Men’s testosterone levels across all age groups have been plummeting over the last couple of decades, probably due to environmental factors. As Reuters reported in 2006:

A new study has found a “substantial” drop in U.S. men’s testosterone levels since the 1980s, but the reasons for the decline remain unclear. This trend also does not appear to be related to age.

The average levels of the male hormone dropped by 1 percent a year, Dr. Thomas Travison and colleagues from the New England Research Institutes in Watertown, Massachusetts, found. This means that, for example, a 65-year-old man in 2002 would have testosterone levels 15 percent lower than those of a 65-year-old in 1987. This also means that a greater proportion of men in 2002 would have had below-normal testosterone levels than in 1987.

“The entire population is shifting somewhat downward we think,” Travison told Reuters Health. “We’re counting on other studies to confirm this.”

Travison and his team analyzed data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, a long-term investigation of aging in about 1,700 Boston-area men. Data from the men were collected for three time intervals: 1987-1989, 1995-1997, and 2002-2004.

***

The researchers observed a speedier decline in average testosterone levels than would have been expected with aging alone.

***

It’s likely that some sort of environmental exposure is responsible for the testosterone decline, Travison said, although he said attempting to explain what this might be based on the current findings would be “pure conjecture.”

Men’s Health wrote in 2007:

In the summer of 2006, Travison attended an Endocrine Society meeting where another researcher, Antti Perheentupa M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Turku, in Finland, presented evidence of a similar decline. The Finnish results suggested the change was happening among younger men, too. A man born in 1970 had about 20 percent less testosterone at age 35 than a man of his father’s generation at the same age. “When I saw another group reproducing our results,” says Travison, “that was convincing to me that we were seeing a true biological change over time, as opposed to just some measurement error.”

***

Mitch Harman M.D., Ph.D., an endocrinologist at the University of Arizona college of medicine and the director of the Kronos Longevity Research Institute, sees the shadow of Silent Spring. Back in 1962, when Rachel Carson published her environmental classic, estrogen-like substances in the insecticide DDT were making eggshells so thin that they were crushed by nesting parents; populations of eagles and other large birds plummeted. And today? Dr. Harman says, “I’m concerned that we’re just pouring chemicals out into our environment that are endocrine-suppressing, estrogen-like compounds,” possibly causing similar disruptions in human reproduction. The authors of a recent article in the Medical Journal of Australia likewise suggest that from early fetal life onward, male hormonal and reproductive functions are under “xenobiotic attack,” meaning chemicals not naturally found in the body appear to be disrupting normal biological development.

For instance, 90 percent of American men have evidence of chlorpyrifos in their urine. This shouldn’t be surprising, since up to 19 million pounds of the stuff was distributed across the United States in 1999 alone, much of it in household products like tick-and-flea powder for pets, lawn treatments, and common insecticides. Though residential use is now restricted, chlorpyrifos is still common in agriculture, as well as in some professional applications; for most people, diet is now the main source of exposure. In a recent Harvard study, men with the highest chlorpyrifos exposure typically had 20 percent less testosterone than those with the lowest exposure.

Carbaryl is another possible culprit. Detectable levels turn up in 75 percent of American men, and having it in your urine appears to be associated with reduced sperm count and liveliness, or motility, as well as increased DNA damage. And yet we still apply carbaryl to lawns and gardens at a rate of up to 4 million pounds a year, mostly by way of an insecticide known as Sevin. There should be a bumper sticker: Honey, the lawn shrunk my testicles.

Phthalates are also everywhere, almost certainly including your own body. Manufacturers use them in colognes and cosmetics and as softeners in plastics. Baby bottles now come “phthalate-free,” but hospital intravenous bags generally don’t. And yet some phthalates seem to have all of carbaryl’s unpleasant associations with reproductive health. And not just in men: Last year Greenpeace issued a warning against the danger of phthalates in your girlfriend’s sex toys. Then the Danish Environmental Protection Agency came riding to the rescue, declaring such toys safe—as long as she keeps it to an hour or less a day.

Scientists can’t say that any of the suspect chemicals actually cause the reproductive effects that are occurring. They can only point out troubling associations. But these associations seem to be proliferating. About 50 new chemicals come onto the market weekly, says Dr. Harman, and while testing for carcinogenicity is required, “there’s no systematized testing for subtle endocrine effects.”

We’re not likely to have good answers anytime soon. The reproductive problems of human males will remain understudied, says Dr. Harman, in part because federal research dollars are being diverted to issues like biological warfare and terrorism. “We might just wind up disappearing from the planet quietly,” he says, “because we were too busy fighting wars to figure out that our reproductive systems were going south.”

Moreover, as noted by the The Internet Journal of Urology in 2004:

There have been a number of studies over the past 15-20 years … which suggest that sperm counts in man are on the decline. Since these changes are recent and appear to have occurred internationally, it has been presumed that they reflect adverse effects of environmental or lifestyle factors on the male rather than, for example, genetic changes in susceptibility. If the decrease in sperm counts were to continue at the rate that it is then in a few years we will witness widespread male infertility.

Studies published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the journal Diabetes Care, the journal Heart and other major medical journals show that low testosterone levels not only lead to obesity, loss of muscle, weak bones and depression, but also increase the odds of heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimers and other major health problems.

In addition, low testosterone levels are correlated with decreased confidence, drive, ability to concentrate, and cognitive abilities.

The bottom line: Most men – and especially those over 30, fathers, or men who have been exposed to toxic chemicals or potent medications – need to maintain their testosterone levels to keep their health, power and confidence.

How to Boost Your Testosterone Level

There are numerous ways to boost your testosterone (we’ll call it “T”) level. Choose what works for you, depending on your health, finances, time and temperament.

Sprint

The International Journal of Sports Medicine found that, in young men, a six-second bout of sprinting increased serum total testosterone levels. Levels remained elevated during recovery.

Lift

Numerous studies have shown that resistance training is a powerful stimulant for testosterone production. So – if you are physically able – be sure to lift heavy things every now and again.

The rest intervals between sets can also stimulate different hormonal responses. A study published in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research found that resting 90 seconds between squat and bench press sets boosted post-workout T-levels the most.

Snooze

The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that lack of sleep dramatically lowers testosterone in healthy young men. Peak testosterone levels coincide with rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep onset. Getting 7-8 hours sleep a night – to make sure you get your REM sleep – will boost your T levels.

Chill Out

As shown by studies published in the the Journal of Hormones and Behavior, the European Journal of Applied Physiology and elsewhere, prolonged stress produces cortisol, which reduces T levels.

So take breaks and play sports, go for a walk, meditate, do yoga or do whatever else de-stresses you.

Get Excited

Newsweek reported in 2009:

Monkeys that see sexually active females register as much as a 400 percent jump in testosterone (nature’s own performance-enhancing drug) promoting lean muscle and quick recovery times, according to the Yerkes Center for Primate Research at Emory University. In humans, German researchershave found that just having an erection is enough to spur testosterone levels. it makes no difference whether a man is watching sex on a screen or having it in real life, his testosterone levels will go up. Just having an erection, in fact, is enough to spur production.

Such findings, along with work that shows family life to be a drain on testosterone levels, prompted Rutgers University sex researcher Helen Fisher to advise this month that males in the “captivity situation”-her term for married with kids-”go on the Internet and look at porn” as a kind of hormone-replacement therapy. “[Porn] drives up dopamine levels, which drives up your testosterone,” she tells NEWSWEEK, while kissing your wife or hugging your kids drives it down.

Indeed, marriage and fatherhood have both been shown to decrease testosterone levels.

(This post concentrates on science, not objectification of women, relationships, ethics, or addictions … all important things to reflect on. I am an ethical, happily-married man with kids, and I value all of those things tremendously. But I also know that if I didn’t have a strong sex drive, my T levels would be lower.)

Keep Your Vitamin D Levels Up

Vitamin D positively correlates with testosterone levels in men, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and researchers at the Medical University of Graz in Austria.

So make sure you get enough vitamin D.

Magnesium

The Journal of Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Analysis reports that magnesium levels correlate with T.

Calcium

Biological Trace Element Research notes that calcium levels correlate with T, at least in people who exercise a lot.

Zinc

The Journal Nutrition reports that a zinc deficiency predicts lowered testosterone in men.

But don’t take extra … supplementary doses of the mineral don’t boost T levels beyond normal in men with adequate dietary intake.

Eat Monounsaturated and Saturated Fat

We’ve previously documented that fats have gotten a bad rap, and that they are essential for our health. See this, this and this.

The Journal Lipids reports that olive oil – a monosaturated fat – converts cholesterol more easily into testosterone. So use raw olive oil on salads and in other dishes. (Coconut oil – a saturated fat – does the same thing, but to a lesser extent.)

While cholesterol has gotten the worst rap:

Cholesterol is actually a vital precursor to vitamin D, and to basic hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and adrenaline. If we don’t have enough cholesterol in our body, we will be sickly, impotent and depressed.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism reports that a low-fat, high-fiber diet reduced T levels in middle-aged men. The Journal of Applied Physiology reports:

Preexercise T was significantly positively correlated with percent energy fat, SFA [saturated fatty acids] and MUFA [monounsaturated fatty acids] ….

F2.medium Man Up: Boost Your Testosterone Levels for Health, Power and Confidence

(Click image above for larger picture.)

***

These data are consistent with the findings of several other investigations that have reported a decrease in T in individuals consuming a diet containing ∼20% fat compared with a diet containing ∼40% fat ….

The results from several investigations strongly suggest that dietary fat has a significant impact on T concentrations; however, the influence of different types of lipids on T is not as clear. In the present investigation, dietary fat, SFA, and MUFA were the best predictors of resting T concentrations. Interestingly, Tegelman et al. observed a significant positive correlation (r = 0.76) between percent energy fat and T in young athletic men, which is very similar to the correlation (r = 0.72) obtained in this study. Also, Adlercreutz et al. reported significant positive correlations between T and dietary fat, SFA, MUFA, and cholesterol in postmenopausal women. The same nutrients were positively correlated with T in the present investigation except for cholesterol, which showed a correlation of r = 0.53 (P = 0.07) with T. In contrast to the results obtained in this study, Key et al. reported a significant positive correlation (r = 0.37) between PUFA and T in male vegetarians and omnivores. Our results showed a nonsignificant correlation between PUFA and T and a significant negative correlation between the PUFA/SFA ratio and T. Thus dietary lipids appear to have a significant influence on resting T concentrations; however, the effect of different types of lipids on T regulation and metabolism is complicated and most likely influenced by a complex interaction of several nutritional and metabolic factors. This complexity is illustrated by the findings of Sebokova et al., who reported that alteration in the testicular plasma membrane and changes in the responsiveness of Leydig cells and subsequent T synthesis occur as a result of ingestion of different compositions of lipids.

Avoid Foods that Spike Blood Sugar Levels

Researchers found that 75 grams of pure glucose – and the resultant spike in blood sugar – was enough to drop T levels by as much as 25% in a random grouping of healthy, prediabetic, and diabetic men.

The glycemic index measures how much of a food converts into blood glucose. Because refined carbs have a higher glycemic index than even candy, you should watch the refined carbs.

Get Enough Antioxidants

Oxidative stress may decrease T. So get enough antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress.

Herbs

Numerous herbs and other substances have been shown to boost T (at least in rats):

  • Freshly-squeezed onion juice (but it’s possible that only girls from Transylvania will want to kiss you after drinking onion juice).
  • SAM-e, a compound produced by the liver (see this, this and this)

Note: I’m not a medical professional, and this should not be taken as medical – or marital – advice.

IT’S TAX TIME: IS IT TIME TO OCCUPY THE IRS?

April 4th, 2012 by Danny Schechter

Every year I trek down to a nondescript office building near Wall Street with a bag full of receipts and a belly full of anxiety.

When it’s tax time, I always hope for the best but…. I also had an accountant who I trusted to keep me on the up and up. He was recommended years earlier by the Yippie activist Abbie Hoffman, who wanted to avoid the Al Capone problem.

Abbie had been busted enough for his political activities and didn’t want more jail time for non-payment of taxes. So he had to be like the driven snow to withstand any audit. And he was. He was a revolutionary who held his nose and paid the man.

Back in the day, the government used IRS investigations to threaten political activists and intimidate activists that paid their taxes as opposed to those who became tax resisters to refuse to pay for wars.

Those war tax resisters seemed to always get special attention from the IRS enforcement division that wanted to make an example of a few often religious people challenging the people fronting for a “Defense” budget that never stopped growing, and has had little to do with real defense.,

I admire their bravery and defiance but haven’t had the guts to join them.

In some countries, tax defiance is growing against new taxes imposed in the aftermath of repugnant cutbacks in the name of austerity.

The New York Times reports from Ireland that there’s a massive boycott underway of a new property tax: “Anti-austerity protesters are claiming victory after the government acknowledged that around 50 percent of Ireland’s estimated 1.6 million homeowners failed to pay a new, flat-rate $133 property tax by the March 31 deadlines.”

Today, especially thanks to Occupy Wall Street, we know how economic inequality had grown while the people with the most money in society work the hardest not to not pay their fair share. They have been resisting for years, “legally” they claim.

Those armed with lobbyists and pricey tax firms have never seen a deduction they don’t like or a sleazy maneuver they wouldn’t try.

As Chuck Collins writes in his new book 99-1: “In 2010, 25 of the 100 largest U.S. companies paid their CEO more than they paid in U.S. taxes. This is largely because corporations in the global 1 percent use off shore tax havens to dodge their U.S. taxes.”

The “experts” who have looked at the taxes we pay look away with disgust. This is from Ezra Klein’s Blog in the Washington Post:

“Bruce Bartlett and Kevin Drum point to a striking table in the 2012 Economic Report of the President pdf showing that there’s a huge variation in what people of similar income levels actually pay in federal taxes:

Those in the middle-income quintile, for instance, can pay anywhere between 1.7 percent and 23.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. About a quarter of the wealthiest Americans, meanwhile, have a lower average tax rate (17.4 percent) than many of those in making far less money.

What explains the wild variation? Part of it is that some Americans — Mitt Romney is the most famous example — get a sizeable chunk of their income from capital gains, taxed at a lower rate than salaries. There are also a variety of deductions and credits in the tax code that only certain people either can or do take advantage of.

Bruce Bartlett comments that the tax code has become misaligned with basic fairness principles: “We can see, then, that the tax system in the United States violates the fundamental principles of income taxation.”

No surprise here, as we have watched the Republicans CUT the taxes of the richest Americans.

Americans For Financial Reform is trying to make the tax issue into a political controversy without much help from our tepid and complicit media, writing:

“With tax Day just around the corner, and so many Americans struggling to make ends meet, we can’t help but notice that Wall Street is still not paying their fair share.

Yesterday, we sent out a press release announcing that prominent bankers now supported a financial speculation tax. Of course, that was an April fools joke. They don’t. And they won’t. Which is why its so important for all of us to take action.

This April, send a message to President Obama, It’s Time to Tax Wall Street.

They add: “A small tax on financial transactions has the potential to raise significant revenue and simultaneously limit reckless short-term speculation that can threaten financial stability. We are writing to ask you to support such a tax for the United States. We are also asking that you put an end any Treasury Department opposition to the implementation of the tax in Europe. Many European countries are moving ahead with this idea, and so should the United States.”

The Democrats are legitimately attacking Republican Paul Ryan’s “budget” which will insure more tax breaks for the rich while at the same time backing a law that undercuts financial regulation, as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains:

“And then there’s the “Jumpstart Our Business Startups” or “JOBS” Act, which President Obama is expected to sign into law Thursday. It allows so-called “crowd funding” by which people whose net worth is less than $100,000 can gamble away (invest) up to 5 percent of their annual incomes in any get- rich-quick scam (start-up) that any huckster (entrepreneur) may sell them.

Forget the usual investor disclosures or other protections. In the interest of “streamlining,” Congress has streamlined the way to fraud. Although start-ups will have to market themselves through third-party portals approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, this is like limiting Bernie Madoff to making pitches over the radio. The SEC can barely keep track of Wall Street let alone thousands of Internet portals. Small wonder SEC Chair Mary Schapiro has been one of most outspoken critics of bill.

The bill was sold to Congress as a way to promote jobs (note the acronym) on the supposition that small start-ups create huge numbers of them. Wrong. That assumption comes from research by the Kauffman Foundation, which counted as a “start-up job” every laid-off worker who morphed into an independent contractor.”

This may be the year for OWS to consider Occupying the IRS, or at least finding a dramatic way of challenging the lack of fairness in our tax codes as well as the “priorities” the tax money currently funds including wars and subsidies for those that don’t need them

You don’t have to be, or have, an accountant to know the score.

Death and taxes will always be with us but this current tax regime is so skewed and disgusting that it demands to be junked and challenged.

News Dissector Danny Schechter writes the Newsdissector.net blog. His most recent book is Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street (Cosimo) and film Plunder (Pluderthecrimeofourtime.com) Comments to [email protected]

Over the past year, as Arab peoples in surrounding countries erupted in protest against dictators, security regimes, and failed social and economic policies, the Palestinian people living in their occupied homeland have remained quiescent. Neither have mass protests targeted the Palestinian “regime’s” policies or negotiating performance, nor has resistance to Israeli occupation escalated or taken more effective forms.

A Palestinian mother and daughter hold a sign with the flags of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Palestine with the question in Arabic: When?

In contrast to the turbulence and revolutionary potential of the Arab Spring, has neoliberal ideology, through its economic policy content, created a Palestinian constituency for normalcy and risk aversion that could hold back progress in the struggle for national liberation? In exploring the impact of recent neoliberal economic policies of the Palestinian Authority (PA) on living conditions and popular political consciousness, the burning question is whether these have succeeded in creating a people willing to resist encroachments upon their material gains and the liberal way of life.

Intuitively at least, the eventuality of a neoliberal complacency seems unlikely, if not absurd, for a people struggling for liberation from a regime of prolonged Israeli settler colonialism. Any informed observer cannot but be cognizant of the ravages on social fabric wrought by neoliberal policies in many countries, including within the neo/post-colonial range of experiences. To the extent that the fallout from the world economic crisis may evolve into a backlash that targets neoliberal policies and their impact globally and in the region, even if not necessarily their legitimacy, the need to elaborate a relevant critique in the Palestinian context becomes compelling.

This leads to a re-examination of conventional Palestinian patriotic wisdom. This “consensus,” discursively derived from Marxist revolutionary theory, holds that the Palestinian struggle has yet to reach the “stage” of national liberation, the PA “self-government” notwithstanding. The “national project/program,” led so far by a broad coalition of a national bourgeoisie and salaried middle class, camp-dwelling refugees, rural peasants and urban workers, has been traditionally invoked to postpone or subordinate pressing social agendas within Palestinian society by prioritizing independence and statehood. I enquire as to whether the horizontal range of pending Palestinian social equity deficits (youth, women, workers, farmers, depressed regions, etc.) might yet form a new basis to revive a twin struggle for national liberation and social emancipation in this new (Arab) decade.

A Shifting Palestinian Constituency for Neoliberalism

Seemingly disoriented by the changing regional landscape and the unexpected legitimization of political Islam, PLO political and diplomatic moves have become increasingly tentative and, indeed, contradictory. Over the past year, the PLO moved seamlessly from the announced “completion” of a two year “state building” project in the West Bank to an inconclusive national reconciliation process with Hamas in Gaza, to an international diplomatic “state-recognition” campaign in the UN that was self-aborted just as it was being launched. Most recently, the PLO engaged in an abject return to failed “exploratory” negotiations with Israel. Today, with its ammunition apparently spent, the PLO appears hard put to achieve the national reconciliation and unity that is widely considered a prerequisite for any progress in any direction.

The Palestinian national liberation movement appears weaker than at any time in the five decades since it was launched. It is hamstrung by Israeli occupation, donor funding cut threats, Arab governments’ and peoples’ distraction with the ongoing uprisings in the region, not to mention growing Palestinian disgruntlement with tight living conditions and weak leadership. New forces loom on the horizon, especially an emboldened Hamas whose Brethren are assuming power around the region, but which is also experiencing its own crisis owing to the rapidly transforming regional landscape and recognition that its governance achievements are mediocre, at best.

Of more recent genealogy, a diffuse, more youthful coalition of social forces has entered the scene. They are inspired by and learning from the unfolding revolutionary turmoil among their own young Arab “brethren,” unencumbered by the legacy of PLO factionalism and generally resistant to appeals to national unity under the “Leader” and the ruling party. They could not care less about the supposed gains of twenty years of polite Oslo politics and are singularly unimpressed by their elders’ claim to have kept the flame of national liberation alive.

Yet this apparently “unorganized” movement seems to be testing the waters, uncertain whether strategies should target the PLO or Israeli occupation, or both, with demonstrations one day outside the Muqata’a (PA headquarters in Ramallah) and on another day “Freedom Riders” challenging the Israeli occupation regime. This movement has yet to reconcile itself with the irony that the mass of Palestinian (poor, refugee) youth are already “factionalized,” street wise and have been long mobilized by the PLO leadership and act separately from the newer youth groups.

Yet these are not the only protagonists in the emerging Palestinian socio-political stand-off. We should not forget the broad swathe of public opinion and material interests linked to maintaining the status quo, either fearful of what change may bring or simply unbelieving in the possibility of positive change. The latter include the Hebron importer who does not want to lose VIP access to Israeli ports, the PA employee in Ramallah who does not want to lose the monthly paycheck needed to cover the housing mortgage, the village worker dependent on the construction job in the nearest Israeli settlement to be able to refill the newly installed pre-paid electricity meter, not to mention the PLO veteran from Amman 1970 and Beirut 1982 who has seen it all go wrong too many times before.

Fattened by a PA governance mode, especially since 2005, that consists of a rich menu of neoliberal social values and economic policies, security-first and the rule of law and normalcy, this Palestinian “silent majority” is not going to be easily persuaded or prodded into any misguided Palestinian Spring. Even if they are not consciously engaged in neoliberal advocacy, they constitute, perhaps unwittingly, a solid constituency for not altering the status quo. One indebted “citizen” summed it up well when speaking to a Los Angeles Times reporter: “Now that I have all this responsibility on me, my main concern is stability,” he said. “I don’t want to see anything happen that might stop my paychecks.” Such self-interested complacency highlights the distinctive nature and impact of neoliberalism, which can at once project an open, forward-looking governance agenda while entrenching conservatism as regards the diminished role of the state vis-à-vis the primacy of the market and property rights.

Simply put, awaiting national liberation and without a mobilization toward that end, many Palestinians seem willing to coexist with, if not defend, the lifestyle under occupation to which they have become accustomed. They may not sense the implications that the embedment of neoliberal values in Palestinian minds and hearts implies for the struggle for national and social emancipation. But in the wake of a second, militarized and failed intifada, most of those living under occupation and PA administration meekly have accepted, if not embraced, the limited focus of the PA on “self-improvement” that has overwhelmingly defined the Palestinian reform and governance narrative for the past five to ten years.

Simultaneously, many Palestinians also remain wedded to the premise that only after national liberation can struggles for democratic representation and social justice proceed apace. This presumes – or does not challenge head-on – the need for obedience to a national liberation leadership and the supremacy of its definition of “national interests.” There has been a clear public acquiescence with the PA leadership’s demand for improved “self-governance” in the post-2005 period. But this was largely conditional (in public reasoning) on a resolution sooner rather than later of the national question, amounting to a sort of Palestinian national/social contract. This “demobilization” of a militant popular resistance movement into a body of compliant and entitled “citizenry” is a familiar reminder of how, in other places and epochs, pre- and post-nationalist leaderships successfully delayed accountability for social or political governance results.

The confluence of the moment between the unfulfilled national self-determination aspirations of the Palestinian people, the increasing audacity of the occupying power, the emerging social and economic transformation agenda in the region, and, the growing popular contestation of the PA regime all provide rich material for reflection on the possible ingredients and shape of a Palestinian Spring, if indeed one is in the making.

PA Neoliberalism Surges Past the Finish Line

In our work published in the Journal of Palestine Studies a year ago, Sobhi Samour and I attempted a first assessment of the progress made and risks engendered by PA neoliberal economic policymaking under prolonged occupation, which have intensified under the current regime. Since 2005, the PA embarked on a series of post-intifada, post-Arafat institutional and policy “reforms” targeting security and rule-of-law measures, enhanced public finance transparency and efficiency, and the provision of improved public services and utilities. In doing so, the PA followed Washington Consensus conventions that severely limit active state intervention in the economy beyond the protection of property rights so as to release the full potentials of the market. In the Palestinian case, this is particularly curious, as if too much government regulation or fiscal preponderance was the real ailment of the Palestinian economy under occupation.

The zeal, indeed exhibitionism, with which the PA pursued these reforms, coupled with the international attention they attracted, implied that the PA needed to successfully navigate the two-year homestretch to freedom through its “state-readiness” program. In line with some of the more dated World Bank notions about good governance, it became commonsense that only by being certified as institutionally ready for statehood by the World Bank, IMF, UN and the AHLC of donors could parallel political negotiations possibly lead to an actual Palestinian state.

Within the constrained economic policy-making space available to the PA, the only macroeconomic policy option it really ever has had was to stimulate aggregate demand through public expenditure fuelled by increasingly high levels of international aid. Ironically, while the PA program aspires to be a model of “sound” neoliberal policies, within the confines of the Paris Economic Protocol between Israel and Palestine it is by definition unable to pursue the full range of such policies, except by tracking Israeli economic policy. Nevertheless, PA trade policy, such as it is, aims to build an economy even more liberalized than Israel’s, with lower tariff and other barriers to trade and financial flows.

The dedication of the PA to liberalization is undeniable, and earned fulsome praise in 2011 from the international financial institutions. But even along this trajectory, success in the full pursuit of such policies is by no means assured. Even if the PA had assessed the possible economic impact of its policies when designing and launching them, it is dubious that they could have realistically predicted how such measures might play out in a distorted, fragmented and occupation-throttled economy. In such a laboratory environment with unstable substances, untried formulae and uncontrollable internal and external pressures, any number of things could go wrong from the perspective of IMF-inspired prescriptions for fiscally vulnerable developing countries.

Needless to say, the most uncontrollable substance in this peculiar situation, Israeli occupation, is the elephant in the room of the achievements of Palestinian neoliberalism. In its latest move, Israel waded into the PA “state-readiness” scoring game with its report to the March 2012 AHLC meeting by denying its rating, citing stalled growth in 2011, fiscal weaknesses and aid dependence. Not surprisingly, Israel insists on yet “further reform in order for the PA to meet the standards of a well-functioning state.”

Looking at recent economic developments, it appears that indeed something is going awry. Policy-makers appear to have reached the end of their tether, except in proposing yet further austerity. Their core constituencies are increasingly questioning the peaceful coexistence between the promise of national liberation and the neoliberal life, while in reality neither is assured. As for the important global function of neoliberal policies, namely to “level the playing field” of the economy to enable the free movement of financial capital, the PA project is hardly significant in regional or other terms. Hence the sustainability of financially profitable capital accumulation in the Palestinian conditions is dubious, even if for the moment the Palestinian Securities Exchange is reportedly a bright performer compared to other regional Exchanges badly shaken by the Arab Spring.

The PA completed its two-year, institution-readiness program in September 2011 with no state in sight. Facing an apparent breakdown in negotiations, the PLO was challenged by growing public dissent and, in terms of its own strategy, a lack of clarity as to where to go next. This “finish line” was crossed without the Palestinian people actually being any freer than they were two, five, or twenty years ago, even if for some in the West Bank the “quality of life” under occupation has never been better.

The PA has been quick to blame Israeli intransigence and the failed political process, not to mention Palestinian internal divisions, for not delivering the results that would have allowed it to morph into a new state. PLO officials might admit in private that they had no serious expectations to the contrary and were hoping to buy time with the state-readiness program so as to prolong the “peace process.” But few are willing to recognize the extent to which five years of “reform” have locked the PA into a sub-contracting role for a continuing, increasingly sophisticated and cost-effective occupation regime.

Apparently the PA will not accept that its economic policies should be derailed just because there is a political stalemate (or collapse). Nor, judging from Jordanian, Arab and donor responses, does it appear that the PLO will be allowed to consider downgrading the PA, even if it wanted to. In the past months as the PLO diplomatic campaign came to a halt amidst looming donor financial sanctions, and as Israeli colonization intensified, the PA oddly enough opted for further deepening of its neoliberal measures in the most narrow domestic policy area that it could tinker with, namely fiscal austerity measures.

The Discrete Charm of Fiscal Austerity and
Structural Reform under Occupation

Two recent austerity measures are especially indicative, because of both their policy content/impact and the popular response they provoked, namely the revised Income Tax Law, and the plan to reduce the public sector payroll by early retirement of the oldest segment of the PA civil service. The Law was criticized for poor design, inadequate public consultation, and possible adverse social impacts on marginal groups, but mainly for the perceived tax burden it would have created for small and large businesses alike. This Law is notable for being the most significant, if not first-ever, economic measure since 2005 to be rejected by public outcry. In January, the PA was obliged to announce its suspension and reformulation after a “public dialogue.” While a parallel domestic austerity plan to abolish thousands of public sector posts through early retirement was considered, anticipatory public opposition led the PA to announce that it was never seriously studied. Meanwhile, a series of sarcastic, graphic postings and humorous songs on Palestinian youth internet/facebook networks depict a series of accusations against the PA encompassing grievances about Ministerial privileges, urban and rural poverty, runaway prices, and political dysfunction.

The strong public reaction to these proposals cannot be simply ascribed to populist discontent or frustration with lack of progress in the political process, although these are not negligible factors. Some public criticism may have confused the increased burden from taxation with the separate problem of a Palestinian inflation rate that is systematically higher than in Israel. But across the middle-to-low income spectrum, there are signs of a looming socio-microeconomic crisis in the Palestinian economy that mirrors its chronic macroeconomic crisis. Inflationary pressures, conspicuous consumption, imports fuelled by stable income expectations, and rising household indebtedness are combining to squeeze many households. For now, that is the most clearly “evidence-based” factor fuelling discontent that goes beyond PA politics.

For example, the most common indictor of “financialization” of an economy (or the preponderance of the financial economy over the real economy) is the ratio to GDP of credit extended to the private sector. In the case of the PA, this ratio has grown to an all-time high of twenty-nine per cent in 2011. While such a ratio is actually several points above the average for comparable economies, it is well below the critical level (of over 110 per cent) that is the threshold over which financialization is considered to become destabilizing. However, with Palestinian private credit growing annually by thirteen per cent, the critical comparative figure to highlight is that of real per capita GDP, which has been growing at two per cent annually since 2006, or less than one-sixth the growth of private indebtedness. No wonder the average household is feeling the pinch.

Now that the proverbial chickens of the past five years’ private consumption boom are coming home to roost, the official PA narrative is explaining that it is payback time for past excesses, while the sound of international cheerleading has somewhat subsided. The PA is faithful to neoliberal expectations, evidenced by the Prime Minister’s statement that the government cannot be held responsible if people irresponsibly incurred debt for consumption loans that they cannot repay. But if the PA’s repudiation of its most provocative austerity measures does not in itself mean a roll-back of Palestinian neoliberalism, it at least suggests that its policy thrust has reached the limits of the envelope within which it has been contained since Oslo.

Palestinian banking sector credit aggregates, 2006-2011. 2006-2010 data from Palestinian Monetary Authority. 2011 data based on author estimates.

Popular contestation, a fledgling business class chafing at the new tax burdens, and critical review by some experts together underscore the risks of pursuing further belt-tightening in order to attain an impossible fiscal balance and aid-independence under an occupation which is constantly undermining the fabric of society and the economy. From a developmental angle, this is especially futile as the occupation regime by definition negates sustained growth or development and sits astride the most important channels of potential public revenue (from external trade). From the perspective of national liberation, such a PA policy effectively plays party to Israeli “economic peace” and ensures maximum extraction of Palestinian “national” resources to share the costs and administrative burdens of administering an open-ended occupation and orienting Palestinian economic policy (and most debate) around that function. This is the effective, if not intended, outcome of Palestinian neoliberalism.

Looking at the broader implications of the now abandoned PA structural reform measures, pushing through the income tax law would have meant a major shift in PA business-friendly policies toward a private economy hardly able to cope as it is. And had the PA gone ahead with public job cuts it would have has to abandon the one macroeconomic policy goal that it could target, and did with some success since the second intifada, namely sustaining aggregate demand through payroll stimulus. So the successful contestation of these measures represents a small victory for common-sense economic policy and recognition of the real limits of any “policy-making” under occupation. Despite the PA’s uncertain policy making performance, it can only be hoped that this episode may have had some sobering effect on the plans of Palestinian “reformers” and their international sponsors who have helped perpetuate the suspension of disbelief that the PA economic program amounts to.

States of Liberalization and Stages of Liberation

It is increasingly apparent that continuing “embedment” of neoliberalism in Palestinian society and economic thought has effectively created a real constituency willing to live with Israeli “economic peace.” One Arab Spring after we first explored these questions, I would contend that recent economic developments have accentuated inherent contradictions upholding the PA program and Palestinian national alliance sustaining it. The first cracks in the PA’s external image may be showing in an economic policy package that has run out of steam, if not begun to reverse.

Certainly, the PLO faces critics on all sides over political paralysis/disunity and its inability to deliver a national solution through negotiations. But there is little concrete evidence that the broader liberal philosophy and lifestyle which frame its economic policies is being questioned. Nor are the financial and commercial interests and joint security regime with Israel that underpin it threatened by popular discontent. Indeed as my co-author has stressed to me, protests notwithstanding, it might still be the case that many believe in market primacy, define success as working in a bank in Ramallah, think that the poor contribute inadequately to their electricity costs, that drinking an expensive coffee in a Ramallah café is a sign of status, or that kids from refugee camps should be barred from selling their fake CDs in restaurants and night-spots.

However, I find it difficult to see how, or why, the broad socio-political alliance that sustained the PLO’s strategy for the past five years would or should remain bound by the comfortable narrative of “reform and institution-building” that replaced the appeal to patriotism practiced by the PLO under Arafat. For several decades, that alliance more or less successfully married the interests of private Palestinian capital, labor and public policy within the broad pluralist political system of the PLO and its national/social contract. But today that consensus cannot be taken for granted as the Palestinian social fabric is stretched to its breaking point. The confluence of class and political interests the PLO symbolized cannot but be undermined by growing PA economic policy incoherence under pressure from popular and corporate dissatisfaction.

Furthermore, Palestinian history tells us that no growth or prosperity bubble has ever been sustainable. Since the 1930s, popular resistance to colonialism, surges of national self-determination, or the impact of economic shocks have repeatedly forced a retreat from “normalcy.” Notwithstanding neoliberal successes in neo-colonial situations elsewhere, its victory is not necessarily imminent in Palestine. This is not only because of the pending challenge of decolonization but also, I believe, because its core constituency never really coalesced in its favor, and could not attain “class consciousness,” so to speak.

The PA strategy of state-building by policy and in lieu of resistance/liberation encouraged a focus on “domestic” concerns of “citizens,” rather than the “national” concerns of “militants.” This constitutes an important deviation from the manner in which PLO hegemony was sustained since its inception. That entailed nurturing a broad consensus that the imperatives of an overarching national liberation project justified tolerating compromises on, or at best lip-service to, deeper social transformation and economic development agendas. Ever since the 1970s when Palestinian Marxist factions flew red flags from minarets in Jordan, the PLO mainstream maintained that until completion of the “stage of national liberation,” social conflict must be postponed for the sake of national unity. And in the earliest stages of the struggle against colonialism before 1948, traditional nationalist elites were at odds with the Palestinian socialist and labor movements which gave national and social agendas equal footing.

“Domestication” of Palestinian national politics was underway well before the Arab Spring, indeed beginning with Oslo, wherein socio-economic priorities acquired increasing significance alongside the struggle for national liberation in public opinion. Yet it is too early to discern if popular discontent implies a repudiation or abandonment of neoliberalism or simply an attempt to create a kinder, gentler, reformed version. In Palestine, the potent mixture of socio-economic conflict and a repressed aspiration for political empowerment and national self-determination could lead developments either way.

The possibility should not be dismissed that a broad public would opt to cling to the PA way of life and its entitlements instead of risking a perilous resumption of (even non-violent) resistance or even national reconciliation. At this historic juncture, a fractured and exhausted national movement stands at the precipice of possible reconstitution in the wake of an announced death of a morbid “peace process” or, alternatively, disintegration and collapse under the weight of settler colonialism. In the wary and time-tested perceptions of most Palestinians, preserving the status quo is inevitably the preferable option.

But can Palestine remain immune to the contagion of change sweeping the region, and will a younger, impatient and exigent generation simply defer to the “national leadership” in defining its agenda of social change and anti-colonialism? It would seem intuitive that the weight of the Arab Spring would only hasten and shape events, if not through the channels of its revolutionary undercurrents, then through the influence of the “counterrevolutionary” forces in the region and internationally.

So, with the achievements (in hearts and minds at least) registered by Palestinian neoliberalism, the diversion of public attention from occupation to inflation, taxation and indebtedness, and the fracturing of the national/social contract, a new configuration of forces ensues. Could this open a path to a new phase of social and economic contestation of the PA regime that is as valid, compelling and urgent as, if not indistinguishable from, resistance to occupation?

As early as V.I. Lenin’s endorsement of the national struggles for self-determination by colonized peoples, through Mao’s strategies of alliances with nationalist forces, to the Vietnamese and African experiences of broad anti-colonial fronts, national liberation struggles always have entailed coalitions between different class forces and their political formations. Depending on the strength of the national bourgeoisie (and the degree of its common interests with colonialism), it usually has assumed a more or less prominent role in active leadership of the liberation movement and secured for itself a significant (if not dominant) role in post-independence periods.

Left to right: Basel Aql, Hasib Sabbagh, Yaser Arafat, and Walid Khalidi. Beirut, 1978.

The Palestinian national liberation movement appears to be no exception to that broad trend. Without going into the historic evolution of the social alliances that sustained Palestinian nationalism over the past century, suffice it to say that since 1948 at least one major shift occurred. After the Nakba the leadership of the Palestinian national movement, hitherto held by the urban notable elites and proto-capitalist class with a wide peasant and working class constituency, passed to a new generation. Since the 1960s, the PLO breed of refugee/middle-class nationalist militants, intellectuals and guerrillas allied with a “national bourgeoisie” dispersed between Palestine and throughout the region and beyond, together built a legitimate constituency for most of their existence.

In the analysis of the preeminent narrator of neo-colonialism, Frantz Fanon in his Wretched of the Earth, the “national bourgeoisie” is little more than a “national middle class” with an “historic mission: that of intermediary.” In the Palestinian case, these would include strata such as Fanon’s “university and merchant bourgeoisie,” “army and a police force,” “the young national bourgeoisie,” “the party,” a “profiteering caste,” a “native bourgeoisie,” “honest intellectuals,” and a “bourgeoisie of the civil service.”

In Fanon’s view of this parasitic, non-productive and generally “useless” bourgeois/petit bourgeois class elaborated in the “Pitfalls” chapter, there is no particularly important role for domestic and expatriate industrialists and masters of finance. Their weak industrial and technological base and “comprador” links to global capital determine their objectively hostile position toward the national liberation project, even if they may be willing to strike an accommodation with it. In a departure from Fanon’s typology however, in the Palestinian case, these “diaspora millionaires” are not hostile to national liberation; indeed they are important players who always have been closely aligned with PLO economic interests and political program, underwritten it financially, and invested in productive sectors and development in Palestine. Combined with the other strata of the national middle class, I would describe this social formation as the core potential constituent of a Palestinian “neo-colonial, national liberalism.”

This strange Palestinian brew implies a hitherto unknown hybrid that interweaves a Fanonist scenario of post-colonial revolutionary failure (which usually takes place post-independence) with an unachieved national liberation project (which usually is not mortgaged to neo-colonialism). For example, the (usually) post-colonial “de-mobilization” of the previous militant leading cadres vividly described by Vijay Prashad with respect to the Algerian experience in The Darker Nations, has been pursued with vigor by the PA since 2005. A new “entrepreneurial” technocracy has taken the place of PLO and Arafat-era PA administrators, disinheriting the PLO military cadres whose “struggle” since the 1960s made the PA self-governance project possible. But such a deformed neocolonial governance pattern has not been witnessed while de-colonization is still unachieved or in the absence of sovereignty. In that regard, Palestine presents a unique situation.

The Palestinian National Bourgeoisie: Progressive? National?

Throughout the Arafat era, the “national front” shared political decision making powers and co-managed, more or less, “national wealth” to the extent that such a public good was nurtured, mobilized or otherwise created by the PLO. From the taxation levied by the PLO on Palestinian workers in the Arab states since the 1970s, to the mobilization of the expatriate Palestinian capitalist classes in the 1980s and the generous sharing of rents from public utilities franchises and selective commodity supply monopolies under the PA in the occupied territory since 1994, there has usually been a common ground, material interests and good “national” political sense for such an alliance.

Such a political-economic consensus has always united the material forces of Palestinian capital and the national bourgeoisie with the national liberation movement. The latter has historically mainly represented the dispossessed and deprived masses of Palestinian refugees in exile, peasants, urban poor and a growing middle class of educated professionals. To the extent that a recognized and re-legitimized PLO leadership might still command political influence among the Palestinian people inside and outside Palestine, this national front could yet survive. The rise of a Palestinian Islamist national liberation movement which is bonded together with faith and tradition may appear to have rendered such an alliance obsolete. However, the recent governance experience of Hamas in Gaza suggests that the movement’s alliance with its own capitalist support base inside Palestine and in the region also has been vital to its economic and financial survival. Indeed it entails a “national front” of a greener color perhaps, but nevertheless effectively comporting with the tradition of the secular national liberation movement.

In his timeless indictment of the (inevitable) treachery of the post-colonial national bourgeoisie, Fanon defines its essentially middle class traits. These include its readiness to abandon the social emancipation goals of the pre-independence stage, the scramble to assume the functions vacated by the colonial bourgeoisie and to apportion national resources among party, security and affiliated elites, the lack of indigenous productive power, and its ultimate reliance upon and integration with colonial capital. I would not be the first (and indeed I am a latecomer) to argue that this typology became evident in the post-Oslo configuration of power that has been entrenched in the past years.

As Fanon bluntly puts it:

“The national bourgeoisie of under-developed countries is not engaged in production, nor in invention, nor building nor labour; it is completely canalized into activities of the intermediary type… The psychology of the national bourgeoisie is that of the businessman, not that of the captain of industry…. Seen through its eyes, its mission has nothing to do with transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism, rampant though camouflaged, which today puts on the mask of neo-colonialism… In the colonized territories, the bourgeoisie draws its strength after independence chiefly from agreements reached with the former colonial power…”

Today not only do PA economic policies fail to elicit the public acquiescence enjoyed in the past, but the PA is fiscally bankrupt and the PLO appears incapable of leading or unifying its ranks. This threatens the cohesion of the national bourgeois alliance as a whole. Of special concern is whether the neoliberal project in Palestine has advanced as if it were operating well into a “post-conflict” phase, while settler colonialism has reached so deep, that there is no more “nation” to liberate in the traditional understanding. Instead, are other forms of (post)neo-colonial struggles in order?

In a moment of rosy-scenario reverie, let us imagine that indeed somehow a Palestinian state had been willed into existence by the grace of good governance and a lot of Israeli goodwill. In a converse, if equally bold leap, let us accept that Fanon’s downside, or “pitfall,” analysis of Third World post-colonial governance experience accurately depicts how history has played out in most cases. And let us concur that we have no evidence that Palestine is an exception, despite not actually having a state. From this vantage point the PA and its economic policies appear like just another failing post-colonial development governance experience, bereft of the usual vestiges of formal independence that most neo-colonial states elsewhere have attained. Indeed, with neoliberal medicine as a guide, the PA has evolved quite a way along the plane of post-liberation, middle-class, capitalist governance in all but the usual reality of sovereign statehood.

And that is where we realize that in fact the dream is a nightmare: More than ten years after Camp David II and twenty years after Madrid, indeed thirty-five years after Camp David I, the worst possible conditions for prolonged neo-colonial dependence have been created and indeed flourish. By virtue of its neoliberal program and its inability to lead a struggle that delivers independence, the PLO and its allied national bourgeoisie have effectively broken the “national-social contract” and, in a sense, betrayed their historic role.

It might well be argued that owing to the inherent flaws in the fabric, interests, and wealth of the national bourgeoisie in post-colonial countries, there can be no “progressive” nationalist bourgeoisie in any case. Going further, Alec Gordon and Radhika Desai have insisted that there is no empirical basis for a credible theory of its leading role in an independence struggle, effectively repudiating the core Leninist assumptions. But what we do know is that there are a range of alternative anti-colonial experiences – from those failed revolutions described by Fanon (and aptly analyzed by Prashad in the Algerian context), to those (e.g., Vietnam, southern Africa) where national fronts were communist-led.

In more nuanced outcomes as in countries like Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, China, and other “emerging economies,” there it may be argued that somehow the worst pitfalls of neo-colonialism have been passed or avoided. A tentative alliance (and social contract) between capital, labor, and the state has been maintained since independence, however far they may still be from the promises of development that non-alignment and the rise of the so-called “Global South” have entailed.

No doubt, mobilizing a broad national front in a relatively short war of national liberation from foreign, non-settler, military occupation as in the cases cited above is not as great a challenge as sustaining a movement for national self-determination and de-colonization over a century as in Palestine. And even with the best intentions and policies, success in building a productive, self-reliant and socially equitable economy in today’s globalized, financialized and still largely neoliberal economy is not an assured thing.

Certainly it should not be assumed that the Palestinian national bourgeoisie will discover its inner progressive tendencies at this late date and reinvigorate a flagging national liberation struggle. But I cannot yet perceive on what “consensus” the national alliance and its “leading class” can credibly and conscientiously sustain engagement with an increasingly incoherent PA neoliberal project in the absence of national liberation.

While the (former) path of reassertion of its “historic mission” could still ensue in case of a national reconciliation that reinstates the primacy of ending colonial occupation, it would not necessarily entail a turn away from neoliberalism. Indeed, sharing the spoils of Palestinian financial and political power is central to the Fatah-Hamas dialogue. On the other hand it is not implausible that we would continue to witness a gradual weakening of the hold of the PLO and “nationalist politics” on public debate and expectations, and even that of neoliberal goals on economic decision-making.

In its place, another discourse and another set of struggles for social justice and economic equity could find greater resonance and emancipatory potential than the flailing and failing national liberation narrative. There is little doubt that distinctive social and economic demands of Palestinian workers, women, youth, unemployed, disadvantaged and marginalized sections of society will become increasingly mainstream in the broader regional context because of the Arab Spring. Similarly, resistance to unjust, misguided or poorly designed PA policies, neoliberal or not, could acquire legitimacy as part of a broader struggle to mobilize the Palestinian people in determining their future, without demeaning confrontation with occupation and colonization.

Bottom line: all bets are off. •

Raja Khalidi is a Palestine refugee and U.S. citizen, originally from Jerusalem, who has lived mainly in the Middle East and Europe. He currently serves as Senior economist with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Geneva. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations secretariat.

A brief summary of this paper was presented at the SOAS Palestine Society Conference “Palestine and the Uprisings” on 17 March 2012. These reflections have benefited from an ongoing dialogue with a number of scholars and practitioners of development whose encouragement the author gratefully acknowledges. This article originally published on the jadaliyya.com website.

How do you create your own monsters? Over the past month the US and Europe have been telling us they will agree to release oil reserves into the market to drive down prices. What are they waiting for? It is expected there could be serious supply disruption, but yet no action. Incidentally, in all the media we see no admission or comment that those nations’ actions were responsible for oil prices at $107.00 a barrel.

Over the past month China and India have been avoiding oil sanctions by agreeing to trade for local currencies commodities and consumer goods. The trend continues, but leaves Iran with a shortage of currencies. In addition Iran is helping Syria by supplying an oil tanker. That oil is shipped directly to China.

Appointed Greek PM Papademos informed Europe late last week that a third bailout cannot be excluded. Just as we predicted. There will be no end to these subsidies. The idea is to keep bleeding Greece forever.

This past Friday European governments called for a bigger financial emergency fund, extra engineering a firewall to fight the regions debt crisis. The firewall commitment is $1.1 trillion, and of that $320 billion has be set aside to fund the ESM due July 1st.

If you remember more then several months ago we told you it would take $4 to $6 trillion to bail out Italy and Spain. These firewall funds are supposed to protect the sovereign debt of some six countries, and $1.3 trillion cannot accomplish that. They’ll need at least four times that amount. As you can see, the entire program is deceitful and these subsidies, if allowed to, will continue for years with Northern European taxpayers footing the bill for these subsidies. They believe eventually Europe will never be able to tear away from the grip of world government. Those of you who have been paying attention are witnessing the demonstrations, violence and arrests in Spain and it appears it is escalating. Cutting the budget by 1/3 under the circumstances is stupid. That is a fall in the public debt from 8.5% to 5.3% of GDP.

In Greece, the Greeks know they cannot nor do they want to, meet the terms of their financial agreements. On April 29th an election is due and that has caused a splintering of the vote, which pollsters believe only gives the two major parties some 35% of the total vote. This means political instability and perhaps social and political chaos not seen in Sprain since the 1930s. This is what happens when people are without hope in any country. During May and June chaos will reign and the austerity-bailout deals will have to be canceled plunging Greece into default, something that should have been done three years ago, and all of this could in part been avoided.

In the Greek election that many never happen on April 29th, or maybe May 6th or perhaps May 13 Pasok and the Democracy Parties, as we pointed out before, may only get 35% of the vote together and if they do not win there will be no parties to pledge support to cutting more public spending of 5.5% of GDP. That means no bailout in a fractionalized government. Those kinds of cuts will flatten the economy totally. Greek debt is still more than 100% of GDP, or $440 billion.

It only took three months and Spanish PM Rajoy is losing support as millions of Spaniards demonstrate in the streets. The voters in Andalusia failed to give him a majority, as well. Already Rajoy is in trouble.

Avoidance of a Greek election is only going to make things worse. As it stands now Greece is going to end up in chaos and if that happens Spain and others may follow, upsetting all of Europe.

This past week’s results of EU member meetings may have set the stage for bailout, but it will be interesting to see if the funds are found to accomplish their ends. Many professionals are not convinced that all will go well in Greece, or for that matter in Ireland, Portugal, Italy and Spain. Many believe they are facing a global government finance bubble. Let’s face it; the risks are massive, because all governments and the financial sectors have all taken the route of expansive money and credit that will all end in bubbles.

Like all the creations of the last few years’ currency swaps by the Fed, commonly known as illegal loans, to the European Central Bank is just another form of welfare that they know will only try to work in the short run. A virtually free service provided by the banks that control everything. It is all risk free of course, because bankers supposedly know what they are doing. That is how they put us in the position we are in the first place. These loans, created out of thin air do not create economic goods and services or a recovery, especially who 800 banks refuse to lend any of the funds out to business to increase business and employment. Mind you this is virtually free money – like financial welfare.

In another orgy of free money the Fed tells us that it bought 61% of US Treasuries issued in 2011, and as we said in an earlier issue that program, Operation Twist, was a disaster. Again, the Fed was undermined by its own so-called allies. This exercise, just like the year before, has just barely kept the economy alive.

If House bill (HR-4180) by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) makes it out of committee it would strip the Fed of half of its dual mandate. It would no longer have to provide full employment they would only have to insure price stability. Like the efforts of Ron Paul over countless years, who expect billions of dollars will be passed out in bribes and nothing will happen. The only way to recapture the system is to bring it down.

The Fed oblivious of history pours money and credit here, there and everywhere, keeping many currencies from failing and supposedly giving them viability. If needed more money is extended with a hope someday it will be repaid and, of course, it won’t be. The extension of debt central banks believe can go on forever, and needless to say, that is ridiculous. Something you probably missed in the Copenhagen meetings was that there was a proviso to supposedly increase competition within rating agencies by forcing rotation and to draw in European agencies. This was a move to have less rerating encounters, so as to deceive the public.

Money is readily available to banks and to an extent to major corporations, which in turn have used part of those funds in western stock markets sending them close to new highs. Most economies are sputtering at best and investors ask how can this be? Well, that is why markets are up in spite of lack of participation and volume. That means there is a limited market to sell into. The buyers are not there, so the banks have to sit on the shares. 70% of the volume is algo trades that last 8 nanoseconds. That adds no liquidity to the markets. There is no longer a retail to dump the shares on.

Now that the G-20 has decided how much money will be donated to the EFSF and the ESM, they now want $500 billion more from the IMF, 19% of which is paid for by US taxpayers. The bulk of those additional funds are to come from emerging market economies. The BRICS have said that they will not participate without an increase in their voting power.

The US is arming the Gulf. Against whom? 

 




On Saturday, the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her visit to Saudi Arabia, attended the first Strategic Cooperation Forum between the U.S. and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The six countries comprising the GCC are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.

The most important outcome of the session on Saturday was the decision to establish a common missile defense shield against Iran.

Now, the issue is really worth looking deeper into.

At first sight, establishing a missile defense shield in the Gulf area seems at least a little bit more logical than establishing a similar shield in Poland, Czech Republic, Romania or elsewhere in Eastern Europe. That is, if the shield is really targeted at a possible threat coming from Iran.

On the other hand, a decision to launch such kind of a shield at this particular moment, when it is Iran’s turn to be scared of a possible attack – be it from the U.S. or from Israel – breaks the above logic. But the logic is restored when we look at the problem from another angle.

In fact, for any unbiased outside observer it became clear a long time ago that the real purpose of the whole U.S. activity around Iran is not aimed at diverting any kind of threat, either nuclear or missile. The real purpose is regime change. And this explains both the U.S.’ desire to overthrow Iran’s last remaining ally – the Assad regime in Syria, and the close relationship with the Gulf monarchies.

Against the background of the U.S. crackdown on Assad, Ms. Hillary’s references to democracy at the Saturday’s Forum seem ridiculous. She expressed “regret” about the UAE’s March 28 raid on the offices of several foreign pro-democracy groups, including a U.S. organization, the National Democratic Institute.

Also, if we remember the events of spring 2011 in Bahrain, when the ruling Sunni regime launched a bloody crackdown of Shiite protesters, the case went almost unnoticed in the U.S.  The reason was that Bahrain serves as one of the most important bases for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.

Definitely, other Gulf monarchies can hardly be called exemplary democracies. But it’s OK with the U.S. when it comes to protecting them against Iran.

The question is who is to benefit? On the one hand, it gives the U.S. new opportunities for selling their weapons to the stalwarts of democracy in the Gulf region. But, on the other hand, one cannot get rid of the impression that the whole wave of the so called “revolutions” in the Middle East initiated in Tunisia in December 2010 and having Iran as its ultimate aim serves the interests of only one geopolitical player in the region – that is Saudi Arabia with its satellites.

This explains why the regime changes in  several Arab countries where the revolutions succeeded have not led to a triumph of democracy, but rather to a triumph of Islamists. This explains why, stirred up by the radical Sunni regime in Saudi Arabia, the West is so preoccupied with picking on Shiite Iran and trying to overthrow the Alawi-dominated regime in Syria.

The only thing Ms. Hillary and the U.S. administration are not taking into account is the fact that playing with such willful players can backfire in an unpredictable way.

When the nationalities of the 9/11 hijackers were revealed, it turned out that 15 out of 19 were Saudi nationals, with four others coming from UAE (two), Egypt and Lebanon (one each). Yet the U.S. preferred to soft pedal the issue, choosing instead a mythical Al Qaeda and the unfortunate Taliban as the main culprits.

It should also be remembered that Al Qaeda was created by the U.S. as a tool against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the1980s. Now the U.S. seems to be going for the same mistake, arming a temporary ally that has all the prerequisites for turning the arms in an unpredicted direction.

Boris Volkhonsky, senior research fellow, Russian Institute for Strategic Studies

A striking feature of the Israeli political landscape in recent months has been the absence of a serious debate on the issue of the threat of war with Iran led by national security figures.

It is well known that many prominent former military and intelligence officials believe an attack on Iran would be disastrous for Israel. After an initial blast at the idea of striking Iran by two former high-ranking officials last year, however, very little has been heard from such national security figures.

The reason for this silence on the part of the national security sector, just as the Israeli threat of war was escalating sharply, appears to be a widespread view among Israeli national security analysts that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat to attack is a highly successful bluff.

Some critics of Netanyahu’s threat to go war against Iran have expressed concern about the failure of national security figures to speak out publicly against the policy. Former Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner, who now blogs for the independent web-based magazine 972, wrote last month that there are “crowds” of former military and intelligence officials who privately oppose an attack on Iran and could slow the “march to war” by speaking to the news media.

But he complained that “Israelis aren’t hearing their voices….”

Yossi Alpher, a former Mossad analyst and later head of the Jaffee Center for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, has noted the same problem. “Plenty of people are calling for public debate on the issue of striking Iran,” he told IPS in an interview. “But it isn’t happening.”

Former Mossad director Meir Dagan launched the first attack on Netanyahu’s policy by a former national security official last June, asserting that an attack on Iran would provoke a regional war and would ensure that Iran would acquire nuclear weapons.

Maj. Gen. Shlomo Gazit, who was chief of military intelligence in the 1970s, also disassociated himself with the policy, declaring, “An Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear reactor will lead to the liquidation of Israel.”

Like Dagan, Gazit warned that it would cause Iran to immediately decide to become a nuclear power and he added that it would increase international pressures for the abandonment of “the territories”.

Those shots across Netanyahu’s bow have not been followed, however, by similar criticisms by other former military and intelligence figures.

In fact, Gazit himself appeared to backtrack from his earlier harsh verdict on the option of attacking Iran in a recent television interview.

On Russia Today Mar. 12, Gazit did not voice any of his previous objections to the threatened Israeli strike against Iran. Instead he emphasised the readiness of Israel to carry out a strike, even without U.S. approval if necessary, played down the cost to Israel of an Iranian response, and said an Israeli strike would result in delaying the Iranian nuclear programme by “two or three years at least”.

Gazit reaffirmed to IPS, however, that he has not changed his mind about the dangers to Israel attending a strike against Iran he had raised last June.

The publicly discussed reason for the absence of dissent from the national security sector is lack of information. Nathan Sharony, who heads the Council of Peace, with over 1,000 former high-ranking security officials with dovish views, told Derfner the reason ex- national security officials were not speaking up was that they lack the “solid information” necessary to do so.

Gazit gave IPS the same explanation for the failure of former officials to oppose a strike against Iran publicly.

But the main reasons for opposing war with Iran do not require access to inside information. The more compelling explanation for the silence of former military and intelligence officers is that they, like journalists and other policy analysts, think that Netanyahu is probably bluffing and that they perceive the bluff as working.

Retired Brig. Gen. Uzi Rubin, the former head of Israel’s missile defence programme, recalls being on a television programme a few months ago with Ari Shavit, senior correspondent at Haaretz, on which Shavit declared, “Netanyahu is playing poker for all of us. We shouldn’t call out his cards.”

Shavit was suggesting that the success of the prime minister in the high stakes poker game requires that influential Israelis not question his claims about Israel’s willingness and capability to attack Iran’s nuclear sites.

That struck a Rubin as a significant factor in the politics surrounding Netanyahu’s policy. “People who think we shouldn’t attack Iran believe Netanyahu is playing poker,” said Rubin in an interview with IPS. “So they think they shouldn’t speak up.”

“Netanyahu speaks like he’s very convinced Iran has to be stopped by force,” said the former missile defence chief. “Does he mean it?” Rubin said he doesn’t know the answer.

Alpher agrees. He told IPS the reason high-profile expressions of dissent by Dagan and a few others have not provoked more lively debate on Iran policy among national security figures is that “they don’t want to spoil Bibi’s successful bluster.”

Netanyahu’s bluffing on Iran has “kept the international community on edge”, Alpher suggested, and thus achieved the latest round of sanctions and heavier pressure on Iran.

Both the poker game metaphor and the view that he has been successful at it have been central elements in media coverage of Netanyahu’s policy in recent weeks.

While the prime minister was in Washington last month, Aluf Benn, the editor-in-chief of Haaretz, wrote that Netanayhu had “managed to convince the world that Israel is on the verge of a preemptive war” and that he is “playing poker and hiding his most important card – the IDF’s true capabilities to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.”

Just last week, Benn’s colleague, Ari Shavit, referred to the threat to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before the end of 2012 that he and a handful of other journalists had heard from senior officials. Shavit acknowledged, however, that “we cannot exclude the possibility that senior Israeli officials briefing us are bluffing”, noting that the officials had a “vested interest” in exploiting such a threat.

One factor that may have fed the reluctance of some former military and intelligence officials to go public with criticism of the option of war against Iran is that Netanyahu has a reputation for being far less aggressive on Iran in practice than his rhetoric would indicate.

Benn told IPS there is a perception of Netanyahu as a “hesitant politician who would not dare to attack without American permission”.

A former national security official, who did not wish to be identified, told IPS some people who have worked with Netanyahu have said he is less decisive than former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Iran, although he personally disagrees with that assessment.

The widespread impression among the Israeli national security elite and press corps that Netanyahu’s threat of war against Iran is a bluff does not guarantee that Netanyahu will not attack Iran. But it does help explain why there has not been a much bigger outcry against a war option that is widely regarded as irrational for Israel.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.

The Wonderful World of Capitalism

April 3rd, 2012 by Fidel Castro Ruz

The search for the political truth will always be a difficult task even in our times, when science has placed in our hands a huge amount of knowledge. One of the most important was the possibility to know and study the fabulous power of the energy contained in matter.

The person who discovered that energy and its possible use was a peaceful and amiable man who, despite being against violence and war, asked the United States to develop it.  The US president back then was Franklin D. Roosevelt, a man who had adopted a well-known anti-fascist stand; he was the leader of a country that was going through a deep crisis and helped to save the nation by adopting strong measures that earned him the hatred of the extreme right of his own class. Today, that State imposes on the world the most brutal and dangerous tyranny ever known to our fragile species.

The news received from the US and its NATO allies refer to their misdeeds and those of their accomplices.  The most important cities in the United States and Europe are the theatre of continued pitched battles between demonstrators and a well-trained and well-fed police, equipped with armored cars and helmets, beating and kicking and throwing gases against women and men, twisting the hands and the necks of people, young and old, showing to the world the coward actions that are committed against the rights and the lives of the citizens of their own countries.

How much longer these barbaric acts would last?

I will not expand on this, since these tragedies will continue to be seen, more and more, on television and in the entire press; they will be like the daily bread that is denied to those who have less.  I will just quote the news received today from an important western news agency:

“Much of the coast of Japan in the Pacific Ocean could be flooded by a tidal wave of more than 34 meters (112 feet) that would be generated if a powerful earthquake hits its coastline, according to revised estimates of a government panel.

“Any tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake in the Nankai Trough, which extends from the main Japanese island of Honshu to the southern island of Kyushu, could reach 34 meters high, the committee said.

“A previous estimate in 2003 estimated that the maximum height of the wave would be less than 20 meters (66 feet).

“The Fukushima plant was designed to withstand a tsunami of 6 meters (20 feet), less than half the height of the wave that hit the plant on March 11, 2011.”

But, there are no reasons to worry.  Another piece of news dated two days ago, on March 30, could give us some peace of mind.  It was published by a really well informed media.  I’ll summarize it in just a few words: “If you were a soccer player, and Arab sheik or an executive of a big multinational, what kind of technology would make you sigh?

“Recently, some famous luxury shops in London inaugurated an entire section dedicated to technology-lovers with bulging wallets.

“One million dollar TV sets, Ferrari camcorders and individual submarines are some of the fetish to delight millionaires.”

“The one million dollar TV set is the crown jewel.”

“In the case of ‘Apple’, the company has committed to deliver its new products on the same day they are launched in the market.”

“Let us suppose that we have left our mansion and we are already tired of hanging around with our yacht, limousine, helicopter or jet.  We still have the choice to buy an individual submarine or a submarine for two persons.”

The offer goes on to advertise cells with stainless steel casings; 1.2 GHz and 8G memory processors; NFC technology to make payments through cell phones and Ferrari camcorders.

Capitalism, compatriots, is a truly wonderful thing! Maybe it is our fault that not every citizen has its own private submarine at the beach.

It was them, not me, who mixed up the Arab sheiks and the executives of the big transnationals with the soccer players. The latter, at least, entertain millions of persons and are not enemies of Cuba; I should state that very clearly.

Fidel Castro Ruz

April 1st, 2012

8:35 p.m.

Guilty of Having an Arabic Name in Canada?

April 3rd, 2012 by Global Research

Who is Hassan Diab?

Dr. Hassan Diab is a Canadian citizen and sociology professor who lives in Ottawa. Up until October, 2007, Hassan enjoyed an engaged and productive public life, including teaching, publishing research, and traveling internationally.

Hassan is wrongly accused by the French authorities of involvement in a 1980 bombing near a synagogue on the Rue Copernic in Paris.

Hassan is fighting his forced removal from Canada (via extradition) to face allegations based on secret intelligence and deeply flawed handwriting analysis.

Hassan is innocent of all charges. He is a peace-loving individual and is not anti-Semitic. Hassan strongly condemns all ethnically, racially, and religiously motivated violence.

The Kafkaesque Case of Dr. Diab

Imagine one day…

  • you are told by a foreign country you committed a crime 30 years ago—a crime you know nothing about

  • you face allegations based on misrepresentations, contradictions, and secret intelligence from unknown sources

  • deeply flawed handwriting analysis is used as “proof” of your guilt when it actually shows your innocence

  • finger and palm print evidence that shows you are innocent is suppressed by the authorities

Since November 2008, Hassan has suffered over 4½ months of detention, followed by the loss of his university employment and humiliating and oppressive bail conditions that include house arrest and paying for an exorbitantly expensive GPS monitoring device.

The contemporary climate of ethnic, racial, and religious profiling means that Hassan, like many other Canadians of Middle-Eastern origin, is becoming yet another victim in the global “war on terror”.

How it Started

In October 2007, a reporter from the French daily newspaper Le Figaro approached Hassan after his class at the University of Ottawa. The reporter asked Hassan if he was aware that the French authorities believed he was responsible for the 1980 Paris attack. Hassan was astonished by the reporter’s question and denied any responsibility, stating that any connection to the attack must be purely coincidental, since “Hassan Diab” is a common name.

Thereafter, Hassan noticed that unidentified agents were following him, and someone attempted to break into his residence. He reported these incidents to the Ottawa police, but the intimidating and intrusive surveillance persisted.

In spite of this, Hassan remained in Canada and continued his normal activities, including teaching at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. Later, Hassan learned that the agents who were following him were from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

The Arrest

On November 13, 2008, the RCMP arrested Hassan in response to a request by France. He was initially denied bail and placed in detention.

Family members, friends, colleagues, and mentors who have known Hassan for many years are completely shocked by the French allegations. They affirm that Dr. Hassan Diab is a peaceful, hardworking, and dedicated academic who has never expressed radical or anti-Semitic views, and who has never been affiliated with a political organization.

Hassan’s Fight for Justice

The original bail decision was successfully appealed after being quashed on Constitutional grounds. On April 1, 2009, after spending over four and a half months in detention, Hassan was freed on bail under very strict conditions. He lives under virtual house arrest, wears a GPS electronic ankle bracelet for which he has to pay $2,000 per month, and can only leave his home if accompanied by one of the five sureties who posted more than $250,000 in bail.

Dr. Diab has been unemployed since July 2009, when Carleton University abruptly terminated his position as instructor for a summer course. The termination without any explanation is a serious violation of Hassan’s right to the presumption of innocence, and the responsibility of a university to protect its autonomy from inappropriate political pressure.

The Extradition Hearing

The extradition hearing was originally scheduled to begin in January 2010. However, the Crown Prosecutor requested an adjournment of the hearing to review the defence evidence. The extradition hearing was scheduled for mid-June 2010, but was thrown into limbo once again when the Crown Prosecutor announced that the French were withdrawing the handwriting evidence after it was discredited by experts for the defence (see below).

Finally, the extradition hearing started on November 8, 2011, and ended on March 9, 2011. In early June, a decision is expected regarding whether Dr. Diab will be committed for extradition.

See Latest News for more information about the extradition hearing and the chronology of Dr. Diab’s case.

The “Evidence” Against Hassan

The allegations against Hassan rest mainly on secret unsourced intelligence and handwriting analysis.

Secret Intelligence

Secret intelligence is at the heart of the case against Dr. Diab. The sources of this intelligence are unknown to Hassan’s defence, the Crown Prosecutor, the judge presiding over the extradition hearing, as well as the French examining magistrate. France’s willingness to rely on intelligence from unknown sources as courtroom evidence is deeply troubling, given that this intelligence may be the product of torture. Human Rights Watch has documented instances in which French courts have used torture evidence against terrorism suspects (see “No Questions Asked”, HRW, June 2010).

In testimony at Hassan’s extradition hearing in November 2010, University of Toronto Law Professor Kent Roach told the court that the intelligence in the case does not meet Canadian standards as evidence. Professor Roach also expressed concern that French investigators have developed “tunnel vision” and cherry-picked intelligence to fit their theory of the case while ignoring other intelligence that exonerates Hassan. Professor Roach warned that it would be dangerous to rely upon unsourced intelligence that cannot be tested or challenged in a court of law to deprive Hassan of his liberty.

By accepting unsourced intelligence and submitting it to the court in Hassan Diab’s case, the Canadian government is setting a dangerous legal precedent and undermining the principles of fundamental justice embodied in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Flawed Handwriting Analysis

According to the Crown Prosecutor, handwriting analysis submitted by French authorities is the “smoking gun” in the case. The analysis links Hassan to five words printed in basic block letters on a Paris hotel registration card in 1980 by the presumed bomber.

French investigators initially offered reports from two French handwriting analysts who concluded that Hassan was likely the author of the hotel registration card. The analysts reached this conclusion despite the very limited quantity of writing on the registration card and the simplistic nature of the writing. The analysts also dismissed the presence of radically different writing in the comparison documents as an attempt by Hassan to disguise his writing. They never considered the rather obvious possibility that the documents were written by more than one person.

The defence demonstrated conclusively that comparison documents used in the analysis belong to someone other than Hassan, thus completely discrediting the French handwriting analysis. As a result, the French withdrew their discredited handwriting reports in May, 2010.

In June 2010, after more than six months of unexplained delay, the French authorities introduced a third handwriting report to replace the two previous ones.

Three internationally renowned handwriting experts for the defence conducted a technical review of the latest French handwriting analysis report. At the extradition hearing the experts described the report as “absurd, totally misguided and totally incorrect”. They noted that the analyst deviated significantly from established methodologies in the field of forensic document examination and produced an incoherent and highly unreliable report rife with errors.

The defence experts agreed that the Paris hotel registration card provides an extremely poor specimen for identification. The quantity of writing on the registration card is very limited (5 words) and the letters are printed in a very simplistic style that makes it almost indistinguishable from the writing of countless people.

Some of the glaring problems the defence experts uncovered in the French handwriting analysis include relying on handwriting specimens that are 15 years apart, comparing printed and cursive writing, comparing letters with numbers, using copies when originals were available, and explaining away significant differences between writings as due to so-called natural variations.

Defence experts were especially critical of the French analyst’s approach to differences between Hassan’s handwriting and the handwriting on the hotel registration card. The number of differences present between the two groups of writing far exceed the number identified by the French analyst, and the presence of just the small group of differences should have caused her to conclude Hassan is not the author of the hotel registration card.

The judge at Hassan’s extradition hearing said that he found the French handwriting report “very problematic”, “very confusing”, and with “suspect conclusions”. The judge likened handwriting analysis to “pseudo-science”, and found merit in the defense argument that the flawed methodology used in the French handwriting analysis results in manifestly unreliable conclusions. Nevertheless, he ruled that Canada’s extradition law does not permit him to apply Canadian standards of evidence admissibility to foreign evidence.

What is extradition?

Extradition is the forced removal of a person from one country to another to face criminal charges.

The first step in the extradition process is the receipt of a note from the requesting state. Following this, the person sought is arrested. The person may be released on bail or may be held in custody pending the extradition hearing.

The second step is the extradition hearing which takes place in front of a Canadian judge who decides whether to commit the person sought to extradition. The hearing is based entirely on a document (“Record of the Case”) submitted by the requesting state summarizing the evidence against the person sought. At the extradition hearing, admission of defence evidence challenging the Record of the Case (e.g., reports by defence handwriting experts) must pass a very high threshold. Even if defence evidence is admitted, the judge may still decide it is insufficient to render the requesting state’s evidence manifestly unreliable.

At the end of the extradition hearing, the judge must either release the person or order his/her committal to extradition.

The third step of the extradition process involves the Minister of Justice who has final authority to surrender the person to the requesting state. This last step can be very political.

Canada extradites its citizens to a large number of countries, including France. France, however, does not extradite its own citizens.

What is wrong with Canada’s Extradition Law?

Canada’s Extradition Law is unjust.

  • The standard for extradition is so low that Canada hands people over to other countries more or less for the asking, based on the flimsiest of evidence that would not be accepted in a Canadian criminal trial.

  • An extradition hearing severely limits the Charter rights of the person sought. For example, the person sought has no right to disclosure beyond what the requesting state chooses to place in the Record of the Case.

  • Canada’s Extradition Law places the burden of proof on the person sought to show that the evidence against him/her is manifestly unreliable. The test for ureliability is so high that it is virtually impossible to meet.

As the case of Hassan Diab shows, Canada cooperates with extradition requests from countries that allow secret intelligence—including intelligence obtained from torture—to be used as evidence.

In Hassan’s case, Canada’s Extradition Law has:

  • allowed deeply flawed handwriting analysis to be admitted as evidence, despite the Canadian judge finding it “very problematic, very confusing, and with conclusions that are suspect”.

  • allowed the authorities to suppress evidence showing that Hassan’s finger and palm prints do not match those of the suspect.

  • allowed the case to go forward despite numerous serious contradictions and misrepresentations, and despite the reliance on secret intelligence in the Record of the Case.

Why You Should Be Concerned

Hassan’s case presents a very real danger that basic human rights will be trampled once again in the name of an illusory and restrictive sense of security. Dr. Diab is in a double-bind. In Canada, his opportunities to challenge France’s “evidence” are extremely limited because “an extradition is not a trial.” If extradited to France, Hassan will not be able to challenge the use of unsourced intelligence and flawed handwriting analysis as evidence against him.

France has been criticized by human rights organizations for violating internationally recognized due process standards and for running unfair trials. In July 2008, Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled “Preempting Justice: Counterterrorism Laws and Procedures in France” that details human rights violations under France’s counterterrorism laws.

We seek your support in publicizing Dr. Hassan Diab’s plight and in making sure that he receives fair treatment within the Canadian and French legal systems. Hassan’s case is similar to that of other Canadians of Middle-Eastern origin who in a rush to judgment were accused of involvement in terrorism, only to later be found innocent.

Dr. Hassan Diab has been forced to mount a very expensive legal defence to prevent his extradition to France. He has been burdened with hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, which far exceed the modest means of a part-time university professor. You can make a difference by donating to his legal defence fund. Any amount, no matter how small, will help ensure that he has a chance to prove his innocence.

Click here to find out more about how you can help.

Finally, this fight is not just about Hassan Diab. It is about defending a vision of Canada as a nation that respects fundamental human rights and due process of law for all people, regardless of ethnic or national origin, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

For more information, contact:
Hassan Diab Support Committee
[email protected]

IRAN: THE TERRORISM TRUMP CARD

April 3rd, 2012 by Brian A. Burchill

The UK’s Guardian recently interviewed “current and former U.S. and European officials with access to intelligence on Iran,” and concluded that the United States, its European allies, and even Israel, agree that Tehran is probably years away from having a deliverable nuclear warhead.1

Twice in recent weeks, CBC News anchor Peter Mansbridge has closely questioned two leaders who hold a different view.

In a January 18th interview, Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Mansbridge that he thinks that “the evidence is…overwhelming” and that it “is just beyond dispute at this point” that Iran’s purpose is to develop nuclear weapons. When pressed about Iran’s insistence that it has no intention to build nuclear weapons, Harper said “I think there is absolutely no doubt they are lying”.2

Harper’s claims are all-too-reminiscent of US Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s February, 2003, statement at the UN that, with “facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence”,3 there was no doubt in his mind that Saddam Hussein was working to obtain key components to produce nuclear weapons.

That intelligence has since been exposed as lies. In fact, the Iraqi chemical engineer who perpetrated the false intelligence, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, confessed his lies on British television April 3rd.4

Also troubling is that Harper cited the International Atomic Energy Commission, but in the March 22nd Guardian, the agency’s former director-general, Hans Blix, raised concerns about its recent credibility. The IAEC has been charged with over-reliance on unverified intelligence, and pro-Western bias, since the 2009 arrival of its new chief, Yukiya Amano.

More recently, Harper’s conclusion was thrown into question during a CBC News One on One interview with US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, aired last weekend.

Panetta first stated that the best US intelligence has concluded that Iran has not made the decision to build a nuclear weapon. He went on to say that Iran is involved in providing non-nuclear weapons to terrorist-associated groups outside the country.5

However, when Mansbridge queried whether containment was an effective policy (sealing off the country to prevent weapons exports to outsiders), Panetta then contradicted his own intelligence claim by saying the US was going to apply economic and diplomatic sanctions because “we cannot allow a country that supports terrorism to have a nuclear weapon.”

When pushed to justify the sanctions, Panetta played the debate-ending trump card – the supposed threat of Muslim terrorism – the card spawned by 9/11.

Thus ended the Panetta news segment – Mansbridge did not challenge whether hidden, ubiquitous, amorphous terrorism was a factor in the case of Iran.

The time is long overdue for investigative journalists to challenge such references to unsubstantiated terrorism. They can do so with confidence by becoming knowledgeable about the growing body of evidence refuting the official claims about the events of 9/11.

The 9/11 issue has moved from conspiracy theories and street protests into the realm of laboratories and peer-reviewed science journals. Independent scientific research, as well as FOIA requests and firefighter testimonies, have proved beyond doubt that high-tech incendiaries, not jet impacts and jet-fuel fires, caused the collapses of all three World Trade Center towers.

Nano-technology professor Dr. Niels Harrit of the University of Copenhagen led the team that discovered high-tech incendiary nano-thermite chips in the dust of the WTC towers.6 With reaction temperatures well above the melting point of steel, this substance can be used to cut the steel framework of buildings as they are taken down by controlled demolitions.

A new authority raising serious challenges to the official narrative of 9/11 is the professional 23-member 9/11 Consensus Panel,7 made up of PhD’s, attorneys, journalists, commercial pilots, and former NASA researchers. The Panel has used the Delphi Method (a standard consensus model borrowed from medicine) to distill the “best evidence” refuting 18 official claims about the major events of 9/11.

In San Francisco, steel-frame architect Richard Gage leads a group of nearly 1700 architects and engineers8 calling for a new investigation into the three World Trade Center collapses. Gage is currently on an 11-city tour of Canada, where his technical presentation of the evidence is rapidly converting believers of the official account into doubters of it.

As a result of these investigations, and because nano-thermite can be made in only a few specialized laboratories – which do not include caves in the Middle East – the official claim that 9/11 was perpetrated by Middle Eastern operatives is becoming less credible.

Polls have shown that 35-40% of Western people question the official story9 (a 2011 poll from the prestigious Enmid Institute showed that 89.5% of Germans have doubts10), yet the media refrains from challenging the trigger event for the continuing global war on terror.

The tentacles of the 9/11 tale continue to reach down through time, trumping hard questions from responsible journalists, and enabling vague claims of terrorism to be used as justification to punish and pummel the Middle East.

The question is, if 9/11 did not happen as we were told, do we as a society want to know the truth about that day?

Brian A. Burchill is Mechanical Engineer based in British Columbia

Notes

1. “Nuclear watchdog chief accused of pro-Western bias over Iran,” Julian Borger, The Guardian, March 22, 2012
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/22/nuclear-watchdog-iran-iaea .

2. CBC News Transcript: Peter Mansbridge talks with Stephen Harper. January 18, 2012
(http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/01/17/pol-mansbridge-interview-harper-transcript.html .

3. “Powell presents US case to Security Council of Iraq’s failure to disarm,” UN News Centre, February 5, 2003.
http://www.un.org/apps/news/storyAr.asp?NewsID=6079&Cr=iraq&Cr1=inspect 

4. “Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all,” Jonathan Owen, The Independent, April 1, 2012
 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/man-whose-wmd-lies-led-to-100000-deaths-confesses-all-7606236.html.

5. “US defence chief worries about Iran nuclear potential,” CBC News, March 27, 2012 
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2012/03/27/panetta-mansbridge.html?cmp=rss.

6. “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,” Niels H. Harrit et al, The Open Chemical Physics Journal, Vol 2, 2009
http://www.benthamscience.com/open/tocpj/articles/V002/7TOCPJ.pdf 

7. The 9/11 Consensus Panel was founded in 2011 and is being translated into several foreign languages. www.consensus911.org.

8. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth was founded in 2006. ae911truth.org.

9. The first Zogby poll, conducted in August 2004, found that 49% of New York City residents and 41% of New York state citizens believe individuals within the US government “knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act.” http://www.zogby.com/search/ReadNews.dbm?ID=855.

10. “German Poll: 89% Question 9/11,” http://911truthnews.com/german-poll-89-question-911/. The German magazine is at
http://www.bauermedia.de/weltderwunder.html?&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=750&tx_ttnews[backPid]=4&cHash=6e15318bbc#content .

Palestinian Land Day and Israel Apartheid Week activities around the world gave Israel and its Western backers something to think about in recent weeks… 

Israeli land confiscations accelerated in the 1970s and led Palestinians to organise the first coordinated demonstrations in the Occupied Territories on 30 March 1976, during which 6 Palestinians were killed. This date has been marked ever since as “Land Day”.

The secret Interior Ministry Koenig Memorandum, written shortly after the 1976 Land Day rallies, called for “diluting existing Arab population concentrations” to “ensure the long-term Jewish national interests”. This officially marked the implementation of Ben Gurion’s plans of ethnic cleansing to make Israel a de facto Jewish state. Treatment of native Arab Muslims and Christians ever since merely confirms this policy, with forced Jewish loyalty oaths and second class services and laws for non-Jews.

This year’s 36th annual Land Day rallies saw Israeli security forces shooting dead a 20-year-old man, and wounding 37 stone-throwers in the Gaza Strip and around Jerusalem, using live ammunition, rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades. Israeli forces were put on high alert on the frontiers with Lebanon and Syria, but there were no reports of anyone nearing the frontier fences. In fact, the Israeli Defence Forces were relieved at the relatively small numbers of protesters.

But there is little for them to cheer about. Israeli Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said, “The Nakba and Naksa days are ahead of us, and that is where the challenge will be.” Nakba (disaster) Day, the day after Israeli independence day, is 15 May, and Naksa (retreat) Day, when Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, previously controlled by Jordan and Egypt, is 5 June.

During Nakba Day commemorations last year, thousands of Palestinian refugees from Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Syria marched towards the ceasefire borders with Israel. Fifteen Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded, and more than a hundred protestors from Syria managed to breach the fence and enter the Golan Heights. One even made it all the way to Tel Aviv.

Land Day is now formally commemorated in a Global March to Jerusalem, protesting the Judaisation of East Jerusalem as Israel prepares to make Jerusalem its Jews-only capital. According to organisers, more than 600 institutions from 64 states were involved in planning the march. Protests also took place outside Israeli embassies in European and Arab countries. Backers of the march include former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohammed and former Anglican Archbishop of South Africa Desmond Tutu. Organisers planned to send convoys of vehicles to Israel’s borders simultaneously from Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.

Jordan’s demonstration attracted 15,000, included four rabbis from Neturei Karta. “We want the world to know that the Jewish religion does not accept the occupation and the oppression of the Palestinian people. It is against the views of Jews around the world who are true to the Torah,” said Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss. “We are here to mark Land Day, and tell the world not to blame Jewish people for the crimes of Zionism,” Rabbi Ahron Cohen said. “Judaism and Zionism are two different concepts.”

Numbers were smaller in Lebanon, as Lebanese security forces attempted to prevent a repeat of last year’s fatal border protests. About 200 foreign activists, including two more rabbis, arrived at Beaufort Castle to join the southern Lebanon rally. In Syria, despite the civil war, protesters rallied in Damascus in solidarity with both the Palestinians and Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Egypt had planned demonstrations, but they were called off due to heightened security and the tense political situation there.

To mark Land Day, Palestinian leader Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life sentences in an Israeli prison for his role during the Second Intifada, called on Palestinians to launch a popular resistance campaign against Israel and for the Palestinian Authority to stop peace negotiations and all coordination with Israel in the economic and security realms.

Land Day, of course, is all about land. Appropriately, 30 March 2012 is the first anniversary of the Stop the Jewish National Fund (JNF) campaign aimed at ending the role of the JNF in expanding illegal settlements by displacing Palestinians, stealing their property, and then covering this up with tax-exempt donations from diaspora Jews. This campaign is a key element in Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activism. The JNF uses greenwash to advertise itself as an environmental movement, planting fast-growing non-native firs on razed Palestinian villages to hide Israeli crimes. Israeli parks include a Leisure corner at Nesher Park, Canada Park, American Independence Park, JF Kennedy Memorial, and Coretta Scott King Forest.

The Stop the JNF campaign (www.stopthejnf.org) fights this, even doing “flash” actions in the Israeli parks, nailing notices to trees to identify the destroyed Palestinian villages, as well as lobbying foreign governments to end the JNF’s tax-exempt status. British Prime Minister David Cameron was successfully pressured to end his status as “Honorary Patron” of the JNF last year. Stop the JNF also has a “Plant a Tree” programme in Palestine to replant indigenous trees.

In the build-up to Land Day, throughout February and early March, student solidarity groups marked the 8th Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) at 120 universities in 40 cities around the world, from Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and Albuquerque to Yaffa and Zurich. At Boston-area universities Israeli activist and filmmaker Shai Carmeli-Pollak screened his 2006 documentary “Bilin Habibti” about Israel Defense Forces violence. Members of Brandeis University SJP marked their first annual Israeli Apartheid Week with a hunger strike to draw attention to Palestinian Khader Adnan’s 66-day hunger strike in protest of his detainment without charge. Good news: the international media spotlight on the case pushed Israeli officials to agree to free Adnan in April.

At the University of Amsterdam, Shir Hever, an Israeli economist at Jerusalem’s Alternative Information Centre, gave a series of lectures “Could the economic policies of Israel be considered a form of Apartheid?” At Glasgow University, Israeli anthropologist Jeff Halper, co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, spoke on “Israeli Apartheid: The Case For BDS”. At the University of Liverpool, the Corporate Watch research group unveiled a new source book Targeting Israeli Apartheid. In London, a Beats Against Apartheid event included performances from hip-hop artists Lowkey, Mic Righteous and Awate.

British and Canadian politicians were furious. In Canada, the Ontario legislature unanimously condemned Israeli Apartheid Week. “If you’re going to label Israel as Apartheid, then you are also attacking Canadian values,” Conservative legislator Peter Shurman told Shalom Life. “The use of the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ is about as close to hate speech as one can get without being arrested, and I’m not certain it doesn’t actually cross over that line.”

In the UK, thought police were called on to investigate comments made at Middlesex University’s Free Palestine Society IAW forum by Liberal Democrat Peer Jenny Tonge and former US marine Ken O’Keefe. O’Keefe is alleged to have incited racial hatred by comparing Jewish supporters of Israeli crimes to Nazis in their treatment of Jews. “The decent Germans of World War Two, what did they do when the Nazis came to power and instituted their policies? Did they do enough to stop the Nazis? No, they didn’t. What are the Jewish people doing right now? Are you doing enough to stop your racist, apartheid, genocidal state?” Baroness Tonge agreed with O’Keefe telling the audience at that Israel would “not last forever” and would “lose support, and then they will reap what they have sown”.

Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/ His Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games is available at http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html

The Balfour Declaration – The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Jonathan Schneer Anchor Canada (Random House), Toronto, 2012.

This is the best that academic political history gets. More than simply the dates and the ‘facts’, Jonathan Schneer is able to give some personality to the characters involved, including the all too human factors of lying, deceit, and manipulation that many political histories miss. The title, given to the letter that carried the name, The Balfour Declaration covers all the actors in the scene from the European empires, the Ottoman empire, the European Zionists, and the Arab politicians of the Middle East. Lord Balfour himself certainly played a large part in the affairs of the world during that epoch, but the declaration itself owes its existence to these many other players and their machinations within the destructive chaos of World War I.

History

The cynicism, manipulation, and backstabbing is clear throughout the history. Before the Arabs joined in hostilities directed at the Turks, Egyptian High Commissioner Henry McMahon stated, “we have to…tempt the Arab people into the right path, detach them form the enemy and bring them on to our side. This on our part is at present largely a matter of words…we must use persuasive terms and abstain from academic haggling over conditions.” In a later comment in the work, Schneer says these “telegrams…inadvertently revealed the hopes, contradictions, tensions, guile, and prejudices now at work in shaping British and Allied wartime policy toward both the Jews and Arabs.”

The history rests on these manipulations and “nebulous” proposals. The British wanted the Arabs on their side; they also wanted control of Palestine and Mesopotamia (Basra, Baghdad, Mosul). The French also wanted a share of the same region (mostly Syria, a largely undefined region at the time), and Britain wanted to limit their influence. The Arabs of course wanted their own governance out from under the Ottoman Turkish rule; they were willing to allow a very limited British and French presence, at the same time knowing they needed their military assistance to get rid of the Turkish military. There were early signs “of the incomprehension with which some important Britons initially pursued two mutually exclusive policies,” from which as is generally the case, no one is satisfied.

The Jewish people were divided significantly between “assimilationists” – those thinking that assimilation and remaining as a Britain who is a Jew as compared to a Jew who happens to be in Britain – and the “nationalists” – Zionists who worked for their own national state in Palestine. The British and the French overestimated the power of Jewish political influence and played this misguided feature (as did the Jews) to help in their victory over Germany, the Turks, and for Jewish support at home.

Familiar patterns

Throughout the history the parallels with later and more contemporary ideas concerning Israel and Palestine are obvious – at least for those familiar with the more contemporary scene.

The first idea is demographics, always a concern for the Jewish population in Palestine/Israel. The many comments of later Zionists about needing a majority in the land (which contradicts any claims of a land without people) was understood by the very early Zionists. Already looking to the future, the Earl of Crewe (Asquith’s secretary in India) noted from the British side, “when in the course of time the Jewish colonists in Palestine grow strong enough to cope with the Arab population they may be allowed to take the management of the internal affairs of Palestine…into their own hands.” As Schneer commented, “Weizmann could have asked for little more.”

Another concept carried forward and still emphasized today is that of Jewish superiority over the Arabs in all aspects. Asher Ginzberg noted, “We are used to thinking of the Arabs as primitive men of the desert, as a donkey-like nature that neither sees nor understands what is going on around it,” and ends with a warning, “But that is a great error.” He further warned against the “ ‘repressive cruelty’ employed by Zionists in their dealings with Arabs,” in 1891, well before events of WW I and the current repression in Palestine.

Judaism

Judaism is seen as being divided into halve and then into quarters. As noted above, there were (and are) assimilationist and nationalist Jews, and within the latter, the home of the Zionists, there exists “cultural” Zionists, and “political” Zionists.

In Judaism in general there is the struggle between existing as a diaspora, working with the “liberal tolerant creed of Judaism,” and against “the necessity and eternity of war.” Cultural Judaism (and cultural Zionism) look on Judaism as “an ethos and approach to life,” rather than a dispersed nation state. The political Zionists emphasize the need for military strength within a nation state – this latter viewpoint gained huge currency after World War II and has become one of the main fallback arguments as to the reason why the current state of Israel is acting the way it is.

The nationalist Zionists won the argument, not necessarily by force of logic or emotion, but through the political manipulations within Britain and France, remaining ignorant by design of the promises made between Britain and France and Britain and the Arabs concerning the Middle East and Palestine.

Palestine and the Balfour Declaration

Another factor that comes through by implication and repetition is that the concept of Palestine as a separate Arab state is not a new idea, not an idea that came into being after the nakba of 1948, not an invented idea. It is a concept, a stated reality within the negotiations taking place throughout this period of time.

One of the more disconcerting features of the Balfour Declaration is its apparent acceptance as legal entitlement for the state of Israel. There is no validity to it being considered an internationally legal document supporting Israel. In political reality, it was essentially a statement, a “declaration” that Britain supported and would assist with the establishment of a Jewish home in the region. Even then, it was according to Schneer almost overcome by other then current negotiations with the French and the Arabs in the region, negotiations kept hidden from the Zionists, including the lead protagonist in the story, Chaim Weizmann.

Aftermath

Schneer presents the many arguments concerning the wording and intent of the Declaration, essentially indicating that it was a political statement to gain favour with Jews and pre-empt any such statement of a Jewish homeland coming from the U.S. or Germany. Edwin Montagu argued at the time that “Palestine will become the world’s Ghetto,” perhaps more correct than he anticipated in regards to the Palestinians themselves.

The conclusion reached by Schneer, stated twice,

Because it was unpredictable and characterized by contradictions, deceptions, misinterpretations, and wishful thinking, the lead-up to the Balfour Declaration sowed dragon’s teeth.. It produced a murderous harvest, and we go on harvesting even today.”

His final summation is,

During World War I…Britain and her allies slew the Ottoman dragon in the Middle East. By their policies they sowed dragon’s teeth, Armed men rose up from the ground. They are rising still.

More reading

This is an excellent historical work, but it is dealing with a complex time and a complex issue with many undercurrents and counter currents to the mainstream of history that is usually understood for the First World War, its causes and its consequences.

To gain a strong view of the events before during and after WW I, other reading material will give a broader more detailed outline and make The Balfour Declaration by Schneer easier to follow. To gain a good overview, Barbara Tuchman’s Guns of August (Random House, 1994) provides an excellent history of events before the war, and how the same features of deception and guile, of patriotic beliefs in empire, created a situation only needing a spark to set it off. For the period immediately after the war, when grand sounding rhetoric turned out to be the same old imperialist hype, Margaret MacMillan’s Paris 1919 (Random House 2003) is an excellent work. The events of the war itself are generally well covered by many historical works, although often without the insight that Tuchman or MacMillan provide into the underlying human errors and ignorance that breeds war. For more background on the current situation in Palestine/Israel, one of the best works covering the post Second World War period is Ilan Pappe’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, (Oneworld Publications, 2007).

These four works combined will give the reader an excellent understanding of the roots of the current situation in Palestine/Israel. They reveal much that is not written in the standard history texts, of the standard military autobiographies written for the grandeur of the winning more powerful side.

Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news

VIDEO: NATO’s Time has Come and Gone

April 3rd, 2012 by David Swanson

President Barack Obama has issued the green light for punishing new US economic sanctions directed at forcing the Iranian government to submit to Western pressure over its nuclear program by starving the country of oil revenues.

These new sanctions, which go into effect on June 28, aim to impose a warlike blockade of the Iranian economy by penalizing any government or private entity that carries out financial transactions with the country’s central bank.

Western Europe is preparing its own new sanctions, which are to include a European embargo on Iranian oil purchases, beginning in July.

The official memorandum authorizing the US sanctions affirmed, as required by the legislation creating them, that given existing oil supplies internationally, “the market can continue to accommodate” the cutting off of petroleum from Iran.

The theory is that Saudi Arabia can make up the difference in reduced oil supplies from Iran, and that in an emergency, the US and other oil consuming countries could tap into their strategic reserves. However, such safeguards may well prove ineffective in the face of a speculative bidding up of oil prices under conditions in which the margin of excess supply has been significantly reduced. The effect could prove a dizzying rise in gasoline prices, spelling sharp reductions in living standards internationally and the threat of an intensified economic downturn.

The ratcheting up of US sanctions came together with confirmation that the so-called P5+1 talks on Iran’s nuclear program are to be renewed in the middle of this month. The talks include the Iranian government together with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—the US, Britain, China, France and Russia—plus Germany.

Washington and its allies have charged that the Iranian government is developing a nuclear weapons program, while Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes. Unlike nuclear-armed Israel, which together with Washington has continuously threatened military strikes against it, Iran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Pact and has submitted to an inspection regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Speaking in Saudi Arabia, where she was coordinating an anti-Iranian military alliance with the reactionary Persian Gulf monarchies, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that the sole purpose of the scheduled talks would be to achieve full Iranian compliance with US demands, or to pave the way to war.

“It will soon be clear whether Iran’s leaders are prepared to have a serious, credible discussion . . . to start building the trust we need to move forward,” Clinton said.

The US secretary of state told reporters that Iran should cease all production of 20 percent enriched uranium and open up all its facilities to continuous inspection. Neither of these steps is required under international treaties and law.

“So far,” she added, “they have given little reason for confidence. What is certain is that Iran’s window to do so will not remain open forever.”

This reference to the “window” closing represents yet another US threat of war against Iran.

In her talks with the Gulf oil potentates, Clinton unveiled US plans to build a regional missile defense system. The Washington Post reported that Vice Adm. Michael Fox, the commander of the US 5th Fleet based in Bahrain, presented the dictatorial regimes with the plans for the missile shield, which will provide lucrative new contracts for the US arms manufacturers, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.

Clinton and the ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council regimes also reportedly discussed means of securing the shipment of their oil supplies through the Strait of Hormuz, which passes through Iranian territorial waters, even as Iran is faced with the choking off of its own oil exports and the threat of military attack.

Clinton praised the Saudi monarchy for pledging to increase its oil supply to make up for the supplies from Iran that Washington is attempting to keep off the international markets. “Both the United States and Saudi Arabia share an interest in ensuring that energy markets foster economic growth,” she said. “We recognize and appreciate the kingdom’s actions to respond to market demand.”

While Iran had earlier announced that its talks with the P5+1 would resume on April 13, it had not fixed a locale for the meeting. In her remarks, Clinton indicated that it would be held in Istanbul, Turkey.

It is not clear, however, whether Tehran will accept convening the negotiations in the Turkish capital. Mohsen Rezaee, the former Iranian presidential candidate and secretary of the country’s Expediency Discernment Council, said that the talks should take place in an “Iranian-friendly” country, and that Turkey was not suitable given its “failure to fulfill relevant commitments.”

Rezaee did not elaborate on his statement, but tensions between Iran and Turkey have increased following Turkey’s announcement that it will at least partially comply with US sanctions, reducing its oil imports from Iran by 20 percent. Istanbul’s hosting Sunday of the “Friends of Syria” conference, which produced a plan for issuing paychecks to elements carrying out terrorist attacks inside Syria, Iran’s principal ally in the region, as well as Turkey’s threats of military intervention inside Syria, have further soured relations.

China, which imports 20 percent of its oil from Iran, has firmly rejected the US sanctions as an extra-legal interference in international trade.

“The Chinese side always opposes one country unilaterally imposing sanctions against another according to domestic law,” a statement from China’s Foreign Ministry affirmed Saturday. “Furthermore it does not accept the unilateral imposition of those sanctions on a third country.”

India, which imports some 12 percent of its oil from Iran, has also evaded US sanctions, paying for Iranian oil in rupees and with the barter of its own manufactured goods. Washington has exerted significant pressure on the Indian government to cut its trade ties with Tehran.

The BRICS summit—Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa—in New Delhi last week issued a declaration recognizing “Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy” and warning against the “disastrous consequences” of a military attack.

Meanwhile, the US, Israel and Greece are conducting war games involving at least 10 warships and combat aircraft in the eastern Mediterranean. The operation, dubbed “Noble Dina,” is led by the US Sixth Fleet and the Israeli navy. It began on March 26 and continues until April 5.

The exercise, which includes simulated defense against submarine attacks and securing offshore oil platforms as well as air combat, is, according to Israeli sources, a rehearsal for war against Iran.

Click image to download PDF

Today we are publishing the first, of what we hope will be an annual briefing.

The Drone Wars Briefing explores some of the key issues arising from the growing use of armed unmanned drones in a detailed, yet, accessible way.  Examining current UK and US military drone operations, as well as looking at future developments and legal issues, the fully-referenced briefing will be of use to both those new to the issue as well as those with a long-term interest.

Each of the briefings five key sections starts with a short background summary before reviewing what has happened over the past year.  In addition, the 36-page document looks at the growing autonomy of drones; Israel and drones and the push towards allowing drones to fly within UK civil airspace.  The briefing concludes with a short essay arguing that at the very least there must be proper public accountability for the use of armed drones and an informed public debate on their future development and use.

As the introduction to the briefing notes, 2012 will be a significant year for the development of drones in the UK. A go-ahead for the new UK-French drone is expected early in the New Year, the British Watchkeeper drone will finally be deployed sometime in the Spring, RAF pilots will begin piloting armed Reaper drones over Afghanistan from the UK for the first time during the summer, and it is likely that drones will fly over London during the Olympics. For all these reasons and more, we believe the Drone Wars Briefing is a timely and vital publication.

  • We are making the Briefing available free of charge to download (simply click image) but would very much appreciate a donation towards our work.
  • To order up to 5 copies through the post (sorry, UK only) please send a cheque (payable to ‘Drone Wars UK’) for £3.00 per copy plus £1.00 postage and packing per copy to:  Drone Wars UK, 20 Wilkins Road, Oxford, OX4 2HX
  • To order more than 5 copies please email us.

A Policy of Peace Instead of War in the Iran Conflict

An Immediate End to Sanctions and Threats of War

A Declaration from the German Peace Movement and Peace Researchers

 

 

The conflict with Iran is dangerously escalating. Both the planned oil embargo and boycott of the Iranian Central Bank by the West are perilous interventions. Once in the past, in the 1950s, Britain and the United States imposed an oil embargo on Iran. This led to the overthrow of the democratically elected Mossadegh government. The impact of today’s oil and financial embargos will primarily be felt by the ordinary people of Iran. And in light of the historical parallels, these measures will only serve to vindicate the current regime’s claim to be a victim of Western aggression and enable it to present itself as the legitimate defender of Iran’s independence, an uppermost political goal of all Iranians. Militarists in the Islamic Republic now even feel justified in threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf. This escalation of sanctions is perfectly suited to lead to war. This would not only have catastrophic consequences for the people of Iran, but also destabilize the entire region for many decades to come.

All evidence suggests that the Iranian people have no desire either for war or an Iranian nuclear bomb. They refuse to accept, however, any foreign military threat. Israel’s nuclear arsenal and the military encirclement of Iran by the U.S. which at present maintains military bases in almost all of the countries neighbouring Iran, are important motives behind Iran’s armament efforts. By tolerating Israel’s nuclear arsenal while simultaneously opposing the Iranian nuclear programme, the U.S and the EU must bear the primary responsibility for the fact that hardly any opposition politician in Iran dares to question the nuclear policies of the Islamic Republic.

We in Germany and in Europe as a whole also feel confronted with the growing danger of war, as it would clearly pose serious consequences for Europe and the world. Those aiming to eliminate the Islamic Republic through foreign intervention simply ignore realistic solutions to resolving the nuclear conflict. We therefore warn influential forces in the U.S. and their exiled-Iranian followers against attempting to instrumentalize the nuclear conflict in order to push for regime change. The claim that a nuclear armed Iran can only be prevented through war is a deceptive one that we firmly reject.

We call upon the President of the United States, Barack Obama:

Stop the embargoes against Iranian oil and the Iranian Central Bank. Do not allow the American presidential campaign to plunge the U.S. administration and Israel into a war with unforeseeable consequences. In return to a controlled curtailment of its nuclear programme in accordance with the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, offer Iran a mutual non-aggression pact, preferably along with Israel.

We demand from the German Chancellor:

Rule out publically any German participation in a war against Iran and put a halt to the risky escalation of sanctions. Support, preferably with other European governments, the United Nations Middle East WMD-Free Zone Conference, which is scheduled to begin in 2012 and which has received next to no public attention. Yet, this undertaking, which could be complemented with a Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME), would offer a whole new perspective for peace and cooperation for the entire region. Only a policy that requires all states in the region, including Israel, to pursue nuclear disarmament and the renunciation of nuclear weapons can overcome mutual distrust as well as enemy images between the region’s religions, peoples and states. The arms race and regional dictatorships would lose their raison d’être.

We ask the United Nations to convene the planned conference as soon as possible, even if it is initially boycotted by Israel or Iran. In the long run, no one in the region can afford to close its mind for the perspective offered by the conference without losing its credibility and legitimacy. A permanent Conference for Security and Cooperation in the Middle East (CSCME) would raise hopes that a new framework for peace policies would arise to help solve – in addition to the current nuclear dispute – other existing problems, in particular, the Mideast conflict.

* * *

At the invitation of Andreas Buro, Christoph Krämer, and Mohssen Massarrat, the following individuals have expressed their support for this declaration:

 

Franz Alt, Elmar Altvater, Johannes M. Becker, Hanne-Margret Birckenbach, Reiner Braun, Daniela Dahn, Hans-Peter Dürr, Theodor Ebert, Iring Fetscher, Ute Finkh, Johan Galtung, Ulrich Gottstein, Peter Grottian, Matthias Jochheim, Heiko Kauffmann, Karlheinz Koppe, Ekkehart Krippendorff, Wiltrud Roesch-Metzler, Christine Morgenroth, Wolf-Dieter Narr, Oskar Negt, Bahman Nirumand, Norman Paech, Bergrun Richter, Clemens Ronnefeldt, Werner Ruf, Christine Schweitzer, Eva Senghaas-Knobloch, Gert Sommer, Hans von Sponeck, Eckart Spoo, Otmar Steinbicker, Mani Stenner, Peter Strutynski, Helga Tempel, Konrad Tempel, Renate Wanie, Herbert Wulf and Christian Wellmann.

For a complete list of the signatories (as of 31 March 2012, over 80 organizations and about 1800 individuals have signed), see http://www.friedenskooperative.de/themen/iranerkg.htm#marke02.

The declaration appeared as an ad in the weekly Der Freitag on 29 March 2012 and in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the largest German national subscription daily newspaper, on 31 March 2012.

Contact and liable for editorial content: Prof. em. Andreas Buro ([email protected]), Dr. Christoph Kraemer ([email protected]), and Prof. em. Mohssen Massarat ([email protected])

Berlin, 23 February 2012

The volume of worldwide arms transfers in 2007–2011 was 24 per cent higher than in 2002–2006 and the five largest arms importers in 2007–2011 were all Asian states, according to new data on international arms transfers published today by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

Read the press release in French here, Spanish here and in Swedish here.

Asia and Oceania accounted for 44 per cent of global arms imports, followed by Europe (19 per cent), the Middle East (17 per cent), the Americas (11 per cent) and Africa (9 per cent).

India was the world’s largest recipient of arms, accounting for 10 per cent of global arms imports. The four next largest recipients of arms in 2007–2011 were South Korea (6 per cent of arms transfers), Pakistan (5 per cent), China (5 per cent) and Singapore (4 per cent).

‘Major Asian importing states are seeking to develop their own arms industries and decrease their reliance on external sources of supply,’ said Pieter Wezeman, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘A large share of arms deliveries is due to licensed production.’

China shifts from imports to exports

China, which was the largest recipient of arms exports in 2002–2006, fell to fourth place in 2007–11. The decline in the volume of Chinese imports coincides with the improvements in China’s arms industry and rising arms exports.

Between 2002–2006 and 2007–11, the volume of Chinese arms exports increased by 95 per cent. China now ranks as the sixth largest supplier of arms in the world, narrowly trailing the United Kingdom.

‘While the volume of China’s arms exports is increasing, this is largely a result of Pakistan importing more arms from China’, said Paul Holtom, director of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme. ‘China has not yet achieved a major breakthrough in any other significant market.’

Arab spring has limited impact on arms transfers

Major suppliers continued to deliver weapons to countries affected by the events of the Arab Spring. Despite a review in 2011 of its arms transfer policies towards the region, the USA remains a major supplier to both Tunisia and Egypt. In 2011, the USA delivered 45 M-1A1 tanks to Egypt and agreed to deliver 125 more.

Russia supplied 78 per cent of Syria’s imports in 2007–11. During 2011 Russia continued deliveries of Buk-M2E SAM systems and Bastion-P coastal defence missile systems to Syria, as well as securing an order for 36 Yak-130 trainer / combat aircraft. These deliveries contributed to a 580 per cent increase in the volume of Syrian arms imports between 2002–2006 and 2007–11.

‘The transfer of arms to states affected by the Arab Spring has provoked public and parliamentary debate in a number of supplier states. However, the impact of these debates on states’ arms export policies has, up to now, been limited,’ states Mark Bromley, senior researcher with the SIPRI Arms Transfers Programme.

Other notable developments

  • In 2011 Saudi Arabia placed an order with the USA for 154 F-15SA combat aircraft, which was not only the most significant order placed by any state in 2011 but also the largest arms deal for at least 2 decades.
  • Greece’s arms imports decreased by 18 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11. In 2007–11 it was the 10th largest arms importer, down from being the 4th largest in 2002–2006. Greece placed no new order for major conventional weapons in 2011.
  • Venezuela’s arms imports increased by 555 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11 and it rose from being the 46th largest importer to the 15th largest.
  • The volume of deliveries of major conventional weapons to states in North Africa increased by 273 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11. Morocco’s imports of major weapons increased by 443 per cent between 2002–2006 and 2007–11.
  • The comprehensive annual update of the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database is accessible from today at www.sipri.org.

The SIPRI Arms Transfers Database contains information on all international transfers of major conventional weapons (including sales, gifts and production licences) to states, international organizations and armed non-state groups from 1950 to the most recent full calendar year. Since the volume of deliveries of arms can fluctuate significantly from one year to the next, SIPRI presents data for five-year periods to give a more stable measure of trends in international transfers of major conventional weapons.

This is the second of a series of three major data sets pre-launches, before SIPRI’s Yearbook is published in June 2012. On 17 April its world military expenditure data (comprehensive information on global, regional and national trends in military spending). Finally, on June 4, SIPRI will launch its 2012 Yearbook (cutting-edge information and analysis on the state of the world’s nuclear forces, the international peacekeeping agenda and steps to control WMD).

VIDEO: Free Syrian Army Foot-Soldiers of Western Military Alliance

April 2nd, 2012 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

“steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world”

George Washington, 1796

Is American imperialism a Bilderberger plot? Are the American bankers, diplomats, and members of the Council on Foreign Relations all traitors, having turned America into merely an instrument to carry out their Bilderberger maniacal aims? Does America as a sovereign nation even exist anymore?

Consider the possibility that the Bilderbergers have already bought off the governments of Western Europe, North America, and the remnants of the British Empire that still cling to the Queen’s skirts. If that be true, the only remaining obstacles to a Bilderberger success are the BRICS and the Moslem world. The WTO and promises of free trade and pie in the sky prosperity can be used to subvert the BRICS which leaves the Moslem countries as the last bulwark in defense of free, independent, and sovereign nations. When one realizes just how ironic that is, the realization of just how far the Bilderbergers have already come in advancing their agenda really strikes home.

Sometime during the First World War, the well-meaning but naïve American president, Woodrow Wilson, came up with the idea that every ethnic minority in Eastern Europe was entitled to its own nation, a nation for every ethnicity, and he persuaded the victorious powers to create such nations while writing the peace treaties that ended the war. It was a bad idea.

Before the war, central and Eastern Europe was dominated by Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Russia. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was comprised of more than a dozen ethnic groups. There were Germans (i.e., Austrians), Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainians, Serbs, Croats, Slavs, Romanians, and more.

When the war ended, several treaties were imposed on the defeated nations, all of which had to give up territory to the victorious powers and a number of newly created nations (Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Czechoslovakia). Several nations were enlarged (Denmark, Russia, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Italy). The Ottoman Empire was dismembered. Turkey lost most of its land in Europe and Arabia was made into a mandate ruled by the British and French, Syria and Lebanon went to France and Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine went to Britain. In the end, all of this up-carving was naught but a gigantic failure, the consequences of which we are still living with today.

The bug in the broth was obvious. People migrate. In the fifty-one years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, peoples moved within it. All Poles did not stay in the area that became Poland; Serbs did not stay in Serbia; Croats did not stay in Croatia. When the empire was dismembered, peoples of all nationalities were everywhere. Putting them together again in homogenous groups was impossible. Additionally, some of those of German nationality ended up in France, Denmark, Poland, Czechoslovakia and who knows where else.

Realpolitik in Europe in the early twentieth century was characterized by a plethora of treaties. Bismarckian balance of power relationships ruled the day. Nations lined up with each other to oppose other groups of nations to balance another group’s power. The idea was that if the groups were equally strong peace was assured. How wrong they were.

Even after the war these balance of power relationships continued. (In fact, they continue to this day.) So when Germany began to balk at the onerous conditions placed upon it by the Treaty of Paris, it wanted to retake the territory it had lost and reunite the German peoples scattered throughout Eastern Europe. The peace lasted a mere twenty-nine years! Germany easily took back the territory that had been ceded to France. The Austrians, being a Germanic people, willingly allowed Austria to be annexed. Then the Germans went for the Germans in the territory that had been ceded to Czechoslovakia. War was on the horizon because England and France objected to all of this German expansion, but they ultimately acquiesced, drawing a line on any German expansion into Poland by committing their countries to go to war with Germany if Poland were invaded. In essence, they wrote a treaty, believing that this treaty would work to balance their power with Germany’s and thus prevent war. But it was a sham.

Germany, knowing that neither England nor France were prepared to go to war, invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 after signing the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Russia (the USSR) to keep it from joining England and France. As a result, the English and French made some minor forays into Germany that were easily repulsed, and Germany easily overran Poland. After that, the English were driven from the continent and the French surrendered.

Almost everyone knows this story, so why am I retelling it. Well the story is old news and not important, but no one has analyzed the role of the treaties involved in it.

What effect did the English and French treaty to come to the aid of Poland have? It didn’t prevent the war. Nor did it help Poland which was overrun at least twice and utterly destroyed. The English and French never liberated Poland. The treaty didn’t extinguish Germany’s desire to expand its territory, for shortly after France surrendered, Germans invaded Russia. What did this treaty do? It merely expanded the war.

For the purposes of this paper, it doesn’t matter that that expansion may have been a good thing in the long run. What is most important is the recognition that when the treaty was invoked, it diminished the sovereignties of both England and France.

A nation is sovereign when it alone is responsible for its behavior. A sovereign nation can go to war or not. A sovereign nation makes its own decisions. But neither the British nor the French made the decision to go to war. The decision was made in Berlin. The German decision to invade Poland was also a decision to bring England and France into the war. After agreeing to come to Poland’s aid, the British and French no longer had any say in the matter. It was all up to Germany.

Germany and Italy were in a similar position. They had a mutual assistance treaty with Japan. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the attack brought Germany and Italy into a war with the United States, a war which neither Germany nor Italy wanted at the time. So the treaty with Japan reduced Italian and German sovereignties. The decision to bring them into war with the United States was not made in Berlin or Rome; it was made in Tokyo. That decision was completely up to the Japanese. The Germans and Italians had nothing to do with it.

So the interesting question is, do all treaties reduce the sovereignties of the nations that enter into them? I am certain the answer is yes. Treaties which are entered into in hopes of preventing wars ultimately expand them and nations find themselves fighting wars they never conceived of because an insignificant member of a treaty can somehow start a war that then extends to all of the treaty’s signatories.

In fact, World War I started in exactly that way. The war which killed more than 15 million and wounded more than 20 million was started by the assassination on June 28, 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, by a Yugoslav nationalist. Because of it, Austria went to war with Serbia. Alliances formed over previous decades, brought the major powers into the war within weeks. How many of these nations would have gone to war over that assassination had the treaties not existed? No one will ever know!

None of the nations except Austria had a hand in deciding to go to war. The decision for every nation involved, except perhaps the United States, was made in Vienna. By signing these treaties, each of these nations gave up their sovereignties. They were no longer masters of their own fates.

Since the end of World War II, the United States has insanely fostered treaty making. There are NATO, SEATO, and only Washington knows what else. Any puny nation that is part of any of these treaties can draw not only the United States but all of the other signatories in to a colossal conflagration. Americans like to pretend that they control these treaty-groups. America refers to itself as a “first among equals.” But that expression is an oxymoron. If there is a first, the rest are not equals, and if all are equal, there is no first! How would Americans react if something happened in Bangladesh that drew the United States into a worldwide war? Realpolitik is a receipe for disaster. Why have we not paid attention to the advice of George Washington?

Two European immigrants to America, both Bilderbergers, who speak with heavy European accents and harbor Bismarckian complexes bear much responsibility for this situation, (Bismarck’s balance of power policies brought peace to Germany for a mere 43 years) but they are not alone.

However balance of power treaties are not the only culprits. Trade agreements are just as bad. Look at what the Maastricht Treaty which established the European Union has done to Greece and threatens to do to other European countries. Today’s Quisling Greek government is now little more than a tool of Europe’s more prosperous states. When Greece’s former socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou proposed a popular referendum on the Greek sovereign debt bailout, the European Union scotched it. Now Greece no longer has the power to call an election that the Union objects to. Greece has even lost its democracy.

But the effect of trade agreements is far more extensive than the EU.

“. . . big financial players have another potential weapon in their battle against safety and soundness. This one is more hidden from view and comes from, of all places, the World Trade Organization in Geneva.

Back in the 1990s, when many in Washington — and virtually everyone on Wall Street — embraced the deregulation that helped lead to the recent crisis, a vast majority of W.T.O. nations made varying commitments to what’s called the financial services agreement, which loosens rules governing banks and other such institutions.

Many countries, for instance, said they would not restrict the number of financial services companies in their territories. Many also pledged not to cap the total value of assets or transactions conducted by such companies. These pledges also appear to raise trouble for any country that tries to ban risky financial instruments.

According to the W.T.O., 125 of its 153 member countries have made varying degrees of commitments to the financial services agreement. Now, these pledges could easily be used to undermine new rules intended to make financial systems safer.”

So now, nations may not even have the power to regulate their financial institutions which, in fact, extends to their economies as a whole. The World Trade Organization rules all.

So how did that happen? Well, people have been trying to create a world government for a long time. To do that, nation states must be rendered effete. Consider what David Rockefeller said at a Bilderberg meeting in 1991:

“We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.”

Well given what the “intellectual elite and world bankers” did to the global economy in 2008, do you really want them to rule all? World government, in order to work, requires that ethnic and religious distinctions be expunged. But ethnic characteristics are often physical and the French and the Russians, after their revolutions, tried and failed to extinguish their peoples’ religious beliefs. So how do you believe a new one world government would react to ethnic and religious uprisings world-wide? Would the entire world begin to look like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and countless parts of Africa? Is such a world surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries”? More importantly, is American imperialism a Bilderberger plot? Are the American bankers, diplomats, and members of the Council on Foreign Relations all traitors, having turned America into merely an instrument to carry out their maniacal aims? Does America as a sovereign nation even exist anymore? Remember what Jefferson says about banks: “banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies.”

Consider the possibility that the Bilderbergers have already bought off the governments of Western Europe, North America, and the remnants of the British Empire that still cling to the Queen’s skirts and are now using all of these nations as tools to bring about their goal of imposing a single bankers’ government on its New World Order. If that be true, the only remaining obstacles to a Bilderberger success are the BRICS and the Moslem world. The WTO and promises of free trade and pie in the sky prosperity can be used to subvert the BRICS which leaves the Moslem countries as the last bulwark in defense of free, independent, and sovereign nations. When one realizes just how ironic that is, the realization of just how far the Bilderbergers have already come in advancing their agenda really strikes home.

Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling is long dead, but his soul has multiplied and now inhabits the bodies of greedy merchants and maniacal diplomats and politicians the world over. For the most part, these people hold respected places in society. Shouldn’t they be vilified instead? What has any Rockefeller or Bilderberger done for you or anyone you know?


John Kozy is a retired professor of philosophy and logic who writes on social, political, and economic issues. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he spent 20 years as a university professor and another 20 years working as a writer. He has published a textbook in formal logic commercially, in academic journals and a small number of commercial magazines, and has written a number of guest editorials for newspapers. His on-line pieces can be found on http://www.jkozy.com/ and he can be emailed from that site’s homepage. 

VIDEO: Bitter Seeds: The Plight of India’s Farmers

April 2nd, 2012 by Global Research

Beginning Monday of last week, the US Supreme Court held three consecutive days of oral arguments on a number of issues related to the constitutionality of the Obama administration’s 2010 health care legislation (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), including the “individual mandate” provision requiring citizens to purchase heath insurance from private corporations.

To the apparent surprise of many legal commentators and the nominally liberal justices on the court, the right-wing faction used the opportunity to launch a political offensive not just against the Obama health care legislation, but also against federal social programs in general.

The four-justice right-wing bloc on the Supreme Court, consisting of Chief Justice Roberts and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, represents the most reactionary sections of the ruling elite. Wednesday’s arguments, in particular, revealed that this bloc is seeking to exploit the regressive and unpopular Obama health care “reform” to lay a pseudo-legal basis for far-reaching attacks on all federal entitlement programs, beginning with Medicaid.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act has been the subject of intense litigation involving more than two dozen federal lawsuits since it was passed in March 2010. The principal challengers have been 26 of 50 state governments and the National Federation of Independent Business, as well as numerous private individuals. Over the past two years, judges in the lower federal courts around the country have issued conflicting and contradictory decisions, which the Supreme Court is tasked with resolving in the present case, Florida v. Department of Health and Human Services.

It now seems clear that Chief Justice John Roberts made the decision to schedule three days of arguments, an extraordinary step, precisely to create an opportunity to lay out the case for going back to the days before the Great Depression and Roosevelt’s New Deal when the Court routinely blocked social legislation. In this case as in all others, the right-wing bloc on the court proceeds from a political goal, not legal precedent or principle, and improvises its legalistic arguments to achieve that goal. In the three days of arguments last week, the justices, particularly Scalia, barely sought to conceal their political motives.

The court focused the first day of arguments on preliminary considerations of whether the court could even consider challenges raised to portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that had not yet gone into effect. The second day was dedicated to the constitutionality of the individual mandate, which the right wing attacked as an unconstitutional imposition of the federal government on individual Americans.

It was not until the third day that the political dynamic emerged in full force. On Wednesday, the court invited arguments on two issues: first, whether, if the individual mandate is struck down, the entire law should be thrown out; and second, whether the provisions in the law expanding the scope of Medicaid, the federal health insurance program for the poor, violate states’ rights.

The first day’s arguments were largely technical. They for the most part turned on whether the fine associated with failure to comply with the individual mandate, which is slated to go into effect in 2015, is a “penalty” or a “tax” for the purposes of a statute prohibiting challenges to taxes before they are actually imposed. The Obama administration maintained that the fine was not a tax, in order to insure that the Supreme Court took its decision this year rather than waiting until 2015. Its right-wing opponents adopted the same position on the jurisdictional question, so the Supreme Court appointed an independent counsel, Robert Long, to argue that the penalty was in fact a tax.

The legal arguments over the constitutionality of the individual mandate itself on the second day took a fairly predictable form. In general, the court’s ostensibly liberal justices defended the provision, while the court’s right-wing bloc criticized it (with the exception of Thomas, who, in accord with his bizarre custom, said absolutely nothing throughout the three days of proceedings). The so-called “swing” justice, Anthony Kennedy, asked critical questions of both sides.

The Obama administration and the Democratic Party, in the closest collaboration with insurance and health industry lobbyists, constructed their health care “reform” around the individual mandate provision for the purpose of ensuring that corporate and government health care costs could be cut without impinging on the profit interests of the insurance companies.

Obama and the Democrats rejected out of hand any form of universal health care under a government-run program. Instead, they sought, through the individual mandate, to place the onus for their “reform” of the health care system on individual working people, while expanding the market for private insurers and underwriting their profits by guaranteeing tens of millions of new policyholders.

At the same time, the plan entails hundreds of billions of dollars in cuts in the federal Medicare program for the elderly and reductions in benefits for millions of working class families. A recent Congressional Budget Office report estimated that up to 20 million workers could lose their employer-sponsored health insurance in the first few years of the program.

The posturing by the Supreme Court’s right-wing bloc as defenders of individual rights against overreaching government was utterly cynical. When it comes to torture, military commissions, indefinite detention, state secrets, domestic spying, warrantless searches, police abuse and attacks on free speech, these figures are more than happy to tear the Constitution to shreds.

On the third day, the court gave Republican attorney Paul D. Clement, representing 26 states, a lengthy opportunity to present arguments that the Obama health care legislation violated states’ rights. Clement’s remarks rapidly assumed the character of an attack not just on the health care overhaul, but also on Medicaid.

Medicaid, launched in 1965, is funded largely by the federal government but is administered by the states. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act expands Medicaid and requires the states to make it available to a larger section of the population. This helps to cut costs by pushing millions more working class families into bare-bones health care coverage.

In his arguments before the Court, Clement declared that in 1984 “federal spending to the states was a shade over $21 billion. Right now it’s $250 billion, and that’s before the expansion under this statute.” Clement argued that these sums of money amount to “coercion” and are a violation of states’ rights.

Justice Elena Kagan asked, “Well, if you are right, Mr. Clement, doesn’t that mean that Medicaid is unconstitutional now?” “Not necessarily, Justice Kagan,” Clement replied evasively.

However, Clement went on later to argue openly that the court “should go back and reconsider your cases that say that Congress can spend money on things that it can’t do directly”—in other words, the court should reconsider whether federal programs such as Medicaid are constitutional.

Clement’s argument that the court should “go back” to legal doctrines that prevailed a century ago evidently shocked the liberal justices. Arch-reactionary Justice Antonin Scalia, on the other hand, went out of his way to praise Clement’s arguments.

In an article Wednesday in the Wall Street Journal, legal commentator Jess Bravin called the doctrines advanced by Clement and welcomed by the court’s right-wing bloc “a tectonic shift in constitutional doctrine that has dominated since the New Deal.”

In a subsequent article on Thursday, Bravin elaborated on this point, writing: “In the run-up to the court argument, the Medicaid expansion received less attention. But the issue emerged as perhaps the most revelatory of the Roberts court’s view of American federalism, with conservative justices suggesting a deep unease over the dominant role in domestic policy Washington has played since the New Deal.”

The powers of the federal government to enact and maintain social programs such as Medicaid, long thought to be a settled constitutional issue, are now subject to challenge along the lines of legal doctrines that were rejected in the 1930s.

The court’s decision on the health care law, due in June, is not a foregone conclusion. During the arguments, Justices Anthony Kennedy and Samuel Alito expressed concern that striking down the individual mandate could be “unfair” to insurance companies. None of the other justices pointed out that whether or not the insurance companies would be able to continue raking in massive profits had nothing to do with the constitutionality of the law.

Chief Justice Roberts on the third day hinted in the direction of caution in openly attacking Medicaid, suggesting that the states had compromised their case for states’ rights in relation to federal social programs by accepting large amounts of federal funding over the past 75 years.

The ultimate decision will be made far more on the basis of political considerations than on legal or constitutional ones.

Regardless of the Court’s ultimate decision in the case, the arguments presented last week represent the opening shots in a legal challenge to the entire framework of basic entitlement programs. Workplace safety laws, food stamps, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Social Security Act, Medicaid, Medicare, and anti-discrimination statutes—the Supreme Court has placed a question mark over virtually the entire system of social legislation developed in the United States in the 20th century.

Meeting Sunday in the Turkish city of Istanbul, the so-called “Friends of Syria” conference stepped up the US-led campaign to destabilize and oust the government of Syria through a combination of diplomatic maneuvers and direct military interference.

Washington leads the group of 74 countries, with the aid of the European powers and the pro-US dictatorships of the Middle East. The conference took place as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan heads a UN monitoring mission in Syria, with the stated goals of bringing about a ceasefire and opening dialogue between the government and the opposition. The Syrian regime has signed on to Annan’s peace talks, though the main US-backed opposition groups have refused to do so.

Opening proceedings Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan made clear that the Annan mission is to be used by the “Friends of Syria” as a means to ratchet up tensions with the Assad regime and lay the groundwork for foreign military intervention.

“I need to state that if the Syrian regime does not cooperate [with Annan’s mission], it will be an inevitable requirement for the UN Security Council to fulfill its responsibility and put an end to the massacre in Syria,” Erdogan said. “If the UN Security Council avoids this historic responsibility once again, the international community will be left with no choice but to support the Syrian people’s right to self-defense.”

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton struck a similar note in her address to the conference, telling delegates that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad would not observe the conditions of Kofi Annan’s peace talks. “Nearly a week has gone by, and we have to conclude that the regime is adding to its long list of broken promises,” said Clinton. “The world must judge Assad by what he does, not what he says. And we cannot sit back and wait any longer.”

The US-led “Friends of Syria” coalition was established earlier this year in order to circumvent the United Nations Security Council, which had been unable to pass resolutions against the Assad government due to the vetoes cast by Russia and China, whose governments refused to sign off on Washington’s campaign for regime-change in Syria.

Like the so-called “Coalition of the Willing” that the George W. Bush administration fashioned in the run-up to the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Obama administration has assembled the “Friends of Syria” group to provide a fig leaf to cover the brazen imperialist campaign against a former colonial country in the oil-rich Middle East.

The Istanbul conference invited members of the Syrian National Council (SNC) to attend as representatives of the Syrian people. In a statement to the press before the start of the talks, SNC leader Burhan Ghalioun called on the delegates to militarily enforce “humanitarian corridors” inside Syria and to increase the supply of arms to the opposition. “We have repeatedly called for the arming of the Free Syrian Army,” Ghalioun said. “We want the Friends of Syria conference to live up to this demand.”

As Washington and its allies well know, the SNC is a deeply divided outfit with little popular support inside Syria. Together with its allies, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and various Islamist militant groups, the SNC is implicated in terrorist attacks on government personnel and buildings that have killed many civilians, as well as kidnappings, torture and sectarian killings.

Nonetheless, the final communiqué of the “Friends of Syria” meeting accorded the SNC the status of “legitimate representatives of all Syrians.” This new title has no weight in international law, but is intended as a mechanism to promote the SNC as a government in waiting, in the same way as the “rebel” National Transitional Council was boosted in the run-up to the NATO-led war against Libya to oust the regime of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The SNC and the FSA are based in Turkey, and have received arms, financing and training from other pro-US governments in the region, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Washington last week officially announced that it would also arm the anti-Assad militants, providing “non-lethal” aid such as sophisticated communication systems that will allow opposition fighters to better coordinate their attacks inside Syria.

The Istanbul conference discussed establishing a “trust fund” for the SNC, though there remained disagreement among the delegates on how the money should be used. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are pushing for the cash to be made available to purchase weapons for opposition fighters. Washington and the European powers appear reluctant to openly commit to this, preferring to limit the use of funds to supposed “humanitarian” projects.

Clinton announced that the US would provide an additional $12 million in support for the SNC, while Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, stated that his government would contribute $7.6 million to the opposition. Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf monarchies are understood to be preparing a multimillion dollar contribution to the fund.

The money will be funneled to the Syrian National Council, which will be the conduit for funds to those engaged in armed attacks within Syria. The group’s president Ghalioun said, “The SNC will take charge of the payment of fixed salaries of all officers, soldiers, and others who are members of the Free Syrian Army.” In other words, the so-called “rebels” in Syria are nothing more than paid mercenaries of the imperialist powers and the Gulf sheikdoms.

By solely recognizing the SNC at the Istanbul conference, Washington and its allies are also attempting to delegitimize all other Syrian opposition groups. For example, one opposition bloc, the National Coordination Committee, which has participated in negotiations with the Assad regime through the mediation of the Russian government, was not invited to the conference.

Russia and China did not join the “Friends of Syria” meeting, and refused to participate in the last such gathering in Tunisia in February. The Kremlin condemned the meeting in Istanbul as a distraction from the ongoing diplomatic mission of Kofi Annan, and an attempt to destabilize Syria rather than bring about peace talks.

According to a Russian foreign ministry statement Saturday, the Istanbul meeting was not “looking for dialogue that could put an end to the conflict. On the contrary, it may pave the way for external interference.”

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev last week claimed that the demands of Washington, the Western European powers and the Gulf monarchies for Assad’s immediate resignation were “shortsighted” and likely to prolong the conflict, while insisting that the UN-sponsored mission under Kofi Annan was the “last chance” to prevent full-scale civil war in Syria.

The government of Iraq also refused to send delegates to the Istanbul conference. Iraqi spokesman Ali Mussawi told the AFP news agency last week that Baghdad wanted to “maintain our mediation role, and the role of mediator sometimes requires not participating in this conference or that.”

Behind the hypocritical talk from Washington and its allies about “democracy” and “human rights,” the campaign against Syria articulated at the Istanbul conference is aimed at ousting Assad and replacing his Ba’athist regime with one more directly subordinated to imperialist interests. This is part of a broader US strategy to refashion the energy-rich Middle East that includes regime-change in Iran, Syria’s principal ally in the region.

In a further sign that Washington is preparing for war against Iran, President Barack Obama announced Friday that sanctions against the Iranian oil and gas industry, already passed by the US Congress, would be implemented. To mitigate the impact this will have on global oil prices, which have spiked by 20 percent this year, largely due to commodity traders speculating on the outbreak of a new war in the Middle East, the Obama administration has won an agreement to increase oil production from Saudi Arabia.

According to CNN, during talks Friday between Secretary Clinton and Saudi King Abdullah, ostensibly in preparation for the “Friends of Syria” meeting, the king agreed to make up for the loss of Iranian oil under the US sanctions. This would equate to Saudi Arabia increasing production by between one and two million barrels per day.

So-called “Friends of Syria” aren’t at all friendly to most Syrians. Syrian National Council/Free Syrian Army hostility is visible in daily violence they commit.

Backed by Washington, Britain, France, and other rogue NATO partners, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and perhaps other regional states supply powerful weapons and munitions to reign terror on ordinary civilians. They’ve also killed thousands of security forces.

At issue isn’t democracy or other high-sounding values. Anti-Assad nations don’t tolerate them at home. They’re never exported through subversion or barrel of a gun violence. Establishing another pro-Western state’s planned, as well as isolating and weakening Iran before targeting its government for regime change.

Behind the scenes, Washington’s dirty hands manipulate everything. Longstanding plans called for ousting Assad by any means, including war. Nothing changed.

In pursuit of unchallenged dominance, Syrians and others in the region die daily. That’s what imperialism’s all about. Body counts don’t matter, only wealth and unchallenged power.

Rogue Partners Talk Shop in Istanbul

On April 1, dozens of Western countries discussed ways to control, perhaps divide, and exploit Syria. Regional Arab League despots joined them. Russia and China boycotted the conference for good reason.

The New York Times headlined, “At Summit, Nations Move to Increase Aid for Syrian Rebels,” saying:

Washington and others there “moved closer….to direct intervention in the fighting in Syria….” It’s been raging since violence erupted over a year ago. Admitting it confirms what’s already known.

Weapons, munitions, funding, and training are involved. US, UK, French, and perhaps other special forces participate actively on the ground. So do CIA and MI6 operatives.

Events replicate the early 2011 Libya model. In February, US/UK/French special forces and intelligence operatives actively began helping anti-Gaddafi NATO-backed militants. An armed insurgency followed, including bombing weeks later.

Round two’s raging in Syria, short of bombs away. If other methods fail, expect it ahead of moving on to target Iran. Plans are made. Only timing’s not known. Election year politics and other issues dictate it.

In Istanbul, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and other Arab states pledged $100 million to bankroll opposition fighters. Doing so means they’re on their payroll. They’re employees. They’re hired guns like Mafia hitmen for much less pay.

Militant “Friends of Syria” want force, not diplomatic resolution. Even The Times admitted it that using it “stretch(es) the definition of humanitarian assistance.”

It stopped short of acknowledging the latter’s never involved when Washington intervenes. Responsibility to protect is a thinly veiled regime change scheme by any means.

Free Syrian Army fighters and Syrian National Council (SNC) members are Western tools to achieve it. SNC leader Burhan Ghalioun said “This is high noon for action.”

Hillary Clinton told conference attendees that Assad defied Annan’s six-point peace plan, saying:

“The world must judge Assad by what he does, not by what he says. And we cannot sit back and wait any longer.”

Clinton’s a war goddess. She’s part and parcel of Washington’s plan to instigate and continue violence. Assad’s blamed for confronting it. Blame game strategy operates that way.

International involvement inside and outside Syria “drags into a second year,” said The Times. It “appears to be deepening.”

“We are discussing with our international partners how best to expand support,” said Clinton.

Turkey’s Today’s Zaman quoted Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan saying:

The “legitimate demands of the Syrian people must be met, right here, right now.” Suggesting military intervention, he called for international leaders to defend the Syrian people’s “right to self-defense” if the Security Council can’t provide it. He added:

“A Security Council that has failed to say enough to a regime that has massacred innocent civilians, shelled cities and resorted to brutal violence is clearly incapable of preserving international peace and security.”

As long as Washington’s a member, the Security Council won’t tolerate international peace and security. Violence is standard practice. Targeted regimes are obligated to confront it. Their people expect it.

On April 1, Lebanese Defense Minister Fayez Ghusn stressed what Assad faces, saying:

“Smuggling weapons persists and is in fact increasing; the army is fighting it as much as it can but the smuggling operations are on the rise because they bring lots of profit and money. The army is ready but sometimes there are gaps and problems.”

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said:

“We deal with Syria….state to state as we deal with all the Arab countries.” We stress “the necessity of halting violence and adopting dialogue.”

Despite clear evidence Washington supports and perhaps actively participates in arming insurgents, The Times quoted an unnamed “senior American official” saying Washington and other nations agreed Sunday to set up a “working group” to monitor countries involved in arming or otherwise supporting Assad.

They want “to basically name and shame those entities, individuals, and countries, who are evading the sanctions.” They also want to “document acts of violence by Syrian forces” to be used later to prosecute Assad and others around him.

Media Disinformation

Their attacks are vicious, relentless, and one-sided. New York Time op-ed contributor Aaron David Miller mocked Annan’s peace plan for the wrong reasons. Headlining, “Will Annan Save Assad? he said:

“Although it is well intentioned, Mr. Annan’s plan won’t end the crisis; it will make it worse. The plan is an ill-timed lifeline to a murderous regime that will exploit Mr. Annan’s diplomacy to buy time, to reload and to divide the opposition and the international community.”

It offers Assad “time and space to rest and plan.” It also “break(s) the momentum of supplying weapons to the Free Syrian Army.”

Fact check

Annan’s peace plan is a ruse. It’s more theater than resolve to end conflict diplomatically. While calling for both sides to stop violence, it insists Assad make the first move.

His government must “immediately cease troop movements towards, end the use of heavy weapons in population centers, and begin pullback of military concentrations in and around population centers.”

In other words, it calls on him to stop protecting his own people, leave them on their own unprotected, and let insurgents reign terror unopposed because who’ll stop them. No responsible leader would agree.

Moreover, weapons continue flowing freely to opposition fighters. They’re supplied regularly through porous borders.

“Assad (will) exploit (Annan’s plan) because it is based on a process that doesn’t rule out his government’s staying in power and indeed might ensure” it. “Suddenly” he’s now “part of the solution.”

Only Syrians can decide if he stays or goes. International law prohibits outside intervention in any form. Most Syrians support him, especially his reform plans.

It’s their choice, and their right to tell less than friendly “friends” to butt out and let them run their own affairs unobstructed.

On March 30, a Washington Post editorial headlined, “Syria’s cover for murder,” saying:

Days after agreeing to Annan’s plan, violence keeps raging. The editorial, of course, blames Assad, not responsible killer gangs. “The results were completely predictable,” it said. Annan gave him “cover.”

“How much (more) time” should he get? “How many more dead?” The Post’s offices are near the White House. Its editors can trot over and ask. Instead, they continue saying:

“The Obama administration’s de facto choice to tolerate the survival of a regime that is Iran’s chief ally in the Middle East and the sponsor of Hamas and Hezbollah might have many motivations. But neither the will to prevent mass murder nor the pursuit of U.S. strategic interests could be among them.”

Fact check

Obama, those around him, and most in Congress plan ousting him. Insurgent “mass murder” is part of their scheme.

Washington’s “strategic interests” entail installing another pro-Western regime, exploiting Syrians, isolating Iran, replacing its government by any means, reigning terror on the entire region, and controlling it unchallenged.

That’s how imperialism works. …

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

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays 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/.

TEN MYTHS ABOUT CAPITALISM

April 1st, 2012 by Guilherme Alves Coelho

Capitalism in the neoliberal version has exhausted itself. Financial sharks do not want to lose profits, and shift the main burden of debt to the retirees and the poor. A ghost of the “European Spring” is haunting the Old World and the opponents of capitalism explain people how their lives are being destroyed. This is the topic of the article of a Portuguese economist Guilherme Alves Coelho.

There is a well-known expression that every nation has the government it deserves. This is not entirely true. People can be fooled by aggressive propaganda that shapes thought patterns, and then are easily manipulated. Lies and manipulations are a contemporary weapon of mass destruction and oppression of peoples. It is as effective as the traditional means of warfare. In many cases, they complement each other. Both methods are used to achieve victory in the election and destroy unruly countries.

There are many ways to handle public opinion, in which the ideology of capitalism has been grounded and brought to the level of myths. It is combination of false truths that are being repeated a million times, over the generations, and therefore become indisputable for many. They were designed to represent capitalism as credible and enlist the support and confidence of the masses. These myths are distributed and promoted via media tools, educational institutions, family traditions, church memberships, etc. Here are the most common of these myths.

Myth 1. Under capitalism, anyone who works hard can become rich 

The capitalist system will automatically provide wealth to hard-working individuals. Workers unconsciously formed an illusory hope, but if it does not come to fruition, they will be blaming themselves only. In fact, under capitalism, the probability of success, regardless how much you may have worked, is the same as in a lottery. Wealth, with rare exceptions, is not created by hard work, but is a result of fraud and lack of remorse for those who have greater influence and power. It is a myth that success is the result of hard work and, combined with luck and a good dose of faith, depends on the ability to engage in entrepreneurial activity and level of competitiveness. This myth creates the followers of the system who support it. Religion, especially Protestant, works to support this myth as well.

Myth 2. Capitalism creates wealth and prosperity for all

Wealth, accumulated in the hands of a minority, sooner or later will be redistributed among all. The goal is to enable the employer to accumulate wealth without asking questions. At the same time the hope is maintained that sooner or later workers will be rewarded for their work and dedication. In fact, even Marx concluded that the ultimate goal of capitalism is not the distribution of wealth but its accumulation and concentration. The widening gap between the rich and the poor in recent decades, especially after the establishment of the rule of neo-liberalism, has proven the opposite. This myth has been one of the most common during the phase of “social welfare” of the postwar period, and its main task was the destruction of the socialist countries.

Myth 3. We are all in the same boat

Capitalist society has no classes, therefore the responsibility for the failures and crises also lies on all and everyone has to pay. The goal is to create a guilt complex for workers, allowing capitalists to increase revenues and pass expenditures onto the people. In fact, the responsibility lies entirely on the elite consisting of billionaires who support the government and are supported by it, and have always enjoyed great privileges in taxation, tenders, financial speculation, offshore, nepotism, etc. This myth is implanted by the elites to avoid responsibility for the plight of the people and oblige them to pay for the elite’s mistakes.

Myth 4. Capitalism means freedom

True freedom is only achieved under capitalism with the help of the so-called “market self-regulation.” The goal is to create something similar to a religion of capitalism, where everything is taken as is, and deny people the right to participate in making macroeconomic decisions. Indeed, the freedom in decision-making is the ultimate freedom, but it is only enjoyed by a narrow circle of powerful individuals, not the people, and not even the government agencies. During summits and forums, in the narrow circles behind closed doors, the heads of large companies, banks and multinational corporations make major financial and economic decisions of strategic nature. The markets, therefore, are not self-regulating, they are being manipulated. This myth has been used to justify interference in the internal affairs of non-capitalist countries, based on the assumption that they have no freedom, but have rules.

Myth 5. Capitalism means democracy

Democracy can only exist under capitalism. This myth, which smoothly follows from the previous one, was created in order to prevent the discussion of other models of social order. It is argued that they are all dictatorships. Capitalism is assigned such concepts as freedom and democracy, while their meaning is distorted. In fact, society is divided into classes and the rich, being ultra-minority, dominate over all others. This capitalist “democracy” is nothing but a disguised dictatorship, and “democratic reforms” are processes opposite to progress. As the previous myth, this one also serves as an excuse to criticize and attack non-capitalist countries.

Myth 6. Election is a synonym of democracy

Election is synonymous with democracy. The goal is to denigrate or demonize other systems and prevent a discussion of political and electoral systems where leaders are determined through non-bourgeois elections, for example, on the virtue of age, experience, or popularity of candidates. In fact, it is the capitalist system that manipulates and bribes, where a vote is a conditional term, and election is only a formal act. The mere fact that the elections are always won by representatives of the bourgeois minority makes them unrepresentative. The myth that bourgeois elections guarantee presence of democracy is one of the most entrenched, and even some left-wing parties and forces believe it.

Myth 7. Alternating parties in office is the same as having an alternative

Bourgeois parties that periodically alternate in power have alternative platforms. The goal is to perpetuate the capitalist system within the dominant class, feeding the myth that democracy is reduced to the election. In fact, it is obvious that two-party or multiparty parliamentary system is a one-party system. These are two or more factions of one political force, they alternate, mimicking the party with an alternative policy. People always choose an agent of the system, being sure that this is not what they are doing. The myth that bourgeois parties have different platforms and are even oppositional, is one of the most important, it is constantly discussed to make the capitalist system work.

Myth 8. The elected politician represents the people and can therefore decide for them

The politician was granted authority by the people, and can rule at will. The purpose of this myth is to feed the people with empty promises and hide the real measures that will be implemented in practice. In fact, the elected leader does not fulfill that promise, or, worse, starts to implement undeclared measures, often conflicting and even contradicting the original Constitution. Often such politicians elected by an active minority in the middle of the mandate reach their minimum popularity. In these cases, the loss of representation does not lead to a change of the politician through constitutional means, but by contrast, leads to the degeneration of capitalist democracy in the real or disguised dictatorship. The systematic practice of falsification of democracy under capitalism is one of the reasons for the increasing number of people who do not go to the elections.

Myth 9. There is no alternative to capitalism

Capitalism is not perfect, but it is the only possible economic and political system, and therefore the most appropriate one. The goal is to eliminate the study and promotion of other systems and eliminate competition using all possible means, including force. In reality, there are other political and economic systems, and the most known is scientific socialism. Even within the framework of capitalism, there are versions of the South American “democratic socialism” or European “socialist capitalism”. This myth is intended to intimidate people, to prevent the discussion of alternatives to capitalism and ensure unanimity.

Myth 10. Savings generate wealth

The economic crisis is caused by the excess of employee benefits. If they are removed, the government will save and the country will become rich. The goal is to shift the liability for capitalist debt payment onto the public sector, including the retirees. Another goal is to make people accept poverty, arguing that it is temporary. It is also intended to facilitate the privatization of the public sector. People are being convinced that savings are the “salvation” without mentioning that it achieved through the privatization of the most profitable sectors whose future earnings will be lost. This policy leads to a decrease in state revenue and reduction of benefits, pensions and benefits.

AFGHANISTAN: A Tale of “Three Tragedies”

April 1st, 2012 by Felicity Arbuthnot

“ … she becomes the endless scream in the breaking news,

which was no longer breaking news, when

the aircraft returned to bomb a house with two windows and a door.”

 (The Girl/The Scream, Mahmoud Darwish, 1941-2008.)

March was another month of tragic, needless lives lost, the searing grief of mothers and fathers for lost sons and daughters.

Shockingly stark, however, has been the impression, that for the powers-that-be, for a swathe of public in the West, some deaths are indisputedly regarded as, more tragic, more noteworthy, than others.

On 6th March, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan. Corporal Jake Hartley (20) and Privates Anthony Frampton (20) Christopher Kershaw (19) Daniel Wade (20) and Daniel Wilford (20) and Sergeant Nigel Coupe (33) died when their armored vehicle was blown up. The resulting fire reportedly burned all night.

More youthful annihilations in an invasion and occupation, illegal, ill-conceived and long lost. Human sacrifices at the alter of political ego, dying because the powerful would still lose, throw away, the lives of others, than “lose face” – one hundred and twenty five  months since the “war” started.

In the US, five of the six would have been too young to even legally order a drink in a bar, but are old enough to die for monumental imperial folly, regional foothold –  and a pipeline.

Before the month ended two more British servicemen were shot, and yet another, blown to eternity..

In Parliament Prime Minister Cameron paid vacuous tribute. They died, he said: “Keeping our country safe.” What nonsense. There are no Afghan hordes massing across the English Channel, planning invasion with near antique rifles – some so ancient they have Queen Victoria’s insignia on, relics from another historic British folly.

Prince Harry, cavorting round the Caribbean, filling in time before returning to Afghanistan in an Apache  Attack Helicopter – with fire power of 632 rounds a minute, plus up to sixteen Hellfire missiles – to wipe out more villagers, and their homes, hung his head and declared himself: “Devastated.” Flags in their home and base towns in the UK flew at half mast.

Five days later, on March 11, there was a massacre of seventeen Afghan villagers, by an American soldier, or, say numerous eye witnesses, soldiers. Nine of the victims were children, the youngest two years old.

The names have been gathered (i) but to date, their ages not matched with them. Mohamed Wazir lost five daughters: Masooma, Farida, Palwasha, Nabia, and Estmatullah, and his son, Faizullah.

The other known names are: Mohamed Dawood, Khudaydad, Nazar Mohamed, Payendo, Robeena, Shatarina, Zahra, Nazia, Essa Mohamed and Akhtar Mohammed. The name of the seventeenth victim is, so far, unknown.

The wounded have names too: Haji Mohamed Naim, Mohamed Sediq, Parween, Rafiulla, Zardana, Zulheja. Since they were taken to a US military medical facility, little is known of their condition.

John Henry Browne, is attorney for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the only person, so far, accused of the atrocities – which, allegedly, involved attempting to set fire to the bodies, having covered them with materials and doused them with gasoline. Browne claims that US forces have obstructed him and colleagues from reaching and questioning the survivors.(ii)

Ironically, the killings and attempted body burnings were a near carbon copy of the US murders in Mahmudiya, Iraq, six years before, almost to the day. (12th March 2006.)

President Obama called Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai to express his condolences and to assure him that the: “tragic incident does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.”

Coming a month after “respectful” representatives of the US military had chucked over a hundred Holy Quran’s in to a burn pit, a large group Marine snipers had been photographed posing with a flamboyant Nazi flag (iii),and less than two months after they had been filmed urinating on dead Afghans, the Nobel President’s assurances, surely sounded somewhat wanting on the sincerity front. 

That impression may have been confirmed, when just two days after the killings and pictures of the little broken bodies and their relatives, laid in battered pick-up trucks for their last journey, to their burial – the haunted faces of the male relatives saying more than any words – Obama and David Cameron, were pictured, carefree, smirking, sharing jokes and munching hotdogs in Ohio.

Cameron, who had arrived in Washington that day, was whisked off in Air Force One, to the annual US college basketball tournament: “March Madness” in Dayton to watch Kentucky’s Hilltoppers  challenge Mississippi’s Delta Devils. Ohio is a swing state that is a vital plank of his strategy to win a second term in November, observe commentators.

User-friendly front page pictures of jollying at a game, surely beat those of small US victims, over which Obama had declared himself: “heartbroken”, in an increasingly unpopular quagmire, which a March CNN/ORC poll showed just 25% of Americans supporting.

David Cameron flew back to the UK, just in time to temporarily attempt diversion from an avalanche of self-inflicted domestic problems, by temporarily leaping to support fellow Libya destroyer,  France’s Nicholas Sarkozy. (Even by the woeful record of British Prime Ministers, Cameron and his Croesus-rich Cabinet cronies are so out of touch with the real world, they would make Marie “let them eat cake” Antoinette, look like a representative of the far left.)

On the 19th of March, another tragedy struck more children, a father, and their   families.

At a Jewish school, the Ozar Hatorah school, in Toulouse, France, a gunman, Mohammed Merah, shot dead Jonathan Sandler, a Rabbi and teacher at the school, his two sons, Gabriel and Arieh, aged three and six, and Miriam Monsonego, the seven year-old daughter of the school Principal, Yaacov Monsenego. An un-named seventeen year-old boy, was wounded.

President Sarkozy said: “Barbarity, savagery and cruelty cannot win, hate cannot win …One can imagine that the bloodthirsty madness was linked to racism.”

Ironically, the gunman, of Algerian origin, with a Muslim background, three days earlier, had, it seems, killed three soldiers, in nearby Montaubon. Two were Muslim. He has been repeatedly quoted as saying he was driven by the plight of the Palestinian people and of what he perceived as the West’s war against Islam. George W. Bush’s declared: “Crusade” returns to haunt.

David Cameron told Sarkozy: “People across Britain share the shock and grief that is being felt in France, and my thoughts are with the victims, their friends and their families…. You can count on my every support in confronting these senseless acts of brutality and cowardice.”

A minute’s silence was held across France for the victims. A book of condolence was opened at the French Embassy in Washington, and when those who had dual French-Israeli nationality were flown back to Israel for burial, accompanied by their relatives, they were joined by French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.

Mohammed Merah’s story is becoming as hard to unravel of that of Staff Sergeant Bales in the Afghanistan carnage. However Merah is predictably being labeled an Islamic terrorist, whilst Bales has been whisked out of Afghanistan. His lawyer cites memory loss and post traumatic stress disorder.

Meanwhile, Sarkozy too faces his electorate in April and May, and with France’s finances and Libya threatening to take their toll, no sympathy stone is, seemingly, left unturned.

“What must be understood”, he said: “is that the trauma of Montaubon and Toulouse is profound for our country, a little …  a little, like the trauma that followed in the United States and in New York after the September 11, 2001 attacks”, he told “Europe 1” radio. Loss and grief as chutzpah which out-does chutzpah.

It is surely coincidence that nineteen people have been arrested in France, in connection with the murders. Exactly the same number as the 9/11 hijackers.

When London’s underground system and a bus was struck by explosives on 7th July 2005, former New York Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani happened to be in town and did the rounds of media outlets, telling listeners that this was “London’s 9/11.” These shameful political non-senses trivialize losses of enormity, and all who are left to pick up the pieces of, and struggle with the fractured, often broken, emotional aftermath.

Willfully ignored, is cause and effect. Soldiers are dispatched to countries of which they know nothing, for oil and other interests, having been trained to see those in lands they occupy, uninvited, as lesser beings. Always thus, they attach derogatory names to other nationalities, sneer at lives, culture, beliefs and dress. Above all they are trained to kill.

Those who react to this injustice are simply “terrorists”, a “a tragic incident”, or “collateral damage.”

Three tragedies, leaving holes in many hearts, but two, clearly, so much greater.

When will Western politicians and their allies address their own: “barbarity, savagery and cruelty … the bloodthirsty madness” their: “senseless acts of brutality and cowardice”, their murderous meddling. Their crimes against humanity?

And far away, in those little villages in Afghanistan, traumatized surviving children are repeatedly asking their parents: “Are the Americans coming back?” (And yes, they do say: “Americans.”) 

Notes

i.  http://blogs.aljazeera.com/asia/2012/03/19/no-one-asked-their-names 
ii. http://rt.com/news/afghan-us-lawyer-bales-907/
iii.http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Military/2012/0210/Nazi-flag-incident-puts-culture-of-Marine-snipers-in-spotlight

Over the decades, the maintenance of power and class privileges by corporate, financial and political elites have relied on covert and overt forms of violence, oftentimes in unspoken arrangements with transnational criminal networks (the global drug trade) or intelligence-connected far-right terrorists: the minions who staffed and profited from Operations Condor and Gladio come to mind.

Once viewed as the proverbial “tip” of the imperial spear that advanced elitist dreams of “full-spectrum dominance,” the “plausibly deniable” puppeteering which formerly characterized such projects now take place in full-daylight with nary a peep from bought-off guardians of our ersatz democratic order, or a public narcotized by tawdry spectacles: Kony 2012 or American Idol, take your pick!

Mixing intellectual and moral squalor in equal measure with the latest high-tech gizmos on offer from Silicon Valley or Chengdu, the general societal drift towards data totalitarianism, once a hallmark of police states everywhere, is the backdrop where “too big to fail” is code for “too important to jail”!

With the current global economic crisis, brought on in no small part by private and public actors resorting to various frauds and market manipulations which reward privileged insiders, we have reached a social endpoint that analyst Michel Chossudovsky has accurately described as the “criminalization of the state,” that is, the historical juncture where “war criminals legitimately occupy positions of authority, which enable them to decide ‘who are the criminals’, when in fact they are the criminals.”

It should hardly surprise us then that American “hero,” Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, accused of murdering 17 innocent Afghan civilians, including 9 children and then burning their bodies, joined the Army after the 9/11 attacks not out of a sense of patriotic “duty,” but because he was a thief and swindler who went on the lam to avoid accounting for his crimes.

Indeed, ABC News reported that Bales “enlisted in the U.S. Army at the same time he was trying to avoid answering allegations he defrauded an elderly Ohio couple of their life savings in a stock fraud.”

Meanwhile Bales’ attorney John Henry Browne told CBS News that his client has “no memory” of the massacre and that it was “too early” to determine “what factors” may have led to the “incident.”

Some hero.

Keeping Us ‘Safe’

However, there are powerful institutional forces at work today which have extremely long–and exceedingly deep–memories, able to catalog and store everything we do electronically, “criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial,” or, more in keeping with the preferences of our Hope and Change™ administration, a one-way ticket to indefinite military detention for dissident Americans in the event of a “national security emergency” as a recent White House Executive Order threatened.

“In an Electronic Police State,” Cryptohippie averred, “every surveillance camera recording, every email you send, every Internet site you surf, every post you make, every check you write, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping… are all criminal evidence, and they are held in searchable databases, for a long, long time. Whoever holds this evidence can make you look very, very bad whenever they care enough to do so. You can be prosecuted whenever they feel like it–the evidence is already in their database.”

In stark contrast to feckless promises to undo the egregious constitutional violations of the Bush regime, The New York Times reported that the “Obama administration is moving to relax restrictions on how counterterrorism analysts may access, store and search information about Americans gathered by government agencies for purposes other than national security threats.”

On March 22, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed-off on new guidelines for the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) that “will lengthen to five years–from 180 days–the center’s ability to retain private information about Americans when there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism,” investigative journalist Charlie Savage wrote.

“The guidelines,” the Times disclosed, “are also expected to result in the center making more copies of entire databases and ‘data-mining them’–using complex algorithms to search for patterns that could indicate a threat–than it currently does.”

We’re told that the relaxation of existing guidelines “grew out of reviews launched after the failure to connect the dots about Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, before his Dec. 25, 2009, attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner.”

“‘There is a genuine operational need to try to get us into a position where we can make the maximum use of the information the government already has to protect people,’ said Robert S. Litt, the general counsel in the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the National Counterterrorism Center,” the Times reported.

However, as Antifascist Calling disclosed in previous reports on the Abdulmutallab affair (see here, here, here and here) former NCTC Director Michael E. Leiter made a startling admission during hearings before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee shortly after the incident.

During those hearings intelligence officials acknowledged that the secret state knowingly allows “watch-listed” individuals, including terrorists, to enter the country in order “to track their movements and activities.”

Leiter told congressional grifters: “I will tell you, that when people come to the country and they are on the watch list, it is because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another.”

As I wrote at the time: “An alternative explanation fully in line with well-documented inaction, or worse, by U.S. security agencies prior to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and now, Christmas Day’s aborted airline bombing, offers clear evidence that a ruthless ‘choice’ which facilitates the murder of American citizens are cynical pretexts in a wider game: advancing imperialism’s geostrategic goals abroad and attacks on democratic rights at home.”

Commenting on the ramp-up of new surveillance powers grabbed by the Obama administration, Michael German, a former FBI investigator now with the ACLU’s legislative office warned that “the ‘temporary’ retention of nonterrorism-related citizen and resident information for five years essentially removes the restraint against wholesale collection of our personal information by the government, and puts all Americans at risk of unjustified scrutiny.”

Anonymous administration officials who spoke to The Washington Post tried to assure us that “a number different agencies looked at these [guidelines] to try to make sure that everyone was comfortable that we had the correct balance here between the information sharing that was needed to protect the country and protections for people’s privacy and civil liberties.”

However, as journalist Marcy Wheeler pointed out “oversight” of the secret state’s surveillance activities are being handled by the ODNI’s Civil Liberties Protection Officer, Alexander Joel, a Bush appointee who was so “concerned” about protecting our privacy that he found no civil liberties violations when he reviewed NSA’s illegal warrantless wiretapping programs.

Joel, a former attorney with the CIA’s Office of General Counsel, told The Wall Street Journal that public fears about NSA’s driftnet spying activities were “overblown.”

“Although you might have concerns about what might potentially be going on, those potentials are not actually being realized and if you could see what was going on, you would be reassured just like everyone else,” Joel said.

Despite Joel’s soothing bromides spoon-fed to compliant media, Michael German warned that “such unfettered collection risks reviving the Bush administration’s Total Information Awareness program, which Congress killed in 2003.”

Documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that TIA aimed “to give law enforcement access to private data without suspicion of wrongdoing or a warrant.”

EPIC learned that “The project called for the development of ‘revolutionary technology for ultra-large all-source information repositories,’ which would contain information from multiple sources to create a ‘virtual, centralized, grand database.’ This database would be populated by transaction data contained in current databases such as financial records, medical records, communication records, and travel records as well as new sources of information. Also fed into the database would be intelligence data.”

Although Congress allegedly “killed” TIA in 2003 when it closed the Pentagon office, we now know from multiple investigations by journalists and from the government’s own internal reports, Total Information Awareness never went away but rather, was hidden behind impenetrable layers of above top secret Special Access Programs and code-name protected projects, most of which are controlled by the National Security Agency.

‘A Turnkey Totalitarian State’

The secret state’s “virtual, centralized, grand database” will shortly come on line.

As investigative journalist James Bamford recently reported in Wired Magazine, “new pioneers” are taking up residence in the small Utah town of Bluffdale, home to the largest sect of renegade Mormon polygamists: the National Security Agency’s Utah Data Center.

“A project of immense secrecy,” Bamford wrote, “it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013.”

Wired disclosed that all manner of communications will flow into Bluffdale’s “near-bottomless databases” including “the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails–parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital ‘pocket litter’.”

Additionally, one top NSA official involved with the program told Bamford that the agency “made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US. The upshot, according to this official: ‘Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target’.”

“For the first time since Watergate and the other scandals of the Nixon administration–the NSA has turned its surveillance apparatus on the US and its citizens,” Bamford averred. “It has established listening posts throughout the nation to collect and sift through billions of email messages and phone calls, whether they originate within the country or overseas.”

Since the dawn of the Cold War, the National Security Agency operated outside its charter, illegally spying on the communications of dissident Americans. In a companion piece for Wired, Bamford detailed how NSA denied that it was eavesdropping on Americans.

“For example,” Bamford wrote, “NSA can intercept millions of domestic communications and store them in a data center like Bluffdale and still be able to say it has not ‘intercepted’ any domestic communications. This is because of its definition of the word. ‘Intercept,’ in NSA’s lexicon, only takes place when the communications are ‘processed’ ‘into an intelligible form intended for human inspection,’ not as they pass through NSA listening posts and transferred to data warehouses.”

NSA mendacity aside, “for decades,” Bamford informed us, “the agency secretly hid from Congress the fact that it was copying, without a warrant, virtually every telegram traveling through the United States, a program known as Project Shamrock. Then it hid from Congress the fact that it was illegally targeting the phone calls of anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War, known as Project Minaret.”

But as we learned when The New York Times disclosed some aspects of the Bush regime’s Stellar Wind program, the NSA was caught red-handed illegally spying on tens of thousands of Americans without benefit of a warrant and did so with the full cooperation of America’s giant telecom firms and internet service providers who were then immunized by Congress under provisions of 2008′s despicable FISA Amendments Act (FAA).

Even as Congress granted retroactive immunity to telecoms and ISPs, and politicians, including President Obama, scrambled to downplay serious violations to individual political and privacy rights, the enormous reach of these programs are still misunderstood by the public.

William Binney, a former NSA official who was a senior “crypto-mathematician largely responsible for automating the agency’s worldwide eavesdropping network,” went on the record with Wired and denounced NSA’s giant domestic eavesdropping machine.

Binney explained “that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations–the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore. If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law.”

“Instead,” Binney told Wired, the agency “chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country–large, windowless buildings known as switches–thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. ‘I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,’ Binney says. ‘That’s not just San Francisco; they have them in the middle of the country and also on the East Coast’.”

Readers will recall that back in 2006, former AT&T technician Marc Klein blew the lid off the technical details of Stellar Wind, disclosing internal AT&T documents on how the firm gave NSA free-reign to install ultra-secret Narus machines. Those devices split communications as they flowed into AT&T’s “secret rooms” and diverted all internet traffic into NSA’s bottomless maw.

Klein, the author of Wiring Up the Big Brother Machine said that the program “was just the tip of an eavesdropping iceberg” which is not only targeted at suspected “terrorists” but rather is “an untargeted, massive vacuum cleaner sweeping up millions of peoples’ communications every second automatically.”

Narus, an Israeli firm founded by retired members of the IDF’s secretive Unit 8200, now owned by The Boeing Corporation, and Verint, now Comverse Infosys, another Israeli firm, were close partners alongside NSA in these illegal projects; one more facet of the U.S. and Israel’s “special relationship.”

The former official turned whistleblower told Wired that “Stellar Wind was far larger than has been publicly disclosed and included not just eavesdropping on domestic phone calls but the inspection of domestic email.”

“At the outset the program recorded 320 million calls a day,” Bamford wrote, “which represented about 73 to 80 percent of the total volume of the agency’s worldwide intercepts. The haul only grew from there. According to Binney–who has maintained close contact with agency employees until a few years ago–the taps in the secret rooms dotting the country are actually powered by highly sophisticated software programs that conduct ‘deep packet inspection,’ examining Internet traffic as it passes through the 10-gigabit-per-second cables at the speed of light.”

“Once a name is entered into the Narus database,” Binney said, “all phone calls and other communications to and from that person are automatically routed to the NSA’s recorders.”

“‘Anybody you want, route to a recorder,’ Binney says. ‘If your number’s in there? Routed and gets recorded.’ He adds, ‘The Narus device allows you to take it all.’ And when Bluffdale is completed, whatever is collected will be routed there for storage and analysis.”

Chillingly, Binney “held his thumb and forefinger close together” and told Bamford: “‘We are that far from a turnkey totalitarian state’.”

Main Core

During World War II, the Roosevelt administration issued Executive Order 9066 which granted the military carte blanche to circumvent the constitutional rights of some 120,000 Japanese-American citizens and led to their mass incarceration in remote, far-flung camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.

Will history repeat, this time under the rubric of America’s endless “War on Terror”?

In 2008, investigative journalists Christopher Ketchum reported in the now-defunct Radar Magazine and Tim Shorrock, writing in Salon, provided details on a frightening “Continuity of Government” database known as Main Core.

According to Ketchum, a senior government official told him that “there exists a database of Americans, who, often for the slightest and most trivial reason, are considered unfriendly, and who, in a time of panic, might be incarcerated. The database can identify and locate perceived ‘enemies of the state’ almost instantaneously.”

That official and other sources told Radar that “the database is sometimes referred to by the code name Main Core. One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.”

For his part, Shorrock revealed that several government officials with above top secret security clearances told him that “Main Core in its current incarnation apparently contains a vast amount of personal data on Americans, including NSA intercepts of bank and credit card transactions and the results of surveillance efforts by the FBI, the CIA and other agencies.”

“One former intelligence official,” Shorrock reported, “described Main Core as ‘an emergency internal security database system’ designed for use by the military in the event of a national catastrophe, a suspension of the Constitution or the imposition of martial law. Its name, he says, is derived from the fact that it contains ‘copies of the ‘main core’ or essence of each item of intelligence information on Americans produced by the FBI and the other agencies of the U.S. intelligence community’.”

It now appears that Main Core, or some other code-word protected iteration of the secret state’s administrative detention database will in all likelihood soon reside at Bluffdale.

While conservative and liberal supporters of the Bush and Obama administrations have derided these reports as the lunatic ravings of “conspiracy theorists,” analysts such as Peter Dale Scott have made clear that a decade after the 9/11 attacks, “some aspects of COG remain in effect. COG plans are still authorized by a proclamation of emergency that has been extended each year by presidential authority, most recently by President Obama in September 2009. COG plans are also the probable source for the 1000-page Patriot Act presented to Congress five days after 9/11, and also for the Department of Homeland Security’s Project Endgame–a ten-year plan, initiated in September 2001, to expand detention camps, at a cost of $400 million in Fiscal Year 2007 alone.”

“At the same time,” Scott wrote, “we have seen the implementation of the plans outlined by [Miami Herald journalist Alfonso] Chardy in 1987: the warrantless detentions that Oliver North had planned for in Rex 1984, the warrantless eavesdropping that is their logical counterpart, and the militarization of the domestic United States under a new military command, NORTHCOM. Through NORTHCOM the U.S. Army now is engaged with local enforcement to control America, in the same way that through CENTCOM it is engaged with local enforcement to control Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Indeed, as the Associated Press recently disclosed in their multipart investigation into illegal spying by the New York Police Department (NYPD), undercover officers “attended meetings of liberal political organizations and kept intelligence files on activists who planned protests around the U.S., according to interviews and documents that show how police have used counterterrorism tactics to monitor even lawful activities.”

A 2008 intelligence report obtained by AP revealed “how, in the name of fighting terrorism, law enforcement agencies around the country have scrutinized groups that legally oppose government policies.”

“The FBI for instance,” investigative journalists Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo averred, “has collected information on anti-war demonstrators. The Maryland state police infiltrated meetings of anti-death penalty groups. Missouri counterterrorism analysts suggested that support for Republican Rep. Ron Paul might indicate support for violent militias–an assertion for which state officials later apologized. And Texas officials urged authorities to monitor lobbying efforts by pro Muslim-groups.”

“The April 2008 memo offers an unusually candid view of how political monitoring fit into the NYPD’s larger, post-9/11 intelligence mission. As the AP has reported previously, [David] Cohen’s unit has transformed the NYPD into one of the most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies in the United States, one that infiltrated Muslim student groups, monitored their websites and used informants as listening posts inside mosques.”

Nor should we forget how the Pentagon’s own domestic intelligence unit, the Counterintelligence Field Activity or CIFA, routinely monitored antiwar activists and other dissidents.

As Antifascist Calling previously reported, multiple news reports beginning in late 2005 revealed that CIFA with 400 full-time DoD workers and 900 “outsourced” contractor employees and a classified budget, had been authorized to track “potential terrorist threats” against DoD through reports known as Threat and Local Observation Notices (TALON).

Although that office was shuttered in 2008, its domestic security functions were transferred to the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Defense Counterintelligence and Human Intelligence Center and the TALON database along with future “threat reports” would now be funneled to an FBI database known as “Guardian.”

However, as SourceWatch noted, “in accordance with intelligence oversight requirements,” even though CIFA was closed down, DoD “will maintain a record copy of the collected data.” In other words TALON reports, including data illegally collected on antiwar activists, will continue to exist somewhere deep in the bowels of the Defense Department, more likely than not in a Bluffdale database administered by NSA.

When President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law on December 31, he did more than simply facilitate multibillion dollar Pentagon boondoggles for the current fiscal year; he set the stage for what journalist Christopher Ketchum called “The Last Roundup,” and what James Bamford’s source denounced as our approaching “turnkey totalitarian state.”

We need not speculate as to when an American police state will be fully functional, it already is.

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research,, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research, The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.

Yemen is a key battleground in America’s war on terror, and the government of Yemen an important ally. Precision attacks on al Qaeda and its associates are often attributed to the Yemen Air Force. But on closer inspection the country’s air force appears to be barely functional.

Extensive data collected by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals at least eight airstrikes launched against alleged al Qaeda militant targets in southern Yemen, reportedly killing a minimum of 102 people. But local sources and Western experts describe the Yemeni air force as decrepit and inadequate, in part due to corruption.

According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) the Yemeni Air Force has insufficient equipment and training to defend its own airspace.

Yemeni analyst Abdul Ghani Iryani says endemic corruption means the air force ‘has not been functioning in ages’.

‘The stories of corruption are phenomenal,’ he says. Pilots cannot fly at night because corruption in military procurement means ‘they don’t have the navigation instruments’. In 2011, Yemeni officials supported this assertion when they confirmed a July 14 strike was carried out by US drones, telling the Associated Press Yemeni planes are not equipped for night strikes.

Low morale Recent events have shown that morale and discipline in the Yemeni Air Force have collapsed almost entirely. On January 22, pilots and ground crew went on strike. For two months around 2,000 of the air force’s 3,000 men took to the streets, protesting against corruption and nepotism.

Such widespread dysfunction strongly suggests that the Yemenis have been unable to fight an air campaign against al Qaeda. And that the US has been behind the majority of recent air strikes.

Yet the Yemeni Air Force carries on claiming US airstrikes as its own. A diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks exposes this deception. While discussing the US-Yemeni counterterrorism campaign with General David Petraeus, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is quoted as saying: ‘We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.’

Journalist Sharon Weinberger found the air force was barely functioning while reporting for Aviation Week on the protesting airmen in the capital, Sanaa. ‘My impression was that the air force as a whole is on the verge of breaking down,’ she later told the Bureau.

According to the IISS, Yemen has 79 combat-capable aircraft, but some of these are described as ‘unreliable’, particularly 19 ‘aged’ MiG-21 strike fighters.

The air force is a ‘hodge-podge mix of former Soviet equipment with some from the US,’ Weinberger told the Bureau: keeping the planes in the air is a challenge, she added. And spare parts for some aircraft are hard to come by – a number are so old the manufacturers may no longer exist.

A handful of its 15 Cold War-era F-5 fighters are capable of flying, according to Weinberger; yet she reports as many as five are completely inoperable, their engines cannibalised for parts.

This is despite the US giving Yemen $326m (£205m) in security assistance between 2007 and 2011. The majority of this was directed at maintaining transport planes and helicopters, says Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute. But the US Government Accountability Office reports some of the aid to Yemen’s armed forces goes towards sustaining ‘a handfull of its serviceable F-5 fighter aircraft.’

The US has provided training and equipment across Yemen’s armed services. Much of the air force’s portion goes towards providing spare and replacement parts, says Zimmerman. But Yemeni personnel travel to the US for training, and Weinberger understands American personnel have been in and out of Sanaa to evaluate the Yemen Air Force’s C-130 Hercules transport plane.

US special forces are active in Yemen, and last year amid reports of a new drone base being built on the Arabian Peninsula, there was speculation that the Obama administration was building it in Yemen. But Weinberger does not believe American jets or drones are flying out of bases in Yemen.

Alan Warnes, chief correspondent for AirForces Monthly, cites Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti, as a possible source of US airstrikes. He says the base in the nearby East African state is home to six American F-15 strike fighters.

In 2004 and 2005 Yemen bought 20 Russian MiG-29s. As they were purchased as upgrades rather than new aircraft it is hard to say how much Yemen paid, says Scott Johnson of defence analysts Jane’s. But he estimates each plane could cost around $40m. Yemen’s most advanced aircraft are its 16 MiG-29s. The Russian jets can carry the guided weapons – so-called ‘smart’ bombs – necessary for precision strikes.

But Iryani believes the air force arsenal does not include smart bombs. He cites as evidence an instance of government aircraft missing rebels and bombing an oil pipeline instead.

In 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported it was not known if Yemen had bought guided weapons; but the same report says the government of Yemen used unguided ‘dumb’ bombs while fighting Houthi rebels in the north of the country.

Waging a protracted war for secession in north eastern Yemen, Houthi rebels have been battling government forces for the last eight years. In a comprehensive report on the conflict, American defence think tank the Rand Corporation describes the government’s tactics as ‘uncoordinated’.

The Yemen government used planes ‘as flying artillery’, the report said. Individual aircraft flew sorties against static targets. In several instances, the report says, civilian casualties were caused by aircraft bombing mountainous areas and villages ‘suspected of supporting Houthis’.

Beyond its ability Yemen’s air force does not have much capacity for precision strikes against al Qaeda, Warnes believes. Flying night missions would probably be beyond its ability as well. ‘The only aircraft they have capable of night flying would be quite antiquated fighters,’ he says. ‘I think it’s the Americans who are doing it rather than the Yemenis.’

‘The bulk of the attacks on militants are carried out by somebody else,’ agrees Iryani. But according to Jane’s, Yemen does possess two kinds of guided missiles, carried by helicopters. The Soviet-era AT-2 Swatter, which came into service in the 1960s, and the AT-6 Spiral, first deployed in the early 1970s. It is not known how many the Yemenis have or how old their stockpiles are.

These missiles could be deployed on the Yemeni’s eight Russian Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters. But there is no indication these are in better shape than the fixed wing aircraft. Furthermore, there are no reports of helicopter strikes in the Bureau’s data.

When fighting the Houthi rebellion the Yemeni government was unwilling to use its helicopters for anything other than logistics according to the Rand Corporation report. This was out of fear of losing an aircraft to small-arms fire. And that would be a loss the already depleted Yemeni Air Force would find hard to bear.

The answer is yes.

A State must be able to contract loans in order to improve its population’s living standards, for instance when it carries out major work of public utility and invests in renewable energies. These public loans could be used to move from an economy geared to the needs of car drivers to one that gives priority to public transport, to shut down nuclear plants and replace them with renewable sources of energy, to renovate, upgrade or build from scratch public buildings and social housing that would require less energy and be equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.

In any case, even though we definitely do not wish to stay in a capitalist economy, the economic dynamics of the system demands that in a macroeconomic perspective the surplus produced should be anticipated through monetary creation. Selling goods at a profit is only possible if there is more money around after than before production starts. A capitalist economy without debt does not make sense.1 Particularly in times of recession, public spending (which alone can generate added collective wealth) depends on added tax revenues from the richer fringes of the population, on cancelling illegitimate debts and on contracting public loans under citizens’ control.

The point is to define a transparent policy for public loans. The proposal we put forward is as follows:

1. the aim of the public loan must be a sustainable improvement in living conditions;

2. the public loan must part of a redistributive policy that reduces inequalities. Therefore we propose that financial institutions, corporations and very rich households be legally obliged to buy state bonds with either no interest or cost-of-living indexation, for amounts that are proportional to their incomes and their assets, while the other members of the population can buy public bonds with a guaranteed positive return (say 3%) higher than the current inflation rate. Thus if the annual inflation rate should reach 3%, the interest rate actually paid by the state would be 6%. Such measures of positive discrimination (similar to those used to fight racial oppression in the US, castes in India or gender-based inequalities) will make it possible to move towards more tax justice and a less unequal distribution of wealth.

Cancelling illegitimate debt is a necessary but insufficient condition. Other measures that improve the lot of the majority are essential if Europe is to come out of the crisis with better prospects. The discussion is open.

Translated by Christine Pagnoulle in collaboration with Vicki Briault

Damien Millet (professor of mathematics, spoke-person for CADTM France www.cadtm.org) and Eric Toussaint (PhD in political sciences, president of CADTM Belgium, member of the Scientific board for ATTAC France). Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint recently edited La Dette ou la Vie (Aden-CADTM, 2011), which received the award for best political book in Liège in 2011.

Latest book: Damien Millet & Éric Toussaint, AAA, Audit, Annulation, Autre politique, Le Seuil, Paris, 2012.

1 Jean-Marie Harribey, http://www.cadtm.org/De-la-creation-monetaire-et-des; Attac, « Le mystère de la chambre forte », Le Piège de la dette publique, Comment s’en sortir ?, Les Liens qui libèrent, 2011, p. 161-188.

For many Palestinian children their childhood is lived under a cloak of fear and the threat of violence and abuse at the hands of an armed force that stalks the streets of their homeland.

They shoot children, don’t they?

In the 11 years since the year 2000, Israeli forces have killed 1,471 children in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the bulk of whom were aged between 13 and 17 years. The children of Gaza have been and continue to be at greatest risk, with almost a thousand murdered in the last 12 years. Most are shot randomly and indiscriminately, or killed as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks. Around 50 were taken prematurely from their families by unexploded ordnance.

The most recent atrocities against the people of Gaza began on Friday 9 March and resulted in the killing of 25 Palestinians, and come on the back of the massacre that took place in December 2008/January 2009, when a total of 1,417 Palestinians were murdered, of whom 318 were children and 116 women. Fresh in the children’s young memories lie the echo of that horrendous time, the constant bombardment, the loss of loved ones and the shootings. Besides the deaths, around 1,000 children were injured in the three-week assault, and many children were left with severe physical disabilities and deep psychological wounds. The mental and emotional effects are more difficult to see and/or to treat than broken bones and scared flesh.

The Gaza Community Health Programme estimates that “half Gaza’s children – around 350,000 – will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder”. This is staggering but unsurprising, and the attacks this March on unarmed civilians will serve to intensify the mental suffering and anguish that these children are living with.

Children make up around 45 per cent of the four million or so total Palestinian population, a fact that terrifies an ageing Israel. And what impact does living under the brutal Israeli occupation have on them? Would they be inclined towards peace and brotherhood? Is tolerance fostered in their hearts and minds through the Israeli occupation, or are the seeds of hate and the desire for revenge being carefully sown?

The violence we see begets not harmony, but further violence. One of the authors of the UN’s Goldstone Report, Colonel Desmond Travers, cited a psychiatrist in Gaza as saying: “We already see in our schools in Gaza the next generation of Hamas revolutionaries, children exposed to so much violence they have no option but to terminate their childhood and move into a different frame, and the likelihood is that they will never stabilize.” In order to justify the unjustifiable and the unjust, Israel needs to instil hate into another generation of Palestinians – to maintain their position as the “enemy within”, thereby excusing, in some perverted distortion of the facts, its continued aggression, violence and violation of international laws, too many to count.

Intimidation and torture

Palestinian children living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip under the illegal Israeli occupation are subjected to brutal treatment and illegal imprisonment, torture and intimidation by the Israeli security forces. According to a report by Defence for Children International (DCI), “a pattern of systematic ill-treatment emerges, much of which amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as defined in the UN Convention against Torture, and in some cases, torture – both of which are absolutely prohibited.”

Since 1967 Palestinian children and adults have been subjected to Israeli military law, a legal system based on prejudice and short on justice. During this period 726,000 Palestinians have been arrested and detained. The numbers of children arrested and taken from their homes is shocking. According to DCI, in the past 11 years alone “around 7,500 children, some as young as 12 years, are estimated to have been detained, interrogated and imprisoned within this system. This averages out at between 500-700 children per year, or nearly two children each and every day.”

Almost a quarter of all children arrested are held in solitary confinement. Children, mainly boys, aged from 12 to 17 years are forcefully taken from their families, often at night, imprisoned, beaten and tortured, intimidated and on occasion subjected to electric shocks. Most children are detained for the terrible crime of throwing stones at soldiers armed with M16 rifles and tear gas.

The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem described the ordeal of one boy, Yahia, aged 15 years. Together with four of his friends, Yahia was arrested and taken to the illegal Israeli settlement of Zuffin. They had their “hands tied behind their backs, they were blindfolded, before being forced to kneel on the ground for several hours”. The boys were then taken to a police station and interrogated.

The interrogator grabbed the boy’s head and slammed it against the wall, slapping him twice. A short time later he returned holding a small electric shock device [Taser]. “He placed the device on my body and I felt a great powerful shock and my body started shivering. I couldn’t feel my arms or legs and I felt extreme pain in my head. I felt I was going to be paralysed, so I decided to confess.”

The process of arrests, intimidation and violence is common practice by the Israeli occupation authorities. The kneeling on the ground, the isolation and the use of hand ties and blindfolds are also used extensively against Palestinians.

In 2010 the UN documented 90 cases of “ill treatment” of Palestinian children in Israeli detention, of which 75 had their hands tied behind their backs and were also blindfolded. Almost a third of the children were under 15 years of age. Of the 90 detained, “62 children reported being beaten, 35 children reported position abuse and 16 children were kept in solitary confinement. In three cases, children reported the use of electric shocks on their bodies. Particularly concerning was the fact that there was an increase in documented cases of sexual violence.”

All of this contravenes international law and conventions signed and ratified by Israel – and the democratic principles Israel so loudly proclaims. According to Mark Regev, the chief Israeli purveyor of propaganda and deceit and spokesman for Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu said in the Guardian, newspaper: “The test of a democracy is how you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, and especially so with minors.” This is a democracy damned by words of duplicity.

According to the Guardian, when in Israeli custody Palestinian children’s rights are ignored and they are verbally insulted. “You’re a dog” and “son of a whore” are among the commonest insults. Many are exhausted from sleep deprivation. Day after day they are fettered to the chair, then returned to solitary confinement. Eventually, the majority of children sign confessions that they later say were coerced. Among the typical accusations which the Israelis claim “justify” these illegal detentions are throwing stones, or occasionally Molotov cocktails, at soldiers or settlers – both of whom, let us remember, are illegally present on Palestinian land.

In most cases children are held inside Israel itself, which restricts access to legal support and excludes family members from visiting and supporting them. Holding children in prisons inside Israel is in violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits such transfers. This process of arrests, detention and torture operating inside Israel and outside international and national law offers the victims no legal recourse. According to DCI, “there is a general absence of effective complaint mechanisms”.

Legally binding, illegally bound

The Israeli judicial system, as it currently pertains to Palestinian children, allows illegal practices to take place within settlements and Israeli prisons. International law on the rights of the child, to which Israel is bound, is clear and extensive.

B’Tselem says “Israel signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in July 1990 and ratified it in August 1991”. According to DCI, all international treatise and conventions signed by Israel safeguard children in conflict but Israel ignores them all. “These treaties relevantly provide that, in all actions concerning children, their best interests shall be a primary consideration.”

Urgent action is required to safeguard the children of Palestine and protect them from the tyranny that is Israeli policy in the occupied territories. The actions of Israel in these territories are vile, murderous, calculated and illegal.

It is the duty of the international community, acting in unity and led by the UN, to stand and act to protect the lives of the innocent men, women and children of Palestine, lifting the shadow of constant fear, intimidation and aggression from their lives. Humanity is one. Together we must stand in the face of injustice, violence and hate to safeguard the lives of the innocent, the oppressed the defenceless.

Graham Peebles is Director of the Create Trust, a UK registered charity supporting fundamental social change and the human rights of individuals in acute need.

Bahrain Rights Blog

Human rights defender Abdulhadi Alkhawaja’s family went to visit him this morning and were told that he has been hospitalized since last night and is not in the prison. They were not allowed to get access to him at the military hospital.

Yesterday his blood sugar had dropped to 2.1. After collapsing, he was taken to the military hospital, then returned to prison. He then collapsed again and was taken to the prison hospital. According to AlKhawaja’s family, his color has turned greyish, his eyes have fallen deeper into their sockets and he has lost around 25% of his weight. It is important to note that Alkhawaja was not in good health when he started his hunger strike due to being subjected to severe torture during his detention.

The doctor informed Alkhawaja that “he might fall asleep and not wake up”, that the continuation of his hunger strike could cause him to go into a permanent coma.

Even the world’s most resource-rich country has now been caught in the debt trap.  Its once-proud government programs are being subjected to radical budget cuts—cuts that could have been avoided if the government had not quit borrowing from its own central bank in the 1970s. 

On March 29 in Ottawa, the Canadian House of Commons passed the federal government’s latest round of budget cuts and austerity measures.  Highlights included chopping 19,200 public sector jobs, cutting federal programs by $5.2 billion per year, and raising the retirement age for millions of Canadians from 65 to 67.  The justification for the cuts was a massive federal debt that is now over C$ 581 billion, or 84% of GDP.   

An online budget game furnished by the local newspaper the Globe and Mail gave readers a chance to try to balance the budget themselves.  Possibilities included slashing transfer payments for elderly benefits, retirement programs, health benefits, and education; cutting funding for transportation, national defense, economic development and foreign aid; and raising taxes.  An article on the same page said, “The government, in reality, doesn’t have that many tools at its disposal to close a large budgetary deficit. It can either raise taxes or cut departmental program spending.”

It seems that no gamer, lawmaker or otherwise, was offered the opportunity to toy with the number one line item in the budget: interest to creditors.  A chart on the website of the Department of Finance Canada titled “Where Your Tax Dollar Goes” showed interest payments to be 15% of the budget—more than health care, social security, and other transfer payments combined.  The page was dated 2006 and was last updated in 2008, but the percentages are presumably little different today.

Penny wise, Pound Foolish

Among other cuts in the 2012 budget, the government announced that it would be discontinuing the minting of Canadian pennies, which now cost more than a penny to make.  The government is focusing on the pennies and ignoring the pounds—the massive share of the debt that might be saved by borrowing from the government’s own Bank of Canada. 

Between 1939 and 1974, the government actually did borrow from its own central bank.  That made its debt effectively interest-free, since the government owned the bank and got the benefit of the interest.  According to figures supplied by Jack Biddell, a former government accountant, the federal debt remained very low, relatively flat, and quite sustainable during those years.  (See his chart below.)  The government successfully funded major public projects simply on the credit of the nation, including the production of aircraft during and after World War II, education benefits for returning soldiers, family allowances, old age pensions, the Trans-Canada Highway, the St. Lawrence Seaway project, and universal health care for all Canadians.    

The debt shot up only after 1974.  That was when the Basel Committee was established by the central-bank Governors of the Group of Ten countries of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which included Canada.   A key objective of the Committee was to maintain “monetary and financial stability.”  To achieve that goal, the Committee discouraged borrowing from a nation’s own central bank interest-free, and encouraged borrowing instead from private creditors, all in the name of “maintaining the stability of the currency.” 

The presumption was that borrowing from a central bank with the power to create money on its books would inflate the money supply and prices.  Borrowing from private creditors, on the other hand, was considered not to be inflationary, since it involved the recycling of pre-existing money.  What the bankers did not reveal, although they had long known it themselves, was that private banks create the money they lend just as public banks do.  The difference is simply that a publicly-owned bank returns the interest to the government and the community, while a privately-owned bank siphons the interest into its capital account, to be re-invested at further interest, progressively drawing money out of the productive economy.      

The debt curve that began its exponential rise in 1974 tilted toward the vertical in 1981, when interest rates were raised by the U.S. Federal Reserve to 20%.  At 20% compounded annually, debt doubles in under four years.  Canadian rates went as high as 22% during that period.  Canada has now paid over a trillion Canadian dollars in interest on its federal debt—nearly twice the debt itself.  If it had been borrowing from its own bank all along, it could be not only debt-free but sporting a hefty budget surplus today.  That is true for other countries as well.

The Bankers’ Silent Coup

Why are governments paying private financiers to generate credit they could be issuing themselves, interest-free?   According to Professor Carroll Quigley, Bill Clinton’s mentor at Georgetown University, it was all part of a concerted plan by a clique of international financiers.  He wrote in Tragedy and Hope in 1964:

The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences. The apex of the system was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world’s central banks which were themselves private corporations.

Each central bank . . . sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.

In December 2011, this charge was echoed in a lawsuit filed in Canadian federal court by two Canadians and a Canadian economic think tank.  Constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati filed an action on behalf of William Krehm, Ann Emmett, and COMER (the Committee for Monetary and Economic Reform) to restore the use of the Bank of Canada to its original purpose, including making interest free loans to municipal, provincial and federal governments for “human capital” expenditures (education, health, and other social services) and for infrastructure.  The plaintiffs state that since 1974, the Bank of Canada and Canada’s monetary and financial policy have been dictated by private foreign banks and financial interests led by the BIS, the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), bypassing the sovereign rule of Canada through its Parliament.

Today this silent coup has been so well obscured that governments and gamers alike are convinced that the only alternatives for addressing the debt crisis are to raise taxes, slash services, or sell off public assets.  We have forgotten that there is another option: cut the debt by borrowing from the government’s own bank, which returns its profits to public coffers.  Cutting out interest has been shown to reduce the average cost of public projects by about 40%. 

Game over: we win.

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com and http://EllenBrown.com  The Public Banking Institute’s first conference is April 26th-28th in Philadelphia.     

REGAINING THE REAL ECONOMY FROM THE CANCER SYSTEM:

THE CHOICE SPACE FOR HUMANITY’S EVOLUTION OR DESTRUCTION

by John McMurtry  

In Nature, rights and obligations do not exist. The right is to the stronger, and no obligations confine what is seized or destroyed. Yet what is not seen by those affirming the ‘right of the stronger’ is that few or no beings survive in Nature whose functions do not contribute to their wider life-host.  

Scientific ecology has made this clear over many years, but it is a theme of understanding that goes back to the Tao-te Ching over 2500 years ago. It provides a natural basis for understanding human rights and obligations – a life-grounded ecology of justice at the human level. To put the matter boldly, the same logic of the italicised law can be applied to the human level in rights terms.  

Rights and obligations are yoked as self survival and function for the life-host are yoked in Nature – but at a higher level where rules regulate instead of natural laws of blind evolution. At  the conscious level of evolved social justice, the peck-order, leave-to-die and predation system of  Nature are superseded. Even in Nature, the young are protected, fed and taught around the clock by the lives of their mothers in mammalian and bird species – a still instinctual anticipation of the human ascension to morality and justice.  

In classical and neo-classical market philosophy, not even pre-human obligation to be human exists. As Adam Smith says in a little-known overview of the market’s supply-demand system,  “among the inferior ranks of people the scantiness of subsistence can set limits to the further multiplication of the human species; and it can so in no other way than by destroying a great part of the children which their fruitful marriages produce”.[11] The savagery of the brutes is surpassed by a ruling mechanism without natural beauty or fighting chance. Masses are entrapped within the blindly turning wheels of an indifferently homicidal system. This is why market-capitalist ideology has been so long bent on assimilating the system to natural laws. It drapes the monstrous mechanism in a macro alibi of ‘natural struggle for existence.’  

Evolution of Humanity by Rules of Life-Enabling Economy and Justice  

Notwithstanding the homicidal logic of the ruling market system and doctrine, the human order supersedes the natural system. This is why even with the unprecedented capitalist order of pecuniary selfishness without limit as good for all, the irrepressible impulse to identify beyond one’s skin never dies in the face of human life being broken. This is the inner message of Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation and Marx’s inner inspiration. He cannot bear the capitalist system’s oppression, and argues it must fall by raising its worker victims to inevitable and successful revolution 

In any case, all social order ultimately consists in the rules or rule-systems societies live by. For life-value understanding, in turn, rights for individuals depend on obligations fulfilled to the life-hosts that sustain them at social and natural levels. Just social rules systems can thus replace absolute rights of market property and trade structured to mass human sacrifice. But the issue is not determined by laws, as Marx thought in unwitting abdication to scientism. Societies in one way or another decide how they live by the rule-structures they raise and enforce, and the range of possibility given by natural laws within which they must function to survive allows for vastly different and opposed outcomes. Think of economic-system rules in the 1970’s compared to now and how much they have changed. It is nonsense to claim something other than human beings made the changes.  

The rights-obligations structure of society is life-blind until it is ordered to enable the lives of all its members by the greatest possible provision of universal life goods each requires to flourish as human. This is the life-value ecology of rights which civil commons development has long been governed by beneath principled attention and understanding – precisely what the globalising private money-value disorder predatorily attacks. Wherever this system is not subordinated to civil authority as an instrumental mechanism of life goods provision (e.g., as efficient machine manufacturing and price mechanism within life-coherent constraints), it reverts to this predatory throwback rule. Without social recognition and regulation of this predatory logic, this system can – and typically does – blindly destroy and despoil human and natural life support systems to maximise the private returns of its money-sequence system as an end-in-itself. When in opposition to this life-blind growth, for example, the Council of Canadians or the Right to Food movement of India stands instead for universal provision of these life goods on the basis of a prior public establishment of a National  Health Act and Public Distribution System – the latter struggling against private-take norms at all levels to achieve a “universal public distribution of food as a life-saver for half of India’s children suffering from malnutrition” – we observe the civil commons in action in both institutional and active-citizen forms.  

Progressive or Regressive Meta Pattern of History? 

If we revisit the universal life goods defined in this study, we will be able to further find long-term movements of this instituted and advancing kind operating beneath theoretical connection of them, but recognised by life-value theory as a meta pattern of history not yet conscious of its ultimate meaning. Because conceptions of human well-being and justice have long been decoupled from life-ground requirements – from the biophysical world itself, from human needs and their criterion, and from the organizing principles of providing the life means without any of which people are oppressed – no theory of right or justice or common interest has yet grounded in this ultimate common life interest and foundation. While opposed on the surface, “conservative”, “libertarian”, “liberal” and “communitarian” schools of theory share these blinkers in different ways. Each glimpses some dimension of the civil commons, but never its organising idea and unifying life substance.  Thus the very vocation of human evolution is missed.     

When the world’s richest men like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett today try to organise their number to give away most of their wealth to social causes where human life is clearly at risk and in need of intervention – for example, malaria in the majority world where there is little market demand to generate private investment for maximal profit – we can see this human vocation peeking through the ruling disorder. Yes, we may be rightly be concerned about their tax write-offs and private-foundation powers, as well as the token nature of this enterprise affecting a tiny segment of the deadly global injustice in isolated spheres. Life-value analysis at the system level recognises that only civil commons formations backed by public funding and universal life-need programs can work at a social level and in the long term. Yet it also recognises an important shift occurring – that those best at the private money-sequence game realise that something is wrong and must be responded to. This is the human vocation expressed even by them.  

Beneath such positive symptoms, nonetheless, life-value understanding insists on the deep-structure issue – that society’s regulation to secure and provide life goods otherwise in short supply, or its system failure to do so, is what ultimately matters. The rules by which people live decide whether a society is well or ill, and whether it rises or falls in the long run. It recognises that the rules by which its members govern themselves form the moving line between healthy societies and diseased ones: between the well-being and the ill-being of societies and communities across time, place and cultures. Life-and-death implications are thus always built into governing rule systems. They determine whether the human vocation and civil commons are repressed or enabled to develop. Herein lies the ultimate choice-space of universal life-value versus private money-value – the ultimate value issue of the human race’s evolution.  

Beneath endless diversions within the private price and commodity system, the turn of human society one way or the other has in fact already occurred. The predatory money-sequence system grows in nano-global self-multiplication to threaten all life-systems and values masked as prosperity and freedom. The deciding line of rights-obligation structure is a choice path between these two. It can continue to be mounting econo-ecological disaster by money-sequence self-multiplications in which the supreme right is private profit with no accountability of its invasive growths to life requirements at any level. Or it can re-set the rules towards a life-valuing order of provision of universal life necessities for all and accountability to social and ecological life support systems as the regulating logic of human development. From this life-grounded choice follow the turning points required for a recovered economy – a public credit and banking system and life-protective rules written into trade treaties. 

The Corporate-State War Against Human Evolution  

At the present the choice space itself is so closed at the U.S. and E.U. levels as to appear a terminal cancer of economic organisation – as I explain in my forthcoming second edition of The Cancer Stage of Capitalism. Whatever the results are in fact, however, they will be a man-made construction at every moment of repressed and conscious choice path. 

It is not as if we do not know life-value logic and measure in our own lives. Yet the system has run far beyond society’s control and knowledge of its workings. It destroys the life-world by its nature. Its ruling global corporate conglomerates are, in fact, lavishly subsidized and armed-force defended by states to pollute the world at every level, draw down its non-renewable resources, competitively disemploy and underpay workers across cultures, systematically shirk public tax obligations and run down public infrastructures, destroy the habitat of species, and so on. There is no mystery as to why, although no-one says it in public. Every vector of global life-system depredation is corporately driven by roaming money-profit “investors” whose rights are the sole rights recognised in trade and investment treaties, and which governments are now structured to ensure even if they produce nothing – as with the ruling big banks which governments endlessly save at the rising life costs of their peoples.   

Such cancerous behavior is not what any sane individual would or could do in person. Not even corporations acknowledge this is what they do, but insist in every ad on the opposite of their serving people’s lives. The human vocation comes out one way or another. But the corporate-person system in fact regulates against life by corporate rights which compel private money-sequencing as their sole obligation.12 Its meta program over the last 30 years in particular has been counter-revolution against the life-enabling regimes developed since the Depression and the Nazi machine. While “economic efficiency and growth” are always the justification of the now ruling system, the justification is absurd since it wastes many times more life goods than all previous systems put together and increasingly grows only ruling money sequences. It is in fact the greatest dis-economy in history, but requires life-value diagnosis to reveal it. 

Recovering the Real Economy in Principle and Fact 

Whether a rules system produces and stewards universal life goods with non-waste or depredates them for private profit and commodities is what matters for sustainability – but life-value standards alone re-ground reason to the life coherent framework of meaning and value required.  

Goods mean life goods, not any priced commodity which may be bad for ecological and human life. Necessity means what is needed by the lives of human persons, not the demand of what those with money want to buy from corporate persons. Supply is not excluded to priced commodities for profit, but provision of human life goods by all means – civil commons, ecosystem services and womens’ unpaid work included. Productivity is not measured by ever more manufacture, transport and sale of profitable commodities by loot-and-pollute methods at lower money costs, but productive gains in life goods produced and secured for citizens and peoples through time.  

The human vocation of life-value understanding and furtherance recognizes all this as self-evident. It is what conscious and life-conscious human beings already do in their personal lives as the inner logic of their right-obligation code – the life value code of growing life thought, felt being and action into more coherently inclusive ranges of life across time. At the macro level, it is what the civil commons infrastructures of societies evolve through generational time. All legitimate rights are ultimately to the goods that protect and enable human life, the true logic of economic demand at the same time. These rights, in turn, are the only legitimate basis of obligation – to contribute to them consistently with their provision, the true logic of economic supply. This is the human vocation in its defining principles of social justice and economic organisation at once within a unifying life-value frame.     

Critical economic and social-justice theory begins to comprehend this logic of real economy and life-value right and obligation, but does not yet have the life-good criteria to ground soundly underneath the measure of private money demand created and controlled by private debt issue and private price-for-profit. Meanwhile growing corporate-person commodities, profit and bank-debt repayment have become the ruling goal of global governments. In these ways, global corporate-state and banking axes have blindly led the world to economic as well as human-rights reversal – steeply shorter rather than greater supply of human  life goods for the great majority, more life-value inefficiency/waste and life-capital loss than ever before, longer hours of toil and more life insecurity than before, and more throughput and sink loads than can be biophysically carried by the terrestrial life system through generational time.  

On the ecological plane of species survival by species contribution to the natural life host, on the social justice plane of right-obligation due to provide for a human life for each, and on the economic plane of productive efficiency and non-waste, it is catastrophically deranged in objective fact, and must be re-ordered to life coherence. The problem has been that a pervasive system of misrepresentation – propaganda or public relations – has been fatally successful in blocking human recognition of the disorder.  It is instructive in this condition to consider the world of life itself as in a global war in which the enemy has not yet been recognised. 

The Concept of “Revolutionary Freedom”

April 1st, 2012 by Devon DB

Freedom. It is a something that every person wants and deserves to have, from the freedom to speak their mind without fear of persecution to the freedom to practice their religion of choice to the freedom from government involvement in their private lives. Freedoms such as these are quite important, however, freedom needs to be taken beyond matters such as these and into the territory of revolutionary freedom in order for us to truly be free.

Revolutionary freedom must be looked at in three distinct, yet interconnected ways: intellectual, political, and economic.

It has been said for quite some time that history is written by the victors. This is quite true, but there must be a closer examination of the type of history that is written by these victors. Usually, in the case of the United States, Britain, France, and other imperial colonizing powers, the histories of entire peoples and regions were rewritten to enforce racial and cultural inferiority of an indigenous population while elevating the race and culture of the colonial powers. The colonized were stripped of their actual history and had it replaced with one that was full of fabrications and distortions. This not only destroyed the indigenous population on a cultural level, but also destroyed them on a psychological level as it resulted in the near decimation of the identity of the colonized people.

In order to increase the intellectual destruction of the indigenous identity, new language was created to enforce that racial differences between colonizer and colonized and to enforce the inferiority of the latter. This resulted in a colonization of the mind in which the indigenous peoples were further degraded and more likely to develop a sense of self-hatred in which they would attempt to detach themselves from their identity in order to be more like their oppressors.

This destruction of history and of self-identity has affected people all over the world. Yet there is hope. It can be overcome by people writing histories from their points of view, whether it be in a nonfictional or fictional manner. What matters is that people write the history of their country from their point of view. This would aid in the reestablishment of their identities and the reclaiming of their history.

Currently, around the world the United States and other Western powers are propping up corrupt and morally bankrupt regimes such as the regimes of Saudi Arabia, which hasn’t been affected by the Arab Spring, and Bahrain, which has been murdering its own civilians for quite some time. There are also many corrupt regimes in Africa whose leaders borrow money from the World Bank and the IMF and, rather than using it to improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens, embezzle large amounts of it for personal use. Both external forces and government incompetence/corruption are major problems that result in the people having to pay the price.

Yet, this price is paid multiple times. It is paid in that the country as a whole is not allowed to chart its own political destiny. It is paid in the form of the social genocide that is austerity, when the World Bank and the IMF come in with their structural adjustment programs, in order to get back the money owed to them with interest. It is paid in the form of the sovereignty of a country being handed over to foreign powers that care not about the citizens, but rather about the resources that a country has and how it plays into their larger geo-political chess game.

This can change only when the people rise up and take back their country. This occurred somewhat in the Arab Spring, but the end results are still quite murky. In taking back their country, the people must institute systems that are accountable, transparent, and have the national interest at heart, for without all three, one runs the risk of returning to a corrupt regime. Yet in doing this, one must be careful as to not allow for foreign influences to come into play and unravel the struggle and sacrifice that people have made to get to that point.

Just as important, perhaps even more so, to reclaiming the political sphere is the reclamation of the economic sphere. In so-called Third World nations, countries are routinely pillaged by the West in the form of the IMF and the World Bank as to allow for Western corporations to come in and control the economic resources, which ultimately allows for these same corporations to control a country’s political destiny. These leeches need to be ejected and the economy taken back in the form of it being used to produce for the many and increase the national wealth as a whole. The money gained would be reinvested by the government into developing a quality education program and develop new industries. The reclamation of the economy is of crucial importance because without economic liberation, there can be no political liberation. This can be seen in countries on the continent of Africa, where they are politically independent, but exercise no economic independence.

All of these are interconnected due to the fact that without intellectual freedom, we will not know who we are and how we got to this point in history. Without knowing how we got here, we won’t be able to take back the political and economic system, and if we aren’t able to take back the economic system, then political freedom is meaningless.

In order to truly be free, we must have revolutionary freedom.

SARAJEVO – For ten days now, Bosnian veterans have picketed the country’s parliament and government buildings. They hold position at night, sleeping outside on a variety of tarps, blankets, foil and field jackets. It is tempting to compare them to WW1 “bonus marchers” in the U.S. – but it would also be wrong. Many others have protested in front of the parliament; what sets this group of Bosnians apart is the extent to which they’ve been wronged, and by whom.

These men had fought against each other in the Bosnian War. In 2004, they set aside their differences to serve in the country’s reformed, joint armed forces. But neither the Bosnian government, nor the Empire, made any provisions for their continued employment past the age of 35, unless they’ve attained a rank of at least a corporal. Instead of promoting those who wanted to stay career soldiers, the Armed Forces simply discharged these men and promised them retirement checks – which never came.

It took years to pass a law providing for the payment of their pensions out of the joint budget. The problem appears to be that some Bosnian Serb officials, currently in charge of the country’s finances, are disputing the law in the name of thrift. It isn’t an ethnic issue, either, as there are plenty of Serbs among the betrayed veterans. Denying veterans their pensions is financially insignificant, but politically a disaster – making those who advocate it appear petty, heartless and stupid.

Props and Appearances

Bosnia does have severe financial woes. Unemployment is rampant, industrial production is dwindling, imports are vastly greater than exports, and on top of that the country likely has the most government per capita than anywhere else in the world. A crushing 17% VAT – the media are already talking about an increase (!) – is extracted from everything, from food and utilities to luxury goods, and the money thus looted is used mostly to service foreign debt.

Statistics mentioned in the media recently suggest that 30% of Bosnia’s population is straddling the poverty line, while 60% are already below it. Yet across the street from the government complex in Sarajevo a glitzy shopping center opened in 2009, while yet another is being built a block over by the Saudi conglomerate Al-Shiddi.

Furthermore, the very armed forces that discharged and forgot their first volunteer members just sent a reinforced platoon – 45 men and women – to Afghanistan, with much pomp and ceremony, and Imperial ambassador in attendance. This token force will make zero operational difference in the Afghan debacle, but it does serve to prop up Empire’s credibility. Except that every day of the betrayed veterans camp-out is a reminder to their colleagues playing Imperial extras that they, too, will be out in the cold one day.

Tempest in a Teacup

The contempt in which most Bosnian politicians hold their electorate was illustrated last week by a media circus surrounding Zeljko Komsic, one of the country’s three rotating presidents. Out of the blue, Komsic announced his irrevocable resignation from all duties in the Social Democratic Party (the senior partner in the Federation government), though he didn’t resign his party membership.

After two days of conferring with the party, Komsic said he’d overreacted and changed his mind. But his tantrum gave the opportunity to the predominantly hostile capital media to eviscerate the SDP and devote much time and column inches to groundless speculation about troubles within the party. Perhaps after this, the SDP might consider cleaning house – or at least hiring a spin doctor.

Corrupt “Leadership”

Meanwhile, the neighboring Croatia is prosecuting its former PM Ivo Sanader for corruption and embezzlement, while his party is struggling to elect a new leader following a crushing defeat last December. The big news mid-March was that two of the people indicted alongside Sanader had turned state’s witness. Another scandal rocked the country’s foreign ministry this week, as the special anti-corruption task force arrested a dozen embassy and consular officials allegedly involved in selling passports and citizenships.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Vesna Pusic was visiting Washington and telling the public at home how the Empire considered Croatia a major partner and leader in the region. In a couple of examples of such “leadership,” Pusic snubbed Belgrade by endorsing the Lithuanian candidate for Speaker of the UN General Assembly (over Serbia’s current FM Vuk Jeremic) and commenting on the Serbian judicial inquiry into the WW2 royalist resistance leader Draza Mihailovich by calling him a “quisling and Nazi and Fascist collaborator.”

Electoral Contortions

Strange, then, that Mihailovich had a German bounty on his head of 100.000 gold Reichsmarks – same as the Communist leader Tito, in fact. He was respected by Roosevelt and DeGaulle, decorated by Truman, betrayed by Churchill, and executed by the Communists in 1946. Recent efforts to overturn the verdict of the Communist courts declaring Mihailovich a traitor have little to do with establishing historical truth, however, and everything to do with the upcoming general elections. Having systematically looted and betrayed the country, the current government is hoping to appear “patriotic” by making a meaningless gesture such as legally exonerating Mihailovich.

In a similar vein, briefly commenting on the 13th anniversary of the 1999 NATO bombing, President Tadic called it “a crime”. He refused to elaborate, because that might have offended his Imperial backers. In return, he was honored with the “North-South Prize” by the Council of Europe, for “contributions to reconciliation in the Balkans and European integration”. Whatever that means.

The specter of the elections in five weeks is distorting everything in Serbia, with the government feigning patriotism and the official opposition feigning having a clue. The only people not pandering to voters are the openly quisling “Reversal” loons, now arguing for making Serbia a federation between its core and the “Republic of Vojvodina” in the north.

Law and Disorder, Episode 1244

On March 24, Kosovo “president” Hashim Thaci gave thanks to NATO and the Empire for “liberating” that Serbian province and turning it over to his crime syndicate. Thaci also called the efforts of Serbia to hold local elections in the province an “act of aggression.” His words were echoed by the “Albanian National Army” (UCK) – declared a terrorist organization even by the Empire. But then, the Empire itself has demanded of Belgrade to desist from holding elections in Kosovo, it supposedly being an “independent country,” while Thaci’s police arrested several Kosovo Serb officials carrying voter lists.

On the other hand, the EU “law and order mission” (EULEX) has released Fatmir Limaj, former commander of Thaci’s terrorist KLA, rejecting evidence of his involvement in murdering and cremating Serb and Albanian civilians in Klecka. Not only that, but they’ve cleared Limaj to run in the upcoming “Kosovian” elections. The principal witness against Limaj was oh-so-conveniently murdered by “persons unknown.”

If This Goes On…

Clearly it has been a busy March in the Balkans – and that’s not even getting into massive protests against government corruption in Montenegro, calls to create a Greater Albania, militant Islam, Slovenian electoral shenanigans, or the growing Albanian violence in Macedonia. True to form, the region began heating up as soon as the winter snows – unusually heavy this year – had melted.

For twenty years, the Empire has twisted and hammered the region into a mold of its own making, imposing a virtual reality entirely different from the actual one. Governments across the peninsula, absorbed in their power games and eager to please foreign sponsors, give little or no thought to their populace, disenfranchised, dispossessed and desperate.

There is no way this can end well.

Another “win” for Britain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who operates the ODA (Official Development Assistance). They have managed to obtain support from the United Nations on this one.

I first wrote about this particular ODA in June last year, with the follow-up post in September when the Ministry of Foreign Affairs formally requested the appropriation for the 3rd supplementary budget.

Now it’s official, with the help of the UN. Canned fish from Tohoku will be given to people in developing countries in the world so that the fisheries in the disaster-affected areas can recover and “baseless rumors” disappear.

The fish cans will go to Cambodia and 4 other countries and will be used in school lunches to feed school children.

From Sankei Shinbun (3/30/2012):

食料支援で風評被害解消 被災地の缶詰を途上国に

Food aid to dispel baseless rumors, by sending canned food made in disaster-affected areas to developing countries

 政府は、東日本大震災の被災地で製造された水産加工品を発展途上国の人々に食べてもらうため、国連機関の世界食糧計画(WFP)と政府開発援助(ODA)に関する書簡を交換した。食料支援を通じ、被災地の水産業振興と風評被害の解消につなげるのが狙いだ。

The Japanese government exchange letters with the UN WFP (World Food Programme) regarding the ODA (Official Development Assistance) so that people in developing countries will be able to eat processed marine products made in the areas affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The purpose is to promote [the recovery of] fisheries industry in the disaster-affected areas and to dispel baseless rumors [that food in Japan is contaminated with radioactive materials].

 政府が平成23年度第3次補正予算に計上した10億円を元手に、WFPが青森、岩手、茨城、千葉の4県の水産加工場で製造されたイワシやサバなどの水煮の缶詰を調達。カンボジアなど5カ国で学校給食などに役立ててもらう。加藤敏幸外務政務官は書簡交換の式典で、「甚大な被害を受けた被災地の水産加工企業は、操業の全面再開に向け努力している」と強調した。

The Japanese government allocated 1 billion yen in the fiscal 2011 3rd supplementary budget. Using this money, WFP will purchase cans of boiled sardines and mackerels made in factories in Aomori, Iwate, Ibaraki, and Chiba Prefectures. The cans will be shipped to 5 countries including Cambodia for the use in school lunches. Toshiyuki Kato, parliamentary secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs [No.3 politician at the ministry] emphasized in the letter exchanging ceremony, “The marine product processing companies in the disaster-affected areas have sustained grave damage, and they are doing their best to resume full operation.”

 このODAをめぐっては、東京電力福島第1原発事故の影響を懸念する一部の市民団体などが反発。外務省幹部は「放射線量を検査し、安全性に問題がないものを輸出することで、海外に根強い風評被害の打破を図りたい」と説明している。

There are a few citizens’ groups who oppose this particular ODA program as they are worried about the effect of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The top officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs explain that the radiation measurement will be conducted, and only those products without any worry of safety will be exported so that the baseless rumors that still persist overseas are dispelled.

When the Japanese government officials say “without any worry of safety”, their safety equals 100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium starting April 1, 2012.

I couldn’t find any press release on this, and no information as to other 4 countries receiving the canned fish from Japan.

Here’s from the feedback page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You can contact them by mail or by phone, or you can contact the embassies and consulates around the world.

The UN’s WFP contact information is here: http://www.wfp.org/contact

In the last few years the people of the world have witnessed and been a part of a mass awakening of humanity on a level never seen before.

The people are no longer standing idly by as the powers that be further seek to control every aspect of their lives.

A major part of this mass awakening has been the revelation that the corporate controlled media has literally served the military industrial complex for at least the last 20 years.

As advertisers and readers flock to the alternative media, the old dinosaur media continues its downhill plunge with CNN leading the free fall.

This fact was solidified by the recent release of the March and Q1 cable news ratings which showed CNN down a total of up to 50% and a downhill turn by all three cable news networks.

An article released on these numbers by TVNewser outlined the new ratings: 

CNN bore the brunt of the downward trend the news networks experienced this month and for much of the first quarter, when compared to the busy first few months of 2011. For the month of March, CNN was down -50% in total viewers and down -60% in A25-54 viewers (Total Day). 

Although overall net traffic was down up to 21%, the fact remains that the alternative media continues their upward trend while the corporate funded lapdog media continues to plunge into oblivion.

When you consider that stations such as CNN and Fox News are receiving millions and millions of dollars of corporate advertising revenue yet failing to expand, the reality of the continual mass awakening that we now find ourselves in becomes much clearer.

News outlets that continue to server the new world order will soon be the thing of the past as real media finally breaks through the once rock solid stranglehold the powers that be have had on the media.

Pat Donworth is a teacher, writer, editor, and consciousness explorer. She has worked as as a university and hospital chaplain, a writer/editor (books, magazine articles, professional book reviews); and teacher and workshop leader (consciousness technology and healing).

I designed this blog to be a portal for news and articles that reveal, point to, herald, and assist awakening souls to implement, and make practical, the changes that will usher in a new world based on unity, compassion, and collaboration.

“Cómo defines tu papel, y dónde y cómo decides llevarlo a cabo, es de vital interés para las Naciones Unidas, dada la larga tradición de cooperación y coordinación entre la OTAN y la ONU en asuntos de guerra y paz.” (Kofi Annan , el ex Secretario General de la ONU,  en su Discurso en la sede de la OTAN en Bruselas sobre la colaboración de la ONU y la OTAN en el contexto del 50 aniversario de la OTAN, enero de 1999)

A principios de marzo, 13 oficiales militares franceses fueron arrrestados en Homs a la altura de la insurrección armada, que apunta a la presencia de tropas extranjeras en el territorio sirio en derogación del derecho internacional. El informe del Daily Star (5 de marzo de 2012) sugiere que los agentes detenidos podrían haber sido parte de “un contingente más grande” de las fuerzas francesas que operan dentro de las filas de los rebeldes del Ejército Sirio Libre (FSA):

No estaba claro por qué los oficiales estaban en Siria, cuando habían llegado, o si eran parte de un contingente más grande de la ciudad [de Homs].

La estratégica Homs fue blanco de 26 días de bombardeo por el ejército sirio, invadiendo la ciudad en donde las protestas anti-Assad y las operaciones del Ejército Sirio Libre se han centrado. ( The Daily Star 05 de marzo de 2012)

El gobierno francés negó inicialmente el informe, insistiendo en que “ni un sólo soldado francés está en el territorio sirio.” Sin embargo, fuentes confirmaron que se llevan a cabo negociaciones entre París y Damasco, con toda probabilidad con respecto a la repatriación de los militares franceses:

“El portavoz del Ministerio francés de Relaciones Exteriores dijo:” Negamos la idea de que hay tropas francesas sobre el terreno en Siria. El portavoz del Ministerio de Defensa agregó: “No tenemos información sobre esto. No podemos ni confirmarlo ni negarlo.“.

Según varios informes en los medios británicos, el Daily Star … los cautivos supuestos franceses fueron detenidos en un hospital de campaña en Homs“( Informe: 13 oficiales franceses capturados en Siria, Israel News, Ynetnews , énfasis añadido)

Mientras que esta detención de los oficiales militares de un país miembro de la OTAN apenas fue mencionada por los medios de comunicación occidentales, no es un incidente aislado. Esta no es la primera vez que las fuerzas extranjeras son detenidas en Siria desde el inicio de la insurgencia.

Hay evidencia de que un gran número de tropas extranjeras se encuentran el suelo dentro de Siria, incluyendo las fuerzas especiales británicas, francesas, turcas y de Qatar, agentes británicos de inteligencia del MI6, así como un gran número de mercenarios de los países árabes:

“A medida que los disturbios y los asesinatos aumentan en el problemático país árabe, los agentes de MI6 y la CIA ya están en Siria para evaluar la situación, ha manifestado un funcionario de seguridad. Las fuerzas especiales también están hablando con los soldados sirios disidentes. Ellos quieren saber acerca de las armas y del kit de comunicaciones que las fuerzas rebeldes necesitan si el Gobierno decide ayudar.

“El MI6 y la CIA están en Siria para infiltrarse y llegar a la verdad”, dijo la fuente bien situada. “Tenemos al SAS y el SBS, no muy lejos, ya que quieren saber qué está sucediendo y están descubriendo el kit que los soldados disidentes necesitan“. “(Siria será aún más sangrienta, The Daily Star). (Énfasis añadido)

El sitio web de las Fuerzas de élite del Reino Unido reconoce que:

Las fuerzas especiales británicas se han reunido con miembros del Ejército Sirio Libre (FSA) … El objetivo aparente de este contacto inicial fue determinar las ‘fuerzas rebeldes’  y allanar el camino para las futuras operaciones de formación …. Más reportes recientes han indicado que las fuerzas especiales británicas y francesas han participado activamente en la formación de miembros del FSA, a partir de una base en Turquía. Algunos informes indican que el entrenamiento también está teniendo lugar en lugares en Libia y el norte de Líbano. Se reportó que Agentes británicos del MI6 y el UKSF (SAS / SBS) han formado a los rebeldes en la guerra urbana, así como con el suministro de armas y equipo. Agentes estadounidenses de la CIA y fuerzas especiales se cree que prestan asistencia de comunicaciones a los rebeldes. “ Elite Forces UK , 05 de enero 2012 (Énfasis añadido)

La OTAN recluta a mercenarios Muyahidines

Los mercenarios de los países árabes están operando dentro de brigadas terroristas altamente entrenadas, financiadas por Arabia Saudita y Qatar. En este sentido, fuentes de inteligencia israelíes (agosto 2011) apuntan a la participación directa de la OTAN en el reclutamiento de yihadistas “Los voluntarios musulmanes”, en coordinación con el ejército turco:

“También se discute en Bruselas y Ankara, nuestras fuentes informan, una campaña para reclutar a miles de voluntarios musulmanes en países de Oriente Medio y el mundo musulmán para luchar junto a los rebeldes sirios. El ejército turco podría albergar a estos voluntarios, capacitarlos y asegurar su paso en Siria. (http://www.debka.com/article/21255/ Dedkafile, 31 de agosto 2011, énfasis agregado)

En Homs, la Brigada de Faruq de Al-Qaeda, que incluye mercenarios procedentes de Libia e Irak, ha estado involucrada en aterrorizar a la población civil. Ellos “han tenido éxito en expulsar a la mayoría de los cristianos en Homs y se han apoderado de sus hogares por la fuerza“. “Los francotiradores se apostaron en la calle … impidiendo a la gente salir de sus casas durante dos meses, dirigidos a transeúntes y coches y todo lo que se movía en las calles, añadiendo que los terroristas también robaron casas, cometían masacres, asesinatos y secuestros.”

El “Plan de Paz” del Sr. Kofi Annan

El arresto de los oficiales militares franceses (alrededor del 22 de febrero) – que coincidió con el inicio del mandato de mantenimiento de la paz de Kofi Annan (28 de febrero) – se mantuvo en secreto por el gobierno de Al Assad, en gran medida, con el fin de evitar la controversia dentro del indebido ámbito de la diplomacia de las Naciones Unidas.

Sin embargo, la decisión del gobierno de Al Assad, para evitar plantear la cuestión de la ayuda militar occidental a la “oposición”, ha proporcionado la ventaja a las fuerzas de Washington y sus aliados. Con el pretexto de representar a la “comunidad internacional”, la Alianza Atlántica no sólo está detrás de la insurrección armada, sino que está proporcionando apoyo y capacitación a los afiliados de las brigadas terroristas de Al Qaeda.

Con las fuerzas occidentales y los asesores militares en Siria, el autoproclamado plan de paz negociado por el ex Secretario General Kofi Annan, tiene todas las apariencias de un evento organizado.

¿Plan de paz con quién? Un “alto al fuego” no puede ser implementado sin identificar claramente la identidad de las partes involucradas. Un plan de paz real requeriría hacerle frente a la presencia ilegal de personal militar en territorio sirio.

El plan de paz de Kofi Annan llama a un cese al fuego en “ambos lados”, sin querer reconocer que las fuerzas extranjeras de países de la OTAN están directamente involucrados en el conflicto, en el “lado” de la “oposición”.

No es sorprendente que, inmediatamente después de la adopción del Plan de Paz negociado de las Naciones Unidas/Liga Árabe, la “oposición”, incluyendo a las brigadas de las fuerzas terroristas, bajo la orientación de sus controladores militares extranjeros, decidieran ignorar el plan de paz: se registraron nuevos ataques por parte de hombres armados de la oposición contra las fuerzas sirias y los civiles en varias ciudades inmediatamente después de la adopción del plan de paz. Mientras tanto, se le instó al gobierno de Al Assad a “poner fin a los asesinatos”, y Damasco fue casualmente culpado por “romper el alto al fuego”.

Este “escenario” había sido cuidadosamente planeado con anterioridad a la aprobación del plan de paz de seis puntos.

El Plan de Paz de Kofi Annan, que fue respaldado por Siria, China y Rusia, estaba programado a fracasar desde el principio. También fue pensado para ser utilizado como una táctica de propaganda contra el gobierno de Al Assad. Inmediatamente después de la aprobación del Plan de Paz Annan, una nueva ola de acusaciones infundadas se dirigieron contra el gobierno de Al Assad, acusando a “las fuerzas sirias [de] horrendas tácticas para atacar deliberadamente a los niños, ordenadas directamente por el presidente Bashar al-Assad, ha afirmado el jefe de derechos humanos de la ONU.”

La alianza militar occidental no está comprometida con la paz.

La “Responsabilidad de Proteger” (R2P) intervención en virtud de un mandato de la OTAN, permanece en el tablero de dibujo del Pentágono. Dimitry Rogozin, Representante del Primer Ministro de Rusia, dio a entender el pasado septiembre, que la OTAN está planificando una campaña militar contra Siria, con escenarios de ataque específicos. Más recientemente, en enero de 2012, apenas tres meses antes del Plan de Paz de Kofi Annan, el Ministerio de Defensa británico confirmó que “es la elaboración de planes secretos para una zona de exclusión aérea patrocinada por la OTAN [en Siria] [en coordinación con su aliados] “, pero primero se necesita el apoyo del Consejo de Seguridad de las Naciones Unidas.” (Siria será aún más sangrienta, The Daily Star) De acuerdo con estos planes secretos:. “la lucha en Siria podría ser más grande y más sangrienta que la batalla contra Gadafi” (Ibid).

¿Cuál es el papel de Kofi Annan? ¿Es el de una agenda para la paz?

Antes de convertirse en Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas, como Subsecretario de Mantenimiento de la Paz de las Naciones Unidas, Kofi Annan fue un fiel servidor de los intereses de Washingon, en la defensa de la legitimidad de las intervenciones militares de Estados Unidos y la OTAN. “Él fue elevado al cargo de Secretario General por la preferencia de EE.UU., con el segundo EE.UU. veto al mandato de cinco años en 1996 por su predecesor menos susceptible, Boutros Boutros-Ghali …”:

“Como el Secretario General de Mantenimiento de la Paz, para la ex Yugoslavia (Kofi Annan sancionó la Operación Fuerza Deliberada, campaña de bombardeos de la OTAN contra los serbios de Bosnia en 1995). El apoyo importante de Annan para la guerra de la OTAN en 1999 fue significativo. En un discurso que pronunció en la sede de la OTAN en Bruselas dos meses antes de la guerra, instó a los miembros de la OTAN a “recordar las lecciones de Bosnia” – “. en particular, a aquellos con la capacidad de actuar”  Los bombardeos de la OTAN en 1999 en la guerra contra Yugoslavia fue un ejemplo temprano, pero claro, de lo que significa la R2P en el mundo real, mucho antes que la frase “responsabilidad de proteger” había entrado en el uso común. (Edward S. Herman y David Peterson, La Responsabilidad de Proteger, la Corte Penal Internacional, y la Política Extranjera en Foco, Subvirtiendo la Carta de las Naciones Unidas en el nombre de los Derechos Humanos, Global Research, agosto de 2009)

Para que no olvidemos, Kofi Annan, fue uno de los principales arquitectos de la doctrina de la “Responsabilidad de Proteger”. Bajo su mando como secretario general, la R2P fue aprobada por unanimidad en 2005 en la Cumbre Mundial de la ONU. La decisión, que en esencia establece las bases para la “intervención humanitaria” R2P de la OTAN en Libia, exhortó a la comunidad internacional a que utilice todos los “adecuados medios diplomáticos y pacíficos humanitarios y otros … para ayudar a proteger a las poblaciones del genocidio, los crímenes de guerra, la depuración étnica y los crímenes contra la humanidad. “(Ver Carrie Crawford, “La ‘Responsabilidad de Proteger’ y la República Democrática del Congo“, Global Research, 24 de noviembre de 2011).

Texto original en inglés : FOREIGN TROOPS INSIDE SYRIA: The Failed UN Brokered “Peace Plan” Sets the Stage for War?

Traducido por Arielev, Cuba Debate

Popular Resistance Blog

Two of our friends were among the over 150 people injured today by the Israeli occupation forces. Demonstrations were held in dozens of locations in Palestine and the border areas of Palestine. Other demonStrations were held for Land Day in cities around the world. The ambulance took our friend and home guest Don Bryant (US Citizen) to the hospital as he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister. We quickly gathered the rest of the group and rushed to the hospital. There we find many injured people (I counted 8 in the emergency room and two at the X-ray). One of the injured there was our friend Yusef Sharqawi hit with a rubber-coated steel bullet that fractured his shoulder blade. Mohamed Zakout, 20 year old was shot and kileld by Israeli forces in Gaza as he participated in a demonstration near the Erez checkpoint. In Jerusalem, Israeli occupation forces used horses to trample on people and arrested 36 individuals. Before all is done Israel will likely to arrest 300 people. Below is our video and other relevant videos.

Some of my students have more logic/sense than the political leadership of the USA, Israel and the “Palestinian authority” combined. For example, last week we had a lively discussion about roles of politiciansin creating the problems and perpetuuating the disastrous human rights violations here. I don’t teach this course human rights but I coach it so after we exchanged significant information about these issues all of it showing the bad things of politics (collaborations, agreements of surrender, etc), I asked to take time for us to talk just about the positives (no negatives). I was surprised at some of the good comments that came out: persistance of the Palestinain people, demonstrations and many forms of popular resistance happening, the fact that rights are not lost for people even when their leadershuip is corrupt and weak, the fact that many were martyred/injured/imprisoned for their work for Palestine, the fact that while some collaborated and even sold their conscience and tehir heritabe, more simply refused …

So it is that we can always look at the glass half empty or half full. We can always curse the darkness or light a candle and hope for the best. We can feel depressed and powerless or we can actually do something. I was anxious before the demonstrations today. Our mind racing to worry about level of participation/attendance and about Israeli authorities’ violent reaction to peaceful demonstrators (there is afterall a long history of that including shooting at unarmed demonstrators). We have to remind myself of the positives and forget all the negatives (or at least just learn from them lessons and keep them in the back of our mind). The march was a success even before it started. The thousands who tried to arrive to us here in Palestine got an education THROUGH the process of preparing to come to nearby boerders and they each told many othesr where they are going and why. This ripple effect that started montsh before today’s events is critical. Here are a few other positives before, during and after this event today:

-37 Indian activists were stranded in a ship off the port of Beirut for 36 hours. Activists in India mobilized speaking to parliamentarians and other officials and the indian embassy was able to get the Lebanese government to finally issue the visas for them. This ensured atht more people because aware of our predicament here: not onlt the Zionist regime but the col;lusion sometiems of Arab regimes. It also meant more avtivism in india will be growing and more boycotts, divestments and sanctions.

- Hundreds of actvists from different countries did not know about each other or their commen interests until this event. The process of linking together via physical meetings and internet empowered many of tehm and they became more active in tehir local communities. I know of several example where new projects (e.g. on boycotts divestment, sacnction, different ways of media work etc) were started in some copuntries or localities because they learned from the networking with other activists.

-Activists learned via doing how to work in team efforts, how to make collective decisions etc. These skills are useful for any kind of collective work.

-The attempts by the Zionist manipulated media to hide and ignore the brutality of the apartheid regime is backfiring. More and more people stopped seeking news via these corporate outlets and started to get news directly via blogs, live feed, email etc.

-Israeli Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai said about the events today “It’s important to remember that this is the first day. The Nakba and Naksa days are ahead of us, and that is where the challenge will be.” It is obvious that they start to worry!

I could go on to list a few more. But we need now to focus on our next events : the Welcopme to Palestine Campaign for 15-21 April. We do need people to work hard on this (volunteers are always welcome). Action is the best antidote to despair.

*Our video in Bethlehem: http://youtu.be/7U1qQVqVnsM *

Other videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVuxQJw-6TI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukH9VBD2Zeg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JkF9awg-HPA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nffbnYZW4ws

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkaIs8s4i4Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXJnBZfX1GA

Pictures

http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/30/10940732-violence-on-land-day-as-israeli-forces-and-palestinians-clash

Take action Land Day
http://www.stopthejnf.org/unitedstates_takeaction_landday2012.html

Israel Defense Ministry plan earmarks 10 percent of West Bank for
settlement expansion. Newly released maps indicate Civil Administration
secretly setting aside additional land for Jewish settlements, presumably
with the intention of expanding them. By Akiva Eldar

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-defense-ministry-plan-earmarks-10-percent-of-west-bank-for-settlement-expansion-1.421589

More links/news on this land day events

http://www.imemc.org/article/63234

http://www.imemc.org/article/63235

Thousands of demonstrators mark Land Day in Jordan

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Mar-30/168555-thousands-of-demonstrators-mark-land-day-in-jordan.ashx#axzz1qc3PlPcd

Rabbis of Anti-Zionist Group Join Protest Marking Land Day on
Lebanon-Israel Border

http://tv.ibtimes.com/rabbis-of-anti-zionist-group-join-protest-marking-land-day-on-lebanon-israel-border/4523.html

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh teaches and does research at Bethlehem and Birzeit Universities in occupied Palestine. He serves as chairman of the board of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People and coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements in Beit Sahour He is author of “Sharing the Land of Canaan: Human rights and the Israeli/Palestinian Struggle” and “Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment” http://qumsiyeh.org

The housing recovery seems to have been a temporary affair. Preliminary data frames March as weak as last October. It looks like lower interest rates boasted sales. Those rates are up from 4.72% to 5.02%.

Worse yet, Operation Twist is over. That is where the Fed sold the short end of the bond market and bought notes and bonds of 5, 7, 10 and 30 years. Even though the BIS, The Bank for International Settlements, said the program was a resounding success, it was not. American friends knew the Fed was a buyer, so they proceeded in selling long dated paper destroying what the Fed policy was trying to accomplish. Now we expect QE 3, which we have expected for sometime. Lest we not forget the slight easing of credit and the government’s FHA low down payment programs.

A large negative we did not face several months ago was higher gasoline prices, which the public believes are going to stay at current levels for the next few years.

If a new house is purchased it has to be close to work and that often is not an easy task.

Making plans more difficult is that only half of the homes being sold will be lived in by the owners – the rest are owned by speculators, who for the past 5 years have been eminently unsuccessful in picking a bottom in the housing market.

We wonder if these buyers are aware that the administration, which we reported on a few weeks ago, have proposed to have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac dump 560,000 under water defaulted properties on the hedge funds and others in blocks of $1 billion or more to be eventually rented and put into REITS. Buyers also have to contend with builders building 513,000 new homes a year when 6.8 million homes are already on sale.

Now that banks have cleaned up most of the defaults at the low end of the market they’ll now concentrate on the smaller middle sector and the top of the market. This lender policy will add many more homes to defaulted inventory and could take that number to 9.8 million defaulted homes for sale. Those looking for a let up will have to wait beyond 2014. That means you should continue to rent over that timeframe. That means depending on type and area, homes over that period should fall another 10% to 20%. What is disconcerting is the perpetual buying by lenders (banks), Wall Street, government statistics, the National Association of homebuilders and the National Association of Realtors – all produce bogus figures to trick the public into buying. There is also a shrinking number of people eligible to be buyers. These facts at our disposal tell us that there is no housing recovery in progress and that the economy needs QE 3 ASAP. The Fed is trapped and has to print more money just to keep the game going sideways. That, of course, pushes inflation higher, which pushes gold and silver higher.

You have to ask yourself how can there possibility be a recovery?

The stock market may be approaching old highs due to the Fed manipulating money, but there is no recovery on Main Street, nor will there be.

We do not know if you noticed, but the Dow has just gotten back to even after its 57% plunge of March 2009. In that correction we recommended sale of 14,200 with a bottom at 6,600. The actual bottom was 6,550.

The Fed also has to continue zero interest rates. As rates rise more money is needed to fund debt and that means the Fed has to print more money to offset the cost of borrowing at higher levels.

As far as building over 600,000 new homes a year we have been asking for more than five years how can builders be building with an enormous for sale inventory hanging over the market. Construction payrolls are at a 16-year low and quite frankly we do not know why there is any construction at all?

The US electronics retail chain Best Buy on Thursday announced it would close 50 stores this year and lay off 400 corporate and support workers as part of a plan to cut $800 million in costs and restructure its business. The Minnesota-based firm was one of a series of American and Canadian companies that announced major layoffs this week.

Best Buy announced the downsizing and cost-cutting plan on the same day it reported a $1.7 billion loss for its fourth quarter, which ended March 3. The company, which has 1,450 locations nationwide and 2,900 globally, is seeking to avoid the fate of its former rival Circuit City, which went out of business in 2009, wiping out tens of thousands of jobs.

Best Buy’s announcement follows last month’s announcement by the retail giant Sears Holdings of plans to sell off 1,250 of its Sears and K-Mart stores in a bid to raise $770 million, following a $2.4 billion quarterly loss. Sears did not give an estimate of job losses, but the scale of the downsizing suggests the elimination of between 10,000 and 20,000 positions.

The crisis of these retail giants is indicative of the deepening impact of economic slump and mass unemployment three-and-a half years after the Wall Street crash of September 2008. It underscores the fragile and marginal character of the jobs “recovery” of which President Barack Obama has boasted over the past several months. Obama is seeking to boost his reelection chances by presenting himself as a job creator.

While the official jobless rate has declined from 9.1 percent to 8.3 percent since last September and US payrolls have, according to the Labor Department, netted a total increase of 774,000 jobs over the past three months, there are still 5 million fewer private-sector jobs than at the official start of the recession in December 2007.

Nearly 13 million Americans are without a job, long-term unemployment is at post-World War II highs, and the uptick in employment has been largely based on a nationwide campaign of wage- and benefit-cutting, spearheaded by the administration’s imposition of a 50 percent wage cut on all newly hired General Motors and Chrysler workers.

Recent data shows that real median household income in the US fell 2.3 percent in 2010, and US manufacturing labor costs per unit of output that year were 13 percent lower than a decade earlier. While poverty, hunger and homelessness are rapidly rising, corporate profits are setting new records and the financial elite is monopolizing a bigger share of the national wealth than ever before.

On Friday, another major retailer, Home Depot, said it would lay off 225 workers over the next 18 months at its customer support and distribution center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This followed an announcement last October of the layoff of 400 workers at the firm’s Baton Rouge call center.

Also on Friday, ATK Sporting Group, a maker of tactical gear and shooting supplies, said it would scale back operations and lay off 325 employees in Fenton, Missouri. The layoffs are to take effect within the next 60 to 90 days. Earlier in the week the company announced the permanent closure of a manufacturing facility in Onalaska, Wisconsin, eliminating 130 jobs.

Other companies announcing major layoffs this week include:

• Television shopping network QVC, which said it was laying off more than 600 employees at its call center in Chesapeake, Maryland. The first group of targeted workers will be phased out by June.

• American Ordnance, a producer of military explosives, which said it will lay off 500 workers at its arsenal in Milan, Tennessee beginning this month.

• Cincinnati-based Convergys Inc., a large business services firm, said it would close its call center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and cut 300 jobs.

• The Siltronic Fab 1 silicon wafer plant in Portland, Oregon, which will release 350 workers over a three-month period this summer.

• Aerospace Corp., based in El Segundo, California, which notified 306 people, or 8 percent of its work force, that they will be terminated, effective May 31.

• Lockheed Martin cut 150 jobs at Hampton Roads, Virginia, in response to cuts in US military spending.

• Oxford Mine Company cut 120 jobs at two coal-mines in western Kentucky.

• Rogers, the Toronto-based telecommunications giant, which confirmed that it is laying off 300 workers, about 1 percent of its work force.

The previous week saw an even bigger toll in job cuts. T-Mobile announced it was closing seven call centers around the US, slashing 1,900 jobs. Centers slated to be closed were in Allentown, Pennsylvania; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Frisco, Texas; Brownsville, Texas; Lenexa, Kansas; Thornton, Colorado; and Redmond, Oregon.

AMR Corp., the parent company of American Airlines, said it was cutting annual spending at its trunk line American Eagle by $75 million and cutting up to 600 jobs. Last autumn, American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in order to rip up existing labor contracts and impose drastic cuts in jobs, pay, conditions and pensions on its 78,000 employees.

In Canada, Aveos Fleet Performance began liquidating its aircraft maintenance business, wiping out the jobs of 2,600 workers across the country. Nova Scotia-based printer Transcontinental said it would eliminate some 500 jobs, closing two of its plants by the end of June.

At the end of February, Procter & Gamble, the largest US consumer products manufacturer, said it was eliminating 5,700 jobs over the next 18 months, on top of a cut of 1,600 jobs announced earlier in the month.

Despite the ongoing assault on jobs, the Obama administration and both parties in Congress have used the supposed recovery in the labor market as justification for slashing jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed. Last month the White House and the Republicans reached an agreement to cut the maximum duration of unemployment benefits from 99 weeks to 73 weeks in the hardest-hit states, and from 93 weeks to 63 weeks in many other states. This cruel measure will drive untold thousands into destitution. It was aimed at paring the federal deficit at the expense of the working class and using the threat of being laid off and reduced to poverty to blackmail workers into accepting even deeper wage and benefit cuts.

US-NATO Sea-based Missile System Threatens Russia

March 31st, 2012 by Vladimir Kozin

The major specific feature of the EPAA first phase was the achievement of the initial capability to hit short, medium and even “intermediate” (including missiles with a range of 3,000-5,500 km) range ballistic missiles, mainly thanks to moving the global missile defense sea component, that is the Aegis command and control multifunctional integrated system with SM-2 and SM-3 interceptors, to European shores.

[T]he USA is a long-time leader in sea-based missile defense systems. At the beginning of 2012 there were a total of 24 Aegis-equipped ships (5 Ticonderoga class cruisers and 19 Arleigh Burke class destroyers) in the US Navy inventory. According to US long-term, thirty-year (2011-2041), shipbuilding program, 84 ships are to be upgraded to acquire the Aegis capability: 10 out of 22 cruisers and practically all destroyers (74 ships).

An Aegis-equipped Ticonderoga cruiser or an Arleigh Burke destroyer is capable of launching up to 30 SM-2 or SM-3 interceptors of various modifications. So the overall number of such “interceptor ships” may grow up to 84, making the total global sea-based interceptor missiles force exceed 2,500.

A sophisticated multilayered and multi-echelon missile defense architecture is being created in the immediate vicinity of Russia, encompassing Europe and Asia. It’s major specific feature is that in any emergency on the international scene, the architecture is going to interact most closely with US and NATO tactical and strategic nuclear potentials.

Wrapping up the “sidelines” meeting at the Seoul nuclear summit, Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama acknowledged by mutual consent they failed to get ahead in finding a common stance on the most acute but still unsolved issue of global dimensions – the creation of some kind of “cooperative” Russia-USA/NATO joint ballistic missile defense (BMD) in Europe.

The US President asked for a “time out” till the US presidential campaign is over. He also dropped a hint he would have “more flexibility” concerning missile defense bilateral cooperation prospects if re-elected in November.

Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama confined themselves to an agreement to continue consultations, but not full-scale talks, in the next six-eight months with the participation of technical experts.

Actually the meeting repeated the zero results of the talks in Honolulu in November 2011 followed by the well-known statement by the Russian president listing the military-technical steps to be taken in response to continuation of the US-NATO “missile shield” build-up in Europe while ignoring Russia’s security concerns.

It’s still not known how serious Washington’s intent is to discuss the European missile defense with Russia. The hopes Moscow had to reach a concrete agreement with the USA at the end of last year and before the then-forthcoming event in Seoul the NATO summit in Chicago in May are fading away.

Its looks like Washington has the intention of going on deploying missile defense infrastructure on the European continent and around it using the postponement of decision finding deliberations to its advantage: its plan was wrapped up and made final a long time ago.

First, it’s not known if Barack Obama will continue to be the head of state and supreme commander of the armed forces. If he stays, what will his stance on missile defense be like? Will it be like the present one – “foot dragging”?

Secondly, what will a Republican president-elect do in case he manages to win? Actually, nearly all Republican senators have spoken out against changes in the US stance on missile defense or taking Russia’s concerns into account. Just recently 43 out of 47 Republican Senators signed a warning letter to Obama saying they would not support any limitations concerning the European missile defense component being deployed in case the current administration comes up with such plans.

Let’s remember that during the deliberations on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3) ratification Barack Obama assured the senators that under no circumstances would he introduce “qualitative or quantitative” limitations on the BMD infrastructure or sacrifice US national security interests.

The first phase of the European Phased Adaptive Approach (EPAA) missile defense plan was successfully fulfilled in 2011, the nest stage of the program is being implemented.

The major specific feature of the EPAA first phase was the achievement of the initial capability to hit short, medium and even “intermediate” (including missiles with a range of 3,000-5,500 km) range ballistic missiles, mainly thanks to moving the global missile defense sea component, that is the Aegis command and control multifunctional integrated system with SM-2 and SM-3 interceptors, to European shores.

It’s worth emphasizing that the USA is a long-time leader in sea-based missile defense systems. At the beginning of 2012 there were a total of 24 Aegis-equipped ships (5 Ticonderoga class cruisers and 19 Arleigh Burke class destroyers) in the US Navy inventory. According to US long-term, thirty-year (2011-2041), shipbuilding program, 84 ships are to be upgraded to acquire the Aegis capability: 10 out of 22 cruisers and practically all destroyers (74 ships).

The naval missile defense component is constantly gaining more importance in the overall missile defense architecture. The plans in force foresee an increase of the number of SM-3 interceptors from 111 in 2011 up to 436 in 2015 and 515 in 2020 (not 50 as some Russian experts say!). An Aegis-equipped Ticonderoga cruiser or an Arleigh Burke destroyer is capable of launching up to 30 SM-2 or SM-3 interceptors of various modifications. So the overall number of such “interceptor ships” may grow up to 84, making the total global sea-based interceptor missiles force exceed 2,500.

Further, NATO missile defense command and control facilities were built while implementing the first stage of the European Phased Adaptive Approach plan. Early warning systems are upgraded, new radars are being installed. Unlike other military programs, national missile defense and its overseas (European) component are immune from budget cuts, its expenditure preserves a stable tendency to grow.

Close Washington allies besides NATO members (like the UK, Spain, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania) are actively joining the program. For instance, Japan, a neutral state that in fact has become an alliance member a long time ago, has contributed to a technological breakthrough in enhancing the interceptors’ capabilities. The technology has been successfully used by the USA to its advantage. Australia and South Korea are long-time missile defense development partners.

A sophisticated multilayered and multi-echelon missile defense architecture is being created in the immediate vicinity of Russia, encompassing Europe and Asia. It’s major specific feature is that in any emergency on the international scene, the architecture is going to interact most closely with US and NATO tactical and strategic nuclear potentials.

Under the circumstances, Russia needs to take a more tough and resolute stance in defending its national security interests. Washington’s attempts to impose discussions on tactical nuclear weapons and make them part of the agenda separately from missile defense plans should be repelled. The deployment of missile defense along with NATO partners and some Asia-Pacific region allies should be taken into account while outlining the pattern of future strategic offensive arms reduction talks.

Finally, Russia should toughen its military-technical and diplomatic-politica l response to the United States in case it doesn’t realize what kind of adventure it is pushing the world into while vibrantly developing and installing practically everywhere its missile defense components that enhance the US nuclear potential capability. A long-time experience of arms control testifies to the fact that Washington doesn’t understand the language of polite diplomacy, but rather only responds to practical military-technical actions making it also face complex challenges to its own security.

While Russian and US technical experts discuss some missile defense aspects till the end of this year, it’s expedient to come out with a simple but logical step (if such a proposal has not been put forward to the White House as yet): to freeze further deployment of US and NATO missile defense in Europe till the experts’ work is done. It will make their efforts more fruitful.

*Vladimir Kozin is principal researcher at the Russian Institute for
Strategic Studies, member of the Expert Council of the Inter-Agency Working Group under the administration of the President of the Russian Federation for the interaction with NATO in missile defense. 


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Although Kofi Annan’s track record at the UN is an indisputable success in terms of management and efficiency, he has been sharply criticized for his political shortcomings. As Secretary General, he aspired to bring the Organization into line with the unipolar world and the globalization of U.S. hegemony. He called into question the ideological foundations of the UN and undermined its ability to prevent conflicts. Notwithstanding, he is today in charge of resolving the Syrian crisis.

Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize, Kofi Annan, has been designated by Ban Ki-moon and Nabil El Arabi as joint special envoy to negotiate a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. With Annan’s extraordinary experience and shiny brand image, his appointment was welcomed by all.

What does this top international official really represent? Who propelled him to the highest-ranking positions? What were his political choices, and what are his current commitments? These questions are met with a discreet silence, as if his previous functions were in themselves a guarantee of neutrality.

Handpicked and trained by the Ford Foundation and the CIA

His former colleagues praise him for his thoughtfulness, his intelligence and subtlety. A very charismatic personality, Kofi Annan left a strong imprint behind him because he did not behave simply as the “secretary” of the UN, but more like its “general,” by taking initiatives that revivified an organization that was mired in bureaucracy. All that is known and has been repeated ad nauseam. His exceptional professional qualities earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, although this honor in theory should have been bestowed for personal political commitment, not a management career.

Kofi and his twin sister Efua Atta were born on 8 April 1938, into an aristocratic family of the British colony of the Gold Coast. His father was the tribal chief of the Fante people and the elected governor of Asante province. Although he opposed British rule, he was a faithful servant of the Crown. With other notables, he took part in the first decolonization movement, but looked upon the revolutionary fervor of Kwame Nkrumah with suspicion and anxiety.

In any event, Nkrumah’s efforts led to the independence of the country in 1957 under the name of Ghana. Kofi was then 19 years old. Though not involved in the revolution, he became vice-president of the new National Student Association. It was then that he was spotted by a headhunter from the Ford Foundation who incorporated him into a program for “young leaders.” From there, he was invited to follow a summer course at Harvard University. Having noticed his enthusiasm for the United States, the Ford Foundation offered to sponsor his complete studies, first in economics at Macalester College in Minnesota, followed by international relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

After the Second World War, the Ford Foundation, created by famous industrialist Henry Ford, became an unofficial instrument of U.S. foreign policy, providing a respectable facade for the activities of the CIA [1].

Kofi Annan’s overseas study period (1959-1961) coincided with the most difficult years of the African-American civil rights movement (the start of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign). He saw it as an extension of the decolonization he had witnessed in Ghana, but once again did not get involved.

Impressed with Annan’s academic achievements and political discretion, his U.S. mentors opened for him the doors of the World Health Organization, where he landed his first job. After three years at WHO headquarters in Geneva, he was appointed to the Economic Commission for Africa based in Addis Ababa. However, not sufficiently qualified to pursue a career at the UN, he returned to the United States to take up management studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1971-1972). He then attempted a comeback in his home country as director of tourism development, but found himself perpetually at odds with the military government of General Acheampong; he gave up and returned to the United Nations in 1976.

A successful career despite tragic failures

There, he held various positions, initially within UNEF II (the peacekeeping emergency force established to supervise the cease fire between Egypt and Israel at the end of the October 1973 war), then as Director of personnel at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It was at this time that he met and married Nane Lagergren Master, his second wife. The Swedish lawyer is the niece of Raoul Wallenberg, Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest during World War II. Wallenberg is famous for having saved hundreds of persecuted Jews by issuing them protective passports. He also worked for the OSS (forerunner of today’s CIA) as a liaison with the Hungarian resistance. He disappeared at the end of the war, when the Soviets allegedly captured him to stem US influence in the country. In any event, Kofi Annan’s successful marriage opened the doors that he could not have passed through on his own, especially those of Jewish organizations.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar chose Kofi Annan as Assistant Secretary-General in charge of human resources management and staff safety and security (1987-90). With the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq, 900 UN employees remained stranded in that country. Kofi Annan was able to negotiate their release with Saddam Hussein, a feat that boosted his prestige within the Organization. He was then successively put in charge of the budget (1990-92) and peacekeeping operations under Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1993-96), with a brief interlude as a special envoy for Yugoslavia.

According to Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Kofi Annan failed to respond to his many appeals and carries the primary responsibility for UN inaction during the genocide (800,000 dead, mainly Tutsis, but also Hutu opponents) [2].

A similar scenario was repeated in Bosnia, where 400 peacekeepers were taken hostage by Bosnian Serb forces. Kofi Annan remained deaf to the calls of General Bernard Janvier and allowed the perpetration of predictable massacres.

In late 1996, the United States vetoed the reappointment of the Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General, regarded as dangerously Francophile. They succeeded in imposing their candidate: a senior official from within the international organization itself, Kofi Annan. Far from playing against him, his failures in Rwanda and Bosnia blossomed into assets after he candidly confessed to them and promised to reform the system so that they wouldn’t recur. He was elected on this basis and took office on 1 January 1997.

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Pocantino Conference Center

United Nations Secretary General

Kofi Annan immediately set up an annual two-day seminar behind closed doors for fifteen UN ambassadors. This “retreat” (sic) was generously hosted by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund at the Pocantico Conference Center (upstate New York). There, outside the official framework of the United Nations, the Secretary General discussed the reform of the Organization with the representatives of the States whose support he knew he could count on.

In this context, he reallocated the expenditures of the UN in line with political priorities and significantly reduced the budget of the General Secretariat. He reorganized the administrative functioning around four objectives (peace and security, development, economic and social affairs, humanitarian affairs). He created a post of deputy secretary-general to stand in for him and endowed himself with a real cabinet capable of acting promptly on the decisions of the Security Council and General Assembly.

Kofi Annan’s landmark initiative was the Global Compact, the mobilization of civil society for a better world. On the basis of a voluntary dialogue, businesses, unions and NGOs were brought together to discuss and commit to respect human rights, labor standards and the environment.

In practice, the Global Compact did not yield the desired effect on the ground. On the contrary, it deeply distorted the nature of the UN by playing down the power of nation-states and emphasizing that of transnational corporations and of associations which are “non-governmental” only in name and which are covertly funded by the great powers. By promoting lobbies as partners of the United Nations, Kofi Annan buried the spirit of the San Francisco Charter. It is no longer a question of saving mankind from the scourge of war by recognizing the legal equality of nations large and small, but of improving the human condition by supporting the convergence between private interests.

The Global Compact is a deviation from the nearly universally accepted logic that international law serves the common good, to a logic embraced only by the Anglo-Americans for whom the common good is a chimera and good governance consists in bringing together the largest number of special interests. Ultimately, the Global Compact has had the same effect as the charity galas in the U.S.: to give oneself a good conscience by launching high-profile initiatives while condoning structural injustices.

In that sense, the terms of Kofi Annan (1997-2006) reflect the reality of the historical period, that of a unipolar world subjected to the globalization of U.S. hegemony at the expense of nation-states and the peoples that they represent.

This strategy is in line with the device set up by Washington in the 1980’s involving the National Endowment for Democracy, an agency that, contrary to its title, aims to carry forward the subversive action of the CIA by manipulating the democratic process [3]. The NED subsidizes, legally or not, employers’ organizations, labor unions and associations of all kinds. In return, the beneficiaries participate in the Global Compact, thereby bending the positions of the Nation-States which lack the means to fund their own lobbies. Peace has stopped being a concern for the UN since the unipolar world has its own policeman, the U.S.; thus the organization can concentrate instead on absorbing all forms of protest to better corroborate the global disorder and justify the progressive global expansion of U.S. hegemony.

The soothing rhetoric of Kofi Annan reached its zenith at the Millennium Summit. 147 heads of state and government pledged to eradicate poverty and solve major health problems worldwide, including AIDS, in fifteen years. Universal happiness can dispense with political reform, provided everyone makes an effort and chips in. Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? But alas, the Millennium remained wishful thinking; injustice was not eradicated and continues to nurture war and misery.

In the same vein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s 20 September 1999 speech to the General Assembly outlined what has been termed the “Annan doctrine.” Using his own impotence in Rwanda and Bosnia as an excuse, he argued that in both cases the States had failed in their duty to protect their own people. He therefore concluded that the sovereignty of States, guiding principle of the UN Charter, constitutes an obstacle to human rights protection. The African Union adopted this view under the name of “Responsibility to Protect;” the UN followed suit in 2005 during the World Summit responsible for the follow-up of the Millennium Summit. The Annan doctrine is nothing more than the reincarnation of the right to intervene invoked by the British to wage war against the Ottoman Empire and, more recently, updated by Bernard Kouchner. The new concept will be used explicitly for the first time in 2011 to legalize the colonial operation against Libya [4].

In addition, Kofi Annan’s terms as UN Secretary-General were marked by the “Oil-for-Food” programme which was devised by the Security Council in 1991, but was effective only from 1996 to 2003. It was originally intended to ensure that Iraq’s oil revenues would be used exclusively to meet the needs of the Iraqi people and not to finance new military adventures. However, in the context of the international embargo and under the personal supervision of Kofi Annan, this program became an instrument in the hands of the U.S. and the UK to bleed Iraq while they occupied the “no-fly zone” (which corresponds roughly to the current autonomous Kurdistan region) until the outbreak of the aggression against and destruction of the country [5]. For years, the population was undernourished and deprived of life-saving medicines. Several international officials who were in charge of that program qualified it as a “war crime” and even resigned after refusing to apply it. Among them, the UN Assistant Secretary-General Hans von Sponeck and UN Humanitarian Coordinator Denis Halliday considered that this program brought about the genocide of 1, 5 million Iraqis, including at least 500,000 children [6].

It was not until the invasion and destruction of Iraq that Kofi Annan finally rebelled and denounced those who had paid for his education, propelled his rise to Secretary-General of the UN, and awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize. He described the attack on Iraq as illegal and voiced public concern that this precedent would eviscerate International Law [7] Washington responded brutally with a spying operation against Kofi Annan, his cabinet, his family and even against his friends. The Secretary-General’s son, Kojo Annan, was accused of embezzling “oil for food” program funds with his father’s blessing. The prosecution did not manage to convince UN member states and, on the contrary, consolidated the authority of the Secretary-General [8] However, during the last two years of his mandate, Kofi Annan was paralyzed and forced to toe the line.

Back to square one

After 10 years as Secretary-General, Kofi Annan continued his career in several more or less private foundations.

In December 2007, elections in Kenya degenerated into conflict. President Mwai Kibaki appeared to have defeated the candidate backed by Washington, Raila Odinga, reportedly a cousin of then-Senator Barack Obama. U.S. Senator John McCain challenged the election results and called for revolution as waves of anonymous SMS exacerbated inter-ethnic differences. Within days, riots left more than 1,000 dead and 300,000 displaced. Madeleine Albright proposed the mediation of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. The institute sent two mediators: former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, both members of the Board of Administration.

As a result of that “mediation,” President Kibaki was forced to bow to U.S. wishes. He was able to stay in office, but first had to accept a constitutional reform that stripped him of his powers in favor of the Prime Minister and to agree to the choice of Odinga as Prime Minister. In his role as wise old African, Kofi Annan helped to give a veneer of legitimacy to a regime change imposed by Washington [9].

Kofi Annan currently exercises two key responsibilities. First, he chairs the Africa Progress Panel, an organization created by Tony Blair after the G8 summit held in Gleeneagles for the purpose of ensuring media coverage of the actions of the British Ministry of Cooperation (DFID). Unfortunately, like the Millennium Summit, the G8 promises were not fulfilled and the activity of the Africa Progress Panel is negligible.

He also serves as chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which aims to solve the food problems of the black continent through biotechnology. In fact, AGRA is a lobby funded by the Bill Gates and Rockefeller Foundations to promote the dissemination of GMO’s produced by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta and others. Most independent experts agree that, beyond the issue of their environmental impact, the use of non-reproductible GMO crops keeps farmers under the thumb of their suppliers and introduces a new form of human exploitation.

Kofi Annan in Syria

So what has this former high-ranking international official come to Syria for? In the first place, his appointment suggests that the current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, whose image has been tarnished by his kowtowing to the United States and by a string of corruption scandals [10] was not up to the task, while Kofi Annan, despite his balance sheet, still enjoys a positive image.

Secondly, a mediator can succeed only to the extent that he has been selected by the parts in the conflict. But this is not the case. Kofi Annan represents the Secretary-General of the UN and his Arab League counterpart. He defends the honor and reputation of both institutions in the absence of clear political instructions.

If the appointment of Mr Annan was approved de facto by the members of the Security Council and those of the Arab League, it is because it satisfies conflicting expectations. For some, the joint special envoy is not intended to broker peace, but to clad a peace that has already been negotiated between the great powers so that everyone can stand tall. Others expect him to repeat the Kenyan script and bring about regime change without further violence.

Over the past three weeks, the action of Kofi Annan has been to present his own plan, an amended version of the one developed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In doing so, he has rendered the plan palatable for Washington and its allies. In addition, Mr. Annan has intentionally introduced an element of confusion by suggesting that he had convinced President al-Assad to appoint one of his vice presidents, Farouk al-Shara, to negotiate with the opposition. This is portrayed as a concession made by Syria to the Gulf Cooperation Council. In fact, Vice President al-Shara has been in charge of these negotiations for a year and the demand made by Saudi Arabia and Qatar is totally different: that President al-Assad should step down because he is an Alawite and that power be transferred to the Vice President for being a Sunni. It would thus seem that the joint special envoy is engineering a way out for those states that have attacked Syria and invented the fable of a democratic revolution crushed in blood.

However, the doublespeak of Kofi Annan, who when in Damascus was satisfied with his meeting with President al-Assad but expressed disappointed once back in Geneva, has not raised any questions about his true intentions. 

Notes

[1] “Ford Foundation, a philanthropic facade for the CIA,” Voltaire Network, 5 April 2004, and “Pourquoi la Fondation Ford subventionne la contestation,” by Paul Labarique, Réseau Voltaire, 19 April 2004.
[2] Shake Hands with the Devil : The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, by Roméo Dallaire, Arrow Books Ltd, 2004
[3] “La NED, vitrine légale de la CIA,” by Thierry Meyssan, Odnako (Russian Federation), Réseau Voltaire, 6 October 2010.
[4] “UN security council resolution 1973 in favour of a no-fly zone in Libya,” Voltaire Network, 17 March 2011.
[5] “Annan: Génocide en Iraq et Paix en Syrie?,” by Hassan Hamade, As-Safir (Lebanon), Réseau Voltaire, 22 March 2012.
[6] “United Nations implications in war crimes,” by Silvia Cattori, Voltaire Network, 23 March 2007.
[7] “For Kofi Annan, international law no longer guarantees anything”, by Sandro Cruz, Voltaire Network, 15 July 2005.
[8] “Harassing Kofi Annan,” by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 13 December 2004.[9] “Behind the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize,” by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 19 October 2009.
[10] “An Open Letter to the dishonorable Ban Ki-moon,” by Hassan Hamade, As-Safir (Lebanon), Voltaire Network, 27 January 2012.

Source : “Kofi Annan: black skin, white masks”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 30 March 2012, www.voltairenet.org/a173325






The family of Mohamed Merah, whom French police accused of carrying out a wave of deadly shootings in Toulouse and Montauban between March 11 and 19, has emphatically denied that he was a terrorist or carried out the killings. Merah was killed by an elite police unit after a 32-hour siege of his flat last Thursday.

His half-brother Rachid Merah, who lives in Algeria, told FranceInfo television: “I have no idea of what the media and the politicians are talking about. They say that Mohammed has been in Afghanistan and Pakistan and that he was in contact with Al Qaeda. But I categorically deny it. And I doubt whether he has had any links with Al Qaeda or the Taliban or any terrorist organisation in the world. And proof of that is that France killed him before he could speak in court, when they could have caught him alive.”

Rachid Merah’s comments come after similar questions were raised by police experts, such as Claude Prouteau of the Intervention Group of the National Gendarmerie (GIGN), who noted that the special police unit that killed Merah could easily have captured him alive. Instead, the police stormed Merah’s flat and killed him in a hail of nearly 300 bullets. During the siege, Interior Minister Claude Guéant nonetheless had asserted that everything would be done to capture Merah alive, so he could stand trial.

Commenting on the weapons and videos of the shooting that police reportedly found in Merah’s flat, Rachid Merah referred to well-publicized reports that Merah was functioning as an informer for French intelligence: “But as for the weapons we can suppose that he was manipulated by the French secret services, because he was young and easily influenced. They could well have bought him. They used him then they killed him. All scenarios are possible. Who can prove that Mohamed Merah filmed the videos [of the shootings] himself? It could well be someone else.”

Rachid Merah added: “You reap what you sow. They kill our children in Palestine, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, they should recognise their responsibility. The minister of the interior has said that Mohamed was a monster….but I reply that they have created this monster which killed children.”

Rachid Merah’s comments came after similar statements by Mohamed Merah’s father, Mohamed Benalal Merah. He said: “They should have arrested him and investigated the case with him. Perhaps it wasn’t he who killed them. By killing my son, the French security services have lost proof, and I have lost my son.”

These statements come as the state’s official version of events—that Merah was undetectable because he was a “self-radicalizing lone wolf” who behaved normally until he assassinated seven people—is being exposed as a fabrication. Instead, he was operating in close contact with French intelligence agencies and in direct collaboration with one and possibly several as-yet unidentified accomplices.

The main evidence used to incriminate Merah were the weapons found in his apartment, and the police’s claims that he confessed to the crime in negotiations and phone calls with them. This evidence has not been released to the public, however, and there is still room for doubt as to whether Merah in fact was the killer. An eyewitness of the Montauban shooting reported that the killer was stout and had a scarred, tattooed cheek—unlike the slim, smooth-faced Mohamed Merah.

Another element of the case is the possible participation of a “third man,” who has remained unidentified until now. Merah’s brother Abdelkader, who was charged with helping him, told police that when he helped his brother steal the Yamaha T-Max scooter used in the killings, there was another person in the car, whose identity has not been revealed. There was also reportedly another person living in the flat where Mohamed Merah was killed.

The head of the French internal intelligence service (DCRI), Bernard Squarcini, was obliged to deny persistent reports in the French and Italian press that Merah was an informer for one of his own agents in Toulouse, and that this was why he could avoid detection and arrest until shortly before police killed him on March 22.

Squarcini’s denial is undermined by the fact that the day after Merah was shot, the police chief told Le Monde that the alleged killer had asked, during the siege, to speak to a Toulouse-based officer in his agency. This agent, understood to be a young woman of North African origin, had debriefed Merah on his return from a two-month visit to Pakistan in November 2011.

Former security chief Yves Bonnet told the Toulouse paper La Dépêche du Midi that it was “striking” that Merah seemed to have a DCRI handler: “Having a handler—that is not an innocent thing.”

Even if Merah had low-level “informant” status, this could explain why police and security services failed to detect him—i.e., because they deliberately ceased to look.

Le Canard Enchaîné newspaper reported on Thusday that Merah and his family had been bugged by the DCRI from March to November last year. The bugging ended abruptly, Le Canard said, around the time of his meeting with the DCRI agent in November. However, surveillance units later said that the bugging began in November and was dropped in February because it revealed nothing important. This was only a few weeks before the killer began his rampage.

Under these highly suspicious circumstances, only a few weeks before the French presidential elections, incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy seized upon the killings to whip up law-and-order hysteria and seize the media spotlight. He announced new laws penalising visits to Internet sites “spreading terrorist ideology,” and police carried out a crackdown on an alleged Islamist network in France yesterday, arresting 19 people.

The tacit support given to these police-state measures by PS presidential candidate François Hollande and Hollande’s pseudo-left allies has allowed Sarkozy to seize the initiative in the election race, effectively mounting a political coup. Poll results now put him in front at 30 percent of voting intentions to Hollande’s 28 percent in the first round of voting on April 22.

National Outrage over Killing of Trayvon Martin

March 31st, 2012 by Sherwood Ross


The tragic killing of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., has provoked national outrage and is also the subject of a Justice Department probe. This is a far different response from the virulent racist America of a century ago, when white America and Washington were indifferent  to such episodes. The outrage sweeping the country today over the young man’s slaying suggests something very important has changed for the better.
Back in the 1920s, when the Ku Klux Klan was at the pinnacle of its sadistic influence, as many as 1,000 lynchings of black men took place in a typical year and any national outcries against them were muted. Klansmen could murder in cold blood and go to work the next morning as if nothing had happened. White Americans, generally, did not get upset over lynchings. Ku Klux Klan members often held posts of influence in their communities, particularly in the South. The murdered blacks had few, if any, allies in the white communities. Presidents such as Woodrow Wilson were themselves racist.
Not far from where Trayvon Martin was shot down, on Christmas Eve, 1951, the NAACP’s Rev. Harry T. Moore and his wife were murdered by KKK dynamiters with a bomb planted under their bedroom. I remember walking in a small, largely African-American protest march in Rev. Moore’s memory the following New Year’s Day through the streets of downtown Miami. Perhaps there were some sympathetic white onlookers  but I do not recall any.
Only four years later, though, the murder of 14-year-old Chicagoan Emmett Till in Money, Miss., for allegedly whistling at a white woman, created huge street demonstrations on Chicago’s South Side. Listening to the orators addressing the crowds, I had the welcome feeling the Black community, at the least, was not going to stand for it any more. Too many Black veterans were asking, “What did we fight for to be treated this way?” The outrage was fierce as Till’s killers were acquitted of his torture and murder. Till’s Mother insisted on an open casket funeral so the public could witness how the killers had brutalized her son. Protected by laws against double jeopardy, after their acquittal, the killers casually admitted their guilt and walked free.
It has been said that Till’s murder was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement. In that struggle, still unfinished, the introduction of the non-violent response by Rev. Martin Luther King created vast sympathy for oppressed Black citizens. The Montgomery bus boycott impressed the nation with their courage and determination and their struggle for equal rights and opportunities. By 1963, the climate had so changed that King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial generated an overwhelming positive national response.
Following this remarkable address, the civil rights cause accelerated rapidly. The continued sacrifices of both Blacks and whites alike had put a large segment of America’s white population on the side of social justice. In June, 1966, when James Meredith was shot down in Mississippi, the shooter was apprehended within minutes by the local sheriff and put on trial and convicted—an outcome that would have been unthinkable a decade earlier.  
The day after the shooting, in my capacity as Meredith’s press coordinator, I told an NBC “Today Show” audience that his several companions planned to finish his March Against Fear, and invited people of good will to join us. Thousands from all races responded over the next few weeks so that the renewed march became, literally, a turning point and victory celebration over Jim Crow in Mississippi. Voting rolls were opened to Blacks and we received the support of many white Mississippi residents who had been waiting for an opportunity to step forward and speak up for racial equality but had been afraid to do so.
In spite of all the civil rights movement has achieved, a descriptive term that can still be applied to Black communities today, unfortunately, remains “plight.” The statistics on Black-white disparities in income, housing, justice, and education remain profound.
Administration after administration, including the present one, has failed to make amends for what is now four centuries of historic racism. President Obama has shown more interest in pursuing the foreign wars of his predecessor than in spending the trillions of dollars wasted on those wars to promote the general welfare of Americans. This includes the need to level the playing field for African-Americans, by supporting decent housing, crime reduction and penal reform, full employment, job training, quality education, leveling the playing field for unions, and more job opportunities created by employers, state governments and Washington. The battle is ongoing. One affirmative step would be to teach basic non-violence to every child in every school in America. Another would be entrepreneurial teaching (self-reliance and business acumen) starting in grade school. Trevon Martin’s death should serve to remind us of the long road that has already been traveled just as it informs us of how far we as a nation have to go.   
Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant who was news director for a major civil rights organization in the Sixties and press coordinator for James Meredith’s March Against Fear in Mississippi in 1966. Reach him at sherwoodross10@ gmail.com)

As the inexperienced protagonists of Mali’s military coup receive worldwide condemnation from the international community and neighboring members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), thousands have taken to the streets of the Malian capital of Bamako in support of the newly founded junta. Citizens carried placards and banners reading “Down with the international community” and “Down with Sarkozy,” while chanting slogans in praise of junta leader, Captain Amadou Sanogo. [1]

Although Sanogo has visited the US several times after being handpicked by the Pentagon to participate in an International Military Education and Training program sponsored by the US State Department [2], representatives of the United States have called on coup leaders in Mali on to step down and allow for elections to take place. [3]

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner has threatened the penurious West African state with a staunch diplomatic and financial embargo if power is not returned to ousted Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure within seventy-two hours. [4] While half the population lives on less than $1.25 per day [5], the imposition of economic sanctions to the landlocked import-reliant nation will inevitably lead to greater social instability and civil unrest. As the prospects of embargo work to further nurture war-like conditions amid longstanding poverty, the ECOWAS bloc has put its troops on standby near Mali’s borders, ready to intervene should the situation deteriorate. [6] During the 2010 – 2011 crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, forces loyal to the French-backed Alassane Ouattara undertook a widespread campaign of atrocities against civilians [7], a further reminder of the danger posed by the international community’s rush to military intervention in crisis stricken regions of Africa.

As the United States and others espouse the importance of returning to constitutional order while Malians offer their support to the junta, the strength of Mali’s touted democratic institutions appear highly questionably. The primary justification behind the coup came from the civilian government’s inadequate response to an ongoing campaign of Tuareg separatism in northern Mali, although the recent disarray in Bamako has prompted the steady advance of armed Tuareg militias southward. Under the banner of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA), armed militias have reportedly seized the northeastern region of Kidal, prompting the poorly equipped Malian army to abandon its strategic northward positions. [8] The Tuareg are a traditionally nomadic and pastoralist ethnic minority group of some 1.5 million people who seek to secede from the Malian republic and form an independent nation called Azawad; the group has traditionally existed in a territory scattered across the Sahel and Sahara countries largely operated by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Although the Tuareg have been credited with the recent destabilization in Northern Mali, a strong possibility exists that AQIM has more accurately been behind insurgent activity in the region. [9] The MNLA has stated that the objective of its independence campaign is develop a stronghold from which to safeguard against violent AQIM activity, while Bamako has asserted that the MNLA seek to found a ridged Islamist state in partnership with AQIM. [10] Subsequent to the fall of Gaddafi in NATO’s Libyan war-theater, armed Malian and Nigerien ethnic-Tuareg fighters were seen descending into the Sahara in army issue Toyota Hi-Lux technical trucks used by al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan rebels [11]. While it may be difficult to distinguish the true protagonists of violence in northern Mali, the resurgence of their activity has been greatly enhanced by their access to mortars, machine guns, anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons originally belonging to the radical Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). [12]

The presence of a second Tuareg-dominated separatist group, Ancar Dine further complicates the situation; the movement seeks to impose sharia law throughout northern Mali and is led by Iyad Ag Ghaly, a prominent Salafi figure thought to have links with a branch of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s AQIM, led by his cousin Hamada Ag Hama. [13] As separatists now control a third of Mali, a food crisis is approaching over Sahel-Saharan Africa as nearly eighty thousand refugees seek amnesty in neighboring Algeria, Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. [14] As the militant Ancar Dine appear to be claiming to control over regions previously attributed to the MNLA [15], their advance may have wider implications, capable of drastically fomenting regional instability.

An influx of refugees will put further strain on Algeria and Niger, with a heightened prospect for widespread uprisings seen during the Arab Spring unfolding in the Sahel region. Algeria may be further destabilized if the security situation continues to deteriorate in Mali, as France may feel compelled to intervene in the affairs of its former colonial holdings, as seen tragically in Côte d’Ivoire. The crisis in Mali bears a striking parallel to events in Nigeria, a nation struggling with the Islamic insurgent activities of separatist Boko Haram to its north. Given the political instability in Abuja, a coup orchestrated by low-ranking officers against Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan based on the Malian model would not be unthinkable. As the World Bank and African Development Bank suspend all aid to Mali, some form of military intervention is conceivable if the UNSC’s calls for the “immediate restoration of constitutional rule and the democratically elected government” are not heeded [16].

As Mali’s neighbors threaten to use sanctions and military force to depose the current Committee for the Re-establishment of Democracy and the Restoration of the State (CNRDR) led by Captain Amadou Sanogo [17], the junta has unveiled a new constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech, thought and movement [18]. Sanogo vowed not to cling to power and to set up democratic elections when the Tuareg insurgency can be contained; those who took part in the coup would be barred from participation in the elections [19]. The influx of arms from NATO’s regime change programme in Libya has created dire prospects for a heavily armed civil war in Mali; it remains to be seen how the NATO bloc will react if the CNRDR refuses calls to step down and engages in a drawn-out conflict with Islamist separatists. As the US military counters the Lord’s Resistance Army by expanding its military presence through AFRICOM (United States Africa Command) in the Democratic People’s Republic of the Congo, the worsening situation in both Mali and Nigeria provide further justification for foreign intervention and war profiteering.


Notes

[1] Mali: des milliers de manifestants soutiennent la junte, comprise en vue, AFP March 28, 2012

[2] Leader of Mali military coup trained in U.S., Washington Post, March 25, 2012

[3] US calls for Mali coup leaders to step down, CNN March 30, 2012

[4] Ibid

[5] Human Development Indices, United Nations Development Programme, 2008

[6] Mali coup: African Spring Russia Today March 29, 2012

[7] Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara Forces Kill, Rape Civilians During Offensive, Human Rights Watch, April 9, 2011

[8] Tuareg rebels force Mali army out of North, World News Australia, March 31, 2012

[9] Mali’s mutineers maintain unusual tradition of tolerance and turbulence, The Guardian, March 22, 2012

[10] Arab Spring Bleeds Deeper into Africa, Asia Times March 24, 2012

[11] Ibid

[12] Qaddafi’s Weapons, Taken by Old Allies, Reinvigorate an Insurgent Army in Mali The New York Times, February 5, 2012

[13] Islamist fighters call for Sharia law in Mali, AFP, March 13, 2012

[14] Les rebelles touaregs contrôlent un tiers du Mali, Libération, March 13, 2012

[15] Armed Islamist group claims control in northeast Mali AFP, March 20, 2012

[16] Mali coup: World commends mutineers, BBC, March 23, 2012

[17] Mali neighbors threaten to reverse coup, Reuters, March 27, 2012

[18] Mali coup: West African leaders abandon visit, BBC, March 29, 2012

[19] New Mali leaders reveal constitution, Russia Today March 23, 2012


Nile Bowie
 is an independent writer and photojournalist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  

IITATE, Fukushima — Radioactive cesium far exceeding the allowable limit and way higher than previously detected contamination levels in fish has been found in river trout here, the prefectural government said on March 28.

The yamame, or landlocked masu salmon, caught in the Niida River in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, measured 18,700 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, a reading over 37 times more than the government-imposed provisional limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.

The radiation dose detected this time exceeds the 14,400 becquerels per kilogram detected in sand eels in waters off Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in April 2011, becoming the highest radiation dose found in sea and freshwater fish since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March last year.

The prefectural government has requested related fishery cooperatives to refrain from catching and eating yamame fish from the Niida River’s main current and tributaries.

The contaminated fish was caught for sampling prior to the opening of the fishing season in April this year and has not been circulated in markets.

As a mother of a young Black man whom I pray for nightly and worry daily about his life being violently ended senselessly either by someone marginalized by the unjust social structure of U.S. life or by some rogue officer of the law or one pretending to be a policeman, I offer my sincerest condolences to the Martin family and friends over their loss of their son Trayvon. Each loss is  irreparable and I have no words that can succor the pain that this entire nation is feeling.  Further, I wish to extend my compassionate sympathies to the hundreds of thousands of victims of police brutality, racial profiling, and the millions wrongfully ensnared in the American gulag prison-industrial complex.

All of my life, no matter how my reputation has been assailed and vilified, I have struggled to promote justice and dignity to those people most adversely affected by the racist, intolerant, predatorily capitalistic, and venal society that we increasingly see metastasize daily into a society with a feel more and more like when Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King, or martyred Floridian Harry T. Moore walked the Earth decades ago.

April 4, 2012 will mark the 44th anniversary of our observance of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King; Jr. April 29, 2012 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Los Angeles Uprising of 1992.  According to Dr. King, the U.S. was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.”  Forty-five years later this fact remains true with some frightening new additions.  The U.S. imprisons more of its citizens per 100,000 persons than any other nation on earth.  In 2011, the USA ranked fifth in the world in execution of prisoners, and annually police murder scores of citizens. If the number of persons murdered by the police were included in the sum of executions, America would rank third in executions globally—just behind Iran. In spite of the fact that the United States ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) which obligates all levels of government to comply with the treaty, the United States Department of Justice, according to the ACLU 2009 report regarding the persistence of racial profiling in the United States has done virtually nothing to combat the clear evidence of systemic racism the nation.  Therefore, I cannot say that anyone can be certain that justice will be served to the many Trayvon Martins and their grieving families. It is sobering and hurtful to believe that America’s first Black President and first Black Attorney General will allow this nation to possibly descend into greater levels of intolerance and tension, when the laws and mechanisms to address the problems exist on the books.  

This should be an easy one for the people of this country to face.  President Obama called for us to push him to stand for the people. Now is the time for us to push so hard that President Obama has no choice but to stand and show us–who are tired of mourning Stolen Lives in this country–that he is equally able to lead as well as compromise and bow to his political rivals.  President Obama, along with the people of this country, can act and begin to remove the legacy of hatred, violence, and injustice before the U.S. is consumed by it–because our community of leaders and followers lacked the will to be a better society.

To the people who care and sacrifice daily for the marginalized and the dispossessed among us, I wish to remind you that I led a Congressional delegation to the United Nations World Conference on Racism in Durban South Africa in 2001 despite President Bush and Zionists daring us to go.  It was my hope that the African American leadership would discover the realm of international law, as was the dream of Dubois, William Patterson, Paul Robeson, Malcolm X, and Dr. King.  The traditional Civil Rights leadership must become more effective and adroit in presenting the plight of our human rights before the international community.  We have enough experience to know that our progress has always been linked to international pressure because we are in a ‘majoritarian democracy’ that tramples on the rights of minorities. 

We must push within and without the United States to bring the egregious slaughter of our young people and the mass incarceration and oppression of Black and Brown people to an end using all tools that we can secure.  We cannot wait for another so-called ‘random slaying.’  It is clear that the President does not speak in our names when he denies the existence of racism (in the United Nations follow-up Durban conferences) as he has done twice.  We know that we are world citizens with rights that every Mark Furman, Rick Santorum, or George Zimmerman must respect–even if our only venue for redress is before the people of the world.  Chattel slavery and Jim Crow Apartheid were, in part, overturned because of the joint domestic and international efforts.  Let us honor the agreement of Dr. King and Malcolm X to have a two-fold struggle for our human rights and full freedom. In the 1940s, we called this the double victory over Nazism and fascism abroad and racism and Jim Crow at home. 

At home, the U.S. tolerates extra-judicial killings, violation of human rights, persecution, racial discrimination, and genocide–yes, genocide.  So, if leadership inside the U.S. will do this to their own citizens, what is done to others outside the U.S. should come as no surprise.  The real answer lies in what “we the people” of the United States are going to do differently to stop this madness.  Clearly, what we’ve all collectively done in the past is not nearly enough.  If you harbor any doubt about that, just ask young Trayvon.

The Global March to Jerusalem, March 30, 2012

March 30th, 2012 by Global Research

The Global March to Jerusalem (GMJ) is a groundbreaking new initiative that is organising non-violent civil resistance on 30th March 2012 in Palestine and the four neighbouring countries: Egypt, Lebanon Jordan and Syria. The GMJ is comprised of a diverse coalition of Palestinian, Arab and international activists who are united in the struggle to liberate the holy city of Jerusalem (the city of Peace) from illegal Zionist occupation.

The peaceful marchers will demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people. Our aim is to end the Zionist policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation, which all harm the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem. Judaisation has involved the unrestricted expansion and funding of illegal Israeli settlements, the continued dispossession and demolition of Palestinian property, and the construction of a Separation Wall surrounding the city, all of which have changed the demographics of the holy city from a Palestinian to a Jewish majority.

Global participation in the march will confirm to the world that these racist policies and practices of the state of Israel against Jerusalem and its people are a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity.

The march will unite the efforts of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all citizens of conscience in the world to put an end to Israel’s disregard for international law through the continuing occupation of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestinian land.

While the GMJ is made up of grassroots movements in each participating country, the march is centralized through an International Central Committee, consisting of 42 elected regional delegates. Regional delegates will appoint 15 members for the International Executive Committee and recruit hundreds of dignitaries and luminaries for the International Advisory Board.

Our plan is to organize massive marches towards Jerusalem, or to the nearest point possible according to the circumstances of each country, in Palestine (the 1948 Zionist land seizures, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) and the four neighbouring countries: Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon. Internationals will participate in land caravans or fly directly to one of the main sites for the march. In addition, mass protests will be organised in front of Israeli embassies in the capitals of different countries, or in the main public squares in the big cities of the world.

The recent successes of the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions are a reminder that this inspirational movement for nonviolent civil resistance was actually born in Palestine with the first Intifada. By renewing the struggle to liberate Palestine through a peaceful national mass movement that is supported by the global community, we aim to change the nature of the confrontation by compelling the occupiers to face millions of demonstrators demanding Freedom for Palestine and its capital Jerusalem.

For US media enquiries please contact Henry Norr on +1 510 371-4465 or at [email protected] and for Canada contact Ali Mallah at [email protected] / www.gmj-na.org


Concept and objectives

The historic day 30th March marks Palestine Land Day* in Palestinian national memory. This year our aim is to mark it as an international event to demonstrate solidarity with Palestinians and to protect Jerusalem. This will be achieved by organizing a Global March to Jerusalem or to the nearest point to it. The march will demand freedom for Jerusalem and its people and to put an end to the apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies affecting the people, land and sanctity of Jerusalem.

By organising the March and its preceding and parallel activities we aim to highlight the cause of Jerusalem (the City of Peace) which is considered the key to peace and war in the region and the world. The march will confirm that the racist policies and practices of the Zionist state of Israel against Jerusalem and its people are a crime not only against Palestinians but against all humanity.

The march will unite the efforts of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all citizens of conscience in the world to put an end to Israel’s disregard for international law through the continuing occupation of Jerusalem and the rest of Palestinian land.

We aim to make this march a turning point in the nature of the confrontation, with the occupation having to face millions of protesters and demonstrators demanding freedom for Palestine and its capital Jerusalem. We will make a renewed true effort towards ending the occupation through peaceful national movements inspired firstly by our convictions, secondly by the justice of our cause, and thirdly by the spirit of the Arab spring revolutions and the determination of young people who were able to overthrow dictatorships. Especially now that the nations have realized the magical effect of the people’s will to make the impossible possible. The advancing slogan, “the people demand,” has proved to be more effective than armies and weapons.

What is the structure and who is behind this project?

To achieve all the above the idea was turned into action by forming an International Central Committee (ICC) responsible for this march. The committee consists of 42 members representing the five continents. An International Executive Committee (IEC) for the GMJ will emerge from the International Central Committee, and will consist of 15 members. National committees in most countries of the world will be formed to follow up and to coordinate the actions and events at the national level. These national committees will include representatives of all backgrounds and organisations working for Palestine and Jerusalem from media, religious, social, professional and human rights figures.

There are dozens of international figures worldwide adopting the idea, supporting and signing a document of principles governing the Global March to Jerusalem. This document was adopted at the founding meeting in Amman on 12th December, 2011. Among the prominent, well known figures who sign the document of principle an Advisory Board will be formed. The complete list of names on the Advisory Board along with all organisations supporting the GMJ will be announced shortly to emphasize the international support for the march.

* Palestine Land Day – a day celebrated by Palestinians on 30th March each year. The event marks the events of March, 1976, after the Israeli authorities confiscated thousands of dunums of private and public land in majority Palestinian areas, especially in the Galilee. Following these events the Arab masses inside Palestine declared a general strike, confronting the Israeli authorities for the first time since the occupation of Palestine in 1948. The Israeli response was militant and violent, as the Israeli troops, backed up by tanks, entered Palestinian villages and reoccupied them, causing a number of martyrs and many wounded and detainees among the civilians.

A call from Palestinians in Palestine to join the GMJ

Join us as we intensify our struggle against forced exile and the system of Israeli apartheid on Land Day 2012. We Palestinians have been ethnically cleansed and uprooted from our lands starting in the 1948 Nakba (Catastrophe) which resulted in the creation of the millions of refugees who are now living in the Diaspora. Nineteen years later, in 1967, Israel illegally annexed East-Jerusalem and the West Bank in a move which marked the Naksa (Setback), and subjected the remaining Palestinians to a brutal military occupation.

We are now in 2012, and we are still living in exile or under the Israeli apartheid regime, the illegal construction of colonial settlements is confiscating the remaining parts of Palestine, the Separation Wall divides and separates villages and towns, and Palestinians in Jerusalem are threatened of being driven out of their homes and lands for the mere purpose of the Judaization of this sacred city.

But we will not leave. We will stand and be firm. We will not permit thousands of years of our attachment to our land and our Holy City to be broken. We therefore invite and call upon all persons of courage and good will around the world to stand up and walk, with your fellow human beings, regardless of religion, of political affiliation ñ to stand up as responsible human beings and walk peacefully towards Jerusalem on the 30th of March, 2012.

We therefore ask all our brothers and sisters throughout the world to join Palestinians on Land Day, 30 March, 2012 in challenging the barriers, borders and procedures that separate Palestinians from Jerusalem and from their homes and lands in all of historic Palestine.

Al-Rowwad Cultural and Theatre Training Centre: www.alrowwad-acts.ps  

Al-Walaja Popular Resistance Committee

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights: www.badil.org  

Beit Ummar Popular Resistance Committee

Bil’in Popular Resistance Committee: www.bilin-village.org  

Friends of Freedom and Justice: Bil’in www.bilin-ffj.org  

Handala Center: www.handalla-center.org  

Holy Land Trust: www.holylandtrust.org  

International Solidarity Movement: www.palsolidarity.org  

Nebi Saleh Popular Resistance Committee

Ni’lin Popular Resistance Committee

Palestine Justice Network: www.palestinejn.org  

Palestine National Initiative: www.almubadara.org  

Palestine Solidarity Project: www.palestinesolidarityproject.org  

Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People: www.pcr.ps  

Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign: www.stopthewall.org  

Popular Struggle Coordinating Committee: www.popularstruggle.org  

Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies: www.sirajcenter.org  

The Alternative Information Center – AIC: www.alternativenews.org  

The International Solidarity Initiative: www.internationalsolidarity.org  

The Palestinian Cultural Englightenment Centre (Tanweer)

Youth Against Settlements (Hebron)

Youth Activity Center – Aida Camp: www.key1948.org  

How will the march towards Jerusalem take place?

1. Massive marches will be organised from Asia, Africa and Europe to and in neighbouring countries to Palestine (Jordan, Eygpt, Syria and Lebanon) and towards Jerusalem or to the nearest point possible according to the circumstances of each country and through coordination between all groups and institutions of civil society taking part in the march, in coordination with the official and national bodies concerned. These marches will be composed mainly of the people of each country and thousands of international solidarity participants traveling to these countries specifically to join the marches.

Massive marches will be organized in Palestine (the 1948 seizures, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) towards Jerusalem or to the nearest point to it. Palestinian people from all factions and institutions will participate alongside international solidarity activists who are able to enter Palestine.

Mass protests will be organised in front of Israeli embassies in the capitals of different countries.

Mass demonstrations and protests will be organised in the main public squares in the big cities of the world, including the Arab and Muslim capitals and large cities, which can be initiated from the main mosques and churches in each city, where appropriate.

Transcontinental rallies will be organised, from Europe, Africa and Asia, according to the conditions and possibilities of each region.

Destruction of the Holy City of Jerusalem

The Global March to Jerusalem is focusing on the particular issue of Jerusalem because the holy city embodies the terrible violence of an enduring occupation. Furthermore, the security of Jerusalem as a city for all of humanity is especially urgent today. Over the last several years Zionist efforts to “Judaise” the city have quickened pace in an attempt to erase Jerusalem’s physical, cultural and spiritual characteristics. This process of Judaisation includes the unrestricted expansion and funding of illegal Israeli settlements, the continued dispossession and demolition of Palestinian property, and the construction of a Separation Wall surrounding the city, all of which have changed the demographics of the holy city from a Palestinian to Jewish majority.

These apartheid policies target and exclude not only Muslims, but also Christians. Over the last twenty years government backed fundamentalist Jewish groups have taken Palestinian homes in both the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City. Recently Jewish Settlers attacked a Jerusalem monastery that was built on the site where tradition says the tree used in the making of Jesus’s cross once stood. The monastery was defaced with “death to Christians” graffiti in Hebrew. On the same day “death to Arabs” was also painted on the wall of a playground of a Jewish-Arab bilingual school in Jerusalem.

According to 2011 report by Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, “the continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with forcible eviction of long residing Palestinians are creating an intolerable situation that can only be described, in its cumulative impact, as a form of ethnic cleansing.” However the United Nations and other international bodies have done little to prevent this Zionist aggression. In response, Palestinians are calling upon the global community to secure the status of Jerusalem as a Holy City for all humans.

The document of principles “The Freedom Call”

The participants in the Global March to Jerusalem assert the following:

• We assert the importance of Jerusalem politically, culturally and religiously to the Palestinian people and humanity as a whole. We call for the protection of the Holy Places and all archaeological sites and consider all the efforts done to change its Arabic & cultural identity as a crime against humanity.

We call on all international institutions to do their duties towards the city.

• The defence of Jerusalem and its liberation are a duty of all free people around the world and we call on all institutions, organizations, and individuals to participate in this duty.

• We condemn the Zionist campaign of ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine including all ongoing policies intended to change the demographic and geographic situation in the city and aimed at its Judaisation. We also condemn the continuation of the Zionist occupation forces in building the apartheid wall that aims to expropriate more Palestinian lands and convert the occupied areas into shrinking cantons isolated from each other.

• We support the right of the Palestinian People for self determination and to liberate their lands and to live on them in freedom and dignity like all other people on earth.

We support the non-negotiable & inalienable rights of the Palestinian People including their families to return to their homes and lands from which they were uprooted.

We reject all racist laws that distinguish between people based on ethnicity or religion and call for their cancellation and criminalization.

The Global March to Jerusalem does not represent any one faction or political party but we call for participation of all social forces, political factions, and ideologies.

The Global March to Jerusalem is a global peaceful movement which does not use violence to achieve its goals.

For more information visit the official  GMJ  web site: www.gm2j.com

Who is Barack Obama?  Where was he born, in the United States, or in Kenya? Where is the hard copy of his birth certificate? Did he hold an Indonesian passport? Does he qualify as a Natural Born Citizen? Does he qualify to hold the office of President of the United States?

Since 2007,  these questions have remained largely unanswered, not least because the White House’s legal team has gone to great lengths  and costs to seal all documents related to the President’s identity. The result of this – is a nation gradually tearing apart at the seams.

Arizona is currently leading a multi-state, head-on charge towards this issue with a bill requiring the president to prove he qualifies for office.  Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff’s  Office has mounted the only official law enforcement effort to date that has dared  to investigate the President’s presented credentials –asking the burning question: has there been forgery or fraud committed by, or on behalf of the President?

In a famous passage from Aesop’s Fables, it tells a story of a slave named Androcles who was wandering through the forest when he came upon a Lion lying down moaning and in pain. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and went up to him. As he came near, the Lion put out his paw, which was swollen and bleeding. Androcles found a huge thorn, causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog.

From a consensus reality perspective, the prevailing mainstream media interpretation of this fable might portray President Obama and his Federal government in the role of the Lion, and the Arizona state legislature along with Sheriff Joe Arpaio – as the thorn in the White House’s paw. The part of Androcles would be played by the mainstream media itself, dutifully rescuing the lion from an annoying state effort to inflict pain on the White House.

From a Constitutional perspective however, the roles represented would look more like this: the Lion represents the 50 States of the Union, and the thorn in its paw is Obama’s inability to clear his name in the face of a damning investigation into his eligibility to hold the office of US President. This thorn is buried deep into the fabric of the Union and it also includes the ruling establishment’s own clandestine effort to conceal the truth.

And, what of the slave Androcles? Androcles should be played by the press, the fabled Fourth Estate or ‘watchdog’, supposedly meant to be a dutiful servant of the people of the United States. Sadly, here in 2012, those romantic tales of the mainstream corporate press fighting corruption and bringing criminal activity in government to book are all but ancient history.

So far, media coverage of Arizona’s “Candidate Certification Bill” HB2480 has been dismissive, ignoring the contents of the Bill.  The Establishment’s lapdog corporate media have only seen fit to delve into its own pre-laid surface covering the issue, with its own adolescent level analysis dismissing Arizona’s efforts as a mere “Birther Bill”, and attacking Arizona ad hominem as “the Birther state”.

For an event as unprecedented as this, the ensuing intentional media blackout which has descended on Obama’s missing birth certificate story is disturbing – but not surprising. Media coverage of law enforcement efforts to this point has been reduced to personally attacking Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his Cold Case Posse – rather than asking critical questions about the actual evidence they have discovered.

So who is left to play Androcles? In this story, it’s rightly being played by elected representatives in Arizona who drafted state Bill HB2480 and Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case Posse of volunteer investigators. They are neither heroic, nor extraordinary. They are merely doing the job which has been laid out by the Constitution of the state and country respectively, that is, rightly serving the interests of their constituents – the people of the United States. And so it should be. The Founders of this nation designed their country whereby the government should be servants of the electorate – and not the other way around.

George Washington once described  the ideal relationship between the government and the electorate stating:

“Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”

More than anything, the controversy surrounding the President’s lack of authentic identification is an opportunity to test the system and voracity of the laws which are meant to govern how we work and interact in a free Constitutional Republic. Unfortunately, this is not how the story is being framed in the mainstream media.   

Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s Cold Case investigation into the forgery and fraud evidence surrounding President  Obama’s PDF birth certificate, Selective Service registration card and the missing INS microfilms – is ongoing and will likely unearth many more discoveries that will further cast a shadow on his Presidency.

The fate of Arizona’s Obama eligibility bill is less certain. If the law is killed in committee or later vetoed by Arizona’s governor, it will only go to prove that persons in positions of power do not have to observe even the basic vetting or requirements of proving their identity – as the average American citizen has to on a daily basis.

Although many would prefer not to face up to it, the whole issue of Obama’s records has become a thorn in the paw of the Union. If employees of the Federal government are not held to the same standards as their state counterparts, or even individuals – then we are staring at nothing less than a modern tyranny.

If we are to learn anything from all this, we should stop to consider who ‘s the Lion in own contemporary political story.

The US House of Representatives has adopted a budget resolution that calls for privatization of Medicare and the elimination of Medicaid, food stamps and many other federal entitlement benefits. The resolution is part of a bipartisan campaign to slash spending on social programs.

All but ten of the Republican majority in the House backed the resolution—and those ten wanted even bigger cuts. All Democrats voted against the resolution, while offering their own proposals that called for somewhat less drastic cuts in spending and token tax increases on the wealthy.

Not a single resolution was offered that called for increasing spending to meet social needs as the American economy staggers through a fifth year of economic slump and mass unemployment.

The budget was drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who last year offered the first-ever proposal for the complete abolition of Medicare. It passed the House but not the Senate.

This year’s resolution was even more sweeping and reactionary. It calls for $5.3 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade. Part of the savings would be used to reduce the federal deficit, but the bulk of them would go to reward the wealthy with new tax breaks, including abolition of the estate tax and the Alternative Minimum Tax, making the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, and lowering the top income tax rate from the present 35 percent to 25 percent.

The major spending cuts in the budget resolution are focused on programs for the poor and the lower-paid sections of the working class. According to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 62 percent of the $5.3 trillion in spending cuts come from “programs that serve people of limited means.” If implemented, the cuts would drastically increase income inequality and poverty.

The CBPP analysis found the budget provides for $800 billion in cuts for Medicaid, $1.6 trillion from repealing the expansion of Medicaid and subsidies for low- and moderate-income people, $134 billion in cuts from food stamps, and $463 billion from other programs for low-income individuals and families, including an estimated $166 billion from Pell Grants for low-income college students.

According to other accounts, the budget would cut 200,000 children from Head Start, deny food stamps or WIC food commodities to 1.8 million infants, children and pregnant or nursing women, cut transportation financing by up to $50 billion, and cut unspecified billions from federal employee pensions.

The resolution proposes to turn back the clock on federal programs by more than half a century, capping federal spending at 19 percent of gross domestic product, about the level that prevailed in the 1950s, before the establishment of Medicare and other social welfare programs adopted under the Johnson administration.

In order to accomplish this goal, the Ryan plan would raise the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67, and end Medicare as a federal entitlement for all those now younger than 55. Anyone who turns 65 after 2023 would be relegated to buying private health insurance with a government grant that would be capped, shifting costs to the individual.

Unlike last year, however, Ryan modified his Medicare plan slightly to obtain a Democratic co-sponsor, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon. The Ryan-Wyden plan would give those under 55 the option to stay with traditional Medicare, but only under financing options that would make the federal program unviable.

As Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein noted, the Ryan plan establishes the identical mechanism for the elderly to purchase private insurance—state-run insurance exchanges—that the Obama administration has made the center of its healthcare reform program. Obama proposed this method to cut the cost of healthcare for the government and corporate employers. Ryan proposes the same means to cut the cost of providing healthcare for the elderly.

The other significant feature of the Ryan budget resolution is that it reneges on the agreement reached last August between the Obama administration and congressional Republicans, setting spending levels for the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. The White House embraced significant cuts in discretionary spending in return for an increase in the federal debt ceiling. This raises the prospect of a new legislative deadlock over the adoption of appropriations bills for fiscal year 2013, and a partial shutdown of the federal government October 1, on the eve of the presidential and congressional elections.

The Obama White House mildly criticized the Ryan budget plan in language that all but begged for an agreement. Senior Obama adviser David Plouffe, appearing on multiple television talk shows last Sunday, reiterated the claim that the Republican resolution “fails the test of balance and fairness and shared responsibility.”

Adding just a touch of populist demagogy, Plouffe continued, “It showers huge additional tax cuts on the wealthy that are paid for by veterans and seniors and the middle class.”

None of the competing budget resolutions debated and voted on by the House Wednesday and Thursday, however, provided any serious alternative.

A proposal based on the Obama administration’s own budget numbers, offered by Republican Congressman Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina in order to ridicule it, was voted down by 414 to zero, without a single Democratic vote.

Three measures offered by various factions of the Democratic Party were all voted down—the Black Caucus budget was defeated 107-314, the Progressive Caucus budget 78-346, and a Democratic leadership budget 163-262.

Significantly, all of these budget resolutions adhered to the spending levels set last August in the bipartisan White House deal. In other words, the Democrats, even in their most liberal guise, accepted the budget cuts endorsed by Obama last year.

The House also defeated, by a vote of 136-285, an alternative to the Ryan budget resolution with even greater cuts, proposed by the Republican Study Group, a caucus of ultra-right and Tea Party members.

One other budget resolution was voted on, and despite its lopsided defeat, the measure was politically significant. A bipartisan group of right-wing Democrats and moderate Republicans proposed a budget plan based on the report of the Simpson-Bowles commission, which Obama appointed to devise a deficit-reduction program.

The resolution was overwhelmingly defeated, by 38 to 382, because few Republicans would vote for a resolution calling for tax increases on the wealthy, and few Democrats wanted to publicly support sizeable cuts in Medicare and Social Security in a bill that was certain to be defeated.

Nonetheless, the bipartisan measure indicated where a deal is to be had once the charade of the November elections is completed. Whatever the configuration of the two parties, in terms of control of the White House, Senate or House of Representatives, there will be a bipartisan deal to slash spending on the poor and working class, while preserving, with only token changes, the enormous tax boondoggles for the wealthy.

This will be presented to the American people, either by President Obama or his Republican successor, as a measure providing “equal sacrifice” or “shared responsibility” for the fiscal crisis of the federal government.

California Slammed With Fukushima Radiation

March 30th, 2012 by Washington's Blog

Fukushima Radiation Plume Hit Southern and Central California

The Journal Environmental Science and Technology reports in a new study that the Fukushima radiation plume contacted North America at California “with greatest exposure in central and southern California”, and that Southern California had 2,500 Bq/kg of iodine-131 in seaweed … over 500% higher than other tests in the U.S. and Canada:

Projected paths of the radioactive atmospheric plume emanating from the Fukushima reactors, best described as airborne particles or aerosols for 131I, 137Cs, and 35S, and subsequent atmospheric monitoring showed it coming in contact with the North American continent at California, with greatest exposure in central and southern California. Government monitoring sites in Anaheim (southern California) recorded peak airborne concentrations of 131I at 1.9 pCi m−3

Anaheim is where Disneyland is located.

EneNews summarizes the data:

Corona Del Mar (Highest in Southern California)

  • 2.5 Bq/gdwt (gram dry weight)= 2,500 Bq/kg of dry seaweed

Santa Cruz (Highest in Central California)

  • 2.0 Bq/gdwt = 2,000 Bq/kg of dry seaweed

Simon Fraser University in Canada also tested North American seaweed after Fukushima:

  • “In samples of dehydrated seaweed taken on March 15 near the North Vancouver SeaBus terminal, the count was zero; on March 22 it was 310 Bq per kilogram; and by March 28 it was 380 Bq/kg.” -Vancouver Sun

  • Seaweed in Seattle also tested positive for iodine-131; levels were not reported -KIRO

  • No results after March 28 were reported

In addition, radioactive debris is starting to wash up on the Pacific Coast. And because the Japanese are burning radioactive materials instead of disposing of them, radioactive rain-outs will continue for some time … even on the Pacific Coast.

Of course, the government is doing everything it can to help citizens cover up what’s occurring. We pointed out in January:

Instead of doing much to try to protect their citizens from Fukushima, Japan, the U.S. and the EU all just raised the radiation levels they deem “safe”.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that high-level friends in the State Department told him that Hillary Clinton signed a pact with her counterpart in Japan agreeing that the U.S. will continue buying seafood from Japan, despite that food not being tested for radioactive materials [see this].

And the Department of Energy is trying to replace the scientifically accepted model of the dangers of low dose radiation based on voodoo science. Specifically, DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley Labs used a mutant line of human cells in a petri dish which was able to repair damage from low doses of radiation, and extrapolated to the unsupported conclusion that everyone is immune to low doses of radiation….

Indeed:

American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation, and are not testing fish for radiation. (Indeed, the EPA reacted to Fukushima by raising “acceptable” radiation levels.)

So – as in Japan – radiation is usually discovered by citizens and the handful of research scientists with funding to check, and not the government. See this, this, this, this, this and this.

The Japanese government’s entire strategy from day one has been to cover up the severity of the Fukushima accident. This has likely led to unnecessary, additional deaths.

Indeed, the core problem is that all of the world’s nuclear agencies are wholly captured by the nuclear industry … as are virtually all of the supposedly independent health agencies.

So the failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening.

And it’s not just radiation from Japan.  An effort by the Southern California Edison power company to secretly ramp up production to avoid public disclosure may have led to a leak at the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

And see these articles on California radiation exposure courtesy of EneNews:

SOLIDARITY VIGIL WITH THE GLOBAL MARCH TO JERUSALEM

March 30th, 2012 by Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU)

A Global March to Jerusalem, an international event organized in solidarity with the Palestinian people and for the protection of Jerusalem, will reach Jerusalem on March 30th, 2012. March 30th marks Land Day in Palestine.

Palestine Land Day – a day celebrated by Palestinians on March 30th each year. The event marks the events of March, 1976, after the Israeli authorities confiscated thousands of dunums of private and public land in majority Palestinian areas, especially in the Galilee. Following these events the Arab masses inside Palestine declared a general strike, confronting the Israeli authorities for the first time since the occupation of Palestine in 1948. The Israeli response was extremely violent, as the Israeli troops, backed by tanks, entered Palestinian villages and reoccupied them, causing a number of martyrs and many wounded and detainees among the civilians.

By organising the March to Jerusalem and its preceding and parallel activities the organizers of the March aim to highlight the cause of Jerusalem (the City of Peace) which is considered the key to peace in the region and the world. The March will unite the efforts of Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and all citizens of conscience in the world to put an end to Israel’s disregard for international law by way of its policies of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaization both in Jerusalem and in the rest of the occupied Palestinian lands. It is the belief of those who have organized the Global March to Jerusalem that the massive participation in the March by the various peoples of the world is an efficient and non-violent means to put an end to the occupation of Palestine including Jerusalem.

In support of the Global March to Jerusalem, Palestinian and Jewish Unity will hold its weekly Friday vigil on March 30th, 2012 in front of the Israeli Consulate at Westmount Square on Greene Avenue starting at twelve noon. We invite all groups and individuals who wish to express their solidarity with the Palestinian and international quest for justice to join us on Friday, March 30th.

SYDNEY – Australia said Wednesday it may allow the United States to use its territory to operate long-range spy drones, as part of an increased US presence in the Asia-Pacific that has rankled China.

Washington and Canberra could also reportedly station US aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered attack submarines in the western Australian city of Perth, as part of a major expansion of military ties.

Under the expansion, the first US Marines out of a 2,500-strong deployment to Darwin in northern Australia — unveiled last November by President Barack Obama — are to arrive next month.

The Marines plan has irked Beijing, but reassured some Asian countries who see it as a statement that Washington intends to stand up for its allies and interests in the region amid concerns about China’s increasing assertiveness.

Australian media carried reports Wednesday citing a Washington Post story that the United States was considering using the Cocos Islands, atolls in the Indian Ocean off northwest Australia, to launch unmanned surveillance aircraft.

The reports said the Cocos, which has a population of around 600 people, would replace the present US Indian Ocean base of Diego Garcia, which America leases from Britain and which is due to be mothballed in 2016.

The Washington Post also said that Australia’s government was considering upgrading Perth’s Stirling naval base “for deployments and operations in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean by the US Navy”.

The upgrade would reportedly help Stirling service large surface warships including US aircraft carriers, and attack submarines.

Australian Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the key priorities in closer US cooperation were the rotation of Marines through Darwin, greater air access and more use of the HMAS Stirling base in Perth.

Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, was in Australia last week to discuss the first deployment of 250 Marines next month and other defence issues, he noted.

Smith said the use of the Cocos Islands was a longer-term option for closer Australia-US engagement, and its airstrip would need to be upgraded before it could be used.

“Cocos is a possibility… it’s a long-term prospect and should be treated as such,” Smith told ABC radio.

“It’s not currently ideal because one of the first things that we would have to do… is a substantial infrastructure upgrade, particularly so far as the airfield is concerned.

“That’s one of the reasons why this is very much a long-term prospect.”

Australia’s neighbours had nothing to fear, the defence minister added. “We have been transparent about these matters.”

Asked about Smith’s comments, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei did not directly address the possibility of US drones using Australian territory.

But he told reporters in Beijing that all countries in the Asia-Pacific region should “uphold the new security concept of equality, common development, coordination and mutual benefit, and try to uphold safety for all”.

The Cocos are seen as an ideal location to base unmanned patrol planes to keep watch on the world’s busiest shipping routes and the South China Sea, where territorial claims are seen as potentially dangerous flashpoints.

China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia all claim territory in the area.

Hugh White, a defence analyst at the Australian National University, said Australia was being viewed as a “strategic asset” by the United States as it monitors China’s rise.

“I think what we are seeing here is fundamentally a very significant shift in US strategy,” he said.

The United States currently has only a limited deployment in longstanding ally Australia, including the remote Pine Gap satellite spy station near Alice Springs

“GOING KINETIC” IN DRONE WARFARE

March 30th, 2012 by Drone Wars UK

Predator drone crew at Creech AFB

The concern that drones make armed attacks and military intervention more likely is often rejected by the military and the drone industry, who argue that the drone pilots are able to stand above the ‘fog and friction’ of the battlefield and to make dispassionate  and rational decisions about whether or not to use ‘kinetic force’.

This argument, however, has been torn to shreds by the release of a mass of papers detailing the US military investigation into a massacre of Afghan civilian on 21st February 2010.  The ‘incident’ as the papers describe the attack, took place on three vehicles near the village of Shahidi Hassas, Uruzgan district, Afghanistan.  According to the US investigation 15 or 16 men were killed (they couldn’t tell because the bodies were so badly damaged)  and 12 people were wounded, including a woman and three children.  Elders from the Afghans’ home village, however said  that 23 had been killed, including two boys, Daoud, 3, and Murtaza, 4.

While the investigation finds that several factors contributed overall to the tragedy, it makes it very clear that the attitude and actions of the Predator drone crew  were a significant cause of the civilian deaths:

“The Predator crew demonstrated a propensity/bias for kinetic operations and failed to accurately pass Distributed Common Ground Systems (DCGS) Screeners [the analysts watching the live video feed from the drone] assessments to the [commander in the field] that could have prevented the strike.  The Predator crew’s bias towards kinetic operations skewed their reports.  The Predator crew emphasized information suggesting the vehicles were hostile, while downplaying or ignoring information to the contrary.”  (Centcom FOIA 10-0218 Uruzgan , p.61)

Elsewhere in the papers, the investigator lays out in detail, using the audio logs of conversations from the drone pilots, how they  “skewed” their reports towards an attack:

1:  While the  Screeners [analysts watching video feed} assessed the vehicles appeared to be attempting to egress the area, the Predator assessed the vehicles to be attempting to flank the ODA [soldiers in the area 5 miles away]

2:  While the Screener identified children [in the vehicles] the Sensor Operator and the Pilot responded with “Bullshit”

3:  The Predator pilot and crew constantly challenged the Screeners assessment whenever there was an indication that it may not have been a hostile target.    “at least one child… Really?  Assisting MAM [Military term meaning Military Aged Males] means he’s guilty….   Review that (expletive deleted).  Why didn’t he ‘possible child’?  Why are they so quick to call (expletive deleted) kids but not call (expletive deleted) a rifle”

4:  The Predator pilot made the assessment that a scuffle with the target location was due to suing some passengers as a “human shield”.  There was no basis or experience for this assessment.

5:  After the initial strike, they identified the women on the objective as men in women’s clothes with earrings and jewellery.  They refused to accept the fact there were women on the object.

6.  There are any more examples through the internal [communications] transcript.  What is most concerning is when you cross walk the transcript between the Screeners in Florida to the Predator pilot in Creech AFB Nevada, then crosswalk the actual transmission, between the predator pilot and the [commander of the US soldiers on the ground 5 miles away}  it becomes clear that the predator Pilot and selected members of the crew independently skewed the ground picture.

Finally, target hand off between the predator crew and the OH-58D [the helicopter crew which launched the attack as they had more weapons than the Predator drone which was to attack "squirters" running from the vehicles] was lacking key information – there was no mention of adolescents by the Predator crew… The OH 58D pilots testified if they would have known f adolescents in the convoy they would not have engaged until cleared from their higher.”  (Centcom FOIA 10-0218 Uruzgan , p.52/53)

Elsewhere the investigating officer makes clear that, except for the sergeant commanding the small force of soldiers on the ground some 5 miles away, “no one involved considered the males as civilians at any time” (Centcom FOIA 10-0218 Uruzgan , p.49) and later “even after the strike, adult males were reported as enemy killed in action despite the fact that no weapons or explosives were found.” (Centcom FOIA 10-0218 Uruzgan , p.38)

While it is not possible to say for certain, one wonders what would have happened if the Sergent commanding the small group of soldiers – who immediately reported possible civilian casualties – had not done so?  How many other such ‘incidents’ have gone unreported and uninvestigated, and merely put down as  insurgents killed in action?

According to the LA Times which reported the attack after seeing  a summary of the investigation papers last year, the Predator crew were disciplined but the Air Force refused to reveal their specific punishment.  The Pentagon however confirmed that no one faced a court-martial in relation to the attack.

This ‘propensity to kinetic action’ cannot be applied just to one lone Predator crew however.  (It should be noted that a USAF Captain observing at Creech told the investigators that “there was a ‘Top Gun’ mentality amongst the Predator Crews.”)   Rather it must be applied much wider as drones have enabled the US military to ’go kinetic’ further and further afield, and more and more often.

Yesterday, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) reported that US drone attacks in Yemen have risen sharply over the past two years to the point where it is now at the same level of strikes as in Pakistan.  TBIJ has painstakingly detailed a huge amount of covert US military involvement in Yemen over the past decade and amongst that, reports 20 confirmed, and a further 14 unconfirmed, strikes in Yemen over the past two years alone.

See this short AL Jazzera piece on the TBIJ report:

Drones have specifically enabled the US military to “go kinetic” in six separate counties over the past 12 months.   Is this not evidence that drones are in fact lowering the threshold when it comes to launching attacks?

WWIII Scenario


GLOBAL RESEARCH’S NEW ONLINE STORE: Request for Readers’ Feedback
- 2012-04-15


MONTREAL CONFERENCE: Richard Gage on 9/11 Truth
Part of the Canadian Public Investigation of 9/11 ( April 7, 2012)
- 2012-04-07


Canadian Public Investigation of 9/11: Richard Gage AE911Truth Tour Canada, 24 March-April 7
- 2012-04-07


The Global March to Jerusalem, March 30, 2012
- 2012-03-30


Double Speak from Benjamin Netanyahu
- by Philip Giraldi – 2012-03-29


“NUCLEAR TERRORISM”: Obama’s Nuclear Disarmament Hoax
- by Peter Symonds – 2012-03-29

EDUCATION AND THE DEBT CRISIS: Austerity in the Mind Factory
- by Alan Sears – 2012-03-29


From Bosnia to Syria: Is History Repeating Itself?
- by Benjamin Schett – 2012-03-28


Federal Reserve Boss Ben Bernanke Promises Record High Gas Prices Through Summer
- by Kurt Nimmo – 2012-03-28


For nuclear security beyond Seoul, eradicate land-based ‘doomsday’ missiles
- by David Krieger, Daniel Ellsberg – 2012-03-28

DRONE WARFARE: US Military Releases Information on Drone Slaughter of Afghan “Non-combatants”
- 2012-03-28

NEW COLD WAR? Russia “Concerned” Over Washington’s Plans To Ship Arms To Georgia
- 2012-03-28


VIDEO: Cocaine Unwrapped: An In-Depth Look at the “War on Drugs” Today
See the trailer for this groundbreaking documentary on GRTV
- 2012-03-28

HEALTH CARE COMPARISONS: BRAVO AMERICA FOR YOUR “UNIVERSAL” HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
- by Juan Cole – 2012-03-28


VIDEO: Nuclear Testing and America’s Continued Nuclear Arms Race
Find out what’s really being tested at the Lawrence Livermore Lab on GRTV
- by Abby Martin, Robbie Martin – 2012-03-28


THE “AFFORDABLE CARE ACT”: The Supreme Court Debates the Health Insurance Mandate
- by Kevin Zeese – 2012-03-28

U.S. Documents Describe Hiding of Military Assets by “Rogue Nations” & Other States as Major Security Challenge for 21st Cent.
- by National Security Archive – 2012-03-28

Record Opposition in US to Afghanistan War as Killings Mount
- by Bill Van Auken – 2012-03-28


Amidst the Deepest Slump since the Great Depression, Obama is Touting an “Economic Recovery”
- by Barry Grey – 2012-03-28


Shocking Report Reveals Terrorists’ Crimes in Syria
- 2012-03-28


The Fed’s “Operation Twist”. Europe and America. Grim Economic Prospects
- by Bob Chapman – 2012-03-28


SYRIA PEACE PLAN: West Moves To Kill Off “Important First Step” To End Violence
Clinton Pushes So-called Opposition’s Demand For ‘Regime Change Or Nothing’
- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-03-28

No sooner had Kofi Annan, the special UN envoy to Syria, announced scoring “an important first step” towards a peace plan, the US and Western powers were scrambling to scupper the goalposts. Clinton Pushes So-called Opposition’s Demand For ‘Regime Change Or Nothing’


VIDEO: Sheep Without a Shepherd: Serbs and Roma in Kosovo Since NATO Intervention
Watch the documentary to learn more on GRTV
- 2012-03-27


FABRICATING A “SMOKING GUN” TO ATTACK IRAN? Israeli Spies Disguised as Iranian Soldiers on Mission Inside Iran
- by Julie Lévesque – 2012-03-27


THE PENTAGON’S SECRET NUCLEAR AGENDA: “Privatizing Nuclear War”
Review of Michel Chossudovsky’s Book
- by Sherwood Ross – 2012-03-27


Greek Government Robbed Public Institutions to Complete the Bond Swap
- by John Ward – 2012-03-27


Syrian Victims: When Truth Is the First Casualty of War
- by Ross Ruthenberg – 2012-03-27


WESTERN PSY-OPS AGAINST SYRIA: When Mrs Assad’s “Shopping” Becomes a “Crime Against Humanity”
- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-03-27


VIDEO: Tokyo Soil Samples Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste in the US
Get all the information on GRTV
- by Arnie Gundersen – 2012-03-27


Empires Then and Now
- by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts – 2012-03-27

Trayvon Martin. A Modern American Lynching
Never Forget… and Never Forgive
- by Li Onesto – 2012-03-27


EXPORTING “AMERICAN VALUES”: Washington’s “Human Rights” Fraud
- by Bill Van Auken – 2012-03-27


Obama uses nuclear summit to issue new threats against North Korea and Iran
- by Peter Symonds – 2012-03-27


THE US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN: The Final Four Or More?
- by Danny Schechter – 2012-03-27


THE NORTH AMERICAN SECURITY PERIMETER: The North American Leaders Summit and Reviving Trilateral Integration
- by Dana Gabriel – 2012-03-27


The Massacre of the Afghan 17 and the Obama Cover-Up
- by Prof. James Petras – 2012-03-26


VIDEO: Responsibility to Protect (R2P): Imperial Conquest by Another Name
Find out more in this week’s GRTV Feature Interview
- by Pepe Escobar, James Corbett – 2012-03-26


Depleted Uranium Contamination: A Crime against Humanity
- by Dr. Arun Shrivastava – 2012-03-26


9/11 Blueprint for Truth, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Canadian Tour 2012
Richard Gage, March 24 – April 7
- 2012-03-26


FUTURE OF THE EUROZONE: The Consequences of the EU Bank Rescue. A Safety Net for the Creditor Banks
- by Hugo Radice – 2012-03-26


Human Rights Violations: America versus China
- by Eric Sommer – 2012-03-26


MEDICARE IN AMERICA: Real Health Care Requires the Repeal of the Insurance Mandate
- by Kevin Zeese – 2012-03-26


Cover-up in Kandahar of “the Actions of a Group of US Soldiers”
- by Joe Giambrone – 2012-03-25


WAS MERAH THE KILLER? Doubts Regarding the Conduct of French Intelligence and Police
Questions emerge over police handling of Toulouse, France killings
- by Alex Lantier – 2012-03-25


NEW YORK STATE: Are Police Building a Massive DNA Database?
- by Scott Lemieux – 2012-03-25


Thirteen Years Later: NATO Conducts “Mopping Up Operations” In the Balkans
Does Serbia Remember the NATO Bombings?
- by Dr. Yelena Guskova – 2012-03-25


MUNICIPAL DEMOCRATIZATION: A Corporate Versus a People’s City Budget
- by Shamus Cooke – 2012-03-25

Syria Denounces Foreign Support for Terrorism
- 2012-03-25


Major Arms Exporters and the Global Arms Complex
- by Amitabh Pal – 2012-03-25

On the Murder of Trayvon Martin
- 2012-03-25


SEPTEMBER 11, 2001: Failures of the US Secret Service on the Morning of 9/11: A Call for Transparency
- by Kevin Ryan – 2012-03-25


NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS: The Very Real Possibility of A Global Nuclear Catastrophe
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-03-25


YUGOSLAVIA, 78 DAYS 1999 NATO AIR RAIDS : Thirteenth Anniversary Of NATO As Global War Machine
- 2012-03-25


Manipulation of the “Paper Gold” Market
The Value of “Worthless” Paper Gold versus Physical Gold
- by Bob Chapman – 2012-03-25


THE “SYRIAN SCENARIO”: What Is Really Going On In Syria: An Insider Report
- by Dr. Boris Dolgov – 2012-03-25

United National Antiwar Coalition National Conference. March 23-25, 2012
- 2012-03-25


MALI. US BEHIND MILITARY COUP: Mali coup led by US-trained captain
- 2012-03-24


IN HIGH GEAR: Advanced Preparations of U.S.-Israel War Against Iran
- by Ben Schreiner – 2012-03-24


Big Banks Continue to “Suck at the Government” With Never-Ending Stealth Bailouts
- by Washington’s Blog – 2012-03-24


The Shifting Strategies of Empire
Remarks at the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) Conference
- by David Swanson – 2012-03-24

Conference: Kosovo and Metohija 13 Years After NATO Aggression
Belgrade, March 24, 2012
- 2012-03-24


Human Rights and Foreign Intervention in The Sudan
- by J. B. Gerald – 2012-03-24


AL QAEDA AND HUMAN CONSCIOUSNESS: Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda…. An Incessant and Repetitive Public Discourse
Part I
- by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-03-24

How does the daily bombardment of Al Qaeda concepts and images, funnelled into the Western news chain affect the human mindset? What is at stake is human consciousness and comprehension based on concepts and facts.


One Year after Fukushima: Is Nuclear Power Phase-out a Feasible Alternative?
- by Dr. Ernst Pauli – 2012-03-23


Saudi Arabia: House of Saud, Falling House of Cards
- by Finian Cunningham – 2012-03-23


Australian Mining Magnate Accuses CIA of Funding Environment Groups
- by Patrick O’Connor – 2012-03-23


French police in armed standoff with alleged Toulouse gunman
- by Alex Lantier – 2012-03-23


US WAR ON IRAN: “THE WORST MISTAKE IN AMERICAN HISTORY”:
The Road to Disaster
- by Fidel Castro Ruz – 2012-03-23

“If we do not learn how to understand, we shall never learn how to survive. Were this war to be carried out, our species would be inexorably led towards disaster…”


THE MILITARIZATION OF THE FAR-EAST: US Threatens China’s Major Cities: America’s Strategic Naval Base in Korea
The Jeju Naval Base
- by Prof. Kiyul Chung – 2012-03-23


The “Exceptional Character” of America’s Armed Forces
- by Jack A. Smith – 2012-03-23


USAFRICOM and the Militarization of the African Continent: Combating China’s Economic Encroachment
- by Nile Bowie – 2012-03-23


VIDEO: US/NATO Proxy War in Syria Follows Precedent Set in Bosnia
Find out more on GRTV
- by Benjamin Schett – 2012-03-22


Capitalism: A Ghost Story
- by Arundhati Roy – 2012-03-22

There’s a lot of money in poverty… As the IMF enforced Structural Adjustment, and arm-twisted governments into cutting back on public spending on health, education, the NGOs moved in. The Privatisation of Everything has also meant the NGO-isation of Everything.


AT THE CROSSROADS: America 2012: What Would George Washington Do?
- by Patrick Henningsen – 2012-03-22


VIDEO: CENSORED: Fallujah: A Lost Generation?
Watch this important and widely censored documentary on GRTV
- by Chris Busby – 2012-03-22

“How you define your role, and where and how you decide to pursue it, is of vital interest to the United Nations, given the long tradition of cooperation and coordination between NATO and the UN in matters of war and peace.” (Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, Address at NATO headquarters in Brussels on UN-NATO collaboration in the context of the 50th anniversary of NATO, January 1999)  
  

In late February, 13 French military officers were arrested in Homs at the height of the armed insurrection, pointing to the presence of foreign troops on Syrian soil  in derogation of international law. The Daily Star (March 5, 2012) report suggested that the arrested officers could have been part of “a larger contingent” of  French Parachutistes (special forces) operating within the ranks of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“It was not clear why the officers were in Syria, when they had arrived or whether they were part of a larger contingent [100 Parachutistes according to an unconfirmed report] in the city [Homs].

Strategic Homs was targeted in a 26-day shelling bombardment by the Syrian Army, which overran the city where anti-Assad protests and Free Syrian Army operations have been focused. (The Daily Star  March 5, 2012)

The French government initially denied the report, insisting that “not a single French soldier is on Syrian soil.” Yet sources confirmed that negotiations between Paris and Damascus were held, in all probability regarding the repatriation of the French military officers:   

“A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “We deny the idea that there are French troops on the ground in Syria. A Defense Ministry spokesman added: “We have no information on this. We neither confirm nor deny it.”

According to various reports in the British media, the Daily Star … the supposed French captives were being held in a field hospital in Homs.”(Report: 13 French officers captured in Syria – Israel News, Ynetnews, emphasis added)

While this arrest of military officers from a NATO member country was barely mentioned by the Western media, it is by no means an isolated incident. This is not the first time that foreign forces are arrested in Syria since the outset of the insurgency.

There is evidence of large numbers of foreign troops on the ground inside Syria including British, French, Turkish and Qatari special forces, British MI6 intelligence operatives as well a large number of mercenaries from Arab countries:

“As the unrest and killings escalate in the troubled Arab state, agents from MI6 and the CIA are already in Syria assessing the situation, a security official has revealed. Special forces are also talking to Syrian dissident soldiers. They want to know about weapons and communications kit rebel forces will need if the Government decides to help.

“MI6 and the CIA are in Syria to infiltrate and get at the truth,” said the well-placed source. “We have SAS and SBS not far away who want to know what is happening and are finding out what kit dissident soldiers need.” ” (Syria will be bloodiest yet, Daily Star). (emphasis added)

The Elites Forces UK website acknowledges that:

British Special forces have met up with members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA)… The apparent goal of this initial contact was to establish the rebel forces’ strength and to pave the way for any future training operations. … More recent reports have stated that British and French Special Forces have been actively training members of the FSA, from a base in Turkey. Some reports indicate that training is also taking place in locations in Libya and Northern Lebanon. British MI6 operatives and UKSF (SAS/SBS) personnel have reportedly been training the rebels in urban warfare as well as supplying them with arms and equipment. US CIA operatives and special forces are believed to be providing communications assistance to the rebels.” Elite Forces UK, January 5, 2012 (emphasis added)

NATO Recruits Mujahideen Mercenaries

Mercenaries from Arab countries are operating within highly trained terrorist brigades, financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In this regard, Israeli intelligence sources (August 2011) point to the direct involvement of NATO in the recruitment of jihadist “Muslim Volunteers”, in coordination with the Turkish military:

“Also discussed in Brussels and Ankara, our sources report, is a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (,http://www.debka.com/article/21255/  Debkafile, August 31, 2011 emphasis added)

In Homs, the Al Qaeda Faruq Brigade which includes mercenaries from Libya and Iraq have been involved in terrorizing the civilian population. They “have succeeded in expelling most of the Christians in Homs and have seized their homes by force”. “Snipers were stationed in the street … preventing people from leaving their homes for two months, targeting passers-by and cars and anything that moved in the streets, adding that the terrorists also robbed houses, committed massacres, murders and kidnapping.”

The Kofi Annan “Peace Plan”

The arrest of the French military officers (circa 22nd of February) –which coincided with the beginning of Kofi Annan’s peacemaking mandate (February 28th)– was hushed up by the Al Assad government, largely with a view to avoiding undue controversy within the sphere of United Nations diplomacy.

Yet the decision by the Al Assad government to avoid raising the issue of Western military support to “opposition” forces has provided Washington and its allies with the upper hand. While claiming to represent the “international community”, the Atlantic Alliance is not only behind the armed insurrection, it is providing support and training to Al Qaeda affiliated terrorist brigades. 

With Western forces and military advisers inside Syria, the so-called peace plan brokered by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has all the appearances of a staged event.

Peace Plan with Whom? A  “Cease Fire” cannot be implemented without clearly identifying the identity of the parties involved. A real peace plan would require addressing the illegal presence of  foreign military personnel on Syrian soil.  

The Kofi Annan peace plan called for a cease-fire on “both sides”, while failing to acknowledge that foreign forces from NATO countries are directly involved in the conflict, on  the “side” of the “opposition”.    

Not surprisingly,  immediately upon the adoption of the UN Arab League brokered Peace Plan, the “opposition” forces including the terrorist brigades, under the guidance of their foreign military handlers, decided to ignore the peace plan: renewed attacks by opposition gunmen directed against Syrian forces and civilians were reported  in several cities immediately following the adoption of the peace plan. Meanwhile, the Al Assad government was urged to “halt the killings” and Damascus was casually blamed for  “breaking the ceasefire”.  

This “scenario” had been carefully planned in advance of the adoption of the six points Peace Plan.

The Kofi Annan Peace Plan, which was endorsed by Syria, China and Russia was slated to fail from the outset. It was also intended to be used as a propaganda ploy against the Al Assad government. Immediately following the endorsement of the Annan Peace Plan, a new wave of baseless accusations was directed against the Al Assad government, accusing  “Syrian forces [of] deliberately attacking children in horrendous tactics ordered directly by President Bashar al-Assad, the UN human rights chief has claimed.” 

The Western Military alliance is not committed to peace.

A “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) intervention under a NATO mandate remains on the drawing board of the Pentagon. Dimitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister intimated last September that NATO is planning a military campaign against Syria, with specific attack scenarios. More recently, in January 2012, two months prior to the outset of the Kofi Annan Peace Initiative, Britain’s Ministry of Defence confirmed that it  “is drawing up secret plans for a NATO-sponsored no-fly zone [for Syria] [in coordination with its allies] “but first it needs backing from the United Nations Security Council.” (Syria will be bloodiest yet, Daily Star).According to these secret plans: “fighting in Syria could be bigger and bloodier than the battle against Gaddafi”. (Ibid ).   

What is the role of Kofi Annan? 

Is it an agenda for peace?  Or is it a “Peacemaking Psyop” which is intended to set the stage for an R2P NATO “humanitarian intervention”?  

Prior to becoming Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan as Undersecretary of of UN Peacekeeping, faithfully served the interests of Washingon, upholding the legitimacy of US and NATO military interventions. “He was elevated to the post of Secretary-General by U.S. preference, with the U.S. vetoing a second five-year term in 1996 for his less amenable predecessor Boutros Boutros-Ghali…”:    

“As the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping for Yugoslavia, [Kofi Annan] sanctioned Operation Deliberate Force, NATO’s bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs in 1995. Annan’s prominent support for NATO’s 1999 war was significant.  In an address he delivered at NATO headquarters in Brussels two months before the war, he urged NATO members to “recall the lessons of Bosnia” — “particularly those with the capacity to act.”  NATO’s 1999 bombing war against Yugoslavia was an early but clear example of what R2P means in the real world, long before the phrase “responsibility to protect” had entered common usage. (Edward S. Herman and David Peterson , The Responsibility to Protect, the International Criminal Court, and Foreign Policy in Focus, Subverting the UN Charter in the Name of Human Rights, Global Research, August 2009, emphasis added)
 

Lest we forget, Kofi Annan was one of main architects of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. Under his helm as UN Secretary General, R2P was unanimously endorsed in 2005 at the U.N. World Summit. The decision, which essentially set the stage for NATO’s  R2P “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, called upon the international community to use all  “appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means … to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.” (See  Carrie Crawford,  The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Global Research, November 24, 2011)

WWIII Scenario

Two major pipeline projects are at present vying to secure future energy supplies to Pakistan, India and China. One originates in Iran while the second one draws on reserves in Turkmenistan. The latter is promoted by an Israeli group and is supported by Secretary of State Clinton. According to Manlio Dinucci, an attack against Iran could cripple the Iranian project, which is currently ahead of the game. The question remains whether US leaders are still really in line with this strategy, as hinted in recent statements by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

On the Washington stage, under the world’s media spotlight, Obama stated that: “As president and commander in chief, I prefer peace to war.” But, he added, “Israel’s security is sacrosanct,” and to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, “I will not hesitate to use force, including all elements of American power.”

US nuclear weapons and their  preemptive use are part of the options. Words worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize. That’s the scenario. To find out what it is really all about, we need to go behind the scenes.

Leading the anti-Iranian crusade is Israel, the only country in the region which possesses a nuclear arsenal and, unlike Iran, refuses to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Then we have the United States, the World’s greatest military power, whose underlying political, economic and strategic interests, will under no circumstances allow that a state in the Middle East, namely Iran, escape its influence.

It is no coincidence that the sanctions promulgated by President Obama last November ban the supply of equipment and technologies which would “enhance Iran’s ability to develop its own oil resources.” The embargo has been joined by the European Union, buyer of 20% of Iranian oil (of which about 10% is imported by Italy), and Japan, which imports a similar amount and whose need for oil has further increased as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This embargo constitutes a flying success for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who convinced America’s allies to freeze energy imports from Iran at the expense of their own interests.

The embargo, however, is not working. Defying Washington’s ban, Islamabad confirmed on March 1st that it will complete the construction of the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. More than 2 000 km long, the Iranian section will soon see the light of day whereas the Pakistani side of the pipeline will be finished by 2014. It could, at a later stage, be extended by 600 km to reach India. Meanwhile, Russia has expressed interest in participating in the project, whose estimated cost is $ 1.2 billion. And China, which currently imports 20% of its oil from Iran, signed an agreement with Tehran in February, which contemplates an increase of half a million barrels per day in 2012. Pakistan is also expected to boost its imports of Iranian oil.

Furious, Hillary Clinton has stepped up pressure on Islamabad, using the carrot and the stick: on the one hand the threat of sanctions; on the other the offer of a billion dollars in support of Pakistan’s energy requirements. In exchange, Islmabad should abandon the pipeline with Iran and rely solely on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline, backed by Washington. Its cost is estimated at 8 billion, twice as much as originally foreseen.

In Washington, however, it is the strategic motivation that ultimately prevails. The Turkmen natural gas deposits are largely controlled by the Israeli Merhav Group, headed by Mossad agent Yosef Maiman, one of the most influential figures in Israel. But the construction of the pipeline, which in Afghanistan passes through the provinces of Herat (where the Italian troops are stationed) and Kandahar) is behind schedule. As things stand, it is the Iran-Pakistan pipeline which has the upper edge.

Unless, of course, the cards are reshuffled by a war against Iran. Even if President Obama “prefers peace.”

Italian :L’arte della guerra : Iran, la battaglia dei gasdotti

Translation from Italian : voltairenet.org

WWIII Scenario

Reflexões de Fidel: Os caminhos que conduzem ao desastre

March 29th, 2012 by Fidel Castro Ruz

ESTA Reflexão poderá ser escrita hoje, amanhã ou qualquer outro dia sem risco de equívoco. Nossa espécie se defronta com problemas novos. Quando expressei há 20 anos, na Conferência das Nações Unidas sobre o Meio Ambiente e Desenvolvimento, no Rio de Janeiro, que uma espécie estava em perigo de extinção, tinha menos razões do que hoje para advertir sobre um perigo que via talvez à distância de 100 anos.

Então uns poucos líderes dos países mais poderosos dirigiam o mundo. Aplaudiram por mera cortesia minhas palavras e continuaram placidamente cavando a sepultura de nossa espécie.

Parecia que em nosso planeta reinava o senso comum e a ordem. Há tempos que o desenvolvimento econômico apoiado pela tecnologia e a ciência parecia ser o Alfa e o Ômega da sociedade humana.

Agora tudo está muito mais claro. Verdades profundas foram abrindo caminho. Quase 200 Estados, supostamente independentes, constituem a organização política à qual teoricamente corresponde a tarefa de reger os destinos do mundo.

Cerca de 25 mil armas nucleares em mãos de forças aliadas ou antagônicas dispostas a defender a ordem em mutação, por interesse ou por necessidade, reduzem virtualmente a zero os direitos de bilhões de pessoas.

Não cometerei a ingenuidade de atribuir à Rússia ou à China a responsabilidade pelo desenvolvimento desse tipo de armas, depois da monstruosa matança de Hiroshima e Nagasaki, ordenada por Truman, após a morte de Roosevelt.

Tampouco cairia no erro de negar o holocausto que significou a morte de milhões de crianças e adultos, homens e mulheres, principalmente judeus, ciganos, russos e de outras nacionalidades, que foram vítimas do nazismo. Por isso, repugna a política infame dos que negam ao povo palestino seu direito a existir.

Alguém pensa por acaso que os Estados Unidos serão capazes de atuarem com a independência que o preserve do desastre inevitável que os espera?

Em poucas semanas os US$ 40 milhões que o presidente Obama prometeu arrecadar para sua campanha eleitoral só servirão para demonstrar que a moeda de seu país está muito desvalorizada e que os Estados Unidos, con sua insólita e crescente dívida pública que se aproxima dos US$ 20 trilhões, vivem do dinheiro que imprimem e não do que produzem. O resto do mundo paga o que eles dilapidam.

Ninguém crê tampouco que o candidato democrata seja melhor ou pior que seus adversários republicanos: chame-se Mitt Romney ou Rick Santorum. Anos-luz separam os três de personagens tão relevantes como Abraham Lincoln ou Martin Luther King. É realmente inusitado observar uma nação tão poderosa tecnologicamente e um governo ao mesmo tempo tão órfão de ideias e valores morais.

O Irã não possui armas nucleares. Acusa-se o país de produzir urânio enriquecido que serve como combustível energético ou componente de uso médico. Queira-se ou não, sua posse ou produção não é equivalente à produção de armas nucleares. Dezenas de países utilizam o urânio enriquecido como fonte de energia, mas este não pode ser empregado na confecção de uma arma nuclear sem um processo prévio e complexo de purificação.

Contudo, Israel, que com a ajuda e a cooperação dos Estados Unidos fabricou o armamento nuclear sem informar nem prestar contas a ninguém, até hoje sem reconhecer a posse destas armas, dispõe de centenas delas. Para impedir o desenvolvimento das pesquisas em países árabes vizinhos, atacou e destruiu os reatores do Iraque e da Síria. E declarou o propósito de atacar e destruir os centros de produção de combustível nuclear do Irã.

Em torno desse crucial tema tem girado a política internacional nessa complexa e perigosa região do mundo, onde se produz e fornece a maior parte do combustível que move a economia mundial.

A eliminação seletiva dos cientistas mais eminentes do Irã, por parte de Israel e de seus aliados da Otan, se converteu em uma prática que estimula os ódios e os sentimentos de vingança.

O governo de Israel declarou abertamente seu propósito de atacar a usina produtora de urânio enriquecido no Irã, e o governo dos Estados Unidos investiu centenas de milhões de dólares na fabricação de uma bomba com esse propósito.

Em 16 de março de 2012 Michel Chossudovsky e Finian Cunningham publicaram um artigo revelando que “um importante general da Força Aérea dos EUA descreveu a maior bomba convencional – a antibunkers de 13,6 toneladas – como ‘grandiosa’ para um ataque militar contra o Irã”.

“Um comentário tão loquaz sobre um artefato assassino em massa teve lugar na mesma semana na qual o presidente Barack Obama se apresentou para advertir contra a ‘fala leviana’ sobre uma guerra no Golfo Pérsico.”

“…Herbert Carlisle, vice-chefe do Estado Maior para operações da Força Aérea dos EUA. [...] agregou que provavelmente a bomba seria utilizada em qualquer ataque contra o Irã ordenado por Washington.”

“O MOP, ao qual também se referem como ‘a mãe de todas as bombas’, está projetado para perfurar através de 60 metros de concreto antes de detonar sua bomba. Acredita-se que é a maior arma convencional, não nuclear, no arsenal estadunidense.”

“O Pentágono planifica um processo de ampla destruição da infraestrutura do Irã e massivas vítimas civis mediante o uso combinado de bombas nucleares táticas e monstruosas bombas convencionais com nuvens em forma de cogumelo, incluídas a MOAB e a maior GBU-57A/B ou Massive Ordenance Penetrator (MOP), que excede a MOAB em capacidade de destruição.”

“A MOP é descrita como ‘uma poderosa nova bomba que aponta diretamente para as instalações nucleares subterrâneas do Irã e Coreia do Norte. A imensa bomba – maior do que que 11 pessoas colocadas ombro a ombro, ou mais de 6 metros desde a base até a ponta.”

Peço ao leitor que me desculpe por esta complicada linguagem do jargão militar.

Como se pode verificar, tais cálculos partem do pressuposto de que os combatentes iranianos, que totalizam milhões de homens e mulheres conhecidos por seu fervor religioso e suas tradições de luta, se renderão sem disparar um só tiro.

Em dias recentes os iranianos viram como os soldados dos Estados Unidos que ocupam o Afeganistão, em apenas três semanas, urinaram sobre os cadáveres de afegãos assassinados, queimaram os livros do Corão e assassinaram mais de 15 cidadãos indefesos.

Imaginemos as forças dos Estados Unidos lançando monstruosas bombas sobre instituições industriais capazes de penetrar 60 metros de concreto. Jamais semelhante aventura tinha sido concebida.

Não é preciso uma palavra mais para compreender a gravidade de semelhante política. Por esse caminho nossa espécie será conduzida inexoravelmente para o desastre. Se não aprendemos a compreender, não aprenderemos jamais a sobreviver.

De minha parte, não abrigo a menor dúvida de que os Estados Unidos estão a ponto de cometer e conduzir o mundo ao maior erro de sua história.


 

Fidel Castro Ruz

Le 21 mars 2012


Artigo original em espanhol :


Los caminos que conducen al desastre
Reflexiones de Fidel
- par Fidel Castro Ruz – 2012-03-22

Double Speak from Benjamin Netanyahu

March 29th, 2012 by Philip Giraldi

The New York Times’ Isabel Kershner reporting from Jerusalem on March 20th described Israeli government rage at a comment made by the European Union’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton relating to the killing of three Jewish children in Toulouse France on the previous day. Ashton decried the killing but then tied it in to equally unfortunate deaths of children in other places, including Gaza. Her comment caused Netanyahu to explode, saying he was “infuriated” by the “comparison between a deliberate massacre of children and the defensive, surgical actions” of the Israeli Defense Forces hitting “…terrorists who use children as a human shield.” Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman quickly joined in, saying that Ashton should instead be thinking about the “children of southern Israel who live in constant fear of rocket attacks from Gaza.”

Where to begin? Israel’s surgical attacks have killed thousands of Gazans, including many children, and the stories about children as human shields comes from – you guessed it – Israeli government sources. The Goldstone report uncovered no evidence that there had been any use of civilians by Hamas militants. Israel has deliberately attacked schools and refugee camps, with little regard for who ends up dying. In its most recent bombings of Gaza, Israel has killed 26 Palestinians, including two children. No Israelis were injured when the Palestinians responded with homemade rockets. In 2011, 105 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, at least 37 of whom were undeniably civilians. This was up from 68 killed in 2010.

In Operation Cast Lead in January 2009, the Israelis killed at least 1100 Palestinians, using phosphorous shells and other weapons considered to be forbidden under international law. Ten Israeli soldiers died as well as 3 civilians, a Palestinian-to-Israeli rate of mortality approaching 100 to one.

The fact that Netanyahu and Lieberman can be taken seriously and reported in the New York Times when they rant about how humane the Israeli Army is demonstrates that there is an operating assumption in the media that the American public can believe just about anything when it comes to Israel. It recalls the foppish French “philosopher” Bernard Henri-Levy’s assertion that the Israeli Army is the world’s most moral. After years of being subjected to intense propaganda, maybe it’s true that the public in Europe and America have been completely brainwashed when it comes to Israel’s bad behavior.