to make the masses demand of the government what the government has already decided to do.”

They “amputate the argument” and replace it with “engineered consensus.” As Robert Lynd wrote in Democracy In Reverse, “They operate actually to confirm the citizen’s false sense of security in totaling up ‘what the majority think’… The false sense of the public’s being ‘boss’ that they encourage operates to narcotize public awareness of the seriousness of problems and of the drastic social changes many contemporary situations require.”

In 1935, Malcolm Willey explained, “An individual may be moved to action through repetition, as, for example, in advertising; but his action is made more certain if he is made to realize that thousands, even millions, of others are thinking and feeling as he himself does. Herein lies the importance of the contemporary communication network; it not only carries its symbols to the individual, it also impresses upon him a sense of numbers.”

James Madison also realized this when he wrote Public Opinion, “The larger a country, the less easy for its real opinion to be ascertained, and the less difficult to be counterfeited.” That was written in 1791, when the US population was only about five million people.

In 1901, Gabriel Tarde wrote, “Newspapers have transformed… unified in space and diversified in time the conversations of individuals, even those who do not read papers but who, talking to those who do, are forced to follow the groove of their borrowed thoughts. One pen suffices to set off a million tongues.”

Bertrand Russell also hit at the root in Free Thought and Official Propaganda, when he said, “it is much easier than it used to be to spread misinformation, and, owing to democracy, the spread of misinformation is more important than in former times to the holders of power.”

In Taking the Risk Out of Democracy, Alex Carey summed it all up in this one sentence: “That this simple regime of thought-control should prove to have been so triumphant, with so little public resistance, must be put down to its persistent, repetitive orchestration.”

For all the discussion and focus on political and economic policy, what we really need to do on the individual level, first and foremost, is transcend conditioned consciousness. Once we do that, positive political and economic policy will be the natural byproduct and inevitable result.

VII: Free Your Mind ~*~

“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it… Sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, that there’s a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path. I’m trying to free your mind… But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it.”
– The Matrix

In revisiting the reactionary propagandized mind, when you confront a member of the consumer cult and expose their mental conditioning processes, the false reality and illusions that people are trapped in, they will instinctively dismiss or attack you. People will bite your hand when you try to remove the mental leash from their neck.

In The Evolving Self, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains further, “To prevent its annihilation, the ego forces us to be constantly on the watch for anything that might threaten the symbols on which it relies for identity. Our view of the world becomes polarized into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – things that support the image, and those that threaten it.” This is also how the third Mayan veil works. In this case, your media created cultural programming; it distorts reality to make it congruent with conditioned views.

Anything that deviates from the conditioned norm is ridiculed and instantly, instinctively dismissed before critical thinking skills are activated. The repetitious conditioning process leads to an amputation of critical thinking faculties. That which people are not familiar with becomes odd, evil and damaging to their mental construct, to their thought patterns, to their fabricated self-image.

For instance, we tend to look for anything that confirms our pre-existing beliefs while ignoring anything that goes against them. This is how confirmation bias works, to paraphrase Bertrand Russell: ‘If people are offered a fact which goes against their instincts or their cultural programming, they will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, they are offered something which falls in accordance to their cultural programming, in accordance to their conditioning, they will accept it, even on the slightest evidence.’

Having been bred within this all-pervasive propaganda system, I understand the disbelief people feel. When our conditioned belief system is called into question and comes crashing down, it is a hard pill to swallow. No one wants to believe that they have been manipulated or taken advantage of. This will stir up an instinctive dismissal, a powerful emotional response. We are creatures of habit, and it is much easier, over the short-term, to just stay on a path of denial and ignorance. Hear no evil. See no evil.

The task upon us is to consciously counter conditioned consciousness. The most difficult and important prerequisite to freedom is the ability to see past all of your culturally programmed biases. It takes great personal inner-strength and determination to achieve this; you will inevitably have to face many facts that will go against your programmed, conditioned beliefs. If one can endure this, one will eventually come to experience true freedom.

However, even if one is strong enough to have an awareness of their conditioning, it is another level to confront and transcend it. As Nietzsche said, “Even the most courageous among us only rarely has the courage for that which they really know.”

“Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?”
–Trent Reznor

Noam Chomsky makes the ease in which you can free your mind clear, and stresses the importance of doing so:

“To take apart the system of illusions and deception which functions to prevent understanding of contemporary reality [is] not a task that requires extraordinary skill or understanding. It requires the kind of normal skepticism and willingness to apply one’s analytical skills that almost all people have and that they can exercise….

As long as some specialized class is in position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves, but the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community.

The question is whether privileged elite should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must – namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive…. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured; they may well be essential to survival.”

Most Americans are aware of the fact that we are on a disastrous path. However, many of us feel powerless to change things. These feelings are only a result of our conditioning and induced delusion. We have become so propagandized that many of us do not realize the significant position that we are in. We are not poor people trapped in a third world existence. We are a mass of people who have the power to evolve society and change the course of history.

It is stunning to hear all these people, so many people saying that they can’t do anything about it. Far too many people think that we can’t create change; that is why we don’t.

Why do you think that we can’t change the world? How did you come to that conclusion? Who taught you to believe that?

The overwhelming majority feels powerless to create political change. If they would just realize that they are the overwhelming majority, they would no longer feel this way. As Ellul said, “Only when he realizes his delusion will he experience the beginning of genuine freedom – in the act of realization itself – be it only from the effort to stand back and look squarely at the phenomenon and reduce it to raw fact.”

VIII: Cyberspace Underground Railroad

Time comes and times go…

Thanks to the Internet, to the cyberspace underground railroad, people are now freeing their minds from conditioning and entrenched power censors. The Internet is to our generation what pamphlets were to our forefathers’ generation during the first American Revolution. People are going to the Internet to find out all the information that the corporate mainstream media is not letting people know about. As a result, we now have a critical mass of informed and outraged citizens who are also using the Internet to organize. They are now transcending conditioned consciousness and expanding their awareness on a scale unprecedented in human history.

A new empowering collective consciousness, built on self-sufficient and aware individuals, is quickly evolving. As William Adams Brown said, “We are developing a social conscience, and situations which would have been accepted a generation ago as a matter of course are felt as an intolerable scandal.” John Dewey continues, “Liberty in the concrete signifies release from the impact of particular oppressive forces; emancipation from something once taken as a normal part of human life but now experienced as bondage…. Today, it signifies liberation from material insecurity and from the coercions and repressions that prevent multitudes from participation in the vast cultural resources that are at hand.”

The inevitable demise of our current neo-feudal system was summed up by George Orwell when he said, “For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.”

If you are still wondering if we can truly create change, consider this simple truth from Strobe Talbott, “All countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary.”

Our government was created in the time of the horse and wagon. It took days or weeks to deliver one handwritten message across state lines. Today, we have instantaneous worldwide communication and an unprecedented amount of wealth in the most technologically advanced society. The masses are now connected and aware. It’s time to evolve our obsolete system. You know it, and so does everyone else who pays attention. We will soon have new ways of living that will make our modern age like look the Stone Age.

People are throwing off their mental shackles and realizing their potential. A new renaissance and age of enlightenment has begun. Another world is happening. Humanity is rising.

Enough writing from the Underground. It’s time to contrive to be born, to transform our world. We are building a decentralized global network of self-sustaining community incubators designed to maximize the transformative energy around us and facilitate the evolution of society. If you want to join us in this effort, enlist here.

- See more at: http://daviddegraw.org/notes-from-the-underground/#sthash.bff680vP.dpuf

The government of Chile has launched an official search for a United States suspect in connection with the alleged poisoning of celebrated poet Pablo Neruda. The Chilean literary icon, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971, died on September 23, 1973. His death occurred less than two weeks after a coup d’état, led by General Augusto Pinochet, toppled the democratically elected  Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende, a close friend of Neruda.

The death of the internationally acclaimed poet, who was 69 at the time, was officially attributed to prostate cancer and the effects of acute mental stress over the military coup. Earlier this year, however, an official investigation was launched into Neruda’s death following allegations that he had been murdered. The investigation was sparked by a comment made by Neruda’s personal driver, Manuel Araya, who said that the poet had been deliberately injected with poison while receiving treatment for cancer at the Clinica Santa Maria in Chilean capital Santiago.

Investigators are still awaiting the completion of a complex autopsy performed on Neruda’s remains, which were exhumed in April. But the Chilean government has already issued a search order for a medical doctor —or someone pretending to be a doctor— who was allegedly on Neruda’s bedside on the night of his death. The search was issued based on comments made recently by another medical doctor, Sergio Draper, who supervised Neruda’s hospital treatment in September of 1973. Dr. Draper told government investigators that he turned over his shift that night to a “Dr. Price”, a young doctor in his late 20s, who was with Neruda in the hours leading to the poet’s death.

According to Rodolfo Reyes, a lawyer representing the Neruda estate, Dr.Price’s identity remains a mystery. The lawyer told Chilean newspaper La Tercera back in April that Dr. Price is believed to be an American “with blue eyes and very good manners”. Some supporters of the view that Neruda was poisoned claim that the physical description of Dr. Price is very close to that of Michael Townley. Townley was an agent of the United States Central Intelligence Agency who was hired by DINA, the secret police of the Chilean dictatorship, to assassinate Orlando Letelier, a Chilean former diplomat who was a vocal opponent of the Pinochet regime.

Townley was arrested following Letelier’s 1976 assassinating in Washington, DC. He was convicted to only 62 months in prison, in return for agreeing to collaborate with US government investigators. But there is said to be unconfirmed evidence that Townley, who is currently living under the US federal witness protection program, was in Florida at the time of Neruda’s death in Santiago. Chilean government investigators say there is no entry for a “Dr. Price” in the registry of hospital staff at the Clinica Santa Maria during the time of Neruda’s death.

The alternative to cockroaches 

Many of us have a vision, an alternative vision to the tyranny of those who control the world. But we are ridiculed, dismissed, put on trial (Manning), confined to a small embassy in London for months on end (Assange), called unrealistic or subversive and told to ‘get real’. Are we destined to be the ‘I told you so bunch’? 

The current wholly corrupt system is edging humanity towards the precipice of oblivion. When that happens, we (if we are still alive – if anything is still alive, apart from cockroaches) will say ‘we told you so’. If there is to be any hope, if there is to be anything better, we must remain ‘unreal’ and true to our beliefs.  

Some like to believe that the meek (or gentle) shall inherit the earth. But it is popularly suggested that cockroaches may well do so if or when humanity destroys itself through nuclear war (or depleted uranium radiation). Cockroaches have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, with the lethal dose perhaps six to 15 times that for humans.

Cockroaches are regarded as pests. They feed on human food, and can leave an offensive odor. They can also passively transport microbes on their body surfaces, including those that are potentially dangerous to humans. Cockroaches have been shown to be linked with allergic reactions in humans, including asthma. 

It begs the question: is there much difference between the people that currently run the world and the cockroach? Both are pests, both feed off humanity, both cause disease and suffering. And both can end up sucking the oxygen from our lungs. The only difference is that there is no malicious intent on the part of the insect variety – it’s just the way they are. And the impact of the cockroach is minimal by comparison.

The same may not be said of the human variety that has instituted a corrupt system of ‘globalisation’. This system of US-led imperialism benefits state-corporate interests who have been able to manipulate the international system of trade and finance in their favour to shift capital around the globe at ease. Supported by militarism and secular theology masquerading as neo-liberal economic theory, the result has been big profits and environmental degradation, easy money and cheap labour, private gain and public havoc.  

The food and pharmaceuticals/healthcare industries work hand in glove to sicken and treat us; ‘big oil’ works with agribusiness to impose a system of big-dam, water intensive chemical-industrial at the expense of environmental sustainability; from Syria to PakistanUS militarism is implemented under on behalf of powerful corporations under the lie of ‘humanitarianism’ or the ‘war on terror’; and the profiteering nuclear energy and resource extraction industries are destroying democracy, robbing people of their land and putting environments in jeopardy in places like India, where a nation’s poorest people are considered ‘surplus to requirements’, an inconvenient truth, and are beaten, raped and disposed of because they are a barrier to corporate ‘progress’ – profit and greed.

Whole populations are lied to and deceived on behalf of rich corporate interests that have succeeded in hijacking the machineries of state and media for commercial gain. Democracy is corrupted, local economies are destroyed, debt and dependency is used to assert control, science is pressed into the service of a worldwide arms industry and fraudulent corporate activities and there is endless conflict over finite resources. 

The current system is ecologically destructive and relies on perpetual war and conflict. It is both socially divisive and unsustainable and is tied to an image of the world laid down by corrupt transnational corporations and translated into policy by the IMF, WTO, World Bank and national governments. 

Projects like Navdanya in India that seek to take the control of food and agriculture back from agribusiness, or the finer elements of successful policies in places like Cuba or Venezuela, are just some of the many examples from across the world that indicate how we could address the problems we currently face. However, from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and General Electric to Shell, Monsanto and others, there are those who seek to maintain the current system at all costs. We don’t need them, but they will be difficult to get rid of. 

“Some cockroaches have been known to live up to three months without food and a month without water. They are even resilient enough to survive occasional freezing temperatures. This makes them difficult to eradicate once they have infested an area.” – Wikipedia

These cockroaches, the financiers, industrialists and corporate funded politicians, despise transparency, dislike democracy and hate anyone trying to hold them to genuine account. These are the criminals who have quite literally got away with murder with their illegal wars, indiscriminate use of drone attacks and exploitative economic policies.

It is the likes of Bush, Blair, Obama, Cheney, Rice and their profiteering arms dealing cronies, private ‘security’ contractors and corporate billionaire puppet masters who should be standing in the dock, not the likes of Manning or Assange. They should be made to pay for the millions of deaths they have caused.

“It (the Nuremberg tribunal) defines aggression as the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it encompasses all of the evil that follows. The US and British invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression, which means that we were responsible for all the evil that followed. Serious conflict arose. It spread all over the region. In fact the region is being torn to shreds by this conflict.

That’s part of the evil that follows…Take a look at the International criminal court (ICC) – Black Africans or other people the West doesn’t like. Bush and Blair ought to be up there. There is no recent crime worse than the invasion of Iraq.

Obama’s got to be there for the terror war… it’s just murder on executive whim” Noam Chomsky (1)

However, to achieve what Chomsky advocates would entail the victims of such crimes being made to sit in judgement over the perpetrators. The International Criminal Court, a criminal court in the starkest sense of the term, is based on the opposite principle. And that’s the reason for its existence.

To call these perpetrators human cockroaches does our insect friends a gross disservice.

Note:

1) http://www.4thmedia.org/2013/05/27/chomsky-bush-blair-obama-must-be-taken-before-icc-for-the-war-on-terror/

While some media personalities are chasing their own digital shadow at this year’s Bilderberg, other more inquisitive journalists haven’t forgotten why they are there and have thus positioned themselves in the right places in order to capture the rare images that activists crave most – of VIP’s making their way in secret into this year’s globalist meeting in Watford, England…

The UK’s Liberty Tactics team includes Lou Collins and James Britpod, alongside the UK Column and 21st Century Wire reporters on the ground at the Grove Hotel. We are currently waiting for some IDs on some of the Bilderberg members pictured in these images below:


PHOTO 1: ID of this guest is TBC…


PHOTO 2: Can you ID this woman?


PHOTO 3: Bilberbergers wait between meetings, complete with portfolios and lanyards . ID TBC…


PHOTO 4: Tinted windows are the order of the day – judging by the low position in the seat, could this be a hunching Henry Kissenger?


PHOTO 5: Can you tell us who this VIP is (above)?


PHOTO 6: VIPs in the lay-by waiting for clearance to enter grounds…


PHOTO 7: Police trying to hide in the bushes, inconspicuously raising their 40 ft high CCTV surveillance periscopes.


PHOTO 8: UK Column’s Brian Gerrish speaks with Herfordshire police on the edge of the Grove Hotel grounds.


PHOTO 9: Police on mountain bikes trying to blend in…


PHOTO 10: Police on horseback, going for a gallop in the bushy heath…


PHOTO: This more or less sums the entire basis of Bilderberg members’ ability to buy power on the cheap.

As editor of the Daily Mail in 1970s and 80s, David English invented a newspaper for those urgently seeking membership of the English middle classes. Whether his readers ever achieved their ambitions was beside the point; their prejudices and illusions were reflected, often brilliantly. Women were central to his project. The Mail became “their” paper, boasting a new “media feminism” that subtly divided men and women into opposing camps and added a dash of moral panic.

This is now standard media practice. “Most weeks some lovely, caring berks tell me I am a man-hating witch,” wrote Suzanne Moore recently in the Guardian, “so let’s get it out there. Sometimes I am. The acceptable kind of suck-it-up feminism (I love men really!) is hard to sustain after yet more abuse stories… Do I think all men are rapists? No. Do I think all women can be raped. Yes?”

How quickly the broad brush of blame is applied to a rash of dreadful murder and kidnap cases. Throw in an abduction in Cleveland, Ohio, and the arrest of “yet another TV personality”; and, according to Cynthia Cockburn and Ann Oakley, this represents “the profound, extensive and costly problem of male sexual violence.”

Part of the problem, another commentator insinuates, is that men don’t care as much as women because they don’t use Twitter enough to express their abhorrence of rape and kidnap. This all adds up to a “crisis in masculinity” requiring men to join in a “conversation” about their social and moral deficiencies on terms already decided.

I am reminded of the elevation of Australian prime minister Julia Gillard to feminist hero following a speech she gave last October attacking Tony Abbott, the opposition leader, for his misogyny. Almost no one mentioned Gillard’s hypocrisy — her stripping of benefit from the poorest single parents, mostly women, her inhuman treatment of refugees, including the detention of children, and her campaign against stricken indigenous Australians, forcing them off their land in defiance of international law. Under her watch, more Australian soldiers have died in colonial wars than under any recent prime minister.

That Gillard might be an old-fashioned class warrior and militarist was not news. The same could be said of many of the “progressive” female Labour MPs who entered Westminster with the first Blair administration in 1997 and supported their leader’s almost immediate legislated attack on single mothers on benefit, and his numerous violent adventures abroad, notably the bloodbath in Iraq. Harriet Harman, a self-declared feminist and currently Labour’s deputy leader, comes to mind.

The problem with media-run “conversations” on gender is not merely the almost total absence of male participants, but the suppression of class. It is tempting to say real politics are missing, too, but bourgeois boundaries and prescriptions are real enough. Thus, gender, like race, can be presented in isolation. Class is a forbidden word; and gender subordinate to class is heresy. The Daily Mail model is built on this.

There is indeed a crisis among men – actually ordinary men and women – and it is not their masculinity that is to blame, but the neutering of any credible resistance to a sociopathic system now given the Orwellian title of “austerity”.

With honourable exceptions, the bourgeois media club relegates and distracts from the fact that a full-blooded class war is under way. Ask the women and men in Greece, Spain and Portugal who face Robocop police in defence of their right to basic decencies: jobs, education, medicine, even food. Ask the young people in state schools in Britain who have no hope of attending university; a recent survey found 11 to 16 year olds had “given up” because they knew their families could not afford higher education. Ask the family of Stephanie Bottrill, a disabled grandmother in the West Midlands, who took her own life in despair at the assault on housing benefit known as the “bedroom tax”.

The killers and kidnappers whose trials apparently require wall-to-wall voyeuristic coverage are no less violent and no less abusive of children than a government that drives people to suicide, that sends young soldiers to kill or have their legs blown off in Afghanistan and that arms and supports fanatics in Syria and Saudi Arabia.

In incisive articles published mostly on opendemocracy.net, Heather McRobie describes how simultaneous war and “austerity” policies have exacerbated all kinds of abuse, including domestic violence. She lists “the most pitiless decimations of the country’s social goods” – from cuts in public sector jobs to the closure of emergency hospital departments and domestic violence shelters and courts. “In media discussion of economic issues circa 2008,” she wrote, “women were largely Sex and the City caricatures of white prosperity, frivolity, recession-triggering over-spenders.” Behind these gender stereotypes lay the fake “empowering” of poor women in the United States. Persuaded to buy their own homes with rotten sub-prime mortgages, African-American women and their families fell into a chasm of debt. A report by United and Fair Economy, a non-profit group, estimates the total loss to Americans of colour who took out sub-prime loans as between $164bn and $213bn. Seven of Obama’s top Wall Street campaign donors profiteered from these juicy deals, as did the major British banks – until the “bubble” burst and their “toxic” debts were picked up taxpayers, and the poor.

The imposition of this criminal debt on ordinary people is a breathtaking scandal. Why has it not been challenged with any seriousness? Where is the political opposition? Class is your answer. The style may be different from that of the Tory toffs in power, but most Labour MPs are from the new bourgeoisie. This unrepresentative managerial and professional class exercises also power right across the trade union bureaucracy; and it dominates the media. Once again, it’s time to ask: whose side are you on?

For more information on John Pilger, please visit his website at www.johnpilger.com

Segundo a Unesco, há no mundo 796 milhões de adultos analfabetos, ou seja, 17% da população mundial. Mais de 98% se encontram nos países do Terceiro Mundo. Dois terços são mulheres. Os países da África subsaariana e do sul e o este da Ásia contam com “73% do déficit mundial de alfabetização de adultos”. Em cifras absolutas, o número de analfabetos nessas regiões continua crescendo. Quanto às crianças, apenas 44% estão matriculadas na pré-escola (148 milhões), ou seja, 66% não têm acesso a esse tipo de ensino (222 milhões). Em nível primário, 67 milhões de crianças não estão na escola. A Unesco lançou então um chamado para reduzir em 50% o número de analfabetos até 2015. O organismo da ONU aponta que os progressos realizados nesse campo “foram, no melhor dos casos, decepcionantes e, no pior, esporádicos”. Segundo a Unesco, “para reverter essa tendência, é necessário que os governos do mundo atuem com determinação”.

Leia também parte I e II da série de reportagens sobre Cuba:
Cuba ou a globalização da solidariedade: a Operação Milagre
Cuba ou a globalização da solidariedade: o internacionalismo humanitário

No entanto, a Unesco revela uma exceção: a América Latina e o Caribe. Essa exceção se deve, em parte, ao programa Yo, sí puedo:

O programa Yo, sí puedo, criado em 2003 pelo governo cubano, teve amplos resultados […]. Aplicado em 12 dos 19 países da América Latina em 2008, faz parte de estratégias mais amplas a favor da realização da alfabetização universal no Estado Plurinacional da Polívia, no Equador, na Nicarágua, no Panamá e na República Bolivariana na Venezuela.

Baseado na filosofia de José Martí, resumida na seguinte frase: “Todo homem tem direito a se educar e, como recompensa, contribuir com a educação dos demais”, o Instituto Pedagógico Latino-americano e Caribenho de Cuba lançou o programa “Yo, sí puedo”, em 2003, destinado a alfabetizar os adultos iletrados. A aquisição das capacidades de leitura, escrita e aritmética é indispensável para desfrutar de uma plena cidadania. Constitui o primeiro baluarte contra a exclusão e a pobreza, e leva à realização do que Martí chamou de “a plena dignidade do homem”. A Unesco ressalta que “a educação salva vidas: quanto mais se eleva o nível escolar da mãe, a taxa de mortalidade infantil diminui”. Assim, se todas as mulheres cursassem os estudos secundários, 1,8 milhão de crianças seriam salvas por ano. Da mesma forma, a saúde das crianças estaria mais protegida. “É menos provável que as crianças cujas mães cursaram esses estudos manifestem um atraso de crescimento ou se mostrem abaixo do peso.

Reprodução Twitter

Imagem de divulgação do programa de alfabetização cubano

Partindo da problemática da dispersão territorial da população analfabeta, o programa “Yo, sí puedo” é elaborado mediante o rádio e a televisão. Assim, a educação a distância por meio das tecnologias de comunicação demonstraram sua eficiência. Com efeito, esse método, criado pelos melhores especialistas cubanos sob a direção da pedagoga Leonela Inés Relys Díaz, pode chegar a um grande número de pessoas, é econômico em capital humano, material e financeiro e não requer instituições escolares para ser posto em prática. Baseado no estímulo constante e em um procedimento simples (passar das cifras para as letras), com sequências audição/leitura e audição/escrita, e dividido em três etapas (aprendizado de base, ensino da leitura e da escrita, consolidação), permite o crescimento do trabalho individual, assim como o aprimoramento da autoestima do analfabeto. Permite também a cooperação familiar e cria vínculos estreitos entre as pessoas letradas e iletradas. A possibilidade de usar o método em casa permite também evitar os efeitos psicológicos devido ao olhar dos outros sobre o aprendizado pessoal. Por outro lado, a curta duração dos programas facilita a motivação das pessoas. Por fim, baseia-se no princípio fundamental do voluntariado, o que aumenta a eficácia.

É elaborado um diagnóstico integral destinado a avaliar as características socioeconômicas, geográficas, políticas, culturais e religiosas da região a ser alfabetizada, e também é avaliado o número de postos de rádio e televisão presentes no local. Um estudo analisa também os resultados obtidos nos processos anteriores de alfabetização. Com efeito, o conhecimento profundo das peculiaridades da população analfabeta permite a elaboração dos cursos radiofônicos e televisivos.

São estabelecidas várias estruturas para permitir o controle do processo de alfabetização e conseguir os melhores resultados. O trabalho é, de uma só vez, individual e coletivo, com uma visita regular do professor para seus alunos. Em cada aula, são abordados temas de interesse, como saúde, família, idosos, meio ambiente, história e cultura. As pessoas em processo de aprendizagem recebem de quatro a cinco aulas de 30 minutos semanais, pela televisão, durante três meses (32,5 horas letivas ou 65 aulas), e uma série de sete fichas. Para o rádio, o material é composto por 25 fitas K7 de 60 minutos com 50 aulas, 32 fichas e um roteiro.

O programa “Yo, sí puedo” foi aplicado com êxito na Venezuela, onde mais de 1,5 milhão de pessoas foi alfabetizado, além da Bolívia, do Equador e da Nicarágua, que são as únicas nações latino-americanas que se livraram do analfabetismo na última década, segundo a Unesco. Ele também é utilizado em outros países do continente e do mundo, como Nova Zelândia, e é aplicado em vários idiomas – entre eles, o francês e os idiomas indígenas (guarani, maori).

O programa “Yo, sí puedo” também é aplicado na Espanha. Com efeito, a cidade de Sevilla solicitou os serviços dos professores cubanos, sob a coordenação do Professor Carlos M. Molina Soto, para ensinar seus cidadãos a ler e a escrever. Depois de um estudo realizado pela prefeitura, descobriu-se que mais de 34.000 dos 700.000 habitantes da capital andaluz eram totalmente analfabetos. Em dois anos, 1.100 adultos foram alfabetizados nos trinta centros de alfabetização que foram abertos na cidade. Outros municípios da Espanha, país que conta com 2 milhões de analfabetos, estudam as possibilidades de aplicar o método cubano em seu território.

Na Austrália, o método de alfabetização é utilizado com as populações aborígenes – 60% são analfabetos funcionais –, que aprendem a ler e a escrever em três meses. Além da leitura, da escrita e da álgebra básica, Cuba oferece a eles a possibilidade de aprender a usar as novas tecnologias. O programa cubano se beneficia do apoio do governo australiano, da Universidade de New England e do Conselho de Terras Aborígenes. No entanto, a Austrália ocupa o segundo lugar mundial em termos de desenvolvimento humano, atrás apenas da Noruega, segundo as Nações Unidas.

O programa “Yo, sí puedo” recebeu o prêmio de alfabetização Rey Sejohn da Unesco, em 2006, por sua contribuição à educação da humanidade. Irina Bokova, diretora geral da organização da ONU, saudou o método ressaltando seu caráter exemplar de cooperação Sul-Sul. Com efeito, desde 2003, mais de sete milhões de pessoas de 28 países diferentes aprenderam a ler e a escrever graças ao programa cubano. Miguel Livina, representante do Escritório regional de cultura para a América Latina e o Caribe da Unesco, declarou que os governos e as instituições internacionais deveriam levar mais em consideração o método cubano. Também saudou o método publicamente durante a XX Cúpula Iberoamericana, em 2010.

Um novo programa, chamado “Yo, sí puedo seguir”, destinado a aperfeiçoar os conhecimentos das pessoas alfabetizadas, também foi implementado nas nações em que o programa “Yo, sí puedo” foi aplicado com êxito.

Em termos de política social e de cooperação internacional, Cuba é o modelo a ser seguido. Essa pequena nação demonstra que é possível contribuir para a melhoria do bem-estar dos mais desfavorecidos do planeta, apesar de seus recursos limitados. Os países mais desenvolvidos deveriam se inspirar nela.

Salim Lamrani

 

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro é intitulado The economic war against Cuba. A historical and legal perspective on the U.S. Blockade (A guerra econômica contra Cuba. Uma perspectiva histórica e legal sobre o bloqueio norte-americano), Nova York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, com um prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e prefácio de Paul Estrade.

Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]
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Foto : Carlos Latuff/Opera Mundi

The Economic War against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade fue publicado por Monthly Review Press, casa editorial basada en Nueva York, en abril de 2013 (1). El libro presenta una perspectiva histórica y jurídica de las sanciones económicas que Estados Unidos impone a Cuba desde 1960 y evalúa particularmente su impacto en campos como la salud, que afectan gravemente a las categorías más vulnerables de la población cubana pues impiden que la isla tenga acceso a los medicamentos y equipos médicos fabricados en territorio estadounidense.

El libro subraya el carácter anacrónico, cruel e ineficaz de un estado de sitio que data de la guerra fría, que golpea de modo indiscriminado a todos los sectores de la sociedad – empezando por los más frágiles– y que ha sido incapaz de alcanzar su objetivo, o sea el derrocamiento del gobierno cubano. Del mismo modo, recuerda que las sanciones contra Cuba suscitan el rechazo de la inmensa mayoría de la comunidad internacional, con 188 países que votaron por 21 vez consecutiva en 2012 contra el embargo económico, comercial y financiero. Por otra parte, el 67% de la opinión pública estadounidense desea una normalización de las relaciones con Cuba, pues no entiende por qué puede viajar a China, Vietnam o Corea del Norte, pero no a la mayor isla del Caribe.

Un capítulo completo trata del carácter extraterritorial de las sanciones económicas, las cuales violan el derecho internacional. En efecto, una legislación nacional no puede aplicarse en un país tercero. Por ejemplo, la ley francesa no puede aplicarse en Alemania y la ley brasileña no puede aplicarse en Argentina. Ahora bien, la ley sobre las sanciones económicas se aplica a todos los países del mundo y una oficina especial del Departamento del Tesoro, la Office Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), se encarga de ello.

En abril de 2013, la ONG británica Cuba Solidarity Campaign (CSC) decidió comprar 100 ejemplares del libro The Economic War against Cuba y pidió a su banco inglés, la Cooperative, que pagara la factura mediante una transferencia a la cuenta de Monthly Review Press en la Chase Bank.

No obstante, no se pudo hacer la transacción. En efecto, la OFAC decidió bloquear los fondos y exigió a la ONG británica que explicara en detalle sus relaciones con Cuba. Rob Miller, director de CSC, expresó su asombro: “Se usa una legislación extraterritorial sobre las sanciones económicas contra Cuba para impedir la venta de un libro en el Reino Unido que expone el alcance del bloqueo contra Cuba […]. El carácter ridículo del bloqueo estadounidense se ilustra una vez más con este caso cuando se trata de impedir que los lectores británicos lean un libro publicado por una casa editorial

Por supuesto, no es la primera vez que Estados Unidos aplica de modo extraterritorial las sanciones contra Cuba. A guisa de ejemplo, si la empresa alemana Mercedes desea exportar sus coches a Estados Unidos, tiene que demostrar al Departamento del Tesoro que sus coches no contienen ni un solo gramo de níquel cubano. Del mismo modo, si un pastelero francés desea vender sus productos en el mercado estadounidense, tiene que demostrar que no contienen un solo gramo de azúcar cubano. Así, no sólo las sanciones económicas contra Cuba constituyen el principal freno al desarrollo del país sino que representan también un obstáculo a las relaciones comerciales de la isla con el resto del mundo.  A veces con consecuencias insólitas.

Salim Lamrani
Nota a pié
Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de la Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula The Economic War Against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade.

Segundo a OMS (Organização Mundial da Saúde), há atualmente cerca de 285 milhões de pessoas vítimas de deficiência visual no mundo – entre elas, 39 milhões de cegos e 246 milhões que apresentam uma diminuição da acuidade visual. Quase 90% delas vivem em países do Terceiro Mundo. As principais causas de deficiência visual são os defeitos de refração não corrigidos (miopia, hipermetropia e astigmatismo, com 43%), a catarata (33%) e o glaucoma (2%). Cerca de 80% das deficiências visuais são curáveis, observa a organização, e acrescenta que “a catarata continua sendo a primeira causa de cegueira”. Essas enfermidades oculares afetam, em primeiro lugar (65%), pessoas de mais de 50 anos (20% da população mundial), uma porcentagem que crescerá com o envelhecimento da população, mas também 19 milhões de crianças.

Diante dessa constatação, no marco da Alba, Cuba e Venezuela decidiram lançar em julho de 2004 uma ampla campanha continental sob o nome Operação Milagre. Consiste em operar gratuitamente os latino-americanos pobres que têm cataratas ou outras enfermidades oculares, mas estão impossibilitados de pagar uma operação que custa entre 5 e 10 mil dólares, segundo os países. Essa missão humanitária se estendeu a outras latitudes (África, Ásia). A Operação Milagre inclui a participação de 165 instituições cubanas. Dispõe de 49 centros oftalmológicos em 15 países da América Latina e do Caribe (Cuba, Venezuela, Equador, Haiti, Honduras, Panamá, Guatemala, São Vicente e Granatinas, Guiana, Paraguai, Granada, Nicarágua e Uruguai).

Wikicommons

Hospital na cidade cubana de Jaguey Grande: formação constante de médicos

Em janeiro de 2008, foi alcançada a cifra de um milhão de pessoas operadas. Em 2011, mais de dois milhões de pessoas oriundas de 35 países haviam recuperado a visão. No marco dos acordos da Alba, a população venezuelana foi a primeira a se beneficiar da missão, com mais de 178.000 operações realizadas. A Bolívia também se beneficiou amplamente da cooperação médica cubana, com 600.105 pessoas operadas. O presidente boliviano, Evo Morales, saudou a presença dos médicos cubanos, assim como o papel integrador e solidário da Alba.

Outros países também se beneficiaram do internacionalismo humanitário da Operação Milagre. Dessa forma, 100.000 equatorianos, 61.000 nicaraguenses, 61.000 jamaicanos, 50.000 panamenhos, 48.255 brasileiros, 35.245 argentinos, 22.280 peruanos e 312 paraguaios recuperaram a visão. Inclusive cidadãos norte-americanos oriundos dos setores menos privilegiados se beneficiaram da Operação Milagre.

O caso mais emblemático, sem dúvida, é o de Mario Terán, ex-suboficial boliviano aposentado, que assassinou Ernesto Che Guevara em 9 de outubro de 1967 na escola de La Higuera, na Bolívia. Vivia então no anonimato, em Santa Cruz. Sobrevivia graças a sua pequena aposentadoria de ex-soldado e havia perdido a visão por conta de uma catarata que não pôde tratar por falta de recursos. Graças à Operação Milagre, Terán pôde se libertar se seu problema. Pablo Ortiz, jornalista boliviano que trabalha para o jornal El Deber de Santa Cruz, retratou a história: “Terán tinha problemas de catarata e operou graças à Missão Milagre, a médicos cubanos, de modo totalmente gratuito”. Deu mais detalhes: Esse sujeito é um total desconhecido. Ninguém sabe quem é. Está completamente arruinado e se apresentou no hospital da Operação Milagre. Ninguém o reconheceu e o operaram. Foi seu próprio filho quem nos contou, e veio ao jornal para fazer esse agradecimento público”.

Em 2009, por ocasião da intervenção cirúrgica número 10.000, realizada no Centro Oftalmológico José Martí, a Operação Milagre recebeu o Prêmio de Excelência Cidadã, no Uruguai, do Centro Latino-americano de Desenvolvimento (CELADE), que patrocina a Organização dos Estados Americanos (OEA), por seus valores solidários e humanos.

A imprensa canadense relatou, inclusive, que alguns súditos da Coroa britânica carentes de recursos econômicos preferiram ir se curar e serem operados em Cuba, famosa pela excelência de seu sistema de saúde e por seus preços atrativos para os ocidentais.

A Operação Milagre é um exemplo concreto de uma política social eficaz levada a cabo por nações do Terceiro Mundo a favor dos mais pobres. É também uma lição para os países ricos e um chamado a mais solidariedade para com aqueles que Víctor Hugo chamava de a “cariátide”.

Salim Lamrani

Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro é intitulado The economic war against Cuba. A historical and legal perspective on the U.S. Blockade (A guerra econômica contra Cuba. Uma perspectiva histórica e legal sobre o bloqueio norte-americano), Nova York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, com um prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e prefácio de Paul Estrade.

Contato: [email protected] ; [email protected]
Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

Obama: The Most Effective of Two Evils

June 6th, 2013 by Arnold August

Part I: “Cuban Democracy” versus “American Democracy”

Arnold August is a political scientist, author and lecturer living in Montreal. He is the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 Elections (Editorial José Martí). He has also contributed a chapter entitled “Socialism and Elections” for the volume Cuban Socialism in a New Century: Adversity, Survival and Renewal (University Press of Florida). His latest book is Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion.

Julie Lévesque: In regards to U.S. democracy, in your book Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion you talk about the notion of the lesser of two evils and the illusion of change. Could you give us an overview of your analysis of Barack Obama?

Arnold August: In this book I chronicle in a very detailed manner what I call “the Obama case study” because one of my main fears and preoccupations is not so much from the so called “right”, but rather the illusions that exist among liberals and among some people on the left with regards to Obama. So I dissected everything that Obama wrote in his first two books, his book of 2004 as he was running for senate and his book of 2008, just before he was nominated. Now looking into that, it very clearly indicates that Obama, with the support of others who were responsible for building the image of change, gave the right signals to the oligarchy that he is not in favour of changing the status quo. At the same time, he provided some indications that people might look to him as a source of change.

Now, if one looks at his books very carefully, on key issues, for example on Vietnam, he stood firmly in favour of U.S. aggression of Vietnam. He ridiculed people on the left, liberals who took a stand against the Vietnam war.

JL: Like Doctor Martin Luther King.

AA: Exactly. He took a stand against Vietnam. He didn’t ridicule Martin Luther King but he ridiculed people on the left who took a stand. On the issue of Chile for example, he complained in his book about people on the left, or liberals, being so concerned about the need to support the struggle of the people in Chile against Pinochet, when at the time, Obama asserted, they ignored that there was a dictatorship in the Soviet Union and other countries in the Eastern Bloc. And so he indicated clearly to the ruling circles that, as far as the basic fundamentals of U.S. foreign policy and domestic policy were concerned, that he is their man. At the same time, he gave the impression that he was in favour of change. Now he had a very specific assistant in this whole attempt to present him as the person of change, David Axelrod, who has very close ties to the ruling circles. He specializes in getting Afro-Americans elected in positions of power. He did that with the mayor of Washington D.C. and then his next customer was Obama.

JL: You explain in your book that Barack Obama was used to reduce the credibility gap among the African Americans. Could you tell us how that was done?

AA: That is really important. For example, Brzezinski who was Bill Clinton’s advisor, very cleverly pointed out – he was right – that there was a major credibility gap for the American ruling circles with regards to Latin America, with countries such as Venezuela and the new movement there; and with regards to the Middle East, before the eruption took place in Egypt; and with other parts of the world. And they had to put a new face on the American foreign policy in order to recuperate that credibility and that’s why he said “I am proposing Obama; he could do it.”

The same thing goes for domestic policy. I think that one of the main things was that the United States has always been, and rightly so, very fearful of an African American revolt against the ruling circles. Now, when Obama made his famous speech, I believe it was for senator, he said that there is no Afro-America, no Latino-America, that there is just one United States of America. In other words, let’s forget about racism especially if I get elected to the White House. And so the the most effective of two evils, is an important point.

JL: Because when one criticises Obama, a lot of people say “well, he’s better than Bush”.  But that is not an argument and it’s a way to avoid any criticism.

AA: That’s right. Well, this is exactly what the problem is. Especially among people who call themselves liberals or, unfortunately, many people on the left say “well, he’s better than Bush, he is the lesser of two evils.” Now, I am from Montreal, and I am not an American, so in order to deal with criticism of Obama and that usual way of looking at things, I have investigated carefully other writers from the United States, for instance Black Agenda Report in the United States, based in California. They represent what is the best among African Americans, that revolutionary progressive tradition that goes back from the time of the struggle against slavery, to the 1960’s and 1970’s.

JL: And they are very critical of Barack Obama.

AA: Yes, because there is a major pressure from the ruling circles to declare: “We people, on the left, or liberals or progressive, we cannot criticise Obama because he is being criticized by the right.” So, I ally myself if you like, with Black Agenda Report and other American scholars, intellectuals concerned with civil liberties, African American lawyers such as Michelle Alexander who wrote an excellent book on the situation of African Americans today. And I agree with Black Agenda Report that Obama, far from being the lesser of two evils, is the most effective of the two evils. One of the main themes in that chapter of my book is that Obama does not really represent a continuation of Bush policies. Quite the contrary; he represents an offensive, a new offensive on behalf of the U.S. ruling circles, domestically as well as internationally.

JL: All that while giving an illusion of positive change?

AA: Yes and it still works, because the second time around, a lot of people were still claiming “well, he is better than Romney.” But he represents an offensive, if you just take for example, the upsurge among the Wall Street Movement not long after Egypt, Madison, Wisconsin and Spain, three countries in a row, which followed up on the Egyptian revolution. Now there were a lot of positive things about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and it’s not a homogeneous movement, it was not then, it is not now; some are openly against the two-party system, some are not, some make themselves unwittingly easy prey for the Obama administration. But the movement is mainly based on white middle class or lower middle class people of the United States. So you could imagine if the African American population at that time had been liberated from this illusion that Obama being in the White House means salvation to African Americans and instead join the Occupy Wall Street movement, it would have been a major problem for the U.S. ruling circles. So this is what Brzezinski had in mind, credibility gap internationally as well as domestically.

The health care reform is another example. It was just another way of increasing the profit of the insurance companies – there was nothing more than that, another offensive on the part of the ruling circles. And while providing the image that he is in favor of change, he is the one who plays the African American card every single day. Every time something happens, let’s say they are honoring Martin Luther King or Rosa Parks, he says “if it was not for Martin Luther King” or “Rosa Parks, I would not be here.” He never misses an occasion to raise the fact that he is an African American. At the same time, when African Americans are being killed on the streets, he has nothing to say. So in fact, and I quote some people, American scholars and people involved in legal rights and civil rights, he in fact assists in the killing of African Americans by, on the one hand, giving the impression that they are safe, because there is an African American in the White House, and at the same time not saying anything when they are killed.

If you take the example of the famous issue of the so called gun control, I wrote in my book published before the Newtown shooting that the killings are going to carry on because no one in the ruling circles raises the issue that the second amendment is a major problem. Now they have this false debate going, for or against gun control, but the competition between the Obama forces on the one hand and the so called “right forces” on the other side, merely revolves around which of these two forces are more faithful to the second amendment. None of them even think or hint at the necessity to challenge the second amendment because, in my view, the real question which should be asked in relation to gun control is “how come, in the United States, we are allowed to have an arms manufactory industry with no control, that companies can just manufacture arms of all kinds, the most devastating arms and sell them on the market?” But neither the Obama nor the other forces challenge this.

Obama keeps on saying “our Constitution is the oldest democratic Constitution in the world.” It’s true that it’s a very old constitution, but that’s a negative thing. Is it not time for the constitution to be updated? That people should have a say about what the constitution should be in the United States of America? The basic clauses such as the right to be armed should be rethought in order to eliminate this whole plague on American society?

JL: You also talk about the fact that the military industrial complex as well is never challenged by any of the two parties.

AA: Now, for example there is – if you watch CNN or any other U.S. broadcast – they keep on repeating continuously that in the United States you have democrats/republicans – left/right – liberals/conservatives. They keep giving the impression there’s two opposing forces in the United States of America. But it isn’t the case. It is basically the same force which changes its appearance from time to time. When one force gets discredited, they put the other in its place.

JL: You mean the same economic interests are behind the two parties?

AA: That’s right. Now there has been a lot of debate over the last while regarding budget, amounts of money necessary, but there are several American academics, which I mention in my book, who say that you can say anything about the U.S. budget or U.S. spending, but you cannot touch upon the issue of military spending. I think that one of the weaknesses of the Occupy Wall Street movement is that they talk about the banks in general without putting in perspective or without highlighting the proportion of military spending due to the fact that the United States is an imperial power. As a result of this imperialism, therefore, the U.S is necessarily spending money on armaments, and there is the fusion of the military, the industries and the banks resulting in military spending. The whole economy in the United States is built on military spending but no one challenges that, including Obama. They can make some adjustments, a few dollars less here, a few dollars more here, but addressing the reasons why a very important portion of American spending goes on the military is not allowed to enter into the discussion.

JL: And if both parties agree on that issue, does that not mean that when it comes to foreign policy, they agree that America needs to maintain and increase its military power everywhere on the globe?

AA: That’s exactly it. In fact Obama, right from the beginning, said that the United States taking it from the puritans at the end of the 18th century is a light for the world; it is the most powerful country in the world, it is the best nation in the world, even after the American soldiers would commit atrocities against people in Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere, he would say “We have the best army in the world – the best nation in the world.” And sometimes he’s been accused of being against “American exceptionalism”, the idea that America is an exceptional country. But that is not true that he is against this concept.  He even said he agrees with American exceptionalism, that this was born at the end of the 18th century with the puritans. He said “We are an exceptional nation and we have a special role to play in the world to bring democracy, civilization and culture to the people in the world.”

So there is no difference between him and people such as Palin, Romney or McCain. The only difference is that the Obama approach as manufactured by Axelrod and others is much more effective in pulling the wool over the eyes of many people; and my basic conclusion is that democracy in the U.S. now works very well, it is not in crisis. They are able to recuperate themselves after Bush, to put an entirely new face on a policy that is increasing the attacks on a world scale on behalf of Obama. Just look at what he’s done over the last five years from Iraq, Afghanistan, and other attacks in several countries; Soon after he was elected for his first mandate, a coup d’état took place in Honduras. Bush, McCain, Palin would not have been able to get away with it, but Obama got away with doing this coup d’état because there was still – even still now amongst some Latin American, progressive circles – a certain degree of illusion regarding Obama, that he was different from the Republicans or the right. But he really worked in favour of this Honduras coup d’état using with the better Ivy League language, and body talk, to give the impression that he’s not really behind it. But what did he say during the Honduras coup? Once Zelaya, the president was kidnapped, taken out of Honduras and then people were on the streets for over 100 days, risking their lives to demonstrate against the coup d’état and the American-backed military there, Obama kept on saying (and also Clinton and the others) that both sides have to use restraint. That’s very interesting. You have the military in power there, Zelaya outside of the country, people with their bare hands trying to resist, and he puts both sides on the same level – both sides have to use restraint.

JL: He tried to look neutral?

AA: Right. But in fact Obama never agreed that Zelaya should return to Honduras as a president. He said “I am against the coup, it’s no good, I am against the military, it’s no good,” but he would always oppose the return of Zelaya , who was elected, to Honduras. So that’s how they operate, that’s how the United States got away with it.

 

When Israel Compensated Germans for Land in Palestine

June 6th, 2013 by Rosemarie M. Esber

Image: German Templers in Wilhelma, Palestine

Last month marked the 65th anniversary of the Nakba — the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, during which Israeli forces expelled some 800,000 Palestinians from their homeland and seized their properties. In total, 536 cities, towns and villages — 78 percent of the land of historic Palestine — were taken during the 1948 war.

The Nakba is not just a historical event, however. It remains an ongoing trauma.

Palestinian human rights are assaulted daily; Palestinians still live under occupation or are barred from their homeland. Meanwhile, Israeli land and water confiscation continue — particularly in the West Bank and the Naqab (Negev) desert.

Palestinians worldwide remain excluded and uncompensated, despite Israel’s admission to the United Nations in 1949 being preceded by its expressed willingness to abide by Resolution 194, calling for the Palestinian refugees’ repatriation and compensation.

Little known, however, is that four communities in Palestine have received carefully evaluated and internationally arranged compensation for their losses. The four villages — Sarona, Wilhelma, Betlehem (not the famed Bethlehem) and Waldheim — belonged to a Christian German group called the Templers.

Model for settlers

Sarona near Jaffa was one of the first modern agricultural settlements in Palestine (1871) and was a model for Jewish settlers. Wilhelma (1902) near Lydda, and Betlehem (1906) and Waldheim (1907) in the upper Galilee were prosperous communally-owned German agricultural settlements.

A German colony in Palestine received compensation from the Israeli government when settlers were forced to flee during the Nakba.  (Library of Congress)

The Templers maintained their German citizenship in Palestine. Although they established a Nazi party branch in Palestine during 1933, only approximately 17 percent of the Templers were Nazi sympathizers, according to Israeli scholar Yossi Ben Artzi. Still, most able-bodied Templer men were conscripted to fight in the German army in 1939.

During Second World War, the British Mandate government interned the German nationals in their rural villages. Some of the Templer families were then deported and interned inAustralia. Others became part of three British-German prisoner exchanges of Palestine-Germans for mainly Dutch Jews from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camps.

After the war, the British military guarded the four Templer villages to protect the Germans from Jewish extremists. Nevertheless, in April 1948, a Zionist attack killed at least two persons in Waldheim and resulted in many Templers fleeing. (This pattern of attack and killing to terrorize villagers and force them to leave was perpetrated on hundreds of Palestinian Arab villages by Zionist forces during the 1948 war.)

Fate diverges

The displaced Templers remained in Cyprus until they were admitted to Australia and became citizens (see Suzanne D. Rutland, “‘Buying out of the Matter’: Australia’s Role in Restitution for Templer Property in Israel,” Journal of Israeli History: Politics, Society, Culture, 24:1, 2005, pp 135-154).

Here is where the fate of the Palestinian refugees and the German Templer refugees diverge. The governments of Australia and West Germany worked together for ten years before the State of Israel agreed in 1952 to pay restitution to the German refugees for their four rural villages, as well as the Templers’ urban property holdings in Acre, Haifa, Jaffa and Jerusalem. A leading agricultural economist from Stanford University valuated the Templer holdings, including all real estate, their homes and farm buildings, orchards, forest and vineyards, down to the chicken coups and pigsties.

In 1962 — ten years later — the government of Israel paid 54 million Deutsche Marks to West Germany for the “German Secular Property in Israel” belonging to the displaced and dispossessed Templers, part of which was transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia (see Australian Treaty Series 1966 No 3).

Energetic campaign

How did the German Templers obtain compensation from the State of Israel for their expropriated property in Palestine?

The Australian and German governments mounted an energetic and determined international diplomatic campaign to secure compensation from Israel for the Templers’ assets. The Australian officials were persistent and convincing. They needed the capital inflows from restitution to assist in resettling the refugees.

Australia also assumed its obligation to protect its new citizens’ property rights. For their part, the Templers actively represented themselves through documentation, presenting evidence at international forums, and persistently demanding and claiming their rights before the Australian, German and Israeli governments.

The Templers lobbied their governments, showed up at international conferences to press their case, and advocated for themselves.

Unlike the Templers, diaspora Palestinians holding other citizenship have not been successful in obtaining compensation and restitution for their properties in present-day Israel. In 1949, educator Khalil Totah appealed repeatedly to the US State Department to assist him in obtaining compensation for his orange grove and lands in historic Palestine. “As an American citizen resident in the United States,” he wrote, “to whom should I turn for redress except to you?”

No public records exist of the US government attempting to obtain compensation for Totah’s or other American citizens’ property or assets seized by Israel during the 1948 war or after.

It is tragic and ironic that United Nations members remain complicit in the suppression of the Palestinians’ human rights. Even while some states applied significant diplomatic pressure to obtain compensation for displaced European settler communities in Palestine, which included a small but significant minority that sympathized and even fought for Nazi Germany, diplomatic pressure has not been expended for the indigenous Palestinians’ rights to Nakba compensation and restitution guaranteed under international law.

Rosemarie M. Esber is the author of Under the Cover of War: The Zionist Expulsion of the Palestinians. She is an independent researcher and international development consultant based in Washington, DC.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discusses Middle East peace with Quartet Representative Tony Blair at the Villa Taverna, the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Rome, Italy, on May 9, 2013. 
(Photo, and caption: U.S. State Department)

The recent World Economic Forum in Amman, Jordan, was billed as the Obama administration’s milestone moment for reviving the comatose US-led peace process. Announced days before in a nationally televised address by the President, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared at the forum to lift sinking hopes about the possibility of a two state solution.

Upon arriving, Kerry took in speeches by two billionaires who sought to claim leading roles in the cause of peace: the Israeli high tech baron Yossi Vardi, and Munib Al-Masri, the Palestinian oligarch known as the “Duke of Nablus” for his Italian revival style mansion, which sits on a hill above the poverty stricken Balata Refugee Camp.

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Peres, Kerry and Abbas (Photo: Associated Press)

Next, Kerry arranged a handshake between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres, bringing two unelected figures together for a symbolic photo-op intended to summon fond memories of the halcyon days of Oslo. And finally, the Secretary stood at the lectern to tell his rapt audience about “a plan for the Palestinian economy that is bigger, bolder and more ambitious than anything proposed” in the last two decades.

In a speech brimming with optimism, Kerry introduced an ambitious initiative that promised to turn the whole situation around. Calling it, “Breaking The Impasse,” Kerry claimed the plan would triple tourism to the occupied Palestinian territories, double or triple Palestinian agriculture production, increase the Palestinian GDP by 50 percent, and foster the construction of a whopping 100,000 new, energy efficient Palestinian homes in the West Bank.

Kerry gushed about a dream team of “experts” that had supposedly gathered to implement the project. Pushing back against the naysayers, he asked, “Is this a fantasy? I don’t think so, because there are already great examples of investment and entrepreneurship that are working in the West Bank. We know it can be done, but we’ve never experienced the kind of concentrated effort that this group is talking about bringing to the table.”

The word “occupation” was not uttered once in Kerry’s address.

As soon as he left the stage, Kerry hustled off to a meeting with Timothy Collins, a philanthropist and top Democratic donor who operates a leveraged buyout firm called Ripplewood Holdings. Ripplewood was most recently credited with overseeing the wholesale liquidation of Hostess, losing all of the $130 million it invested in the firm and terminating 18,000 union jobs. “What’s happening with Hostess Brands is a microcosm of what’s wrong with America, as Bain-style Wall Street vultures make themselves rich by making America poor,” said Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO union federation.

Also on Kerry’s agenda were meetings with the foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. He was a busy man – too busy, apparently, to discuss his big, bold plan with the media.

Stonewalling Reporters, “Absurd Rhetoric”

Days later, little is known about “Breaking The Impasse.” How the plan is any different from the economic bailout George W. Bush proposed for the Palestinian Authority at the World Economic Forum in 2008 is anybody’s guess. The names of the economic dream team Kerry promoted have not been publicly revealed, nor has any reporter been able to obtain a single specific detail of the plan.

Nearly all that is known is that Tony Blair, the Special Envoy of the Quartet, had been placed in charge of the initiative.

My email and telephone queries to Ruti Winterstein, Blair’s Political and Media Advisor at the Quartet offices in Jerusalem, have not been answered. The few Jerusalem and Ramallah based reporters who requested particulars about the initiative were unable to get any answers either, with one correspondent telling me they were being stonewalled by Blair and Kerry’s people.

David Horovitz, the editor-in-chief of the Times of Israel, said he was told by “various insiders” that Kerry had been thoroughly briefed on the specifics of the plan, and that he and the economic team were due to meet during the conference. “That didn’t happen,” Horovitz wrote. In the end, Horovitz wound up mocking Kerry for his “absurd rhetoric.”

A press release posted on May 26 on the Quartet Representative’s website suggests that specifics are not immediately forthcoming, stating that the Quartet “will provide further details of the potential options for investment, job creation and economic growth in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in due course.”

Back in 2011, Blair declared that “time was short” on reaching peace in the Middle East. This April, Kerry proclaimed that “the window for a two state solution is shutting. I think we have some period of time a year,” he warned, “a year and a half, to two years or its over.”

If the situation is so urgent, why has Blair’s office been unable to offer anything more than vague promises to get down to business “in due course?” And why was Kerry unwilling to discuss details of a plan he touted as a potential game-changer?

It may be that Kerry’s announcement was a trial balloon the authors of the initiative floated before deciding to roll out a formal blueprint. There is also the strong possibility that the big, bold, plan was just a fantasy, after all.

Whether the plan is a non-starter or simply non-existent, it is now in the hands of Blair, an ultra-connected man on the make.

Failing upwards with Tony Blair Inc.

On the day he resigned as British PM, Blair took on the role of official envoy of the Quartet. And since that day, he has accomplished little of substance in occupied Palestine. As the veteran Israeli reporter Akiva Eldar said of Blair’s work in the region, “if you judge by results, they are below zero.” Even the pro-Israel Saban Center at the Brookings Institute has slammed Blair’s record, declaring, “The Quartet has little to show for its decade-long involvement in the peace process…. The current mechanism is too outdated, dysfunctional, and discredited to be reformed.”

Blair is reportedly despised by Palestinian Authority officials, who yearn to see him clear out the luxury penthouse he rented in East Jerusalem and head back to his late-18th century Georgian townhouse in London. Already, they have rejected his “Breaking The Impasse” plan, with a PLO official telling Hugh Naylor of The National that the initiative was “not an alternative to resolving the political issues we face.”

But Blair’s gig as Quartet envoy has allowed him to remain in the international spotlight, where he cultivates an image as a tireless dealmaker wading into a seemingly intractable conflict with the best of intentions. While claiming credit for breakthroughs that few on the ground in Palestine seemed to notice, Blair established a vast business empire, advising banks, corporations, and governments– including the dictatorship of Kazakhstan – while tapping a vast web of advisors to help him ink deals around the globe. Since 2007, Blair and his network of firms haveearned over $90 million, a vivid demonstration of how Tony Blair the special envoy propels Tony Blair Inc.

In 2008, Blair took up a consulting position at JP Morgan worth around $2 million a year, and perhaps more. Back in occupied Palestine, Blair took credit for persuading Israeli administrators to open up radio frequencies to allow the Palestinian telecom company, Wataniya, to provide service in the West Bank. The deal reaped a major windfall profit for Blair’s employer, JP Morgan, which happened to have provided the $2 billion loan that brought Wataniya into existence. Indeed, Wataniya was owned by the Qatari telecom giant QTEL, which was one of JP Morgan’s top clients. Detailed in the UK Channel 4 documentary, “The Wonderful World of Tony Blair,” the lucrative deal represented crony capitalism at its crudest.

In Gaza, meanwhile, Blair has pushed to allow the development of a huge natural gas field located inside Gaza’s territorial waters. Discovered by the British Gas, another client of JP Morgan, Blair stands to generate another huge profit for his employer if the field is fully developed. Already, he has blocked British Gas from selling Gaza’s gas to Egypt, which would have provided it directly to Gaza, requiring the company to sell it to Israel instead.

Blair reportedly intended to funnel Gaza’s gas profits into an international account controlled by Abbas, circumventing Gaza’s Hamas authorities in a bid to promote economic collaboration between Israel and the PA. Given Israel’s long record ofwithholding revenue in from the PA, and doing so in bad faith, it appears unlikely that much of the gas profits will ever make into Palestinian hands. If any of it does, it may only wind up enriching the small circle of oligarchs who dominate the increasingly stratified Palestinian economy.

Blair’s record of questionable wheeling and dealing raises serious questions about the “Breaking The Impasse” plan – to the extent that it is a plan at all. Is this initiative just another slush fund for Blair and his business partners? Will executives from JP Morgan clients like Wataniya be involved? What about Qatar’s ruling Al-Thani family, who own Wataniya and are major investors in PADICO, the private investment holding firm chaired by Blair’s billionaire friend, Munib Al-Masri? And what role, if any, will Tim Collins, the Bain-style “vulture capitalist,” play?

Though details are impossible to come by, it is hard to imagine that any plan overseen by Blair and his associates will bring much relief to ordinary Palestinians subjected to the toxic blend of military occupation and neoliberal experimentation.

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry greets former British Prime Minister Tony Blair as the two attend the World Economic Forum in Dead Sea, Jordan, on May 26, 2013. 
(Photo: State Department)

Preface: In Part 1,  Housing Prices: Up Or Down? Recovery … Or Artificial Housing Bubble Which Is About to Pop?

we showed that mortgage applications are down, and it is really institutional investors driving the housing boom. Part 2 explains why.

Housing prices have boomed because:

(1) Lenders are artificially keeping vacant houses off of the market

and

(2) The Obama administration has thrown all sorts of artificial incentives at institutional investors to pump up prices

Artificially Suppressed Housing Inventory

Naked Capitalism reported last August:

Two trends are apparent. One is that banks are delaying foreclosures, or not foreclosing at all despite long-term delinquencies. The other is that private equity firms – flush with cash thanks to Tim Geithner’s religious devotion to trickle-down economics and the resulting cascade of corporate welfare – have been bidding up and holding foreclosed houses off the market. These two factors have artificially limited supply and, combined with cheap mortgages rates, driven up prices. While we can debate whether these strategies represent the best public policy, these policies are obviously not long-term sustainable.

***

Lenders argue the drop in foreclosures is caused by delays in the court system. However, Judge Jennifer D. Bailey, lead foreclosure judge in Miami-Dade County – epicenter of the foreclosure crisis – solidly rebuts that argument. “Here in Miami-Dade County’s Eleventh Circuit, there has been no delay in foreclosure case hearings for nearly two years,” Judge Bailey said in an Aug. 19, 2012 interview with the Miami Herald. “If you want to see a judge to hear your trial or summary judgment, you get a prompt court date.” This coincides with my own observations in foreclosure court, where judges rail at bank lawyers for repeatedly delaying their cases, even when borrowers are in no way contesting their foreclosures.

Holding back inventory means that the houses that are put on offer sell faster and at higher prices. That creates an incentive to delay foreclosures or not foreclose at all even when a home is delinquent.

Indeed – in the real world -  12.6 million houses are vacant1.5 million more home than are underwater. In other words, without artificial scarcity created by banks, there would be more available houses than there are underwater homeowners having problems paying their mortgage.  There would – in a word – be a glut.

Government Is Secretly Helping Financial Companies to Snap Up Housing

There are realistic ways to help the economy. For example:

But instead, the government’s entire strategy is to try to paper over all of the real problems with the economy by artificially propping up asset prices  in an attempt to hide the fact (which has been obvious for years) that the big banks are insolvent.

Stocks, for example, are largely being driven by insiders and government policy.

Indeed, we’ve pointed out for years that all of the Obama administration’s “homeowner relief” programs are really just back-door bailouts to the big financial companies … and are not even intended to help homeowners.

Mike Whitney explained last September:

Private Equity firms are piling in to the housing market to take advantage of bargain basement prices on distressed inventory. The Obama administration is stealthily selling homes to big investors who are required to sign non-disclosure agreements to ensure that the public remains in the dark as to the magnitude of the giveaway. Aside from the steep discounts on the homes themselves, the government is also providing “synthetic financing to reduce the up-front capital required if they agree to form a joint venture with Fannie Mae and share proceeds from the rental or sale of properties.” (Businessweek)

In other words, US-taxpayers are providing extravagant financing for deep-pocket speculators who want to reduce their risk while maximizing their profits via additional leverage. The plan resembles Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s Public-Private Partnership Investment Program …. Speculators are getting lavish incentives (gov financing, low rates, and severe discounts) in secret deals to buy distressed inventory which should be available to the public at market prices. If that’s not a ripoff, then what is?

***

Obama’s preferred customers are getting discounts of up-to 60 percent of the home’s peak value and generous gov-backed financing to boot!

***

As the article above indicates, there’s no shortage of delinquent homes that will eventually be foreclosed. That means the process is being dragged out so the banks don’t have to fess-up to the losses on their fetid pile of nonperforming loans Here’s a little more background from an article in Businessweek

“About 6 million U.S. borrowers will lose their homes in the next five years because of inability to pay their mortgages, creating demand for as many as 4 million new rental households, according to Scott Simon, head of mortgage bonds at Pacific Investment Management Co. in Newport Beach, California….

Single-family rentals are priced to deliver unlevered total returns in the range of 7.5 percent to 8 percent, or about 0.5 percentage point to 1 percentage point higher than institutional-quality apartments, according to a June 8 report by Ray Huang, senior associate at Green Street Advisors in Newport Beach, California.  (“Colony Said to Win Foreclosed Homes Sold by Fannie Mae”, Businessweek)[Link.]

If “6 million homeowners” will lose their homes in the next five years, then why are clownshoes media dupes touting a “bottom” in prices and a “market rebound”?

It’s all hype. And look at how calculatingly fiendish Obama’s foreclosure-to-rental program really is. The big boys have figured out the nearest penny how much they can make by throwing people out of their homes. (7.5 percent to 8 percent) Talk about heartless. And, of course, this whole process is being orchestrated by President Fairydust and his Wall Street Pranksters to keep prices artificially high and preserve the illusion that the banks are solvent.

It’s infuriating!

And if that isn’t hard-hitting enough for you, Jim Quinn writes:

The contrived elevation of home sales and home prices has been engineered by the very same culprits who crashed our financial system in the first place. This has been planned, coordinated and implemented by a conspiracy of the ruling oligarchy – the Federal Reserve, Wall Street, U.S. Treasury, NAR, and the corporate media conglomerates. Ben’s job was to screw senior citizens and drive interest rates low enough that everyone in the country could refinance, attract investors & flippers into the market, and propel home prices higher. Wall Street has been the linchpin to the whole sordid plan.

They were tasked with drastically limiting the foreclosure pipeline, therefore creating a fake shortage of inventory. Next, JP Morgan, Blackrock, Citi, Bank of America, and dozens of other private equity firms have partnered with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, using free money provided by Ben Bernanke, to create investment funds to buy up millions of distressed properties and convert them into rental properties, further reducing the inventory of homes for sale and driving prices higher. Only the connected crony capitalists on Wall Street are getting a piece of this action. The Wall Street big hanging d[!@#*] have screwed the American middle class coming and going. The NAR and media are tasked with what they do best – spew propaganda, misinform, lie, cheerlead and attempt to create a buying frenzy among the willfully ignorant masses.

The chart below reveals the truth about the strong sustainable housing recovery. It doesn’t exist. Mortgage applications by real people who want to live in a home are no higher than they were in 2010 when home sales were 33% lower than today. Mortgage applications are lower than they were in 1997 when 4 million existing homes were sold versus the 5 million pace today. The housing recovery is just another Wall Street scam designed to bilk the American middle class of what remains of their net worth.

Of course, economist Michael Hudson would put it a little differently: banks are trying to roll back all modern laws and make us all into serfs.

In other words, the giant financial service companies are attempting to privatize public resources, socialize losses, scam people out of their homes and other private property … and then rent back to us what we used to own for a hefty price.

Do you understand the game now?

Bilderberg Member Set to Speak on Record

June 6th, 2013 by Paul Joseph Watson

A Bilderberg Group member is set to speak on record to the BBC in what represents an unprecedented move for the secretive organization, which is being forced to become more transparent in the face of huge protests and widespread condemnation.

In advance of an interview with Alex Jones today, a BBC reporter told Infowars that the broadcaster had approached a Bilderberg member for a television interview and although the person had refused to be on camera, a telephone interview was likely.

As we reported yesterday, a separate source close to the security operation surrounding the confab told Infowars that numerous Bilderberg Group members were aggrieved at the organization’s obsession with secrecy and wanted to see more transparency.

Campaigners are inviting Bilderberg members to come and address crowds of demonstrators and press at a specially constructed podium within the grounds of the Grove Hotel in Watford, which is where the conference is taking place behind a huge police presence.

Bilderberg’s veil of secrecy is being lifted as a result of serious mainstream media coverage – which took decades to achieve – along with a huge increase in the number of demonstrators who show up to denounce the annual confab as a shadowy lobbying network.

In addition, the establishment media hoax that Bilderberg has no influence and is merely a “talking shop” or a golfing holiday is quickly disintegrating.

The Telegraph reports today that the 2004 Bilderberg meeting in Stresa, Italy was where the head of BP Lord Browne suggested a monumental merger with Shell to create the world’s biggest oil company, a merger that many analysts still expect to see at some point.

If a Bilderberg member does agree to an interview with the BBC it would likely serve as an opportunity to downplay the significance of the group, but the mere fact that a participant of the secretive confab has been forced to speak publicly represents major progress.

It would also mark the first time a Bilderberg member went on record since Lord Healy over a decade ago.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Infowars.com and Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a host for Infowars Nightly News.

The recent commitment by Russia to honor a contract with Syria for the delivery of S-300 Surface to Air defense systems, considered to be one of the best, if not the best in the world, is followed up by a Syrian request for the delivery of MiG 29 M/M2 fighter jets.

In 2012 NATO stationed Patriot Missile Defense Systems along the 900 km long Syrian – Turkish border; Saudi-Arabia and the USA signed a deal for a significant upgrade of Saudi-Arabia´s air force. Russia is drawing a red line in the Syrian sand. With the words of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a direct military intervention against Syria would be futile. The Middle East is being prepared for a stand-off. Russia-made MIG-29 M/M2 fighter jets (file photo)

At a press conference on the opening day of the Russia – E.U. Summit in Yekaterinburg on Tuesday 4 June, Russia´s President Vladimir Putin confirmed again, that Russia will honor its contract with Syria and deliver S-300 SAM Systems. Putin stressed Russia´s disappointment over the E.U.´s failure to prolong the arms embargo against Syria which effectively permits each E.U. member state to decide whether it will arm the terrorist and mercenary corps which have destabilized Syria since 2011.

The S-300 SAMs will, according to Putin bring stability to the region. Putin made a point of stating, that the S-300 SAMs are among the best, if they are not the best Air Defense System, which, so Putin, every military expert can confirm. At the same occasion, the Russian President issued a thinly-veiled warning to NATO, Israel and the GCC member states when he stated, that any attempted direct military intervention against Syria would be futile.

Syrian Military forces are becoming increasingly successful at combating the insurgency. After the military strategy has been adapted to asymmetric warfare and counter insurgency tactics, which include popular militia which defend villages and towns against renewed attacks by insurgents after the Syrian Arab Army has cleared and secured an area, the insurgents continue loosing ground and begin using ever more desperate psychological warfare tactics, chemical weapons and the eating of organs of slain Syrian soldiers, on camera, included. The insurgents show signs of desperation.

S-300PS air defense system during drills to counter mass air and missile attacks at the Ashuluk training range in Astrakhan Region. Vladislav Belogrud/RIA Novosti The involvement of Hezbollah at securing the Lebanese – Syrian border, making it less porous for infiltration of weapons and fighters, and the commitment of the Iraqi government to do the same at the Syrian – Iraqi border is limiting the supply routes for the insurgents. The remaining open fronts are limited to Turkey, Jordan, Israel and the Kurdish administrated region of Northern Iraq.

The popular uprising in Turkey is likely to, at the very least, result in a severely weakened Erdogan administration which could be forced to adjust its policy toward Syria. Turkey could cease being the primary logistic front for the insurgents.

Russia has also drawn a red line in the Syrian sand, or waters, when it decided to create a Mediterranean Fleet. The first deployments have arrived and Tartous is slowly transformed from an auxiliary to an operative naval base. The move stabilizes the region to some degree and could become the foundation for countering the establishment of a NATO base on Cyprus.

In 2012 Saudi-Arabia and the USA agreed on a deal for a major update of Saudi-Arabia´s air force. Besides delivery of the latest, most advanced version of the F-16 fighter jet, which normally is reserved for a select club of only six nations, the older Saudi stock of F-16s received considerable upgrades. After completion of the deliveries, upgrades and training, Saudi-Arabia will have approximately 300 F-16 fighter jets in its fleet, making Saudi-Arabia´s airpower comparable to that of Israel.

After Russia initially halted a Russian – Syrian contract for an upgrade of Syria´s air force, it looks as if Russia is reconsidering, in response to the western unwillingness to settle the dispute about Syria peacefully. In principle, the Syria war is caused by a lack of convergence in the energy and energy-security requirements of respectively Qatar, Saudi -Arabia, Israel – of the USA and the two competing EU blocks led by respectively France and the UK and Germany, Czeck Republic; as well as Iran and Russia. Even a successful Geneva 2 conference would address the core issues. The statements of Vladimir Putin that the S-300 SAMs introduction creates stability may be followed up by also creating a strategic balance with regard to regional air forces. It is also a clear signal that NATO and E.U. cannot count on being able to solve energy, energy-security and geo-political problems by illegal wars without having to consider the possibility of having to pay a price that may be to high.

The Syrian governments authorities have reactivated contacts regarding the activation of Russian – Syrian contracts for the Syrian purchase of MiG-29M/M2 fighter jets after the expiration of the E.U. arms embargo on Syria. The information has been confirmed by the Russian aircraft producer.

A Syrian delegation has recently arrived in Moscow to discuss details and a time frame, stated the head of the Mikkoryan Design Bureau Sergei Korotkov. The contract was initially signed in 2007 but the outbreak of civil unrest in Syria in 2011 initially caused Russia to halt the deal to deliver 24 MiG-29MM fighter jets and 5 MiG-31 interceptors.

Finding a peaceful resolution to the Syria crisis becomes increasingly unlikely. While the foreign backed opposition a.k.a. al-Qaeda creates one Public Relations disaster after the other and fails at creating a coherent political front, the national dialog among parties, mass organizations, ethnic and religious communities, special interest organizations and the government in Syria continue making progress.

A decisive victory of the insurgency against the Syrian military also becomes increasingly unlikely, and the E.U., US, Saudi and Qatari continuation to finance and arm terrorist and mercenary corps of the likes of Jabhat al-Nusrah will, even though they can destabilize Syria, not lead to a decisive victory without direct military intervention or direct military support of the subversion.

The introduction of the Russian MiG 29s and MiG 31s, along with the introduction of the S-300 SAM´s and other Russian missile technology, as well as an increased Russian naval presence, will readjust the strategic balance between the western axis and the Iranian, Syrian, Russian axis. They cannot compensate for the massive firepower amassed by NATO and NATO allies in the region, but will guaranty that any military aggression against Syria will be more costly than western or Arab political leaders are willing or able to survive politically.

Global stock markets plunged Wednesday following the release of negative economic indicators pointing to a deepening slump in the United States, Europe and Asia and statements by US Federal Reserve officials suggesting a pull-back in monetary stimulus.

Japan’s stock market in particular, which had soared as a result of the Bank of Japan’s massive yen-printing program, suffered a sharp sell-off, falling 3.8 percent on Wednesday. The Nikkei Index was up 80 percent over the past year before it plunged more than 15 percent in the last ten trading days. Wednesday marked the index’s fifth daily fall of over three percent in two weeks.

The Japanese sell-off was followed by further stock losses in Europe, where the British FTSE 100 fell by 2 percent, the French CAC 40 declined 1.9 percent, the German DAX dropped 1.2 percent and the pan-European Eurofirst 300 index fell 1.5 percent.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 215 points, or 1.42 percent, closing below 15,000 for the first time in a month. The index has posted losses in four out of the past six trading days. The Standard and Poor’s 500 Index fell 21 points, or 1.3 percent, while the NASDAQ was down 43 points, or 1.27 percent.

The extreme volatility in financial markets reflects the artificial and unsustainable character of the rise in asset prices, which is entirely dependent on the continued pumping of trillions of dollars of virtually free credit into the banking system by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks. Meanwhile, the real economy in the US, Europe and much of Asia continues to stagnate or contract under the impact of austerity measures aimed at impoverishing the working class.

Wednesday’s sell-off came amid warnings by Wall Street insiders that the combination of vast cash infusions by central banks and anemic growth in the real economy will likely lead to a catastrophic collapse of the stock market.

Economist Gary Shilling noted that investors have been “paying little attention to weak and declining economies around the world, and concentrating on the flood of money being created by central banks.” The vast infusions of cash have created an explosion of toxic debt, “the zeal for yield, amidst low interest rates, benefited junk bonds and other low-quality debt,” he said.

William Gross, the cofounder of bond-trading firm PIMCO, warned earlier this year of a “credit supernova” and noted, “Investment banking, which only a decade ago promoted small business development and transition to public markets, now is dominated by leveraged speculation and the Ponzi finance.”

As stocks plunged Wednesday, the Financial Times reported that many of the largest global hedge funds have suffered huge losses as a result of a general sell-off in the bond market, rooted in fears that the Federal Reserve will wind down its asset-purchasing program. Yields on Treasury bills have surged in recent weeks, hitting 2.23 percent last week, up from 1.61 percent in early May. Bond prices move in the opposite direction from bond yields.

“Since mid-May it has been a perfect storm of some of the biggest trends in markets reversing all at once,” one fund manager told the Financial Times. The newspaper noted that the $16 billion hedge fund AHL lost more than 11 percent of its total assets in the last two weeks as a result of the bond sell-off. This triggered a 15 percent drop in the stock value of the hedge fund’s parent company, the Man Group.

Particularly unsettling for the markets were indications of a slowdown in the US. On Monday, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing activity index fell to 49 in May, down from 50.7 in April, the third consecutive monthly fall for the manufacturing index.

The reading was the lowest in four years and the first time that the measure fell below 50, which indicates a contraction, since November. The Institute for Supply Management index of new orders also fell, as did its measures of production and employment.

On Wednesday, ADP, the payrolls processing firm, reported that the US private sector created, on net, only 135,000 new jobs in May, less than the 165,000 economists had predicted. The report showed a drop of 6,000 manufacturing positions.

“The number was weak,” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, told Reuters. “The ADP is suggesting instead of job growth stepping up, it’s actually stepping down as we move into the summer months,” he added.

The ADP figures led economists to lower their expectations for the Labor Department’s official employment report for May, which is due Friday, as well as projections of economic growth in the second quarter of the year.

The meager ADP payroll figure was echoed by the Federal Reserve’s beige book report, which showed only tepid growth in business activity in the period from early April to late May.

The drop in US manufacturing activity is linked to a fall in global demand resulting from the ongoing slump in Europe and slowdown in growth in China and other Asian countries. Eurostat, the European statistics agency, said Wednesday that retail sales in the European Union fell by 0.7 percent in April.

HSBC Bank said earlier this week that its China Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.2 percent from 50.4 in April, the lowest reading since October of last year.

“This is not a good moment for the world economy,” David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC, told the British Telegraph. “The manufacturing indices came in weaker than expected in China, Korea, India and Russia, and then we got America’s ISM.”

The current infusion of cash by central banks into the financial system follows the multitrillion-dollar bailout of the banks by governments in the US and Europe. These policies, dictated by the global financial elite, have further enriched those parasitic social layers that were responsible for the crisis in the first place, while the full burden of the crisis has been placed on the international working class.

Five years after the Wall Street crash, the ruling classes of the world have demonstrated their inability to revive the real economy, underscoring the fact that the current crisis is not merely a recession, but rather a breakdown of the world capitalist system.

The disconnect between the wild rise on stock markets, which have been surging for four years, and the moribund condition of the global economy is setting the stage for a financial collapse on the scale of, or even greater than, the meltdown of September 2008.

Since early 2011, ongoing blame game strategy holds Syria responsible for Western-enlisted death squad crimes.

In August 2011, the Human Rights Council (HRC) appointed a so-called Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI). Paulo Pinheiro heads it.

His mandate is pro-Western propaganda. Credibility isn’t his long suit. His reports bear testimony to his bias. He wrongfully blames Assad for insurgent crimes. He’s done so throughout his tenure.

Washington calls the shots. Pinheiro and other COI members salute and obey. So do HRC officials. Truth is verboten. False reports up the stakes for full-blown US-led NATO intervention.

On June 4, 1,000 US marines arrived in Jordan. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved them along with deployment of F-16s, Patriot missiles and other weapons.

Operation Eager Lion 2013 is pretext. Eighteen countries will participate. Exercises begin later in June. They’ll last two months. According to US Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. TG Taylor:

“In order to enhance the defensive posture and capacity of Jordan, some of these assets may remain beyond the exercise at the request of the government of Jordan.”

Jordan needs no enhanced defensive posture. Deploying US troops and weapons near Syria’s border is provocative. Perhaps COI timed its new report release with their arrival. More on that below.

Pinheiro admits anti-Assad forces commit violations and abuses. They pale, he says, compared to government wrongdoing. He lies saying so. He’s paid to lie.

On June 4, COI issued its latest report. It covers the period January 15 – May 15, 2013. Three others preceded it.

The UN News Centre headlined “Independent UN panel calls for diplomatic surge to end ‘daily reality’ of war crimes in Syria.”

Syria was invaded. There’s nothing civil about ongoing conflict. COI persists in characterizing it that way. Doing so distorts reality on the ground. COI’s report states:

“War crimes and crimes against humanity have become a daily reality in Syria where the harrowing accounts of victims have seared themselves on our conscience. Referral to justice remains paramount.”

COI discussed “systematic imposition of sieges, the use of chemical agents and forcible displacement.”

According to Pinheiro, “Syria is in free-fall. No one is winning and will not win the war. More weapons will only lead to more civilians dead and wounded.”

He stops short of truth and full disclosure. It’s not his mandate. Syria was invaded. It’s victimized by Washington-initiated aggression. Obama bears full responsibility.

Pinheiro urges dialogue to end conflict. How can it when Obama prioritizes war? So far, proxy foot soldiers wage it.

Ending hostilities requires calling them off, halting all funding, arming, training and directing, as well as telling complicit allies to cease and desist all anti-Syrian activities.

Pinheiro’s a willing co-conspirator. “We ask that States exert influence over the parties to the conflict to compel them to protect civilians,” he urges.

Only one state matters. Washington calls the shots. What it says goes. As long as Obama prioritizes regime change, expect conflict to continue.

COI ignores the grim reality. It was formed to do so. It’s a pro-Western tool. So-called findings were based on 430 interviews and “other collected evidence.”

Who was interviewed wasn’t explained. Clearly anti-Assad elements were featured at the expense of government loyalists. More on Pinheiro’s report below.

On June 2, Al Manar reported a recent NATO study. Western organizations conducted it. The World Tribune said it shows Syrian forces winning decisively.

On June 4, Western media reported Syria in full control of Qusair. It’s a strategic town bordering Lebanon. It’s part of an insurgent supply route. According to General Yahya Suleiman:

“Whoever controls Qusair control the center of the country, and whoever controls the center of the country controls all of Syria.”

Syrian state television said “Our heroic armed forces have returned security and stability to all of the town of Qusair.”

NATO said 70% of Syrians support Assad. They do so for good reason. They’re alarmed about Al Qaeda, Al Nusra, and other extremist elements waging war, committing atrocities and other crimes.

According to an unnamed Western source, “Assad is winning the war mostly because the people are cooperating with him against the rebels.”

He omitted explaining why. They want no part of foreign invaders. They reject US-led belligerent intervention. They want Syrian sovereignty respected. They want no outside force deciding who’ll rule their country. Above all, they want peace and stability restored.

According to COI, government forces and affiliated militia committed “murder, torture, rape, forcible displacement, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts.”

Pinheiro calls ongoing conflict part of Assad’s systematic attack on civilians. He lied saying so. Assad’s doing his job. He’s battling foreign invaders. He’s obligated to do so. Syrians express gratitude.

Pinheiro admits anti-government forces commit crimes of war and against humanity. According to COI’s report:

“The violations and abuses committed by anti-Government armed groups did not, however, reach the intensity and scale of those committed by Government forces and affiliated militia.”

At the same time it says:

“Anti-Government armed groups have committed war crimes, including murder, sentencing and execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking and pillage.”

“They continue to endanger the civilian population by positioning military objectives in civilian areas.” Government soldiers and noncombatant civilians were executed in cold blood “without due process.”

Gruesome videos revealed brutal anti-Assad atrocities. Western media largely ignore them. Big Lies substitute. Syrian forces are blamed for insurgent crimes.

Pinheiro suggests Assad’s forces target internally displaced Syrians. Chemical weapons have been used by both sides, he said. Assad bears most responsibility, he claims.

COI’s report cites four attacks. They include March 19 on Khan Al-Asal, Aleppo, March 19 on Uteibah, Damascus, April 13 on Aleppo’s Sheikh Maqsood’s neighborhood, and April 29 on Saraqib, Idlib.

“There are reasonable grounds to believe that limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used” in these incidents, said COI.

Precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or perpetrators aren’t clear, it said. Other incidents remain under investigation.

No evidence whatever links Syrian forces to toxic chemical attacks. Plenty shows insurgents used them. In late May, Turkish forces arrested 12 suspected Al Nusra fighters.

They were seized in southern Turkey. They were caught red-handed with a two gm cylinder of sarin nerve gas.

Initial Turkish media reports said four and a half pounds of sarin were seized. US media scoundrels said nothing. They largely support aggressive war on Syria.

Along with sarin, Turkish police found handguns, grenades, bullets and various documents. A planned Al-Nusra bomb attack in Adana was foiled. Many Alawites live there. They’re Assad loyalists.

On May 5, COI said testimonial evidence indicates “rebel forces” used sarin. A day later, it suggested “no conclusive findings.”

Other reports confirmed anti-Assad elements using chemical weapons. Syrian forces confiscated two cylinders of sarin used by insurgents in Hama.

It bears repeating. No evidence whatever shows Syria’s military or other pro-government elements used sarin or other toxic agents.

False reports claim otherwise. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius accused Assad of using them. He did so based on alleged tests France conducted. Results were sent to the UN, he said.

On June 5, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headlined “Syria: UNHCR Committee Insists on Exaggeration, Ignores Crucial Events,” saying:

Syria’s permanent HCR representative Fayssal al-Hamwi addressed the body. He accused it of premeditated exaggerations. It paid little attention to vital information too important to ignore.

“In spite of our warnings against using sectarian expressions,” he said, “basically rejected by the Syrian society, the committee used such terms and ignored in its conclusions and recommendations the causes of deteriorating the social and economic situation, including the unjust unilateral sanctions imposed by some Arab and western countries on the Syrian people.”

Russia’s permanent Geneva-based UN representative Alexei Borodavkin said COI’s report stopped short of “honest positions.”

It downplayed or ignored insurgent “terrorist acts.” It omitted explaining the harmful effects of unilateral economic sanctions. It’s “politically biased.”

False anti-Assad accusations persist. Repeatedly he’s been accused of foreign death squad atrocities. Eye witnesses point fingers the right way. Western media ignore them.

Recent White House and State Department comments suggest Obama appears heading for full-scale intervention.

With marines, other US forces and heavy weapons on Syria’s border, anything may happen any time. If Libya 2.0 is launched, expect Israel to be involved. Israeli air attacks may initiate it.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/anti-syrian-blame-game-escalates/

Each year, the Bilderberg venue brings together leading members of the financial and corporate elite, politicians, handpicked scholars, journalists and scientists.

It is An Anglo-Western European-North American Venue with participants from 21 Western countries (i.e Western Europe, US and Canada).  With the exception of British born Polish Minister of Finance, Jacek Rostowski, there are no participants from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East (with the exception of Turkey). There are 14 women out of 140 participants.

The official website of the Bilderberg describes the venue as “a forum for informal, off-the-record discussions about megatrends and the major issues facing the world.”

Semi-secrecy prevails: While crucial negotiations are undertaken leading to far-reaching decisions, Prime Ministers and Finance Ministers in attendance are participating in their personal capacity; they are required not to report to Cabinet or to the Legislature.

This year’s 61st meeting is scheduled to be held at the Grove Hotel near Watford, Hertfordshire, U.K., June 6-9, 2013.

Various dimensions of the New World Order including the global economic crisis, the wars in the Middle East, biotechnology, cyber-warfare and Homeland security will be discussed behind closed doors.

“Thanks to the private nature of the conference, the participants are not bound by the conventions of office or by pre-agreed positions. As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights.

There is no detailed agenda, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.”  http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org

The Venue will regroup some 140 participants including George Osborne, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, Henry Kissinger, Timothy Geithner,  former Secretary of the Treasury,  Gen. David Petraeous, former head of the CIA, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF, Richard N. Perle, prominent adviser to the Bush Junior administration, Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Eric Schmidt of Google, two former presidents of the World Bank, James D. Wolfensohn and Robert B. Zoellick, among others.

Prominent members of the Anglo-American financial establishment include David Wright, Vice Chairman of Barclays, J. Michael Evans, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs, Douglas J. Flint, Group Chairman of HSBC,  Kenneth M. Jacobs, Chairman and CEO of Lazard, Peter D. Sutherland, chairman of Goldman Sachs International, Edmund Clark, President and CEO of  Canada’s TD Bank Group. The Swiss banking establishment which overseas billions of dollars in undeclared “numbered bank accounts” is represented by  Dr. Thomas Jakob Ulrich Jordan, the recently appointed Chairman of the Governing Board of the  Schweizerische Nationalbank (Swiss National Bank).

A handful of establishment journalists (Washington Post, Financial Times, Economist), economics professors, representatives from corporate thinks tanks including the American Enterprise Institute, Carnegie and the Council on Foreign Relations will also be in attendance.

From the oil industry Simon Henry, CFO of Royal Dutch Shell and Robert Dudley, BP Group Chief Executive are on the list of participants.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall will also be attending. Canada is the World’s second largest producer of uranium with most of the mining in Saskatchewan. Uranium is an important input into the production  of nuclear warheads.

john-bell-photo.jpg

Major trends in medical research are also on the agenda. Prominent leaders of the pharmaceutical industry include Mark C. Fishman (right), President of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, together with Dr.  John Bell (left), Professor of Medicine at Oxford, who is a leading authority in biotechnology, working closely with Big Pharma.

Bilderberg has confirmed that global data banks pertaining to Homeland Security will be discussed under the heading of “big data” and that Eric Schmidt of Google will be addressing the topic.

The official list is not complete. In all likelihood, the names of several prominent delegates are not made public.

An earlier report by Infowars.com quoting “inside sources” stated that the Middle East war discussions would focus on “prolonging war on Syria by arming anti-Assad elements” as well as destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities within a three year period.

According to the Bilderberg website, the following vaguely defined topics will be discussed:

• Can the US and Europe grow faster and create jobs?
• Jobs, entitlement and debt
• How big data is changing almost everything
• Nationalism and populism
• US foreign policy
• Africa’s challenges
• Cyber warfare and the proliferation of asymmetric threats
• Major trends in medical research
• Online education: promise and impacts
• Politics of the European Union
• Developments in the Middle East
• Current affairs

Bilderberg Group meeting, June 6-9, 2013 – Full List of Participants

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Chairman: Henri de Castries, Chairman and CEO, AXA Group
Paul M. Achleitner, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
Josef Ackermann, Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd
Marcus Agius, Former Chairman, Barclays plc
Helen Alexander, Chairman, UBM plc
Roger C. Altman, Executive Chairman, Evercore Partners
Matti Apunen, Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
Susan Athey, Professor of Economics, Stanford Graduate School of Business
Aslı Aydıntaşbaş, Columnist, Milliyet Newspaper
Ali Babacan, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister for Economic and Financial Affairs
Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer
Francisco Pinto Balsemão, Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA
Nicolas Barré, Managing Editor, Les Echos
José Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission
Nicolas Baverez, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Olivier de Bavinchove, Commander, Eurocorps
John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford
Franco Bernabè, Chairman and CEO, Telecom Italia S.p.A.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.com
Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs
Anders Borg, Swedish Minister for Finance
Jean François van Boxmeer, CEO, Heineken
Svein Richard Brandtzæg, President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
Oscar Bronner, Publisher, Der Standard Medienwelt
Peter Carrington, Former Honorary Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
Juan Luis Cebrián, Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA
Edmund Clark, President and CEO, TD Bank Group
Kenneth Clarke, Cabinet Minister
Bjarne Corydon, Danish Minister of Finance
Sherard Cowper-Coles, Business Development Director, International, BAE Systems plc
Enrico Cucchiani, CEO, Intesa Sanpaolo SpA
Etienne Davignon, Belgian Minister of State; Former Chairman, Bilderberg Meetings
Ian Davis, Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company
Robbert H. Dijkgraaf, Director and Leon Levy Professor, Institute for Advanced Study
Haluk Dinçer, President, Retail and Insurance Group, Sabancı Holding A.S.
Robert Dudley, Group Chief Executive, BP plc
Nicholas N. Eberstadt, Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy, American Enterprise Institute
Espen Barth Eide, Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs
Börje Ekholm, President and CEO, Investor AB
Thomas Enders, CEO, EADS
J. Michael Evans, Vice Chairman, Goldman Sachs & Co.
Ulrik Federspiel, Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
Martin S.Feldstein, Professor of Economics, Harvard University; President Emeritus, NBER
François Fillon, Former French Prime Minister
Mark C. Fishman, President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
Douglas J. Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC Holdings plc
Paul Gallagher, Senior Counsel
Timothy F Geithner, Former Secretary of the Treasury
Michael Gfoeller, US Political Consultant
Donald E. Graham, Chairman and CEO, The Washington Post Company
Ulrich Grillo, CEO, Grillo-Werke AG
Lilli Gruber, Journalist – Anchorwoman, La 7 TV
Luis de Guindos, Spanish Minister of Economy and Competitiveness
Stuart Gulliver, Group Chief Executive, HSBC Holdings plc
Felix Gutzwiller, Member of the Swiss Council of States
Victor Halberstadt, Professor of Economics, Leiden University; Former Honorary Secretary General of Bilderberg Meetings
Olli Heinonen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
Simon Henry, CFO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Paul Hermelin, Chairman and CEO, Capgemini Group
Pablo Isla, Chairman and CEO, Inditex Group
Kenneth M. Jacobs, Chairman and CEO, Lazard
James A. Johnson, Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
Thomas J. Jordan, Chairman of the Governing Board, Swiss National Bank
Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Managing Director, Lazard Freres & Co. LLC
Robert D. Kaplan, Chief Geopolitical Analyst, Stratfor
Alex Karp, Founder and CEO, Palantir Technologies
John Kerr, Independent Member, House of Lords
Henry A. Kissinger, Chairman, Kissinger Associates, Inc.
Klaus Kleinfeld, Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
Klaas H.W. Knot, President, De Nederlandsche Bank
Mustafa V Koç,. Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
Roland Koch, CEO, Bilfinger SE
Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Marie-Josée Kravis, Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute
André Kudelski, Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
Ulysses Kyriacopoulos, Chairman, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, International Monetary Fund
J. Kurt Lauk, Chairman of the Economic Council to the CDU, Berlin
Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School
Thomas Leysen, Chairman of the Board of Directors, KBC Group
Christian Lindner, Party Leader, Free Democratic Party (FDP NRW)
Stefan Löfven, Party Leader, Social Democratic Party (SAP)
Peter Löscher, President and CEO, Siemens AG
Peter Mandelson, Chairman, Global Counsel; Chairman, Lazard International
Jessica T. Mathews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Frank McKenna, Chair, Brookfield Asset Management
John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
Thierry de Montbrial, President, French Institute for International Relations
Mario Monti, Former Italian Prime Minister
Craig J. Mundie, Senior Advisor to the CEO, Microsoft Corporation
Alberto Nagel, CEO, Mediobanca
H.R.H. Princess Beatrix of The Netherlands
Andrew Y.Ng, Co-Founder, Coursera
Jorma Ollila, Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell, plc
David Omand, Visiting Professor, King’s College London
George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
Emanuele Ottolenghi, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Soli Özel, Senior Lecturer, Kadir Has University; Columnist, Habertürk Newspaper
Alexis Papahelas, Executive Editor, Kathimerini Newspaper
Şafak Pavey, Turkish MP
Valérie Pécresse, French MP
Richard N. Perle, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
David H. Petraeus, General, U.S. Army (Retired)
Paulo Portas, Portugal Minister of State and Foreign Affairs
J. Robert S Prichard, Chair, Torys LLP
Viviane Reding, Vice President and Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, European Commission
Heather M. Reisman, CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
Hélène Rey, Professor of Economics, London Business School
Simon Robertson, Partner, Robertson Robey Associates LLP; Deputy Chairman, HSBC Holdings
Gianfelice Rocca, Chairman,Techint Group
Jacek Rostowski, Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister
Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations; Former Secretary of the Treasury
Mark Rutte, Dutch Prime Minister
Andreas Schieder, Austrian State Secretary of Finance
Eric E. Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google Inc.
Rudolf Scholten, Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
António José Seguro, Secretary General, Portuguese Socialist Party
Jean-Dominique Senard, CEO, Michelin Group
Kristin Skogen Lund, Director General, Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise
Anne-Marie Slaughter, Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
Peter D. Sutherland, Chairman, Goldman Sachs International
Martin Taylor, Former Chairman, Syngenta AG
Tidjane Thiam, Group CEO, Prudential plc
Peter A. Thiel, President, Thiel Capital
Craig B. Thompson, President and CEO, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Jakob Haldor Topsøe, Partner, AMBROX Capital A/S
Jutta Urpilainen, Finnish Minister of Finance
Daniel L. Vasella, Honorary Chairman, Novartis AG
Peter R. Voser, CEO, Royal Dutch Shell plc
Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan Province, Canada
Jacob Wallenberg, Chairman, Investor AB
Kevin Warsh, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Galen G.Weston, Executive Chairman, Loblaw Companies Limited
Baroness Williams of Crosby, Member, House of Lords
Martin H. Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator, The Financial Times
James D. Wolfensohn, Chairman and CEO, Wolfensohn and Company
David Wright, Vice Chairman, Barclays plc
Robert B. Zoellick, Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics

The Bilderberg  Chairman is

Henri de Castries,  Chairman and CEO, AXA Group

The Members of the Bilderberg Steering committee are:  

DEU Ackermann, Josef

Chairman of the Board, Zurich Insurance Group Ltd

GBR Agius, Marcus Former Chairman, Barclays plc
USA Altman, Roger C. Executive Chairman, Evercore Partners
PRT Balsemão, Francisco P.
Chairman and CEO, IMPRESA
FRA Baverez, Nicolas Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
ITA Bernabè, Franco Chairman and CEO, Telecom Italia
NOR Brandtzæg, Svein R.
President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
ESP Cebrián, Juan Luis Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA
CAN Clark, W. Edmund President and CEO, TD Bank Group
GBR Clarke, Kenneth Member of Parliament
BEL Davignon, Etienne Minister of State
DEU Enders, Thomas CEO, EADS
DNK Federspiel, Ulrik Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
NLD Halberstadt, Victor Professor of Public Economics, Leiden University
USA Jacobs, Kenneth M. Chairman and CEO, Lazard
USA Johnson, James A. Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
GBR Kerr, John Independent Member, House of Lords
USA Kleinfeld, Klaus Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
TUR Koç, Mustafa V. Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
USA Kravis, Marie-Josée Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute
USA Mathews, Jessica T. President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
USA Mundie, Craig J. Senior Advisor to the CEO, Microsoft Corporation
FIN Ollila, Jorma Chairman, Royal Dutch Shell plc
USA Perle, Richard N. Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
CAN Reisman, Heather M. CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
AUT Scholten, Rudolf Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
IRL Sutherland, Peter D. Chairman, Goldman Sachs International
USA Thiel, Peter A. President, Thiel Capital
INT Trichet, Jean-Claude Honorary Governor, Banque de France; Former President, European Central Bank
GRC Tsoukalis, Loukas President, ELIAMEP
CHE Vasella, Daniel L. Honorary Chairman, Novartis AG
SWE Wallenberg, Jacob Chairman, Investor AB
USA Warsh, Kevin Distinguished Visiting Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
  David Rockefeller is a member of the Advisory Group

 After Colombian president Juan Santos announced on the weekend that his government intended to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), Venezuelan and other Latin American governments responded with concern for the region’s peace.

Santos said that, “in the month of June, NATO will sign an agreement with the Colombian government, with the defence minister, in order to start a process of … cooperation, with the intention of joining the organisation”. (Santos at military ceremony, right)

In an army promotion ceremony, Santos said Colombia has the “right to think big” and, if we “achieve peace; our army is in the best position to be able to distinguish itself at an international level”.

Santos said at the military ceremony that the Colombian government would sign an agreement of cooperation with NATO (SIG)However, EFE reported that Colombia’s defence minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon said that although the country would extend its “cooperation” with NATO, he ruled out the possibility of membership of the alliance. The newspaper also reported an anonymous representative of NATO saying Colombia could not join it for geographic reasons; it “doesn’t meet the criteria”.

However the anonymous source apparently said that NATO is preparing an agreement with Colombia “to enable the exchange of classified information” and “future cooperation”.

On Monday a U.S State Department official, Roberta Jacobson, said “our goal is certainly to support Colombia as being a capable and strong member of lots of different international organizations, and that might well include NATO”.

“Ultimately this is a decision that all of the NATO members would have to make,” she added.

Then finally, late last night, Pinzon clarified again that the aim of the Colombian government is not to join NATO, but to become “a partner of cooperation as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and other countries are”.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro initially described Colombia’s apparent intention to join NATO as an “abhorrent idea” aimed at “expanding NATO’s war plans…to South America”. He called on the Colombian government to “reflect” on the move.

“It’s more than a doubt, I can now say with certainty that president Santos isn’t interested any more in the peace process,” Maduro said, referring to Santos’ recent meeting with Venezuelan former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who still has not recognised Maduro as president. Following that meeting, the Venezuelan government said it would re-evaluate its supportive role in the peace talks between the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Maduro also said he agreed with Bolivian president Evo Morales’ proposal to hold a meeting of defence ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) countries, to evaluate the “threat to peace and stability” that Colombia’s move represents. The Nicaraguan government also criticised Colombia’s intentions.

Also today, the general secretary of the Paraguayan Communist Party, Najeep Amado, told press that Santos’ declaration was a “continuation of Plan Colombia, a United States war strategy for South America”.

However, following the clarification by Pinzon, Maduro said that Venezuela welcomed it, and it was a “positive step” towards maintaining peaceful relations between the two countries.

Today, ex Colombian minister for defence and foreign trade, Martha Ramirez, said the Colombian government had “improvised” in its bid to join NATO, “exposing Colombians to international ridicule” because Colombia can’t enter the organisation “by definition”.

NATO is a military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty signed in 1949. Member countries agree to mutual defence in response to external attacks. It has 28 member states across North America and Europe, with other countries participating in its “Partnership for Peace” and in dialogue programs. The combined military budgets of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of global defence expenditure.

Delegates from across Haiti and the world gathered in Port-au-Prince for a Continental Conference on May 31 and Jun. 1 to map out a world-wide campaign to bring a rapid end to the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), a 9,000-member military force which has occupied Haiti since Jun. 1, 2004.

The delegates met for the two days at the Plaza Hotel, addressed a rally of several hundred people on May 31 on the Dessalines Plaza of the Champ de Mars, and spoke on several radio shows, including Ranmase, Radio Caraïbes’s highly popular Saturday morning round-table.

“Haitians, this is a battle for our dignity and pride as a people,” Sen. Moïse Jean-Charles, who was a guiding force behind the conference, declared to the enthusiastic outdoor rally in the capital’s main square. Haiti’s founding father General Jean-Jacques “Dessalines fought for us to be masters of this little patch of land. How can we be occupied by a foreign army over 200 years later? We cannot. We will not.”

By the end of the second day of meetings, which included statements and testimony of organizations from all over Haiti, the delegates unanimously approved the following resolution and vowed to continue their struggle.

Resolution of the Continental Conference in Haiti for the Withdrawal of UN-MINUSTAH Troops

To the Governments of Latin America and the Caribbean,

To All the Governments Involved in the Occupation of Haiti

We – the 140 delegates at the conference coming from Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador, the United States, Algeria, and France, mandated by our respective organizations and associations – have received messages of support from Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Martinique, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Bolivia (1) and France, among other countries.

...

On May 31 and June 1, 2013 – after nine years of UN-MINUSTAH occupation of Haiti, the first black republic in the world, established in 1804 after a war of liberation against the French colonial power – we met in Port-au-Prince in response to the call issued by the Host Committee of the Continental Conference in Haiti for the Withdrawal of UN-MINUSTAH Troops: “To Defend Haiti Is to Defend Ourselves.”

1 – We heard the testimonies from Haitian citizens and organizations on the consequences of these nine years of occupation.

The speakers who testified confirmed that the abuses by the MINUSTAH forces continue: rape of the youth in Cayes (Port Salut) by Uruguayan MINUSTAH soldiers, repression of union activities and social protests, proliferation of drug trafficking and distribution of fire-arms.

The testimonies confirmed that the troops are in Haiti to protect the interests of the multinational corporations from the United States and its allies – interests expressed, in particular, in the various [U.S.] HOPE laws (2), but also through the shameless exploitation of workers in export-processing zones and the looting of the country, especially its mineral resources.

The testimonies also noted that three years after the earthquake of January 2010, there are hundreds of thousands of Haitians still living in tents in deplorable conditions – and this on top of the massive cholera epidemic brought into Haiti by MINUSTAH troops from Nepal, an epidemic that has already taken the lives of 9,000 Haitians and infected hundreds of thousands of others.

...

2 – We also learned about and discussed the report dated March 8, 2013, presented to the United Nations Security Council by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon (3).

- The UN Secretary-General’s Report states that MINUSTAH is in Haiti to ensure “security” — but whose security? The Report goes on to state that the “UN Mission is faced with widespread and repeated civil unrest, mainly linked to socioeconomic grievances.” The Report also notes that there have been “[f]requent anti-Government demonstrations . . . against the high cost of living, food insecurity and the failure to deliver basic services. From August to October 2012, the number of demonstrations held per month tripled from 22 to 64.”

- But then the UN Secretary-General’s Report concludes that there is a “need to strengthen the national police and judiciary” and that this “remains a key prerequisite for the Mission’s eventual withdrawal from Haiti.” In other words, if the forces of repression are not strengthened, the MINUSTAH troops would not get out of Haiti.

As an example of why the UN presence is still needed, the UN Secretary-General points to the “[r]iots in Jérémie (Grand-Anse Department) late in November 2012 and in January 2013 [which] underscored the need for MINUSTAH to continue to be able to airlift a quick reaction force to remote areas in support of the national police.”

But these “riots” were in fact mobilizations of the people demanding the completion of the road between Cayes and Jérémie – a road needed to break the region out of its isolation; construction on this road had begun more than three years earlier but was abandoned by the Brazilian OAS construction company....

- The UN Secretary-General also emphasizes the need for legislative (Senate) and municipal elections and for preparing the 2015 presidential elections. But he openly acknowledges that neither the previous elections nor the next ones will be organized by Haitian institutions.

In fact, the U.S. government, through the edifice of the MINUSTAH occupation, persists in trampling upon the rights of the Haitian people, in violation of the Haitian Constitution and the very Charter of the United Nations.

What’s more, the UN Secretary-General’s Report has the gall to state that the UN-MINUSTAH forces are “working to eliminate” the cholera epidemic. These words were stated just a few weeks after the UN refused to take responsibility for the epidemic that was transmitted by the Nepalese troops of MINUSTAH. These words were stated shortly after the UN refused to pay reparations to the victims of the epidemic – under the guise of “diplomatic immunity” of its personnel.

Therefore, it is with horror that we read in the Report, following a series of disclosures that constitute a real indictment against the MINUSTAH occupation of Haiti, the defense by the UN Secretary-General of the decision to maintain the UN-MINUSTAH occupation of Haiti until 2016.

This is unacceptable! This is unbearable!

...3 – To the governments of the countries of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations):

We appeal to the governments of the countries of UNASUR, whose founding treaty affirms “full respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of States and self-determination of peoples.”

To the governments of the countries of CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States):

We appeal to the governments of the countries of CELAC, whose Caracas Declaration also reaffirms the defense of national and popular sovereignty, and moreover welcomes the “more than 200 years of independence of Haiti” and recalls the aid given by the Haitian people to Simon Bolivar in his struggle for independence against the Spanish colonial power.

MINUSTAH is the negation of all that. MINUSTAH is an occupying force in the interests of U.S. multinationals. The so-called “peace” mission of MINUSTAH is a “peace” mission to exploit the workers, the youth, and the natural resources of Haiti.

Our conference was also addressed by delegates from the United States and France, whose governments are permanent members of the Security Council. They denounced the heinous roles of their governments in this occupation – an occupation that is also against the interests of the workers and peoples in the United States and France. The U.S. delegates, in particular, denounced the coup d’etat of February 29, 2004, that overthrew President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The conference concluded that the military occupation of Haiti is part and parcel of the policies of U.S. imperialism and its allies in response to, and as a consequence of, the crisis of the capitalist system, which is accelerating and in this process furthering its policies of war and looting of peoples worldwide, while trampling upon the freedom and sovereignty of nations.

We also wish to recall the following facts:

- On September 20, 2011, the Haitian Senate unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the Haitian government to “put forward before the Security Council of the United Nations the formal request for a gradual, orderly and definitive withdrawal of all components of MINUSTAH in a period not exceeding one year, or no later than October 15, 2012.”

- In a hearing on July 10, 2012, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Brazil – the country in command of the MINUSTAH troops – stated: “I believe that MINUSTAH has already extended its mission longer than desirable.”

- In October 2012, a delegation was received at the United Nations by Mr. William Gardner, then representative of UN Secretary-General Mr. Ban Ki-moon. Mr. Gardner stated that “the UN Security Council would soon take steps to reduce the number of troops in Haiti.”

A year later, where do we stand?

- In Argentina, in April 2013, at a hearing at the Foreign Affairs Ministry,  Argentine diplomat Pablo Tettamanti stated: “It is now a problem of internal security in Haiti, and the MINUSTAH forces are not there for that. Before, it was justified, but not now, because the protests are internal affairs of Haiti, and we have nothing to do with that.”

- Even the interim director of the MINUSTAH forces, Mr. Nigel Fisher, said in an interview in February 2013 that “the presence of MINUSTAH in Haiti is leading to a ‘dead end’.”

- Once again, on May 28, 2013, the Haitian Senate passed a resolution calling “for the withdrawal of MINUSTAH. ”

FOR THE IMMEDIATE WITHDRAWAL OF MINUSTAH!

It follows from these observations that the only measure consistent with the sovereignty of the Haitian people and the Haitian nation is the immediate withdrawal of UN-MINUSTAH troops from Haiti!

It is now, right now, that each and every government can and must decide to withdraw its troops. Not one more day for MINUSTAH in Haiti!

As part of the effort to expand our campaign for the immediate withdrawal of MINUSTAH from Haiti with the broadest unity and determination, the bearers of this Open Letter have been mandated by our Conference to convey to you our urgent and unanimous demands:

- Withdraw your troops from Haiti immediately!

- Vote at the UN against the renewal of the presence of MINUSTAH in Haiti!

- Show your solidarity with the Haitian people by requiring UN compensation/reparations for the victims of cholera!

To Defend Haiti Is to Defend Ourselves!

4 – We, delegates from Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, El Salvador, the United States, Algeria, and France, meeting in Port-au-Prince in the framework of the Continental Conference for the Withdrawal of MINUSTAH Troops – with the support of organizations, associations, and personalities in a dozen countries, including Uruguay (4);

- Welcome all the mobilizations and activities demanding the withdrawal of UN troops from Haiti that are taking place across the continent this June 1, 2013 – the 9th anniversary of the occupation of Haiti;

- Resolve to constitute a “To Defend Haiti Is to Defend Ourselves! Continental Coordinating Committee” to continue and strengthen the solidarity and unity of the people through an ongoing campaign for the withdrawal of the UN-MINUSTAH troops occupying the Haitian soil.

The Coordinating Committee will aim to strengthen the coordination between the organizations already involved in this fight: the Association of Workers and Peoples of the Caribbean (ATPC); the Sao Paulo Committee “To Defend Haiti Is to Defend Ourselves”; the Guadeloupe-Haiti Campaign Committee, New York; the Host Committee of the Continental Conference in Haiti and the Mexican Committee For the Withdrawal of UN Troops from Haiti, among the many others, and to allow the emergence of other such committees.

- Propose toward this end a Week of Continental Action on July 29 to August 3, 2013 — with mobilizations in all countries, including rallies, demonstrations, delegations to governments, petitions, etc.

- We pledge as of now, if these actions prove to be insufficient to attain our demands, to prepare the sending of an even broader delegation to the UN headquarters in New York in October 2013, at the time of the ratification of the renewal of UN-MINUSTAH mandate in Haiti.

Endnotes

(1) An entire radio program in Bolivia was devoted to this conference in Haiti.

(2) HOPE: Haiti Opportunity Partnership Encouragement act

(3) Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (S/2013/139), March 8, 2013

(4) At the initiative of the PIT-CNT trade union federation, several Uruguayan organizations participated in much of the Haiti conference via Skype.

by Henri Barbusse

The following text was written by renowned French novelist Henri Barbusse in 1916 at the height of World War I.  In 1914, at the age of 41, Barbusse enlisted in the French Army against Germany in World War I. He was wounded in the first year of the war.  The text is an excerpt from his award winning Le Feu (translated by William Fitzwater Wray as Under Fire) in 1916. The novel depicts his life and the horrors of  World War I.

While Barbusse does not provide a particularly optimistic perspective, his grim portrayal and understanding of the history of war, constitutes an important message to the anti-war movement.  In many regards, it describes today’s world of profit driven militarization and global warfare.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, June 5, 2013. Thanks to Rick Rozoff, Stop Nato, for having brought this excerpt to our attention.

*    *    *

War will come again after this one. It will come again as long as it can be determined by people other than those who fight. The same causes will produce the same effects, and the living will have to give up all hope.

We cannot say out of what historical conjunctions the final tempests will issue, nor by what fancy names the interchangeable ideals imposed on men will be known in that moment. But the cause — that will perhaps everywhere be fear of the nations’ real freedom. What we do know is that the tempests will come.ibarbus001p1

Armaments will increase every year amid dizzy enthusiasm. The relentless torture of precision seizes me. We do three years of military training; our children will do five, they will do ten. We pay two thousand million francs a year in preparation for war; we shall pay twenty, we shall pay fifty thousand millions. All that we have will be taken; it will be robbery, insolvency, bankruptcy. War kills wealth as it does men; it goes away in ruins and smoke, and one cannot fabricate gold any more than soldiers. We no longer know how to count; we no longer know anything. A billion — a million millions — the word appears to me printed on the emptiness of things. It sprang yesterday out of war, and I shrink in dismay from the new, incomprehensible word.

There will be nothing else on the earth but preparation for war. All living forces will be absorbed by it; it will monopolize all discovery, all science, all imagination. Supremacy in the air alone, the regular levies for the control of space, will suffice to squander a nation’s fortune. For aerial navigation, at its birth in the middle of envious circles, has become a rich prize which everybody desires, a prey they have immeasurably torn in pieces.

Other expenditure will dry up before that on destruction does, and other longings as well, and all the reasons for living. Such will be the sense of humanity’s last age.

The battlefields were prepared long ago. They cover entire provinces with one black city, with a great metallic reservoir of factories, where iron floors and furnaces tremble, bordered by a land of forests whose trees are steel, and of wells where sleeps the sharp blackness of snares; a country navigated by frantic groups of railway trains in parallel formation, and heavy as attacking columns. At whatever point you may be on the plain, even if you turn away, even if you take flight, the bright tentacles of the rails diverge and shine, and cloudy sheaves of wires rise into the air. Upon that territory of execution there rises and falls and writhes machinery so complex that it has not even names, so vast that it has not even shape; for aloft — above the booming whirlwinds which are linked from east to west in the glow of molten metal whose flashes are great as those of lighthouses, or in the pallor of scattered electric constellations — hardly can one make out the artificial outline of a mountain range, clapped upon space.

This immense city of immense low buildings, rectangular and dark, is not a city. They are assaulting tanks, which a feeble internal gesture sets in motion, ready for the rolling rush of their gigantic knee-caps. These endless cannon, thrust into pits which search into the fiery entrails of the earth, and stand there upright, hardly leaning so much as Pisa’s tower; and these slanting tubes, long as factory chimneys, so long that perspective distorts their lines and sometimes splays them like the trumpets of Apocalypse — these are not cannon; they are machine-guns, fed by continuous ribbons of trains which scoop out in entire regions —and upon a country, if need be — mountains of profundity.

In war, which was once like the open country and is now wholly like towns — and even like one immense building — one hardly sees the men. On the round-ways and the casemates, the footbridges and the movable platforms, among the labyrinth of concrete caves, above the regiment echelonned downwards in the gulf and enormously upright — one sees a haggard herd of wan and stooping men, men black and trickling, men issuing from the peaty turf of night, men who came there to save their country. They earthed themselves up in some zone of the vertical gorges, and one sees them, in this more accursed corner than those where the hurricane reels.

One senses this human material, in the cavities of those smooth grottoes, like Dante’s guilty shades. Infernal glimmers disclose ranged lines of them, as long as roads, slender and trembling spaces of night, which daylight and even sunshine leave befouled with darkness and cyclopean dirt. Solid clouds overhang them and hatchet-charged hurricanes, and leaping flashes set fire every second to the sky’s iron-mines up above the damned whose pale faces change not under the ashes of death. They wait, intent on the solemnity and the significance of that vast and heavy booming against which they are for the moment imprisoned. They will be down forever around the spot where they are. Like others before them, they will be shrouded in perfect oblivion. Their cries will rise above the earth no more than their lips…

Its four-day meeting occurs annually. It’s a rite of spring. British political economist Will Hutton calls the group the “high priests of globalization.”

Powerful movers and shakers have their own agenda.They discuss key issues.

They do it year round. Once annually they meet face-to-face. They plot strategy to exploit the world’s riches. They want them for themselves.

They try to keep meeting dates, locations, and issues to be discussed secret. Word gets out. It’s official. Britain’s five-star Grove Hotel is this year’s venue. It’s a Hertfordshire, England hotel resort. It calls itself “London’s cosmopolitan country estate.”

It’s 18 miles from London. It’s 30 minutes from Heathrow Airport. It’s ideal for secluded meetings. Great pains are taken to keep journalists, activists, and other uninvited guests away.

On May 13, Infowars reporters Paul Joseph Watson and Jon Scobie visited the Grove Hotel. They claim to have “groundbraking” information.

Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt is a regular Bilderberg attendee. Watson and Scobie said his company is “merging” with Bilderberg.

“Google’s annual Zeitgeist conference, which has been based at the Grove since 2007, immediately precedes the Bilderberg Group conference by a matter of days.”

“Backed up by prior research, we were able to confirm in conversations with hotel managers and others that the Grove is now a central base for Google’s agenda to control the global political and technological landscape.”

Bilderberg’s “being recast as ‘Google-Berg’ – partly because of efforts on behalf of activists to tear away the veil of Bilderberg’s much cherished secrecy, and partly as a means of re-branding authoritarian, undemocratic secret gatherings of elites as trendy, liberal, feel-good philanthropic-style forums like Google Zeitgeist and TED.”

In May 2012, London’s Telegraph headlined “Google invites the best and brightest into its Big Tent.”

It’s Google’s annual Zeitgeist conference. The Telegraph compared it to annual Davos World Economic Forum meetings. Major global figures participate in both.

Eric Schmidt thinks “privacy is a relic of the past,” said Infowars. He “plans to turn Google into the ultimate Big Brother.”

He and Bilderberg members share a common agenda. In part, it reflects a “collectivist, permanently networked world (without) individuality and privacy.”

Bilderberg’s grand design is one-world government comprised of rulers and serfs. It wants total unchallenged global control.

Infowars said its “inside source” listed the following June issues for discussion:

  • destroying Iran’s nuclear facilities within three years;
  • prolonging war on Syria by arming anti-Assad elements;
  • the threat of a global pandemic;
  • controlling 3D printing;
  • Internet control through “cyber resilience;”
  • establishing a ministry of truth; Orwell explained its mission and more, saying:

“The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation.”

“These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink.”

Other Bilderberg topics include:

  • smart cities for mass surveillance;
  • diffusing austerity induced social protests;
  • preventing Britain from leaving the EU;
  • propping up the euro to keep the Eurozone intact;
  • minimal 2013 economic growth;
  • increasing central bank power;
  • transferring more wealth from ordinary people to corporations and super-rich elites; and
  • preventing a growing credit bubble from popping.

In 2007, Privacy International’s “Race to the Bottom” report addressed privacy rankings of Internet service companies. A previous article discussed its comments on Google, saying:

“….throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google’s approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations.”

It’s “an endemic threat to privacy. This is in part due to the diversity and specificity of Google’s product range and the ability of the company to share extracted data between these tools, and in part due to Google’s market dominance and the sheer size of its user base.”

“Its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques” is unmatched.

It’s able to “deep drill into the minutiae of a user’s life and lifestyle choices.” It has no qualms about doing it irresponsibly.

It retains volumes user information. No limitations are placed on its subsequent use or disclosure. Users aren’t able to delete or withdraw it.

It retains all “search strings and associated IP-addresses and time stamps for at least 18 to 24 months, and does not provide users with an expungement option.”

It has other personal information on hobbies, employment, addresses, phone numbers, and more. It retains it after users delete their profiles.

It “collects all search results entered through Google Toolbar, and identifies all Google Toolbar users with a unique cookie that allows Google to track the user’s web movements.”

Information is retained indefinitely. It provides a permanent record. Doing so spurns OECD Privacy Guidelines and EU data protection law provisions.

Users can’t edit or delete records and information. They can’t access log information generated through various Google services, such as Google Maps, Video, Talk, Reader, or Blogger.

In 2004, Google also acquired the CIA-linked company Keyhole, Inc. It maintains a worldwide 3-D spy-in-the-sky images database.

Its software provides a virtual fly-over and zoom-in capability. It does so within a one-foot resolution.

It’s supported by In-Q-Tel. It’s a venture capital CIA-funded firm. It “identif(ies) and invest(s) in companies developing cutting-edge information technologies that serve United States national security interests.”

In 2003, its CEO, John Hanke, said:

“Keyhole’s strategic relationship with In-Q-Tel means that the Intelligence Community can now benefit from the massive scalability and high performance of the Keyhole enterprise solution.”

In 2006, former CIA clandestine services case officer, Robert Steele, said:

“I am quite positive that Google is taking money and direction from my old colleague Dr. Rick Steinheiser in the Office of Research and Development at CIA, and that Google has done at least one major prototype effort focused on foreign terrorists which produced largely worthless data.”

“I think (Google is) stupid to be playing with CIA, which cannot keep a secret and is more likely to waste time and money than actually produce anything useful.”

On April 29, 2009, Willem Buiter’s Financial Times article headlined “Gagging on Google,” saying:

“Google is to privacy and respect for intellectual property rights what the Taliban are to women’s rights and civil liberties: a daunting threat that must be fought relentlessly by all those who value privacy and the right to exercise, within the limits of the law, control over the uses made by others of their intellectual property.”

It should be strictly regulated, “and if necessary, broken up or put out of business.” It “lays the foundations for corporate or even official Big Brotherism.”

Google Street View’s addition to Google Maps, “provides panoram(ic) images visible from street level in cities around the world.”

“The cameras record details of residents’ lives.” They do so without permission. Personal privacy is violated.

It’s also done through tracking cookies or “third-party persistent cookies.” They assist interest-based advertising. It’s known as behavioral targeting.

In the wrong hands, information can be used “to put a commercial squeeze on people, but also to extort and blackmail them.”

In government hands, it enhances “a pretty effective and very nasty police state.”

Can Google be trusted to use this information responsibly? “Of course not.” It’s a business run by “amoral capitalists.” It seeks profits by any means.

Google and other Internet search engines “should not be trusted because they cannot be trusted.” Because of its size and dominance, Google’s “the new evil empire of the internet.” It’s a menacing “Leviathan.”

If true, partnering (merging) with Bilderberg enhances the threat. Institutionalized spying endangers everyone. Today’s technology exceeds the worst of what Orwell imagined.

Big Brother isn’t fiction. It’s watching everyone all the time for any reason. It does so with sweeping technological effectiveness. It makes Bilderberg’s ideal world more possible.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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One knows things are bad in Palestine when even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, known for his brutal heavy-handiness against the Palestinians, has to decry what he calls ‘acts of hooliganism’ against them. These behaviors, known as price-tag attacks, are committed against Palestinians and Israeli security forces by Jewish youth living in violation of international law in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. The point, apparently, is to extract a ‘price’ for actions taken against their illegal settlements. What actions Israeli security forces are taking, or have taken, were not mentioned.

In response, Mr. Netanyahu made this astounding statement:  “I wish to condemn two phenomena that we have witnessed recently: Racism against Israeli Arabs and acts of hooliganism against Palestinians, without any provocation or justification”. He promised to “act with all legal means at our disposal to stop them.”

This writer finds these to be most bewildering statements. How, he asks himself, can Mr. Netanyahu decry ‘acts of hooliganism’, which include brutal and vicious assaults, when his Israel Defense Forces (IDF) comprise one of the most brutal and vicious terrorist organizations in the world, killing, maiming and terrorizing Palestinians, on their own land, on a daily basis? How can he promise, with a straight face, to ‘act with all legal means at our disposal to stop them’, when he continually shows his complete disdain for international law by increasing settlement activity on Palestinian land?

And Israel has now devised a new way to torture and humiliate Palestinians. It has somehow developed a horrible smelling substance, ostensibly for use in breaking up unruly crowds of Palestinian demonstrators. The liquid is sprayed on people, and the smell is so offensive that they flee from it.

Well, one supposes this is better than the rubber bullets, which are about the most benign weaponry Israel ever uses against Palestinians and internationals supporting them.  Yet current reports indicate that IDF terrorists go into peaceful neighborhoods, and spray the putrid fumes on private homes, where the occupants are merely trying to live as normally as possible under cruel and horrific occupation. Business as usual for apartheid Israel.

But getting back to the original point, Mr. Netanyahu seems to define ‘hooliganism’ somewhat differently than this writer understands the term. Some minor vandalism, graffiti on walls or cars, etc., might be viewed as hooliganism, but the term seems to stop short of assault and battery, and attempted murder. So these rampaging Israeli youths, attacking Palestinians because they dare to object to the theft of their land, are not, in this writer’s view, hooligans. They are criminals, guilty of hate crimes, and should be prosecuted as such. But in an apartheid nation such as Israel, that just isn’t going to happen.

But perhaps these ‘childish’ expressions of displeasure on the part of Israeli youths are excusable. The director of Child and Adolescent Clinical Services, Ruth Pat-Horencyzyk, said that these ‘youngsters’ probably suffer the psychological effects of surviving terrorist acts.  Said she: “Those adolescents were exposed to terrorist attacks and developed post-traumatic symptoms… they tend to exercise twice as much risk-taking behaviors. Attacking innocent people just because they are Arabs, with no provocation whatsoever. And that’s very typical to people who feel in survival mode state.”

Since 2000, at least 8,000 Palestinian children have been arrested by the IDF. Have they, and all Palestinians, not also been ‘exposed to terrorist attacks and developed post-traumatic symptoms’? Is this only an excuse for Israeli youths living in illegal settlements to attack Palestinians, but isn’t seen as justification for any violence perpetrated by Palestinian youths, most, if not all, of whom experience horrific terrorist attacks on a frequent basis, including the destruction of their homes to make way for Israeli-only roads and settlements, constant harassment by IDF terrorists, and the continued humiliation of their parents? Is there no sympathy for them when they throw a rock at a U.S.-provided tank that is patrolling their street, taking their land and making them homeless?

Mr. Netanyahu and his co-Zionists will not be satisfied until every vestige of Palestinian existence is purged from Palestine. That in 2013, one country can, with impunity, perpetrate the horrors that Israel inflicts on the Palestinians is beyond shocking. Not in the U.S. , of course, where the American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has bought and paid for most of Congress and the White House. In those hallowed halls, such lofty concepts of ‘human rights’ and peoples’ right to self-determination are only offered conditionally. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, widely seen as the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016, said this about Syrian rebels in 2012: “…we cannot ask the opposition to unilaterally give up their struggle for justice, dignity, and self-determination.” Yet during Israel’s barbaric bombardment of the Gaza Strip in November of 2012, she made this amazing statement: “The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on these (Israeli) cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored.” No comments now about not asking ‘the opposition (Palestine) to unilaterally give up their struggle for justice, dignity, and self-determination.’ Without a powerful lobby to influence and purchase U.S. so-called representatives, Palestinian human rights are not even considered.

If Mr. Netanyahu considers that barbaric assaults by Israeli youths on Palestinians are acts of hooliganism that must be stopped, he might want to consider his own such acts, on steroids, and think about stopping them. But no, a few words to the press to show his great concern, yearning for peace, desire for a fair and equitable solution, etc., etc., are always sufficient to mask his land theft, torture and terrorism towards the Palestinians. The U.S. press is always happy to report those oh-so-appealing sound bites, but somewhat more hesitant to inform their readers and listeners about the unspeakable sufferings endured by the Palestinians at the hands of apartheid Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the weak, spineless leader of Fatah which supposedly rules the West Bank, hesitates to petition the International Criminal Court for redress. Did he displease his U.S. puppet masters so severely last year, when he successfully petitioned the United Nations for recognition, that he dare not do it again? One can think of no other reason for him not to utilize Palestine’s new position in the United Nations to assist the suffering Palestinian people. Does he think Mr. Netanyahu will suddenly be filled with compassion for the Palestinians? Does he think U.S. president Barack Obama will decide to stop funding Israel and its terrorists? No, even Mr. Abbas is not so naïve.

It is long past time for Palestine’s incompetent and corrupt leadership to risk the financial wrath of the U.S. and go to the United Nations to seek redress for Israel’s countless crimes against Palestine. With each delay, more illegal settlements are planned and built, more Palestinian land is lost, and the prospects for a free, independent and prosperous Palestine fade. It is an unspeakable disgrace that the world community has tolerated this for so long, but it took a giant step toward rectifying the situation last November, when Palestine was admitted to the U.N. as a Non-Member Observer State. With Mr. Abbas recognized internationally as Palestine’s leader, the next move is his to make. That he has delayed this long only compounds his disgrace.

C’est Une Révolte,  Pas (Encore) Une Revolution! This is a revolt, not (yet) a revolution!” A reference to the famous conversation during the outbreak of the French Revolution between King Louis XVI and one of his advisors.  [1]

On May Day 2013, the police poured tonnes of tear gas on tens of thousands of workers and youth in different quarters of Istanbul, Turkey in order to stop them from approaching Taksim Square. The government had decided that this square, the traditional venue for May Day celebrations and home to daily political actions big and small, was to be shut to demonstrations this year because development work was being done on a massive scale involving huge excavated pits making it dangerous for crowds. In a ludicrous act, the governor of Istanbul stood atop a mound at the edge of one of those pits to hold a press conference in a desperate attempt to drive home the threat that these pits represented for people.

Exactly one month later, on Saturday June 1, the masses protesting against the urban plans behind this development work and against the government itself had captured the square and made it the freest part of Istanbul, or rather of Turkey! The police withdrew that afternoon from Taksim Square to abandon the place to the thronging crowds of protestors unfathomably numbering in the hundreds of thousands! It has now been three days and not one single soul has fallen into the scarecrow pit! The symbolism is striking: This is the biggest defeat for the AKP government and for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan ever since the party came to power a decade ago.

This is a fact of momentous importance. Despite the deep contradictions within the Turkish bourgeoisie over the last decade, pitting the Westernist-secularist dominant wing against the newly ascendant Islamist wing, involving coup plots and imprisonment of top brass, it is not any force from within the ruling class, but the popular masses that teach Erdogan his first serious lesson! For the hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets and squares of at least 48 of the 91 provincial capital cities of the country and for the many millions behind them supporting the struggle morally from within their homes, nothing is taken for granted any more. This is a mass of people shining forth with self-confidence and a feeling that it is they who represent what is just and right. They defy all the conventions and limitations of the existing legal system regulating political activity.

Spontaneity and Heterogeneity

Yes, this is a rebellion, the revolt of a whole people against an oppressive government that has overseen processes of brutal capitalist exploitation over a full decade. But it is not yet a revolution. For the people do want to bring the government down (the major unifying slogan is “Erdogan resign!” or “Government resign!”), but are not organized, nor can they yet become organized so as to set up an alternative government that represents their aspirations and interests. This is not a struggle for power, but a gigantic movement that has taken the whole (or almost the whole, see below) country in its grip that cries out its grievances and wants to remove from the scene what it sees as the cause of all ills, the Erdogan government.

As in almost all the cases of revolutionary or pre-revolutionary outburst around the Mediterranean basin within the last five years (Greece December 2008, Tunisia and Egypt 2010-11, Spain 2011), the revolt in Turkey is also a totally spontaneous one uncontrolled by any single or several political or social organization. This is both a strength and a weakness. It is a strength in the early stages because it brings in the most incredible sections and layers of society without fear of manipulation by a political organization not to their liking. It is definitely a weakness in the long term since if the revolt were to turn into a revolution, this could only triumph under the leadership of one or more political parties with a strong following in the mass movement.

But even in the medium term (and, in this kind of concrete situation, when we talk about the medium term, we are talking weeks, if not days) it is also a weakness since it paradoxically leaves the movement vulnerable to the machinations of wings of the bourgeois political establishment that wish to recuperate the movement through more subtle methods (refused by Erdogan, who has persisted and signed) and this way put an early end to the rebellion before it starts to get out of hand and starts to threaten the bases of capitalist rule in the country. This kind of alternative has already started taking shape in the form of an alliance between Abdullah Gul, the president of the republic (of AKP origin himself), a political figure who is in political rivalry with Erdogan for the next presidential elections, and Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the CHP, the Turkish member of the misnamed Socialist International. Since Erdogan has departed on a tour of North African countries and since Bulent Arinc, deputy prime minister acting as prime minister temporarily, takes a line that is critical of Erdogan’s stance also, they will probably try to absorb the movement through some minor concessions to the mass movement in coming days, with Erdogan conveniently absent while soft methods alien to him are being implemented. Behind this kind of solution would stand at least TUSIAD, the organization of the pro-Western wing of finance capital, if not other organizations of the Turkish ruling classes. This kind of face saving resolution of the problem is made all the more urgent since even at this stage the capitalist economy is threatened by the situation Turkey finds itself in. On Monday, day four of the revolt but the first day when the Istanbul Stock Exchange was open, the markets took a nose dive, closing more than 10 per cent on a catastrophic day.

On the other hand, the movement itself is extremely heterogeneous both in class terms and in ideological-political orientation. In class composition, one can easily assert that this is a multi-class movement, with the modern sections of the petty-bourgeoisie totally immersed in a Western life style, the intelligentsia, the upper echelons of the proletariat and the youth in the forefront. The working-class proper is not oblivious to the movement, but has not yet either thrown its organized weight behind the movement or put forth its specific class demands.

Ideologically and politically three broad tendencies may be discerned, with infinite variations in each category. There is the ecological sensibility, unfortunately marred by the left liberalism (in the European sense of the term “liberal”) of great parts of the left in Turkey, which makes them easy prey to the machinations of what they would consider as the “democratic” and “civilized” wing of the bourgeoisie. There is, secondly, a very strong, one would even say dominant, Turkish nationalist tendency, ranging from the CHP through myriad Kemalist associations to the ex-Maoist, Kemalist, quasi-fascistic Labour Party. And, of course, there is the motley collection of Turkish socialist and revolutionary forces, skilled and seasoned in street fighting, but lacking in political acumen or programmatic horizon.

The aspirations of the three tendencies are very different from each other. For the ecological cum left liberal tendency, the great dream is Turkey’s accession to the European Union. So any deal that makes TUSIAD happy would possibly leave them satisfied as well. The nationalist tendency is divided between Atlanticism and a pro-EU stance, on the one hand, and a Eurasian orientation, on the other. However, both of these sub-currents are united against the creeping Islamization that the AKP has been carrying out successfully over a decade. They are all “republicans,” i.e. they defend Kemal Ataturk‘s principles and wish well to the pro-Western wing of the bourgeoisie, that is, the wing represented again by TUSIAD. (The contradiction that the reader may sense in two very different tendencies represented by the left liberals and the nationalists in their common support for TUSIAD is a contradiction that exists in real life!)

The socialist left in its majority unfortunately tail-ends either one or the other of the above tendencies. There is, of course, a third major tendency that supports the Kurdish cause, of which more in a moment. It is only if the major actors missing for the moment come into the fray that the left can even begin to pose an alternative solution to the crisis.

The Missing Actors

The fate of the great popular rebellion in Turkey will be decided by the following questions: Will the Kurdish movement join the rebellion or will it implicitly side with the AKP government? And will the core battalions of the working-class come forth with their class-based demands and forms of struggle?

On the first question, despite our whole-hearted support for the rights of the Kurdish people, including self-determination, we feel duty-bound to underline, without unfortunately being able to go into detail, that the Kurdish movement is on the wrong track in having accepted the terms of Erdogan for the so-called “peace” process. This will oblige them to support the expansionist and adventurist hegemonic role that the AKP government seeks to establish for Turkey in the whole region of the Middle East and North Africa and beyond. Even at this early stage, when the “peace” process has hardly covered any distance at all, it has also so far stopped them from supporting the popular rebellion because this would, they fear, throw cold water over their relations with the AKP government and spoil the whole “peace” process. This, one is forced to underline, is a most backward position for what was once a national revolutionary movement with Marxist leanings. In their defence, one should remember that for three decades, while the Kurdish masses were being persecuted and assassinated, most of the people out on the streets now were looking the other way, if not lending straightforward support to the criminal actions of the Turkish state.

Regarding the working-class, one should face the truth squarely and admit that at the polling booth, the core of the working-class has been voting for Erdogan and that major battalions of the class (from the metal workers to road and transport) are regimented by extremely bureaucratic unions that bow before the onslaught of the capitalist class and have recently sought to secure the conditions of their own existence through servitude to Erdogan. One most recent instance of such shameless capitulation was seen in the heat of the popular rebellion itself. The right-wing leadership of the largest metal workers union had refused the terms of the bosses’ organization and had proclaimed a strike applicable some time in June. It then signed that same collective bargaining agreement the very night when popular anger grabbed the streets of Istanbul. A coincidence? Not at all. The leader of this union has posed his candidacy for the position of leader of the largest labour confederation and is declaring his loyalty to Erdogan so that he can take the job!

However, the working-class does display tendencies toward joining the big revolt movement. There have been repeated marches, night after night, in different working-class neighbourhoods on the outskirts of cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Antalya. If only this potential could be mustered to form an organized movement, the whole situation would promise to change from one of rebellion with uncertain horizons to a revolution with clear ends.

These are the hidden resources of the rebellion in Turkey. Should the working-class come into the fight with its specific demands and form of struggle, the whole balance of forces would change. The class struggle federation that represents public employees (KESK) had already declared a sector-wide strike for 5 June. Should this be taken up by the rest of the union movement and made into a general strike, the rebellion in Turkey would make a giant step forward.

The other reserve force is, of course, the Kurdish national movement. The cities of Turkish Kurdistan are as yet quiescent. Should they decide to join their brothers and sisters of the rest of Turkey, an explosion of unfathomable proportions would shake Turkey, the Middle East and beyond. •

Sungur Savran is based in Istanbul and is one of the editors of the newspaper Gercek (Truth) and the theoretical journal Devrimci Marksizm (Revolutionary Marxism), both published in Turkish. This article was written on 4 June, 2013.

Notes:

1. “This is a revolt, not (yet) a revolution!” A reference to the famous conversation during the outbreak of the French Revolution between King Louis XVI and one of his advisors.

Obama Wants Whistleblowers Silenced

June 5th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Sibel Edmonds founded the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition (NSWBC). She did so to aid “national security whistleblowers through a variety of methods.”

The ACLU called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States.”

Since 1977, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) calls itself “the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.”

“What is a Whistleblower,” it asks?

Anyone “who discloses information that (he or she) reasonably believes is evidence of illegality, gross waste or fraud, mismanagement, abuse of power, general wrongdoing, or a substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.”

“Typically, whistleblowers speak out to parties that can influence and rectify the situation.”

“These parties include the media, organizational managers, hotlines, or Congressional members/staff, to name a few.”

On April 1, activist lawyers launched the Whistleblowers Defense League (WDL). Founding members include Jay Leiderman, Dennis Roberts, and Jason Flores-Williams.

Center for Constitutional Rights President Emeritus Michael Ratner praised their initiative, saying:

“Every effort that focuses on the defense of whistleblowers, internet free speech activists, publishers and others persecuted by the US government is to be applauded.”

“This group joins many other(s) who are already defending those accused of shining light on the dark secrets of government and corporations.”

A WDL announcement said:

“We have entered a dangerous time in America. The FBI and Department of Justice are using harassment and prosecution as a tool to chill and silence journalism, on-line activism and dissent.”

Co-founder Jay Leiberman stressed that “People are being subpoenaed, indicted and incarcerated for simply exploring the truth.”

“The government has amended the constitution with fear.”

“In response, a nation-wide group of expert criminal defense attorneys have formed the Whistleblower Defense League to defend and encourage those willing to investigate and speak out against the corporate and political forces threatening our democracy.”

Candidate Obama promised transparency, accountability, and reform. President Obama targeted more whistleblowers than all his predecessors combined.

He usurped diktat powers to do so. He prioritizes police state harshness. On January 25, he issued a barely noticed memorandum titled:

“Presidential Memorandum – Rulemaking Concerning the Standards for Designating Positions in the Competitive Service as National Security Sensitive and Related Matters”

It pertains to proposed “amended regulations contained in the Office of Personnel Management’s notice of proposed rulemaking in 75 Fed. Reg. 77783 (December 14, 2010),”

Its purpose “is to clarify the requirements and procedures agencies should observe when designating national security positions as required under EO 10450, Security Requirements for Government Employment.”

National security positions are defined as “any position(s) in a department or agency, the occupant of which could bring about, by virtue of the nature of the position, a material adverse effect on the national security.”

“The purpose of the revisions is to clarify the categories of positions which, by virtue of the nature of their duties, have the potential to bring about a material adverse impact on the national security, whether or not the positions require access to classified information.”

Another purpose is to properly designate each position with regard to public trust and national security considerations.

Both are necessary, it says, “for determining appropriate investigative requirements.” Clarification is needed to decide when they’re required.

At issue is establishing standards to give federal officials authorization to fire employees without appeal. They can be designated ineligible to hole “noncritical sensitive” jobs for any reason or none at all.

They can be prosecuted for disclosing information the public has a right to know. Doing so can be called compromising national security.

Longstanding civil service law doesn’t matter. It’s fundamental for protecting whistleblower rights. One of the first laws enacted was the 1863 United False Claims Act. It targeted persons and federal contractors defrauding the government.

The 1978 Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) abolished the Civil Service Commission. Three new agencies replaced it: the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), and the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA).

OPM advises executive branch agencies. It issues human resources regulations.

FLRA’s responsible for federal employee rights. It focuses on issues related to collective bargaining.

MSPB handles federal employee appeals. It does so with regard to discipline, discrimination and dismissals.

CSRA prohibits discrimination based on marital status, race, religion, political activity or affiliation. Affected employees may petition the Office of Special Counsel.

The 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act protects federal employees who report misconduct. Federal agencies are prohibited from retaliating against those who do so.

Whistleblowers may report law or regulatory violations, gross mismanagement, waste, fraud and/or abuse, or acts endangering public health or safety.

The Office of Special Council is empowered to investigate whistleblower complaints.

The Merit Systems Protection Board adjudicates them.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is the only judicial body authorized to hear whistleblower case appeals. Since the Whistleblower Protection Act was revised in 1994, it ruled on 203 cases. Only three times did whistleblowers prevail.

At least 18 federal statutes protect private sector whistleblowers. They fall short of full protection. What corporations want they get.

They write legislation Congress passes. Sarbanes-Oxley, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, and Dodd-Frank are three of many examples.

On November 27, 2012, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) became law.

Government Accountability Project Legal Director Tom Devine said:

“This reform took 13 years to pass because it can make so much difference against fraud, waste and abuse.”

“Government managers at all levels made pleas and repeatedly blocked the bill through procedural sabotage.”

“But once there were no more secret ‘holds,’ the WPEA passed unanimously, because no politician in a free society can openly oppose freedom of speech.”

Reforms enacted protect federal employees from reprisal for:

  • disclosing misconduct;
  • revealing it to co-workers or supervisors;
  • disclosing policy decision consequences; or
  • doing any or all of the above in relation to their position or duties.

Obama signed the legislation into law. He’s targeted whistleblowers more aggressively than all his predecessors combined. He circumvented or ignored legal provisions.

His January 25 memorandum makes it easier to do so. Whistleblower advocacy groups expressed concern.

During Obama’s first term, he targeted record numbers of government employees, journalists and others.

He did so on national security grounds. Prosecutions were for allegedly leaking classified information. True or false doesn’t matter.

At issue is revealing information Washington wants kept secret. Anyone challenging government authority is vulnerable. So are supporters of right over wrong.

A Final Comment

On May 24, The Government Accountability Project headlined “GAP Praises Long-Overdue Overhaul of Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2013 (MMPEA).”

On February 14, HR 704: Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act was introduced. It was sent to committee. No further action was taken.

On May 24, Senator Mark Warner (D. VA) introduced a companion bill. It falls short of what’s needed. It relates to sexual assaults. They’re one of many abuses needing addressing and redress.

GAP Legal Director Tom Devine said:

“Sexual assaults in the military continue for the same reasons as other human rights violations – secrecy coupled with weak or nonexistent rights to challenge abuses of power.”

“For 25 years, the Military Whistleblower Protection Act has been so weak that GAP has advised soldiers not to file complaints under it.”

“This legislation would replace token rights with those equivalent to the civil service Whistleblower Protection Act.”

Enactment will be a step in the right direction. Doing so won’t protect whistleblower rights.

Stronger measures with teeth are needed. Everyone deserves them. Fundamental freedoms are on the line. They’re disappearing in plain sight.

Vitally important whistleblower rights alone are threatened. Legislation protecting them falls short of what’s needed. Obama wants laws entirely circumvented.

His January 25 memorandum addresses establishing new standards. He wants them overriding existing protections. He claims his mandate applies solely to positions deemed “sensitive.”

Proposed rules are vague. They provide wiggle room to target anyone for any reason or none at all. So-called “sensitive” positions include any potentially having “a material adverse impact” on national security.

Saying so is in the eye of the beholder. Virtually all government employees are vulnerable. So are journalists, military personnel, activists and others. First Amendment rights are threatened.

Anyone exposing government or military wrongdoing can be fired, fined, prosecuted, court martialed, and/or imprisoned.

Doing so reflects police state justice. America’s on a fast track toward institutionalizing it. It could arrive full-blown any time. Any pretext real or invented could justify it. Rogue states govern that way.

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

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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

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The U.S. government wants to lock away Pvt. Bradley Manning for life because he released hundreds of thousands of classified documents that he believes revealed war crimes and other wrongdoing. But overlooked is how much damage over-classification does to the Republic, says Robert Parry.

I thought of Pvt. Bradley Manning when I recently received a response to one of my Freedom of Information Act requests to Ronald Reagan’s presidential library. I was seeking documents about President Reagan’s secret strategy of aiding Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in its war with Iran.

Reagan’s tilt to Iraq in the early 1980s – while his administration also was winking at Israeli weapons sales to Iran – was part of a clandestine U.S. approach to the region which generated huge profits for arms dealers while feeding sectarian violence and political animosities that echo to the present day. It seemed to me that it was way past time to know the full truth.

However, though many of the events in question are now more than 30 years old – and thus are commonly thought to be readily accessible under FOIA – the reality is that the U.S. government still makes seeing such documents extremely difficult.

The letter from the Reagan library said the archivists would not even begin to process my request for “128 months,” that is more than 10 years, and then the process would involve time-consuming declassification reviews in which various agencies with “equity” interests would each have to sign off, along with whoever the sitting president is.

And, were I to die or lose interest in the interim, the process would go back to square one, waiting for some other interested American citizen to put in a new request and starting the clock again. In other words, we might all be dead before these records will be open to the public.

There is an old saying that “justice delayed is justice denied,” but the concept also applies to historical accountability. History delayed can mean accountability denied.

Plus, there’s no guarantee that some hypothetical historian far into the future will fully understand what the documents mean once they are, hypothetically, released. Since the people who lived through the relevant era might have left the scene, references or details may not be understood. In other words, there’s a great danger that the history will be permanently lost.

Besides the loss of history, there is also a more immediate concern: If the American people don’t know what their government did – and who did it – they can be led down the same dangerous paths by the same people who created the dangers in the first place. On a geopolitical level, it’s a bit like one of those suspense stories in which the young heroine fleeing a serial killer is putting her misguided trust in the villain as he poses as a protector of her safety.

For instance, if the American people had been allowed a full understanding of what George H.W. Bush had done as Vice President and President, would they have been so gullible to have allowed his eldest son to elbow his way into the White House? It was their misguided trust in the elder George Bush that bought Junior the benefit of the doubt. [See Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Similarly, if the American people knew the complete story about the neocons who were credentialed by the Reagan administration – including their role in Central American atrocities and their clever use of propaganda – would the public have been so easily duped into the Iraq invasion?

Or, if they knew that Robert Gates was a behind-the-scenes figure in some of the scandalous operations of the Reagan era – as much evidence suggests – would they have trusted him as a Wise Man brought in to counsel leaders, such as George W. Bush and Barack Obama on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Would his “words of wisdom” be fawningly transcribed by U.S. journalists? [See Parry’s America’s Stolen Narrative.]

Endangering Democracy

In other words, America’s overly classified history, which is locked away in government vaults for decades, is itself a threat to national security, not to mention an affront to anything close to a meaningful democracy. The hyper-secrecy also creates fertile ground for nutty conspiracy theories, further destabilizing the Republic.

So, the cavalier expression that I often heard in the 1980s when news executives grew bored with Iran-Contra and related scandals – “oh, let’s leave that for the historians!” – wasn’t just bad journalism; it was a threat to the nation and to the world.

To this day, Americans have gotten only glimpses of Reagan’s cynical policies in the Middle East. Snapshots have emerged from the Iran-Contra Affair, which exposed some of the clandestine arms shipments to Iran, and from a sworn affidavit by Howard Teicher, a staffer on Reagan’s National Security Council who disclosed some of the secret collaboration with Iraq.

But nothing close to the full history has ever been revealed – and many conflicting assertions remain, such as whether the Iran side of this operation originated from treacherous Republican-Iranian contacts behind President Jimmy Carter’s back before Election 1980 and whether Teicher’s affidavit is entirely accurate. That is where my FOIA request came in.

Which brings me back to Bradley Manning whose trial for leaking government secrets is set to begin on Monday, with the prosecution seeking life imprisonment for the young private who is accused of aiding the enemy. Most fair-minded people would agree that some of Manning’s information was beneficial to the public’s right to know, revealing details of human rights violations and exposing corrupt government officials around the world.

However, the conventional wisdom within U.S. government circles and the mainstream news media is that Manning’s wholesale release of secrets to WikiLeaks endangered civilians who collaborated with American forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere and impaired U.S. foreign policy by revealing the frank opinions of American diplomats.

Yet, while it may be true – although it remains unproven – that some innocents were put at risk and that U.S. diplomacy has been made more complicated, Manning’s unauthorized release of hundreds of thousands of documents must be weighed against the U.S. government’s hiding of hundreds of millions of documents.

The simple truth is that the vast majority of those “secret” documents do not represent any reasonable threat to national security. And, to the contrary, the continued over-classification represents a clear and present danger to the Republic, both because secrecy undermines democracy and because ignorance makes voters vulnerable to deceptive politicians who, in turn, can inflict serious harm on the real national security.

So, when you hear someone condemning Bradley Manning for releasing government secrets, you might think about my attempt to go through the proper channels to see 30-year-old documents on U.S. policy toward Iraq — and being told that I’ll have to wait at least “128 months.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).